Today’s compounds deliver arrows 150 feet per second faster than bows of the early 1990s, leaving broadhead manufacturers scrambling to build heads that fly field-point accurate at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. More important, broadheads must remain structurally sound and withstand potential forces in excess of 1,400 pounds on impact and a deceleration G-force exceeding -4000. That’s a lot to ask of a tiny piece of metal a bit over an inch long and weighing a mere 100 grains.
We tested 29 of the most popular models to determine which delivered best on their promise of superior penetration, durability, and lethality.
BROADHEAD SELECTION CRITERIA
Don't see your favorite broadhead? As is the case with all our gear tests, this was an invitational. Requests for samples were sent to the broadhead manufacturers who exhibited at the 2015 Archery Trade Association (ATA) show in January. We also reached out to those popular manufacturers who did not exhibit. Our test field includes results from brands who provided test samples by our deadline.
1. G5 Montec CS
$42 per 3-pack _/ Score: 83.47 / g5outdoors.com_
▶ G5 is the originator of solid, one-piece metal-injected molded broadheads. The CS is noticeably sharper than previous models due to its improved carbon steel content. Its tip is exceedingly sharp; however, extra-large vents seemed to limit penetration in our test.
2. Carbon Express F-15
$40 _/ Score: 80.22 / carbonexpressarrows.com_
▶ The F-15 features a pressure-injection molded main blade that is sharpened into a cut-on-contact tip. Dual bleeder blades are set into the main blade, offering a large total cutting surface of 5.16 inches. The F-15, with its slender profile, dominated the penetration test, sinking 20.19 inches.
3. Flying Arrow Archery Toxic
$40 _/ Score: 73.37 / flyingarrowarcheryusa.com_
▶ Hunting with the radically rounded Toxic might take a leap of faith for some bowhunters—until they check out our penetration test, in which the Toxic outperformed many traditionally designed heads. Although a large, spiral-shaped wound channel promises extensive tissue damage and blood loss, it required 24.4 in./lb. of energy to penetrate its length.
4. Muzzy Phantom SC
$40 _/ Score: 82.21 / muzzy.com_
▶ The Phantom is a workhorse, with sharp 0.05-inch thick blades. The main blade is sharpened into a cut-on-contact tip that is beveled to preclude folding. The head is short, and set at an acute angle of attack to achieve the 1 ¹⁄₈-inch cutting diameter, which limited penetration.
6. InnerLoc Slice
$40 / Score: 83.78 / innerloc.com
▶ The Slice features a unique blade assembly system, which lets users align blades with their arrows’ vanes for optimal in-flight performance. It also increases columnar strength, making it one of the toughest replaceable fixed-blade heads in our test.
7. Hartcraft Scooptail
$38 / Score_ 79.41 / hartcraftbroadheads.com_
▶ The Scooptail features all-stainless-steel components. Its sharp cut-on-contact tip and blades result in great penetration. Reversible blades double the broadhead’s life while reducing the need to purchase replacement blades. But just in case, three extras are included.
8. Magnus Black Hornet
$40 / Score:_ 78.91 / magnusbroadheads.com_
▶ The Magnus is a beefy head with fat, 0.06-inch-thick blades that proved durable. Angled bleeder blades ensure massive wounds that break skin tension perpendicular to the main blades. A diamond grind on the cut-on-contact tip decreases the propensity of the sharp point to roll over.
9. Wasp Boss
$34 / Score:_ 83.60 / wasparchery.com_
▶ The Boss 3-Blade is a great head at a reasonable price. The short edges give it a good aerodynamic profile. It is also stout, making it a legitimately reusable broadhead. Two sets of replacement blades are included.
10. NAP HellRazor
$40 / Score:_ 82.69 / newarchery.com_
▶ The HellRazor is actually a two-piece head that’s welded together to form a one-piece assembly. Three conjoining blades create a very sharp cut-on-contact tip. The one-piece design will appeal to fans of fixed-blade heads who have experienced issues with blades falling out upon impact.
$40 / Score:_ 81.63 / ramcatbroadheads.com_
▶ A fixed-blade hybrid of sorts, the Ramcat’s blades are shot-deployed, and are capable of pivoting forward. This feature prevents them from being categorized as barbed by some states. Large machined cups in the chisel tip limited penetration during our test.
12. Solid Legend
_ $80_ / Score:_ 84.00 / solid-broadheads.com_
▶ Machined from knife-grade S30V stainless steel, this large head has an immense overall cutting surface—an astounding 6.12 inches. The main blades are 0.06 inch thick, offering ample beef to prevent bending or breakage. This is also the most expensive head in our test group by a wide margin.
13. Clean-Shot Hollow Point
$30 / Score:_ 79.90 / clean-shot.com_
▶ As its name suggests, the Clean-Shot features a unique hollowpoint tip. The aggressive point cores tissue on impact opening a shallow hole for the large main blades to follow. The big blades are ultra-sharp and open a large wound channel. However, considerable energy is required to accomplish this.
14. Cabela’s Copperhead
$25 / Score:_ 82.28 / cabelas.com_
▶ The Copperhead, with its 420-stainless-steel blades, performed well. The metal-injection-molded one-piece ferrule is rugged and allows for easy blade replacement. At a very reasonable retail price, this head is a great value. The only negative was its relatively poor penetration in our test boards (see “How We Test,” below), where it seemed to suffer slightly from its sharply angled blades.
15. Muzzy TroCar
$30 / Score:_ 81.71 / muzzy.com_
▶ The Muzzy features three .035-inch thick offset blades. This configuration results in a right-helix twist capable of opening wide wounds. A small three-sized bevelled tip sits atop a solid steel ferrule, promising a good wound channel. With super-sharp blades and good fit and finish, the Trocar is an excellent value.
16. Bass Pro Shops Blackout Toxik
$30 _/ Score: 82.73 / basspro.com_
▶ Featuring metal-injection molding, a one-piece chisel-ground tip, and German blades, the Toxik is a fantastic bargain. The extra-sharp 0.03-inch-thick blades promise great durability no matter the game. While some bowhunters may shy away from box-store brands, inToxik’s case, you shouldn’t. This is a quality offering.
17. Rocket Ultimate Steel
$30 / Score:_ 79.02 / trophyridge.com_
▶ The Ultimate Steel is a tough head with short, 0.035-inch-thick blades. Its slim profile and resulting aerodynamic scores make this a great head for lightning-quick bows. While it will give you great fixed-blade flight, we had some concern about overall sharpness and the minimal total cutting surface.
18. Grim Reaper Hades
$35 / Score:_ 79.87 / grimreaperbroadheads.com_
▶ The Hades has an internal locking feature, which prevents the blades from dislodging when passing through a target. The 0.035-inch-thick blades are strong and will resist bending. They are also sharpened on all edges to help with cutting proficiency.
19. Cabela’s Incision
$35 / Score: 83.5 / cabelas.com
With its 0.03-inch-thick blades, beefy ferrule, and hardened trocar-style tip, the Incision is best described as an industrial-strength mechanical. The wide-shouldered blades and large retaining fastener mean that the head will stay together no matter what it hits. The minimalistic design will be appreciated by those searching for simplicity.
$40 / Score: 82.8 / xecutionerbroadheads.com
▶ The Xecutioner was the sharpest mechanical in our test and features an O-ring retention system, which adjusts for varying bow poundages—a neat feature for those who desire to shoot a mechanical with lower-poundage bows.
22. NAP Spitfire
$40 / Score: 78.3 / newarchery.com
▶ A slim ferrule and tucked deployable blades promise very good flight. The non-sharpened tips on the blades ensure that they deploy—sometimes an issue with sharp-tipped blades. The snap-locking, blade-retention system, however, required the most amount of force to open.
23. Rage Kore
$50 / Score: 82.2 / ragebroadheads.com
▶ The Kore resembles something you’d see in a Transformer movie. Though we were initially concerned about penetration, the Kore finished second to the Carbon Express F-15. The tip on the Kore, though, is in dire need of improved sharpness.
24. Rocket Steelhead
$30 / Score: 77.8 / trophyridge.com
▶ The Steelhead is a very small mechanical with a rubber-band blade-deployment system. The solid-steel ferrule with a machined tip is minimally sharp. The blade tips are almost even with the ferrule tip, which can cause jackknifing.
25. Grim Reaper Razortip
$43 / Score: 79.3 / grimreaperbroadheads.com
▶ The Grim Reaper features a spring-loaded collar blade retention system, which worked flawlessly. A uniquely designed tip offers both a trocar-style ground point and inserted mini blades to help with cutting chores.
26. G5 Havoc
$50 / Score: 81.7 / g5outdoors.com
▶ The Havoc was the best-engineered mechanical in our test. Unique slip blades slide in a channel and are held in place by a polymer collar. Shoulders on the back of the blades initiate blade deployment flawlessly. The metal-injection molded ferrule is as rugged as you’ll find.
27. Bass Pro Shops Gator
$35 / Score: 83.7 / basspro.com
▶ The Gator is a simply designed mechanical. Its machined one-piece ferrule houses the two blades with a friction fastener. The blades are free floating once deployed, allowing them to pivot around bones.
28. InnerLoc EXP
$39 / Score: 85.4 / innerloc.com
▶ The EXP features a unique stop collar, which allows for either a 1 ¹⁄₈- or 1 ⁷⁄₁₆-inch cutting diameter. The collar also helps keep the blades from crushing the arrow shaft when deployed. A well-engineered clip-loc retains the blades, while a gently rounded blade tip ensures deployment.
29. Carbon Express F-15, DuaL-Blade Expandable
$40 / Score: 75.2 / carbonexpressarrows.com
▶ The four deployable blades on the F-15 cut a wide swath through a target. With the best penetration score of the field, the F-15 will result in plenty of pass-throughs, too. The pressure-injected molded ferrule offers a rock-solid design.
HOW WE TEST
We performed this test with a bench-rested Carbon Express Covert SLS crossbow with a 185-pound draw weight. Arrow speed was 298.6 fps.
Each set of heads was weighed with a Sartorius E2000D laboratory balance and an average weight was recorded. Broadheads that deviated from their 100-grain advertised weight were downgraded.
Scores were assigned according to the perceived quality of construction. Quality is reflected in fit-and-finish, tolerances, sharpness, and design.
Heads were graded according to their ability to remain intact when shot through six 5/8-inch sheets of fire-code-rated drywall. Durability scores reflect sustained damage.
Blades and points on each broadhead were graded for sharpness by utilizing an Olympus SZX10 Stereo Microscope.
Heads that provided outstanding performance at a reasonable price received the highest price/value scores.
Total penetration was measured by firing broadheads through a composite Ethafoam block with an internal density of 6.0 pcf. Range was 3 yards.
Kinetic energy (ke) consumption
Broadheads were driven through Ethafoam and force in pounds was recorded. Broadhead length was measured (threaded area not included in total measure) and multiplied by the recorded force and divided by 12, resulting in an inch-pounds of force measurement.
Aerodynamic drag and retained energy
The Velocitip Ballistic System measured aerodynamic drag and retained energy. Flight data was recorded throughout the shot.