Bowhunting is probably one of the most thrilling and challenging forms of hunting that exist. But how do you track your game once it’s hit?
That’s where broadheads come in. They come in many different shapes, sizes, styles, and designs but they all serve a common purpose, to cut large and penetrate deep, and make a clear blood trail for you to follow.
That’s what we’re focusing on today. We’ll discuss different types of broadheads, and their pros and cons so you can choose the perfect one for you.
If you’ve just picked up bow hunting, or looking to switch it up by learning about broadheads, read on and you’ll find out all you need to know about what’s available and the particulars of each.
5 Different Types of Broadheads You Can Choose
1. Fixed blades
Fixed blade broadheads are the oldest and most common type out there. They range in blade number from 2 to 6 and also range slightly in available diameter.
Fixed blades have no moving parts and everything is fixed making them strong, reliable, and easy to sharpen and maintain. They tend to experience some deviations when fired at high speeds, but are otherwise a tried and true bow hunter’s friend.
- Durable and reliable due to their fixed design
- Excellent penetration and cutting power
- Fly more consistently and predictably than mechanical broadheads
- No moving parts that can fail or malfunction
- More difficult to tune than other types of broadheads
- Require more frequent sharpening or replacement of blades
- Less aerodynamic that may cause lower accuracy or greater wind drift
There are two types of fixed blade broadheads – a) Cut-on-contact broadheads and b) Chisel point broadheads
a) Cut-on-contact broadheads
They are a member of the fixed blade family but differ in that they feature no chisel point and all the cutting blades meet at the point to create what is essentially one blade. This means the arrow starts cutting through the second it hits the animal, allowing you to fire low-weighted bows without worrying if it has the punch to push the arrow through.
The biggest drawback, however, is the wound is relatively small in comparison to other broadheads and does not create a good blood trail to track with.
- Cut immediately upon impact that results in a larger wound channel and improved blood trails
- Deep penetration with sharp blades
- More accurate and consistent than other types due to their fixed design
- Sharp blades make them more forgiving of marginal shot placement
- More difficult to tune than others because of their fixed design
- Require more frequent sharpening or replacement of blades due to their sharpness
- Less aerodynamic than other types, leading to lower accuracy or greater wind drift
- Not suitable for big game hunting if the bow’s poundage is not high enough to penetrate deeply
b) Chisel point broadheads
They have a big chisel point on the tip before the cutting blades start. The point is to penetrate into the tough hide first, setting a course for the arrow, after which the cutting blades follow and work their magic. They are sturdier than cut-on-contacts and don’t find issues hitting bone.
- Designed to penetrate through bone and other tough materials for big game hunting
- Improved penetration and cutting power
- Fixed design allows to fly more consistently and predictably than mechanical broadheads
- Longer-lasting with a sturdy build
- More difficult to tune with a fixed design
- Do not provide as large of a wound channel as cut-on-contact or mechanical broadheads
- Less aerodynamic than other types that leads to lower accuracy or greater wind drift
- Require more frequent sharpening or blade replacement due to their thick design
2. Replaceable blades
Removable blade broadheads are similar to the fixed blade in that they have no actively moving parts and maintain their structure during flight.
The main difference is that the individual blades are removable. This serves as a way to easily change out the blades without changing the whole broadhead. This can be convenient if you are opposed to tediously sharpening every millimeter of your blades by hand.
- Cost-effective since only the blades need to be replaced when they become dull or damaged
- Available in both fixed blade and mechanical configurations
- More convenient to use than traditional fixed blade broadheads
- Not as durable or reliable as traditional fixed blade broadheads
- Do not fly as consistently or predictably as traditional fixed blade broadheads
- More frequent blade replacement or sharpening
3. Mechanical/expandable blades
The reason the blades activate on impact is to minimize friction and wind catch during flight. This makes them more accurate than fixed or non-mechanical broadheads.
They have become an integral part of modern bowhunting. Keep in mind, however, they have broader diameters that require more power to push through prey, and they are subject to mechanical failure on occasion.
- Generally have a smaller profile in flight for better accuracy
- Create larger wound channels upon impact for more effective kills
- Easier to tune than fixed blade broadheads
- More forgiving of marginal shot placement due to their expanding blades
- More prone to failure due to their moving parts, which can cause them to not deploy properly or to malfunction
- May not penetrate as well as fixed blade broadheads, especially on shots that do not hit bone
- Expensive and require more maintenance
4. Hybrid broadheads
They combine elements of fixed blade and mechanical designs. They typically have a small fixed blade component, with one or more expandable blades that open upon impact. This allows for the benefits of both designs, including improved accuracy and penetration, and larger wound channels.
- Have the benefits of both fixed blade and mechanical designs, including improved accuracy and penetration, and larger wound channels
- More forgiving of marginal shot placement with expanding blades
- More aerodynamic than traditional fixed blade broadheads
- More expensive than other broadhead types
- Not as durable or reliable as fixed blade broadheads
- Require more maintenance and care than fixed blade broadheads
5. Blunt or Judo broadheads
With flat or slightly rounded tips used primarily for small game hunting or target shooting, blunt broadheads are designed to minimize penetration and instead deliver a hard impact that can stun or kill small animals without causing excessive damage.
- Ideal for small game hunting like rabbits or for target shooting.
- Minimize penetration and instead deliver a hard impact that can stun or kill small animals without causing excessive damage
- Can be used for stump shooting and other forms of recreational archery
- Not suitable for big game hunting
- May cause excessive damage to arrows or arrow shafts, requiring frequent replacement
- Less accurate or consistent than other types of broadheads due to their design
Other Broadhead Considerations
When choosing the right broadhead for you one of the things to keep in mind is its weight addition.
If too light it may deviate or simply struggle to penetrate, especially with a low-weighted bow. but if too heavy it will also deviate, or simply fall short of its target due to a lack of required energy for the weight.
Check the poundage of your bow and the weight of your arrows against the weight of the broadhead and do some test firing to ensure it’s optimal.
2. Blade count
This refers to how many blades in the shaft there are.
How many blades and edges a broadhead features will play a huge role in what kind of cut you get, how big it is, how much it bleeds, whether it’s a through-and-through and other things. The more blades you have, the larger and deeper your hole and the more blood loss for a better trail.
However, the more blades you have, the more energy is needed to push them through accurately. If you prefer low-poundage archery you want to keep your blade count fairly low.
You also want to pay attention to the shape and way the blades are set out in different broadhead types as this will also play a role in penetration value, poundage required, and blood trail created.
Some broadheads are designed with cross-cut bleeder blades in the profile for extra cuts, some are not. Some have cutting blades moving outwards from the point whereas others have blades that slant out frontward facing the target. These require at least 80 lb bows to be truly effective.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing between the different broadheads and there are a decent number of types to choose from. No matter which broadhead type you are using, you will get an optimal output if you know how to sharpen one.
Try to suit the poundage of your bow and the kind of game animals you are hunting as closely as possible and let practice and preference refine the choice for you.
4. Rear deploy vs front deploy broadheads
Rear deploy broadheads have blades that fold back towards the rear of the arrow shaft during flight and then deploy forward upon impact with the target. They are more aerodynamic and accurate during flight since the blades are tucked behind the arrow shaft.
They are known to cut a bigger entry hole and use less kinetic energy. However, there is a risk that the blades may not deploy correctly upon impact, which can result in a poor wound channel or a lost animal.
On the other hand, the blades of front deploy broadheads extend forward from the arrow shaft during flight and are already fully deployed upon impact. They are generally more reliable since the blades are already extended. However, they may be less aerodynamic and accurate during flight due to the blades extending forward from the arrow shaft.
1. What are the most popular broadheads?
Ans. Here are the most popular broadhead brands and models in the bowhunting community –
- G5 Montec
- Magnus Stinger
- Iron Will
- Wasp Drone
- Grizzly Bruin
- Valkyrie Jaggers
- Grim Reapers
- Slick Trick
- Muzzy Trocar
2. Do heavier broadheads fly better?
Ans. Not necessarily. While heavier broadheads can provide better penetration and potentially more kinetic energy upon impact, they can also have negative effects on the arrow’s flight performance. For instance, they can make your arrows more front-heavy and affect their accuracy and trajectory.
The additional weight can also cause the arrow to lose speed and drop more quickly over distance, making it more difficult to hit targets at longer ranges. This is because the added weight can create more drag and wind resistance, reducing the arrow’s speed and stability in flight.
What’s more, a heavier broadhead may require a stiffer or heavier arrow shaft to achieve optimal accuracy and penetration, which can further impact the arrow’s flight performance.
3. What’s the best type of broadhead for deer hunting?
Ans. This totally depends on your personal preference and the terrain. The type doesn’t matter much for a good shot that passes through the heart or lungs. But fixed broadheads do better on the penetration front while mechanicals offer more on the cutting diameter front.
4. How to find the different broadhead regulations by state?
Ans. Here you will find the local broadhead regulations of every U.S. state.