Hunting > Whitetails

What Broadhead is the Best?

Fixed-blades, mechanicals, cut-on-contacts—here’s how to select the best arrow point for the job.

8/22/2011

It can be one of the most heated debates on any archery range where hunters are preparing for the coming deer season: Which type of broadhead is best? While many hunters will speak of the qualities of their bow, release, arrows or rest with those around them nodding in polite recognition, when it comes to the type of broadhead he or she uses, their reason for going with a certain type is apt to pull a grunt of disapproval from someone in the crowd. Some fans of mechanicals—many spawned by the popularity of Rage broadheads in recent years—are adamant that the advances in technology have made that the way to go, while fixed-blade purists remain steadfast that their preferred point is still the leader in the field. Cut-on-contact blades have their share of fans as well.

So how do you wade through all of the marketing hype and point/counter-point arguments on the range to make the right choice for your style of hunting? Here’s a stripped-down look at the pros and cons of each so the next time you’re standing in the aisle of your local bow shop trying to make a decision, you can reach for that package of points with the confidence you’re making the right one.

Fixed–Blade Broadheads
Fixed-blade points are the foundation of the broadhead market with more models offered in this style than any other—and more hunters using them. Most fixed-blades employ a chisel-type point intended to deliver a solid bone-breaking crunch and punch through tough hide, along with three to four razor-sharp blades designed to slice through hide and tissue and cut multiple wound channels for rapid blood loss. Most fixed-blade models cut a hole as wide as 1¼ inches, which is more than sufficient to generate an easy-to-follow blood trail.

Pros—The design of the fixed-blade makes it the sturdiest of the three main types of points and is definitely the most forgiving design when it comes to striking ribs or shoulder blades. The simplicity of a fixed-blade means that virtually all of the arrow’s energy is transferred directly to the target, ensuring a better chance of a complete pass-though.

Cons—A broadhead’s blades are flat and will plane through the air, which can alter the path of your arrow, nudging it slightly off target. In a hunt where an inch can make the difference between a quick, humane kill and a never-ending tracking session, how your broadhead tracks during flight is important. The faster your bow, the more concerned you need to be about your arrow’s flight when tipped with a fixed-blade. While the effects are negligible with many of today’s top models, don’t just assume your broadhead choice will fly true. Practice with it on targets to ensure yours mimics the flight of a field point.

Cut-on-Contact Broadheads
Cut-on-contacts are among the most original broadhead designs (particularly when factoring in ancient, friction-formed Indian arrowheads). Most often, two and sometimes three blades are fixed to align into a single, razor-sharp point. There is no heavy chisel-point like on a standard fixed-blade head.

Pros—Because there is no heavy chisel-point to punch through hide, cut-on-contacts are an ideal option when shooting low -oundage bows. They begin slicing as soon as they strike the target, and as a result, need less energy to deliver a lethal shot. Wound channel diameters are on par with those of other fixed-blade designs.

Cons—A two-bladed (or really single blade with two cutting sides) cut-on-contact point only creates a single wound channel. Depending on how it strikes an animal, it can generate a limited blood trail. A three-blade design, such as G5’s Montec or Striker, can minimize this concern, though models with smaller bleeder blades may do little to improve a cut-on-contact’s performance since they are so small that they add nothing in the way of creating a larger cutting diameter. Lacking a heavy point, cut-on-contacts are also less forgiving when striking bone. The thinner tip can curl upon hitting such a hard surface and can hinder both arrow speed and penetration.

Mechanicals Broadheads
As noted, lead by Rage, mechanicals have enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years, with a number of other mechanical designs and brands vying for recognition in the category. Tipped with a solid, power-transferring point, mechanical blades remain closed until striking the target, at which point they deploy to create a wide wound channel. Original criticism of this design centered on a tendency to be more fragile, a failure to occasionally deploy and a lack of penetration. Older models opened as they were pushed from the front upon impact, not fully expanding until actually inside an animal, which sometimes created a limited blood trail. Newer models, however, utilize a slip-cam or similar design that actually pushes and opens blades from the rear of the broadhead—a much more efficient design that ensures blades are open upon initial penetration.

Pros—With blades tucked away, mechancials don’t suffer from the planing common to fixed-blade heads. As a result, they fly more like a field point. These broadheads also have the ability to deliver a wider cutting diameter—some models as much as 2 to 4 inches. Why? Blades can be made longer since they fold against the body of the broadhead and won’t affect flight.

Cons—Despite the improvements in mechanical design, the same reasons some hunters shunned these blades before still apply. The action required to open blades siphons traces of energy that could otherwise be solely dedicated to directing more punch through a target. Where moving parts are concerned, the opportunity for failure always exists and does still happen from time to time. Wider cutting area isn’t always a positive either, as it means more hide, tissue and muscle to cut through (and potentially more bone to hit, shattering the thinner blades or yawing the arrow’s trajectory sideways as it enters the body). This all serves to slow the arrow’s speed and potentially hinder pass-through shots.

In the end, if you are looking for the ultimate in reliability and penetration, a fixed-blade broadhead just may be the way to go. If you’re looking to generate a wickedly large wound that will bleed profusely or are shooting a super fast bow, a modern mechanical might prove to be a better option. For low-poundage shooters or when hunting smaller game, a simple cut-on-contact may be the ideal. Regardless of which design you choose, always practice with broadheads to ensure arrows are hitting the target in the same place you perfected with field points.

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40 Responses to What Broadhead is the Best?

Mike wrote:
August 21, 2014

Shot Muzzy's for years and tracked a LOT of deer for hundreds of yards. Lost several that just kept on going. Saw one get spooked by a coyote and run off after being liver shot. Switched to 2 blade Rage 4 years ago. I've shot 7 deer so far with the Rage and my longest tracking job was 70 yards. Several fell within 20 yards. Most expired within sight of my stand. I was shooting a Hoyt Trycon, 65 Lbs, 27.5 and got complete pass thru on every deer. Now I'm shooting Bowtech Experience same numbers. (Excellent Bow) Success is measured by your own experience with your equipment. I highly recommend the Rage if you shoot similar equipment as I do. I also use the little orange collars that cover the O-ring. They never open accidentally any more. Oh ya, they deployed perfectly on every deer I shot. Maybe I'm lucky, maybe it's because I clean and inspect all of my gear prior to Every hunt.

Tommy wrote:
July 20, 2014

Do rocket steelheads open in mid flight or when they hit

Anonymous wrote:
April 20, 2014

All of you who have problems with fixed blade heads either don't know enough about archery to get them to fly right, or you are just plain lazy! I have been able to get every fixed blade I have ever owned to fly like my field points. These include the following heads: Slick Trick Grizz Trick, Wasp Hammer SST, Muzzy 3 and 4 blade, VPA Terminator. Its really not that difficult to make happen if you understand enough about archery. There is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to shooting fixed blades. Your bow should at least be paper tuned, preferably with bare shafts! Then, you must make sure that your broadheads spin perfectly on the end of your arrow. If you detect a wobble, try a different arrow or you can square the end of the insert with some sand paper so the broadhead sits straight inline with your arrow when tightened down. You should have a good FOC also. All of these things perfected, you still may have flight problems if you don't choose a quality broadhead. Slick Tricks work the best for me! And don't let anyone tell you that big fixed blades don't fly well out of faster bows. I shoot a Z7 Xtreme with a 29' draw at about 74 pounds. With this setup, I can shoot a four-blade, 1 1/4' cut, Grizz Trick right with my field tips at 60 yards. Expandables work too!!!-some of the time! That's why I will stick with a quality fixed blade. And I don't consider Muzzy a quality head by the way. Aluminum ferrules and thin blades don't stand up to shoulder blades very well! Sorry Muzzy! If you don't understand the aspects of tuning broadheads, talk to a traditional archer! You can learn a lot from them. You can also go to 3riversarchery.com and learn about this stuff too! I am only 19 by the way, so if I can understand this stuff, most of you guys should be able to figure this out if you dedicate a little time and patience into your archery practice. In the end, it all comes down to one question. How much do you value recovering that trophy of a lifetime when you have shot him square in the shoulder??? Fixed blades forever! Good luck!

cold arrow archery wrote:
January 26, 2014

traditional or compound, there is no more efficient or better flying broadhead than the N.A.P. razorcap; louvered angle blades,well-vented,tempered steel w/ truly razor sharp pyramid-tip and blades....the coolest feature is,of course, the blade replacement system which employs the use of diverse weight/grain ferrules instead of individual blades.... genius and perfect....wound channels are unparrelled!

Bloodtrail wrote:
October 27, 2013

I think the best broad head is the 2 blade 100 grain pro vortec. They are mechanical and with the 2 1/2 cutting hole is like a knife wound. If u shot the deer at any angle and the broad head went in at horizontal position the hole was even bigger. It would never seal shut. The blood trail was very good with a blood a couple feet on each side of the deer. Never had a deer go more than 50 yards. And never lost one. How I know this was the best broad head is now they seem not to be around. Its like the company fell off the planet. It seems to happen with every product that works some other company seems to buy them out so they get more money for there own. Only have a couple left. If anybody knows were I can get some more let me know. Thanks

kim gardner wrote:
September 28, 2013

we just got some torrid 100 expandable 3 blade, this is my first broadhead, my first bow hunt!!! i'll let ya know how they do!

Pow wrote:
August 05, 2013

Just bought swackers can't wait to try them out. A lot of my friends are using rage just didn't want to be like them, that and didn't like the rage to many problems in my book

Gunner887 wrote:
May 20, 2013

Over the past 2 years I have switched to Crimson Talon Broadheads 100 grain. These broadheads are a fixed blade style and have slightly curved blades to create a spiral wound channel on contact tearing and cutting a spiral hole so there is no chance of clotting if you don make a complete pass through. These broadheads fly like field points and have a steel chisel point and give amazing blood trails!

Buck 80 wrote:
February 21, 2013

I have been bow hunting since I was 12 now I am 50 and still at it, the one thing I have found Is that a fixed blade broad head has never failed me. I have used all the popular mechanical broad heads with mixed results and most of them not favorable,the the least success I had was with the meat seeker. I started with bear broad heads and as long as they keep making them I will finish with Slick Trick or slick trick magnums they are by far the best killing broad heads I have ever used. they do it all,big holes,great blood trails and penetration. This is the head,don't risk guessing it's not worth it trust me.

Prospecter wrote:
November 08, 2012

Different broadheads work better with different draw lengths and poundage.

gilbert wrote:
September 25, 2012

hand down the best fixed blade broadheads are SLICK TRICK. They are way stronger than muzzy's. Muzzy ferrules are aluminum and their blades are .02" thick. Slick trick ferrules are steel and their blades are .035" thick. they fly like field tips out of a half way decently tuned bow, tough as railroad spikes and penetrate like crazy. I would imagine most people still swearing by muzzy are either too stubborn to switch or have never shot slick tricks. second place would be Trophy tacker shuttle T's, third would be Montect G5. You really cant go wrong with SLICK TRICK STANDARD OR MAGNUMS. Muzzy broadheads are weak.

clayton wrote:
September 23, 2012

I was using the rage 2 blade broadheads the other day and i shot a doe but i didn't get a complete passthrough and the blood clotted up and I lost the doe... I hear the rage broadheads are great if u get a passthrough but it will clot if u don't. I'm just gonna stick with my muzzy mx3's, they shoot just as true for me as a rage does and I'm shooting a pse bow madness 27' 60lbs

Todd wrote:
September 18, 2012

I am a believer in the 2 blade rage when they work,they without a doubt leave the best blood trail ever and I only lost one deer using them.the buck I shot last year was at 17 yards and had a perfect broad side heart shot but the blades didn't open until inside and exiting the opposite side rear leg and left no blood trail so this year I'm shooting the faithful g5 montechs,they fly great our of my d350.

Glenn wrote:
September 16, 2012

I'm was not able to get my Thunderheads 100's to shoot out of my new Mathews Heli-M bow and was told fixed blade broadheads over 1" will not shoot out of the faster bows. I have always shot TH 100's and have had no problems up till this Heil-M purchase. I switch to swakers as the openign day was Sept 15 but I'm still not convinced even after two Mathews dealers told me to throw the TH 100's away and shoot mechanical. What can you shed on this subject, I'm close to selling the Heli-M and going bcak to the Z7.

Slick wrote:
July 09, 2012

Why take a chance in the broadhead not opening or causing you trouble. Practice with a fixed blade broadhead, tune your arrows with the correct head and practice like you should. Muzzy 4 blades.

Bill wrote:
January 01, 2012

You are all missing the point. There is no best broadhead, only what's best for you and your setup. The best point for a 40lb bow may not shoot so well if you're pulling 75lbs.

K.I.S.S wrote:
November 13, 2011

I have tried a lot of broadheads and keep going back to the Muzzyz - they are bad to the bone. They are simple and get the job done. Every deer i've taken did not run far, less than 40 yrds. No mechanical nonsense to worry about. K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Stupid

Accuracy Matters Most wrote:
November 01, 2011

I have shot several types of broadheads over the past 30+ years and have come to the conclussion that for the most part, all broadheads will kill if they hit in the right place. Problem is that in far too many cases, they don't hit in the right place unless you make big changes to your set up, tuning, and sights. I never liked the fact that I had to change my sights each fall with a couple of weeks to the hunt in order to get my broadhead to fly true. When I would be shooting around camp with my buddies, my sights were off because they were adjusted to my broadheads. When I jumped to the new super fast speed bows, it was more difficult to gain accuracy without putting a big vane and helicle to offset the high speed. This made now sense to pay big dollars for a fast bow and then put a parachute on the back end of my arrow to get better accuracy. I switched to mechanicals. I shot the grims for a couple of years but was not finding complete accuracy yet. Three years ago, I saw a brand new broadhead on the market called the EPEK X-C3. It had totally concealed blades. The only one of its kind. It made perfect sense to me that it would fly like a field point because it "looked" like a field point. I NEVER have to change my sights for my broadheads at any distance and I have shot them out to 120 yards. Back to my opening statement. Most broadheads on the market do a fine job if hit in the right place. I love the fact that I have my broadhead problems solved. The Epek X-C3 is accurate beyond accurate. It has a 1.7" cutting diameter. They have many videos on youtube showing their performance. Jason Bruce of the "Headhunter Cronicles" on the sportsmans channel has killed many world record animals with it and have heard him speak of its accuracy and wound channels. The Epek in my oppinion has revolutionized the broadhead world!

Ben wrote:
October 30, 2011

I remember when the Rage 2-blades first showed up on a hunting show I was watching on cable TV. The hunter explained that they never want to show the wound on a cable series but just had to show the Rage 2-blade wound....it was insane. I considered trying them out but was skeptical because hunting shows are 'product pushers'. I gave in a couple years ago and bought some...great decision. The first deer I stuck was a decent 7pt and after 40yds of a massive blood trail, I looked at the wound....it looked like an axe got thrown through him. I've been hooked on Rage 2-blades since then. I've already killed 4 with my bow this season....2 of which dropped in their tracks. Give the Rages a try if you're skeptical...

Lee wrote:
October 27, 2011

I have been Bow hunting since the 60's. One broadhead that is a pain to replace blades and not very sturdy but drops Deer like they were shot with a gun is the Rocket sidewinder. I have had more Deer drop in sight with these than all others combined. Like I said, i don't like the construction of them but it's hard to argue with the performance.

Clark Schmitz wrote:
October 27, 2011

Accruracy must be first priority. Every bow set-up will be different and only you and your bow can test a broadhead for your set-up. It gets a little spendy but buy and test those heads you are leaning towards. They will fly differently. This will give you confidence in the one you pick. As far as which head is best? I personally don't feel one head is best for all game animals. Fixed & mechanical both have their place in the field. I personally use Rage 2 blade and Muzzy Phantom 2 blade. Good hunting!

CajunInWyoming wrote:
October 26, 2011

Well, I've read the artical and the comments. I know I'm about to really stir the pot, but here goes. I have a 2007 HOYT VECTRIX @ 70lbs draw wt and I shoot a 29 inch 5575 GOLD TIP brand carbon arrow. My choice of broadhead is the G5 Montec 100 gr with 3 cut-on-contact blades! I love MUZZY and used them for years. But, when I went to this bow and set-up, they just wouldn't fly as consistantly. I tried a few more types, including mechanical, but NONE flew as accurately as the Montec's. Now, as far as being lethal, I have killed several deer at 30 plus yards here in Wyoming and 1 bull elk at 65 yds and the internal damage was horrific. YES, I practice long shots at small targets ALL THE TIME! Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth and I hope it helps.

Bill wrote:
October 25, 2011

The Rocket Steelhead 125g has downed all my game without incident. Great product!

Earl wrote:
October 24, 2011

I have been using Bear broadheads since 1976 when I started bow hunting. I have never lost any deer that I have hit useing these heads. The secret is to find one you like and then practice with it. I am going to have to find another broadhead soon because I can't find the bleeder blades for the Bear broadheads.

Mike wrote:
October 24, 2011

I'll stick with my Muzzy's i've never had an issue with them. I'm not about to fix what isn't broke.

Bowman24 wrote:
October 24, 2011

I also was completely against the mechanical broadheads because it seemed you were adding more variables with the way they would operate and function, with fixed blade nothing changes about head itself it is the same before during and after flight. But i also switched to the rage 2 blade after the talk of the cutting hole... needless to say i was very skeptical but after the first deer i put down i was a true believer, i had people questioning if i had used a shotgun because of the damage and the short 10yards that she ran....... you cant find the best until you experience it yourself. you be the judge what works and is proven to you

Ziggy wrote:
October 23, 2011

I alway used Muzzy and saw how the other guys were ripping up the game with their mechanicals, so I tryed them. They preformed well until one day I shot the "Big Ten Point" that everyone was talking about. As I shot at the Buck my follow thru was a "walking after a hot doe shot". As my arrow flew it passed thru a palm frown which seemed to open the blades giving me poor penetration and a crippled Buck. That now skinny Buck was killed two weeks later with my arrow still hanging in it. The mecahnicals act as barbs when open, Not Good in a small camp! I'm sticken to my MUZZY'S!!!

Back Strap wrote:
October 21, 2011

Grim Reaper are the best!

Bowhunter14 wrote:
October 21, 2011

I was a fixed blade man all my life, and swore I would never go mechanical. And then a few of my friends switched to the. Rar 2 blade. I was amazed to say the least. The holes and massive bloodtrails are unbelievable!! I made the switch and had shot between 30 and 35 deer with them over the past few seasons, and I'll never go back! Of corse shot placement is everything, but any bow hunter knows that there are a number of variables that can go wrong and affect we're ur arrow altametally hits. So haveing a 2 1/2' hole might be overkill but if it means the difference between finding my trophy or telling the story of the one that got away. I'll choose the overkill broadheads anyday!!

Big Bone wrote:
October 20, 2011

Slick Trick mag!!

Trick wrote:
October 20, 2011

I have kiiled all my deer using NAP Spifires. the furthest any deer traveled was 30 yards.I use fixed blade for elk' Chuck adams wrote an article a few years back the key is to spin test the arrow with fletching and broadheds attached.

Karl wrote:
October 20, 2011

I've shot deer with all types of broadheads and have to say with muzzy or cut on contact I've had better blood trails and deer went down sooner which in my opinion I prefer my deer going down within 40 yards of where I shot it even if it means spending alittle more time practicing to tune my bow to my broadhead then going mechanical so it flies like a field point just to track deer farther

Jerome wrote:
October 20, 2011

I shoot a mathews z7 and use muzzy mx3 and they fly true I also liked crimson talon fixed blades...whatever works for u is the best!

Neige Tombe wrote:
October 19, 2011

Go to Alaska Bowhunting Supply.com and read Dr. Ashby's reports on THE SCIENCE of broadhead penetration. This is by far the best unbiased information I've ever read in my life. Apply this science to any broadhead you're looking at and decide, knowing the energy/momentum your rig can produce(bow and arrow combo), is this broadhead enough to cleanly double lung the animal I'm after?. Shoot Straight!

Anthony Laier wrote:
October 19, 2011

G5 T3...best expandable available.

oklabowhunter wrote:
October 19, 2011

with out a doubt the only broadhead i use or will use is the two blade 100 gr rage. i have shot deer with all sorts of fixed and mechanical but none of them compare to the rage broadheads. i just recently convinced my friend to try them out. he shot a doe that walked 25 yds and fell over. i have actually " dropped" a deer with a rage and it was not a spine shot. i cant say enough good things about rage, tryem out and you'll be sold too.

DT wrote:
October 18, 2011

Slick Trick magnums are the bomb.

Bill Belshe wrote:
October 18, 2011

I am just getting into bow hunting at 56 yrs old. I have bought a Hoyt CRX 35. I live in Colorado and will hunt elk deer and bear. I have talked to several hunters and outfitters and they are split between fixed blades and mechanicals. I was hoping this article would help me make a more definite decision but it has not. So I guess I will start with Slick Tricks fixed blades. I have had a lot of positive feedback on their broadheads

Jan schmidt wrote:
August 30, 2011

I think that was the ? at the outset and no definite answer. I'll stick with my Muzzys.

Eddie Rabbitt wrote:
August 29, 2011

Great read, but what broadhead is best?