Choosing a Broadhead: Mechanical vs. Fixed

By Hunting NetworkSeptember 25, 2008

LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015

Every bowhunter has had a range of experiences with broadheads – the good, the bad and the ugly.  They may blame a lost animal on their heads when the real cause is something completely different.  Or they may attribute their success to their heads when any head that would stay in one in piece could have cleanly killed the animal.  It doesn’t matter – sometimes physics takes the backseat.  This is an emotional subject. 

I have never gotten into a heated argument in hunting camp about which bow is the best, but I have certainly been in a number of them when it comes to broadheads. 

In this article, I hope to cut through the emotion (I have my own biases, of course) and get down to the physics of arrow flight and an understanding of the tradeoffs we are making.  I hope when you are done reading this you will view broadhead selection with a different, more open-minded attitude.


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Mechanical heads open two different ways.  They can either open from the front backwards, like this model, or from the back forward.  Both have their followers and both are solid choices.

I consider myself conservative when it comes to equipment selection, a slow adopter, but I have never felt uncomfortable about mechanical heads.  Here is why I like them.

Accuracy is the most important goal of any shot – whether at a target or at game.  That has to be priority number one.  I have talked with many broadhead makers over the years and even those that didn’t make mechanical heads stated that any broadhead that stays more or less in one piece will kill a deer-sized animal if you hit it in the right place.

So, hitting them in the right place is obviously a big deal – dare I say, the biggest deal?  There are many fixed-blade heads that fly nearly as well as field points under a wide range of conditions, but back in 1995 when I made the switch to mechanicals, there weren’t any.  I fought to achieve good accuracy on shots past 25 yards with the fixed-blade heads of that day.  My biggest problems occurred with bows that were a bit quirky (some of those bows were impossible to tune) and when shooting in the wind.  Achieving accuracy with fast arrows was a huge challenge.  I spent many days each year tweaking and making tiny changes to improve my accuracy.

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