Bow vs Crossbow in Minecraft: which one is better?

Bows are the oldest range distance weapon and they used to be the only option to pair with Swords. For years they have been the only weapon that could be used to defeat the Ender Dragon.

A couple of years ago the Crossbow was introduced as a second option for long distance attacks. Many players didn’t like it at the beginning, but after a few patches it started to be a very interesting alternative to the good old Bow.

They are very similar and yet they have so many differences, which we will see in details in this article. We will first consider how unenchanted Bows and Crossbow differ, then we will look at the lists of possible enchantments and at how those can change the two weapons.

bow vs crossbow minecraft

How to get them

Let’s begin the list of their differences from the way you can get them.

  • You can trade both of them with Fletcher Villagers in exchange for Emeralds
  • You can get a Bow by killing Skeletons, Strays and Illusionists
  • You can get a Crossbow by killing a Pillager or a Piglin
  • You can find Crossbows in Pillagers outposts Chests
  • You can get a Bow (sometimes enchanted) when fishing
  • You can craft both of them

The best way to obtain both of them is probably by crafting them, since the materials needed are very easy to find.

How to craft a Bow

To craft a bow you will need only two ingredients: Sticks and Strings, 3 for each of them. You can make Sticks from Wooden Planks and you can obtain Strings by killing Spiders or by breaking Cobwebs while using a Sword (related topic: Do Spiders take fall damage in Minecraft?).

minecraft bow crafting recipe

How to craft a Crossbow

Crafting a Crossbow is relatively more expensive, you will need to put some Iron in it. The crafting ingresients are 3 Sticks, 2 Strings, an Iron Ingot and a Tripwire Hook.

To craft a Tripwire Hook you will need an Iron Ingot, a Stick and a Wooden plank:

minecraft tripwire hook crafting recipe

Once you have the Tripwire Hook you can assemble all the pieces to craft the Crossbow.

minecraft crossbow crafting


A Crossbow degrades faster than a Bow: it lasts 326 uses against 385 of a Bow (1 Arrow shot = 1 use). And if we consider that a Crossbow it’s more “expensive” to make, it becomes a relevant factor to consider.

Both of them can be repaired in 4 different ways by combining two Bows or two Crossbows. Again, since a Bow is cheaper to make, repairing a damaged Bow is easier than a damaged Crossbow.

minecraft bow repairing

Reload time

Bows take less time to reload: you need 1.1 seconds to reload them (22 random ticks) against the 1.25 seconds of the Crossbow (25 ticks). The difference may seem small, but it becomes significant in dangerous situations.


Bow damage goes from 1 to 11. The more you charge the shot, the higher the damage.

Crossbow damage goes from 6 to 11.

If the Arrows shot lose speed before hitting (because of distance or gravity) the damage will be lower for both of the weapons.
Even if the minimum damage of a Crossbow is higher, this is not the only factor to consider to declare the winner.


A big difference between the two weapons is represented by Firework Rockets. These explosives can be shot only by Crossbows and when they hit they explode, dealing up to 18 damage. Differently than Arrows, they deal damage in an area around the explosion. This means that they can damage more than one enemy, making them good weapons for crowd control.

Firework Rockets are made with Gunpowder and Paper, which comes from Sugar (see also the best way to grow Sugarcane).

minecraft firework rocket crafting recipe

They also count as 3 uses for the weapon’s durability.


A Bow can be enchanted with:

While a Crossbow can be enchanted with:

  • Curse of Vanishing
  • Mending
  • Multishot
  • Piercing
  • Quick Charge
  • Unbreaking

Something worth mentioning about the enchantments is that, without considering Fireworks, Bows can deal more damage thanks to the Power enchantment, which they have exclusively and that can increase their damage up to 125%. Crossbows can shot multiple Arrows thanks to Multishot, but that’s not enough to catch up.

Related article: How to repair enchanted items

Video guide

Here’s an interesting video on the topic for more insights.


Some players prefer Bows, some prefer Crossbows, and it’s easy to see why: both weapons have their pros and cons, it all depends from one’s playstyle. Now that you know their most important differences, go and try yourself, so that you will be able to decide which one you prefer.

Related articles