How To Decide Which Broadheads You Need
Feature: Team Radical
We hunt in an age of specialization. Gear specifically designed to handle each situation we seek to find ourselves in is available for use. The business end of an arrow provides plenty of options to get the job done. However, do hunters always match a broadhead to the game they are chasing? Being aware of the situation and properly matching the broadhead to the game you are chasing should always be given thought well in advance. The debate between fixed and mechanical broadheads have taken up more time on internet forums, magazine articles, videos, and conversations in deer camps than one can imagine. However, how often does the focus center on the situational use of broadheads based on the species you are hunting? Is there a broadhead that is a good overall choice? How many different broadheads do you need? While broadhead choice boils down to one’s personal preference and brand loyalty, here are guidelines and insight to follow when making your broadhead decisions.
First, let’s briefly touch on some broadhead basics.
Fixed Blade Broadheads
When considering the variety of options for your next hunt, consider the different styles of fixed blade broadheads. There are both chisel point broadheads with replaceable blades and cut on contact broadheads. Both serve specific purposes and have benefits for different types of game animals. Fixed broadheads are a fixed head supported by blades the entire length of the ferrule which makes for a structurally stronger broadhead. Fixed blades are regarded as more reliable since you are not forcing the blades to open thus removing any doubt as to whether or not the broadhead will penetrate. While there are different styles of fixed blade broadheads, single piece designs tend to be stronger. Replaceable blade broadheads have a fantastic record of performance in the field and can last longer if the body of the broadhead is not damaged. Single piece broadheads, while stronger, can be rendered useless if a blade or the point is damaged. Regaining an even and sharp edge can be difficult if the blade chips on a rock or from hitting bone. Mechanical broadheads give shooters several design options like rear deploying blades or the classic jackhammer design in which the blades open upon hitting the target.
Chisel Point broadheads have been a staple in the archery gear diet since the development of modern hunting point and are most often associated with fixed-blade designs. Chisel point broadheads are popular among whitetail and elk bow hunters since they are reusable and can handle hitting tough bones like shoulders and ribs without deflecting. A chisel point cuts through hide by first opening the hide before the blades and helps the arrow maintain the desired course without deflecting.
Cut-on-impact broadheads begin slicing as soon as they hit the target. Since they slice instead of boring a hole into the hide of an animal first, cut-on-impact broadheads penetrate their target deeper. If you are in a situation where your gear provides less energy for driving deep through the soft tissue of an animal, cut-on-impact broadheads may be your best choice. This style of hunting point is a favorite for hunters choosing recurve and long bows and others shooting low poundage bows. However, if you find yourself hunting the upper levels of the big game spectrum for animals like elk, caribou, moose, and large predators like coastal brown bears, interior grizzlies, and even black bears, electing to use a cut-on-impact broadhead like the Montec may be one of your best choices. Montecs from G5 have long been a favorite of bow hunters since much of the variability of strength and consistency is taken out due to the one-piece design and can drive deep into the large chest cavities of the toughest game on the North American continent. When hunting game with thick hides and heavy bones, choosing a tough one piece cut-on-impact broadhead can make the difference since it does not slow down upon hitting the target.
As technology improves and designs become more sophisticated, mechanical broadheads have become a popular choice of bow hunters since they provide a wider cutting surface than fixed blade broadheads. Because of the opening motion, the broadhead makes upon hitting its target, mechanical broadheads have been the focus of debate for the better part of the past three decades.
Mechanical broadheads are useful for shooting long distances out of higher poundage bow since they fly like a field point and have been generally regarded as more accurate. The frustration of archers with the fine tuning of larger fixed blade broadheads has pushed many to use mechanicals. Mechanical broadheads also give the shooter the choice between cut-on-impact broadheads and a chisel point. The G5 Havoc gives shooters a two-inch cutting diameter and provides deeper penetration because of the cut-on-impact tip. Just remember this as most mechanical broadheads lose energy when hitting the target. Shooting a higher poundage bow and heavy arrow ensures the broadhead will open. It is generally accepted to shoot a bow with a draw weight of at least 60lbs when using mechanical broadheads.
How to Choose a Broadhead | A Situational Question
When looking at the various options of fixed blade broadheads to take on your long–awaited hunting excursion, ask yourself these questions.
- What is the average weight of a mature animal?
- What is the average body cavity size of my target animal?
- Is it early or late in the fall?
- What is the anticipated shooting distance?
- What kind of arrow weight are you shooting?
- What poundage is your bow set at?
This will help narrow down options because the heavier the animal, the broader their chest cavity will be and the heavier their hides will be. An even bigger concern is large and touches bones. Pushing an arrow deep into the vitals of a big animal combines several factors considering arrow weight and bow poundage.
Deer Hunting Broadheads
If you are chasing game like deer and antelope with relatively smaller chests, then choosing a replaceable blade chisel point broadhead like the G5 Striker will give you the ability to get full pass-through shots and be able to run the same broadheads for many years by making use of the replaceable blades. If you know that you are going to be in a hunting situation where your shots are less than thirty yards, then running mechanical broadheads can ensure wide wound channels and short blood trails.
The Havoc is a popular broadhead among eastern and mid-western for this reason. Shooting at game at less than thirty yards will ensure you keep energy loss at a minimal with a mechanical broadhead. If you are hunting in situations in suburban areas and need to make sure your deer expires quickly with a well-placed shot you may want to consider using this category of broadhead.
Big Game Hunting Broadheads
If you are hunting animals over four hundred pounds like elk and moose where their body cavities can exceed two feet in length, running a cut-on-impact head will be a proper choice. If a mature animal with a chest over two feet wide is your target then you need to think about driving an arrow at least 18 inches into the vitals in order to pierce both sides of vital organs for a fast and humane kill. If you know your average shot can exceed 40 yards then you will want to use a cut-on-impact fixed-blade in order to minimize energy loss to drive through thick hide. While elk can be killed with cut-on-impact and chisel points, when you graduate to game like moose and the big bears, which are much larger than elk, cutting through thick fall hides are not something you want to get stopped by because of a weak broadhead. The Montec, one of the strongest fixed blade broadheads on the market, is a great choice when big game hunting.
Kinetic energy is another topic discussed in many archery shops during the practice seasons. As you prepare for your hunting situations in the fall, do the math with a variety of numbers to find the right arrow and broadhead combination mix. Follow this simple math equation to find kinetic energy.
ke=M * v2 / 450,240.
Kinetic Energy which equals mass, otherwise known as the weight of an arrow in grains, multiplied by the velocity of your arrow in fps divided by 450,240 gives you the foot pounds of energy your arrow and broadhead combination delivers upon impact.
For example, if you are shooting a 350-grain arrow with a 100-grain broadhead from a bow shooting 280 feet per second, your arrow is generating 78.36-foot pounds of energy.
Broadheads are the business end of the arrow, but good business is no good without the structure behind it. Choosing the right arrow is vital to bow hunting success. The last thing you want to find yourself with in the woods is a mismatching set up which creates problems like finding out your arrow is too light and is essentially the equivalent of a pool noodle pushing a bowling ball. It’s the discussion of speed versus penetration, which in bow hunting success, penetration is the key. For big game hunting, find an arrow with between 8.5 and 10.5 grains per inch with a minimum of a 400 spine. This will give your broadhead more than enough weight pushing it to drive it deep into your target.
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The will of an animal to survive supersedes that of the desire most hunters have to take them home to feed their families. This will to live pushes an animal against all odds of survival in some of the harshest places on earth. At any given time, the elements and other animals, disease and for a few weeks each year due to human pressure, they are being hunted. Accidently wound an animal and you get a front row view to the toughness of an animal. Picking the right broadhead should vary depending on the animal and situation. Situational awareness comes from time spent in the woods, practice, and lessons learned from archery specialists. Shooting at an animal with bow and broadheads is nothing to take lightly. Taking the time to find the best mix for your equipment for the animals you are chasing is a deep responsibility.