Should you use fixed blade broadheads or mechanical broadheads? This is a common debate on archery forums.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that the answer is not straightforward. Some people prefer fixed blades while others only use mechanical blades.
Both types of broadheads come with unique benefits. Fixed blades tend to offer greater penetration while mechanical broadheads often require less tuning.
So, are fixed blade or mechanical broadheads better? The answer depends on a lot of different factors, such as your prey, the type of bow you use, the environment, and your personal preferences. Let’s take a closer look at these details.
Explore the Advantages of Mechanical Broadheads
Mechanical blade broadheads were made to create more internal damage compared to fixed blade broadheads. This type of broadhead consists of a metal ferrule. One end of the ferrule has a sharp metal tip while the other has threads for screwing it into the arrow shaft.
The blades fold into the ferrule and expand on impact. The expandable design allows for a larger cutting diameter after penetrating the animal. The expanded blades cause more damage to vital organs, increasing the chances of a quick kill.
Another advantage of mechanical blade broadheads is that they offer consistent flight due to their streamlined profile. When the blades are closed, the broadhead is more aerodynamic. The point of impact of a mechanical blade broadhead is often much closer to the impact of a field point.
As mechanical broadheads tend to fly better, they require less tweaking, especially when shooting long distances. If you’re trying to hit an animal from 50 yards or more, you may have better luck with a mechanical broadhead.
What Are the Drawbacks of Using Mechanical Broadheads?
I’ve noticed that there are two main issues to worry about with mechanical broadheads. The first potential problem is mechanical failure. The blades may open early or fail to open at all.
The first mechanical broadheads required rubber bands to keep the blades closed until impact. Over the past few years, manufacturers have improved the design by using various plastic collars or rubber rings.
While modern mechanical broadheads are less likely to fail, the risk is still there, especially with inexpensive broadheads. The speed of the bow can also increase the risk of early blade deployment.
When using a high-speed crossbow with speeds of 400 fps or faster, the force can cause the blades to deploy. Manufacturers have come up with ways to fix this problem, including using stiffer springs and developing specialized blade retention systems.
If the blades open early, the arrow is more likely to fly off course. The expanded blades make the arrow less aerodynamic, increasing wind resistance and drag. You’ll lose energy and you may lose your arrow.
I’ve also seen hunters complain about mechanical broadheads losing momentum during impact. The impact of the arrow penetrating the animal causes the blades to expand, which uses energy. With less energy, the arrow may not cause as much internal damage or significant blood trails.
The lack of momentum may not be an issue with certain bows and hunting situations. For example, the kinetic energy delivered from a crossbow should provide ideal penetration and pass-through shots, until you hit bone.
Fixed Blade Broadheads Are Durable and Fail-Proof
Unlike expandable broadheads, the blades on the fixed blade broadhead are fixed in place. As with the arrowheads that hunters have used since the creation of the first bow, fixed blade broadheads have no moving parts. In Medieval times, broadheads were basically steel arrowheads with hardened edges.
Modern fixed blade broadheads have a metal ferrule with two or three blades fixed in position and a sharp tip. You can also find fixed blade broadheads with replaceable blades. The blades slide out of the ferrule, allowing you to replace them as they dull.
The design of fixed blade broadheads ensures optimal momentum through the point of impact. Mechanical broadheads expand on impact, which reduces the force of the arrow. As fixed blade broadheads don’t suffer from this problem, they provide the best performance for penetration and pass-through shots.
A quality fixed blade broadhead with a chisel tip can cut through the skin and easily penetrate bone.
Along with greater penetration, fixed blade broadheads are fail-proof. You don’t need to worry about mechanical parts failing. The fixed design also tends to make these broadheads more durable.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using Fixed Broadheads?
I’ve come across two potential problems with fixed blade broadheads – accuracy and internal damage. Fixed blades have smaller cutting diameters compared to mechanical blades, but larger profiles in flight.
As the fixed blades stand out, they can catch more wind. Wind resistance and drag limit momentum, which makes the arrow more likely to veer off unpredictably.
Luckily, you can tweak your setup to maintain accuracy. However, even after tuning your bow and arrow, fixed blade broadheads are still more likely to fly off course compared to mechanical blade broadheads in windy conditions or heavy brush.
The smaller cutting diameter of the average fixed broadhead also limits internal damage. When trying to take down a large animal, such as a moose, elk, or bear, it helps to create large wound channels and more damage to vital organs.
You can purchase fixed blade broadheads with larger cutting diameters, but this also decreases the accuracy of the arrow.
Are Fixed Blade or Mechanical Broadheads Better for Hunting?
After comparing the advantages of fixed blade broadheads and mechanical broadheads, I looked at how they perform when hunting different types of animals.
One consideration is the size of the kill zone. Small prey, such as turkey, have smaller kill zones, leaving you less room for error. A fixed blade broadhead could pass through a turkey without hitting a vital organ. With a mechanical blade, the expandable design can easily take down a turkey.
Deer and elk have larger kill zones, giving you more leeway for hitting the right spot. A bear is also a large animal, but it has tougher skin, more body fat, and hair. It can soak up blood from minor wounds, leaving less of a blood trail.
When hunting a bear, you may be better off with a mechanical broadhead, thanks to the larger wound channels and clearer blood trail.