Barnett Jackal Review: A Mid-Range X-Bow Designed to Last

Barnett Jackal Review: A Mid-Range X-Bow Designed to Last

For over 50 years, hunters and crossbow enthusiasts have trusted Barnett to provide top quality x-bows and hunting hear with an emphasis on reliable, easy-to-use products. While they are particularly known for their affordable range of entry-level crossbows, Barnett has also made a big splash in the bow hunting world with their advanced Whitetail series of high-power crossbows.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at one of the highest reviewed, best-selling crossbows on the internet, the classic but not outdated Barnett Jackal. First released in 2011, this entry-level crossbow is lightweight, easy to draw, and easy to maintain. While the base model is not totally ready for deer hunting trip, a few easy upgrades can turn this affordable crossbow into an effective hunting weapon.

In this review, we are going to go over the design features that are responsible for making the Jackal as highly regarded as it is in the crossbow hunting community. After that, we will reveal some of the most effective ways to upgrade your Jackal into a truly next-level X-bow for hunting.

But first, let’s review some of the basic elements that come together to create an effective crossbow:

The Most Important Features on a Hunting Crossbow

While the key features of any good hunting crossbow are going to vary from company to company, there are a number of shared features that need to be examined and compared in order to find the best crossbow for you.

If you really want to achieve a thorough understanding of how we came to complete our review of the Barnett Jackal, then have a look at the following review criteria:

  • Feet Per Second (FPS) Also referred to simply as “speed”, the FPS of any given crossbow is going to be a big determining factor in whether or not it will be appropriate for your given target. The higher the FPS, the “faster” the bow. For hunting, it is generally advised to get a bow with a minimum of 250 FPS. (The Jackal is significantly faster than that)
  • Draw Weight This is the measurement of how many pounds of force it takes to draw the bow string back into firing position without any other form of mechanical assistance. While some of the smaller crossbows start at about 50 LBS of draw weight, crossbows that are going to be used for larger game or for protection from predators are going to want something upwards of 200 LBS.
  • Crossbow Width Although there used to be some disagreement on the topic of crossbow width and how it affected the overall accuracy of a crossbow, most experts today do not believe that the width of the actual bow makes any difference in terms of accuracy.
  • Power Stroke In traditional archery, this is called the draw length, which is simply the distance between point A and point B of the bowstring’s path. In other words, the place where to starts to the place where it gets pulled back to. Although there are some exceptions, a longer power stroke usually means a faster FPS overall.
  • Bolts Like the arrows of archery, a crossbow bolt is the projectile that is fired off the bow strings. These are shorter and thicker than arrows and are typically between 14 and 22 inches long. 20 inch bolts are probably the most common variety and most recommended for hunting.
  • Overall Weight Crossbows are somewhere between 2 to 3 times the weight of a traditional hunting bow, which can be exhausting to say the least. Since crossbows are already so heavy, many crossbow hunters look for ones on the lighter side, although there is generally a loss of stability the lighter you get down the line.
  • Noise With their additional firing power, some crossbows make more noise than traditional bows. This can be a problem for hunters when the animal hears the bow mechanism before the bolt even gets to them. While silencers and sound dampeners can be effective at reducing your crossbow’s sound, it is sometimes best to find out which x bows make the least noise before you start shopping. Generally, recurve crossbows make a bit less noise.
  • Stocks The stock is perhaps the most important construction element in any good crossbow, because it provides both the strength and rigidity required to keep a crossbow steady as it fires. The lighter the stock, the harder it is to control your accuracy. That’s why many stocks are either reinforced with steel or made of high-density plastic.
  • Sights While there are a lot of sight options available for crossbows and it is always possible to mix-n-match with aftermarket upgrades, the big majority of crossbows for sale these days come with a scope attached. A scope is an effective way to make you more confident with longer shots, but anyone who is more used to the pin system of compound bow hunting might find it less ideal for moving shots.

The Barnett Jackal: Basic Overview

The Barnett Jackal: Basic Overview
Bow Weight 7.7 LBS
Speed 315 FPS
Draw Weight 150 LBS
Power Stroke 12 INCHES
Bolt Size 20 INCHES

While the Barnett Jackal is not the fastest nor the most stable hunting crossbow on the market, it is an excellent value bow package that offers performance features that are well above its price point. This is lightweight crossbow that is particularly well-suited for entry-level crossbow users who are looking to improve their skill level.

The Jackal lacks some of the impressive bells and whistles that more expensive crossbows can offer, but in terms of overall value and ease of use, this is probably the best one that you can get.

Barnett Jackal Performance

The Barnett Jackal really shines as an entry level crossbow not only because of the price, but also due to how reliable the mechanical components are. While you aren’t going to find as much speed or accuracy as one of those top of the line models. Usually we prefer an x-bow to have an adjustable stock, but the lack of one of the Jackal is not hurting its performance at all, and in fact is one of the factors that is contributing to the overall lightness.

This is not to say that the Jackal is a slouch in the performance department. High energy wheels, quad limbs, and a dynamic cable system all make it possible to hit arrow speeds of up to 315 FPM, which is more than enough for most basic hunting applications, but maybe not enough to take down a charging grizzly.

A 95 FP of kinetic energy with only 150 LBS of draw weight is an easy-to-fire combination that will make hunting not only more enjoyable, but less tiresome. This is especially true of new crossbow hunters who aren’t used to hauling one of these around in the wilderness all day.

A set of Picatinny rail guides offers more mounting options than their weaver style rail guides … we tend to prefer them because of how easy it is to simply switch your accessories or components to a different slot in a short amount of time.


Getting started with crossbow hunting shouldn’t be something that breaks the bank. After all, you still want some money left over to invest in a few key upgrades that can take your range and accuracy to the next level. The Jackal Crossbow by Barnett features a great balance of high-performance construction and affordability. For beginners intermediate bow hunters, this is a great way to not only practice but also work up the stamina to switch to a high-power crossbow when the time comes.

The Jackal on Steroids: Advanced Upgrades & Add-ons for the Barnett Jackal

There is no question that the Jackal’s immense popularity is due to the fact that it is one of the most cost effective crossbows on the market. While the reduced price also means a reduced performance compared to top-of-the-line models, the Barnett Jackal as the unique ability to be significantly upgraded to the point where it performs fantastically in almost all hunting applications.

This add-on customizable nature makes this a god crossbow for someone who is learning but expect to advance to real hunting use before long.

The Scope

The Jackal’s red-dot scope is great for backyard target practice, but it is not very effective for real hunting applications, and is certainly not ideal for moving targets.

The Bolts

The Jackal comes with a set of bolts that work just fine for most purposes, but they are certainly not as strong as some of the other ones out there, even the additional arrows that you can get from Barnett themselves. Just make sure you are getting 20” bolts or they are not going to fit.

A Ballistic Hard Case

Modern crossbows have a lot of different parts to them, and keeping all the components clean, protected, and dust free can be a challenge when you’re not in the field. A good ballistic hard case will protect your investment for years to come and is a reliable way to store your weapon when it is not in use.

Barnett Jackal Review: A Mid-Range X-Bow Designed to Last
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