Choosing broadheads can be somewhat of a head-scratcher for anyone who doesn’t know the specifics of them especially when it comes to the grain. It’s a normal dilemma to have and one I hope to assist you in solving as we discuss grain, types, and other considerations when choosing what broadhead you want to hunt with this season. Don’t worry, it’s actually quite simple, and largely preference-based. There are just a few key things to keep in mind which I will attempt to highlight below.
What Grain Broadhead Should I Use?
If we wanted to be super specific to the point of being finicky we could say the grain weights choice is dependent on varying factors such as game being hunted, bow poundage, arrow weight, field tip grain, shooting distance, and more. But honestly, the very vast majority of bowhunters simply stick to 100-grain broadheads. It’s the best broadhead for deer and most other typical game. It’s right there in the middle and offers the most balance for pretty much all common scenarios, uber-large game hunting aside. The majority of companies that manufacture broadheads do so mostly for 100 grain. There are some that offer 125-grain broadheads all the way up to even 300 grain, but not all that many.
The thing about broadhead grain is that if it’s too heavy, it becomes counter-productive. Most arrows nowadays are carbon arrows and these go well in weight ratio with 100 grain. 100 is also enough to bring down fairly large game. You’d need something heavier for, let’s say, an elephant, but who here is bow hunting elephants on a regular basis? Truth be told, you can tune your bow and your arrows to correctly handle anything up to 300 grain but it’s an unnecessary headache that also greatly limits the options of available broadhead types and styles you can choose from.
Things to Consider When Choose a Broadhead
- Fixed blade broadheads: These broadheads are a one-piece arrowhead that is solid. There are no moving or replaceable parts. It’s probably the oldest and most traditional style of broadhead there is. It’s strong, durable, proven to be effective, and cheaper in comparison to others.
- Mechanical broadheads: These broadheads feature a set of blades that are hidden during arrow flight and pop out on impact. They offer the widest diameter of the broadhead options. These are a fairly new and modern addition to the world of bowhunting. The existence of moving parts on rare occasion lends itself to complications but the limiting of surface area on the arrow tip means better accuracy and less pesky deviation due to wind, especially at high arrow velocity and over longer distances.
- Replaceable blade broadheads: This type is a member of the fixed family in the sense that there’s nothing mechanical about the broadhead. The blades, however, are replaceable instead of permanently fixed on. This allows for quick and easy blade replacements for those who don’t favor sharpening broadheads constantly or replacing their fixed broadheads completely when a blade chips irreparably.
When choosing a broadhead it is imperative that you take the weight and grain in to consideration. The grain needs to match the weight of your filed tip and the overall weight needs to be balanced for the conditions you’re exposing the broadhead to. Too much weight with too little poundage becomes a big problem. As it is with too much poundage and a lightweight setup. An unbalance here can cause a mediocre penetration, serious deviation, a damaged arrow, or a wound that doesn’t bleed enough to leave a decent tail for tracking. Match your grain to the grain of your field tip, the rest is intuitive logic and some trial and error. Test fires will set you straight in the weight department if you have any doubts.
3. Blade count
The amount of blades you want on your broadhead is also something to be considered. You get standard two blade broadheads, tri-blade, four blade, and even six blade broadheads. The amount of blades your head has will determine the kind of cut you make on the animal. The more blades and edges, the more cutting and tearing, the more blood to follow. That’s not to say you should automatically choose six blade heads though. You can punch a really good through-and-through using a simple two bladed broadhead. It all depends on your preference and your shooting style. Keep in mind though that the more blades you have, the more energy you need to force them all through the animals hide. So if you’re keen to sport six-bladers, I suggest a minimum of 60 lbs as your bow weight.
Accuracy is of course a non-negotiable when hunting. No one wants to waste time wading through the thicket in search of the three arrows that didn’t hit the mark.
As a general rule, mechanical broadheads are more accurate at high speeds and over long distances as they catch less wind. The difference will barely be noticed if shooting close-range with medium to low poundage though.
Many people swear by the extreme difference in accuracy with mechanical broadheads and will claim they are the best broadhead type but there are plenty of bowhunters the world over throughout history that made deadly shots from far off with a standard fixed broadhead.
Penetration is another obvious need when hunting. Imagine hitting your mark exactly where you were aiming and watching in utter dismay as it simply bounces off. Different broadheads offer different penetration values and conditions so you need to be sure it suites what’s relevant to you. Mechanical broadheads with a wide diameter offer bigger holes but require higher poundage to ensure effective penetration, smaller fixed broadheads with only two blades will offer easier penetration with any poundage but if the poundage is too high the rip-through will be so clean that the animal barely leaves a blood trail. You get broadheads designed specifically for superior penetration such as cut-on-contact broadheads, but make sure your bow, arrow weight, firing distance, and animal match the broadheads needs and limitations.
6. Cutting diameter
Cutting diameter is simply how big the hole in the animal is going to be. All broadhead types are offered in at least three different diameter ranges, mechanical broadheads generally offering the widest. Keep in mind though, again, you need more energy (poundage) to push more diameter through an animal. You also have to weigh up what’s more important to you between one big hole, and a through-and-through that is essentially two smaller holes. Most hunters agree a better blood trail is created by two holes. It can be quite difficult to get a wide diameter broadhead through both sides of an animal. But ultimately, it’s up to your preference.
Dependability is also a big factor to consider. You want to be able to trust your arrow to do what it should consistently without failing. With enough tuning and tweaking you can get almost any broadhead to function dependably but it is generally accepted that one piece fixed blade broadheads are the most dependable overall.
Tuning your broadhead tips
If your bow has been properly tuned and your arrows are well-fletched, you need to ensure your broadheads are tuned too. If not, they will spin wrong in flight and cause deviation.
The most common problem with every type of broadheads that requires tuning is how well it’s set on the arrow insert. If it is not set well it shakes during mid-flight spin which pulls the arrow off course and your frustration to max real quick.
To see if the broadhead is set right, hold the arrow against a sheet of paper lightly and spin it. If the indent is a simple point, you’re golden, if not, it’s a circle or something similar, it needs tuning.
To do this simply apply pressure to the arrow while the broadhead is against a surface. Give it a good nudge so it goes all the way in to centre. Check on the paper if this has worked.
If not repeat the process a few times. If it still fails remove the broadhead from the arrow completely and put it back on, ensuring you do it as centred and accurately as possible.
It may seem like there are many factors to consider when choosing broadheads but keep in mind a skilled archer will make any broadhead work. It’s largely preference based. Bows, arrows, and broadheads can all be tuned and adjusted to give you what you want from your shot. I hope things are a little clearer now and this has helped you with how to choose a broadhead, happy hunts!