More bowhunters than ever are shooting hybrid broadheads, and for good reason. They combine the “it will always cut” reliability of a fixed-blade with the massive cutting diameter of a mechanical. In putting these five hybrids to the test, some of which are brand-new, we found a suite of broadheads that fly great and cut huge holes in stuff—but with enough differences among them to make things interesting.
The Gravedigger flew well and the blades were sharp. Consistency between each head was excellent. The fixed blades have a 1-inch diameter, and the mechanical blades open to 2 inches. The retention system was mildly concerning. Instead of relying on O-rings or bands, users “tune” deployment by adjusting a tiny hex screw.
This head is crazy stout, with beefy, easy-to-replace blades. There are no O-rings or retention collars to mess with. Arrow flight and durability were excellent. The fixed blades are a single-bevel design, which I like, but serrations make them difficult to resharpen. The mechanical blades are strong, though not as sharp as they should be for the price.
The X-Treme has an obscene cutting surface (3-plus inches), making it the biggest cutter in the test, even though the fixed blades are only 7⁄8 inch wide. That cutting surface comes at a cost, both financially and structurally. It was the only head that failed the tire test: One blade snapped as it passed through the first layer. Plus, replacing the blades is anything but simple.
This head features thick, stout blades that were plenty sharp. But the heat-shrink-style ring that keeps the blades folded in flight is also strong—so strong, in fact, that I wondered if the mechanical blades will deploy when they hit a deer’s soft vitals. To test this, I shot into the center of a much-used layered target with each broadhead. All but the Swhacker deployed.
These strong, durable heads combine a 1 3⁄16-inch fixed-blade cut with a 1 1⁄2-inch cut from the mechanicals. The deployment system is outstanding, using an internal spring system rather than O-rings or bands. This does make blade replacement a bit challenging, however. They also exhibited some planing issues—not surprising given the fixed-blade width.
How We Test
Our testing protocol took full advantage of the backyard bow-shop mentality, employing readily available items to evaluate key categories under real-world conditions. For accuracy, 3-shot groups with each broadhead from a tuned bow were compared to field-point groups from the same bow at distances of 25 and 40 yards. Sharpness was evaluated with a trio of slicing challenges: taut rubber bands, arm hair, and paper.
The bleed-out test paired water-filled milk jugs with a stopwatch. Each broadhead had to hit its respective jug in the same place for the results to count. Consistency in weight between heads was measured using a precision scale, and cutting potential was determined by adding together every possible 1⁄8 inch of cutting surface on each head. A steel-belted radial tire was used for penetration testing.
Value is the cost per head weighed against quality and performance. The ease-of-use category weighs factors such as the deployment system and ease of blade replacement.