Of all the gear you drag into the woods, the only piece of equipment that is going to contact your game are the broadheads. If you made a good decision on which ones to use, you may be dragging out a deer with your carefully chosen crossbow and all your other equipment.
In some states and counties there are game regulations regarding the types of broadheads you can carry. Most have a minimum diameter and number of cutting surfaces you must have, and others ban types of broadheads altogether.
Before you invest in a quality set of broadheads, you have to be sure that the type you’ve chosen is legal for use in your area. If in doubt err on the side of caution. You don’t want a ticket and to have your broadheads confiscated.
Mechanical-Blade Vs Fixed-Blade
The debate over fixed vs mechanical broadheads is going to rage during campfires and in outfitter’s shops forever. The modern breed of mechanical broadheads is closing the gap of reliability and ruggedness that always existed.
Mechanical broadheads are more technical. They deploy huge cutting pedals on impact instead of having them deployed while in flight. This allows a slimmer cross section, less wind resistance and a more on target line of flight. This gives you the ability to have huge, sometimes 3 ½” cutting diameters.
Their moving parts make for uncertainty because once you disassemble them for final cleaning and sharpening, as you always should before a hunt, you can never be 100% certain that they’ll deploy when it counts. Their thinner cutting blades also make for a much weaker broadhead when it encounters bone or a very large and hard muscle.
- Straighter line of flight, less wind deflection
- Bigger cutting diameter
- Weaker design compared to fixed broadheads
- Moving parts are hard to clean and less reliable
- More energy is required to open up the broadhead
- You have to fully disassemble them to clean, lube and sharpen
Fixed broadheads are the old standby for a hunter chasing medium, large or dangerous game. You’ll never beat the reliability and ruggedness of a high quality fixed-blade broadhead. Many of the premier elk hunting camps out west won’t allow mechanical-blade because they lack performance on heavy and big boned animals.
The downside? The large cross section makes for a large sail that catches the wind as it flies through the air. You have to watch out for how the broadheads perform on the range to get a feel of how they’ll act when shot at a game.
- Rugged and dependable broadhead
- Easy to sharpen
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Can act as a sail as it flies through the air
- Can be hard to keep sharp in a quiver
A Question of Energy
A big question with the type of broadhead you shoot is the power of your bow and how far you’ll be shooting. Mechanical or expandable broadheads fly straighter than fixed but they also take more energy to open and it can limit the penetration of your arrow.
This is a hard decision because the further you shoot, the more the strengths of expendables start to shot, but so do the weaknesses. The solution is to either switch to a stronger bow and shoot them anyway; or to switch to a lighter weight fixed broadheads and learn your setup like the back of your hand.
Either way, make sure to come up with an ethical decision based on experience with your set up and your skill level.
Rage 2-Blade Broadheads
These are the most well-known broadheads on the market because they are by far the best expandable blade broadheads you can buy. They are cut on contact broadheads that use a proprietary shock collar to open as soon as contact is made with the front of the broadhead.
They are reliable broadheads that expand and is also a cut on contact design that makes it a great option for new hunters or in tight spots where you may encounter a tough angle.
Cost is the only downside of these broadheads. They are expensive up front. It is quite pricey to replace the blades and shock collars that make the design work. However, it’s worth every cent if you can stand putting up the money.
These broadheads are an awesome old school rear deploying broadhead. They use friction to deploy the blades as the arrow pass through the game, tearing open a wider hole as the friction and pressure increases.
Its tip is a razor-sharp cone that pushes through the animal and aids in opening the broadhead.
It has a stainless design that is easier to clean compared to other mechanical designs, but harder to sharpen. The blades are thin so it is not suitable for thick skinned or big boned animals such as bears or elk. However, it is ideal for big thin skinned game.
The G5 Montec broadhead is an perfect example of gear that is made to last. These broadheads are tough as nails and will last forever. They are available in blued and all stainless steel of varying weights. They are hunks of steel but they can be difficult to clean without dulling the blades due to the intricate cuts, just do your best and don’t be afraid to re-sharpen.
They can be used for years as long as they are kept dry, sharp and clean. They are easy to sharpen because of their angular shapes and large exposed edges. These cut on contact blades are on the expensive side but you should have 100% confidence in their ability to do their job, if you do yours.
This is a classic broadhead that has been used for years. The removable blades that make sure you always have sharp broadheads ready to go is its main strength. That makes it one of the easiest to sharpen broadheads available.
They come in kits with several replacement blades. Be extra careful as you put them together because out of the box they’re very sharp.
They may be the best value broadheads available for a hunter looking for decent equipment for little money. The only downside is the thin steel that makes up the blades. I would replace them after each kill and keep them sharp as possible.
Best for Deer Hunting
Drawing from Rage’s experience as a world leader in mechanical broadheads, the 3-blade design helps with holding open a wound cavity and bleeding out an animal no matter how they run or how much fat is on them. This model still uses the shock collar and a cut on contact design that all rage broadheads do but it adds a 3rd blade.
The 3rd blade added to this model opens a 3D wound that is much less likely to close up and seal itself. With two bladed designs it’s possible for the wound to be lethal, but the entry and exit may be closed and no blood trail left. Not for these broadheads; they’re good to go for next whitetail season.
Grim Reaper Razortip
This is a nasty broadhead. They have a longer, sleeker design than most and have a chisel tip that penetrates deep and cuts on contact. They are all steel and work by friction deploying the blades open as the arrow passes through an animal.
Suitable for thin skinned game, these broadheads expand violently and have a three bladed design that flies straight but opens up a huge 3D hole that bleed out game quickly.
I wouldn’t use these broadheads on dangerous or thick skinned game because they are on the lighter side and are lightly constructed but they’re good for hunting deer or hogs.
Before you decide on a brand and model, make sure the weight is correct for your arrow and bow setup. Choosing the wrong weight can be disastrous for accuracy and makes you a less effective hunter.
It is also important that you are sure that the inserts you have in your arrows fit. Some of the ultra-thin arrows on the market require special inserts that can add to the cost and complexity of your set up.
Price vs Performance
You might be drawn to the allure of cheap discount brand broadheads but consider the longevity of your gear. Yes, those cheaper broadheads may work under pressure once, but they certainly won’t work twice and will need to be replaced.
When you buy two sets of cheap broadheads, you’ve spent more than the cost of good quality broadheads. Make sure you know its cost before you go shopping and allot budget for good broadheads.
After all, the broadheads are the only part of your entire setup that will damage and kill the game you’re after.
What to Do After the Purchase?
When you first pull a broadhead out of the package you may have to assemble it — this is true for both fixed and mechanical types. You need to inspect it before every hunt and be sure they’re adequately sharp and in good condition to be called on to shoot.
This is one of the major downsides of mechanical-blade broadheads, every time you set them up you can’t be 100% they’ll deploy. To ensure they have the best chance possible, they should be free of corrosion, no missing parts, no major chips or cracks in the metal, and the broadhead isn’t bent or broken in anyway.
These can all be huge problems when it comes to taking a game. Any signs of chips, cracks, or corrosion could mean a damaged internal structure and a wholly unsuitable broadhead for hunting.
Sharpening a broadhead means making sure the edge is sharp enough to get the deer a reliable penetration on the game. The sharper the blade is, the easier the arrow will go in, and the straighter the penetration will be.
A light honing of the broadhead is generally all that’s needed on an Arkansas stone. A good test is to see if the cutting blade will shave the hair from your arm. If you can see the hairs pop as they get sliced, it’s good to go. Also make sure you give a quick hone in between hunts because the corrosion that builds up, even if you can’t see it, dulls the blade.
Crossbow broadheads are expensive. That’s why they should be correctly taken cared of when you store them for transport or for the next season. Always store your broadheads sharp. This reduces the time it takes next seasons to hone an edge. Make sure they’re 100% dry and clean. Rub a few drops of odorless oil on them to protect the edge from dulling due to corrosion.
When you store them for transport, never let them come in contact with each other and any other surface. Never allow your broadheads to push into the foam on your quiver. The foam is there for safety reasons, plus foams and plastics will dull the blades just as fast as sandpaper.
Remember that the broadhead is the only part of your gear that kills the animal so be sure to get a quality set. Have them ready to go long before the season so you don’t have to worry about it during the hunt.