Broadhead Basics: (Antler Up Field Test and Results)
Updated: Jan 4, 2020
One of the many things we as bowhunters will agree on is that there is no shortage of gear and accessories for our bows. From arrow rests to bow strings, releases and bow sights, there are endless amounts of bells and whistles to accessorize our rigs with. I know I can certainly spend countless hours in the pro shop or at a Cabelas or even on the web, viewing and looking at accessories I already have or those that I am looking to acquire at some point. But out of all of these options available, perhaps the most debatable and challenging choice of them all is which type of broadhead tip to use.
Now, if you’re new to bow hunting, this can get totally confusing. And I will tell you it’s perfectly normal because even experienced bow hunters are always rotating out their gear. For the sake of this article, let’s say you are fairly new to this sport and you are unsure as to how many options there really are. So, before you head to the archery shop, let’s start off with some common questions about broadheads that you may be asked when you get to the shop. The types for instance. Do you prefer fixed blades or mechanical blades? Cut on contact? Leading edges? What’s the difference? 2, 3 or 4 blades? Titanium or steel? Now you see where this is going right? So, how do you choose? Well, that depends on a variety of factors and we will dive into some of these and share with you what our team at Antler Up Outdoors used in 2019.
I decided to focus on the two most common used types of broadheads; mechanical and fixed blade, and even those have enough variations to complicate the choice of which broadhead to use. Let’s take the fixed option for instance. In the early days of bowhunting, fixed blades were the only real option available. There are 2 common types: fixed blades with the blade built right into the ferrule and replaceable fixed blades which have slots within the ferrule. Both types offer two, three and four blade heads and the most common weights are 100 to 125 grains. Depending on the type of arrow you shoot and the draw weight of your bow, this may also factor in to your set up. However, we’ll continue to keep this as simple as possible .
Let’s take my set up for example. As I said in a previous article, I’m fairly new to bow hunting myself so I am still learning the engineering aspect of set ups. Honestly, I prefer as minimal tuning as possible. If I am able to remove the broadheads from the package, screw them into the insert and let them fly like a field tip, then I am sold. That’s why I chose the Ramcat Diamondback with its patented airfoil system, 3 Blade fixed broadhead at 100 grains. I shoot these with the Black Eagle Outlaw 400 spine arrow with a draw weight of 60-pounds. After some extensive research, I chose these based on reviews and test results that I read extensively. After I purchased these, I conducted a few tests of my own and low and behold, they flew just as described. Again, this is my personal set up and this may not work for you, but what I am getting at here is that this process does not have to be as challenging for you as it seems.
Finally, it was time to test these in the field. Mid way through this season I was fortunate to have an opportunity at a large doe. To say I could not be more satisfied with the results is an understatement; unreal penetration and accuracy at exactly where I aimed.
If you’re a recurve bow hunter, in my opinion, fixed blade broadheads are more ideal simply because the velocity from the recurve is much slower than that of a compound bow. Tests that I have read and hunters that I have spoken with have mentioned some mechanicals have opened in flight because the arrow could not stabilize in flight due to the lower velocities. However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on compound bows.
As technology has advanced in the world of bow hunting, with faster, lighter bows and with their ever-increasing tuning options, it has been said that fixed blades may not fly as true for some. This can prove daunting in testing when trying to find the right set up. Mechanical broadheads offer a more stable flight with their aerodynamics for those with a heavier draw weight.
What is a mechanical broadhead and how do they work? Mechanical or expandable broadheads are designed to stay closed in flight and deploy upon impact. There are the rear deploying blades that expand out from the back of the ferrule as the tip enters the target. The forward deploying type is designed to open like a flower upon impact of the target such as the photo at left. Depending on your set up and just like the fixed broadhead, there may be some tuning that is required for the best, desired results. At Antler Up Outdoors we’re
looking for minimal tuning with the best results. I mean, aren’t we all? For our set ups, we are using the Sevr 2.1, Titanium expandable broadhead.
Similar to that of the Ramcat, minimal tuning if any at all was required for these broadheads. The results for this blade option clearly speak for themselves. Two of our team members were successful with scoring two monster bucks this season using the Sevr Titanium 2.1 expandable.
With the 100 grain, Sevr 2.1 expandable and Easton Axis 340 arrows, Jeremy achieved success in the field with a monster 8 point Pennsylvania mountain buck. The penetration of these blades is undeniable.
Our team success was across the board. Dimitri set the tone for us earlier in the season with a beast of his own. Using the 125 grain, Sevr 2.1 titanium blade with Beman 340 defender arrows, he successfully harvested a 7 point western Pennsylvania buck with incredible accuracy and impact.
When considering which broadhead to choose, it is important to consider what material they are made from. The Sevr 2.1 expandable is made from titanium. This lighter more durable metal allows for a more durable, accurate arrow flight with maximum velocity. Most expendable options like Tru Glo, G5 and Rage are made from titanium for that reason. The fixed blade option also comes in titanium and as a popular alternative, stainless steel. Ramcat offers a stainless steel fixed blade option while Truglo for example offers a titanium fixed blade option.
It should also be noted that the type of broadhead selection could also be out of your control. From state to state the types of blade options vary so you may want to inquire with the local wildlife management services to clarify which types of blades are legal.
Selecting the right broadhead to use can be a bit overwhelming. If you can stick to some basic guidelines as discussed here, it should help ease the process a bit. Incorporate some general research on the internet through articles and reviews and you will not feel out of place once you head to your local pro shop.