Heavy Metal Tips

Why some bowhunters need to put on weight.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Recurve shooters are gaining an appreciation for heavy metal-at least when applied to the tips of their arrows. That's because the added weight up front results in better penetration and ultimately cleaner kills. Until recently, broadhead adapters were made of aluminum and weighed about 35 grains. Now they also come in steel, in 100 and 125 grains (Kustom King Archery, 219-322-0790; www.kustom-king.com), allowing you to double (or nearly so) the weight of your arrow tip.

Bob Morrison, founder of Morrison Bows, tests tip-heavy arrows extensively by shooting them into 3/4-inch plywood boards with a 50-pound recurve. For comparison, he brings one graphite arrow up to 560 grains by sliding plastic tubing inside the shaft. Then, using an identical arrow with no tubing, he achieves the same overall weight by attaching a steel adapter that loads the blunt tip up to 315 grains.

"The arrow without the heavy tip rarely sticks in the board," Morrison says. "The tip-heavy arrow not only sticks-it cracks the board on every shot and occasionally punches through it."

Over the past four years, Morrison has taken 10 deer and several hogs with tip-heavy arrows that weighed 520 grains. Every shot was a pass-through, with the exception of one whitetail he hit in the hindquarters. In that instance, the arrow continued through to penetrate the vitals.

Because his tip-heavy arrows weigh the same as his regular arrows with tubing, the trajectory is the same. Morrison claims that the arrows fly just as well, although they may require additional tuning and possibly a stiffer shaft.

Extra weight is more commonly a concern for recurve shooters, who shoot comparatively slow arrows, but compound shooters also can reap benefits from heavy tips, especially on thick-skinned game. Before Tom Burns of Austin, Texas, switched to tip-heavy arrows, he had trouble recovering big feral hogs he'd shot with his compound, due to the lack of a blood trail. Last year, Burns changed to heavy tips and shot five large hogs. His arrows achieved complete penetration every time and left obvious blood trails-a result that deer and especially bear hunters should mark well.