Arrow selection is crucial to a successful hunting trip. And there are various factors that might influence your choice. Chief of all is the type of bow and broadhead.
Keep reading for the best hunting arrows you can currently find in the market. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide to help you make an educated selection.
Cabela’s Stalker Extreme Carbon Arrows Review
Carbon arrows have a reputation for durability and performance, and that’s what you get with Cabela’s Stalker Extreme. Besides the carbon shaft, these arrows have all the bells and whistles to help you nail the target with ease.
The Stalker Extreme arrows come with a micro-smooth finish and Blazer vanes. The finish allows for a smoother and quieter draw, plus it’s easier on the target and the arrow rest. Each of the Blazer vanes is 2 inches and 0.18 ounces.
In addition, the vanes are durable and angled for accuracy. These design elements work together to deliver optimal stability, even if you favor extra-large fixed blade broadheads.
The carbon fiber arrow shaft ensures professional performance and light weight. It’s precision manufactured to a straightness factor of ± 0.003” for the same shooting consistency with field points and broadheads.
The Stalker Extreme arrows have added mass for more optimal shaft-to-shaft weight, improved shaft stability, and superior kinetic energy. Plus, it contributes to a quieter draw.
This model comes in two sizes – 55/70 at 8.4 GPI (grains per inch) and 65/80 at 9.3 GPI. The 55/70 arrows are 31 inches long and 0.294 inches in diameter and the 65/80 arrows are 31.5 inches and 0.298 inches.
The weight tolerance is rated at ± 2 grains and the arrows are suitable for use with bows that have draw weights of 27 to 80 pounds. The manufacturer also offers a table to help you choose the right size and length for the draw weight of your bow.
Finally, you get CB inserts and Easton Super Nocks with each Stalker Extreme. It’s easy to understand that the Stalker Extreme arrows offer excellent value for money if you consider the superior design, build quality, and additional features.
Carbon Express Maxima Red Hunting Arrows
The Carbon Express Maxima Red hunting arrows come in a 12-pack at a competitive price. The word on the street is that the Maxima Red is highly accurate and offers a sweet release. So we checked them out and were pleasantly surprised.
The dynamic spine control is achieved via a patented carbon construction for a more efficient broadhead flight. In addition, Carbon Express makes the arrows from various carbon fiber materials to ensure superior arrow flex control.
With broadheads, these arrows allow you to shoot tighter groups because there’s less flexing in the front. On the other hand, the red zone flex in the middle of the shaft improves flight performance by enabling broadheads to act like wings up front.
The arrows are laser-checked for straightness down to 1/10,000 of an inch at a tolerance of ± 0.0025 inches. The Maxima Red with 350 spine size weighs 9.07 GPI and measures 31.5 inches long. The weight tolerance is ± 1 grain and there’s a 250 spine model as well.
The Maxima Red hunting arrows are equipped with Launchpad precision nocks and BullDog nock collars. The nocks feature a concentric design for better centering within the shaft and perfectly align with the barrel. You can be certain of better arrow release control and flight efficiency.
The arrows take 2-inch vanes and the stock vanes are Blazer. The two spine sizes (250 and 350) cover draw weights of 40 to 92 pounds.
This part covers everything you need to know about hunting arrows to make the right selection. We’ve included information about shaft types, arrow size, and how to choose the best broadheads.
There are four types of shaft characterized by the material. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.
Without a doubt, carbon shafts offer superior performance and precision. The first carbon arrows appeared in the early 1990s. They were exceptionally lightweight, slim, and pultruded.
Unlike contemporary carbon shafts, the early models had a couple of drawbacks. They were difficult to tune and could split on impact. Fast forward almost 30 years and today’s’ carbon arrows deliver unrivaled durability, precision, and speed.
Similar to carbon fishing rods, the archery shafts feature a wrapped or weaved design which ensures they don’t split on impact. What’s more, the optimal combination of weight and speed allows them to transfer energy with greater efficiency.
In recent years, carbon arrows have gone down in price as well, making them one of the most popular for bowhunters and archery enthusiasts.
Aluminum shafts have been around since the 1940s but it’s not until the 1970s that their popularity surged. In fact, a lot of hunters still go for these shafts as their top choice. So, what is the appeal of aluminum arrows?
These arrows are exceptionally straight, inexpensive, and strong, but you might expect some minor deformity after using for a while. They are also quite durable and have excellent humidity and weather resistance. What’s more, the manufacturers keep finding new ways to make aluminum shafts more energy efficient.
Some hunters even prefer to combine an aluminum arrow with a high-speed bow for the best energy transfer.
Hybrid – aluminum/carbon
Hybrid shafts might not be as common as pure carbon or aluminum shafts, but they are becoming more popular for their optimal weight and stiffness. A hybrid arrow resembles aluminum in energy transfer and the smaller diameter allows for better penetration as well.
In general, hybrids are made of a thin aluminum shaft and an outer layer of carbon fiber. However, there are models that turn this principle inside out – carbon interior and aluminum exterior.
Just as hybrid shafts offer plenty of benefits, the multiple materials and production cost make it one of the most expensive options available.
For centuries, wood arrows were the main tool on most hunting grounds. Today they are mostly used by those who shoot with a recurve bow or longbow, especially if they’re overcome with nostalgia.
Port Orford cedar is the most common wood for these shafts. Besides the right density, straightness, and durability, Port Orford cedar smells really nice.
When it comes to performance, wood shafts deliver decent accuracy and enough penetration power to hunt big game. But there’s a fair share of downsides as well. You cannot use wood arrows with contemporary high-speed bows because they might split when fired and they will underperform at extreme temperatures and moisture levels.
The fletching is among the most critical arrow components, regardless of the shaft type. The material, design, and style can significantly affect arrow performance.
Feathers have been the material of choice for seemingly ever for the good stabilization and arrow speed properties. In addition, feather fletching works better with wide broadheads and they are more forgiving if they hit a rest prong upon release.
Unlike plastic vanes, feathers collapse on impact without obstructing the arrow’s course. However, there are some compromises too. Feather fletching produces some noise and might be less durable than plastic. Plus, moisture affects the feather and impairs the arrow’s flight path.
Plastic fletching, on the other hand, is impervious to moisture, resistant to crumple and bend, and suitable for all shaft types. There are a bunch of plastic vane styles and sizes to choose from, so you can fine-tune the arrow to your hunting preferences.
Contemporary plastic vanes are designed with pinpoint leading-edge angle and ultra-strong materials to secure broadhead stability. The result is higher long-range accuracy and speed.
It’s important to account for the vane style since it affects the arrow’s flight path. Understanding the styles allows you to tune the shaft to perfection and achieve greater consistency and precision.
Vanes are available different thicknesses, lengths, shapes, and colors. They range from long low profile to short high profile vanes. High profile vanes provide more flight correction than low profile at the cost of speed.
These vanes are great with fixed broadheads. If you use field points, blunts, or mechanical broadheads, a low-profile vane is usually a better choice for the lower drag and higher speed.
For hunting purposes, there are three popular types of fletching application.
The vane is slightly curved (2 to 5 degrees) to achieve the desired helical twist and stability. This application works great with broadheads. It offers superior long-distance accuracy at the cost of speed.
The fletching is straight to the shaft, but there’s a minimal turn to offset the vane from front to back. This application doesn’t involve twisting and the resultant arrow rotation is like that of a rifle round. In other words, you get more stability for long-range shots. And again, speed is the compromise.
If you want maximum speed for close-range shots, straight fletching is the way to go. However, it has higher drag and is thus more susceptible to wind.
The nocks are yet another key arrow component. They have to fit your arrows’ inside shaft diameter. It’s also important to match the nock style to the bowstring in order to utilize the bow power more efficiently.
Press-fit nocks come with letter labels to make it easier for you to choose the right one. These are the guidelines:
- F and G for 0.166” inside shaft diameter
- A and X for 0.204”
- H and H.E for 0.234”
- S (Super Nocks) for 0.244”
- GT for 0.246”
There are also pin nocks which attach to a tiny pin at the end of an arrow. They are very easy to replace and protect the arrow shaft from damage. However, they are more suitable for competition purposes than hunting.
Some hunters prefer lighted nocks for the visual guide. Contemporary lighted nocks are also lightweight and can help you tune the arrow more efficiently. Plus, they can be turned off and on as you wish. Just keep in mind that they are illegal in some Western states.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you are using a contemporary compound bow which makes determining the right arrow length a breeze.
To get the proper arrow length, measure your draw length and add to it up to an inch. For example, if your draw length comes to 30 inches, choose a 31-inch arrow. This allows the shaft to clear the front section of the arrow shelf, or you’ll find it difficult to shoot.
Note: The arrow is measured from the deepest section of the nock to the front of the shaft excluding the arrowhead.
There is a simple formula to determine the ideal weight of a hunting arrow. It’s as simple as multiplying the draw weight by 6 to 8 grains per pound. Therefore, if the draw weight is 50 pounds, the proper arrows are 300 to 400 grains.
This formula is just a guideline so don’t hesitate to experiment with weights to find the right balance. Just don’t go under 5 grains per pound of draw weight as you might snap the arrow and cause serious bow damage.
To summarize, 5 to 8 grains per pound of draw weight is the right range for hunting and target practice. Just remember to measure the full weight of the arrow with everything included (arrowheads, vanes, and nocks).
FOC is the percentage of an arrow’s weight in the front, which affects the trajectory.
This measurement becomes really important for long-range shooting competitions and some hunting purposes (if you use a light bow, for example). In general, high FOC means more stability and low FOC translates to a better trajectory.
Hunters usually go for 10-15% FOC to ensure optimal accuracy at long distances. You can also manipulate the FOC by experimenting with the vanes or arrowheads.
Finding just the right arrow spine for hunting purposes takes some time and practice. The spine needs to fit your shooting technique and style.
You should know that manufacturers use different spine values, which doesn’t help in this regard. On the other hand, some just indicate the arrow’s matching draw weight without any mention of the spine.
If you are buying online, the draw weight compatibility should be your priority. Look for arrows that fit your bow’s draw weight and practice for a few months before you start analyzing the spine. In fact, you should try out a few different spines before settling on the one that best fits your bow and technique.
Veteran bowhunters usually have a selection of broadheads in their arsenal. The style and design vary and the final selection boils down to a few key elements.
The first thing to account for is the proper weight, which depends on the shaft type. Carbon and light aluminum shafts work best with 100-grain broadheads and heavier shafts with 125-grain heads (assuming you are using a contemporary compound bow).
Next comes the blade count, which can be up to 4 blades per broadhead. Three blades are pretty much the standard option these days for the ideal combination of speed, damage, and durability. If you want more safety and easier maintenance, go for removable blade broadheads. These models are easier to sharpen and store as well.
Another thing to consider is the profile. Slim profile broadheads are excellent for small game because they cause less damage. They’re also a bit more durable than wide-profile broadheads. On the other hand, wider profiles allow for some targeting leeway in the sense that you may still shoot to kill if it’s not dead center.
In terms of style, there are two main broadhead categories: chisel point and cut-on-contact. Chisel-point heads have better penetration for game animals like deer, elk, and bear. And they are also more durable since the blades don’t absorb a lot of force.
Cut-on-contact broadheads work great for hunting birds and smaller mammals. They penetrate the prey quickly which usually translates to less tracking time and a more humane kill. But these arrowheads can damage beyond repair should you hit a bone.
Some hunters prefer to use expandable broadheads with retractable blades that deploy on impact. They are prized for their field point-like flight trajectory but the additional moving parts require extra maintenance and reduce durability.
Bow Hunting Tips
The following tips should help you get the most from your arrow and ensure a successful hunt.
Learn Animal Anatomy
Knowing the anatomy of your preys improves the chances of a deadly hit. For example, if you hunt deer, the lungs are the largest target area. A similar principle applies to other large mammals.
Understand the Wind
Changing wind can affect your scent and push the animal away from you. In addition, a sudden change in the wind might throw the arrow off course, causing you to miss.
Some hunters make the mistake of increasing the draw weight before they get stronger. In reality, game animals don’t stand a chance against contemporary compound bows and arrows even if you hit bones. And it’s always wise to start with a lighter bow or lower draw weight and step up as you become more confident.
You may want to visit the hunting grounds before the season and figure out where to locate your stands and gauge the hunting distance. Memorize the landmarks and consider all the spots where game animals might frequent.
Right on Target
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with well-designed carbon arrows. Of course, you need to make sure that the arrow’s size, weight, and length fit your bow. But with the best hunting arrows such as Cabela’s Stalker Extreme or the Carbon Express Maxima Red, you shouldn’t have any problems there.
Finding the perfect broadhead and fine-tuning the vanes might take some time. However, once you’ve got these tweaks nailed down, there’s nothing that can outrun or outfly your arrow.