Everyone has heard of the saying “the right tool for the job”. This saying comes into play immensely when it comes to hunting animals such as elk, moose or deer with a bow.
Hunters can become so overwhelmed with all the choices, from their bow, strings, sights, rests, releases, and arrows that it can seem difficult to decide on their complete setup. Fortunately, Outdoor Empire has many guides on hunting gear that you can check here, that will surely make deciding easier.
When I was younger and still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, I loved to archery hunt. I love setting up all my gear, especially setting up my arrows with broadheads the night before opening day.
Opening my broadhead packages and putting those expensive and razor-sharp blades on my arrows was a sense of excitement knowing that there was a chance that I was going to send them flying in the morning.
There was one thing I didn’t realize back then — even though I had shot my bow thousands of times in preparation for my hunt, I never once shot a broadhead at my cotton bails to make sure they would fly the same as my field tips.
I had always been told by people to shoot at least one broadhead from each distance into my target to make sure I was still accurate. But to me, broadheads were worth their weight in gold. There was no way on earth I could afford to buy a few extra broadheads to shoot them for practice.
With the advancement in technology over the last twenty-five years, I have researched to see what everyone recommended as their number one shooting broadhead.
It was extremely confusing with so many options out there, so I decided now was the time to put everything to the test and that I needed to bite the bullet so to speak.
I picked the top four fixed broadheads and the top four mechanical broadheads then went out to purchase these eight broadheads to put them to the test. I wanted to see what would fly the best and do the most damage for what I wanted them for.
I figure it is worth the investment and might save others from the frustrating online research.
This article is not going to be like most articles out there. I am not going to push you to buy the broadhead I use. I am simply going to give you the information I discovered during my backyard test so that you can make your own decision.
I wish I had a ballistic gel or an old carcass to shot through (since my neighbor’s cows wouldn’t be a good testing target) so I have to trust my own hunting experience and skills to determine my conclusions on how much damage they will do.
Fixed Blade Broadheads
I first started out with the fixed broadheads and I decided to go with The Exodus (barbed), Wac ‘Em, Grim Reaper and Ramcat. The test I did was a simple test; I shot each broadhead from my bow from twenty yards all the way back to eighty yards in ten yard increments.
The most important and pretty much only factor for me was accuracy. I know that any and all broadheads on the market today will do the damage I would like to see. So I want a broadhead that will shoot the exact same as my field tips shoot.
The Exodus by Quality Archery Designs has a slick looking barbed design (legal in Arizona) with a razor-sharp tip and three steep cutting edges. I liked the look of them as I put them on my arrows. So I took them out to 20 yards and kept moving back until I got to 50 yards.
I noticed a gradual grouping to the right the farther I walked out. It wasn’t much, as it was only about an inch right every ten yards. But this was consistent and would require me to adjust my sights to get them dead center.
The first thing I noticed with the Micro Hades broadhead from Grim Reaper was that the bone crushing chisel tip is actually interchangeable. Which for non-millionaires such as myself, it makes me feel a little better whenever I miss the deer or elk I just shot at. I can now save a few dollars and purchase replacement tips and blades instead of buying brand new broadheads after each hunt.
Just like every other fixed broadhead out there, this broadhead is unbelievably sharp. It has a cutting area of around 1 1/16”. I was very impressed with the grouping of this broadhead. I shot two arrows at thirty yards and ended up cutting my fletching off of my arrow already in the target. So I backed up to sixty yards and my grouping was still just as good as it normally is with my field tips. No complaints from my wife and I when it comes to Grim Reaper.
I then took the Wac‘Em broadhead out and tried it next. This small broadhead has three razor sharp cutting edges as well. I quickly noticed that they did, in fact, shoot straight. But I noticed my groupings weren’t as tight as I would have liked them to be.
I still maintained confidence with shooting the Wac ‘Em’s and would still use them for my hunt. I could tell that the grouping wasn’t as good as my skill level in shooting, but I would be confident shooting them out to 60 yards no problem.
My favorite broadhead of the bunch was the Ramcat. I saw no difference in my groupings between the Ramcat and my field tips. This broadhead was so consistent it actually shocked me as to how good the grouping was.
And to top it off, with the fact that these are sharpened on both sides of the blades, it made me feel good knowing that if I shot an elk with the Ramcat and if the arrow was stuck in the bull, it will continue to do damage regardless of the way the arrow falls out. This will help ensure a more ethical kill.
I took them out and shot them at 120 yards just for fun, and I couldn’t tell the difference in the Ramcat versus my field tips.
Mechanical Broadheads versus Fixed Broadheads
Mechanical broadheads are ideal for hunting animals with a thin hide such as antelope and deer. For thick hide animals such as a moose or elk, fixed blades are a much better option. This was a lesson I learned from experience.
Ever since I had an archery deer hunt at the infamous Arizona Strip, I have been shooting mechanical broadheads. In fact, they worked so well for me at the Strip that I told my buddy about them and he went out and bought a bunch for his archery elk hunt.
Something I didn’t realize was that an elk is a beast of an animal when you compare it to a deer. I was able to witness my buddy shoot an elk with a mechanical broadhead. I was calling for him, and the bull made its way about ten yards away from me.
My buddy shot, and I was able to see the arrow hit one of the bull’s ribs and penetrate just the depth of the broadhead. The bull got scared and ran off about forty yards, bugled one more time in my direction and walked next to a tree breaking off the broadhead and walked out of sight bugling every thirty seconds.
My buddy and I were both in shock as to what happened. After talking to numerous people about this, we were told NEVER to use a mechanical broadhead on an elk. These broadheads use the energy of the arrow to open up which in turn will slow it down just enough.
A deer or small big game doesn’t have the tough hide that elk on moose have so mechanicals would do adequate damage. So try to learn from my buddy’s mistake and only use a fixed broadhead when it comes to a tough hide animal.
I was surprised at how many different mechanical broadheads there were and I wondered about all the reviews I read.
It is hard to find consistency when everyone shoots a different bow, handles pressure differently, and the entry point of the arrow into the particular animal. I ended up choosing three and put them to the test.
These mechanical blades have a sharp elongated tip and three razor sharp blades that have extreme length.
I was hesitant since I had never shot this design before but I was amazed at the consistency of the arrow flight as well as my grouping. I was very impressed by this broadhead. The blades were also easy to remove and replace.
This broadhead, by New Archery Products had a unique design since it didn’t require elastic around the edges to keep them closed until impact. My grouping was good although it was a little more spaced out that I was hoping, at the same time, the flight path was consistent.
On an unfortunate negative side, a couple of my shots had a blade that did not open up which to me is a deal breaker.
The first look at the Grim Reaper Three Blade Mechanical is that it looks as mean as can be. They have a 1 3/8 cutting diameter, and the chisel tips are as sharp as the blades themselves.
Just like the Spitfire, this broadhead does not require O-rings or rubber bands to hold the blades in the closed position. They have what they call the “Snap Cup” design, meaning the blades are spring loaded in place until contact is made with the target.
I was a touch skeptical when I shot these as I am only used to the old school rubber bands and O-rings. I was afraid the blades wouldn’t open or even worse, they would open in my quiver or midflight. However, every shot seemed perfect. After about one hundred shots between my wife and I, the broadhead opened every time, and I even tried to force the blades open before I shot. They maintained their closed position until they made contact with the target.
There wasn’t any sort of accuracy loss with the Grim Reaper Mechanical broadheads. I could not tell a difference between this broadhead and my field tips.
The last broadhead I tested was the Ramcat Savage mechanical broadhead. The first thing I noticed was the design. It was not elongated like the previous two as well as the three cutting blades didn’t extend out as far. I wondered if this would be a positive thing or negative.
As I shot my arrows, my grouping was spot on. It was incredibly consistent and all three blades opened every time. I was extremely impressed with this broadhead over the other two. The narrow design is not a negative factor at all.
After shooting these eight broadheads, I was amazed at how each of them performed. Up until this point I had been shooting a Rage Mechanical Broadhead which has given me great success, but I was extremely impressed with the Ramcats and the Grim Reaper for both their mechanical and fixed broadheads.
Their design and accuracy was outstanding as well as their functionality. I personally purchased more fixed blades that will be used for an upcoming Arizona archery bull tag, and after I use up my Rages, I might be switching over to the either the mechanical Ramcats or the Grim Reapers.
Be sure to remember that with the technology we have today, pretty much any broadhead you purchase, will do plenty of damage. Some people have their favorites and some people have broadheads they hate due to bad experiences.
Whatever broadhead you do pick, do yourself a favor and sight your bow in to that exact tip, that way the only thing you will have to worry about when you release your arrow, is how to pack out your animal!
Author: Chris Waters from Outdoor Empire.