I will not use an expandable broadhead. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you shouldn’t. And I am not saying that I never will. I am simply saying that most or some or a few of you shouldn’t. Let me explain.
One benefit of not having any association with any company is that I can write freely. I know that a number of you who live and die by your expandable brand are cringing about my first paragraph but stay with me.
A quick review. Arrows, like shotguns, kill by penetrating trauma to the animal. This is different from high velocity rifles that rely heavily on weight retention and blunt force trauma to inflict fatal damage. In order for penetrating trauma to be effective we rely a little more on precision placement. So what are the important aspects of a successful broadhead.
- If your arrow doesn’t consistently fly where you aim it then it is useless. Accuracy depends on practicing with your equipment and most importantly knowing its limits. Remember this. When I choose an arrow/broadhead combo I want to be certain that at the range for which I am confident the setup will preform every time. There is no doubt that a streamlined expandable head will be more accurate at a longer distance especially with external factors like wind when compared to less arrow dynamic fixed blade head.
- Wound cavity/entrance wound. Ya I hear all you expandable guys and girls getting excited. No doubt. The size of the entrance wound that can be engineered using an expandable head can far out do that of our standard fixed blade. Bigger and bigger fixed blade heads become less and less aerodynamic, to put it simply. This limits the ability for creating larger cutting diameters with a fixed blade.
- And this my friends is what I argue is the most important of all the factors when considering a broadhead. Exit wounds are where it’s at. Exit wounds make blood trails. And big bucks pile up at the end of blood trails. What makes for good penetration? Well that is all based on energy transfer. In the most basic form energy in the arrow is stored in the arrows speed together with its weight. When then blades on an expandable deploy there is a loss of this energy. It’s a fact. We can’t escape physics unfortunately. Now when you shoot a high energy cross bow with heavier bolts or a heavy fast shooting compound setup this energy may be negligible. This fact however begs the question. Do I have what it takes?
And I my friends do not. I shoot a 58# bow with a 29” draw. 250 grain arrows and 100 grain broadheads. This all means that my kinetic energy is relatively low. I have come full circle. I started with fixed blade. Went to mechanicals for several years, and with a good deal of success I should add.
My main reason for switching to mechanicals in the first place was two fold. 1 – they are more accurate. I could confidently shoot further with a streamlined arrowhead that emulates the field tips I practice with. Wind plays less havoc on the compact design taking yet another variable out of the equation. 2 – they are more forgiving. What I mean by this is that with large cutting diameters leaving giant entrance wounds there is more room for error and a better chance of recovering a deer that was shot a little further back than intended.
So with this in mind why switch? Well back to penetration. You just can’t penetrate like you can with a fixed blade. Especially with a lower kinetic energy setup. I can affect the accuracy component. I shorten up my range. I don’t use a fixed blade that doesn’t come with a practice blade to tune my setup. With closer shots and confidence in my setup I never worry about needing that extra forgiveness.
In short for me it is all about penetration. When I use my cross bow the expandable is back in the equation because of the higher energy bolts are fired with. Otherwise I cannot over emphasize the importance of penetration. If you aren’t regularly getting pass troughs’ with your expandable then you need to rethink your setup.
If accuracy is your concern then try some different fixed blades until you find one that works and move your stand 10 yards closer to the deer trail.
I have been bow hunting since I was strong enough to load my Dad’s 140lb Astro Daco crossbow and have been in the woods hunting for much longer. I have learned so much since those early days. A great thing about hunting is that you are always learning. Furthermore since we have embarked on the hunt blog project my learning has evolved exponentially.
We have developed a successful blog and are excited about the forward progress we continue to make. Along with documenting our triumphs and defeats in type we are also entering into the world of filming our hunts. We have spent countless hours learning physics, software, and art of video production. We have also had the opportunity to be actively involved in field testing a number of products for a developing hunting company.
We are grateful for all our readers who have enjoyed watching the growth of our blog and are excited to bring them into the future with us. I hope you enjoyed the post and that you continue to write to us with your hunting stories to help us learn with you. As always we appreciate your comments!