10 Best Carbon Hunting Arrows Revealed in 2019 ( For Deer, Elk & Tight Budgets )

hunter aiming arrow

Archery hunters know that drawing back to strike their quarry is the moment when all their hard work, skill, and equipment must come together seamlessly.

From your bow, sights, rests, to even your arrows, you don’t want an ounce of doubt that your equipment may fail. You don’t want to worry about anything except embracing the adrenaline rush every hunter lives for.

Choosing arrows needs just as much attention and research as your bow. The best bow with a weak arrow can be just as disappointing as a poor bow with a great arrow. Since there are so many choices and prices, I have put this article together to help you make informed purchases.

The cheapest arrows may not have the worst quality, and the most expensive may not prove to be the best.

 

The 10 Best Carbon Hunting Arrows of 2019: Outdoor Empire Reviews

  1. Best cheap: Cabela’s Carbon Hunter
  2. Best cheap #2: Cabela’s Stalker Extreme
  3. Best for the money: Gold Tip Hunter XT
  4. Best for the money #2: Easton Aftermath
  5. Best overall: Easton Full Metal Jacket
  6. Best overall #2: Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter
  7. Best elk: Easton Full Metal Jacket
  8. Best elk #2: Carbon Exp Maxima Red
  9. Best deer: Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter
  10. Best deer #2: Carbon Exp Maxima Blue RZ 350

 

CategoryBest CheapBest for the MoneyBest Overall
ModelCabela’s Carbon Hunter
Cabela’s Carbon Hunter

Gold Tip Hunter XT
Gold Tip Hunter XT

Easton Full Metal Jacket
Easton Full Metal Jacket

Length31 in32 in32 in
Straightness Factor+/- 0.006 in+/- 0.003 in+/- 0.002 in
Weight Tolerance+/- 5 gr.+/- 2 gr.+/- 2.0 gr.
Diameter0.298 in0.302 in0.269 in
Size55/70 (8.4 gpi)
65/80 (9.3 gpi)
340 (8.9 gpi)
400 (8.2 gpi)
300 - 12.0 gpi
340 - 11.3 gpi
400 - 10.2 gpi
500 - 9.1 gpi
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

 

Best Arrows on a Tight Budget

Not everyone is able purchase top-of-the-line hunting equipment, especially in every single category. Many people try to purchase cheap items but become discouraged when the quality isn’t what they hoped for.

With arrows, you need to invest in a quality that will withstand the abuse of being shot over and over into a target.

Cabela’s Carbon Hunter

Cabela’s Carbon Hunter

Cabela’s Carbon Hunter arrows are a great investment when you want quality and want to stick to your budget. They are built for anyone who is starting out and are designed to give everyone the opportunity to get out and shoot their bow as much as possible.

  • Price: $40.00 for 6
  • Length: 31”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.006”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 5 gr.
  • Diameter: 0.298”

The high straightness factor and weight tolerance makes these arrows great for close-range hunting and target shooting. They are also inexpensive, which allows anyone to get out and enjoy both target shooting and the up close and personal experience of hunting with a bow.

They would also be great for shooting from a blind or tree stand where you have a closer predetermined distance.

 

 

Cabela’s Stalker Extreme

Cabela’s Stalker Extreme

These arrows are ideal for a tight budget and do not sacrifice straightness. Cheap and versatile, these carbon arrows fly fast and true.

  • Price: $88.00 for 12
  • Length: 30.5”
  • Straightness Factor +/- 0.003”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 2 gr.
  • Diameter: 0.286” (45/60”), 0.294” (55/70”), 0.298” (65/80”)

The Stalker Extreme arrows are extremely reliable for their cost, and customer reviews prove how great these arrows truly are. These are great for hunting as well as target practice.

 

 

Best Arrows for the Money

Some archers want to upgrade their arrows but don’t have the skills to optimize top-of-the-line arrows. They are looking for a good quality more than the lowest prices. A great, durable arrow is the Gold Tip Hunter XT.

Gold Tip Hunter XT

Gold Tip Hunter XT

These arrows are of great quality, especially for their cost. Many hunters who begin with these arrows find them durable and versatile enough to for years of hunting. They are made with 100% carbon technology that makes them fast and strong.

Specifications

  • Price: About $65.00 for 6
  • Length: 32”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.003”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 2 gr.
  • Diameter: 0.302”

These arrows are great for all animals from elk and deer to turkey. They are versatile for both beginner hunters to experienced hunters, and they are built to withstand the stress of repetitive shots during target practice.

 

Gold Tip Hunter XT is also available at:

Cabelas

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Optics Planet

Walmart

Academy

 

Easton Aftermath

Easton Aftermath

Another great arrow for hunting is the Easton Aftermath. They have great durability without sacrificing strength. These are low-profile arrows, which helps them penetrate with less friction.

Specifications

  • Price: $50.00 for 6
  • Length: 32”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.005”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 2.0 gr.
  • Diameter: 0.281” (9/32”)

Considering their smaller size, these arrows are very durable and can withstand the abuse of being shot over and over. They can be used on all sizes of game, so they are great for hunting and target shooting. If this is a new size for you, you will need new nocks and field tips to accommodate the smaller circumference.

 

Easton Aftermath is also available at:

Cabelas

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Optics Planet

Walmart

Academy

 

Best Overall Carbon Arrows

Many hunters will eventually upgrade their arrows hoping to find the best overall arrows to fully optimize their equipment. The Easton Full Metal Jacket arrows are the best arrows overall. They are very low on their straightness factor as well as weight tolerance, which helps provide consistent shots.

Easton Full Metal Jacket

Easton Full Metal Jacket

These arrows are a hybrid of both carbon and aluminum. This gives the arrow the precision and straightness of aluminum as well as the durability and extra speed of carbon. They are built to maintain more kinetic energy, which allows them to hit hard and strong.

This hybrid composition also keeps them from shattering when shot, making these arrows safer than those made of pure carbon.

  • Price: $75.00 for 6
  • Length: 32”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.002”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 2.0 gr
  • Diameter: .269”

These are great hunting and target shooting arrows. They are versatile and provide extra kinetic energy to give them an edge when to hunting. The main drawback is that these arrows are heavier than most, making them slower (though your eyes might not tell the difference).

 

Easton Full Metal Jacket is also available at:

Cabelas

Sportsman’s Guide

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Optics Planet

Walmart

Academy

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter

Carbon Exp Maxima HunterThese arrows are built for straightness and toughness. They fly true thanks to their straightness factor and weight tolerance. The Maxima is very reliable for any hunter who wants their best to become the best.

  • Price: $85.00 for 6 arrows
  • Length: 35”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.0025”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 1.0 gr.
  • Diameter: 0.295”

These are by far the most versatile arrows on this list. They are great for hunting and target shooting at both close and long distances. They are great for every hunter or archer. You won’t be disappointed with Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter arrows.

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter is also available at:

Optics Planet

Walmart

 

Best Arrows For Elk Hunting

When hunting elk, we want to ensure that our arrow will not hinder harvesting from this thick-skinned animal. We need a strong and durable arrow that will hit hard and penetrate deep. We always want a quick and ethical kill with archery. If you are looking for the perfect arrow for an elk, pick up the Easton Full Metal Jacket.

Easton Full Metal Jacket

Easton Full Metal JacketThese arrows are a hybrid of both carbon and aluminum. This gives the arrow the precision and straightness of aluminum as well as the durability and extra speed of carbon. They are built to maintain more kinetic energy, which allows them to hit hard and strong.

This hybrid composition also keeps them from shattering when shot, making these arrows safer than those made of pure carbon.

  • Price: $75.00 for 6
  • Length: 32”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.003”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 2.0 gr
  • Diameter .269”

We know elk are as tough as they are big. These shafts, combined with the right broadhead and the power of a modern compound bow, can optimize your skills and help you harvest this amazing animal.

 

Easton Full Metal Jacket is also available at:

Cabelas

Sportsman’s Guide

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Optics Planet

Walmart

Academy

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Red

Carbon Exp Maxima RedAnother great Elk hunting arrow is the Carbon Exp Maxima Red. These arrows are built for speed, which is important for big game animals. When you match the right poundage with these arrows, they will fly true and fast to your target. The Red arrows are built with stiffer ends to ensure better flex in the middle of the shaft.

  • Price: $85.00 for 6
  • Length 31.5”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.0025”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 1.0 gr.
  • Diameter: .295 (250) .300” (350)
  • Recommended field tip size: 0.297” (19/64”)

Never underestimate a proven brand like Carbon. They have optimized the straightness factor and weight tolerance to give you the best accuracy.

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Red is also available at:

Sportsman’s Guide

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Optics Planet

Walmart

Academy

 

Best Arrows For Deer Hunting

Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter

Carbon Exp Maxima HunterThese arrows are built for straightness and toughness. Just like most carbon arrows, they fly true thanks to their straightness factor and weight tolerance. The Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter truly has the upper hand when it comes to straightness and accuracy.

The Maxima are very reliable for any hunter that wants to bring their skills to the next level.

  • Price: $85.00 for 6
  • Length: 35”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.0025”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 1.0 gr.
  • Diameter: 0.295”

These are great arrows for deer hunters. You want a fast and tough arrow to give you optimal precision when shooting a deer. Any hunter who has had a deer jump string on them knows the importance of speed. If you need a quicker arrow, you can’t go wrong with the Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter.

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Hunter is also available at:

Optics Planet

Walmart

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Blue RZ 350

Carbon Exp Maxima Blue RZ 350Carbon Express Maxima Blue is yet another fantastic arrow for hunting. The incredible speed of these arrows makes them great for deer hunting. Since deer don’t stand still for very long, it is important to have a quick shot to make a lasting hunting memory.

  • Price: $165.00 for 12
  • Length: 31.5”
  • Straightness Factor: +/- 0.0025”
  • Weight Tolerance: +/- 1.0 gr.
  • Diameter: .296”
  • Spine: .346”

The Maxima Blue is a great arrow for all hunters. They are versatile and quick, which makes them a great purchase for anyone. These arrows will help you zero in on your shot to get the most effective and efficient kill.

 

Carbon Exp Maxima Blue RZ 350 is also available at:

Optics Planet

Walmart

Academy

 

Importance of Choosing the Right Arrows

Have you ever wanted to get into a new hobby but never realized there were so many decisions you had to make?

I faced this when I entered the world of bow hunting. I was overwhelmed by all the different bows, rests, sights, and releases. Just when I thought I had my bow all set up, I was asked which arrows I wanted. I had no idea what I needed or wanted or what was the best for the little money I had.

As hunters, we want to shoot our bow perfectly. We want to ensure we can harvest an animal. And, naturally, we like to be good at what we do. When I first started archery hunting, I ended up buying a cheap bow and cheap arrows.

Even with hundreds of shots, I was incredibly inconsistent and became frustrated. When I went in to purchase a new bow, the Pro Shop was shocked that my arrows hadn’t shattered because of the high poundage on my bow. This is when I realized how important it was to get the right arrows.

 

bow and arrow upclose

Trying to improve with a wide variety of equipment can also cause inconsistency.

For example, when my nephew wanted to get into archery, his parents (understandably) didn’t want to purchase expensive equipment for him and instead bought gear here and there. This left my nephew with an assortment of different arrows, different lengths, and different weights.

Even the slightest difference in his arrows showed up on farther shots.

 

Style

There are different styles of arrows including aluminum, carbon, and hybrids – the most popular being the full metal jacket carbon (FMJ).

  • Aluminum arrows are less expensive and less common now due to improved technology. They are heavier and fly slower, but they are more durable and have minimal to no risk of shattering when shot.
  • Carbon arrows are more expensive than aluminum but are light weight and have a lot more flex. They need to be checked for cracks since a damaged arrow can shatter and splinter in your bow when shot.
  • The Easton FMJ’s are, of course, expensive and durable but do not have the risk of shattering upon a shot. They have minimal flex to them, which gives them more kinetic energy but also more weight than carbon arrows.

When hunting, competitive target shooting, or just doing archery as a  hobby, be sure to do your homework and find the exact arrows that fit your lifestyle and your wallet.

It is a sick feeling to fling something from your bow at around $20.00 per shot, but at the same time, how sick would you be if you went cheap on your arrows and ended up in the hospital with carbon shards in your arm and wrist? Take the time to invest in the right arrows and begin to make some memories.

 

How to Choose

bow hunter resting on tree

Now that you know about some of the arrows and why it is important to make a good decision, you still may have heard from a buddy or someone who wants to give you some arrows.

It is important to understand what all the numbers and specifications each arrow has so you can make a good decision on what you want to shoot. So let’s go over the specs and give you a good grasp of what to look for when buying arrows.

 

Poundage and Draw Length

archer at full draw

When you bought your bow, the pro shop adjusted your draw length to fit how far your arm would be at full draw. This length is important to know since an arrow that’s too short won’t stay on the rest when you pull back to shoot it. There are also other problems if an arrow is too long.

You also need to know the poundage of your bow. If the poundage is too high and an inflexible arrow can shatter when you take the shot. It is very important not to accept or shoot anyone else’s arrows if you have different draw lengths and poundage.

Also, beginners may need to up their poundage as they get stronger. More poundage equals more knock down power, speed, a flatter the arrow in flight, and more accuracy. If you raise your poundage, make sure your arrow can withstand the higher poundage.

 

Spine

man bending arrow
Easton arrow

In layman’s terms, this means how stiff the arrow is. Picture two pieces of PVC pipe, one being very long and the other is very short. If you bend each of them, it would take far less effort to bend the longer one. The principle is the same for arrows.

A longer the arrow with the same spine as a shorter one would bend and flex a lot more, which will cause problems at certain lengths and poundages. Each company has a chart listing each length with different bow poundages help customers purchase the ideal and safe arrow for them.

Some people like to shoot arrows with a softer spine, but they should still be within the safety guidelines. Once again, it is not a good idea to shoot any arrow without knowing the spine strength.

 

Straightness Factor

arrows on target

This is a very important number to look at when deciding what arrow to purchase. The straightness factor is how straight each arrow is guaranteed to be directly from the manufacturer. Some arrows will say +/- 0.006, which would be less consistent the farther you are from your target.

The lower the number, such as a +/- 0.002, the straighter the arrow is and the tighter your groups will be. If you are a very steady archer, then you will definitely benefit from a straighter arrow.

 

Weight Tolerance

Similar to the straightness factor, this indicates how different the weight can be straight out of the factory. A larger the number, such as a +/- 0.005, indicates a greater the potential difference between a particular arrow and the factory standard.

Varying weights can cause inconsistencies the farther you are from your target. The lower the number, the more consistent the arrows will be.

 

Top Brands

When it comes to arrows, does the name brand actually make that big of a difference? Yes. They have made a name for themselves for a reason. Anyone that has ever driven a truck knows the names and reputations of Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge.

In fact, anyone who has or is in the archery field has heard of the top brands for arrows: Easton, Gold Tip, and Carbon Express.

Just like Ford, Chevy, or Dodge, each person has an opinion about which is best. They will talk till they are blue in the face to prove to you why their truck can’t be beat. Arrow brands are similar; all the high-end brands are tough to beat when it comes to consistency, durability, and – most importantly – safety.

 

Easton

Easton is known for their quality and consistency. They are also known for their wide range of styles and kinds of arrows. Their goal is to ensure everyone can find a type of arrow that fits to their lifestyle.

My wife shoots the Easton Axis and has been extremely consistent with her target practice. She was also able to harvest her first archery big game – a cow elk – this year, taking an well-practiced 86 yard shot. She shoots the Eva Shockey Bowtech with the poundage set at 56 pounds.

 

Gold Tip

Gold Tip

Gold Tip is also known for their arrow diversity and quality for cost. They have a wide range of arrows, including shafts for indoor shooting and crossbows.

I personally shoot the Gold Tip Hunter XT and have harvested a several bull elk at just over 60 yards and a mule deer on the infamous Arizona Strip at 67 yards. These arrows are extremely consistent, and what I love the most is that they are very durable and affordable.

 

Carbon Express

Carbon Express

Carbon Express arrows are known for their extreme consistency with weight, spine, and straightness. Their arrows are very durable and come in a wide range of styles.

My hunting buddy shoots the Carbon Express Maxima Red and has harvested a bull elk at 60 yards. He has great grouping when we practice together, even at long-distance shots.

Of course, in the truck world, there are other makes that can hang with Ford, Chevy and Dodge. You just have to find what you prefer. I have seen the above brands’ shots and groupings and seen them work their magic firsthand on big game.

There are numerous other brands of arrows out there, but in my humble opinion, it is tough to beat Easton, Gold Tip, and Carbon Express.

Chris Waters
Chris Waters was born and raised in a small town in west Arizona of around 5,000 people. At a very young age, he was introduced to hunting by his father. He has hunted everything from muzzleloader to archery, including deer, elk, antelope, ducks and more. He loves every minute of being outdoors.Chris would prefer to kill a smaller deer or elk with his family right next to him, than hire a guide and kill a Boone and Crocket animal. Every spring Chris and his wife Janell toss their two kids on their backs and hike the hills looking for deer and elk antlers. Chris also loves to fish and has been to Alaska where he was able to catch halibut and king salmon.Chris has a Bachelors of Science in Management from Western International University and he is an avid golfer with a few trophies on his shelf. On nice days he enjoys flying over his small town and the country he hunts in his powered paraglider. He is self published author. He is laid back and even with limited experience, he prefers to do all his own repairs, from fixing his own vehicles, to home projects allowing him to better his knowledge in everything he does.

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