The only real requirement for a broadhead is to penetrate deep enough to touch a vital organ and cleanly cut tissue along the way. A few years ago my mate Tyler Freel killed an Alaskan grizzly bear with a cut flint arrowhead and a recurve bow. In other words, a sharp stone will work if it hits in the right spot, but even the strongest fixed blade broadheads and wider cut mechanical broadheads won’t compensate for a marginal hit.
But still, for equal placement, good broadheads are a huge advantage. They can tell the difference between a heavy trail of blood and a trickle; a broken shoulder or a coldly stopped arrow. That’s why I spent a few scorching summer days in the field testing new broadheads, to help you decide what to use before this hunting season. I also destroyed a lot of perfectly good blades and arrows in the process.
We’re posting the results of this two-part test, starting with the crossbow tips below. Look for compound bow broadheads in a few days, and keep in mind that almost all broadheads I tested in 2020 are still available in 2021, so if you haven’t read it, you can check it here.
How we tested the new broad tips for crossbow hunters
Long-time archery test panel member Danny Hinton assisted in the process of this test. Our broad head test is an invitation. Last year we tested 20 broadheads, but this year’s field had only 13 heads in total and 6 crossbow models, largely due to the post-Covid manufacturing challenges that seem to affect every industry. . This included three mechanical broadheads and three fixed broadheads.
Once we received a quote, we weighed each head of a package individually to assess consistency. We did a quick assessment of the sharpness of the blade by first checking the edges with our thumbs, then stretching 2 inch to 3 inch rubber bands, between thumb and forefinger, screwing the wide tip into a arrow, touching it against the taught elastic, and seeing how much effort was required to cut it. Most blades required light pressure to pop the elastic, which is acceptable. A couple mostly rode the band, and these are too boring. A few broke it almost on contact, and that’s ideal.
Next, we tested the accuracy of the broadheads on the shooting range with a TenPoint Vapor RS470 crossbow and factory bolts, from a DOA bench at 45 yards. Then we moved on to the fun stuff. My buddy Charlie, who treats deer during the hunting season and cattle and hog during the off-season at Hart Farms, donated a dozen prime rib to the cause. I hung these rib cages from a rope in front of a Block target. Then I shot them 20 yards using a new AX405 crossbow. The AX405 shoots micro-diameter bolts at a rate of 400 fps, which was ideal for pushing broadheads to their limits. During this part of the test, I assessed the penetration and durability of the broadheads. For the mechanical models, I noted entry and exit holes on the ribs of the cattle, to see if the blades opened on impact and if they were still open and intact when they hit the target Block behind the ribs. This is noted in the âReliabilityâ column in the tables below, which only applies to mechanics.
Here is the truth:
Crossbow Broadhead Test Results
The 6 best broad tips of the year for crossbow hunters
1. Ramcat Diamondback Hybrid–Best New Mechanical Crossbow Wide Head from 2021
Ramcat broadheads submitted three models, all in the crossbow category, for testing, and this one was my favorite. I have had exceptional results on the game with hybrid tips that mix a fixed blade with a pair of large mechanical swivel opening blades. This one has an interesting spiral fluted ferrule with a concave chisel tip. These heads shot at exceptional groups that were direct with my points of land at 45 yards. With an average of 100.1 grains, the Diamondback hybrids also met the package. The blades use old fashioned o-ring retainer rings that worked really well, and they drilled huge holes through the ribs of the cattle. Their only downside? At crossbow speed, these broadheads become one. Every blade in all of the heads was twisted or broken after crossing the ribs of the cattle, and this damage seemed to hamper their penetration into the Block target a bit, as they were stuck just inside the moss. While the mechanical blades in my samples were sharp enough, the stationary blades appeared dull.
2. Iron Will XS125-Best New Fixed Blade Crossbow Brhead of the bridge from 2021
The XS125 was the best fixed blade hunting point in the crossbow category. It was the sharpest and most precise. Each weighed exactly 125.2 grains, and I shot close groups of a hole with them 40 yards away, and they were exactly in line with my zero field point. Paired with the AX405 crossbow’s micro-diameter bolts, these things penetrated like I’ve never seen. A bolt went through the ribs of the cattle and the entirety of the Block target behind it. I pulled the bolt out because it was hanging off the notch. And each of the broadheads was like new and still sharp, even after the rib test. The relatively small 1-1 / 16 cutting diameter, even with the two purge blades attached, would be my only criticism, but I think the tradeoff is well worth it. They have a lifetime warranty, and Iron Will broadheads are known for their durability, but that’s only useful if you don’t lose them. I don’t collect too many crossbow bolts after passing them through creatures, especially at ground level, so price is a point to consider.
3. Crossbow NAP DK4
The DK4 crossbows on NAP broadheads shot well and consistently weighed in a half grain of 125. They were of acceptable sharpness, but not scary, and they pierced large holes on impact (their cutting diameter at swivel blade is 1-3 / 8 inches). The problem was that the blades of these broadheads almost broke in the ribs of cattle at crossbow speed. Each of the swivel opening bleed blades broke, and on two broadheads they broke before making exit holes in the ribs (the broadhead ferrules and pivoting blades went through, well that some of the swivel blades were also damaged). As a result, this crossbow tip received low marks in the durability and reliability categories.
4. Ramcat HydroShock-X
Ramcat broadheads are best known for their “fixed” swivel blade broadheads, like the original HydroShock. These heads, with the concave aerofoil tip and sharp blades on both sides, have a loyal following. The new crossbow version of this head was the sharpest of the three Ramcat entries, and also the most durable. The broadheads went through the ribs and deep into the block, and although a few blades were bent in the process, nothing broke. Broadheads sank 1 to 2 heavy kernels out of the package, and they hit about 2 inches from my zero field point.
5. Ramcat cage ripper
The version made up of this two-bladed mechanic performed pretty well in last year’s test, and the design makes it a good crossbow head as well. These Ramcat broadheads came from the slightly light package – 98 grit on average – and the blades were too dull for my liking. I had to saw the elastic fairly well to break it. Still, they performed well. They hit about an inch from my ground points at 45 yards, and the piston-style blade retention system – although a bit of a pain to set up – seemed to do its job of both retaining the blades in place. flight and open contact. They also went through the rib cages, leaving large 2 inch holes on both sides. For mechanics, these broadheads are durable. There was a bit of blade flex after going through the ribs, but nothing broke, and the heads sank deep into the Block target.
6. Quad Titanium TruGlo Cutter
There’s a lot of cutting surface in this big 4-blade fixed head, and it drilled a predictable big hole in cattle ribs. The titanium ferrule is strong and well designed, but the blades of a few heads were severely mutilated after the rib test. They were quite sharp, but they flowed 2-2.5 light grains out of the package. The biggest problem with these fixed blade broadheads is the same I’ve had with pretty much every other crossbow speed fixed 4 blade model – they just don’t seem to fly well. These hit several inches from the target of my zero field point, and the group size was the largest in the test at over 3 inches.
Read more: The best new broadheads of 2020