Choose the Right Crossbow Bolts

The Correct Bolts for Your Crossbow

One of the most important choices you will make in selecting the right equipment is the type of crossbow bolts that you will be using.  The performance of your crossbow is greatly affected by the type of bolts that you shoot.  The bolt design, weight, length and material all are factors that must be taken into consideration.  The specific bolts you select will also be determined by the manufacturer’s specifications for your particular crossbow.  The nock must be the right type and other characteristics must be within limitations for the equipment to work properly as designed.

Shaft Material

Carbon and aluminum are currently the two most common materials used for constructing crossbow bolts.  Either material should perform well if they are within the design specifications identified for a given crossbow.  However, some minor differences in performance and durability may cause one material to be preferred over the other depending on the type of use.

The carbon shafts are typically a little more expensive those for the aluminum bolts.  The carbon bolts, however are more durable that the aluminum shafts.  A new aluminum bolt may be slightly straighter than a carbon shaft bolt; however, the aluminum bolts will not retain that advantage after some use.

Carbon bolts have a couple of other advantages over the aluminum arrows.  The carbon shafts absorb the energy from the crossbow more efficiently and are therefore slightly faster than the aluminum option.  The carbon bolts also fly with a straighter trajectory allowing them to reach the target faster and have marginally better range.

Weight and Length

The weight and length of your crossbow bolts are the most important elements of assuring your equipment will perform properly.  Choosing poorly could result in damage to your crossbow.  The manufacturer provides specific guidelines for the bolts acceptable and you should be sure to check the specifications before choosing your bolts.

Crossbow bolts are generally between 18 and 22 inches long and are 330 to 360 grams in weight.  The specific use will define which choice is best and is influenced by the type of game to be hunted and the expected distance to your target.  A heavier bolt will have a greater range where a lighter bolt will arrive at the target faster.  The characteristics of the broadheads attached will also affect the performance of your bolts.


Be sure to check the style of nock type that is required by your crossbow design.  Bolts may have nocks that are blunt, flat or half-moon in shape.  Not all nock types will work on every crossbow.  The more powerful crossbows typically use the half-moon nocks.  The crossbows with lower draw weights work well with the blunt or flat bolt nocks.

Crossbow Bolt Safety

Safety should be the number one objective for all crossbow owners.  Always know your equipment.  Read and follow the warnings provided by manufacturers.  A crossbow can be a powerful weapon and can inflict a lot of damage to the user if not handled properly.

Never fire a damaged bolt from your crossbow.  Bolts can be damaged after being shot only once so it is important to take the time to examine your equipment each and every time you load up for the next shot.  Target shooting poses particular opportunity for damage to occur to bolts.  The accuracy provided by current technology is so good that it is not unusual for one bolt to be stricken by another resulting in unacceptable harm to your equipment. You should inspect your bolts by holding it by the ends and flexing it to reveal any cracks, splinters or other visible damage.  Thoroughly inspect by rotating and flexing the bolt to check all sides.  If damage is found, the bolt should be immediately discarded so that it is not accidentally selected and fired from your crossbow.

Simply being attentive when positioning the bolt on the crossbow is another important safety habit to practice.  If the bolt is not properly positioned it could misfire resulting in damage to your crossbow, personal injury, or hitting an unintended target.  Do not wait to think about safety until it is something that you wish you had done.  Safely enjoy the sport of crossbow shooting.