John Lusk is an avid bowhunter and broadhead fanatic. He has taken well over 100 big game animals with his bow all over the US, as well as Canada and South Africa. He puts his Engineering degree to use in his broadhead testing and has tested over 50 different broadheads. He has written articles in a dozen different archery publications, appeared on several hunting TV shows, and has well over a million views on his YouTube Channel: Lusk Archery Adventures. There you will find more than 70 videos of his hunts and extensive broadhead tests. When he is not shooting his bow, John serves alongside his wife as the Pastor of the Des Moines Church of Christ, in Des Moines, Iowa.
In this article, I’m covering a re-test of the 125-grain Annihilator Broadhead.
When I originally tested this broadhead, it performed extremely well in terms of penetration, (i.e., draining a water jug) and in terms of the hole that it produced in a layer of MDF.
It also flew really well out to 50 yards. However, beyond 50 yards, there just seemed to be a drastic drop in velocity, causing an incredible drop in the point of impact.
However, after making a video of that test, I was contacted by some friends who had also tested this broadhead at longer ranges, but did not see the drastic results I had seen.
I then visited with the designers of the Annihilator broadheads at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) show. They also said that their tests had not shown the drastic drop. In fact, they had seen really consistent flight, even at longer ranges. So, I told them I would very gladly test it again.
The backstory to my original test of the Annihilator broadhead
The day of the re-test, it was sub-zero temperatures (with the wind chill). When I re-tested the head, I found that the people I had spoken to were exactly right. It flew extremely well, even at longer ranges.
I realized that in my original test, I had made a two-fold mistake.
My two mistakes
Before I tested the Annihilator broadhead the first time, I was talking to a friend about it. He told me that when he shot it at longer ranges, there was a really large drop due to the wind resistance of that big surface area that they have. And so, that was already in my mind.
So, then when I shot it and tested it and there was a big drop, and I thought, “Oh, this just confirms what my friend had said.” I didn’t retest it or question my test results enough. That was my first mistake. I shouldn’t have had that in my mind.
The second mistake that I made in the initial test is that I had made adjustments to my site tapes and I didn’t take that into consideration when I was testing the Annihilator.
So, I felt really badly. I went back and made the adjustments in my site tapes and… Boom! Dead on!
I feel really badly that I made both of those mistakes, and both of those mistakes adversely affected the reputation of Annilator (as well as my own reputation for doing a poor job in testing the broadhead).
I want to give a sincere apology to the makers of Annihilator broadheads, to their loyal fans, and especially to those who I turned off from these broadheads after my initial test, because it actually does fly very well even at longer ranges.
So, that’s why I wanted to do a completely new test. I’ve got new test mediums for 2020 that I’m using anyway. So it’s a good way to do those.
The Annihilator broadhead | The specifics
So, let me explain this broadhead just a little bit for those of you that aren’t familiar with it.
When I first heard about it, I wasn’t that interested in testing it because the cutting diameter is sub-1 inch. It’s 0.91 inches of cut. To me, that’s just so small.
I thought, “Why would I want to test the head that has that small of a cut?”
However, what I wasn’t understanding was the design has a “scoop” feature to it. So, while it has a small cutting diameter, when it presses through a medium like animal tissue, it actually displaces an incredible amount of it. (Note: As of the publishing of this article, I personally have not tested the Annihilator head on an animal).
So, the hole that it creates, and the tissue that’s displaced, is in theory far greater than if it was just 3 crossblades of 0.91 inches. It has an incredible surface area. (That showed in a test that I had done originally. The Annihilator drained a water jug in record time. It also put a big hole through MDF. And so, in the retest, I wanted to show that).
The Annihilator is designed to put a much larger hole than the head size suggests. The small surface area allows it to fly really well, but then displace a lot of tissue. And so, it makes a really nice hole.
Another cool thing about this head is that it’s a solid piece of 4140 tool steel. That is a really high quality of tool steel. So, it’s way more resistant to impact and much tougher than stainless steel, for example. It has a Rockwell hardness of 52, which is a pretty good balance of being soft enough to resharpen and hard enough to keep its edge.
You can just lay it flat on a flat stone or any kind of a flat edge surface and it is very easy to sharpen to a razor-like edge.
In my re-test, I used a half-inch layer of MDF surrounded by 1/3 of an inch of rubber foam mat. Beyond that was a gel block by Clear Ballistics, so you can see what happens to the broadhead once it enters the gel. (I will be doing this for all the broadheads I test this year).
Then, I shot it through a 22-gauge steel plate 5 times. (I like to shoot it through the steel plate until there begins to be significant damage to the blades. So, I basically see how many times it can be shot into the steel plate without facing significant damage. But, I stop at 5 because with some heads, I could keep going forever).
The Re-Test of the Annihilator
So let’s get into the test results and see how it did with long range flight, penetration and water drainage ability.
In the re-test I was able to pop a balloon at 70 yards with this head.
In terms of penetration through the MDF and gel, the Annihilator did very well. It did not do as well as some other broadheads I’ve tested, but it still had good penetration and made a nice hole in that MDF, as well as the gel.
Below, you can see the penetration of the Annihilator after going through the MDF and the rubber foam mats and into the gel. It penetrated 8-1/4 inches.
Below is a steel plate after I shot it 5 times with the same head. You can see the Annihilator really does make nice holes. Thus, it should displace a tremendous amount of tissue.
In terms of the durability of the edge (edge retention), the Annihilator is pristine. There is not a mark on it. It doesn’t quite shave hair, but it still bit into my fingernail… very impressive.
So, it’s durable as they come. It went through 5 layers of steel back-to-back-to-back with zero damage. That’s what that 4140 tool steel is going to do. It kept its edge really, really well.
Water drainage test
The water drainage test was just other otherworldly. I don’t know any other word to describe it. It drained the bag in .40 seconds!
The reason I used the water bag drainage test instead of a water jug drainage test is that I felt that in a water jug, because the plastic is pretty stiff, sometimes the plastic folds in, sometimes it comes out, sometimes it stays in place. And so, the results are very inconsistent. Even with one head, I get different results.
But with water bag drainage test, and I fill it up 10 cups the same amount that the line is the same in all the tests that I do, try to shoot it in the same spot every time. It’s much more consistent and much more like an animal because the bag is a little more nimble, like the tissue or the hide of an animal. And so, what you see is kind of what you’re going to get in terms of the drainage.
The Annihilator goes into the bag and displaced so much water so readily, it actually created a back-pressure to the water. When I looked at it in super slow motion, I could it make the hole and suck the water right out of the bag. It was just amazing to see that. It’s an indication of what may happen with blood-letting and tissue damage within an animal as well. I can’t wait to test it on an animal at some point in the future.
I’m really grateful that I was encouraged to retest the Annihilator, because I knew it was a great head before. It tested really well in all categories except long distance.
However, now knowing after the re-test that it actually flies extremely well, even at long distances, it has gone from a very good head to a phenomenal head.
So, now I have confidence in this head at longer ranges. It gets a 10 out of 10 in terms of accuracy at long range.
The Annihilator did excellent in all of the test categories. This is a winner of a head and it’s something to really consider for pretty much any animal you are going after. Give the Annihilator a look. Great job, Annihilator!
Over the years I had heard about the “FOBs” from FOB Archery on various archery forums. I learned that FOB stands for “Fletchings Only Better.”
But what was the story behind this new product, and would it really work better than fletchings or vanes?
The History of FOB Archery
The FOB was designed by an aerospace engineer named Paul Morris. He designed it based on the concept of aerodynamics. He believed there was a away to improve upon the old fletching that Native Americans and people all over the world had been using for years and also in competitive archery. At the time, the FOBs were known as Starrflight FOB.
But then, in July of 2018, three business partners purchased the company from Morris and rebranded it to FOB Archery.
FOBs At First Glance
I finally got around to testing the FOBs. I have to be honest, when I first started reading about them and saw them, I was like, “Really?” My B.S. meter was going off a little bit.
But, I decided to give them a try.
The FOB is made of nylon. It looks simple, and in some ways, it’s exactly that. But in other ways, it’s very meticulously designed.
It simply slides onto the end of the nock. Then you insert your nock into the arrow shaft and you have essentially fletched your arrow. It’s that simple… and it’s fast.
No glue. No time. Just boom! And it’s done.
Keep reading for an in-depth look at the FOBs to find out if they’re right for you…
The circular ring around the FOB is thicker in the front than it is in the back. It’s an air foil design that aides in the stabilization and flight of the arrow.
The three little “vanes” are at a 4-degree offset. In effect, very And then these vanes if you will, the three little vanes, they are at a 4-degree offset.
The FOBs claim to be more accurate in a cross-wind than fletchings. The theory is that the cross-wind will blow a fletched arrow more off-course due to the larger surface area on the back of the arrow.
The combined with the air foil design, the offset vanes allow for greater spin. With the thicker front portion of the ring, and the thinner part in the back of the ring provides 360-degrees of stabilization.
Offset fletched vanes will rotate, but technically not the 360-degrees of stabilization that the ring of the FOB provides.
I should note that the blazer vanes I typically use are different than what most people use. I use a 4-degree helical setting. So, they are put on with a 4-degree helical using an Arizona EZ Fletch.
That gives you the fastest rotation that you can get with blazers.
Sometimes people use the blazer vanes with an offset at 3 or 3-1/2 degrees. Some will just buy them from the factory in a straight position. But, when you put them on with a helical, they spin a lot better and you get better groups.
I tested the FOBS compared to the 4-degree helical blazers to see how well the fly and group. I tested indoors and outdoors with field points and also outdoors at long range using broadheads.
FOB Archery vs Vanes Indoors at 40 Yards
Outdoors at 40 Yards
With Fixed Blade Broadheads at 80 Yards
Ballistic Gel Testing
Next, I did some testing into ballistic gel, shooting a regular vaned arrow with the Blazers and an arrow with a FOB on it.
I wanted to see two things. First, I wanted to see how the penetration was affected by the fletching and by the FOB. Secondly, I wanted to see how effectively the FOB bounces off the gel when it is contacted.
I first shot the FOB and then the Blazers. On impact, the FOB bounced right back to my feet (about 4-5 yards).
FOB Penetration vs Blazer Vanes
The vaned arrow went through the ballistic gel and simply landed behind the gel block. It didn’t stick at all into the layer of MDF.
However, the bare shaft that had the FOB on it continued to fly through the gel and not only stuck into that layer of MDF, but actually penetrated all the way through it and popped out the other side and made a big dent in the next layer of MDF.
Notice that the arrow tip with the FOB on it penetrated better than the one with the Blazer vanes, because the vanes had to pull through the gel whereas the bare shaft just slipped right through.
After putting the FOBs through every test that I can think of, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was borderline shocked by how well they performed. They passed every test I have.
Pros and Cons of FOBs
Here is a summary of what I think are 7 pros and 7 cons to be aware of when considering using the “FOBs” from FOB Archery.
Speed of fletching: You can fletch a dozen arrows in less than a minute instead of about an hour. And, you can do it in the field just as quickly.
Accuracy: FOBs are every bit is accurate as a 4-degree helically attached Blazer vane. That’s pretty darn accurate. So, I know that my vanes at a 4-degree helical vanes are more accurate than straight vanes and even more accurate than offset vanes at long distances. The FOBS group just as well.
Drift resistance: The FOBs are able to handle wind drift amazingly well. They are much less affected in a heavy crosswind than Blazer vanes or other vanes. That’s an important asset when you are bowhunting out West or shooting at long range.
Penetration: The superior penetration of arrows with FOBs surprised me. Because the arrow didn’t have the drag of the fletching, it just zipped through the ballistic gel and penetrated through a half inch of MDF. The arrow with the Blazer vanes did not stick into the MDF at all. That’s quite a bit difference in penetration. The lack of drag makes the difference. That was impressive.
Durability: I am very impressed with the durability of the FOBs. I shot them a couple hundred times. I’ve hit the FOBs with the tips of other arrows a number of times (they call this a “FOBinhood” when you stick one arrow inside the FOB of another arrow on the target). The FOB got a little dinged up at times but I have yet to break one. And, even when they are dinged up, they still work fine. TIP: If you are in a dry climate, you can soak the FOB in water, inside like a Ziploc bag or container for a day, they get even a little more pliable. This will help them become even more durable than they already are.
Quick Change Colors: Another little thing I like about them is that I can change colors without having to strip everything down off of a previous arrow and put on another one. I can just pop off the FOB and add a different colored one.
Ability to use arrows with bare shafts: Another strength of the FOBs is that you can use bare shafts. One of my best archery buddies, Shane Chuning, taught me that to always have a bare shaft in my target quiver so that I can test the tuning of my bow. This helps me test my own personal form. And, nothing reveals imperfections in form and tuning like a bare shaft. So, I always try to designate one arrow like that. With the FOBs essentially all your arrows can be bare shafts. You just pull that off and then you got bare shafts. You put the nock back in and you can tune a whole round of bare shafts and then put the FOBs on and shoot a whole round of fletched ones. So, that’s definitely a plus as well.
So, now that I’ve covered the 7 advantages of FOBs, I’ll cover what could be considered disadvantages:
Must use a drop-away rest: To use FOBs, you must use a drop-away rest. They will not work with a prong rest, because the FOB won’t clear it. You also cannot use something like a whisker biscuit, as the FOB would come off as the arrow passes through it.
Cheek Interference: If your anchor point is way back, or at the back of your head, the FOB could catch your ear. That wouldn’t feel nice. Or, if you mash your arrow into your face, or have a large beard, you may have a problem using the FOBs. For me, the anchor point is not an issue with FOBs. With the way I anchor, I didn’t notice it, even with a heavy mask on that I use during cold weather. So, this may be an issue for you, depending on where you anchor.
“FOB Pinch”: Another con would be a “nock pinch” of sorts. Some individuals with really long draw length that shoot bows with a short axle-to-axle length could experience this. Because the FOB is so far back on the shaft, the string could pinch the top and bottom of the FOB at full draw. If that’s the case with you, the FOBs wouldn’t be right for you. FOB Archery is supposed to be coming up with a solution for this in the near future.
In-Flight Sound: Some individuals that have used the FOB say the sound is an issue. I compared them in flight to the sound of my 4-degree helical blazers, which are louder than straight or offset Blazers. To me, the FOBs sound about the same as the Blazers. I couldn’t tell a difference. I even tried a decibel meter, putting it a halfway down range to try to see if they pick up a difference. The decibel meter wasn’t sensitive enough to pick up any difference between the two. Honestly, I don’t worry about arrow flight noise. Instead, I worry about bow noise and human noise at the shot. My reasoning is that bugs are zipping around deer all the time. Birds are flying by. Leaves are falling. I don’t believe the arrow flight noise is an issue worth being concerned with and I’ve never had a problem with it during a hunt.
Finding Arrows: Another concern is from those who use lighted nocks. The thought here is that during a pass through shot, the FOB pops off, taking the lighted nock with it. So, you would find your nock easily enough, but not necessarily your arrow. If the arrow stays in the animal, well, you’re going to see it running off with a lighted nock as normal. One way to address this concern is to use a reflective wrap. And I find those just as effective as a lighted nock at finding your arrow because you shine a light on it and it lights up like a Christmas tree. I like to use a lighted nock for videoing, but a reflective wrap really helps you in finding that arrow. So, while some consider this a con, I do not.
Weight: Adding the FOB to an arrow makes it 8-10 grains heavier than using Blazer vanes. That’s very minimal in my mind. It’s kind of the difference between using a lighted nock or not, which doesn’t really affect my shooting accuracy unless I’m out well past 60 yards. In that case, I simply sight in my bow for lighted nocks, and the FOBs hit right where my lighted nocks hit. So, again, this “con” is a non-issue for me.
Cost: One other concern that people have expressed at times is the cost. I wondered about that too. So, where do FOBs fit in cost-wise? They are about $2.25 each. You get a 12-pack for $29. So, they are more expensive than just getting vanes and attaching them yourself. But, they are less expensive than paying a bow shop to attach your vanes. They are also less expensive than buying the shrink wrap vanes and putting them on.
If you do decide to purchase FOBs from FOBarchery.com, use code LUSK10 for 10% off!
In conclusion, I really like the FOBs. They passed every test I could think of. I’m ready to take them into the field! Let me know your thoughts or any questions you have on this alternative fletching in the comments below!
I had been wanting to test the Afflictor Hybrid broadhead for a while. So, when I finally got my hands on some I was excited to test them out.
Afflictor Hybrid Construction
I have used tested and used other hybrid broadheads on the market, but the Afflictor heads are different than other designs. They have a main cutting tip that’s about 1/8-inch thick, made of 420 stainless steel that is extremely thick and sharp and will not fold over.
They also have a feature they call a “drive key,” that also functions as a bleeder blade that opens up the main blades, but also cuts extra tissue.
Afflictor 1-3/4″ Hybrid vs Afflictor Ultraviolet | The differences
On the 1¾-inch Afflictor Hybrid, the drive key has little prongs on it. They are designed in such a way that if they hit hard bone, they will shear off by design, so that the head can continue to penetrate. In fact, everything about this head is designed for penetration.
Afflictor also offers a head called the Ultraviolet, that is purple in color. At the time of this publication, it is the only purple broadhead on the market.
The Ultraviolet has a little bit different design. The main tip of the Ultraviolet is longer and more swept than the original Afflictor Hybrid. Due to that design, it has a little bit better penetration.
Another difference is that the Ultraviolet has non-shearing drive key that functions as a bleeder blade. So it’s a half-inch wide and will open up the blades and continue to cut tissue.
With the Ultraviolet broadhead, you get a 1¾-inch cut and plus the ½-inch bleeder, for a total of a 2-inch cut.
Afflictor also makes a 1½-inch model of this as well and it also has the ½-inch bleeder, for a total cut of 2 inches.
Both versions of this broadhead fly extremely well. They are both 5/8-inch thick in profile, which is like most other mechanical heads on the market. The specs and construction are top-notch. They also spin very well in flight.
On impact, the drive key comes down and the blades open. There is also a pretty strong o-ring that keeps the blades from rattling during flight.
The NAP Killzone is my standard for comparison testing, as it’s been around for many years. It’s a really reliable and super strong head. However, it doesn’t penetrate very well, so anything I test should penetrate better than the Killzone.
For comparative purposes, I tested penetration and durability in comparison to the NAP Killzone broadhead.
Penetration Testing | The Setup
If you have seen any of my broadhead tests on mechanicals, you know that when I do comparative tests, I don’t test them on animals. The reason I don’t do this is because they don’t hold any value.
Different bones have different densities and bone geometries. Every animal is different. In addition, shooting angles on animal bone could have varied results, which would not provide good insight into how the broadhead truly performs.
So, I use a uniform medium to simulate animal anatomy as best as I can. I use carpet on the front and the back to simulate animal hide. I also use a rubber foam to simulate tissue and ½-inch plywood in the middle to simulate the bone.
Then I use a few more layers of rubber foam toward the end for padding, followed by another 3/8-inch plywood at the end just in case it were to make it through all of that.
I also have a thin sheet of cardboard in the very front to get a visual on how well the heads deploy on impact.
Penetration Test #1
I first tested the Killzone head, followed by the Afflictor 1¾-inch head and the Afflictor Ultraviolet.
In the penetration test, the Ultraviolet out-penetrated the others by a wide margin. Of course, the Ultraviolet it has that more swept initial tip and also has the 1½-inch cut, and that solid drive key. Those factors made all the difference in this penetration test.
Take a look at the Afflictor 1¾-inch cut broadhead. The 1¾ inches plus the ½-inch bleeder provides 2¼ inches of cut. The blades came all the way through the ½-inch plywood after going through the carpet and the rubber mat and the cardboard.
The NAP Killzone tip came through the wood, the blades did not. The NAP has a good, long tip that’s really tough. But the blades didn’t do any cutting on this test. All the broadheads in this test held up well in the penetration test.
Initial Cut Size
When inspecting the opening cut, the Ultraviolet opened 1½ inches from the main blades and then ½-inch from the bleeders and the bleeders stayed intact.
The 1¾-inch Afflictor Hybrid opened 1¾-inch on impact and then had the drive key bleeders cut a ½-inch and those stayed intact as well.
The NAP Killzone advertises a 2-inch cut, and it actually cut a little over two inches (2-1/4 inches).
So, all the heads in this test opened well.
Penetration Test #2: Angled Shot
In the next test, I performed a steep angled shot.
I first shot the Killzone and it stuck right in. Then, I shot the Afflictor 1¾-inch Hybrid. It stuck in, but angled off a bit. Lastly, I shot the Afflictor Ultraviolet.
In the diagram below, you can see that the Killzone and the Ultraviolet penetrated through the back of the wood. The Killzone point come through the wood but not the blades. The Killzone also broke off at the ferrule and broke my arrow.
The 1¾-inch Hybrid went through all the layers of carpet and foam and cardboard and made a deep cut in the wood, but it skimmed across the top of the plywood.
Penetration Test #3: Afflictor Ultraviolet into 22-gauge steel
In this test I shot the Afflictor Ultraviolet into 22-guage steel, backed with a 3/8-inch sheet of plywood, a ½-inch sheet of plywood, 4 rubber mats and a Rinehart target behind it.
Because I didn’t want to break another arrow, I used the Mammoth Arrow by Bishop Archery, which are guaranteed for life.
The Ultraviolet went through the 22-gauge steel plate and poked through the back of the 3/8-inch board about a ½-inch. The tip held up really well.
The blades of the Ultraviolet not only went through the steel plate, but they opened up as well, which is very impressive. When I have shot other heads into steel and plywood in this manner, they only hold up when the blades don’t reach the steel plate. But here, the blades held up and even opened up inside of the steel plate. Even the drivel key was still intact.
In this Afflictors broadheads review I learned a lot. I didn’t really know what to expect from these heads. But, I have to say I was impressed. They have a very low profile and will fly really well.
I didn’t expect them to open so well, penetrates so deeply and hold up as well as they did through that medium.
The Ultraviolet’s penetration was extremely impressive, especially on the angled shot, as they not only penetrated the steel plate and the plywood, but also deployed the blades.
If you are looking for a fool-proof hybrid mechanical head, the Afflictors are going to fly like a dart and hold up well so you can kill some big game!