Without argument, mechanic broadheads have changed the way all archers look at, purchase, and shoot broadheads! Being in the hunting industry for 25+ years both in the product company environment and guiding service, I've seen a ton of broadhead designs come and go. Some have been gimmicks while others have been revolutionary.
For years most whitetail hunters wanted to shoot mechanicals and for good reason, the incredible blood trails and increased accuracy. Now we are starting to see a shift in thinking and in broadhead selection, also for good reason. There's a decent list of reasons not to shot mechanical broadheads. In this article we are going to break down the truth behind the pros and cons of mechanical broadheads to help you better understand the perfect broadhead for your setup.
I am one of those guys who likes to get the bad news out of the way first, so here we go!
CONS OF MECHANICAL BROADHEADS
Mechanical failure is defined as the “The lack of a devise with moving parts to perform its intended design or activity”. With that definition, it is safe to say we can describe a mechanical broadhead as a devise with moving parts that could possibly fail. I think that it is also safe to say to this point that most of the current mechanical broadheads on the market have an extremely low possibility of failure. So why highlight this possibility you ask? With the amount of “bargain” broadheads and knockoffs currently available, the mechanical broadhead market is continuously flooded with inferior products. Mostly with mechanical broadheads made with inferior parts and metals, with thin blades prone to breaking. Sadly these broadheads gain in popularity, due to such a low price point. The issue here is you are not just risking that your broadhead “might” not do the job, you are risking everything you have put into the hunt and possibly wounding an animal without a recovery. If you have put the time in to scout, plant food plots, hang cameras, buy tags, take off work, etc., don’t you want to have complete confidence when that buck of a lifetime finally gives you the shot? Keep in mind the old saying that “you get what you pay for”. Why take the risk? Purchase a proven, dependable mechanical head that was built by someone who cared about it being the best they could make, and be confident in your purchase.
THE NEED FOR INCREASED MOMENTUM
Thankfully the understanding of the critical role of momentum in archery is on the rise. However, there are still many archers who focus more on speed. When it comes to a mechanical broadhead, increased KE and momentum are now a requirement. If we look at this from a simple physics point of view, in order to deploy the blades on most mechanicals, and then have enough force to drive large blades through your intended target, you need more momentum. A light arrow setup can lead to penetration issues, so be sure you have an adequate arrow for the mechanical broadhead you have chosen. Keep in mind you need even more energy if your broadhead requires a band or collar to be cut to deploy the blades. If you still are wanting to shoot a lighter setup, then look for mechanical, or hybrid heads that require very little energy to expand their blades, while still being cautious of having too big of a cut, as wide blades offer more resistance and can also have a negative effect on your penetration. Lack of KE and momentum are the biggest contributors to why mechanical broadheads fail for some hunters. (We will save shot placement for another blog) 😊
LACK OF DURABILITY
While many mechanical broadheads can certainly get the job done, there are a few designs that are simply “one and done”. To be honest with you, if the broadhead did its job and breaks when it hit a rock after passing through, I am still going to be satisfied with that broadhead. But, for many archers making the leap to a high cost mechanical comes with the expectation that it should be tough enough to be used multiple times. In all fairness, this is a reasonable request, but not possible with some manufacturers. If increased durability and re-use is important to you then you may want to consider a fixed blade. If a mechanical is still your choice then there are certainly enough zero penetration and destruction tests on YouTube to keep you occupied for as few days while you narrow your search.
PROS OF MECHANICAL BROADHEADS
BEST OF THE BEST IN BLOOD TRAILS
Blood, blood, and more blood! Hands down the number one benefit of a properly constructed mechanical broadhead is an increased cut that leads to the potential of having more blood. Simply put, if you shoot a whitetail in the same spot with a fixed blade and compare the same spot with a mechanical that has a wider cut you could see a larger cutting area and therefor more blood. To be clear, the lethality of both styles is the same, but when you increase your cutting surface you increase your chances of including, cutting, and even reaching more blood vessels and arteries. As you read above, this increased cut comes with some responsibility on the hunters part to make sure they have a set up that can drive a wide cutting mechanical through their target, but the benefit of a wider cut is inherently more blood.
Why is this not the number one benefit to shooting a mechanical you ask? Honestly, it is because I personally don’t feel it is much of a benefit at all. However, many archers will tell you that this is their top reason for choosing a mechanical broadhead. The fact is that if your arrow is properly set up and tuned to a bow that is also properly set up, you should not have major issues shooting any broadhead either fixed or mechanical. The situation that lends to the popularity of mechanical heads being chosen strictly for superior flight is mostly due to hunters that refuse to, or are unable to put time into their archery setup. In fact, many bow hunters will brag about how they only shoot a few times before season, have arrows they know little about, and a broadhead they got off of Ebay for $1.50. So for this group of hunters, and also hunters who have little time and crazy schedules, a mechanical head that has very similar characteristics in flight to a field tip is desirable. Since most mechanicals are very aerodynamic, they will stabilize and fly similar to a field tip, but certainly not all of them. So if you are choosing a mechanical solely based on increased accuracy, you may be missing out on another style broadhead that could offer you more benefits by simply giving your archery set up more time and consideration.
DUE DILIGENCE IS KEY
With so many mechanicals on the market it can be difficult to choose one that is right for your setup and the game you are going to hunt. Always take you archery setup and intended game into consideration first, and then look for reputable companies with a solid track record to narrow down your search. For more on how to pick the right broadhead and avoid the most common mistakes of choosing a broadhead, check out the video below.