There’s no doubt hunting is a gear intensive sport, especially bow hunting. You have an endless list of mission-critical gear that needs to be reliable, so you can punch your tag.
To make matters worse, the outdoor market is full of low-quality imported products. It doesn’t matter if you are hunting with a compound bow or a recurve bow, these manufacturers make them to imitate the top-shelf designs from the U.S.
Many importers focus on broadheads, too. So, how do you choose a quality broadhead for your next deer hunt?
Hopefully, you’re reading this well before opening day. You’ll need to have time to get a good broadhead on the end of your arrow.
Here are five of the best expandable broadheads for deer and other game. Read on to get some helpful tips to make sure you never lose your hunt because of poor selection.
What to Look for in a Broadhead
Choosing a broadhead can be hard. Putting aside all the professional sponsorships, the flashy magazine photos and what is on sale at the local outfitter, there are two main things your broadheads need.
Your broadheads need to be durable enough to penetrate 16 to 18 inches of flesh and bone, and dependable enough to allow you avoid worrying when you’re looking through your peep.
You won’t get this kind of performance from inexpensive, knock off broadheads and other equipment you find online.
Durability: Above all, your broadheads need to be durable. The broadhead is the only piece of gear you carry into the woods to cut through the flesh of your quarry and cause tissue destruction.
The more durable they are, the more likely they are to be intact after a double pass through a deer’s chest cavity. They should be ready for you to shoot again.
If your broadhead falls apart on impact, you simply won’t get the penetration and killing performance you need to be an ethical hunter.
Lightweight, expandable broadheads in the past have been known to shred cutting surfaces as they move through tissue and contact bone. Not only will you lessen the diameter of your wound channel, the penetration of your arrow will be severely impacted.
Stay with steel broadheads that are time proven with in-field experience on big game.
Dependability: When you head into the woods, the last thing you want on your mind is if your most critical piece of equipment is going to perform under pressure.
Gun hunters constantly obsess over the dependability and accuracy of their firearms. Bow hunters need to have the same reverence towards their arrows and broadheads.
Successful companies who market broadheads know exactly how to sell equipment. The two biggest things broadhead manufacturers offer are lethality and durability. These two aspects make a Broadhead more dependable in the field.
If you know your broadhead can withstand a double pass, no matter the shot angle, you’ll be more likely to deliver a lethal shot on that big bugling 6×6 elk charging into your call.
How to Choose a Broadhead
Game Weight and Bone Structure: Seasoned hunters and guides have banned expandable broadheads in elk and bear camps because they have a reputation for failure.
Big boned, hard to put down animals don’t mix well with expandable broadheads. And to an extent, they’re right.
Be cautious about using a lightweight broadhead like a Rage or Muzzy on a big-boned elk. There’s just not enough in-field performance experience to justify it yet.
If you must, make sure your bow is completely zeroed in with a scope to help ensure your kill is clean. Make sure you proceed with an ethical amount of caution.
Bow Energy and Hunting Experience: The one time you want to think twice about using an expandable broadhead is when you’re using a low poundage bow.
This applies to youth hunters with little experience and traditional archers. These groups of people need a cut on contact fixed broadhead because it takes substantial energy to open a mechanical broadhead.
And if you’re shooting a low energy bow, you don’t have the power to spare.
You must be sure when you assemble your broadheads that you’re doing it the correct way. Guessing or trying to “wing it” is a recipe for injury and equipment failure.
If you’ve never assembled an expandable broadhead after sharpening, look for how to tutorials and YouTube videos. It’s well worth the 10 minutes of your time.
Expandable vs. Fixed Broadheads
For thin skinned game like deer, modern expandable designs offer the best performance. In years past, hunters have had heated campfire debates on expandable blades.
According to several studies, mechanical and fixed broadheads boast almost identical recovery numbers in the field. Expandable broadheads offer performance gains that outweigh any risks that a fixed broadhead would mitigate.
The only real problem with an expandable broadhead is the possibility it may not open. You can mitigate this by using a cut on contact design. This will still ensure a double pass through.
Just make sure you use a quality broadhead so you’re not wondering if your blades will deploy. If you shoot an arrow through the chest cavity of a deer, you want to know you will put that animal down and make your broadhead recoverable.
The expandable designs they sold in years past were not cut on contact. Modern expandable designs offer greater range and flatter trajectory. They also have astoundingly large cutting diameters that make them more lethal on contact.
Range and Terrain
Depending on your situation, the range and terrain are going to be the determining factors in your broadhead selection.
For example, you’re bow hunting on the great plains of Kansas. Big bellied, corn-fed mature bucks are on the prowl anywhere from 15 to 45 yards out.
Rolling plains, bisected by hedgerows and creek bottoms make up the terrain. Use an expandable broadhead. Not only is it plenty for a whitetail, the longer measured distances make the flatter trajectory and more useful.
However, hunting for a Manitoba black bear over bait, will call for a fixed broadhead. The short range means an expandable is less likely to open up. Plus, the flatter trajectory is irrelevant against a big, heavy boned bruin at close range.
At the end of the day, if you have a time proven design at the end of your arrow, you’re going to avoid disappointment. Some of the newer designs, especially expandable designs, are going to give you a slight edge. Just remember, your broadhead is a single link in the chain.
Outdoor equipment pails in comparison to skill when it comes to overall importance in bringing home the bacon. Being able to put the arrow where it needs to go is the most important part.
The right skills coupled with the right equipment will allow you to have a successful hunt and get your broadhead back.
5 Broadheads for Deer & Other Game
1. Rage Bowhunting Xtreme
If there’s a name in expandable broadhead that screams reliability and innovation, it’s the Rage Xtreme series. No other broadhead has garnered the same cult following as these broadheads.
Rage broadheads are second to none. If you can stomach the cost of these bad boys, they’ll serve you extremely well in the field with excellent performance and lethality on game.
Rage Xtreme broadheads work via the addition of a silicon rubber band that spring loads the blades. When the cut on contact tip hit your target, it opens up the wound channel which applies pressure to the blade petals as they slide in.
The rubber band keeps the blades retracted until there’s enough pressure to shoot the blades outward, slicing open the wound channel to nearly three inches.
The only downside to this system is keeping it clean, sharp and assembling it properly.
Rage makes these broadheads using stainless steel and aluminum. They are available in several different types, all of which are excellent. If you choose to buy them, get a target so you can test shooting them. Also, make sure you know how to properly assemble them.
The Rage broadheads are uniquely well suited for thin skinned game because they open early and explosively. They lack in performance on big boned, or thick-skinned game like elk, hogs, or bear.
If you decide to use one of these on a durable target, stick to broadside shots on relatively close targets.
2. Muzzy Trocar HB Hybrid
A smooth flying, hard hitting broadhead, Muzzy broadheads are excellent on game. The trocar tip with the four blades produces a devastating three-dimensional wound channel.
You don’t have to worry about it closing on a thick-skinned animal like a hog or bear. By far, the best feature of Muzzy trocar hybrid is the tip.
This is not a cut on contact blade, but the trocar tip is easy to sharpen and has an exceptionally well penetrating design, making this an award-winning broadhead.
The geometry that engages the expandable blades are extremely effective on these broadheads. This is because it happens early as the broadhead penetrates the wound channel. This conserves energy, allowing for a more consistent payment of the four cutting blades.
The stainless-steel shank and overall construction of this broadhead mean you can trust it to go through several deer. Afterwards, you only need to clean and re-sharpen these each time. It opens up to over 2.5 inches reliably.
3. Swacker 2-Inch Cut Broadheads
Swhacker follows the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And they certainly made this broadhead right because dozens of companies have tried to copy it.
There’s nothing like the original and this is the cheapest expandable broadhead you’ll see commonly recommended.
Swhacker made an aluminum body with a carbon steel trocar tip and stainless steel replaceable blades. Rather than replacing the blades, you can add a new broadhead.
Best of all, you can buy these broadheads for less than half what others cost. Hunter have made this broadhead field proven on thin skinned game like deer. It performs exceptional lethally in this role.
It also excels for new hunters who are getting into using expandable broadheads.
When sharpening and assembling these broadheads, there’s little to mess up. The trocar tip is easy to sharpen and the long straightforward blades are easy to manage.
Also, there’s no shock collar or loading mechanism to worry about engaging. Essentially speaking, this is everything you want from an expandable broadhead.
Look to this broadhead for a simple to use, time-proven design that flies flat and hits hard.
4. G5 Outdoors Montec 100 Grain Carbon Steel
From the people who made the legendary G5 Montec, this is an exceptionally durable and cost-effective broadhead because it lasts so long. It is compact but stout, and all three blades are insanely sharp thanks to the revolutionary carbon steel construction.
This model is reportedly over 25 percent stronger than the original Montec. You can tell with better infield performance on game and beefier blades that make sharpening easier.
Straighter, more robust wound channels are possible with this broadhead because of the durable cross-section and razor-sharp carbon steel blades. This is one of the few expandable broadheads that are rugged and reliable enough to use on hard to put down game like bear and large elk.
Carbon steel is also sharper and a lot easier to re-shape than its aluminum or stainless steel counterparts.
The cutting diameter does leave a bit to be desired, at a modest 1-1/16 inches. However, the ergonomic design of these fixed blade broadheads, combined with the enhanced accuracy always results in punishing lethality.
This broadhead will create a three-dimensional wound channel that won’t close under fat or hide. It also blows through bones like they’re nothing, according to dozens of happy hunters.
If you’re looking for an exceptionally durable, sharp, and effective broadhead, look at this model from G5 Outdoors. It’s got strength in spades, and enough performance to kill anything in the cleanest, quickest, and most ethical way.
5. Wasp Drone Broadhead
This exceptional USA-made 100% solid steel broadhead by Wasp Archery is designed to fly like a dart for maximum precision and penetration.
The outstanding precision is ensured by the reduced ferrule surface of the Drone broadhead and the precision-machined stainless-steel trocar tip.
Multiple satisfied hunters can confirm that the Wasp Drone broadhead is more effective than most mechanical and fixed blade broadheads.
Even in large game like elk or buck, it goes through bones like a hot knife through butter for some of the fastest and ethical harvests.
The Wasp Drone broadhead shines bright in the accuracy department. It is also one of the quietest broadheads in its category.
This model comes with 1-1/8″ cutting diameter that is perfect for large game, which makes it handy in states that bar the use of mechanical broadheads against larger animals.
What’s more, the broadhead comes with replacement blades, remains razor sharp after multiple shots, and it comes at a price per pack that is hard to beat. Plus, you can always buy a pack of extra spare blades for your peace of mind here.
Choosing the Right Broadhead:
Finding the right Broadhead for your next deer hunt shouldn’t be confusing. Hunting is definitely a pay to play sport, where your hunting gear always matters.
The last thing you need on your next deer hunt is to try and take a deer with a poor quality broadhead, resulting in a less-than clean kill. That leads to unneeded suffering for the deer, and can cost you many hours of tracking time on an otherwise clean kill.
Any of our top 5 picks should help you head down the right path on your next hunting expedition. Keep in mind that gear is just one of the few things that matter.
You’ll likely want to make sure weather conditions are perfect, because if they aren’t – the type of broadhead may not matter at all if you aren’t able to properly fire your bow in the wind or poor weather conditions.
If you decide that gearing up with arrows is just too difficult, you could always venture out with a 30-06 or a .308 (only half joking here)!
My articles appear in Marketing Edge Magazine, on Gizmogrind, and with various Medium publications. But one thing hasn’t changed in all of my life: no matter where I was or what I was doing. I’ve always loved to be outdoors.
A man needs nothing more than a good flannel shirt, a well-worn pair of jeans, and comfortable hiking boots. I don’t go for all the fancy luxury stuff. Suits are uncomfortable and shaving sucks.