In our last “Shoot Me Down” I said, “Don’t Tell Me Crossbows Aren’t Deadlier” and then invited you to tell me just that. Originally, I felt Pacific Hunter made the best argument, but we couldn’t seem to connect. And so, runner-up F-Max is your winner and today’s guest blogger. Here he is, taking on an old standby…
Having hunted with mechanical broadheads successfully for a number of years, I am not against their use. These heads have improved greatly over the years and are popular with many hunters. However, based on my experiences, I think the overall advantage for deer hunting goes to the fixed-blade head.
First, Mechanics 101: Anything with moving parts is subject to malfunction, period! Whether because of a defective part, damage, dirt or debris in the mechanism, bad angle on the animal, or just bad luck, sooner or later the moving parts aren’t going to move correctly. Fixed heads take that problem out of the equation.
Second, I like to shoot the arrow-and-broadhead combination I’m going to hunt with in advance to ensure true flight. With fixed blades I can shoot them on the range, sharpen or replace the blades, and feel ready and confident for the hunt. With mechanicals, I never felt comfortable doing this because I think rebuilding them increases the risk of failure. And, shooting practice heads only doesn’t inspire the same trust and confidence.
Also, while mechanicals typically have a wider cutting diameter, they require considerable energy just to open up, and their large-diameter blades require even more energy than smaller fixed blades to fully penetrate. With today’s powerful bows I don’t think this is an issue on well-placed shots. However, I think penetration can become an important issue when hits are off the mark, especially with a slower bow.
Many of the top mechanicals are two-blade designs, and as such cut in a straight line. If that line happens to be oriented incorrectly as it passes through the deer, it could miss the vitals more easily than a blade cutting in three or more directions. Also, I think straight-line cuts are more likely to close up than triangular-shaped ones, making trailing and recovery more difficult.
The biggest advantage to mechanical broadheads is their more forgiving flight characteristics, which usually means good accuracy right out of the box. But with most bows, I think you can achieve great fixed-blade flight with just a little extra care and attention, including shooting through paper, tuning broadhead impact to field-point impact, and testing different models to determine which one flies best with your setup.
I’ve been bowhunting for 30-plus years now, and the bottom line is that I switched from mechanicals back to fixed not because of the above points, but because of performance in the field. In my experience, mechanicals generally result in subpar blood trails compared to fixed-blades, making trailing and recovery much more challenging. So rather than chance losing deer in the future, I boned up on my bow tuning and found a fixed-blade head that works great with my setup.
So there you have it: I say that while fixed-blades may be a bit more trouble, they are worth it in the end. Stand with me, or shoot me down.