The ancient arts of bow hunting, fletching, and archery go back thousands of years. Prior to the invention of the gun, the bow, and consequently, the crossbow and their variation were the standard bits of ranged weaponry.
The development of the bow changed the way humans hunted. Its application also largely changed the way civilizations waged wars. Eventually, as firearms grew in popularity, bows featuring the most advanced technology of that era, even with the best broadheads and arrows began to experience a decline. A man could be taught to shoot straight with a rifle in days.
On the other hand, to effectively hunt or kill with a bow took months, even years of training. Archery became relegated to obscure regions where their use still somehow persisted. Possibly by virtue of cultural or military tradition.
Today, however, archery is steadily making a comeback. Scientific advancements that have been applied to the ancient art have given it a strong enough push to slowly become, once again, a growing mainstream hunting method.
More and more people today are getting into archery both as a sport (simply aiming at targets) and as a legal means of taking game.
If the conversation is about archery, then no doubt, bows, and crossbows, as well as their construction, are the heart of the discussion. But the weapons alone aren’t enough to define the archery experience, you also have to account for the arrows, and by extension broadheads.
The archer’s skill also comes into consideration here. However, it’s pretty safe to say that the right broadhead can make or break a hunter’s experience out in the field. So here are a few things you need to know about what to look for when picking out a broadhead.
What Makes A Good Broadhead?
Being the very tip of a projectile, the broadhead can make a huge difference, in terms of whether nor a target goes down. It isn’t going to magically hone in on a target, but it can provide every possible advantage to a good shooter when it counts most.
A good broadhead can mean the difference between a wounded animal, and a bad shot. The debate for the best broadhead is one that will never be resolved due to the complexity of the bow hunt. Here is a basic view on the mechanics of the broadhead and which options are ideal for your needs.
There are three types of broadheads and each has their own pros and cons.
- Fixed-blade: This is the tried and tested type of broadhead. They generally have a cut-on tip that is highly effective at penetrating even tougher hides, like that of elk, deer, and bear.
Their high level of dependability does come with a downside. Fixed blade broadheads have to be sharpened from time to time. Bowhunters that have slow shooting speed due to the use of lower draw weights will find fixed-blade broadheads to be a good option.
To maximize kinetic energy, a smaller broadhead is ideal. This will allow energy to be focused to a smaller point on the target, thereby increasing penetrative potential.
- Replaceable Blade: These types of broadheads are considered a sub-classification of fixed blades. These will usually perform well with most bows. Eventually, when the blade becomes dull with use, they are easily replaced.
The main disadvantage with this type of broadhead is the price. They are usually among the more expensive options, by virtue of the need to replace them. In theory, they can be sharpened, but this can come at the expense of shot accuracy.
- Mechanical or expandable: These broadheads tend to be the most aerodynamically sound, providing some of the best flight among broadheads. They can also work well with almost any bow.
Their ability to penetrate, however, pales in comparison to other broadhead types. This is worsened during deflections, so sudden movements of a target can mean trouble.
The tip of a broadhead will generally come in two variants. Chisel and cutting. Chisel tips feature a strong, blunt tip that is able to punch through tougher hides before blades are deep enough to be deployed and cause damage.
They are also known to be more durable and can take shots through bone without breaking. The blunt tip does disperse some of the kinetic energy leading to slightly less penetration.
Cutting tips, are bladed and are intended to be able to make a cut as it lands. This allows it to maximize kinetic energy and embed itself deeper into the hide. If the shot lands on bone or tougher hide or comes at an awkward angle, it may not be able to do the intended damage.
The size of the broadhead will affect two things. The first is penetration. A smaller sized broadhead will focus kinetic energy onto a smaller point. This allows the broadhead more power to penetrate the target.
In terms of creating a blood trail and putting down a target, a larger broadhead may prove to be advantageous as it increases the size of the cut. This increases the chances of severing more blood vessels in the target, this increases the chance of making a kill.
The size of the broadhead, or more specifically, its cutting diameter will impact the ability of the shot to transfer penetrative kinetic energy. Also, the cutting diameter can affect the flight quality of the arrow.
In terms of identifying the right size, a balance must be struck. Penetrative power must be sufficient to pierce the hide of the intended prey and the size, enough to do enough damage to make a kill. It’s important to note, that the ideal broadhead size will have to do largely with what is being hunted.
A Smaller game such as whitetail and turkey can be taken with the biggest broadheads. Thicker hides of larger animals such as deer and elk will require a bit more power to cut through. That has to be factored into the choice.
It’s important to note, however, that penetrative power is not solely contingent on the size of the broadhead, the bow setup factors in as well.
Weight will largely consider the shaft of the arrow. Carbon and lightweight aluminum shafts will generally go with 100grains.
Heavy aluminum shafts will tend to go well with 125-grain heads. Note that due to the history of the sport, broadhead mass is measured in grains, not grams. Grains refers to a British weighing system which takes into account the weight of a grain of barley.
If you are using a crossbow, be sure to note the recommended broadhead weight by the manufacturer. Make it a point to never go beneath that threshold. Messing around with lower weight on a crossbow could lead to damage on your weapon, and potential injuries on your part.
Top Products Reviews
To aid in your search for a great broadhead, we’ve reviewed a list of seven items popular in the market today to help you out.
Rage 2 Blade SC Broadhead 100-Grain
- Type: Mechanical
- Tip: Cutting, .39in
- Grain: 100
- Blades: 2 x .35in stainless steel blades
- Cutting diameter: 2in
- Free Practice Head
Description: The Rage 2 Blade SC Broadhead is a prime example of the development mechanical broadheads have undergone in recent years. This particular model carries on Rage’s tradition of high accuracy and quality wound channels.
The cutting tip works well to work its way into the pelt and the stainless steel blades are dependable in terms of deployment, for so long as the shot is solid.
The 2-inch cutting diameter is a conservative estimate as a well-shot Rage 2 can make a cut as big as 3 inches. Others who have used it claim that it flies just like a field point.
The Rage 2 is generally a good option for anyone taking a mechanical broadhead. Though some may have a problem with the price.
There have also been reported instances where the blades deploy prematurely. Also, they have a tendency to rattle around in some quivers, it might make for a bit of a challenge when stalking deer in dark timber. But on the whole, it’s a good deal for anyone mulling about making the investment.
Muzzy Broadheads New Muzzy Trocar 100 Grain 3 Blade
- Grain: 100
- Type: Fixed Blade
- Blades: 3x .35 blades
- 1 & 3/16 inch cutting diameter
- Tip: Trocar (Chisel)
- .35in Thick Razor-sharp blades
- Helix blade design
Description: The Muzzy Broadheads New Muzzy Trocar features excellent durability, a hallmark of Muzzy’s 30 year legacy in the field of archery. It offers a right helix blade design which allows for excellent accuracy, courtesy of improved allow stabilization.
The three .35 inch blades work with the trocar’s penetrative power to punch through tougher hide and create an excellent wound pattern. The smaller cutting diameter creates a stronger penetrative force. The thick blades and the trocar make this broadhead capable of punching through bone.
Unlike many broadheads in the market today, the Muzzy is able to demonstrate a high-level of accuracy even without a thorough tuning. Being a great fixed blade, the Muzzy is able to remain accurate even under lower drawing weights.
The price of the Muzzy Trocar might be a bit of a deterrent for some newer bow enthusiasts. The fixed-blade structure of the broadhead might scare away a few mechanically inclined archers.
However, through time, the Muzzy Trocar has proven itself to be a strong, reliable broadhead, capable of taking on game, even with shots that aren’t the most ideal.
Carbon Express Mayhem EXT Broadhead
- Type: Fixed Blade
- Tip: Cutting
- Number of Blades: 3
- Material: All Steel
- Cutting Diameter: 1 inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.017
- Weight: 100gr
Description: The Carbon Express Mayhem EXT is a solid, durable, and low-cost option for fixed blade aficionados. It features a cutting tip, allowing it to slice in deep. The three blade configuration allows for some quick, humane kills, especially if shot makes a clean hit on the broad side.
The low-profile construction allows for excellent flight and aerodynamics, the performance can be likened to shooting with a field point. The smaller construction also works fine with crossbows.
The all-steel construction makes for a solid broadhead that is able to take a beating. The fixed blade structure also makes it a go-to option for bowhunters who favor lower draw weights.
At its low price, the Mayhem EXT Broadhead is definitely worth the price. There have been some complaints about an inconsistency in the sharpness of broadheads in the pack. Other than that, it’s a good fixed blade option.
Qad Exodus 100Gr Nonbarb
- Type: Replaceable Blades
- Weight: 100gr
- Blade thickness: .40in
- Made in the USA
Description: The QAD Exodus Nonbarb is an excellent choice for archers who prefer replaceable blades. Replacing blades is a simple affair with the construction. Lock-up of the blade is also solid. Its ability to penetrate pretty much matches up with the competition.
There is no need to worry about pre-deploying blades with the Qad Exodus. The blades retain their sharpness over long periods as well, making them worthwhile in terms of cost. (However, they are still pretty expensive as far as broadheads go.) .
In terms of the integrity of the structure, it withstands quite a beating.
While definitely accurate under minimal wind condition, the Qad Exodus does suffer a bit during a passing errant wind. Not that it goes significantly of course, but it can tend to deviate from standard field point shot accuracy.
Price is also a potential deal breaker especially for archers who are just starting out or are working with a more limited budget.
Ramcat Black Broadhead
- Type: Fixed Blade/Replaceable Blades
- Steel body construction
- Weight: 100grain
- Patented Ramcat Technology
Description: The Ramcat Black Broadhead is a great lethal option for bowhunters. A huge benefit it provides is the added accuracy. The patented Ramcat Technology incorporated into its construction creates an airfoil around the arrowhead in flight.
This provides added stability, lessening the probability of the shot accuracy succumbing to wind planing. Aside from the accuracy, the Ramcat can put a big hole on game providing excellent blood trails.
The stainless steel construction is also great against corrosion and doesn’t need to be maintained much. They’re also notable in the sense that they are extremely quiet in-flight.
While it is definitely a great option, the Ramcat will set bowhunters back by quite a bit. Other than its relatively high price, it requires blade replacements.
Some hunters are willing to reuse replaceable blades. For the Ramcat, this becomes a difficult endeavor thick as the blades have a tendency to bend.
Overall, however, if you are willing to spend on your bow hunting, the Ramcat provides an accurate and lethal choice.
Slick Trick Magnum 100 GR Broadhead
- Type: Fixed Blade/Replaceable Blades
- Tip: Steel Ferrule/Chisel
- .35 SS Lutz Blades
- Cutting Diameter: 2 ¼ in
- Alcatraz Bladelock system
Description: The Slick Trick Magnum 100 GR is a great fixed blade option. The steel ferrule tip provides a strong punch, allowing your shot to penetrate thick hide and potentially bone. The 2 ¼ inch cutting diameter will all but guarantee a quick kill in the event of a clean hit.
The .35 SS Lutz blades are crafted with German engineering precision. It also boasts four of these blades, over the three many broadheads will pack, this leads to increased lethality.
The construction of the broadhead in conjunction with the positioning of the blades amplify the killing efficiency of the Slick Trick Magnum.
Though it is a bit finicky. In order to maximize its accuracy, you may want to take it to a professional to tune it. The blades are replaceable and will note changing after some use. It’s also a tad bit pricey.
- Type: Fixed Blade
- 3 blades
- Weight: 125gr
- 1-year limited warranty
- 1 3/16in cutting diameter
- Micro-grooved slimline ferrule/Chisel Tip
- 6 per pack
Description: The Thunderhead 100 is a strong fixed blade broadhead for fixed blade aficionados. The Micro-grooved slimline ferrule pushes the shots penetrating power up several notches, not to mention its positive effect on shot accuracy.
The patented Diamize sharpening process gives Thunderhead users some of the sharpest blades available on the market today. The three blades create a 1 3/16in cutting diameter creates massive hemorrhaging.
Couple this with the power produced by the and you have a deadly combination ready for use by fixed blade bowhunters.
Note that this is not an ideal option for crossbow use. The Thunderbird 100,while a great overall choice for fixed blade users might prove to be unwieldy for crossbow users.
The high-velocity shots that are characteristically made by crossbows have a tendency to weaken the accuracy of the Thunderhead.
These are only a few of the numerous options available on the market today. What’s important to remember is that choosing the right broadhead is largely an experiential concern. The best broadhead is one that you are comfortable shooting with and one that you’ve practiced on your bow with.
Also, a broadhead doesn’t solve weaknesses in form or shooting quality. It should, however, provide the archer, or bow hunter with a sufficient advantage to successfully take the game.