Broadhead Selector

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Are You Shooting the Wrong Broadhead? This Tool Will Help You Select the Best Broadhead for the Bow You're Shooting.

Editor's note: This interactive feature was originally published on November 7, 2013. 

SELECT YOUR GAME TYPE

Pick the ideal broadhead for the game you’re after and the bowhunting setup you shoot.

Heavyweight

Bison, moose, big bears, elk, big wild boars and large African plains game, like eland and hartebeest. These are animals with the thickest hide, sturdiest bone structure and most extensive anatomy. They place a premium on penetration over all other factors.

Light heavyweight

Big Midwest whitetails and mountain mule deer bucks; black bears, mature wild hogs and most African plains game. These animals aren’t the virtual “tanks” that make up the Heavyweights, but are plenty sturdy nonetheless.

Welterweight

Any deer species tipping the scales from 125 to 190 pounds on the hoof, and average wild hogs weighing 125 to 175 pounds. These animals can be anchored with low- to average-energy equipment given the right hit, but they are tenacious as a desert shrub.

Lightweight

Thin-skinned, light-framed big game including antelope, Coues whitetails, Deep South whitetails weighing less than 125 pounds, and eater hogs weighing less than 100 pounds. These are the lightest of the true big-game prey.

Bantamweight

Javelina and especially wild turkeys. Shifty natures and compact vital areas place a premium on shot placement, though with the right broadhead, hitting slightly off the mark shouldn’t spell disaster.

SELECT YOUR COMPOUND BOW TYPE

He-Man Rig.

Draw Weight: 70 pounds or more
Draw Length: 28 inches and longer.
Performance: Launches heavy, nail-tough arrows weighing from 10 to 12 grains per inch in appropriate deflection/spine ratings in excess of 260 fps for assured penetration.

Average Joe Rig

Draw Weight: 65 pounds.
Draw Length: 28-29 inches.
Performance: The bow most hunters shoot launches a carbon arrow weighing from 8 to 9 gpi at speeds of 260 to 280 fps. This setup offers a middle-ground compromise between flat trajectory and penetration potential.

Speed Rig

Draw Weight: 60-70 pounds.
Draw Length: 28-30 inches.
Performance: A hunting setup that pushes light (6.5-8 gpi) arrows beyond the 290 fps mark. The need for speed becomes most pointed in any open setting where long shots and / or nervous animals with small vitals are unforgiving of ranging mistakes. Speed is a good thing on any animal, provided your arrow is up to the task. If you require a featherweight shaft to get top-end speed, your arrow may not be rugged enough for the biggest game. But if your bow throws a shaft in the 8 gpi or heavier shaft at 290 fps, you can hunt about whatever you want.

Lightweight Adult Rig

Draw Weight: 50-55 pounds
Draw Length: 26-28 inches.
Performance: These rigs have lower draw weights and / or short draw lengths. Many experienced female bowhunters shoot something in this class (26-inch draw length at 55 pounds), but so might a grown man dealing with a torn rotator cuff (28-inch draw length at 50 pounds). A middle-ground average shaft weight of 8-9 grains per inch creates moderate speed (say, 240-250 fps) and assured reliability.

Youth or Ladies Rig

Draw Weight: Less than 50 pounds.
Draw Length: Less than 27 inches
Performance: These setups call for extra precautions to assure ample penetration on even average game such as deer. Choosing “heavy-for-spine” shafts (Easton Axis, for example) assures ample penetration by providing needed momentum.

Recommended Broadhead Type(s)

The following broadheads are recommended.

Cut-on-Contact

Cut-on-contact broadheads include a flat, knife-like main blade (sometimes with added cross-cut bleeders) or a merging of cutting edges to a fine tip that begins cutting from the moment of impact. The edges create an uninterrupted continuation of the tip itself. Classic two-edged styles penetrate deepest because they produce the lowest degree of friction through hide and muscle and split bone like an axe. The bleeders cross-cut to increase tissue damage. Examples: Steel Force Phathead, NAP HellRazor, G5 Montec, Muzzy Phantom.

Compact Fixed Blade

Many of today’s replaceable-blade broadheads include milled or blade-insert cutting edges that transition into the ferrule, reducing resistance on impact. Modern “mini” heads are a favorite of long-range shooters; they have abbreviated blade surfaces (some as wide as they are long) and conservative cutting diameters (averaging 1 to 1 1/8-inch). Many have solid-steel ferrules for added strength. Less surface area assures straight flight at speed and deep-driving arrows. Examples: G5 Striker, Muzzy Trocar, Wasp SST Boss, Trophy Taker Shuttle T-Lock.

Standard Fixed Blade

Replaceable-blade broadheads remain popular because they represent an ideal balance between controllable flight and blood-spilling qualities for most archers. This head has an average cutting diameter of 1 3/16 inches and a cutting or faceted tip. Examples: NAP Thunderhead, Muzzy 3-blade or 4-blade; WASP Hammer SST.

Conventional Mechanical

A conventional mechanical broadhead has blades swinging from a forward position (in flight) and 180 degrees to the engaged position, stopping or locking into a fairly streamlined attack angle while cutting. Blades are held in position in flight by an O-ring, rubber band or blade clips. Examples: Rage 2- or 3-blade, NAP Spitfire and BloodRunner KE.

Aggressive Mechanical

While “aggressive” may remain somewhat subjective, you can normally glance at a mechanical design and make an educated guess as to how it will or won’t penetrate. Here we’re looking at blades that chop instead of slice after full engagement from a forward, in-flight position, and extra-wide cutting diameters. Examples: Rocket Hammerhead, NAP Spitfire MAXX, NAP KillZone MAXX and Mar-Den Vortex Pro Extreme.