The Best Mechanical Broadhead: Our Top Picks
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: Our Favorites
We'll start with a quick rundown of our top picks, and what makes them unique:
The Rage Hypodermic Broadhead: designed for huge exit wounds, and good for creating big bright blood trails;
The Muzzy Trocar 4-Blade Broadhead: designed to hit vital organs, and drop an animal close to where you shot it;
The Rage Chisel Tip SC Broadhead: constructed with a chisel tip, to bash through bone—great for shooting from tree stands;
The Swhacker 2-Inch Cut Broadheads: aerodynamically designed for smooth, predictable flight and accuracy;
The NAP Spitfire Maxx: created for reliability and to ensure the broadhead expands inside your game; and
The Grim Reaper Razorcut SS Whitetail Special: a broadhead manufactured specifically for hunting deer.
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 from a very well-known company:
Rage Hypodermic Mechanical
Why it stands out: 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. If you're worried about losing your game after a shot (especially if you're shooting from a distance of 25 or more meters), they can be a great pick
- 2-inch cutting diameter;
- 0.035-inch thick razors;
- Rear-deploying blades
- Requires a very accurate shot
At first glance, Rage Hypodermics look 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 re-enforced 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.
Muzzy Trocar 4-Blade Broadhead
Why it stands out: the Muzzy's four-bladed structure increases chances of hitting a vital organ, making it more likely your game will drop near you—so you want have to track your animal through animal and risk losing it
- 1.625-inch cutting diameter on the expandable blades + 1-inch on the hybrid head;
- 0.035-inch thick blades;
- Four blades can make them difficult to tune
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 = more surface area, and that means more friction against the front of the arrow as they fly through the air—but 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.
Rage Chisel Tip SC Broadhead
Why it stands out: 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
- 2-inch thick cutting diameter;
- 0.035-inch thick blades;
- Requires VERY powerful bow to punch through bone
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.
Swhacker 2-Inch Cut Mechanical
Why it stands out: the Shwacker is designed specifically to fly like a regular field tip, and that means it can be a lot easier to shoot accurately. If you are having accuracy issues with broadheads—or are afraid you might—these can be a good option
- 2-inch thick cutting diameter;
- 0.032-inch thick blades;
- Need higher-poundage bow for full pass-through
Fixed blade broadheads, while offering a lot of advantages, have been known to fly irregularly. They can be difficult to tune, and if you're used to grouping arrows with ease, using fixed blades can be frustrating. Many a bowhunter has marveled how accurate he is at the range, only find that when he/she uses broadheads, accuracy doesn't come so easily.
Mechanical broadheads were seen as the answer to fixed blades' irregularities; they were designed to fly just like a field point—those tips you'd use at the archery range—and because they have less surface area due to the un-deployed blades, they're usually easier to shoot accurately.
That said, of all the mechanicals we've seen, we haven't found one better designed for flight than the Shwacker 2-Inch Cut Broadheads. Each aspect of it is specifically designed for accuracy: the ferrule is long and streamlined, just like a field tip; the blades are located further back on the ferrule (instead near the front, like on most other front-deploying broadheads), and that means less air turbulence at the very front of the broadhead; and the chisel tip at the front means no extra friction at the very very tip of the broadhead, like you might find on a cut-on-contact broadhead.
All that is great, but a broadhead that flies straight but can't penetrate won't be worth much—and that's why we're such big fans of the Swhacker's blade feature: the front blades (the ones that enter the animal) are razor sharp, but when the interior blades deploy, both sides of those blades are sharpened, so that as the broadhead moves through the animal, each side of the blade makes interior cuts.
You'll need a higher-poundage bow, probably more than the 55 pounds that are recommended for a mechanical broadhead, but these can be a good bet if you're worried about a wonky flight path.
NAP Spitfire Maxx Cut on Contact Mechanical Broadhead
What it stands out: designed for reliability; no O-rings or rubber bands makes them more likely to open
- 1.75-inch cutting diameter;
- 0.030-inch blades;
- Slightly smaller-than-usual 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.
Grim Reaper Razorcut SS Whitetail Special
Specifically designed to penetrate, pass-through, and leave a blood trail on American's most popular game: white-tail deer. Our pick for best mechanical broadhead for deer hunters and men and women new to bowhunting
- 2-inch cutting diameter;
- 0.035-inch blades;
- 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 who try to tailor to that market specifically.
With all that in mind, Grim Reaper did a really great job in created a broadhead specifically for deer (in our humble opinion, anyway!). 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.
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 a shame, because very often they're a better choice for new and novice bowhunters.
So 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, we should 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.
It's an incredibly clever model, 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; and
- A wider cutting diameter will result in a bigger exit wound, and a large exit wound can be the different between find downed game and losing it.
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 bow hunter, 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 far 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.
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 seek as a bow hunter, 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 develop great accuracy often move on two 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 bow hunters look to find, because 1) a thicker blade is more likely to penetrate an animal's hide, 2) is less likely to bend as it passes through the animal's vitals, and 3) is most likely more durable. Blade thickness usually ranges anywhere 0.020 inches to 0.0375 inches thick.
Cut-on-Contact vs. Chisel Tip
If you look at a bunch of different mechanicals, you'll notice that most of their tips fall into two different types:
Mechanical broadheads that have a very sharp point but the razors are located behind the point—those are called chisel-tip broadheads, and they have a tip that looks like this:
Mechanical broadheads that have razors at the front end—these are called cut-on-contact broadheads, and they look like this:
(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 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 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, a lower draw weight bow —> a cut-on-contact tip, and a higher draw weight bow —> a chisel-tip.
Front- vs. Rear-Deploying Broadheads
Mechanical broadheads have two basic structures They come in versions where:
- 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—those are called front-deploying broadheads (aka over-the-top broadheads); or where
- 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—and those are called rear-deploying broadheads.
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 causing a lot of internal damage, and it insures 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; and
- If you're shooing 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 they 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 designed for 100-grain field points and broadheads.
So most arrows are a god 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, airline-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, it's recommended 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 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!