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To help you choose the proper crossbow bolt size, I have prepared the ultimate crossbow bolt size chart for you. Shooting a wrong bolt out of your crossbow is not only a safety issue but choosing the right sized bolt can sometimes also be a matter of life and death.
Wrong sized bolts can break and even backfire easily.
Choosing the right bolt will keep you and those around you safe and it will greatly improve your shooting accuracy. With all the different shapes and sizes we have nowadays it’s hard to make the right choice.
However, this crossbow bolt size chart is here to help you get the proper bolts for your crossbow every single time.
What is the Difference Between Crossbow Bolts and Arrows
First, I want to discuss why we make the difference between crossbow bolts and arrows anyway when they look pretty similar.
Why do we call them bolts when they are practically arrows in every sense? They have the same parts, come in similar size and are made from the same materials like arrows.
The answer is both historical and cultural. Crossbow projectiles were really short armor-piercing bolts and looked much different than today’s bolts or arrows.
On the other hand, bow archers want to be separated from crossbow shooters and refuse to call the arrows. As you can see from my crossbow bolt size chart I chose the name bolts, but arrows are also absolutely correct.
How to Choose Crossbow Bolt Length and Weight
The safest bet is definitely choosing the length and weight recommended by the manufacturer of the crossbow you have. However, you will not always have these recommendations available to you.
If you don’t yet know how to choose crossbow bolt length, you should never have a bolt shorter than the crossbow groove. The proper bolt length should be the same as the groove of the crossbow or up to 2 inches longer.
In general, the longer arrows the more stability you’ll have. The weight of the bolt can also have a big impact on your shooting, depending on the crossbow.
If you just want to shoot at practice targets, lighter bolts will have longer range and probably better accuracy. On the other hand, heavier bolts have a shorter flight, but a much stronger impact suitable for game hunting.
Most of the bolts on this crossbow bolt size chart are made either from carbon or from aluminum and they are usually graded by their stiffness. Carbon bolts are usually much lighter and more flexible than the aluminum ones.
Crossbow Bolt Size Chart
When it comes to the length of crossbow bolts, there are just four different standard bolt sizes: 16”, 18”, 20” and 22”. With this in mind, I came up with a really simple and extremely useful crossbow bolt size chart.
To make your choice easier, I included some of the more popular bolt manufacturers in the charts. The great thing is that most of them will have great instructions with their bolts and everything other is covered in my crossbow bolt size chart.
Most crossbow makers also have great instructions for proper handling and choosing the right bolt size for that very crossbow. The bolts recommended by the manufacturer are the best that you can get to have safe and enjoyable shooting experience.
You should also look into manufacturer’s recommendations when choosing the nocks on your crossbow bolt. The two most common nock designs for bolts are:
- Half-moon nock: Has a groove that you need to align with the string, it allows more security but it’s a bit slower.
- Flat nock: Is completely flat and it’s much faster to shoot, without much adjustment.
Pistol Crossbow Bolts
Pistol crossbows are light and fun alternative to regular crossbows and pistol crossbow bolts are usually much shorter. However, the same rules apply to length and weight of the bolt as for regular bolt.
Pistol crossbow bolts are most of the time made from either aluminum or plastic. True, they are easier to lose, but most packs come with up to 50 or 100 bolts.
Just like with the rest of the bolts on the crossbow bolt size chart, you should always check the instructions of your pistol crossbow’s manufacturer. This way you will avoid unnecessary damages or even injuries.
Feel free to pass on this crossbow size chart to anyone who needs it. I’m sure it can be a huge help to crossbow beginners. Even if you are not a beginner, it can help you if when you get a new crossbow. Make sure that you always get the right bolts and don’t waste your time and money.
Are cross bow bolts usually hollow or solid and how many flights do the have , 2 or 3 , short or long , and do cross bow bolts have knocks on them? I recently was given a cross bow and I know nothing about them , help….
Editorial team says
Hi Scott. Crossbow bolts are usually shorter than bow arrows and are usually long between 16-22 inches. Wooden (which are rare) are solid, while aluminum and carbon bolts are usually hollow. Normally they come with 3 flights, but they are some exceptions. More about bolts you can read here https://bestontests.com/best-crossbow-bolts/
Bolts do have nocks. You can read about lighted nocks right here https://bestontests.com/best-lighted-nocks-for-crossbow-bolts/
Todd C. says
I was recently given a “no name” crossbow. No information on it at all. I plan to use it to eliminate groundhogs and need to get bolts for it. As they will most likely encounter rocks at times, which type and weight would be better. Trying not to dump a lot into it for the purpose.
PS. It came with 14″ bolts that are definitely too short.
I have a Mini Striker Narrow Limb Crossbow Pistol size its grove of arrow is 12 inch slot and only “4mm and 5mm” arrows can work, what Size arrows should I use for performance and accuracy as your recommendations 16 is the best and perfect size but I have search on Amazon and other size 10, 12, 13.5 and 14 inch Arrows also available in Carbon and Aluminum but only issue comes in thickness mostly arrows are 7 to 8 mm thickness which is not suitable for Mini Striker Narrow Limb