Buying Arrows & Broadheads? What You Should Know Before You Buy

bow hunter with arrow

Today's archers have an infinite supply of accessories, especially when it comes to arrows and broadheads. With so many choices, a new hunter may be overwhelmed and left unsure of which product to purchase. This arrow and broadhead buying guide will dissect the different types of broadheads and arrows, so that you can narrow down the search for your personalized set up.

Types of Broadheads

Arrow cutting through an artery
diagram courtesy of Study Guide

Cut-on-Contact Broadheads

Archers have trusted cut-on-contact broadheads for years. They do exactly as the name indicates: cut the animal on contact. Cut-on-contact tips are extremely sharp and easily slice through hair, skin, meat and other tissue.

Many hunters use cut-on-contacts because they can rest assured that the broadhead will do its job with minimal or no chance of failure with a quick kill and easy recovery. Keep in mind, the arrow must cut the vital tissues for the quick kill. This type of  broadhead is great for big game hunting because they easily slice through thick-skinned animals.

Three Popular Examples of the Many Cut-on-Contact Broadheads

G5 Outdoors Montec CS Fixed-Blade1. Broadhead Type: Single Piece

What the author says: The Montec CS is a one-piece cut-on-contact broadhead constructed of 100 percent carbon steel. It is nearly 25 percent sharper than competing broadheads and can be re-sharpened after repeated use. The Montec CS provides a 1 1/16-inch cutting diameter, leaving large entrance and exit wounds. The Montec CS is also extremely durable and holds up well to bone contact, which might damage other broadheads.

Where to buy: G5 Outdoors Montec CS Fixed-Blade

Magnus Black Hornet Ser-Razor Broadhead2. Broadhead Type: Serrated edges

What the author says: This Magnus Black Hornet broadhead features chiseled serrated blades, meaning the serrations actually rise above the plane of the main cutting edge. This gives you the benefit of a slim penetrating end with a saw-like business end, leaving large entrance and exit holes. The blades are also great for plowing through hair, skin and bone. This broadhead features four cutting edges rather than three, meaning more cutting area.

Where to buy: Magnus Black Hornet broadhead

3. Broadhead Type: Replaceable Blades

What the author says: The Blackout Toxik Fixed-Blade Broadhead provides the best of both worlds: a cut-on-contact head with replaceable blades. After blades become dull, simply swap them out for new ones and you again have an out-of-the-box sharp cut on contact broadhead.

Where to buy: Blackout Toxik Fixed-Blade Broadhead

The examples above are only three of the many cut-on-contact broadheads on today's market. The Muzzy 4-Blade Fixed-Blade Broadheads is also a great choice, featuring four blades and an ultra-sturdy construction. The Magnus Stinger Buzzcut sports serrated edges and supplies a whopping 1 1/4-inch cutting diameter.

Two Popular Examples of Chisel-Point Broadheads

Chisel-point broadheads provide bone-splitting power in nearly every bow-hunting situation. These tips are much more robust than a cut-on-contact tip — they carry the ability to smash through bone where other broadheads may be slowed down or even stopped. Located behind the bone-crushing tip are the cutting blades. Also, just because these aren't "cut-on-contact," doesn't mean they don't penetrate game hide easily.

Muzzy MX-4 broadheads1. Muzzy MX-4 Fixed-Blade Broadheads

What the author says: The Muzzy MX-4 Fixed-Blade broadheads have been effective hunting tools for years, and will be for years to come. Their economically priced broadheads are hard to beat when it comes to reliability and performance. The MX-4's hardened steel TroCar tip not only penetrates through skin and bone, but it also enhances flight stability. The razor sharp thickened blades maximize impact on flesh and bone. Once the blades have dulled, replacement blades can be purchased. Overall, Muzzy's are consistent when shot from a well-tuned bow and are a superb choice for any hunter.

Where to buy: Muzzy MX-4

 Thunderhead Nitro Fixed-Blade Broadhead2. New Archery Products Thunderhead Nitro Fixed-Blade Broadhead

What the author says: Another popular broadhead is the Thunderhead Nitro from New Archery Products. The Thunderhead Nitro is a different style featuring an all-steel broadhead and cone tip. This broadhead is supper rugged perfect at high speeds for today's powerful bows and crossbows. Blades designed for maximized internal damage. They fly like darts with extreme accuracy. The Thunderhead's tip does a great job at penetrating hide and stands up just as well to bone and can take down the biggest game animals.

Where to buy: New Archery Products

Two Popular Examples of Expandable Broadheads

Expandable broadheads are the latest and greatest technology, with multiple advances occurring very recently in archery history. Expandable broadheads are extremely low profile, making them fly identical to a field point where other broadheads may require adjusting. Upon contact, the blades expand and deliver large wound channels. Larger wound channels mean more blood loss, leading to a quicker death and shorter recovery. However, some believe this comes with a price. Since there are working components to expandable broadheads, there are increased chances that something will go wrong: the blades may fail to deploy or break off inside the animal. While these accounts are rare, be aware that they are possible.

Rage 2-Blade Expandable Broadheads1. Rage 2-Blade Expandable Broadheads

What the author says: The Rage two-blade system deploys from the rear as the broadhead enters the animal. By deploying from the rear, lost power is minimized and cutting surface is maximized. At full deployment, the blades measure a whopping 2 inches in cutting diameter! That is a massive cut compared to fixed blade broadheads. The Rage also comes in an equally as effective three-blade version.

Where to buy: Rage 2-Blade Expandable Broadheads

New Archery Products BloodRunner Expandable Broadheads2. New Archery Products BloodRunner 2- or 3-Blade Expandable Broadheads

What the author says:  New Archery Products came out with the Bloodrunner, a two-blade expandable broadhead with fixed blade characteristics. While the Bloodrunner isn't as sleek as the Rage, it offers a similar cutting diameter of 2 1/16 inches.  With the New Archery Products Bloodrunner, as soon as the tip contacts the animal, it is pushed down while simultaneously pushing the blades out to the fully deployed position. Another benefit of the Bloodrunner is that the blades are strong like fixed blades. Like the Rage, the Bloodrunner also comes in a three-blade version.

Where to buy: New Archery Products Bloodrunner

Two Popular Examples of Small Game Broadheads

Archery isn't just for large game hunters, small game can make for a fun and challenging hunt as well. While small game tips aren't as numerous as large game tips, there are plenty available.

Saunders Bludgeon Small Game Head 1. Saunders Bludgeon Small Game Head

Squirrel shot game headWhat the author says:  Have something to do between deer and turkey season. Had some pesky squirrels around my house. Rigged up two arrows with these tips shot one with a loud thud, no more squirrel.  The Saunders Bludgeon Small Game Head has a high shocking power to anchor small game. Test your skills and aim and practice bow shooting on smaller meat bearers or nuisance animals. The Bludgeon Small Game Head is deal for stump shooting, birds, and all kinds of small game.

Where to buy: Saunders Bludgeon Small Game Head

BlackOut Advocate Small-Game Broadhead 2. BlackOut Advocate Small-Game Broadhead

What the author says: The BlackOut Advocate Small Game Broadhead is a screw-in small game broadhead that is terrific for shooting at rabbits, birds and other small game. The spring arms easily grab onto grass or other brush to prevent your arrow from sliding under the weeds to be lost forever. This broadhead is also ideal for stump shooting.

Where to buy: BlackOut Advocate Small Game Broadhead

Overall, when it comes to broadheads, there are more than enough options available. All broadheads are marketed to be effective, but it never hurts to do a little extra homework before you purchase.

Four Types of Popular Arrows

When choosing arrows, the archer must consider multiple factors. First, for what will you need the arrows? Are you hunting big game, small game or competing in 3D shoots? There are different arrows for each application. Let's take a look at some of the different arrows on today's market.

1. Carbon Arrows

By far the most common arrow type these days, the carbon arrow gives you strength, speed, knockdown power and durability. Carbon arrows are made by multiple manufacturers, all claim to be fast, strong and accurate.

Gold Tip XT Hunter Carbon Hunting Arrows

Gold Tip Carbon Hunting Arrows What the author says: These gold tip arrows set the bar high when it comes to carbon shafts. They are straight, consistent and extremely durable. Arrows can be purchased at different sizes and weights, as bare shafts or with different vanes. Gold tip offers a wide selection of arrows for every hunter.

Where to buy: Gold Tip XT Hunter Carbon Hunting Arrows

Other carbon arrows include the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter and Cabela's Stalker Xtreme Carbon Arrows with Blazer vanes.  All shafts include specifications as to weight and straightness tolerance, as well as inserts and veins. Without a doubt, there are numerous carbon shafts that will match your need.

For hunting, most carbon shafts will generate enough knockdown power when matched correctly with your bow.

For 3D shoots, there are also many great shaft options available. However, arrows with a straightness factor of 0.01 are most desirable.

2. Carbon Arrow Hybrids

Victory Archery Xtorsion Arrows Want a step up from carbon shafts? Check out the arrow hybrids such as the Easton Full Metal Jackets, combines the qualities of carbon and aluminum.The FMJ arrow features a compact, small diameter carbon core fused to a full metal jacket shell.

Another arrow hybrid that's getting good reviews is the Victory Archery Xtorsion SS Gamer Arrows, a high modulus infused carbon fiber/stainless steel hybrid arrow.

The result of arrow hybrids is an even stronger and harder hitting arrow. The small diameter aids in increased penetration. While arrows in this series are generally more expensive, they are usually straighter, stronger and longer lasting than regular carbon arrows.

Easton Premium XX75
Although they are slower than carbon
arrows, aluminum arrows still pack a

3. Aluminum Arrows

Much older than carbon arrows, aluminum arrows have packed arrow quivers for years and years. While aluminum arrows are much heavier than today's carbon arrows, they are still highly regarded among many archers. Aluminum arrows are very straight, strong and relatively inexpensive.

Easton has a great line of aluminum arrows, such as the Easton Premium Finish XX75 Camo Huntergamegetters. Although they are slower than carbon arrows, aluminum arrows still pack a punch. Despite the overwhelming popularity of carbon arrows, aluminum shafts are still in the aisles today for a reason — they get the job done!

4. Wood Arrows

Western Archery Cedar Arrow Last but not least, wood arrows have existed as long has hunters have used bows to target prey. Today, many traditional archers using recurve bows or longbows use wood arrows. It is potentially very dangerous to shoot wooden arrows out of today's compound bows, as these arrows are not built to withstand the massive energy output. If you want the appearance of wood in a modern day arrow, check out Beman and Easton, both of which offer carbon arrows with a photo-finished wood grain appearance.

In conclusion, whatever archery scenario you find yourself in, there is an arrow out there for you. Every archer will have his or her own opinion when it comes to the "best" equipment. At the end of the day, the only way to know what works best for you is by getting out and shooting. Who needs an excuse for that?

Tip: Western Archery Cedar Arrows are hand-spined cedar shafts with a clear-lacquer finish and fletched with bright, balanced 5" shield-cut feathers. 

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