Selecting the right broadhead is crucial to the success of your hunt and season, and there seem to be hundreds from which to choose. Well, there are several decisions to make along the way and things to consider when making this choice. Here are a few things to help get you started.
The first decision to make that narrows the field of choice is do you want a fixed blade or mechanical broadhead? A fixed blade broadhead is exactly that, the blades are in a fixed position and are ready to cut at the moment of impact. These broadheads offer the comfort of knowing that there are no moving parts that could become impaired and cause a compromised hit. A common issue with these broadheads is that they group differently than field points. This will require you to practice with your broadheads before the season begins to be sure your bow is dialed in for hunting. Blades passing through foam will dull quickly and not be suitable for hunting. I would recommend that if you choose a fixed blade head, that you save old broadheads to use as practice tips so that new heads can be saved for the hunt.
A mechanical broadhead is any broadhead that has moving parts necessary for blade deployment. The designs vary between manufacturers, but they all require the impact with the animal to fully deploy the blades. This reduces the air resistance of the head and allows it to shoot more similar to a field tip. Rage broadheads go a step further and provide a practice tip with each pack. The practice tip has the same aerodynamics as the actual heads but without the deploying blades, so they fly exactly the same. But the nature of being mechanical, leaves openings for failures such as premature deployment, broken “O” rings, and often smaller cutting diameters than a fix blade. Newer models offer better cutting diameters and no dependency on “O” rings, so mechanical blades are vastly improved than they were 5 or 10 years ago.
Another consideration is durability. All broadheads come from the factory razor sharp, but how do they hold up after being shot. I personally have used G5 fixed blades and Rage mechanicals and have killed three deer in a season with the same head. This includes passing through hide and bone and burying into the ground. But this is my personal limit. After each shot, I check each blade and head tip for nicks and straightness. If they remain in good condition, then three shots are all I allow before changing blades or switching to a different head. Dull blades will not penetrate bone and sever arteries necessary to make quick, clean kills. Arteries are very elastic and can be pushed away as oppose to severed by a dull blade.
The last few decisions should consider cutting diameter and head weight. A large cutting diameter allows for greater entry and exit holes and maximum damage through the wound channel. The more damage to vital organs the faster and more humane the kill. A larger cutting diameter will also help marginal shots to connect with an artery or organ that otherwise would have been missed. But be careful here, larger fixed blades create more wind resistance which can affect accuracy and consistency which are a must when it comes to bowhunting. I would recommend a fixed blade diameter of 1.5″. This is more than enough to do the job on accurate shots and does not get caught in the wind.
The head weight should depend upon game animal being hunted. Higher arrow and head weight usually equals better penetration, but for whitetails for example, 100 grains is more than sufficient. Head weight also influences arrow flight and so you may need to try varying weights to find what works best for your set up. In any case, always shoot the same weight when hunting as in practice. Consistency will vastly improve accuracy.
I personally jumped on the Rage Expandable Broadhead bandwagon several years ago and have been singing their praises ever since. I shoot a 100 grain three-blade head that is devastating on impact. I really appreciate the included practice heads and practice with nothing else. I have never seen entry holes this size before switching and blood trails that paint the ground red. Seldom, will a deer escape when hit well with a Rage.
Didn’t know there was so much to think about when selecting a broadhead from the shelf, did you? And these are just the very basics. For you engineer types or target shooters, there are many technical calculations that you can use to fit a broadhead to a specific arrow or bow set up, but for the hunter, the above is a good start. Experimentation is ultimately the best tool for determining what works best for your needs. I hope this helps you improve your accuracy and hunting success.