So, what makes a broadhead one of the best broadheads for turkey? Well, what you use for deer are often not what you want for turkey. You need a broadhead with specific traits that will do a specific job. Turkey don’t go down easy and can still get lost when you score a killing blow.
If you want to knock them dead and not risk losing a bird, arrow, and expensive broadhead, read on below to find out what it takes, how to choose one, and what turkey bowhunting broadheads we recommend!
- Best Broadheads for Turkey 2018 - Comparison Table
- What Makes a Broadhead Good for Turkey
- Turkey Broadhead Considerations
- Turkey Hunting Tips
Best Broadheads for Turkey 2018 - Comparison Table
Mechanical - Cut-on-Contact
Mechanical - Chisel
Mechanical - Chisel
Fixed Blade - Cut-on-Contact
Mechanical - Chisel
Our Top 5 Broadheads for Turkey Recommendations:
1 Rage Bowhunting CrossbowX Mechanical Broadhead
Where would us bowhunters be without Rage these days? This may very well be the best turkey broadhead 2018 has to offer with its massive cutting diameter and steeper blade angle, if anything is going to keep a turkey from flying away, this is it!
If you want a broadhead for turkey body shots, this will do it! Not only is it a killer but these things are accurate! Tuning them to your bow is a breeze and with the included practice head you can be ready to hit the field in no time!
You could almost call this thing the Rage Xtreme turkey broadhead. Sure, it may work for other animals but it shines when it comes to taking fowl. Think of it as a money saver. Hit a gobbler with this and he won’t be flying off with your arrow.
2 Swhacker Set of 3-100 Grain 2 Inch Cut Broadheads
It isn’t attractive. It isn’t the latest and greatest. It’s just one of those broadheads that refuse to give up. Why? Because it is stone cold lethal. People have used these things to take down some of the biggest North American game but when it comes to turkey, this will knock them dead!
The cutting diameter may be smaller than the Rage but once you cross the 2” mark, there’s no reason to count. You may as well be shooting scalpel. The blade angle is steep enough for a good impact and the blades are sharp enough for flying surgery.
It may not be quite as accurate as the Rage but you won’t be able to tell the difference in the field. You can buy this broadhead for turkey in the spring and still use it on deer in the fall. This is among the best all-around broadheads on the plant.
3 Rage Hypodermic Trypan Titanium Broadhead
The Rage Hypodermic was designed to be a devastating, deep-penetrating, multi-game broadhead. The Trypan adds in a shock collar to make the impact a little harder why keeping the 2” cutting diameter to get the quick kill.
This is a broadhead a turkey won’t walk away from. A solid hit should stagger the bird long enough for blood loss to do its job. When it comes to Rage turkey broadheads, this may be the second choice but it’s a solid choice.
If you use a crossbow for turkey hunting, get the Xtreme but if you like lower poundage gear or traditional bows, this is the Rage turkey broadhead for you. Even on a recurve, it will poke a big hole all the way through a bird! There ain’t no flying away from that!
4 Carbon Express XT Dual Blade Serrated Crossbow Broadhead
This may be the #4 broadhead on the list but as the only fixed blade on the list, it's my favorite. The cutting diameter is a little smaller than what you should be looking for but this thing is a flying meat grinder. The hole may be small but it will wide open!
Where most turkey broadheads keep things simple with just two large blades, the crosscut design of the XT makes the hole wide. If you are looking at a large surface area to bleed from, don’t shy away just because it cuts a little smaller.
When it comes to turkey broadheads for body shots, the easiest to make, this may not be the best but it is a solid choice. The serrated man blades combined with the smaller bleeder blades impart a lot of shock and do a lot of damage. A solid hit is a dead bird.
5 NAP Spitfire Mechancial Broadhead
Rounding out our choices of the finest turkey broadheads 2018 has to offer is the well-known New Archery Products Spitfire. In this case, it’s the Maxx (which I will pick over the NAP Gobbler Getter any day!)
The only three-blade design, when you combine this with the very respectable 1 3/4” cutting diameter, this thing hits like a freight train. The hole it makes will dump blood. Even if your bird gets on the wing, he won’t make it far.
The head of this arrow is sort of a mix between a chisel and a cut-on-contact and with the shallow taper up to the blades, it does a good job stunning the bird a bit before the blades get in there and do their work. For crossbow turkey broadheads, this is a solid choice.
What Makes a Broadhead Good for Turkey
When we look for bird broadheads we are looking for traits that will keep a bird from flying, flopping, or flat out running away after it's been hit. I have seen turkey take a direct shot to the neck with a 12ga shotgun and even with its head barely hanging on, still ran off into the briars and bracken, never to be seen again.
I have seen a broadhead arrow penetrate both lungs, a shot that would have stopped a deer in its tracks, and the turkey just flew off. Without a doubt, it died but at the time it didn’t realize it was dead and the bird was still lost.
I have memories of my grandmother’s farm growing up when she would kill a chicken, its body would still run around for what seemed like forever before it finally gave in. She killed them by chopping off the head. I was traumatized by headless birds that didn’t die.
My point, Birds are damned hard to kill!
The old wisdom was that you had to hit the turkey hard enough to stun in in hopes that it would give up fighting long enough to actually die. When I was young, I remember hunters putting washers on behind their broadheads to make them hit harder. This may be better than nothing but it still doesn’t work half the time.
What I have discovered is that you really need to cut the turkey. Make a big hole. Not only will this bleed it out faster so the muscles won’t work but it will hopefully damage enough of the bird that it cannot manage to run or fly off.
So, make big holes!
How do we do that? Well, a large cutting diameter is the most sought-after trait to do that but it isn’t the be-all-end-all of lethality. Cross-Cutting blades can be effective as well. So can blades that are designed to cut out large sections of a bird.
I know you are thinking that the old-time hunters brought them down with normal 2-blade broadheads and the Native Americans managed with stone points. That is true in both respects. You can do that too but if you want to be as effective as possible and not have to shoot 3 birds to bring one home, you have to consider your options.
Turkey Broadhead Considerations
As we just discussed, bow hunting turkey has some unique challenges and to be effective we need to use specific broadheads for turkey to have the best chance of bringing home a good dinner!
Typically for the type of broadheads, we would talk about mechanical and fixed blade designs and whether they had a chisel or cut-on-contact point. For turkey, it really doesn’t matter the type. We don’t have to worry about getting past bones or anything like that. It’s all about damage.
Some mechanical broadheads are a little easier to shoot than fixed blades and often have a larger cutting diameter. For this, they may have a little lead.
Don’t worry at all about the chisel or cut-on-contact tip. The chisel tip is a little more durable should you shoot through the bird and hit something hard and may have a little more impact force but it isn’t enough to drastically change the effect on the bird.
I opt for the lowest weight broadhead of the style I like and that fits with the bow I am using. If I am buying broadheads for crossbow, I will choose a heavier broadhead that shoots better but I often use light broadheads in a traditional bow. I prefer something less than 100 grain if I can get it.
Sometimes with larger animals, we worry about kinetic force but there is a huge difference in the physiology of a turkey and their structure. We have no such concerns. We do want a solid hit but you will get that despite the weight you choose.
Number of Blades
A mechanical broadhead for turkey hunting will have two very large blades designed to cut a big wound. Some may have three but those are rarer. Two works just fine if the cutting diameter is large enough to do the job.
The few fixed blade broadheads that work well for turkey are likely to look more like something designed by a horror film fan than a normal broadhead. The key is to have lots of crosscut blades. Many will opt for some form of serration to get more ripping and a better impact.
This is simple. The larger the better as a general rule. I prefer at least a 1 ¾” cutting diameter for birds. Anything less may not be enough to get a good dead-on-impact hit. It’s all about blood loss. We need as much as we can get as fast as we can get it.
For a fixed blade, the crosscut blades can somewhat offset the smaller cutting diameter. There are fine fixed blade broadheads for turkey hunting but they are rare. Most people see far more success from a mechanical style.
We normally don’t concern ourselves with the blade angle when hunting larger game because a 2” cutting diameter is a 2” cutting diameter, no matter the angle of the blades. Sometimes having a more acute blade diameter works better for those larger animals.
For turkey, we want a less acute diameter. We want something with some impact. Even the largest tom will be stuck through by a decent arrow, we want to make sure he feels it. Some of the more gimmicky broadheads will have blades that are 90 degrees to the arrow shaft.
Turkey Hunting Tips
- Where to shoot a turkey with a bow - The place to shoot a turkey with an arrow is a contentious subject. Before the modern large cutting broadheads were available, neck and head shots were the most surefire way to take down a big tom but a very difficult shot to make. With most of today’s broadheads, you can take down a turkey with a solid body hit. Try to miss the breast and hit just behind the leading edge of the wing near the shoulder.
- Where to shoot a turkey with a crossbow - Unless you don’t mind losing your arrow, a body shot is your only choice with a crossbow. That makes the big blade broadheads vital to your success. Even with a solid body shot and specific turkey crossbow broadheads, you are still likely to blow through both sides of the bird.
- What weight bow/crossbow should I use - I have successfully taken turkey with bows lighter than 35lbs many times. My favorite turkey bow is a Bear Archery Grizzly that pulls 40lbs. Taking a turkey isn’t about power as much as speed and accuracy. Using a modern crossbow for turkey hunting is really overkill.
- How to hunt turkey with a crossbow - If you do opt for a crossbow, use the lightest one you can. My first crossbow I ever used for turkey cost me 15 bucks at a pawn shop, pulls 50lbs, and will put an arrow in a nickel at 50 feet. It has no cams, pulleys, or other features. It’s just a straight up crossbow with steel limbs but it has done the job dozens of times.
- Choose your broadhead based on your bow - The weight of a broadhead isn’t important for taking down a turkey. It is important to when picking a broadhead that will shoot straight out of your bow. Select your broadhead based on the power of your bow and the arrows you are using.
- Don’t take risky shots - This is true of all hunting. Hitting a turkey wrong won’t give you a second chance. It will run or fly and you will probably never see it again. I lost one of a 200’ cliff. The bird, with your arrow likely still in it, will be gone to die a slow death. As hunters we have a responsibility to be ethical, make sure you have a clean shot.
- Mechanical broadheads have a bad tendency to open early if shot through weeds or high grass. This can drastically alter your arrows flight and cause a bad hit or a complete miss. If you must shoot through brush, use a fixed blade. I keep one in my quiver at all times just for this reason.
- Make sure you are familiar with bow hunting and broadhead regulations for your state. Check with your local wildlife authority for bow requirements. A list of all states broadhead requirements can be found here.
I may be lynched for saying this, but I have always liked hunting turkey with a bow more than any other animal. It’s more forgiving with equipment and tactics. Tracking turkey and knowing where they are is easier than deer. And I hate hunting from a stand.
Give me turkey any day! I will take my smooth shooting 40lb recurve and have the time of my life. When I first started I lost a lot of birds and was often frustrated but with today’s more innovative and deadly broadhead designs, I can pretty much guarantee a quick kill.
The unfortunate thing is, while I may like to hunt them most, I like their meat the least. It’s a tragedy for a hunter. However, if you are a fan of turkey on the table, get out there this season and go for a big tom. My biggest was 29lbs 4 oz killed in the spring of 1999. If you want to beat that, you are going to need the best broadheads for turkey that you can find.