Broadhead Selection

No matter the delivery system, compound, crossbow, recurve, or longbow, the full package wouldn’t be effective without the business end of the deal…. The broadhead!

The broadhead delivers the effect we as bowhunters are looking for….. A fast and quick harvest of our quarry.  As many bowhunters are out there, it seem we have as many choices for broadheads as there are bowhunters.  Cut-on-contact, chisel tips, and mechanicals….. Two blade, three blade, four blades, and sometime even more like the archaic Razorbacks 5’s…. Every shape, color,…. Every size, weight, and diameter!  To put it mildly…. Bowhunters have choices when it comes to broadhead selection!

But what do we really need in a broadhead!?  How does our equipment we choose translate to broadhead selection?  First we need to know how the broadhead works….  The “Cut” is what gets the job done with a well-placed arrow, and with that, fast hemorrhaging puts the animal down.    

So first and foremost, there needs to be a sharp cutting surface on the delivery system…. There are discussions on whether razor sharp works better than a serrated, but we’re not going to get into that right now…. Bottom line, we need to cut! Cut deep & large!

How do we achieve this you say?   Well we know a sharp broadhead will cut, but how can we get the penetration we need to reach the “Goods”!?  The pump machine of our quarry….  The arrow must get there!  And still have enough energy to pass into the target., and preferably all the way through!

This is kinetic energy….  A bowhunter’s best  friend!   Energy in motion…. The more the better!  This is what drives your broadhead though!

One problem with kinetic energy though…. It can be robbed!  Stolen right away!  From the very thing that it’s used for…. The broadhead!   Different broadhead designs can steal the energy it needs to keep the forward momentum going….  The energy used to penetrate hide, ribs, and if you’re totally misfortunate, the shoulder blade, can be diminished well before the broadhead is effective, leaving NO kinetic energy to penetrate the vitals.

So choosing the right broadhead design is critical for the gear a bowhunter chooses!   Bows with less kinetic energy, like recurves and longbows might be better served by using cut-on-contact broadheads…. These broadhead designs take less energy to penetrate heavy hides and bone.  I remember a test I ran years ago on a tanned elk hide…. I measured the amount of force, in pounds, it takes to penetrate the hide with two different broadhead designs, the Chisel Point style and the Cut-on-contact.

The two bladed Cut-on-contact took about 3 pounds to penetrate and cut through….. Where the three blade Chisel Point took well over 27 pounds to break the hide and pass through!   That’s a lot of energy loss!   3 lbs vs. 27 lbs! 

Like I said earlier, kinetic energy is a bowhunter’s best friend….. So in translation, a Cut-on-contact broadhead allows you to keep more energy for penetration… and that’s a good thing!

So next time you’re looking at broadhead selection for your next bowhunt, consider the gear you’re using and how much energy loss you feel comfortable with…..

Heath Painter
Tribe Archery