When a crossbow company’s tagline is “meet your next rifle,” we just have to put that to the test. Can a Ravin crossbow keep pace with a budget rifle? Or even a premium rifle? What’s the effective hunting range? What kind of accuracy does it offer? Guns.com finds out. 

Meet the Ravin R20


Our test model Ravin R20 shoots at 430 fps and measures only 6 inches axle-to-axle when cocked. It is cocked – and decocked –simply with the included hand crank. Here, it sits at the ready in our deer hunting ladder stand. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Ravin’s R20 crossbow is not new. In fact, it was last year’s model, but the technology and accuracy guarantees have not changed all that much just yet. The R20 shoots at a zippy 430 fps with 164 pounds of kinetic energy. Most notable is the promise of 3-inch bullseyes at 100 yards. A crisp, 4-pound trigger pull aids with that accuracy guarantee. There’s an anti-dry-fire mechanism as well as an automatic safety. Built-in sling mounts make packing the R20 to the deer stand a snap. 

The R20 also has an automatic safety. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Measurements of the R20 are pretty impressively small given our work with crossbows only five years ago that were twice the size. This critter measures a compact 6 inches axle-to-axle when cocked and 10.5 inches uncocked. While that’s impressive in person, newer models are smaller still. Overall length is 34.5 inches, and it weighs in at 7.1 pounds. All those numbers equate to a bow that’s not only easy to carry but maneuverable in hunting blinds and tree stands. 

A close-up look at the limbs of the Ravin R20 crossbow. Even with the quiver and arrows attached, it was one of the most compact, fast, and accurate on the market – until Ravin’s 2021 launches. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com) 

The Ravin R20 is cocked with its included crank with a draw weight of only 12 pounds, and it’s just as easily decocked. The package includes three Ravin arrows and field tips, a quiver, and – best of all – a specialized 100-yard illuminated scope with mounts. 

The Wisconsin-based company dresses most of the bows, including the R20, in their own Predator camo.

The retail price for the R20 at the time of our feature is $1,724.99. 

Blurring the Lines of Rifle and Crossbow Performance

When we think about Ravin’s catchy “meet your next rifle” advertising, it’s clear the company is appealing to the wider world of firearms hunters, and that’s a smart move. The R20 guarantees 3-inch groups at 100 yards. While that claim is beyond exceptional for crossbows, it’s not at all impressive for rifles, even budget-priced models. 

Detail of the Ravin’s trigger, which rivals that of many rifles. The trigger breaks right at 4 pounds. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

But the lines between crossbow and firearm certainly narrow when you partner compact size with ease of use, a rifle-grade trigger, graduated optic, and unexpected accuracy. To truly compare a crossbow to a rifle is beyond apples and oranges, but we may as well have fun with the notion on the range.

Field Work

The Ravin scope’s reticle is graduated in 10-yard increments, with yardage marks from 20 to 100 yards. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

We headed to the shooting range with our new T&E Ravin R20 to sight it in, which we expected to take a couple of hours. Wrong. The company takes the guesswork out of shooting the Ravin. With the scope’s reticle marked in 10-yard increments from 20 out to 100, the process is as simple as dialing the bow’s speed – in this case, 430 fps – on the scope and zeroing at 20-yards. From there, we stretched it out with field points to 100 yards and only a few fine-tuning adjustments. 

The process was surprisingly simple and enjoyable. It’s almost unreal how easy it is to shoot accurately with the Ravin. It backs up the accuracy guarantee on the bag. We shot a best 100-yard group of just a hair over 2 inches with the company’s Premium .001 carbon arrows. With the standard .003 arrows, even inexperienced shooters were surprising themselves with 3-to-4-inch groups at the length of a football field and an occasional cross breeze. 

Why Ravin Crossbows Appeal to Firearm Hunters


The Ravin R20 sits beside a Savage Model 110 bolt-action .30-06 centerfire rifle. While the Ravin cannot keep pace with any modern rifle, it guarantees better accuracy than any crossbow to come before. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Folks who had never fired a crossbow gravitate to the R20 for multiple reasons. The Ravin was the most popular piece on the range that day. They liked the accuracy promise. They appreciate the quality trigger, the cocking system, and the compact size. Traditional gun hunters who said they’d never consider bow hunting were suddenly contemplating dropping some serious cash on a Ravin to extend their days afield with crossbow seasons.
The Ravin is far from traditional archery; however, as we see it, anything that gets sportsmen and women in the field and hunting is never a bad thing. Besides, as ammo scarcity increases and hunters are forgoing time on the range, archery keeps hunters sharp and practicing. Price is, without a doubt, the biggest obstacle for new buyers. Though as new models come out, grabbing a previous year’s iteration like our R20 becomes more affordable. 

What’s New for 2021?


2021’s new Ravin Model R500E shoots a blazing 500 fps. It is cocked with an electric drive system and measures only 3.6 inches axle-to-axle when cocked. (Photo: Ravin)

Just when we were stoked to get our hands on Ravin’s hot R20 Model, the company announced their new 2021 crossbows. We’re now left yet again wanting for another. While we were more than pleased with the performance from shooting our 430-fps R20, the new R500E shoots a blazing 500 fps, making it the fastest bow yet. Of equal interest, it is not cocked with a crank system. Instead, it uses an electric drive system. Perhaps the wildest innovation of all is that it measures only 3.6 inches axle-to-axle when cocked.

The price tag for that baby? $3,349.99. On the bright side, older models are becoming more affordable. The original R10 can be had for $1,325. 

Also new for 2021 is this wild-looking crossbow. The Ravin R18 is a takedown-style crossbow with vertical limbs, a bullpup look, and a cocked axle-to-axle length of only 1.3 inches. (Photo: Ravin)

If that’s not enough, get a look at this brand-new R18. With looks that seem like a suspension bridge sketch mated with a bullpup firearm, the R18 is a takedown-style crossbow with vertical limbs and a cocked axle-to-axle length of only 1.3 inches. 


The bottom line is simple. The Ravin crossbow can’t really keep up with rifles, but it’s not a rifle. It’s a darn good crossbow. In fact, it’s one of the best on the market. From the trigger and the speed to the cocking mechanism and the accuracy, Ravin has been leading the market with innovation. There’s no replacement for regular practice and ethical shots, but hunting with the Ravin gives crossbow hunters every advantage. 

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