Many hunters have come to respect the challenge and lethality of a bow. But the bow is just a mechanism to propel an arrow. The best bow in the world does nothing if you don’t have a sharp, solid broadhead on the business end. You could go traditional or you could check out some of the best expandable broadheads on the market.
You could choose to hunt with a simple fixed blade. I suppose you could hunt with a point made of stone too. But let’s embrace a little bit of technology and make sure we have the best chance to bring home the bacon (or venison).
This year, tens of thousands of hunters will take their bows into the woods in search of a variety of game. It takes a keen eye and a lot of knowledge to get a chance at that trophy elk or giant hog but takes the best tools to make sure you take him down.
You want him down quick too. No one likes to follow a blood trail for miles, hoping their quarry drops eventually. You need something accurate, rugged, and lethal. Never settle for second best, leave those cheap expandable broadheads at home and hunt with something proven this year!
- What is an Expandable Broadhead,How do they Work, and Why Should I Use One?
- Expandable Broadhead Considerations
- Best Expandable Broadheads - Comparison Table
- Best Expandable Broadheads - Comparison Table
- Expandable Broadhead Hunting Tips
What is an Expandable Broadhead,How do they Work, and Why Should I Use One?
An expandable broadhead does exactly what it says. It expands at the point of impact to cause a larger wound. Otherwise, you would just be hunting with a field tip and those are not only illegal to hunt with but completely ineffective.
Think about the stone points we found as kids. The ones made by Native Americans. Even they new that your arrow point had to be larger than your arrow or the animal wouldn’t bleed out. It does you little good to hit a deer and have it run 10 miles before it dies. Or it could die weeks later.
Not only is that unethical hunting, its also a waste of time. You want to drop that deer feet from where you hit it. To do that, you need a lot of blood flow fast! Sure, you can get that with a fixed blade, I often enjoy hunting with them for the challenge.
Expandable broadheads are just as effective if not more so. They are often easier to shoot and can be more accurate. Where fixed blades are the standard, expandable broadheads have become increasingly popular and are now one of the most growing sections of the hunting market.
So how do they work? Well, the blades are locked into position, often times with a small rubber O-ring but it can any devise that holds the blades under tension. When the blade impacts and begins to penetrate, small ‘wings’ on the broadhead catch and fully open the blades.
Occasionally the impact alone will be enough to open the blades so watch for vegetation that may affect your arrow.
Expandable broadheads are sold in a variety of types and configurations suitable for most any game from the coyote all the way to moose, elk, and bear. You just need to choose the right one. Take some time to consider your options. You will find what you need! The top rated broadheads below are a good place to start.
Expandable Broadhead Considerations
The nature of expandable broadheads and their wound dynamics are among the most contentious points in all the world of hunting. If you thought there was controversy over gun caliber, think again. Understanding the options and what they mean is your best bet to making an informed decision. While this is in no way a comprehensive guide, it is a solid place to start. If you want more information, check out our article here.
When considering types of expandable broadheads, we are mostly concerned with either chisel tip or cut-on-contact varieties. Most expandable broadheads will be chisel tip due to the opening mechanism but a few innovative companies have developed cut-on-contact varieties.
A chisel tip broadhead has a strong point with a wedged or angled shape designed to break bones and penetrate deeper into the animal. A cut-on-contact begins to open a wound channel the moment it impacts. Both have their strengths and weaknesses but for most cases the chisel will be the best choice.
It is also worth noting that there are hybrid broadheads which blend traits of expandable and fixed blade designs. These can be very effective broadheads for deer and other medium sized animals
The majority of expandable broadheads will weigh between 100 and 125 grains though there are outliers in weights as low as 75 grains for light bows and up to 150 grain broadheads for crossbows or more powerful compounds.
Sticking with the standard weights will almost always be your best bet. Most arrows are designed with those weights in mind and will perform better when used with the appropriate broadhead. If you do choose to go with the outlying weights, make sure you purchase arrows to match.
Number of Blades
Though it is more common to see fixed blades that look like a salad shredder, some expandable broadheads will try to sneak in a few extra as a selling point. There is almost no practical purpose to have more than 4 blades on a broadhead. The blades are usually thinner and weaker the more you have.
Stick with broadheads with two or three blades in the expandable market. A few fixed blades with four are acceptable if a little redundant. The number of blades is going to do very little to help you or make your broadhead magically more lethal.
Some expandable broadheads have huge cutting diameters! Generally anything over an inch is fine and most traditional broadheads come in around 1 1/8 inches. Not it is common place to find expandable blades with more than two inches of cutting diameter.
The extra diameter can be helpful but also make your broadhead more likely to snag on bone if your shot placement is off. I would never use cutting diameter alone as a reason to rule out a broadhead. Penetration is just as important.
Best Expandable Broadheads - Comparison Table
Best Expandable Broadheads - Comparison Table
1 G5 Outdoors Havoc XP Expandable 100 Grain Standard Broadhead
G5 Broadheads are some of the highest rated, toughest, and most accurate broadheads on the market. Havoc G5 broadheads are just the latest iteration of that line and knock the socks off most other competition. In most cases, I would tell you to stop right here and just get the Havoc. But that wouldn’t be fair to the many other fine products.
These are amazing expandable broadheads for elk but make a great broadhead for whitetail, hog, and other medium to large game. No matte what you are hunting, these things blast through bone and penetrate deep. The wound channel is a respectable 1.5 inches and should be wide open.
I really do love these broadheads. G5 already makes my favorite fixed blade broadheadsand are taking their place at the top of my favorite expandable broadheads as well. I see more people choose the G5 Havoc broadheads for crossbows despite their low weight.
I could go on all day but just understand that this is a legitimate deer slayer. Believe me, this is the broadhead I would want if I could only have one broadhead for deer hunting.
2 Rage Hypodermic
It’s strange to see Rage as second place on a list, especially with as successful a broadhead as the Hypodermic. Talk about aptly named! There is no way that this thing is getting stopped by a bone strike, the point should be able to splinter even the toughest bones of elk or bear without an issue!
Rage broadheads are very popular at the moment and that popularity is well deserved! None of the rage line are bad performers but the Hypodermic just seems to excel. The cutting diameter is a whopping 2 inches and the hardened chisel tip is a penetrator if I ever saw one.
If you are looking for an expandable broadhead for crossbows, Rage makes a suitable one for you. No matter what you are hunting, this broadhead should be a solid choice. Any of the Rage lineup should do well.
3 Muzzy Trocar HB Hybrid 4 Blade Broadhead
The only hybrid broadhead to make our list is produced by one of the oldest and most respected manufacturers. Like all Muzzy products, the Trocar is solid as a rock and well-engineered. The flight dynamics are a little strange and tuning can take some work but if you willing to put in the effort, the Trocar is a great choice.
The cutting diameter is already good at 1 5/8” but if you add that to the cross-cutting bleeder blades, you will get a very deadly wound. This is a great option if you are looking for expandable broadheads for crossbows as long as your crossbow isn’t one of the super-powered ones.
Its hard to say anything bad about Muzzy, them having been an industry leader for so long but this really isn’t the most accurate broadhead on this list. It’s harder to learn to shoot than some of the others. But it still earns its place as a confirmed killer hundreds of times over.
4 NAP Spitfire Mechanical Broadhead
New Archery Products are only new in respect to some of the longest running broadhead producers out there. They have proven their lethality in the filed hundreds of times over. They may not be flashy or elegant and aren’t as intimidating as broadheads like the G5 but they are still one of the best shooting broadheads on the market with a kill list to prove it.
The Spitfire is the smallest broadhead on this list overall but it is one of the best penetrators. The G5 may do a little better but the Spitfire is still one of my recommended broadheads for elk and other larger game. Sure, it has less cutting diameter than a Rage but it will still get you there if your shot is good.
New Archery has a lot of fine broadheads and narrowing them down to the Spitfire was by the smallest margin. All their broadheads do well, this one just happens to do great. If you want a simple, solid design this is worth your consideration.
5 RAMCAT Broadheads (3 Pack), Small, Silver
Before we began, I had never heard of RAMCAT but once seeing them, I had to give them a shot. The bullet shaped head is intimidating to say the least. As far as I know, this is a smaller company but they have produced one solid, nearly bulletproof broadhead.
But toughness isn’t all this thing has. It is a great penetrator if a little weak on thicker bone and has a decent cutting diameter. When you combine that with the three-blade design, you end up with broadhead that is a workhorse for most game of medium size and larger.
RAMCAT produces several different styles of broadhead, most with the same bullet shaped head. You can bet that I will be playing with more of their options in the future. Specifically, they have some interesting fixed blade broadhead designs that well worth the time of checking out.
Expandable Broadhead Hunting Tips
- The single most important consideration to choosing the right broadhead is the size of your game. Broadheads like those above should be reserved for coyote or larger game. For smaller game use small games specific hardware.
- When looking at the number of blades and the cutting diameter, remember that neither alone net you a lethal broadhead. You will need wound size and shape in order to get the best bleed.
- The larger the blades on your broadhead, the more likely they will get hung up or damage on bone. Picking a chisel point broadhead will help but is not a guarantee.
- Always make sure your arrows and bow can handle the weight of the broadhead you are shooting. If a bow lacks power, the broadhead may fail to open on impact. Being mindful of your selection when deciding on a broadhead for a crossbow is even more important where strength and size of the broadhead is a factor.
- Many people believe a heavier broadhead will do more damage or penetrate farther than a lighter broadhead. In fact, the geometry of your point and the power of your bow will be more of a deciding factor. The difference will be unimportant between a 100 and 125 grain broadhead.
- Broadheads are not field tips and they will fly differently. Always make sure to tune your bow to your broadhead. No reason to miss a deer because you skipped a step during preparation. The points of aim can sometimes be drastically different.
- Broadheads are sharp and require caution when dealing with them. Cuts and stab wounds from broadheads are by far the most common injury in hunting. Keep your arrows in your quiver until you are in place and handle them with care. Don’t ruin a good trip hunting with a bad trip to the hospital.
- You have spent hundreds of dollars on a bow, maybe the same for arrows. How much was your stand or blind? What about an ATV? How much have you invested in your hunting trip? Don’t ruin it with sub-par broadheads. The price difference is minimal, get something effective.
- Always check your state’s laws on broadhead requirements. They differ for every state and often for different target species. You can find a list of every state’s laws here.
Picking good hunting equipment is something we all take seriously but it can be a blast to do. There is nothing like outfitting yourself with that perfect broadhead for deer hunting. With deer season lurking around the corner, now is the time to do just that.
We use a lot of care in selecting and testing the products that we recommend. When I go out, I want as few things left to chance as possible. I know my bow and I know my arrows. I trust my ability. I just need to pointy bit to do its job.
We would settle for no less for each of you. We want your hunt to end with the kill of a lifetime. Do better do that, we want you to have the best equipment that you can reasonable afford. When it all comes down to it, broadheads are cheap. Why risk it?
If you are just now deciding on which broadhead to choose, you are going to have to decide soon. Deer season is almost here and you have to get those broadheads tuned in and hitting where you want. You need to get your location scouted and the stand ready. If you bait, you need to get that in place. There is a lot to do.
One thing is sure, you won’t get a deer sitting there and planning. It takes action! Having the best expandable broadheads you can get helps!