Barnett Wildcat C5 Review

The following Barnett Wildcat C5 review was written by Martin Huntley.


Barnett Wildcat C5SpeedDraw WeightLengthWeightRating
Barnett Wildcat C5

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320 FPS150 lbs.35.2"8.5 lbs.8/10


  • Very good value for the money
  • Accurate even in the hands of a rank beginner
  • Lots of kinetic energy and speed for such a cheap crossbow
  • Very good (durable & straight) arrows included


  • May feel quite heavy at first
  • Included sight is of mediocre quality

Package Contents

  • The Barnett Wildcat C5 compound crossbow
  • Three 20″ crossbow arrows
  • Practice field tips for the arrows
  • Red dot scope
  • Arrow quiver
  • Wax for the string
  • Owner’s manual & 5 year warranty
  • Assembly bolts, screws and Allen wrenches

Hunting broad-heads are not included, and you’ll also need to purchase a rope cocking aid if manually pulling 150 lbs. of weight each time you want to cock the crossbow sounds annoying.

Assembling The Barnett Wildcat C5

Nothing surprising here. If you’ve ever assembled a compound crossbow before, you’ll get the Wildcat C5 ready in 5 minutes. Otherwise, just follow the illustrate assembly instructions in the owner’s manual:

  1. Attach the quiver mount.
  2. Attach the riser to the stock, making sure the cables go through the groove in the stock.
  3. Attach the foot stirrup using the screws.
  4. Mount the scope and secure it with the screws.

If you can comfortably tighten a hex screw/bolt, you’ve got all the expertise required to assemble this crossbow. All assembly hardware is included with the package.

First Impressions: Design, Comfort, Safety

  • Very comfortable fore-grip, designed to ensure your fingers stay away from the string’s travel path.
  • Arrow retainer works flawlessly and has a sturdy feel to it.
  • Very wide stock butt makes the crossbow comfortable to aim and reduces recoil. No feelings of discomfort in the shoulder area regardless of how long you aim.
  • Quiver mount screws tend to loosen after a heavy shooting session, resulting in extra vibration. Keep an Allen wrench with you in case they need to be tightened.
  • The foot cocking stirrup is large enough for even the largest boots.
  • The split limbs are secured to the riser using heavy duty bolts.
  • Anti-dry fire mechanism is included. Safety did not disengage accidentally even after giving the crossbow a very strong “tap” and shaking it roughly.

Trigger Assembly

  • Pressure required to pull the trigger is around 4.4 lbs., which is much more than on most other crossbows. It’s just a matter of getting used to it though.
  • The pull is very smooth and trigger travel distance isn’t too long or short – similar to what you might be used to on a rifle.
  • Make sure to lubricate the trigger often as it does have a tendency to “lock up” slightly if this is neglected.

Overall: as lony as you don’t dry fire the Wildcat C5, it will last you a lifetime.

Kinetic Energy And Shooting Speed of The Wildcat C5

  • The crossbow is advertised as delivering 320 FPS. As always, I put this through a chrono test and shot 5 arrows, then averaged out the speed. The result was 316 FPS. (Using the arrows provided in the package.)
  • Using typical 20″, 400 grain crossbow arrows, the point-blank kinetic energy of the Wildcat C5 88.19 ft-lbs.. More than any hunter will ever need.

Overall: one of the fastest and most powerful crossbows in this price range.

Shooting Accuracy And Balance

  • My younger brother, with very limited experience shooting a recurve bow, had great success with the Wildcat C5. After literally 15 minutes of practice, he was consistently hitting the bulls-eye from 35 yards.
  • After a few months of practice, hitting 50+ yard targets the size of a box of matches will not be an issue.
  • The red-dot sight included, while of average quality, remains zeroed after it is sighted.
  • This crossbow is pretty heavy, so if you are small-framed, it might take some time getting used to the weight (a few days tops) before you can aim the crossbow with perfect consistency.
  • The front of the Wildcat C5 does not have the tendency to drop downwars while aiming, as a lot of the weight is positioned close to the shooter’s body.

Overall: accurate almost right out of the box. The weight of the crossbow may take some time getting used to though.

The Best Arrows For a Barnett Wildcat C5

  • 20 inch arrows are ideal, though 22″ will work fine as well if you have some laying around.
  • Either carbon or aluminum will work fine. For hunting purposes though, I’d suggest using carbon as they tend to deliver slightly more kinetic energy than aluminums.
  • 400 to 450 grain arrows will work perfectly (this includes the weight of the tip).
  • If uncertain, get any of Barnett’s 20″ carbon arrows, and with time and experience you’ll figure out if you prefer heavier or lighter arrows.
  • The arrows included with the package are made from carbon and can definitely take a beating without breaking. Feel free to shoot them even at short distances (15 yards or less) without worrying about them being damaged.

Quality of The Crossbow Sight in The Package

  • It does not come factory-sighted, so you’ll probably need to sight your crossbow after assembling it. The sight is responsive to knob (windage/elevation) adjustments and it won’t take you more than 20 minutes to get it properly sighted.
  • The sight does not hold zero very well, meaning you’ll need to make small adjustments regularly often. Keep a screwdriver on you at all times in the field so you can make changes when necessary.
  • The brightness settings on the sight are decent, although they can create a bit of bluriness and make it a little difficult to properly see your exact target, particularly when shooting from more than 30 yards away.
  • The battery will last for up to a year, depending on how often you use the sight. Just remember to turn it off after you’re done shooting.
  • Optics’ light gathering properties are decent, but this isn’t the sight to use if it’s approaching complete darkness outside.

Overall: an average sight, and probably the only real weakness of the Wildcat C5. It will do for the first few weeks or months of shooting, though you’re going to feel like replacing it for something better pretty soon.

Is The Barnett Wildcat C5 Good For Beginners?

Absolutely yes, but only if the 8.5 lbs. of total weight does not scare you away. Here’s what I believe makes it a good selection for a beginner archer:

  • Durable and low-maintenance components – no need for lots of tuning or fixing stuff.
  • Balance construction makes it easy to aim even if you are just learning how to shoot a crossbow.
  • Fast enough for any beginner’s needs, regardless of your goal (target shooting or hunting).
  • Responsive trigger action; not much focus is require to execute a proper shot.
  • Good safety features in place.
  • Very affordable

Is The Wildcat C5 Suitable For Hunting Purposes?

The only thing that might be an issue for a hunter is the weight of the crossbow. Not everyone feels comfortable carrying around close to 9 lbs. around the field for hours a day. Getting crossbow sling is highly recommended if you want to hunt with the Wildcat C5. Other than that, here’s what makes it a viable hunting pick:

  • Easy to maneuver in tight spots (hunting blind for instance) due to the short 35″ length.
  • Delivers enough kinetic energy to easily harvest deer and elk.
  • Larger game, such as cape buffalo, can also be harvested with the Wildcat C5. However, you should probably use heavier than average arrows (425 grain or more) and only take a shot if your target is no more than 20 yards away. Otherwise, you might fail to achieve enough penetration for a complete pass-through.
  • I suggest getting a better sight/scope before you go hunting. As mentioned earlier, the sight included with the package tends to require knob re-adjustments often – definitely not a problem you want to run into while hunting.

How Good Is The Included String?

  • The Wildcat C5 string will last around 700-900 shots. Keep it constantly waxed and you’ll be closer to the upper end of that range.
  • The string is a little thick, but still moves fast enough to achieve the relatively high FPS this crossbow delivers.
  • If you’re a beginner, I recommend getting a backup string and keeping it on you at all times. Beginner’s are more likely to mis-use the crossbow or forget to wax the string – both of which can reduce its “life expectancy.”

Where To Buy The Barnett Wildcat C5?

Assuming you want to make your purchase online, see’s price on this crossbow. Apart from that, your second best bet is to visit a sporting goods store in your area and buy it there. Buying a used unit is also an option, though beginners should avoid it as they don’t have enough experience to assess the quality or locate “hidden” damage.

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