The Best Aluminum Arrows: Three Choices
Aluminum arrows used to be THE THING, and now, they seem to be a second place to carbon and the aluminum/carbon hybrids.
That's a shame, in my opinion—aluminum arrows are tough and durable, and I think they're a fantastic option for beginners.
So here are reviews of three of (what I consider to be) the best aluminum arrows / aluminum alloy arrows you can use. I usually try to offer a few more options, but these are the only ones I feel really comfortable recommending.
I hope this helps, and if you've got another variety of aluminum arrows you really like, leave me a comment and I'll update the list!
[UPDATE: The original title of this post was "Aluminum Arrows: Three Choices," and in the original post, I reviewed three arrows. HOWEVER, I recently re-reviewed all three of those specific arrows, and I discovered that I wasn't crazy about two of them, so I've removed them from the post. So now it's basically a review of one aluminum arrow (the Easton Jazz), which are a great option for recurve bow users, in my humble opinion. I can't give a recommendation for compound bow users who are looking for aluminum arrows, because honestly, I don't know of any. If I learn of any aluminum arrows that are a good fit for compound bows (got any suggestions?), I'll be sure update the post.]
Benefits of Aluminum Arrows
Before we get started, let's look at aluminum arrows—what they are, and why they can be worthwhile.
In general, arrows are made from three materials: wood, carbon, aluminum, or an aluminum/carbon mix. Each has attractive properties / unattractive properties:
- Wood is an all-natural pick, and it's super-popular among traditionalists and longbow archers. Wooden arrows are gorgeous, and if you get so into archery that you decide to make your own arrows, wooden arrows are the way to go. BUT, because wood is a natural material, it's more difficult for arrow manufacturers to make sure that each wooden arrow they produce has the same spine as the other wooden arrows they produce. Because, as you'd imagine, the more similar your arrows are going to be, the more accurate your shots will be.
- Carbon arrows are the latest iteration of high-end arrows, and they're fantastic to use. They can be made with a wide range of spine properties, they can be produced needle-thin (which is something that hunters love), and they're easy to mass-produce. BUT, they can actually be kind of delicate. Some can be prone to chipping and splintering, and that makes them a bad choice for newbies, who are usually pretty tough on their twigs.
- Aluminum arrows are manufactured in a wide range of spines, and many can take a lot of abuse. That makes them a fantastic option for new archers—but it also makes them a great option for experienced archers, as well, because arrows don't last forever, and if you're going to be using them frequently, you'll want to replace them. On the down side, aluminum arrows are more prone to drifting in the wind, and that makes them a second-place choice for outdoor archers and hunters (although, again, there ARE hunters who are loyal to aluminum!).
- Aluminum/carbon hybrids are "the best of both worlds." These are very popular with outdoor archers (including archers in the Olympics and national competitions) and with hunters out in nature. They're stiff (which makes them a great option for heavier hunting bows), they're thin (which is great for penetrating targets and wild game), and they require smaller fletchings (which means they can travel through the air at great speeds).
How to Size Aluminum Arrows
I actually wrote an entire post about sizing arrows, but here's a quick rundown:
Aluminum arrows usually have sizes that are four numbers long—usually something like 1716, 1816, 1916, etc. In order to figure out what that means, you have to look at the first two numbers (so in "1716" you'd look at the "17") and the last two numbers (in "1716" you'd look at the "16").
The first two numbers represent the actual, physical diameter of the arrow—that is, how many 64ths of an inch around it is. So, a 1716 arrow would be 17/64ths of an inch in diameter.
The second two numbers tell you the diameter of the actual walls of the arrow. Imagine you took that arrow and sliced it in half—the walls might be very thin or very thick. That second measurement tells you how many thousandths of an inch the wall of the arrow is. So, in the case of a 1716 arrow, the walls of that arrow would be 16/1000ths of an inch thick.
So which of those measurements are good for you and your archery practice? Here are some factors that go into it:
- The diameter of the arrow. In the grand scheme of things, the difference between a 1716, 1816, and a 1916 arrow... isn't that great, but here's how it plays out: target archers usually like a thicker arrow of greater diameter, because it'll cover more area on target. HOWEVER, thicker arrows are more likely to get a little carried away on the wind. So, as with most of archery, it's a trade-off. You find what you like.
- The thickness of those arrow walls. This has to do with the spine of the arrow—that is, how much it bends when it's in flight. An arrow with thicker walls is probably going to be more stiff (and therefore a good match for higher-poundage bows) and an arrow with thinner walls is probably going to be less stiff (and therefore a good match for lower-poundage bows).
So, which is the right choice for you? When you're selecting an aluminum arrow, check to see if there's a sizing chart. Find the weight of your bow, then find the length of your arrow, and then find the number that joins them.
In my opinion, Easton Jazz arrows are among the best aluminum arrows on the market. They're durable, they're sturdy, and they're fully-fletched and tipped, so you can take them right to the range. If you're a beginner, these are a fantastic option.
Let's take a look at the details:
- Good for 15-to-50 pound recurve bows. That's a broad category, and chances are, if you're a beginner, you're using a bow somewhere in the lower end of that range, and if you're a beginner-getting-close-to-an-intermediate, chances are you're somewhere near the high end of that range.
- They're usually manufactured in 28-inch, 29-inch, and 30-inch lengths. Your arrow length needs to be more than your draw length (expert archers can get away with using arrows that are only an inch longer than their draw length, but new archers would be wise to use an arrow that's about three inches longer than their draw length). I explain how to determine your draw length in another post, but a quick way to determine it is to take your wingspan in inches and divide by 2.5. So, an average man stands at 5' 10", which would make him 70 inches tall. 70 divided by 2.5 is 28. So, a 5' 10" inch would have a 28-inch draw length, and would buy an arrow that's 31 inches long (28 inches of his draw length plus 3 inches = 31 inches).
Most arrows aren't manufactured in shorter lengths, and 28 inches is a shorter length, so these are kind of a find if your draw length isn't that long.
- They have parabolic feathers that steady the arrow. This is a fantastic feature, and it's designed to give some mid-flight stability to your arrow. If you look on the fletching on an arrow, you'll usually find that the feathers go straight up and down the spine of the bow. Parabolic feathers, on the other hand, look slightly angled. Angled feathers are useful, because as the arrow travels through the air, the air will hit the angled feathers, and cause the arrow to spin a little bit, giving it more stability, and keep it from wobbling on its flight path. Neat, right? Parabolic arrows aren't going to make you Robin Hood, but they're designed to provide a little extra stability.
- They've got steel tips and replaceable nocks. Some arrows arrive to your door as shafts, and you have to apply the fletchings, insert the nocks, and configure the tips. These come all set and ready to go. They've got screw-in tips (which can be pretty sharp, so be careful) and nocks that have already been glued in. If you don't know how to put arrows together, having them arrive "complete" is a great option.
- They're a funky color, which makes them easy to spot if you're going to be doing outdoor archery. Camo arrows are cool as can be, but it can take a long time to find one you lost, that's for sure.
These are a fantastic option, and they seem to be very, very popular. If you buy them, you may want to put your initials on them with a water-proof sharpie, because you may find a lot of your fellow archers own them too.
That's It for Aluminums
As I said, there are far fewer aluminum arrows than there used to be! Maybe in the future, we'll begin to see a resurgence in aluminum arrows. If that happens, I'll definitely write about it!
UPDATE: Again, my apologies for only being able to recommend one type of aluminum arrow! If I come across more types that I think are worthwhile, I'll update the post. Until then, happy shooting!