Barnett Penetrator Review

ModelDraw WeightStrokeVelocitySuggested Arrow LengthCrossbow Length / Weight
Barnett Penetrator

Barnett Penetrator

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175 lbs.12"350 FPS

Crossbow Academy: ballistics, sighting, tuning
20"37" / 8.6 lbs.
- Exceptionally accurate
- Includes a rope cocking device
- Hand crank mechanism built into the stock, requiring
only the installation of the optional crank itself

- Included string wears out quickly
Small Game Hunting?yes2
Deer, Elk Hunting?yes2
Moose, Bear Hunting?yes2
Target Shooting?yes2
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Also Recommended:Best Barnett Crossbows

Package ContentsBarnett Penetrator Review

Hi, and thanks for reading my review of the Barnett Penetrator crossbow. This crossbow is a beauty to shoot, and definitely qualifies as a tack driver. Each package delivered by includes the following items:

  • The Barnett Penetrator Crossbow
  • 4 x 32mm crossbow scope
  • Quick-detach quiver
  • Rope cocking device
  • 3 20” arrows with field tips

Assembling The Crossbow

Barnett Penetrator ReviewAs with most crossbows, assembling the Barnett Penetrator is pretty easy. All you have to do is attach the prod to the stock and tighten the bolts, then install your scope. Barnett’s included scope is a 4 x 32mm crossbow scope, and it installs quickly and easily on the mount.

Overall, I would say it took me less than 5 minutes to have my new crossbow ready to sight in and test out.

Accuracy And Power

The Barnett Penetrator flings arrows at 350 fps, and provides those arrows 109 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy to drive them deep into your target. A friend of mine tried shooting her new Penetrator at a sandbag target, and the arrow went clear through the bag, destroying the vane. Do not try this! Make sure you do your practice shooting at a foam target. It’s safer and you will be less likely to damage your arrows.

Once sighted in, I found that the speed of the Penetrator was matched only with its accuracy. Talk about a tack driver! I was able to maintain 1” groupings from 30 yards, and had 2” groupings at 50 yards. From 75 yards, I still kept 2.5” groupings on the center of the target, to my absolute amazement.

Ballistic Data For The Barnett Penetrator

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.

Hunting: What To Expect

This crossbow propels arrows at 350 fps, and punches them through the target with 109 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy. This is more than enough for small game as well as medium- to large-sized game. The Penetrator is a bit heavy, weighing 8.6 pounds, but I found it easy to carry through the woods. The Penetrator does not come with a padded sling, but it does have the attachment swivels for it, so definitely invest in a sling if you want to take this crossbow into the bush.

During my first hunting trip with the Penetrator, I saw a 12-point buck come down the trail about 30 yards from my deer stand. I took careful aim, followed him until he stopped for a minute, and then took the shot. My arrow went through his shoulder and out the other side without him even realizing he’d been shot until he dropped from blood loss. I’d guess he walked no more than 30 yards before he fell.

Kinetic Energy Of The Barnett Penetrator

I’m sure your next question is how much kinetic energy the Penetrator deals out. After all, KE is what really determines whether or not you can take out your intended prey with a humane kill shot. The Barnett Penetrator slings out the 400-grain arrows at 350 FPS, which will provide 109 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy for every shot from point blank range. From 30 yards out, the normal deduction of a few percent ft. lbs. for every yard away from point blank range would still leave you with 101 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy, which is plenty of KE to take down even the toughest North American game, such as grizzly bears or Cape buffalo.

Use our arrow ballistics calculator for more valuable information.

Cocking The Barnett Penetrator Crossbow

The Barnett Penetrator comes with a rope cocking device, but there’s also an available hand cranking cocking device that attaches directly to the butt. I would recommend the hand cranking cocking device for convenience and easier cocking of the 175 pounds of draw weight.

Using my rope cocking device, I was able to smoothly cock the crossbow. The hand crank worked even better, and I was cocked and ready to shoot in seconds.

The Crossbow Scope

Barnett includes their standard 4 x 32mm scope with the Penetrator, and it’s a pretty good scope. It was almost fully sighted in straight out of the box, meaning only a few shots of fine-tuning before it was ready to go. The scope holds zero (stays sighted in) through the worst of bumps and bangs, which is a welcome change from the old days of scopes that would need to be resighted every time you looked at them funny.

The eye relief of the included crossbow is good, and I was able to quickly adjust for different distances using the multiple reticles.

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


Barnett ships the Penetrator with three 20”, 400-grain arrows. Buy carbon arrows, though, and you will have much more life out of your arrows as well as better flight characteristics. The aluminum arrows that came with my Penetrator bent early on, but my Carbon Express 20” arrows shot reliably and safely through at least a hundred shots during my testing.

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

Safety and Design

This crossbow is well-built and safe to use. The pistol grip makes holding it on target natural, and the bow doesn’t have much in the way of frontal heaviness to pull your arrow down.

The only downfall of this crossbow is the included string. After about 7 shots, my string snapped with a loud bang and I had to replace the string. Barnett doesn’t usually cover string failures in their warranty coverage, but the customer service representative sent me a new string at no charge anyways. I found the replacement string to be much better made, and I had no problems after that.

Barnett’s Penetrator includes an Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) mechanism, and the safety is easy to use.


Barnett warrantees its crossbows for five years, covering the stock, trigger mechanism and limb assembly. They specifically state that string failures and failures due to misuse are not covered, but I’ve found Barnett to be very helpful when strings fail early in the life of the crossbow. Barnett knows their crossbows are string-breakers, and they tend to work hard to please customers. The customer service representatives are friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.

What Crossbow Case Fits the Barnett Penetrator?

One of the most popular choices for any Barnett crossbow is the Barnett Case (Model 17083). It is usually just over $50 and is spacious enough for accessories. Another option is the Carbon Express Deluxe Case. It is under $70, but does not accommodate large accessories.

Crossbow Review – Summary

Thanks for reading this review of the Barnett Penetrator crossbow. This is a solid crossbow that will provide years of successful deer and even elk hunts. The price tag is reasonable, and the hand cranking device is top notch and a wonderful addition to the bow. Take a look at today's price on this crossbow and check out our top 10 crossbows rankings for more.

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