If you’re an avid bow hunter, you understand the importance of selecting the right broadhead. Inferior broadheads may not penetrate the skin or leave a desirable blood trail.
Whether I’m trying to take down a deer or a hog, I want something that can stop the animal in its tracks. This becomes even more essential when hunting larger game, such as elk or caribou.
These issues lead me to wonder, what is the deadliest broadhead? Compared to fixed blades, mechanical blade broadheads create more devastating wound channels, helping to put down animals quickly. However, the larger cutting swath may be overkill for small game, such as rabbits or squirrels.
Fixed blade broadheads tend to offer greater penetration for pass-through shots. As the blades are not retracted, they also create larger entrance holes for better blood trails.
In a direct comparison, mechanical blades are the most lethal choice, but there are many details to consider. To find the deadliest broadheads, I looked at what it takes to do the most damage.
What Are the Top Factors for Finding the Most Lethal Broadhead?
The most lethal broadhead is the one that you can shoot straight. Most hunters agree that placement is the only detail that matters. If you hit your target in the right spot, it shouldn’t matter what type of broadhead you use.
Unfortunately, not everyone has perfect aim and arrows don’t always fly straight. Choosing a broadhead that does more damage may increase the chances of a successful kill.
I’ve found that the following details tend to have the biggest impact:
- Fixed blade versus mechanical blade
- Cut-on-contact versus chisel tip
- The weight and balance of the arrow
These factors help determine the force of the arrow as it hits your target. Another important factor is the speed of your bow.
Crossbows offer the most speed, delivering more kinetic energy and forward momentum compared to compound bows and recurves. With speeds of 400 fps, a modern crossbow is the deadliest option for a hunter.
Fixed Blade Versus Mechanical Blade – What Is the Deadliest Broadhead?
My definition of the deadliest arrow is an arrow that stops the animal dead in its tracks. To achieve this, it needs to provide the maximum amount of internal damage.
A fixed blade broadhead doesn’t increase its cutting diameter after it penetrates. The cutting path remains the same, allowing for a cleaner pass-through.
Mechanical blades open after impact. They have a smaller blade profile, resulting in smaller entry holes. After the broadhead penetrates the animal, the blades expand and create a wider cutting path.
The expanded size of the blades is more deadly. It increases the chances of creating major wound channels and damaging vital organs.
If the mechanical blade passes through your target, it’s likely to leave a larger exit hole and a bigger blood trail. This helps you track your prey if you don’t immediately kill it.
Another advantage of choosing a mechanical blade for deadlier shots is accuracy. Mechanical blades contract against the ferrule. This makes the broadhead more aerodynamic.
The aerodynamic design of the mechanical blade also limits wind resistance, allowing for optimal speed. The arrow experiences less drag, ensuring full penetration potential.
Companies that produce mechanical broadheads claim that they fly just like a field point. Based on what I’ve seen, a mechanical broadhead is less likely to veer in flight and go off course.
As placement is important for delivering a lethal shot, a mechanical blade should be deadlier compared to a fixed blade.
Should You Choose Cut-on-Contact or Chisel Tip Blades?
Broadheads come with cut-on-contact (COC) or chisel tip designs. The chisel tips are made to chisel through bone, which is useful striking an animal in the shoulder or ribs.
While a chisel tip may cut through bone easier, COC broadheads can still penetrate bone, especially when using a high-energy crossbow. You lose some momentum when the blades open after impact, but the force should still push the blades through a ribcage.
COC broadheads also penetrate the skin better compared to chisel tips. This helps limit the loss of energy during impact, allowing for more internal damage.
Pay Attention to the Weight and Balance of the Arrow
The total momentum and kinetic energy of the arrow help determine the amount of damage. For maximum penetration, I recommend optimizing the balance and Front of Center (FOC). The FOC is the total weight of the arrow ahead of the balance point.
If you don’t already use 125-grain broadheads with your crossbow, consider moving to the heavier broadhead.
Using a heavy broadhead increases the total weight of the arrow, delivering more momentum. It also increases the arrow’s FOC.
Moving the FOC forward adds more mass to the front of the arrow. It increases wind resistance and offers more power for greater penetration.
Why Should You Use a Heavier Broadhead?
Kinetic energy (KE) is the amount of energy that your arrow carries in-flight. Increasing the KE allows the arrow to hit the target with greater force, resulting in deeper penetration.
The KE of the arrow depends on the weight and speed. A lighter arrow accelerates faster, but has less energy. By using a heavier arrow, you sacrifice a little speed but gain more force.
To calculate the kinetic energy of your arrow, multiply the speed of your crossbow by itself. Multiply this total by the grain weight of the arrow. Divide this total by 450,240.
The result is the kinetic energy measured in foot-pounds of force. Increasing this force makes your shot more deadly.
A 400-fps crossbow with a 420-grain arrow will deliver 156.36 foot-pounds of force. Some hunters believe you only need 25 pounds of force to penetrate deer and 40 pounds of force to penetrate elk or wild boar. With 156 pounds of force, you should have no problem taking down almost anything.
As an extra advantage, using a heavier arrow takes more of the energy away from the crossbow. This creates less vibration, allowing you to shoot more quietly.
When increasing the weight of your broadheads, you may need to increase the weight of the shafts. A heavier shaft has a stronger spine, helping the arrow maintain its flight trajectory.