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If your just getting into crossbow hunting you may have the the question “Do all crossbows use the same arrows? And if not what arrows or bolts do I need for my crossbow?”. It might surprise you to learn that not all bolts are created equal. This article aims to guide even the newest crossbow hunters through the intricacies of crossbow bolt sizes, weights, and their implications on their hunting and shooting experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Crossbow bolts are not universal and vary in size and weight.

  • Bolt length affects stability during flight, with longer bolts ideal for longer distances.

  • Bolt weight influences accuracy and impact, with lighter bolts suitable for shorter distances and heavier ones offering better performance at longer ranges.

  • Universal crossbow bolts fit most crossbows but may not provide optimal performance compared to non – universal options tailored to specific models.

Do all crossbows use the same arrows?

No, not all crossbows use the same arrows. The main specifications that can vary on crossbow bolts are length, weight, and spine. Other factors that can vary are type of fletching and type of nock.

Size and Weight Variations in Crossbow Bolts

Crossbow bolts come in different sizes and weights. This is due to different types of crossbows needing different types of bolts. The variation in size and weight of the bolt also allows hunters to choose the best option for the specific type of game that plan on hunting.

Length Variations in Crossbow Bolts

Understanding length variations and knowing what length bolt is recommended by your crossbow manufacturer is important for safety and to maximize accuracy. Crossbow bolts typically range from 16 to 22 inches in length, with standard sizes being 20 inches.

Longer bolts can provide more stability during flight which makes them ideal for longer distances and will have more weight which will provide more penetration. On the downside, longer crossbow bolts will often shoot at slower speeds than a shorter bolt.

Just remember that choosing the right bolt length largely depends on your crossbow’s specifications and intended use – whether it’s for hunting, target shooting or sport competition.

Weight Variations in Crossbow Bolts

Crossbow bolts not only vary in length, but they can also vary in weight. The weight of a crossbow bolt is an important factor to consider when choosing the right equipment for your needs.

Lighter bolts are ideal for shorter distances and faster shots. The increased speed of the bolt will allow for a more forgiving shot if you happen to mis range your target. The reason why lighter/faster crossbow bolts are more forgiving is due to the trajectory of the bolt being flatter. Lightweight crossbow bolts should be used in target shooting and 3D archery situations and are typically anywhere from 300 to 400 grains.

Heavier bolts provide more kinetic energy and penetration which is optimal in hunting situations. Penetration is super important when hunting larger game and can help with making ethical shots on your targeted species. Heavier bolts are also known to make less sound during the shot which can help avoid spooking game. Bolts the weigh anywhere from 500 to 600 grains are considered heavy bolts.

It’s crucial to select the appropriate weight that works best with your specific crossbow model and shooting preferences to ensure optimal performance on the field or during target practice.

Universal vs. Non-universal Crossbow Bolts

As we have previously discussed, crossbow bolts come in a variety of sizes and weights, which can affect their performance and compatibility with different crossbows. While some crossbow bolts are universal and can be used with any type of crossbow, others are specifically designed for certain models or brands.

Universal bolts typically have standardized measurements in terms of length and diameter to ensure they fit most crossbows on the market. Whereas, some bolts “non-universal” may have unique specifications tailored to specific crossbow types.

When choosing between universal and non-universal crossbow bolts, it’s important to consider factors for your specific situation such as accuracy, speed, and your specific hunting or shooting needs.

Universal bolts offer convenience by being compatible with multiple crossbows but may not always provide optimal performance for your specific needs or situation compared to specialized options.

Non-universal bolts, although more restrictive in terms of compatibility, often deliver better performance in the range of what they are specifically designed for whether it be hunting or target shooting.

In conclusion, while there are variations in size and weight among crossbow bolts, both universal and non-universal options exist depending on your preferences and requirements. It’s crucial to carefully assess your specific needs before making a decision so that you can choose the right bolt that maximizes your shooting experience.


In conclusion, crossbow bolts are not universal and vary in size and weight. The variations in length and weight allow for customization based on the specific needs of the shooter.

It is important to consider these factors when choosing crossbow bolts for optimal performance and accuracy. By understanding the different types of bolts available and their specifications, shooters can make informed decisions to enhance their crossbow experience.

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