The amount of broadhead offerings available today is staggering. Everywhere you turn there are broadhead options claiming to be superior to the competition. More often than not, being "superior" is in the eyes of the beholder. But how can you quickly decipher what broadhead is the best? Buying the variety pack isn't an option, and grabbing several different packs to see what performs getting expensive fast!
When it comes to crossbows, buying the correct broadhead takes a little more research due to the insane speeds of today's crossbow platforms. Let's take a look at some steps you can take to ensure you have the right broadhead for your crossbow platform!
CHECK WITH YOUR CROSSBOW MANUFACTURER
With the performance of modern crossbows, not all fixed blades will fly and not all mechanicals will open. It's the reality of launching a short bolt at insane speeds. For one, bolts are relatively unstable in flight compared to longer arrows. Secondly, any mechanical device like mechanical broadheads have limitations on functionality. These two reasons alone make it ultra important to contact your crossbow manufacturer and verify what is recommend for your crossbow model. At the end of the day, the crossbow manufacturer's business depends on your experience with their platform and they obviously want that to be good. They have done testing and research to know what specifications a broadhead needs to be compatible with their platform. Start your broadhead short list based around the manufacturer's recommendations and build from there.
This one is straight forward but sometimes overlooked. If you plan to hunt in multiple states, check each set of regulations and be positive you're legal. With expandable broadhead designs, like Afflictor's hybrid lineup, getting better and better most states have now legalized them however, don't simple take our word for it. Beyond fixed vs mechanic designs there may be minimum cutting diameter requirements also, so be sure you dive in to the specifics.
Do some research and by research I don't mean going to social media for recommendations. Posting "What's the best broadhead for crossbows" on some Facebook group is going to result in subjective opinions with no substantial or valuable info on why.
In place of going to social, dive into some forums, scrub the web for unbiased reviews and articles, look at YouTube. Remember everyone has an agenda and with marketing assets most figures are trying to monetize their efforts. You'll need to use your BS meter and filter out non viable information.
DESIGNED FOR CROSSBOW USE
Taking your compiled list of broadheads you can quickly reference the broadhead maker's website and identify if the specific broadhead is serviceable on crossbow platforms. The reality of this is, not all broadhead are designed and built to perform the same and/or for use of multiple archery platforms. For crossbow versions the overall concept may be similar, however, fixed blade designs may have a smaller cutting diameter and mechanicals may have an added collar or band to handle the high speeds of modern crossbows. There are occasions where exceptional broadhead designs are shootable through all platforms, like Afflictor's K2. Regardless of your purchase be sure you are getting a crossbow approved broadhead and to take that a step further ask what speeds each broadhead can handle.
CHECK REAL WORLD PERFORMANCE
Product review videos have turned into over exaggerated embellished videos to simply gain views from the shock and awe factor. Torture tests of broadheads going into steel or concrete object mean very little, bleed out test are irrelevant due to the mediums being shot through, the list goes on and on. While these types of test certainly do provide entertainment value, they SHOULD NOT influence your purchasing decision.
Look for more accurate tests that reflect actually hunting scenarios and performance. Look for flight characteristics from trusted figures who you know have properly tuned equipment. Look for penetrations tests of broadheads going into any medium that reflects animal tissue. Look for reliable information on sharpness. These are the real life performance factors that you should be consuming.
COST VS PERFORMANCE
Crossbow broadhead performance can be boiled down to just a few items. Penetration, flight characteristics, and the ability to create wound channels. Remember, broadheads kill through trauma. We need displaced tissue and blood lose. Without penetration and a wound channel there is no trauma. Without proper arrow flight it's difficult to consistently hit your aiming point. The point here is that, 2 out of 3 is ok but to achieve great performance out of your crossbow platform, your broadhead really does need to check all three boxes.
When looking at the cost of broadheads, it becomes a subjective. Cost to me boils down to opportunity costs. You may only get one opportunity at your target, one shot, what's that worth?! But let's be honest....the cost of new crossbows are insane. Anyone griping over a pack of broadheads needs their head examine.
With all of archery, confidence in both your ability and your equipment's ability makes all the difference in the world. Regardless of your setup, do the upfront work to understand what you have. Practice religiously to finite your skills and build confidence. You'll find with a little more effort your success rate will grow exponentially.
Author: Chad Sylvester, Team Afflictor