The only noticeable difference between crossbow broadheads and regular broadheads is the packaging. This leads some people to wonder if you really need a crossbow broadhead for a crossbow.
So, is there a difference between crossbow broadheads and regular broadheads? The main difference is how manufacturers market the broadheads. Broadhead manufacturers tend to push the heavier heads for crossbows with shorter arrows. The forward weight helps with accuracy.
I’ve also noticed that some mechanical broadheads come with stiffer springs. Due to the higher velocity of the crossbow, there is a slight risk of mechanical blades opening in mid-air.
While some broadheads come with “crossbow” on the label, I still frequently use regular broadheads with my crossbow. However, there are several details to consider when comparing broadheads for your bow.
Why Are Crossbow Broadheads Heavier?
Compared to a compound bow, crossbows deliver more kinetic energy (KE). As crossbows offer more KE, I can sacrifice more speed by using a heavier arrow without decreasing accuracy. With a lighter arrow, I get more speed and accuracy with less penetration.
If you are planning on using a crossbow for hunting, you want to transfer more of the energy to penetration power. This requires a heavier arrow.
Heavier shafts require heavier broadheads for proper balance. As the heavier arrows are mostly used with crossbows, manufacturers tend to market broadheads with higher grain for crossbows.
When I look at some of the top lines of broadheads, I frequently notice crossbow and regular versions of the same model. The grain size is typically the only difference that I find. For example, a 150-grain broadhead is more likely to include “crossbow” on the label, especially if it is a fixed blade broadhead.
What Grain Broadhead Should You Use for Crossbows?
Most crossbow users choose a 125-grain or 150-grain broadhead. The heavier weight helps the arrow fly straight, which maintains greater accuracy.
Crossbow arrows are shorter compared to compound arrows, making them less aerodynamic. Moving the balance point forward on the shorter arrow delivers more consistent flight.
Broadheads come in a wide range of grains from 75 grains up to 300 grains. The most common size for compound bows and recurves is the 100-grain broadhead.
Keep in mind that if the broadhead is too heavy, you will throw off the balance of the arrow. Match the grain size of the broadhead to the field tip. If I add a 125-grain broadhead to a 100-grain field tip, I know that the arrow’s trajectory will drop significantly.
Mechanical Blades for Crossbows Often Have Stiffer Springs
Along with weight, some manufacturers claim that their mechanical blades for crossbows feature stiffer springs. Some of the newer crossbows allow you to achieve much faster speeds. The faster speed may cause the mechanical blade to open mid-air.
By using blade retention springs with slightly more tension, the blades are less likely to open until impact.
For example, Grim Reaper sells crossbow mechanical broadheads designed specifically for high-speed crossbows. The broadheads are tested to remain accurate at speeds up to 400 fps up to 100 yards.
If you prefer fixed blade broadheads, this detail does not impact your buying decision.
What’s the Difference Between Fixed Blade and Mechanical Blade Broadheads?
Broadheads are divided into two main categories — fixed blade and mechanical blade. You can find both options for crossbows and compound bows.
Everyone has individual preferences when it comes to fixed blade and mechanical blade designs as both designs provide advantages and disadvantages. I prefer the mechanical blade broadheads for hunting as they tend to fly straighter and leave bigger blood trails.
So what’s the difference? Fixed blade broadheads are the traditional choice. With a fixed blade broadhead, the blades are either attached to the ferrules or come with replaceable blades that slide into the ferrule.
Mechanical blade broadheads are designed to open on impact and stay open as the arrow passes through the animal. The expandable design results in a wider cutting diameter compared to almost every fixed blade broadhead.
With a mechanical blade broadhead, you often get greater stability and accuracy, especially with faster bows such as a crossbow. The wider cutting diameter also creates a larger wound channel and blood trail, which is useful when tracking an animal that you hit.
The drawback to choosing a mechanical blade is the risk of mechanical failure. Cheap mechanical blades may become stuck and not open. They may also open mid-flight, which is why some manufacturers use tighter springs for crossbows.
Fixed blade broadheads tend to provide greater penetration. You also avoid needing to worry about mechanical failures. Unfortunately, they are not always as accurate compared to mechanical blades for long distances.
If you decide to go with a mechanical blade for a crossbow, I suggest that you search for broadheads designed specifically for crossbows. If you choose fixed blades, you may not need a “crossbow” broadhead.
Conclusion: Is There a Difference Between Crossbow Broadheads and Regular Broadheads?
The simple answer is that there is no major difference between crossbow broadheads and regular broadheads. However, some manufacturers make broadheads with features that work better for crossbows.
Manufacturers tend to add “crossbow” to the label of their heavier broadheads. For example, you may find a 100-grain broadhead intended for compound bows and crossbows. However, the same model in a 125-grain or 150-grain size is more likely to include “crossbow” on the packaging.
The other difference is the springs in the mechanical blade broadheads. With high-speed crossbows, there is a slight risk of the blades opening before impact. Some manufacturers use tighter springs to prevent this problem.
You can also find mechanical blade crossbow broadheads with slightly larger blades that capitalize on the higher velocity produced by the crossbow.
If you use fixed blade broadheads, you do not necessarily need crossbow broadheads for your crossbow. The weight of the broadhead is the main concern.
In the end, I recommend that you choose a broadhead that matches your needs, no matter if it has “crossbow” on the label. Look for the features that matter most, such as weight, blade design, and the number of blades.