Barnett Ghost 385 Review – Compound Crossbow

ModelDraw WeightStrokeVelocitySuggested Arrow LengthCrossbow Length / Weight
Barnett Ghost 385

Barnett Ghost 385

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185 lbs.14"385 FPS

Crossbow Academy: ballistics, sighting, tuning
20"34" / 6.9 lbs.
- CarbonLite Riser makes x-bow less front-heavy
- Short overall length for superior maneuverability
- Reverse cams give a long power stroke for such a short bow

- Finger reminders aren’t flared enough
- String dampeners split easily
Small Game Hunting?yes2
Deer, Elk Hunting?yes2
Moose, Bear Hunting?yes2
Target Shooting?yes2
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Also Recommended:Best Barnett Crossbows

What Comes With This Crossbow?

Welcome to our review of the Barnett Ghost 385 crossbow. Each package delivered by Barnett includes the following items:ghost3

  • The Barnett Ghost 385 crossbow
  • 4×32 Premium scope
  • Assembly hardware and tools
  • 3-arrow quiver
  • 3 20” Headhunter arrows
  • Rope cocking device
  • Owner’s manual
  • Warranty card

Putting it Together

Assembling the Barnett Ghost 385 is just like it should be, quick and easy. After all, you didn’t buy this crossbow for practice putting a puzzle together, you bought it to shoot. The instructions are clear on how to assemble the crossbow, and everything goes together just like it should. Install the cable guide, mount the riser onto the stock, and then tighten the riser down with the included Allen bolt. The step-through foot stirrup is integrated into the riser, so there’s no installation needed there. Mount your quiver and scope, and you’re good to go.

Accuracy And Power

The Barnett Ghost 385 delivers its arrows at 385 fps with 132 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy (assuming you are using 400 grain arrows). This is almost powerful enough to knock your target block into the next county, so make sure you have your target block properly secured (I prop mine up against a tree trunk or my backstop).

ghost1All that speed and power is worthless if the crossbow is not accurate, so I was eager to get sighted in and test the accuracy. I had the scope sighted in within 2 shots, and was quickly moving on to putting the x-bow through its paces. From 25 yards, I could, and did, split arrows, with groupings so tight that all of my arrows touched each other. From 50 yards, my groupings were no more than three-quarters of an inch, and my 70 yard groupings were about an inch and a half.

During this shooting, I was impressed with how quiet the crossbow performed, but I also noticed that the string dampeners installed on the x-bow began to split shortly into my testing. They haven’t come off yet, but it is still worrisome.

Ballistic Data For The Barnett Ghost 385

Your actual results will vary slightly depending on weather, and significantly with arrow weight change. See our Crossbow Ballistics Guides section for a complete understanding of how we conducted our tests and why this data matters.

Will Hunters Enjoy the Ghost 385?

This bow is powerful enough to take on any legal game in North America, and it’s accurate enough to make kill shots on the largest and smallest of quarry. The Ghost 385 is also a pleasure to carry in the field, because it is lightweight (6.9 pounds) and compact. Total length of the crossbow is only 34”, helped tremendously by having a step-through foot stirrup integrated into the riser instead of extending out from the front of the riser and making the bow longer. Width of this crossbow is only 21.5”, so it’s easily maneuvered, whether you’re in a deer stand or ground blind.

I took the Ghost 385 turkey hunting, an extremely challenging sport for crossbow hunters. After a couple hours of waiting, I finally had a couple of toms respond to my calls, and one came within 15 yards of me. I took careful aim and then fired at the bird, and my shot hit exactly where I was aiming for, killing the turkey instantly.

I’ve also used the Ghost 385 on several deer and moose hunts, and it’s never let me down. With its power, accuracy, quietness, maneuverability, and light weight, you can hardly ask for a better hunting crossbow.

Kinetic Energy Of The Barnett Ghost 385

From point blank range, how powerful is the Barnett Ghost 385? Well, throwing out 400-grain arrows at 385 FPS, this crossbow will shell out arrows that have 132 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy behind them. This is more than enough stopping power to take down even the toughest prey legal for hunting in North America, such as Cape buffalo or grizzly bears. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll lose approximately a few percent ft. lbs. of kinetic energy for every yard beyond point blank range, so a shot from 30 yards would have around 123 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy. This is still more than enough power for any hunting needs!

Use our arrow ballistics calculator for more valuable information.

Cocking The X-Bow

Cocking the Barnett Ghost 385 is quite easy, in spite of its 185 pound draw weight…if you use the included rope cocking device or some other cocking aid. The Ghost 385 is compatible with most crank-cocking devices, but Barnett includes a rope cocking device in the box. I recommend using it, because it not only reduces the strength needed to draw the bow but also makes sure your draw is even and consistent. One thing I noticed about this crossbow is that its short length keeps you in your most powerful stance while you are cocking the bow, so you don’t overextend yourself.ghost2

The Crossbow Scope

The Ghost 385 comes with a premium, illuminated 4×32 multi-reticle scope. The four reticles within the scope light up to either red or green, and the scope provides five brightness levels via an easy-to-use rheostat on the top of the scope.

The scope sights in easily, coming out of the box almost sighted in. Once sighted in, it holds zero almost indefinitely, since I’ve yet had to resight the scope. The coated optics are clear and provide a nice crisp target image with lots of contrast. Light gathering capabilities are good, and the scope is very useful in all lighting conditions.

See our detailed guide on how to sight-in your crossbow


You get 3 20” Headhunter arrows in the box, and these are halfway decent arrows. Even so, I quickly switched to my favorite, the Firebolt, for testing out the crossbow. Mind you, the Headhunters are straight and accurate, but they aren’t as durable as a more premium arrow. If you want to buy extra arrows, 20” arrows weighing in at 400 grain will match exactly with the included arrows.

You can also learn more about crossbow arrows and take a look at our broadhead recommendations

Safety and Design

The Ghost 385 is manufactured with a CNC aluminum flight track and custom composite laminated limbs. It features Barnett’s CarbonLite Riser Technology, which helps the x-bow be extremely well-balanced and not front-heavy, like many other crossbows. The reverse cam technology allows the string to actually come off the cams at the front of the crossbow (away from the shooter), which gives this crossbow an extra inch and a half of power stroke, making the Ghost faster than it would be otherwise.

The pass-through foregrip is well designed for safety, but I would like to see a larger flare on the finger reminders. Even with the finger reminders there, I came a bit too close for comfort when I was first breaking in the crossbow to having my fingers in the way of the string on firing.

The other nick in the armor of an otherwise excellent crossbow is in the string dampeners. They could stand to be made from stronger, thicker rubber, since they began to split shortly after I started using the crossbow.

The anti-dry fire trigger safety system worked flawlessly throughout my testing of the Ghost 385, keeping the bow nice and safe from dry fires or accidental shots. Overall, this crossbow is extremely well-made and built for endurance and years of archery, both on the range and in the hunting field.


Barnett provides a 5-year limited warranty on its new crossbows, and their customer service folks are always friendly and helpful. The warranty is non-transferrable, though, so if you buy the bow used, you won’t have a warranty.

What Crossbow Case Fits the Barnett Ghost 385?

If you want to go all out, the SKB Hunter Series Crossbow Case is a beautiful hard case which even features wheels for about $300. For more affordable soft case choices check out the Allen Company case and the Carbon Express Deluxe Case.They go for about $30 and $70 respectively.

Crossbow Review – Summary

Thanks for reading our crossbow review. The Barnett Ghost 385 is an excellent crossbow, with only a few minor glitches in the overall design. For the money, though, it’s an excellent choice for either target shooting or hunting. Take a look at today's price on this crossbow and check out our top 10 crossbows rankings for more.

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