The Best Mechanical Broadhead: Our Top Picks for 2023

Table of Contents

Alright! Let’s talk mechanical broadheads. They’ve grown wildly popular over the last decade or two, and they’re a great fit for new bow hunters and their veteran predecessors.

In the post below, we’ll quickly list our favorites, discuss our picks for best mechanical broadhead, and then, if you’re new to broadheads, provide we’ll provide a clinic on mechanicals: the different variations you’ll find, features to look for when selecting one, and the strengths of each type. We suggest reading it if you’re new to bowhunting (or if you’re a veteran and need a brush-up!).

Mechanicals Broadheads: Our Favorites

We’ll start with a quick rundown of our top picks, and what makes them unique:

Grim Reaper Razorcut Whitetail Special: Our favorite overall for its ability to effectively takedown whitetail deer.

Swhacker Levi Morgan #261: Another good choice for whitetail hunters thanks to its penetrative wing blades.

G5 Megameat: Because of its replaceable blades and reusability, we recommend it for those who plan to do a lot of hunting.

Muzzy Trocar: This is our choice for those hunting in extreme environments such as the Rockies due to its lethal four-bladed structure.

Rage Hypodermic NC: If you’ve had trouble losing game in the past, this model made our list for the thick blood trails it creates.

NAP Spitfire Maxx: This is one of the most reliable and consistent mechanical broadheads we’ve found.

Bloodsport Gravedigger: If you like hybrid models, take a look at this broadhead, one of the best on the market.

LeanPro Mechanical Broadhead: This is our high-value broadhead suggestion for the bowhunter on a budget.

Rage Extreme: Another one of our favorite hybrid models, we found that this broadhead’s accuracy made it ideal for beginners.

Rage Chisel Tip SC: For those bowhunting from a tree stand, this model’s powerful chisel tip helps you take more advanced shots.

The Best Mechanical Broadhead: Our Top Favorites

In this section, we’ll get into a lot more detail about our favorite mechanical broadheads. There are a LOT of options out there, but we’ve only chosen models that are known to perform well, and then divided them up into the unique benefit each model offers, so you can find what you’re looking for.

We’ll start with a very popular mechanical broadhead we love, especially for hunting whitetail deer.

Best Mechanical Broadhead Overall: Grim Reaper Razorcut Whitetail Special

Specifically designed to penetrate, pass-through, and leave a blood trail on America’s most popular game: white-tail deer. Our pick for best mechanical broadhead for deer hunters and men and women new to bowhunting.

Grim Reaper Broadheads Razorcut SS Whitetail Spec 2″ Cut 3 Bld 100gr
  • Specially designed for higher kinetic energy Bows and Whitetail sized game
  • 035″ Thick Blades
  • Includes Practice Head


  • 2-inch cutting diameter;
  • 0.035-inch blades;
  • Rear-deploying
  • Practice head included
  • Flared tip


  • Maybe not as durable or long-lasting as other models

It’s kind of odd that more broadhead makers haven’t gone this route, and designed (and marketed) an arrow specifically for deer-hunting. Deer are, far and away, the most popular game in North America to hunt, and most beginner bow hunters will take deer as their first harvest. It only makes sense that broadhead makers try to tailor to that market specifically.

With all that in mind, Grim Reaper did a really great job in creating a broadhead specifically for deer. The Grim Reaper Razorcut features a very aggressive cut-on-contact tip that sharpens to a triangular point (and considering that many new bow hunters are concerned with penetration, that’s a big plus), a long, thin ferrule that conceals the blades (which can enhance smooth arrow flight), and three blades for maximum internal damage.

All those features can add up to the four things every deer hunter should want: good flight characteristics, easy penetration, huge exit wounds, and blood trail. Actually—that’s all any bow hunter could ask for!

If you’re new to bow-hunting, and you’re specifically hunting white-tail, we think these can be a good match.

Best Mechanical Broadhead for Whitetail Hunting: Swhacker Levi Morgan #261

We recommend the Swhacker Levi Morgan for whitetail hunters hunting over long distances since its sharpened wing blades double cut when hitting your quarry for better penetration even with less kinetic energy.

Swhacker Levi Morgan Series 2-Blade Broadhead 2″ 100 Grain Pack of 3
  • BLADE: New arched stainless steel .032” blade design, reduces resistance, helps retain arrow momentum, and delivers greater penetration and pass-through performance.
  • FERRULE: Reinforced ribbed ferrule, built from anodized aircraft aluminum, delivers up to 20% greater strength and rigidity.
  • BLADE LOCK TECHNOLOGY: Allows the expandable blades to be locked in the closed position for practice purposes.


  • Sharpened wing blades
  • Trocar tip
  • Reinforced aluminum ferrule
  • Blade lock technology
  • Accurate flight


  • No practice head

The best aspect of the Levi Morgan is the wing blade decoy design. The two smaller blades that are always deployed have sharpened blades that also cut in addition to the main blades. This allows for deeper penetration and more reliable blade deployment so you have fewer failed shots.

The Swhacker #261 also has a trocar tip, which is ideal for hunting whitetail deer. This type of broadhead tip is a lot better for punching through bone and thick tissue, though it does mean another part that can affect accuracy. The ferrule, however, is a single piece, which helps maintain consistency.

Another unique thing about the Levi Morgan is the blade lock technology. It keeps the main blades locked from deployment, so you can practice with the broadheads. The only issue is that you might still dull the wing blades, so we wish Swhacker had included a practice head. That said, it’s a big plus to be able to use the actual broadheads on the range and calibrate your bow accordingly.

Best Mechanical Broadhead for Harvesting Venison: G5 Megameat

If you see hunting season as a chance to stock your freezer, the G5 Megameat can help you harvest a herd effectively.


  • Snaplock collar
  • Chisel tip
  • Extra sharp blades
  • Replaceable blades
  • 2 weight options


  • Flimsy blades

Aside from the cool name, the best thing about the Megameat is the snaplock collar. Compared to other types of broadhead mechanism like bands, this is more reliable and consistent. The blades are less likely to open in flight, meaning better accuracy, but they’re more likely to open on contact to take advantage of the two-inch cutting diameter.

Additionally, the blades are particularly sharp on this broadhead. That has the downside that they can be a bit flimsy if you’re taking long shots that may hit the ribs, but it’s great for lethal shots in the kill zone, especially in combination with the chisel tip. In other words, it can be a good choice for regular harvesting from a tree stand.

In the same vein, the Megameat is an easily reusable model. It’s easy to replace the snaplock collar as well as the blades if they do get bent.

The Best Mechanical Broadhead for Hunting Out West: Muzzy Trocar

The Muzzy’s four-bladed structure increases chances of hitting a vital organ, making it more likely your game will drop near you without the need for difficult tracking.

Muzzy Trocar HB Hybrid 4 Blade Broadhead, Silver
  • HYBRID BROADHEAD – Two rear-deploying expandable blades are highly dependable and powerful enough to deliver massive entry wounds. Blades angled with 2 degree offset to induce spin and field point flight
  • 2-5/8” TOTAL CUTTING SURFACE – the 4-blade broadhead features a 1” fixed cutting diameter and a 1-5/8” expandable cutting diameter
  • AERODYNAMIC – .035″ offset fixed blades deliver pinpoint accuracy at long ranges. 100 grain, 4-Blade hybrid broadhead – 3 Pack


  • Hybrid mechanical design
  • Thick, sharp blades
  • Trocar tip
  • Rear-deploying


  • Four blades can affect accuracy

Muzzy has a lot of “true believers,” and their Trocar 4-Blade has a lot of nice details: the leading edge of the blade actually curves outward toward the animal, so that when it hits, the blades are forced open; the blades themselves are slightly angled, so that they’ll spin a little in the air, and increase arrow stability, and that Trocar tip (the feature Muzzies are famous for) is designed to batter through hide and muscle and bone. It’s made from hardened steel, for the very purpose of pummeling through solid materials.

But the real benefit of the Muzzy Trocar 4-Blade, though, is the four blades, and the internal damage they can do. Whereas many mechanicals only feature two blades and a flat cutting trajectory, the four blades allow the broadhead to cut in four directions, increasing the odds that your arrow will hit a vital organ as it passes through the animal—and punctured vital organs usually means an animal that will drop very close to the spot where you hit it.

Having an animal drop near you can be a great benefit. For some of us, the post-shot tracking is tremendously satisfying, but if you’re hunting in the western United States where you’re taking shots at longer distances and game has a lot of land to run off on after you hit it, having a broadhead capable of quickly dropping an animal can mean the difference between game lost in nature and dinner on your table. It can also be a great option if you’re getting on in years, and don’t want to spend the rest of the morning / noon / night scouring through the woods for game you hit well.

You’ll most likely need to spend some time tuning these—four blades means more surface area, and that means more friction against the front of the arrow as they fly through the air. Still, if you’re willing to take the time, and your shots are accurate enough, these can be a powerful tool if you want to see your game drop close to you.

The Best Mechanical Broadhead for Blood Trails: Rage Hypodermic NC

The Rage Hypodermis is designed with a huge 2-inch cutting diameter to create huge entry and exit wounds that result in big, bright, visible blood trails.

RAGE Hypodermic NC 2-Blade 100gr Hunting Broadhead (R38100), Hybrid Tip, No Collar Blade Lock.035” Thick Swept-Back Angled Blades with a 2” Cutting Diameter, Machined Stainless Steel Ferrule, 3-Pack
  • PRECISION – Rage broadheads are known for their pinpoint accuracy, extreme penetration, and their wound channels are legendary
  • SUPERIOR AERODYNAMICS – This broadhead sports a machined stainless steel ferrule for superior aerodynamics
  • PINPOINT ACCURACY – The Hybrid Hypodermic tip design of this broadhead gives you the pinpoint accuracy of a leading edge design with the added penetration of a chisel tip


  • Large cutting diameter
  • Destructive blades
  • Rear-deploying blades
  • Penetrative tip


  • Requires a very accurate shot

At first glance, the Rage Hypodermic looks like a typical mechanical broadhead: sharp tip, long ferrule, concealed blades. Kind of the “standard” model.

If you take a closer look, though, you see some really smart engineering designs: the tip narrows dramatically to a very sharp point (and that’s the “Hypodermic” part of the equation—it’s designed for clean, entry into the animal’s body), the leading edge of the blades when they’re folded back is almost perpendicular to the ferrule, forcing the blades to open on impact, and when fully deployed, the blades are reinforced by extra steel so they don’t bend backwards (and that’s actually our favorite aspect of this mechanical—it’s just a really smart, really common-sense feature).

Taken together, all of those features that can add up to incredible penetrating power: the blades deploy outside the animal, cutting hide and skin tissue as soon as they hit and expand, and their two two-inch wingspan gores through a lot of internal real estate. And, with only two blades, the broadhead experiences a little less friction than three- and four-blade models, making it more likely to exit the animal.

And that’s the real benefit of the Hypodermic: its pass-through potential, and the blood trail it creates. It seems like Rage has tried to make a name for itself in the “blood trail” department, and with an accurate shot from a high-poundage bow, the Hypodermic is capable of burrowing through game and making a generous blood track for you to track your quarry.

Most Reliable Mechanical Broadhead: NAP Spitfire Maxx

Designed for reliability, the NAP Spitfire Maxx has no O-rings or rubber bands, so they’re more likely to open.

New Archery Products Spitfire Mechancial Broadhead 100 Grain Three Blade Cut on Contact 3 Pack
  • TOP-QUALITY BROADHEAD – The NAP’s Spitfire Maxx front-deploying mechanical broadhead for bowhunting delivers reliable accuracy and trauma to drop your quarry right where it stands; This is a good choice for avid archers who are searching for great efficiency
  • 1 3/4 INCH CUTTING DIAMETER – This New Archery Products Spitfire Maxx mechanical broadhead for compound bows features a 3-blade design – cuts a massive 1.75″ diameter hole and penetrates deeply to provide ultimate efficiency
  • BLADES – The Spitfire Maxx bow hunting broadhead boasts three razor-sharp offset blades that deliver deadly results; Rock-solid reliability and renowned NAP quality make the Spitfire Maxx the perfect choice for game animals of all sizes


  • Reliable blade deployment
  • Sharp blades
  • 2 design options
  • Front-deploying


  • Smaller cutting diameter

Earlier we mentioned that the main benefit of mechanical broadheads was that they’re designed to fly like field tips. The main disadvantage is that they don’t always open up inside the animal.

That’s less of a problem than it used to be—the earliest broadheads (made in the 1950s, believe it or not!) were super sharp, but didn’t always open on contact, and some were even known to bounce off the hide of an animal. That’s obviously a bad thing, and broadheads have come a LONG way since then.

Nonetheless, some hunters—a lot of veteran hunters, but a lot of new hunters too—are very concerned that their mechanical broadheads won’t open when they penetrate the animal. That’s a very valid concern, and it shows not only that hunters are concerned about making a quick kill, but also doing so in as quick and painless a manner as possible.

If you’re concerned with your broadheads opening up, we’d suggest the NAP Spitfire Maxx. They’ve got a cut-on-contact tip designed for easy entry into your game; their front-deploying blades are located at the very front of the ferrule, designed to penetrate the animal immediately after the cut-on-contact tip; and most importantly, the broadhead has no O-rings or rubber bands that would inhibit the broadhead from deploying once inside the animal.

It’s got all the other features we’d hope to see in a broadhead—the blades feature a diamize sharpening process, which makes them very, very sharp; it has three blades for increased cutting capability; and they accept replaceable blades, so once you’ve used them, you can quickly and easy replace the blades, and wallah, you’re good to go—but if you’re worried about reliability and your broadhead’s ability to open up when it’s “GO” time, we think these are a good candidate.

The Best Hybrid Mechanical Broadhead: Bloodsport Gravedigger

The hybrid broadhead design of the Bloodsport Gravedigger is a great way for bowhunters of all skill levels to maximize accuracy, penetration, and lethality.

BLOODSPORT Gravedigger Extreme 4-Blade Hunting Hybrid Mechanical Broadhead with Chisel Tip – 100 Grains | 2.25″ Cutting Diameter | 3 Pack
  • HYBRID BROADHEAD – Our patented hybrid broadheads offer a unique option: a wide-cutting fixed blade and a lethal mechanical cutting diameter promise a 100 percent chance of deep wound channels; Take down big game with the Gravedigger Extreme broadhead
  • CUTTING DIAMETER – The Gravedigger Extreme hybrid mechanical broadhead delivers even more devastating results than its predecessor – Mechanical blades create massive holes providing a deadly 2.25″ cutting diameter
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE – The blades of this Bloodsport hunting arrow broadhead are crafted of 420 stainless steel; This ultra-durable material provides good corrosion & temperature resistance plus increased strength and hardness


  • Hybrid mechanical design
  • Accurate shot
  • Large cutting diameter
  • Blade retention system
  • Chisel tip and cut-on-contact options


  • Multiple pieces
  • Hard to tune

As a hybrid broadhead, the Bloodsport Gravedigger combines the best of both worlds. Because it flies with minimal wind resistance, it’s incredibly accurate and doesn’t require much time on the range to shoot. At the same time, the fixed blade’s diameter of over an inch provides serious penetration and deep wound channels.

Then, you still get a huge mechanical cutting diameter of 2.25 inches. That means better chances of hitting the kill zone and dropping your quarry where it stands. And if you’re still a little off, you should get a decent blood trail for tracking it.

Furthermore, we were impressed by the reusability of the mechanical design. It doesn’t use bands or even collars, so it’s fairly easy to reset. We found that the high number of interconnected parts can make it hard to replace blades or tune the broadhead. However, this also involves the advanced blade retention system that provides reliable deployment.

One last interesting thing about the Gravedigger is that you can get it with a trocar chisel tip or cut-on-contact blades. This lets you get the version that’s best for your hunting needs. The chisel tip is good if you’re shooting over long distances or have less experience and are likely to hit bone. But thanks to the supportive aluminum ferrule, the cut-on-contact option will give you the best penetration with an accurate shot. 

Best Mechanical Broadhead on a Budget: LeanPro Mechanical Broadhead

Whether it’s because you’re a beginner and don’t want to invest too much or simply because things are tight this year, this LeanPro mechanical broadhead gets you deadly shots without draining your wallet.

LEANPRO Broadhead 100 Grain 6-Pack Mechanical Broadheads 2-Blade Hunting Arrow Head Machined Aircraft Aluminum Ferrule.035” Blades, 2” Cutting Diameter
  • 【Massive Cutting Diameter】 – 2” Cutting diameter plus .35” leading-edge; 420 stainless steel expandable blades with.035” thickness.
  • 【Blade Retention】 – The no collar blade retention system ensures the blades will not deploy prematurely in your quiver or on the brush, reducing the windage in flight.
  • 【No Collar Required】 – Blades locked in the ferrule via gasket while in the closed position, no shock collar, dental band or O-ring required.


  • Great value
  • Blade retention system
  • Cut-on-contact tip
  • 6 pack


  • Blades dull more quickly

What impressed us the most about this LeanPro broadhead isn’t the budget price necessarily—though we did like that—but how advanced of a design it has for a budget model. Specifically, we like the blade retention system that removes the need for bands or collars and makes the broadhead more reusable, which only further increases its value for the money. Plus, this is something you don’t always find even on top-shelf models, and it tends to make blade deployment more reliable and consistent.

Otherwise, you get a very standard mechanical broadhead that’s particularly good for beginners. The two-inch cutting diameter isn’t the biggest around, but it still increases chances of a lethal shot and makes good blood trails. Similarly, the blades aren’t the sharpest we’ve ever seen, but the cut-on-contact tip helps increase penetration.

Last of all, speaking of value, you get six broadheads in a pack, more than usual. Obviously this means more for your money, but it’s also nice if you miss a shot and lose one or break one. You can still keep shooting with the same accuracy since you’ll have more of the same model.

The Best Mechanical Broadhead for Beginners: Rage Extreme 4-Blade Broadhead

As a hybrid model that still flies straight thanks to a small cut-on-contact tip, the Rage Extreme is a good option for beginners who haven’t perfected their accuracy and want a lethal broadhead that shoots reliably.

Rage Extreme 4 Blade Arrow Archery Broadhead, 100 Grain – 2 Pack
  • EXTREME 4-BLADE BROADHEAD – Designed to produce the enormous entry and exit wounds required for extreme blood trails, the Rage X-Treme 4-blade leaves nothing to chance
  • ALUMINUM FERRULE – Combining a streamlined black anodize aircraft-grade aluminum ferrule with fixed and movable blades to deliver total cutting surfaces in excess of over 3.1-inches.
  • CUT ON CONTACT TIP – The .030” thick single-piece, 7/8” cut-on-contact tip and two double-bevel .035” expandable wing blades


  • Hybrid design
  • Large cutting diameter
  • Small cut-on-contact tip
  • Extra shock collars included
  • Durable aluminum ferrule


  • Shock collar system
  • Only 2 in a pack
  • Only 1 weight option

The Rage Extreme is another hybrid model we really like. The best feature is the 2.3-inch cutting diameter of the expandable rear blades. This wide cut means you’re more likely to get a lethal shot even if you’re slightly off. Plus, if you don’t perfectly hit the kill zone, you’re more likely to get a thick blood trail that you can use to track your quarry.

Of course, as a hybrid model, another great feature is the fixed cut-on-contact tip with two blades perpendicular to the deployable blades. We like that Rage made the tip a bit smaller at ⅞ inches. This way you still get the benefits of a cut-on-contact tip, namely excellent penetration, while minimizing wind resistance that can change the shot trajectory versus field tips. In other words, this is an especially accurate hybrid broadhead.

Now, you should keep in mind that this model requires shock collars, so you have to replace them to reuse the broadheads. However, Rage luckily decided to include an extra one with each broadhead, increasing their value and your ability to use the broadhead effectively over multiple hunts.

Finally, this model stands out from other hybrid and fully mechanical models in its durability. It’s made with an anodized aircraft-grade aluminum ferrule that can hold up to repeated use. Additionally, we found that the blade retention system functions consistently even with multiple moving parts.

The Best Mechanical Broadhead for Tree Stands: Rage Chisel Tip SC Broadhead

The chisel-tip is made with reinforced steel to batter its way through bone, making it a VERY strong broadhead, and good for shots at odd angles and tree stands.

RAGE Chisel Tip 2 Blade Broadhead, 100 Grain with Shock Collar Technology – 3 Pack, Red, Model:65100
  • PRECISION – Rage broadheads are known for their accuracy and their wound channels are legendary
  • MASSIVE CUTTING SURFACES – Rear-deploying, SlipCam design with huge .039” leading-edge blade and razor sharp .035″ thick stainless steel expandable blades. 2″ cutting diameter.
  • TECHNOLOGY – Improved Shock Collar Technology ensures proper blade retention while arrow is stored and in-flight and allows for broadhead to open upon impact


  • Effective chisel tip
  • Sturdy ferrule
  • Rear-deploying
  • Accurate in flight



  • Needs a powerful bow
  • Collars

The details of the Rage Chisel Tip SC Broadhead are pretty common among Rage broadheads: a strong ferrule (that ferrule is the center piece of the broadhead, that holds the blades), extra metal on the back of the blades provide support for the blades as they move through your game (a fantastic feature, and we’re not sure why more broadheads don’t feature it), and the shock collar is designed to ensure the blades don’t open up before the blade arrives at your animal, because that would mess up your arrow’s flight path. Good, good, and good.

The real feature here is the chisel tip. It’s got two unique characteristics: 1) it’s made from hardened steel, designed to slam through any bone it comes into contact with, and 2) if you look closely, the blades on the chisel tip have a helical structure—they swirl towards the tip, allowing it to act kind of like a corkscrew as it bores through bone. That’s a unique design, and that, coupled with the broadhead’s 2-inch cutting diameter, can equal a broadhead with both cutting and punching power.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to be using a very strong bow—70 pounds or more, most likely—because no matter how strong a chisel tip is, it can’t hammer through bone unless it’s shot from a powerful bow.

How to Select Broadheads: Features to Keep in Mind

Fixed blade broadheads are fairly simple: they’re basically stationary razor blades at the end of your arrow, and while they’re easy to select, they can be difficult to use.

Mechanical blade broadheads, on the other hand, are a lot easier to use, but they can be a little complicated—they’ve got a ton of moving parts, a number of different options you can choose from, and how they work isn’t always obvious. They can seem complicated, and that’s kind of a shame, because very often they’re a better choice for new and novice bowhunters.

In this section, we’ll de-mystify mechanical broadheads. We’ll describe how they work, we’ll go over each of the different features you’ll find on different models, and then we’ll discuss when each feature is useful (or not). By the end, you’ll hopefully be able to determine what kind of mechanical is right for your hunt.

How a Mechanical Broadhead Works

We’ll keep this brief, and if you know how broadheads work, you can jump down to “Cutting Diameter.”

There are two main types of broadheads: fixed blade and mechanical.

A fixed blade broadhead is just that—it’s fixed. The size of the broadhead is the same when it enters the animals as when it exits the animal.

A mechanical broadhead actually changes size and shape when it’s shot, and it has blades that expand outward when it hits an animal. In fact, when the blades aren’t deployed, it should have nearly the same diameter as the arrow shaft or a field tip.

It’s an incredibly clever invention, really: when it flies through the air, the blade surface is small, which provides the bow hunter with a little more accuracy and confidence when aiming, but when it arrives at the animal, the blades expand to inflict as much cutting power as possible. 

That cutting power brings us to our first feature—one that gets a lot of bow hunters very excited:

Cutting Diameter of the Blades

Cutting diameter is the area that your blades will cut when they’re fully deployed. It’s one of the major features of a broadhead, and you’ll often see manufacturers boasting new, wider cutting diameters, usually anywhere from 1.5 inches on the low side to 2.75 inches on the very high side. A wide cutting diameter is an important feature, because:

  • On an accurate shot, the blades of the broadhead will move through the animal, piercing vital organs and muscle, and the greater the width of those blades, the more area those blades will cut.
  • A wider cutting diameter will result in a bigger exit wound, and a large exit wound can be the difference between finding a downed game and losing it because it makes a bigger blood trail.

A large exit wound is a big deal, because after you successfully hit your game, you’ll need to track it.

Many novice hunters imagine that game—be it a deer or a hog or an elk or whatever—will take the arrow, let out a last gasp, and fall over on the spot. And that would be nice—as a bowhunter, your primary goal is a quick, clean, efficient shot that puts your quarry down quickly—but very often you’ll hit your target, and the animal will run a long ways before it expires. In fact, it usually runs so far that you can’t see it anymore, and that’s why exit wounds are such a big deal: they leave wide, visible blood trails that help you track your game.

Furthermore, if you’re new to bowhunting, a wide cutting diameter can be very helpful because it can forgive some imperfections in your shot and damage the vital organs of your game as it passes through the animal that you might have missed if you were shooting a smaller fixed blade broadhead.

The only downside to cutting diameter is that the increased diameter of the blades will increase the friction those blades experience as it passes through the animal, but with a clean shot and a bow of sufficient draw weight, that’s not usually a problem.

Number of Blades and Blade Thickness

You’ll find that most broadheads have two or three blades, although we’re seeing more and more incorporate four blades into the mix. Bow hunters get very excited about blade count, because on an accurate shot that passes through vital organs and muscle, a higher blade count usually equals more internal damage and bleeding and a large exit wound.

Those are things you’ll want to look for as a bowhunter, and if you’re a beginner or novice hunting small- to medium-sized game, a three-blade mechanical broadhead is usually a good idea. Advanced beginner / intermediate / veteran bow hunters who have developed better accuracy often move on to mechanical broadheads with two blades because they’re more confident in their ability to shoot a pass-through shot, and they don’t need the third blade.

The only downside to blade count—and if you’re paying attention, you’re seeing that for every advantage, there’s a disadvantage that comes with it—is that they make it more likely the arrow will be affected by wind (the more surface area on the blades, the more likely wind/air/friction can guide it off-course), and they put more friction on the broadhead as it passes through the animal. Again, with an accurate shot and a bow of appropriate draw weight, that’s not always an issue.

Blade thickness is also a feature that bowhunters look for because 1) a thicker blade is more likely to penetrate an animal’s hide, 2) a thicker blade is less likely to bend as it passes through the animal’s vitals, and 3) a thicker blade is most likely more durable. Blade thickness usually ranges anywhere from 0.020 inches to 0.0375 inches thick.

Cut-on-Contact vs. Chisel Tip

If you look at a bunch of different mechanical broadheads, you’ll notice that most of their tips fall into two different types:

  • Mechanical broadheads that have a trocar or chisel-like point with no blades, the razors located behind the point—those are called chisel-tip broadheads, and they have a tip that looks like this:
Broadhead with Chisel Tip
  • Mechanical broadheads that have a tip that includes blades—these are called cut-on-contact broadheads, and they look like this:
Cut on Contact Tip

(Technically the broadheads above are fixed blade broadheads and not mechanicals, but the point is the same—they have razor blades at the leading edge, instead of the chisel-tip.)

Those two different types of tips look a little bit different, and while they both help the arrow penetrate the animal, they do very different things.

Cut-on-contact broadheads begin slicing away at the animal flesh as soon as they touch the animal. That’s a good thing, and the sharpness of the cut-on-contact tip allows the broadhead to cut hide and muscle and vital organs immediately—but they’re usually not strong enough to cut through bone.

Chisel-tip broadheads are shaped so that they penetrate the animal’s hide first, and then burrow into the animal’s muscles. Once the chisel tip is firmly lodged in the animal, then the razors begin to cut hide and then muscle and organs. And, because the chisel-tip is designed to punch through very tough material, they punch through muscle and vital organs—but also bone.

So what’s the difference? Why would you want one over the other?

Cut-on-contact broadheads start cutting as soon as they reach the animal, and that increases their penetrative power. That’s all good. The only problem can be that if you don’t get a clear shot and your arrowhead hits bone when it’s inside the animal, the bone can alter the trajectory of the arrow, or stop it in its tracks. That’s not good—you want a clear pass-through of your arrow.

Chisel-tips are designed to punch through hide, burrow into muscle, and plow right through bone—but you need to be shooting a very powerful bow with a high draw weight in order to create enough force to push the chisel-tip broadhead through whatever lies in its way.

So, let’s put all that together:

  • Because a cut-on-contact broadheads can slice hide and muscle immediately, they’re a good match for hunters using lower-poundage bow (and that includes traditional archers who are using lower-pound bows—including recurves)
  • Because a chisel-tip requires a lot of force to punch through hide and muscle and bone, it’s a better match for bow hunting using high draw-weight bows.

In general, if you have a lower draw weight bow, go with a cut-on-contact tip, and if you have a higher draw weight bow, go with a chisel-tip.

Front- vs. Rear-Deploying Broadheads

Mechanical broadheads have two basic structures. They come in versions where:

  • Front-deploying/over-the-top broadheads: The blades are outside the broadhead, tucked up closely to it, and upon entry to the animal, they expand out and back from the front of the broadhead, kind of like a flower.
  • Rear-deploying broadheads: The blades are located inside the broadhead, and upon contact with the animal, they are pushed open, and expand outward from the rear of the broadhead.

That may be a little difficult to visualize, and a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are two very handy videos that show what’s going on:

Here is a front-deploying mechanical broadhead:

If you look closely, you can see that the blades are huddled closely to the center of the broadhead (called the “ferrule”), and they open up kind of like a flower inside the animal (or the practice gel, in the video above). Opening up inside the animal causes a lot of internal damage, and it ensures that the blades aren’t dulled when they’re piercing the animal’s hide. The downside to these is that they sometimes malfunction, and you don’t achieve full pass-through.

Now here’s a rear-deploying mechanical broadhead:

On the rear-deploying model, you can see that when the broadhead makes content with the gel, the front part of the blades gets pushed back, causing the blades to expand outward from the rear of the ferrule (the center part of the broadhead). That allows the blades to expand on the outside of the animal, and cause a large entry wound (and if it fully passes through the animal, a big exit wound, too).

So which one is better? Depends on who you ask. When everything goes right, both work really well, but there are some things to keep in mind:

  • There’s less that can go wrong on a rear-deploying model, and while we don’t have any studies that show this, they may be slightly more reliable than front-deploying versions.
  • If you’re shooting a low-poundage bow (in the 55-pound draw weight range), we’d advise you to stay front-deploying mechanical broadheads because you may not be shooting arrows with enough force to fully penetrate the animal, and the broadhead may not open up inside. If you’re shooting a higher-poundage bow, either type can be effective.

In our reviews, we discuss a few front-deploying models and a few rear-deploying models.

Broadhead Weight in Grains

Broadheads are usually sold in 75-grain, 85-grain, 100-grain, 125-grain, and even 150-grain varieties (a grain is 1/7000th of a pound, and we’re not sure of the history behind it, but that’s how archers and bow hunters measure arrow weight and the components that go on arrows). Far and away, the great majority of bow hunters use 100-grain broadheads.

There’s a reason for that: most arrows are created for 100-grain points. In fact, if you’ve ever purchased arrows using an arrow chart, you’ll see that arrow charts are usually created for use with 100-grain field points. It’s the de facto weight for points, and many of the arrows that you’ll see are designed for 100-grain field points and broadheads.

So most arrows are a good match for 100-grain field points and broadheads, and the good news is that 100-grain broadheads are good for most small- to medium-sized game you’ll bow hunt, including turkeys, deer, and black bear. If you’re going to go after larger game, like elk, moose, or bison, you’ll want to increase the weight of your arrow and your broadhead to 125 or 150 grains, in order to create more momentum and kinetic energy. Those animals are big and your arrow will need a lot of force to cut through them, and arrow weight is an important ingredient in creating that force.

Unfortunately, a full explanation of how to calculate and increase the weight of your arrows is beyond this post (and we discuss it in length here), but if you’re a new or intermediate bow hunter and/or you’re hunting small- to medium-sized game, 100-grain arrows are usually sufficient.

Broadhead Material and Makeup

High-end broadheads are often made from very sturdy materials, like stainless steel, or even in some cases, aircraft-grade aluminum. Manufacturers who make broadheads with such strong materials usually want to let you know about it, so it’s something to keep an eye out for.

And, last but not least…

Your Bow’s Draw Weight

Before we wrap up, we should mention: it’s generally agreed that you’ll need a draw weight of at least 55 pounds in order to use mechanical broadheads. It takes a lot of force to get a mechanical broadhead to pierce and pass through an animal, and in most cases, if you’re not using a bow with a draw weight of at least 55 pounds, you won’t be shooting arrows that have enough force to put the animal down quickly and ethically.

If your draw weight is less than 55 pounds, we recommend that you use a fixed blade broadhead, and we have a review of our favorite fixed blade broadheads here.

Find What Works for You, and Work It

Here’s the deal: all of the broadheads we’ve reviewed above are powerful tools. If you go onto your favorite bowhunting forum, you’ll find picture after picture of game with huge exit wounds and bright blood trails and a very happy hunter who says, “Broadhead X worked wonders for me, I’ll never use anything else!”

And that’s wonderful—bowhunting gear can be very personal, and sometimes you do, in fact, need to find what works for you.

The thing is, mechanical broadheads are designed to be lethal, and they’ve come a long way in the last decades. They’re more reliable than they used to be, the blades are super-sharp and very wide, and if you’ve executed a good shot, they’re all usually capable of putting your game down quickly and efficiently.

This is all to say—if you’re confused about which broadhead to use, don’t sweat it too much. Most of them—and all of the ones we reviewed above—are well-made, and capable of ethically downing game when shot accurately and correctly.

So, with that—happy tuning, happy hunting, and we wish you the best of success on your next hunt!

This article is written by:

Gregory Johnson

Gregory Johnson

With almost 20 years of archery experience under his belt, Gregory founded the Complete Guide to Archery website in 2017. His purpose has been to spread knowledge about the hobby and sport to anyone willing to learn.
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