So, what does price say about quality when it comes to arrows? Is a household name brand better than a lesser known one? Does a higher price tag equate to better arrow flight and more successful archery hunts? For that matter, does the name brand matter in any outdoor activity?
Well, in an attempt to answer that question, I’ll use a few examples. First, I’ll start with fishing (yes, fishing… just wait for it.)
My Pops had an old sun-dried yellow, aluminum boat with a 25 hp Evinrude motor that we putted around in. We would spend a week up there, doing nothing but fishing and filling the stringer.
When I was 9 years old, a guy saw us back up our old Suburban and that ole yellow boat into the water. He yelled, “Damn, that is an expensive rig ya got there!” Of course, he was being extremely rude with his comment, laughing as he backed his expensive speed boat into the water.
My dad just said, “some people…”
We fished for about four hours or so that day and filled up the stringer with 22″ rainbows and life was good.
When we went back to load the boat, my dad yelled across the water to the guy with the expensive boat, “You catch any?”
The man answered, “No, the bite has been slow.” My father replied, “I hope that boat was worth it” and then pulled out our stringer. The look on that man’s face was priceless!
We laughed and went to camp and enjoyed the rest of the evening cooking up the fish we caught (in our “expensive rig”) on the camp fire.
Your Ford Could Be A Chevy
Perhaps you’ve seen the test drive commercials where a truck’s identity is kept secret from the driver. The test driver takes it for a spin and says “it has to be a Ford.” But, then to the driver’s surprise… it’s a Chevy!
It’s the same with many of the products in the outdoors industry. There are many awesome products out there. Some are affordable and some not so much. And, of course, the more expensive item is always better quality. Or is it?
Higher Price = Better Quality… Sometimes
Many believe that better quality and performance live where the higher price tag is. In the gun industry, this argument holds up to some degree. But, at the end of the day, all guns travel the same whether you buy a $250 12-gauge pump shotgun by Browning, or a $900 12 gauge shotgun from Winchester. Both have the same pump action, same gauge, and same function. Both will serve the same purpose of taking wild game.
One Saturday morning in November, I went out waterfowl hunting on a dyke beyond the city I lived in. When I got there, only one other guy had shown up. I thought to myself, “Hey, this may be a good morning!”
As soon as it was shooting light, a group of 20 guys (probably all from the same football team) showed up and parked right next to me. Most of the crew had 12 gauge semi-automatic Beretta shotguns and were ready to take some game. At the time, I had a model 1300 Winchester 12-gauge pump.
It didn’t help matters that none of them would get in the reeds to hide (and it didn’t matter cause there was so many of them!)
For example, some bow hunters are willing to spend $185 for a set of six arrows, when there are arrows on the market for only $55 for a set of six. And, if compared to each other, just like in that Ford and Chevy test, you might not even be able to tell the difference.
Some bow hunters won’t shoot past 70 yards while practicing, while some ethical hunters will shoot further, just in case that dream buck walks out and you may not have another chance of getting any closer.
There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of being in close to a deer or other wild game and releasing an arrow that finds its mark. But, what if you’ve never felt that rush? What should you know to begin the quest of being a successful bow hunter? In this article we will do our best to get you started in the right direction. Let’s just call this N1 Outdoors’ Bow Hunting For Beginners 101.
So, What Brings You To Bow Hunting?
Maybe you’ve always hunted with a rifle or other firearm. Maybe you’ve mastered gun hunting and simply want to try your hand at a new challenge. Or, maybe you’re totally new to any type of hunting and just want to learn what this bow hunting thing is all about.
Whatever your situation or age, we think you’ll find that bow hunting is not only fun (you’ll want to say “Bowhunt Oh Yeah!”), but helps teach patience, discipline, attention to detail and focus. And, there is certainly a special sense of accomplishment knowing you have been able to take an animal at close range and provide meat for your family and friends.
Hunting Education And Safety
If you haven’t taken your state’s hunter safety course, be sure to sign up and do that the first chance you get. This will help you learn safe hunting practices whether you are hunting with a bow or a gun. You will also learn the hunting laws and regulations of your state as well as learn how to identify game.
It’s possible that if you’re interested in learning to bow hunt, that you’ve already been watching videos or TV programs about bow hunting. But, if not, there is certainly no shortage of videos about bow hunting tips. And, while videos are great visuals to learn from, don’t discount the wealth of knowledge you can glean from bow hunting blogs and articles.
Your local bow shop is a great resource for anyone wanting to begin their bow hunting journey. You don’t have to look long on social media to know that there are more than a few companies pushing their archery equipment and supplies. Of course, they all look good and sometimes it’s difficult to know what exactly you need.
As a bow hunting beginner, you may be overwhelmed with the choices of bow hunting equipment that is currently on the market. Your local bow shop can help you find your way through the sea of bow hunting advertisements to equipment that’s right for you. For example, what is your draw length? What should the poundage be on your bow? And, of course, there are so many choices when it comes to broadheads, arrows, arrow rests, sights, releases, bow strings, fletches and targets. And, of course, these things can be affected by what species of game you will be pursuing.
The bottom line is that your local bow shop should provide you with a wealth of information when it comes to figuring out your equipment needs. And, of course, it’s always great to support local business, right?
Inspect Your Archery Equipment
Once you have decided on and purchased your bow hunting equipment and supplies, it’s time to do some target practice! But, before you sling an arrow, you need to inspect your equipment. Be sure you don’t have any cracks in your bow limbs, fraying of your bow string, or nicks or cuts in you bow cams . Also, be sure you have waxed your bow string recently.
You may have a local range or archery shop to shoot at, but you may also choose to buy your own target for practice at home.
If you choose to shoot at home, always be sure you set up your target in a safe location where there is no chance of an arrow shooting toward any individual. This includes never shooting towards houses, streets, sidewalks or any other location where people may be standing or passing by.
It’s also a good idea to place a backstop of some kind behind your target. This will help to block an errant arrows that miss the target. Be sure your backstop is much larger than your target.
Practice, Practice and Practice!
Once you have set up a safe target location and inspected your equipment, you are ready to begin practicing! Be sure you don’t nock an arrow until you’re ready to shoot. When you nock your arrow, be sure to point it toward the ground while nocking.
In short, never point the arrow at anything you are not prepared to draw on and shoot. Also, if possible try to be shooting toward your target at a downward angle.
Once you have gotten familiar with the operation of your new bow hunting equipment by shooting at a target, you can start to prepare for various bow hunting scenarios.
While shooting at a stationary target is certainly something to master, deer and other game animals don’t always still and broadside, allowing you to take a perfect shot. So, you should practice shooting your bow from various positions, including inclines, declines and sitting positions.
You should also practice shooting in a way that mirrors the various angles that your game may be standing. For example, a shot on an animal that is quartering away from you will require you to shoot further back, so that the arrow passes through the vitals, so that you can take an ethical shot that results in as clean a kill as possible.
Don’t Forget Your Hunting License
You may already be a hunter that is learning to bow hunt. But, if this will be your first hunting trip, be sure before you get your hunting license before your first trip.
You can contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources to purchase a license. Some local outdoors shops also sell hunting and fishing licenses. You can also go online to purchase a license for the state you live in.
Time To Hunt
As you get ready to take your new bow hunting skills to the field or the woods, continue learning as much as you can from experienced bow hunters. Be teachable. Your learning curve will be much less steep if you listen well and put into practice what you’ve learned.
Just as when you practiced target shooting, check your bow hunting equipment thoroughly, including your broadheads, before taking into the field.
It wasn’t long ago that broadhead selection was a fairly simple process… There just weren’t that many options available.
Well, those days are gone. Now there are a plethora of choices due to so many different design variables.
There are broadheads with 2 blades, 3 blades and 4 blades.
Then there are single bevel edges and double bevel edges, chisel tips and cut on contact tips.
There are mechanical broadheads that deploy from the rear as well as those that deploy over the top.
There are hybrids (both fixed and mechanical in the same head), stainless steels, tool steels, aluminum, and titanium all of various grades and properties.
There are cutting diameters ranging from under one inch to over three inches and total head lengths of under one inch to over three inches and blade thicknesses of .020” to .080”.
And, of course, prices ranging from one dollar per head to one hundred dollars per head… and so much more.
Expandable or fixed blades? Keep Reading!Fixed blade AND mechanical broadheads reviews videos are also further down the page!
So, bow hunters, how in the world do you make sense of it all? All the choices out there can make even an advanced bow hunter feel like a beginner. How do you know which heads are the best choices for you?
Know Thy Broadheads
While almost any head on the market today can “get the job done” with a good shot, it is still important to make sure you are using the right head for your bow and the game you are pursuing. After all the time, energy, and money you’ve invested in practice and preparation, your broadhead is where the “rubber meets the road.”
A little research and education can go a long way in making sure you are not disappointed after that hard earned shot. You will notice that I have provided some recommendations for broadheads throughout this article. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I have personally tested each of these heads and found them to be among the best.
Fundamentally, you must keep in mind what really matters in a broadhead. Regardless of the brand and the design, there are four crucial factors that really matter.
A broadhead should provide you with absolute confidence in its flight. Consider what your maximum range is and make sure you choose a head that will fly accurately at that distance—even with some wind, a racing heart rate, and shooting while a little off balance.
Always make sure your bow is very well tuned (get help from a pro shop if you’re unsure) and you have the correct arrow spine for your bow’s poundage and draw length. Also, make sure the arrow spins true when the head is installed. You can spin it on your hand or on a table to confirm there is zero wobble to it.
Furthermore, the smaller the overall profile of the broadhead, in length and width, the more forgiving it will be in flight. This is why mechanicals are often a good choice for long distance shots.
A broadhead should be be sharp and able to hold that sharpness after impact. How sharp it feels before it hits an animal doesn’t matter nearly as much as how sharp it is after it penetrates that first inch or two of hide, bone, and tissue. If the edge chips or bends, it will not cut and penetrate effectively. This is why blades should be thick enough, and the steel strong enough, to hold their edge well. Higher quality Tool Steels like 41L40, S7, and A2 shine in this arena.
The ferrule of a broadhead must be able to withstand great force upon impact. I have had multiple heads, both fixed and mechanical, bend or break at the ferrule upon impacting an animal. That almost always spells disaster for a hunt. Quality materials and solid construction make a big difference. The shorter, thicker, and higher quality the material of the ferrule, the better it will stay in tact. I prefer high quality steel ferrules over titanium and aluminum for this reason.
A broadhead must have sufficient cut size to cause great tissue destruction while still ensuring deep penetration. With any animal I shoot at, my goal is to get as wide of a cut as possible while still providing a good likelihood of a pass through. Two holes will almost always provide a better blood trail than one hole. Given equal penetration, a wider diameter cut will slice through more tissue than a smaller diameter cut.
In the past, I used a head with a cutting diameter of one inch and always got a pass through. However, I knew I could cut more tissue and still get a pass through. So I increased the size of the cutting diameter of my broadheads, with great results. Likewise, I have used a broadhead with a very wide diameter cut and gotten poor penetration and no pass through. Finding that sweet spot between the two extremes is my goal.
Match Broadhead To Your Quarry
So, I will even change heads based on what animal I am hunting. For a smaller animals like a turkey or javelina, I use a very large cutting mechanical head, because that will cut a lot of tissue and still allow for a pass through. For a bigger animal like a wildebeest or elk, I like to use a smaller diameter cut to make sure I am getting deeper penetration.
I have also found that when it comes to blood trails, cutting diameter is more important than total cut. Allow me to explain with an example:
Diameter VS Total Cut
A four blade head with a one inch cutting diameter will have a “total cut” of two inches. Likewise, a two blade head with a two inch cutting diameter will also have a “total cut” of two inches. However, with all other things equal (penetration and shot placement) the two inch cutting diameter head will typically leave a better blood trail than the one inch cutting diameter head—even though the same amount of tissue is cut. The reason for this is that a smaller diameter cut is more likely to close up with tissue while the larger diameter cut is more likely to stretch and open up even more. I have seen this proven over and over again.
Another way to understand this principle is to “reduce it to the ridiculous.” Which broadhead would you rather pass through your body: An eight blade head with one inch cutting diameter or a two blade head with an eight inch cutting diameter? Both will cut the same amount of tissue, but I would much rather have a one inch hole go through my body than an eight inch cut go through my body. Well, so would a deer!
Keys: Greater Tissue Cut with Pass Through = Greater Blood Trail Greater Diameter Cut with Pass Through = Even Greater Blood Trail
So before you read any further, keep in mind the fundamental goal in selecting a head: A broadhead should fly well, not break, holds its edge, penetrate deeply, and cut a lot of tissue. Strive to find that balance between cutting as much tissue as possible and still providing a good chance at a pass through.
Now let’s examine some of the most important features of broadhead design. The more you understand about each feature, the more effectively you can decide what works best for your set up and your budget.
There are three basic types of metals used in broadheads: aluminum, titanium, and steel. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Aluminum and titanium are lighter than steel, which is why many heads tend to use them. It is easier for a head to make it to the 100gr weight if aluminum or titanium are used.
Aluminum is not as strong as steel. The best aluminums hardened in the best manner are still only as strong as the weaker steels. And, some aluminums are much weaker than others. The best aluminum for broadheads is 7075, which is quite a bit stronger than 6061. If you are going to consider using a head with aluminum, try to find one made of 7075. If the manufacturer doesn’t say which aluminum is being used, it is probably 6061. That doesn’t mean its “bad” but it does mean that it’s a bit “weaker.”
Titanium is stronger than aluminum. As with aluminum, there are different grades of titanium. Just because a head is said to be made of titanium doesn’t mean it is using the top grade. Typically, if the manufacturer doesn’t state what grade it is, it is probably the weaker grade. While titanium is stronger than aluminum, it is not as strong as many steels. Both titanium and aluminum have less resistance to impact than many steels, so I prefer that a head that at least has a leading tip made of well hardened steel.
There are many different varieties of steel and they are not all created equal. While steel tends to be stronger than titanium and aluminum, there are significant differences in the various types of steel. When it comes to broadheads, two of the most significant ratings of steel are Rockwell Hardness (the “hardness” of the steel) and Charpy V Notch Scoring (the steel’s resistance to impact).
A steel may be very hard with a high Rockwell Rating, but may be very brittle and break apart or chip easily upon impact with a hard medium. Likewise, a steel can have a lower Rockwell Rating and not break apart, but may bend too easily. Most steel broadheads use a 420 stainless steel, hardened to a level that is not too hard and not too soft. From my testing, it is obvious that some manufacturers are more successful at finding that balance than others.
There are also heads that are being made of tool steels and even very high end tool steels, such as 41L40, A2, and S7. With these premium steels, you will find a very high Rockwell hardness as well as a very high Charpy V Notch Score. Such heads will retain their structural integrity and razor edge far more effectively than typical stainless steels. They will cost a lot more money, but they are much more durable as well so they will last a long time.
Premium Tool Steels
In many of the tests I have done, I am continually impressed by how well premium tool steels keep their edge. While a typical stainless steel blade may become dull after cutting through 1/2” plywood, a head made of A2 or 41L40 or S7 will still be sticky sharp after cutting though that same board 5 times. That no doubt makes a difference in how well tissue, bones, and veins are cut. A duller head can often just bend veins over, but a head that is sharp all the way through an animal will effectively cut those veins, producing greater blood letting.
Within steel heads there are also different ways the steel can be formed. Some use MIM (Metal Injected Molding), some are welded together, and some are machined. The machined steels tend to be much stronger than the MIM steels and welded models.
Component Heads And Single Piece Heads
There are also a couple different types of construction of the broadheads themselves—component heads and single piece heads. Each has their advantages. Component heads can be made with very tight specifications, as each piece is easier to construct than an entire head. These high specs can enable them to fly extremely well. They are then held together with some sort of interlocking design and bolt. The best component heads do not use bolts that are load bearing, but rather that interlock, and then held in place by the bolts.
Single piece heads have the advantage of not being put together; they are literally one piece of steel. Thus, they tend to be more durable than component heads. But all single piece heads are not created equal. As mentioned earlier, if the head is machined out of a single block of steel it will tend to be much stronger than a head that is metal injected molded or welded.
All other things being equal, the thicker a blade is, the stronger it is. The thinner a blade is, the weaker it is. Thin blades may feel sharper out of the package, but they tend to lose that edge and bend or get nicked up more readily than thicker blades. I prefer blades that are at least .035” thick, but again, the thicker the better. When premium tool steels are used, a blade can still be relatively thin and still very strong.
Chisel Tips vs Cut on Contact Tips
Like most other broadhead topics, this one can lead to a pretty heated debate. In theory, chisel tips are more durable and cut on contact tips penetrate better. You can see this difference by pushing both a cut on contact head and a chisel tip head through a piece of cardboard. It will likely take noticeably less pressure for the cut on contact head to penetrate. However, upon impact with a hard medium like bone, the cut on contact tip is more likely to fold over than the chisel tip.
From my testing, I only prefer a cut on contact head if is either a very thick two blade head made out of premium tool steel or a three blade single piece head, where all three blades come together to form the tip. Otherwise, the cut on contact heads are too likely to fold over. There are some chisel tips that are extremely sharp on their edges, like those of the QAD Exodus, or Wasp Dart for example. Those tend to have penetration closer to a cut on contact head but the strength of a chisel tip.
Fixed Blade Broadheads
Many people prefer fixed blade heads over mechanical heads because they are more durable and dependable. There are no moving parts and fewer things to break. Fixed blade heads typically come in either two, three, or four blade models. Let’s briefly examine each of those:
Two Blade Heads
These are a throwback to the proven designs of Native Americans and other similar societies around the world. They are simple, durable, accurate, and penetrate well. Two blade heads can either come in Single Bevel or Double Bevel Designs.
Single Bevel Heads
A single bevel blade simply means that the edge of a blade is only sharpened on one side. A double bevel blade means that the edge of the blade is sharpened on both sides. There are advantages to each design. Typically, the choice between a single bevel or double bevel edge only comes into play with two blade heads.
The advantage of a single bevel is that the angle of the blade creates a torsional force upon impacting a medium, causing it to rotate. If fletching is arranged helically, the arrow is already spinning. Then upon impact, a single bevel head will continue to spin inside an animal.
This does a number of significant things. First, it creates a spiral wound channel. I typically find that the entrance hole of a single bevel head is not a slit, but rather a hole. The arrow is already spinning so much and is forced to spin more upon impact, creating a rounded entrance hole in the hide of an animal. The broadhead continues to cut tissue not only in the direction the head is pointing, but also in the direction the head is spinning—thus cutting both inwardly and spirally.
With internal organs, this can have a similar effect to spinning a fork when eating spaghetti, wrapping the noodles around the fork, then cutting them off. The twisting broadhead can twist the organs and then cut them as the head moves forward. I have seen this happen inside an animal many times and the devastation is undeniable.
Second, a single bevel head typically breaches bone very effectively. As the tip of a head enters a bone, the head also twists and causes that bone to split apart and not just get cut. Then the arrow passes through that split in the bone. This is especially significant when hunting very large animals such as Cape Buffalo. If a broadhead cannot effectively breach that bone, penetration will suffer.
A third way the single bevel head works is that due to its twisting inside an animal, it is not likely for the arrow to back out of an animal if there is not a pass through (try pulling one out of a target and you will see what I mean). Often times, heads are sharpened on the back edges to allow the heads to continue to cut tissue in all directions inside of an animal.
Double Bevel Heads
Double bevel heads do not have this spiraling effect. However, they can often penetrate more deeply for two reasons: First, they can be sharpened to a finer edge. Secondly, they are only cutting tissue in a forward fashion and not a twisting fashion. They will not typically breach large bone as effectively as a single bevel, they will not create a spiral wound channel, and the arrow can back out of an animal more readily than a single bevel. But, they will penetrate hide and tissue more effectively.
As for which is better, it really does depend on your bow’s set up and your quarry. If you are generating lower kinetic energy and need penetration to be as deep as possible, a double bevel may be a better choice. If you have a bit more “normal” kinetic energy, or are hunting larger animals with heavier arrows, a single bevel will likely cause more damage to the animal.
From my testing, the only concern I have with two blade fixed heads is the size of the entry and exit holes. If an animal does not expire quickly, you are going to be forced to follow a blood trail. Smaller diameter cuts do not allow the degree of blood letting that larger cuts do. There may be plenty of damage inside the animal, but the blood trail may be compromised.
Recommended Single Bevel Heads: Bishop Archery (Bridgeport/Pipeline), Cutthroat Broadheads. Recommended Double Bevel Heads: German Kinetics Silver Flame, VPA, Steelforce
Three Blade Heads
There are some great strengths to using a three blade head, as evidenced by their popularity on the market. Three blade heads tend to make more of a “hole” than a slit. This makes the hole more difficult to close up and facilitates better blood letting. If the heads are a one piece construction with the correct angles, like VPAs or Bishops, you can easily sharpen two blades at a time by laying them flat on a stone and moving them back and forth, then rotating till all the blades are covered.
Some heads use a four blade design. Most of those have two primary blades, followed by two smaller, “bleeder” blades. Others use four blades that are all the same size, such as Slick Tricks, Wac’ems or Wasps. From my testing, I have come to prefer a wider cut three blade head over a four blade head with smaller, equal sized blades. That fourth blade does cut more tissue, but it also impedes penetration more, and the hole is not as big as that of a wider cut three blade head.
A wider hole tends to produce a better blood trail than a smaller hole, whether it’s three blades or four. That being said, the four blade design of two larger blades and two bleeders is a very good option. They tend to be more forgiving in flight than a three blade head, all other things equal.
Whether you want a two leading blade cut on contact tip or a chisel tip is another question as well. See the earlier section discussing the pros and cons of these two designs.
Recommended 4 blade Heads: Iron Will, Trophy Taker A-TAC, Slick Trick Magnums, Magnus Black Hornet.
Mechanical heads have come a long way in recent years. They have two primary advantages over fixed blade heads: Smaller surface area in flight (which allows them to be more forgiving in flight) and larger cut once the blades are deployed.
For example, even with a very well tuned bow, it would be quite difficult to shoot a fixed blade head with a two inch cutting diameter and have it fly well. But with a mechanical, you can get that two inch cutting diameter in a small, great flying package.
There are two primary styles of mechanical heads based on how the blades deploy upon impact.
Over the Top Deploying
The first mechanical heads to hit the market worked this way. The blades are on hinges and folds upward toward the tip of the head. They are either held in place by friction or a rubber band.
Upon impact, the blades peel back like a banana would, opening up to their full cutting diameter. They will not open fully until after they have entered the animal, thus the entrance holes are basically the same size as the head in the closed position.
Recommended Over the Top Deploying Mechanicals: Rocket Steelhead, NAP Spitfire, Wasp Jak-Knife, Dead Ringer Trauma, Grim Reaper
In recent years, many heads have begun using various rear deploying mechanisms. With these heads, the blades swing open from the rear and are fully deployed by the time they reach the hide of an animal. Thus the entrance holes are the same size as the fully deployed blades.
Both of these mechanisms have their loyal followings and both can work well on animals. I have successfully taken many animals with both. However, there are some observations worth noting.
With over the top mechanicals, the entrance holes are small but the internal damage is great. They do tend to penetrate more deeply than rear deploying blades, simply because they cut less tissue upon entrance. If they pass all the way through the animal, the exit hole is the full size of the fully deployed blades. But if they do not pass all the way through, you have a small entrance hole and no exit hole. That spells a big problem for blood trails.
With rear deploying mechs, the entrance hole will be great; it will be the size of the fully deployed heads. But because of that, penetration can be compromised because it has to cut through the hide with that wide cut. However, you can be confident you are going to have at least one big hole. Between these two styles, after all my testing I prefer the rear deploying mechanical broadheads by a large margin.
Recommended Rear Deploying Mechs: Rage Hypodermic and Trypan, NAP Killzone, G5 Deadmeat
Several different manufacturers have come out with hybrid heads, which are a combination of both a fixed blade and a mechanical head. There is typically a smaller two blade fixed head followed by a larger cut of mechanical blades.
I have taken a number of animals with these and tested them quite a bit. They certainly have their niche. The only downside is that you will want to make sure you have enough kinetic energy to drive all those blades deeply into an animal. Again, I prefer the rear deploying mechanical blades in a hybrid head. If they are over the top deploying, you will not get a very big entrance hole and an exit hole will be fairly difficult to achieve due to the large cut.
Selecting a broadhead can be a pretty daunting task. And it gets extra confusing when all of your buddies each have their own strong opinions based on their personal experience from the last season. But you owe it to yourself and to the animal to make the most informed decision you can about which head is best for your purposes. Hopefully, this article will help you to make a bit more sense of the options and choices available.
Please check out my YouTube Channel as well, Lusk Archery Adventures, to see more than 20 different videos of broadhead tests and over 50 hunts with those heads as well. And don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions through the channel.
Online reviews can sometimes have an agenda of pushing a particular product. We thought it would be fun to give some straight talk from the N1 Outdoors co-founders on the broadheads they have used over the years.
Below, Josh Wells, Maston Boyd and Giles Canter give their thoughts on what they like and don’t like about some of the broadheads they have experience with during their archery hunts.
N1 Outdoors co-founder, Josh Wells
I started bowhunting in 1996. I was 16 years old and began bowhunting with the broadhead recommended by a friend. It was the Muzzy 3 blade in 100 grains…
Muzzy 3-blade, 100 grain
I harvested my first archery deer, in addition to several other deer with the Muzzy 3-blades. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this one at 7.
My experience with the Muzzy 3-blade is as follows:
The Muzzy 3-blade broadheads have a simple design. They are durable and easy to assemble, as well as affordable to buy. They also create decent blood trails.
In my experience, the Muzzy 3-blade broadheads have inconsistent and unstable arrow flight. By that, I mean that they fly differently than field points and require advanced bow tuning skills.
Thunderhead 3-blade, 100 grain
After several years of using Muzzy 3-blade, I decided to change to something that was more consistent in flight. My choice was the Thunderhead 3-blade in 100 grains.
I harvested several deer with these, as well as my first turkey. On as scale of 1 to 10, I would rate these broadheads at 7.5.
My experience with the Thunderhead 3-blade is as follows:
They are very similar to the Muzzy 3-blade with the only real difference being that they are slightly more consistent and stable during flight.
These broadheads have a simple design and are affordable. They are durable, easy to assemble, and leave decent blood trails.
While the Thunderhead 3-blade broadheads have positive qualities similar to the Muzzy 3-blade, they also share some of the negatives as well. The negatives are inconsistent and unstable arrow flight. They do not fly like field points and require advanced tuning skills as well.
Sometime along the way, I decided to try mechanical broadheads, due to the reviews that I had been reading regarding massive blood trails, and arrow flight that was consistent with field points.
The broadhead that I chose was the Grim Reaper 3-blade in 100 grains with a 1-3/8” cutting diameter. This is the only mechanical broadhead that I’ve ever used.
I was pleased with the results that I got from these heads. But, I eventually made my way back to fixed blades due to a lack of confidence in the mechanical heads functioning properly 100% of the time. However, I harvested more than 10 deer with these broadheads over several hunting seasons.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this head at 8.5. My experience with the Grim Reaper broadheads is as follows:
I found that the Grim Reaper broadheads had arrow flight consistent with field points. I also found them to be durable, with blades that were easily replaceable. As advertised, I experienced massive blood trails. They were one of the more affordable mechanical heads, with each package containing a practice point.
The Grim Reaper broadheads require attention to detail during assembly in order to make sure blades engage properly on impact. This can decrease hunters’ confidence in knowing that it’s possible that the blades won’t engage properly. (I will note that this never actually happened to me, but I’ve heard several other bow hunters say that it did in fact happen to them.
Magnus 2-blade, 100 grain
Eventually, I decided to go back to fixed blade broadheads. When I did my choice was influenced by the simple fact that shot placement is the most important factor in determining an archer’s successful recovery of an animal.
So, I was determined to find the most accurate broadhead available. I settled on the Magnus 2-blade in 100 grains.
I harvested more than 10 deer with these heads over several seasons. My major reason for changing away from this
broadhead was because of consistently poor blood trails.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this head at 6. My experience with the Magnus 2-blade broadheads is as follows:
The Magnus 2-blade broadheads are super accurate, flying very similar to field points (although tuning is key in this area). They also had very good penetration, were easy to sharpen, and were the most affordable broadheads I’ve ever used.
These heads were not very durable (the tips tended to bend easily). They also produced very bad blood trails (several deer I harvested left no blood trail at all).
Ramcat 3-blade, 100 grain
The next broadheads that I used were the Ramcat 3-blade in 100 grains. These heads were recommended by a friend that kills a lot of nice deer. I wasn’t crazy about the design of the blades (the screws loosen on impact for two-way cutting), but I decided to give them a shot.
I harvested three deer with these before I decided they weren’t for me. While they are very good broadheads from what I can tell, I couldn’t get past the blades loosening on impact (and sometimes in my quiver).
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate these at 8. My experience with these heads is as follows:
They were very accurate, flying very similar to field points. They’re durable, with the blades possessing two-side cutting action. They are affordable and for fixed blade broadheads, produce decent blood trails.
The blades on these heads tend to loosen in the quiver.
Magnus Stinger Buzzcut
The last broadhead that I’ve used (which is the broadhead that I currently use and don’t plan on changing) is the Magnus Stinger Buzzcut in 100 grains.
I’ve used these broadheads now for about five seasons. I’ve harvested more than 10 deer with them.
I am equally satisfied with the Magnus Corporation’s customer service as I am with this broadhead. The Stinger Buzzcuts are on the high end of pricing for fixed blades, but the cost is offset by Magnus’ lifetime warranty, which I have firsthand experience with. I received a package of new heads this past season at no cost when they replaced heads that had either chips, or were slightly bent due to contact with bone.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this broadhead at 9. My experience is as follows:
These heads are super accurate, flying very similar to field points. They get very good penetration, are easy to sharpen, and produce good blood trails for a fixed blade broadhead.
So far, I have found none. The only reason that I didn’t give this broadhead a rating of 10 is because I haven’t used every broadhead out there, and couldn’t be certain that it’s the best one on the market. I just know it’s the best broadhead that I’ve ever used.
N1 Outdoors co-founder, Maston Boyd
I have tried several broadheads over the years and am always willing to try something new to compare with my experiences with other models.
Swhacker broadheads, 2-blade, 100 grain
I have found that Swhackers fly true. I have had many a bowhunt with great experiences and performance from these.
G5 Montec, 3-blade, 100 grain
In my opinion these are good, all-around broadheads for bowhunting. My only complaint would be that they don’t leave the biggest hole.
Magnus 2-blade, 100 grain
Like Josh, I too have used the Magnus 2-blade in 100 grain. I experienced good flight and feel that they are a good blade for pass-through shots. However, there is not always a lot of blood, which can obviously be problematic in tracking the animal.
I never got great flight patterns with the Muzzy 3-blade. Plain and simple.
Wasp 3-blade, 100 grain
I experienced the same problems of flight pattern with these that I did with the Muzzy 3-blade.
Thunderhead 3-blade, 125 grain
I experienced good flight as well as good performance on game with these broadheads.
Tshuttle 3-blade, 100 grain
Good flight and good blood. ‘Nuff said.
Rage 3-blade, 100 grain
The 3-blade Rage broadheads, in my experience, provided good flight. However, they were inconsistent on game and left me hoping that I didn’t hit bone.
Grim Reaper 3-blade, 100 grain
I only shot one deer with these. No pass through and no deer. Need I say more? Mechanical madness!
N1 Outdoors co-founder, Giles Canter
I killed my first archery deer in 2000. Over the years I have not been one to chase the latest, greatest, or most heavily advertised broadhead or archery equipment.
Simply put, I like to know what to expect in the field. When you’ve done the work to be sure your shooting process is accurate, the last thing you want is to shoot a new broadhead for the first time is when there is meat on the line.
I like to know the positives, as well as the limitations, of the broadheads and archery gear that I use, so that I know what to expect when the moment of truth comes. Because of this, I tend to stick with things for awhile unless I have a good reason to change. If it ain’t broke…
With that being said, I have used a handful of broadheads over the years and here are my thoughts…
Thunderhead 3-blade, 125 grain
These are near and dear to me since I took my first archery deer with a Thunderhead 3-blade. They give good flight and performance. A simple and solid broadhead, in my opinion.
Muzzy 3-blade, 100 grain
I used the Muzzy 3-blade for several seasons and killed many deer with them. But, I eventually set them aside because I didn’t feel like the groupings and arrow flight at all consistent with field points shot with the same setup. Call me picky, but I wasn’t crazy about the angled, overlapping blade assembly either.
Muzzy MX-3, 100 grain
I like the Muzzy MX-3 broadheads. They have pretty tough blades that can be sharpened or replaced. I have used the same blades for multiple kills on more than a few occasions. In my opinion these fly a little truer than the Muzzy 3-blade, but still don’t group great.
Grim Reaper 3-blade, 100 grain
I tried these heads (2-inch cut) for a couple hunting seasons at the recommendation of a friend whose initials are Josh Wells! While I killed several deer and experienced some devastatingly bloody trails with them, I also experienced some deflections as well. These left me feeling, well, grim!
I also once shot a turkey center-breast with the Grim Reaper that flew off with my arrow hanging out of it. This left me feeling grim again! I don’t like feeling grim, so I retired from using Grim Reapers.
I started using the G5 Strikers by accident. My wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I am usually incapable of thinking of gift ideas that aren’t hunting related. So, I said, “how ’bout some Swhacker broadheads?”
When I opened my Christmas gifts that year, there was a brand new pack of… Striker broadheads! She said, “those are the right ones aren’t they?” I said, “well, I was looking for Swhackers, but these look great!”
I have actually thoroughly enjoyed using the G5 Strikers. They have proven to be very accurate for me and I have taken several deer with them. The only downside is that they don’t always leave the best blood trail.
Swhacker broadheads, 100 grain
Well, I did finally get my Swhackers (2-inch cut) that I referenced above! I have been as pleased with them as much as I have the Strikers. Arrow flight is great and pretty much like a field point. In my experience, they have left devastating wound channels and great blood trails.
The only thing I haven’t liked so far is that the blades can, especially with more than one use, begin to rattle somewhat during the draw. I am particular about being as silent as possible during a bow hunt. Because of this, I would view this as a negative. However, you have to buy new ones some time, I suppose!