A bowhunter is only as good as his arrow setup. Having a broadhead that is mismatched for your archery profile can be troublesome in the field. The wrong point can lead to poor penetration, flawed flight patterns and weak blood trails. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for archers looking to find the best broadhead for their needs.
Which broadhead you choose is a highly personal decision. Understanding the different styles can help you construct a razor-sharp setup ready to take down your next season’s trophy.
WHY USE A BROADHEAD?
To better help you choose the right broadhead this archery season, it’s important to understand how a broadhead works. Unlike a bullet that kills by shock, arrows are used to take game by hemorrhage, or bleeding. In order to achieve the necessary blood loss to ethically and effectively harvest your target, broadheads need to be extremely sharp to cut through vital organs and arteries. Too dull of a blade and you can risk wounding the animal to no avail. To remain lethal and humane with your shot, be sure that your broadheads are razor sharp. You wouldn’t try to cut a steak with a spoon. The same mindset should be applied to your broadhead selection.
Broadheads can fall into one of three general blade categories: fixed, replaceable and mechanical. Each style can be better tuned for certain hunting situations, so it’s important to understand what you’re looking at. When deciding between these three broadhead options, you should always keep these questions in mind: how far are you shooting, how fast are you shooting and what are you shooting at?
Fixed blade broadheads are as timeless as bowhunting itself. Constructed using two to four blades, these points have no moving parts and usually feature a chisel or razor-tip head. Fixed blade broadheads can be a great, sturdy option for bowhunters targeting big game like elk, moose or bear. The one-piece design can help penetrate deeper into their tough hides, getting into the vital areas for a more successful shot. For archers shooting lighter draw weights, razor-tip heads cut from the start of impact, allowing your arrow to drive deeper into the game with less energy behind it.
There are some drawbacks to this battle-tested broadhead option, however. For one, fixed blade broadheads need sharpened after regular use to remain as effective as possible. In addition, fixed blade broadheads may also tend to sail off-target occasionally because of their design. The blades are constantly exposed and can essentially turn into rudders during flight. This geometry can push your arrow off-course and potentially off-target. You can help lessen this tendency by tuning your bow to your specific broadhead prior to your hunt.
PRO TIP: Compact fixed blade broadheads can be less prone to sailing than larger options due to a more streamlined profile. Compact heads can sacrifice some cutting diameter, however.
While fixed blade broadheads need to be routinely sharpened, replaceable blade broadheads can be changed out with ease for increased simplicity and similar performance. Each blade is internally-held and screwed in place for added sturdiness. Today’s replaceable blade broadheads can feature solid flight characteristics, like fixed blades. This broadhead option can sometimes dip in durability, however, because of the multi-piece construction. Replaceable blade broadheads can also be noisier in flight, which can spook your target.
Just as the name suggests, mechanical blade broadheads feature moving blades that are enclosed during flight and expand on impact. These broadheads, pre-expansion, are very compact, which helps give them exceptional flight characteristics. The expanding blades can also reach larger cutting diameters than fixed blade broadheads, which can lead to more hemorrhaging and more successful hunts. Mechanical blade broadheads are popular among turkey hunters as well as those pursuing whitetail deer.
These innovative archery options do have some flaws, however. Mechanical broadheads can lack penetration, making them less popular among big game hunters or archers using low-poundage bows. There is also the chance of something going wrong when dealing with moving parts. The blades might not expand properly, the tip can deflect or components can break. Today’s technologies and advancements have significantly lessened this worry for hunters, however.
Lastly, some states also forbid archers from using mechanical blades. Check with your state or local fish and wildlife commission prior to going with this style of broadhead.
A FINAL NOTE ON WEIGHT
By now, you’ve decided which broadhead style is right for your archery needs. Your next choice should be what size to purchase. Be sure to take your overall arrow weight into consideration and match the broadhead to your desired outcome. This can take some math and measurements, so be sure to visit your local archery PROS at DICK’S Sporting Goods if you have any questions. Broadheads can come in a number of weights, with 100-grain and 125-grain being popular among bowhunters.
A razor-sharp broadhead that matches your game and setup is important to any archer drawing back on target this year. Use these helpful tips and guidelines to choose your next broadhead and be on point from season’s start to season’s end.