There are two types of hunters, those that hunt for the pure challenge and those that hunt for the kill. If you are a challenge hunter, sticking to the traditional fixed blade broadheads can be exciting but if you are hunting with the sole intent of killing game for meat, take every advantage you can get. Choosing one of the best mechanical broadheads on the market can give you just that advantage.
The debate over mechanical broadheads vs fixed blade is a long-running and heated one. I have hunted both and will choose one over the other depending on the situation at hand and what I am hunting. I prefer fixed blades for smaller game but I use mechanical broadheads for elk, hog, and other larger animals.
When crafting hunting arrow heads, the Native Americans would take hours to make a single head out of stone. Though we can have them in bulk with a simple trip to the local outfitter, it pays to take the time to consider your options and decide on what is best for your hunt. Below you will find the top rated broadheads on the market today.
- What is a Mechanical Broadhead and Why Should I Choose Them?
- Mechanical Broadhead Considerations
- Top Mechanical Broadheads - Comparison Table
- Top Mechanical Broadheads - Reviews
- Mechanical Broadheads Hunting Tips
What is a Mechanical Broadhead and Why Should I Choose Them?
Unlike traditional fixed broadheads, the primary cutting blades on a mechanical broadhead are folded into the core of the head. They are designed to open at the moment of impact. This keeps them smaller in profile and the sharp edges protected until they are needed.
Where a fixed blade broadhead will have to restrict the cutting diameter of their blades to make the arrow fly correctly, a mechanical broadhead can have a much larger cutting diameter. If you are looking for abroadhead that flies like a field point, a mechanical broadhead will be most suited to you.
The goal of all of this is to cause an animal to bleed out as fast as possible. Not only is this more effective for the hunter but it is more humane for the animal. Hunting is not a timid sport but causing unnecessary suffering is unethical and gives hunting a bad name.
How do mechanical broadheads work? A bow is simply a way of storing kinetic energy. That energy is released into the arrow with the hope that most of it will be transferred to the target. A mechanical broadhead counts on either the force of the impact or flanges that catch in the animals hide to open the blades.
Most modern mechanical broadheads have an integrated tension system but some still use an O ring to hold the blades in place. The O ring is dislodged on impact and the blades swing free. While these are functional broadheads, they are not the optimal design, especially if you are looking for mechanical broadheads for crossbows.
Though it is a good idea to understand the function of your equipment so you can decide if it is working correctly or needs to be replaced is important, the engineering behind some of the industry leading broadheads is beyond what the average hunter will need to understand.
Always test your broadheads for proper function but getting into the math behind stored energy and kinetic force is beyond the scope of this article. Asking “how do mechanical broadheads open on impact” is one thing, asking for the science behind it is something else.
If you are interested in further reading on the types of broadheads, broadhead selection, and information on tuning broadheads to field points, check out our article here.
Mechanical Broadhead Considerations
In general, broadheads come in two basic types. There are chisel points, where the business end of the broadhead resembles a field point and cut-on-contact where the sharpened edge of the blade comes all the way to the tip.
Some people are dedicated fans of one or the other but in reality, both have a place in the world of hunting. It may sound as if a cut-on-contact broadhead would be more lethal but they can be damaged or deflected by bone where the chisel points are more likely to either slide past bone or break it and pass through.
Most mechanical broadheads will be chisel points but a few companies to make cut-on-contact varieties.
The weight of a broadhead is more a matter of the bow or crossbow you are using than in the killing power of the broadhead its self. In theory, a heavier broadhead will impart more energy on impact but when the difference is usually only around 25 grains, it isn’t enough to be a major concern.
If you are using a crossbow or very powerful compound, a heavier broadhead will probably be best but for lighter draw weights, you can opt for broadheads in the 100grain range and do just fine. Reserve the rare 150 grain plus broadheads for the most powerful crossbows with very stiff bolts.
Number of Blades
Some people get caught up in the number of blades = lethality craze. Realistically, the number of blades is less important than the cutting diameter. Beware of gimmick broadheads that offer more blades than a wood chipper. Most mechanical broadheads will have two to four blades and are sufficient for any game animal.
With a mechanical broadhead, each blade is another point of failure and the more blades a broadhead has, the weaker each blade will be to save weight. Keeping your blades to the minimum you will need will ensure a more rugged broadhead.
There is a lot of argument about what the best cutting diameter for a broadhead is. Logic would tell you that the larger the hole, the more lethal the wound but the argument is whether the larger 2” diameter of some broadheads actually causes a larger wound.
Usually larger blades will be more effective but sometimes the large blades can get hung up on bone and fail to penetrate deep enough to be lethal. As long as you choose a proper broadhead, anything over an inch stands a good chance of doing its job. Anything larger is just insurance.
Top Mechanical Broadheads - Comparison Table
Top Mechanical Broadheads - Reviews
1 Rage Bowhunting Xtreme
Not only have the mechanical broadheads Rage produces killed a lot of deer, they have been slaying the competition. Their designs are innovative, bordering on the line if gimmicks. No one dares actually call them that when so many people are seeing so much success.
The Bowhunting Xtreme can be purchased as a chisel or cut-on-contact tip and has the largest cutting diameter available. This may only be a 100 grain broadhead but it is an absolute horror when it comes to wounds. Rage also makes one of the mechanical broadheads for crossbow users specifically that can handle the pressure.
If this has a failing, it’s the large blades that can snag on brush or bone and not get the full effect. For me, this is a minor concern, I have never seen a Rage broadhead fail in the target. If you are looking for the best, no other producer does it as consistently as Rage.
2 New Archery Products Kill Zone
NAP mechanical broadheads have been showing a lot of promise. The Kill Zone specifically has a respectable cutting diameter with a chisel tip guaranteed to blast through bone. For a 100-grain broadhead, you can see the potential for this broadhead to be a killer.
NAP is a newer company with a lot to prove but their broadheads have consistently rated well and are proven effective. This broadhead packs plenty of punch to take down even the most stubborn deer. It also works great on turkey and hog. I would wait for a little more testing before I took it against an elk.
While this may not be the most accurate broadhead, it does very well. It can be a pain to tune, I wish it came with a practice head like the Rage do. Once you get it hitting where you want it, it does shoot consistently.
3 Carbon Express Torrid
I will admit to being a big fan of Carbon Express’ fixed blade broadheads but this was their first mechanical I had a chance to shoot. It may be descended directly from the Muzzy Broadhead design but it has its own lethal spin.
The leading Cut-On-Contact edge ensures good transfer of force and the three blades with their 1 ½ cutting diameter will open a solid wound. This may be the smallest cutting diameter of any of the blades we tested but never fear that this will tear a wound that is sure to bleed.
As we said, cutting diameter isn’t everything and this is proof. Not only will you get a solid wound channel but you also get the most accurate mechanical broadhead that we tested. Between the weight, balance, and profile this was a hard one to beat.
4 Grim Reaper Razor Cut
I am sure most people have heard of Grim Reaper before. Like their namesake, they are sure to usher a deer into the next life. They may not have the biggest cut but they are renown for blasting through tough bone and bringing down game!
The Razor Cut its self is designed for hunting deer out of the most powerful of bows. It can handle the pressure. And once you put that half chisel, half cut-on-contact into a deer at high speed, you will see penetration like you have never seen before.
Of all the broadheads we tested, this was the least accurate. It was able to hit a target at a reasonable range but if you are looking for pinpoint accuracy, you will need to look elsewhere. IF your shots are under 15 yards, you should do well enough.
Another broadhead with a stellar reputation, these have been on the market for long enough to gain a huge following. And who can blame the fans of Swhacker’s solid chisel tip and razors-for-blades broadheads? If you want the tried and true, you can’t beat these!
At a hundred grains with a solid 2” cutting diameter, the wounds from these looks more like surgery than an arrow hit. They may rank lowest on our list but that is the worst of the very best. These broadheads will perform. They have for years and will continue to do so.
If there is any real problem with the Swhacker, it’s the older technology. They don’t feel as refined with the fit and finish you would expect from a company with their reputation. Sure, they kill deer every year but they feel cheap and I am sure that hurts them as a brand.
Mechanical Broadheads Hunting Tips
Sometimes shooting through brush or limbs can cause a mechanical broadhead to deploy its blades early. Plan your shots and angles from your stand well to avoid issues. I always carry at least one fixed blade broadhead in my quiver just in case I need it.
If you hunt turkey, some people use the larger expanding broadheads for neck shots to instantly drop the bird. This is a challenging but effective shot and you risk overpenetration which can ruin your broadhead or arrow.
Don’t fall for gimmicks. Wound channel is important, often more important than the number of blades a broadhead has. Just because a broadhead looks intimidating doesn’t mean its effective. Do your research and get the broadhead that is right for your bow and the type of hunting you do. Rexpid broadheads I would consider a gimmick.
If you hunt with a crossbow, make sure the broadhead you use is compatible. Some crossbows are immensely powerful and can cause a broadhead to deploy early, fly erratically, or even break.
I don’t recommend mechanical broadheads for small game. Get a small game specific broadhead if that’s your target.
Most mechanical broadheads will fly very similar to a field point but make sure you tune your bow to make sure you are on target. For those looking for crossbow broadheads that fly like field points, stick to the lighter weight options.
Even though the cutting edge is protected on most mechanical broadheads, handle them with care. Accidental cuts are the number one injury during deer season. A razor-sharp broadhead is capable of doing a lot of damage if you aren’t cautious. I was a first responder to a man that jammed one three inches into his leg.
Just because a broadhead is heavier doesn’t mean it will penetrate more. The profile of the tip and the blade geometry are far more important. If you pick a broadhead that is the appropriate weight for your bow, arrows, and chosen game you should be fine.
For animals like bear, hog, and deer with thick bone use a chisel tip broadhead. An elk shoulder one can stop a broadhead in its tracks if you hit wrong and the tip isn’t made to penetrate.
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.
The broadheads we choose are always tried and tested and have proven themselves time and again. No one wants to go into the woods unprepared. Sure, you can get bulk broadheads by the gross if you are willing to skimp but why spend so much on the best bow, stand, deer scent and everything else that hunting requires only to miss out because you have an inferior broadhead.
We have endeavored to select the most effective mechanical broadheads 2018 has to offer. They have been used by hunters and found effective for a variety of game animals. The materials are solid and the craftsmanship is top notch. We aren’t letting anything slip by if we can help it.
The growth of hunting has led to some truly outstanding products and with deer season quickly approaching, its time to make the decision on what you will take into the woods with you this year. Most stores will sell out of the best models early, there are only so many to go around. My philosophy is to buy early and be ready.
It’s time to get your bow tuned and get scouting. If you aren’t where the deer are or can’t hit them, not even the very best mechanical broadheads are going to do you any good. So, get your bow out and make sure its ready, arm yourself with your broadhead of choice and let’s hit the woods!