Bow Hunting | Everything You Need to Know About Broadheads
Take one stroll down the aisle of nearly any sporting goods store and you’ll be amazed. Rack after rack of broadheads, all coming in numerous different styles, sizes, and even colors. On each box, there are all sorts of experts touting the benefits of that specific broadhead, and why it’s a game changer. With all these seemingly legitimate choices, how is a hunter to decide on the single best broadhead for their specific hunting scenario? Is there even an ideal broadhead out there for you, or do you simply exchange one thing for another?
Broadheads come in two primary styles that you’re probably familiar with, with seemingly endless adaptations of both styles. These two styles include fixed and mechanical designs. Let’s look at both styles below, which will let you make an informed decision on which is the best type for your situation. Then you can get to work on the really fun part of the process: bow hunting!
As you probably know, fixed designs have blades that are attached directly to the base of the broadhead, meaning they will not move upon impact. They are either solid-welded or come with replaceable blades that can be screwed onto the broadhead for a solid fit.
The G5 Montec broadhead is a solid-welded fixed design. It is 100% steel and contains no parts to tinker with. Simply screw it onto your arrow and you’re ready to fine tune your bow. It comes in 85, 100, or 125 grain options with 1 to 1 1/8 inch cutting diameters. The G5 Striker replaceable-blade broadhead has an all-steel cut-on-contact design, with spin-tested accuracy and ridiculously sharp Lutz blades. It comes in either 100 or 125 grain options with 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 inch cutting diameters, and there are three in each pack.
The most-proclaimed benefit to fixed-blade designs is that they have better penetration than mechanicals. This is especially true if your arrow encounters a shoulder blade, but it also applies to animals with thicker hides and tough shoulder muscle (e.g., moose, elk, buffalo, etc.). The solid design maintains its structure better in such shots. Another reason the penetration is better is that the fixed blade design has a smaller cutting diameter than most mechanicals. You’ll often hear about how animals shot with a small-diameter fixed blade broadhead will run a short distance and then stop to figure out what happened, leading to a drop-within-sight scenario we all hope for.
Fixed blade designs are also pretty easy to maintain. Before each bow hunting season, you can either sharpen the blades of a solid-welded design on your own, or easily replace the individual blades for the removable blade designs.
Of course, with all good things there are some down sides as well. Fixed blade designs are generally more prone to wind planing than mechanicals. That’s because they have more of an exposed contour that may catch the wind and cause the arrow to veer off-course. As a result, they are limited to shorter-range shots.
Because of the need to keep the blade profile smaller, fixed blade designs also have a smaller cutting diameter compared to mechanical designs. As a result, some hunters dislike the fixed blade broadhead option because they don’t think they are large enough to cause damage to vital organs.
In many ways, mechanical broadheads (also known as expandable broadheads) are the opposite of the fixed style. They have blades that are in a closed position until they strike a target or game animal, at which point the blades deploy out to their full length.
The G5 Havoc 2-blade expandable broadhead is engineered to be surgically precise. It comes in a 100 grain design only, and offers a 2 inch cutting diameter for huge wound channels and excellent tracking. The all-steel Lutz blades are kept retained until impact by using a dual trap blade retention system. It also features a cut-on-contact tip. Meanwhile, the G5 T3 expandable broadhead is a 3-blade design for even more cutting surface. It too comes in a 100 grain design and has a 1 1/2 inch cutting diameter. It features a spider clip blade retention system to ensure there is no pre-deployment.
Mechanical broadhead designs have an advantage over fixed-blade designs for long-range shots because they have much less wind resistance. Since the blades are held in a closed position and only deploy upon impact, they should shoot closer to target points as far as accuracy goes. This is especially important on long shots where wind could affect an arrow’s flight, but it may also be useful in tight brushy shots at whitetails where you’d need a reduced profile to thread through narrow openings in order to avoid deflections.
The increased cutting diameter of mechanicals also allows for a slightly wider margin of error on misplaced shots, as a shot further away than you intended should still nick a vital organ. It also results in larger wound channels, which allows the animal to bleed out faster and simultaneously give you an easier and more obvious blood trail to follow.
While mechanical designs outshine fixed blades in the cutting diameter category, they can suffer in penetration for the same reason. The increased blade profiles lead to increased friction upon entry, which reduces the energy the broadhead has to penetrate the animal and ultimately exit from the other side. The longer blades can also deflect off a bone if the shot is placed too tight to one, or may even stop cold if the broadhead encounters a thick shoulder bone, leading to an injured but not vitally hit animal.
Though the chances are slim, more mechanical parts also could mean a higher chance of malfunction when compared to a fixed blade. Blades could break off, or there could be pre-deployment concerns.
Now that you’ve got your PhD in broadhead designs, which do you think will work best for your bow hunting? The simple answer is: it depends on what you’re hunting. If you’re after a tough bull moose, a fixed blade broadhead is the better choice for increased penetration. But if you’ll be making long-range shots at a mule deer or pronghorn antelope, a mechanical broadhead may be your ace in the hole.
Ultimately, shot placement and practice will make a bigger impact on your bow hunting success over the long haul than any specific type of archery gear. But it doesn’t hurt to stack the deck in your favor with quality archery gear.