Crossbows are some truly awesome hunting tools. They are easy to master, and pack a heck of a punch. However, just how much of a punch and how effective your crossbow bolt is will largely depend on the kind of tip you have on it.
Today we want to talk about broadheads for crossbows, specifically mechanical broadheads, as well as the difference between mechanical and fixed-blade models. We will also review two of the best mechanical broadhead for a crossbow on the market at this time, so you know what you are getting into.
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What is a Mechanical Broadhead?
A mechanical broadhead is a special type of crossbow bolt. These are bolts which have the standard arrow head, but then also have folding blades which open up on impact. There are both rear- and front-opening blades for mechanical broadheads.
The point of these crossbow bolts is that the blades do not open until they impact or hit a target. The blades stay folded and hidden during flight. As you might be able to guess, this does come with some key benefits.
Pros and Cons of Mechanical Broadheads
As mentioned above, mechanical broadheads for crossbows do feature some distinct advantages, although they also have limitations as well. Let’s take a closer look at both the pros and cons of mechanical broadheads for crossbows.
One of the biggest benefits that comes with using mechanical broadheads is that they are very aerodynamic. Due to the fact that the blades stay hidden and folded during flight, the bolt as a whole is far more aerodynamic. This therefore allows for much greater flight speed and distance, decreased loss of speed, increased accuracy, and a stronger initial impact.
Another pro that comes with using mechanical broadheads is that they greatly increase the cutting diameter when a target is hit. This means that you have a much greater chance of killing your prey on impact than when compared to a fixed-blade broadhead.
At the same time, it can also help increase bleeding, thus creating a larger blood trail, and therefore making prey easier to track.
When it comes to ballistic curves, mechanical broadheads fly in a very stable manner and fly through the air like field points.
The fact of the matter is that due to the high-tech nature of mechanical broadheads, they usually cost more than other bolts and arrows. The best mechanical broadheads for crossbows are not cheap.
Mechanical broadheads, due to having moving components, tend to be much less durable and long lasting than fixed-blade broadheads. Simply put, the more moving components there are, the more components there are which can break.
On many models, maintenance can also be an issue because with most bolts and arrows, the blades can simply be sharpened. However, for many mechanical broadheads, the blades may actually need to be changed, thus increasing time and money spent on maintenance.
Mechanical broadheads use a lot of energy to open up those blades, so while there is a high initial impact, mechanical broadheads don’t penetrate as deep into a target, which is a problem for big game hunting.
Fixed Blade vs. Moving Blade Broadheads
Something that is important to keep in mind is the difference between fixed-blade and mechanical broadheads. While mechanical broadheads are great for maintaining speed and accuracy, for creating a heavy initial impact, and for creating a big wound, there are some key differences between these and fixed-blade broadheads which you should be aware of.
Fixed-blade broadheads are usually considered best for hunting very big game, such as elk and moose because there is no energy spent on opening the blades, and thus, fixed-blade broadheads usually penetrate much deeper into flesh, and sometimes even into bone.
Yes, mechanical broadheads are fine for smaller game, even for smaller deer, but they often have issues penetrating deep into big game animals due to energy being used to unfold the blades upon impact.
Moreover, fixed-blade broadheads are not the best for maintaining speed and accuracy during flight because the large blades can act as rudders, which catch the wind, slow the fixed-blade broadhead down, and decrease accuracy.
Fixed-blade broadheads are cheaper to purchase than the mechanical alternative, plus there is the fact that because there are no moving components, fixed blade broadheads tend to be more durable, they deal better with bone, and the maintenance needs are not as high.
How to Choose a Mechanical Broadhead
Before you go out and purchase a mechanical broadhead for your crossbow, there are some main considerations which you should keep in mind. Let’s talk about the most important purchasing factors.
First of all, something you need to pay attention to is what the grain weight of the mechanical broadhead is. Your crossbow should have a specific range of grain weights which it is suitable for, and you should always get bolts, whether broadheads or not, that fit within the parameters outlined by your crossbow. Matching the grain weight of the bolts to the bow is very important.
We mentioned how mechanical broadheads score somewhat low on the durability scale, especially when compared to fixed blade models. Therefore, due to their comparatively low longevity and durability, it is extremely important that you go for a model that is highly rated for durability.
This means that the components should always be made of high-quality metal, and this is especially true for the moving components. It’s the moving components which you really need to watch out for here. Moreover, the broadhead needs to be able to deal with bone and also being pulled out of a target once those blades are open. Both durability and integrity are important.
Front vs. Rear Opening
Something else to consider is whether it is a front- or rear-opening model. Mechanical broadheads can have their blades deploy from the front or the rear of the head. Some people do prefer front-opening mechanical broadheads, and they work just fine.
However, generally speaking, rear-opening mechanical broadheads create a much larger wound with a heavier blood trail, and they also use less kinetic energy to open the blades, thus increasing penetration and impact. For this reason, most choose to go with the rear-opening models.
Sharpness and Penetration
Yet another important factor to keep in mind is how sharp they are and what the penetration is. This is crucial because in general, mechanical broadheads aren’t exactly known for their stellar penetration abilities. Therefore, before making a purchase, always read the product description closely, as to how sharp and penetrating the broadhead in question is this will detail the accuracy, distance, and the size of game that can be hunted with it.
The other thing to keep in mind when purchasing a mechanical broadhead is how well balanced it is. This is very important, especially for crossbow bolts which are much shorter than normal arrows; they fly differently. Now, some prefer an evenly weighted bolt, but for the most part, a front-heavy bolt is preferred, as these models tend to fly straighter and feature heavier impacts.
Our Top Recommendations For Mechanical Broadheads
Here are two mechanical crossbow broadheads that we would like to review, with both being high-quality options. Let’s take a closer look right now.
Rage Bowhunting Hypodermic Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead
When it comes to mechanical broadheads for crossbows, this Rage Bowhunting Hypodermic Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead might just be the best one out there.
One of the defining features of this particular model is that it features dual blades for a huge wound and a massive blood trail. In fact, this broadhead features one set of front-opening blades and a set of rear opening blades, so it does come with a lot of benefits in this regard. This is often referred to as a hybrid tip.
What is also impressive about the Rage Bowhunting Hypodermic Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead is that it uses so called FAT, or ferrule alignment technology. In essence, this helps to create a much more aerodynamic bolt, which flies faster, longer, and is more accurate too. It is said that as far as mechanical broadheads go, this is by far one of the most accurate.
In terms of grain weight, the Rage Bowhunting Hypodermic Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead comes in 2 options — 100 grain and 125 grain, which should be fine for most basic needs. To ensure a stable flight path and that the blades don’t open up prior to impact, this broadhead also features a high energy shock collar.
Something that stands out about the Rage Bowhunting Hypodermic Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead is how sharp the blades are. It features a very long leading edge blade to ensure deep penetration. All blades here are made with high quality and razor sharp stainless steel. When open, this model creates a 2-inch wound.
New Archery Products NAP Spitfire Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead
Here we have a slightly less expensive option, although not by a whole lot. It’s not quite as fancy or advanced as the one which we just looked at, but it still gets the job done just fine.
One of the big differences between this mechanical broadhead and the one reviewed above is that this one features a 1.5-inch cutting diameter, as opposed to 2 inches. Moreover, the standard size for this model is 100 grain, so it is a bit smaller in general. Although, that said, it is also available in a 1025 grain model.
Something else to note about the New Archery Products NAP Spitfire Crossbow Mechanical Broadhead is that it features triple front-deploying blades, diamize sharpened blades, so you know that they are very sharp and extremely durable.
Moreover, another feature is the long and hardened trophy tip which adds a lot of penetration power to the equation and is specially designed to penetrate and split bone upon impact. Now, there are replacement blades available if needed, which is important because the mechanical blades may bend a bit when they impact bone.
There you have it — everything you need to know about mechanical broadheads, the differences between them and fixed blade designs, and what they can do for you. At this point, you should have no trouble finding the best mechanical broadhead for a crossbow.