When it comes to choosing what broad head you should use for Bow hunting, the choices are endless. So many variables can deter an archer from using one or the other. In my thirteen years of bow hunting I have used both fixed blades and expandable broad heads. I have now rested on using an expandable broad head for the last five years. But what is right for my setup may not be for yours.
AccuracyI can remember when I first heard about expandable broad heads. The biggest selling point was that it shot like a field tip. There is no doubt that an expandable shoots pretty close in accuracy to that of a field point. Any experience I have had with fixed blade broad heads has resulted in buying an extra pack just to sight in my bow. I can’t say this is true for all brands of fixed blades, but in my experience expandable broad heads take the cake when it comes to accuracy.
PenetrationThis is a very loose statement when I say fixed blades are better for penetration. I have used some fixed blade broad heads that couldn’t cut through butter. With that being said, I have got my best penetration results with fixed blade broad heads. Not to say expandable broad heads are not getting the job done. Like I said, I have shot expandable broad heads exclusively for the last five years. But expandable broad heads require energy to open. For hunters shooting less than 50 pounds, it can take away some of the kinetic energy needed for sufficient penetration.
I also worry about expandable’s when a shot gets into the paddle bone on the shoulder. Let’s face it, we are not all Olympic shooters and I will be the first to admit it. Even in the best conditions our emotions can get the best of us. For that reason, even with an expandable broad head, I like to shoot a heavy arrow. I have been fortunate enough to get through that paddle bone on two separate occasions but I have lost deer due to hitting that bone and not getting enough penetration.
Without retracting my previous statement, I have to add that the expandable broad heads that have hit the market in the last five years, combined with an arrow that delivers a high amount of kinetic energy and a bow that shoots 70+ pounds, can result in some devastating blows. I just favor a good fixed blade over an expandable when I have any concerns about penetration pertaining to the rest of an bow hunter’s setup.
DurabilityHere is where I draw the line. I will mention that the expandable broad heads have gotten a lot better in durability, but I can never count on more than two shots with the same broad head. I have used a couple different models from several brands and still to this day I can’t get more than two fatal shots out of one broad head. Keep in mind I am shooting 70 pounds with a 30 inch draw.
The majority of fixed blades that I have used were never a problem with durability. This is not to say that you will not run into problems with lower end brands. Generally speaking, you will most always find that a fixed blade will be more durable than an expandable in the same price range.
Terminal DamageIf it sounds like I’ve been hating on all the expandable lovers out there, this one’s for you! Just remember, I use expandable broad heads. Here is why! By far the most gruesome terminal damage I have ever seen has come from expandables. I have witnessed blood trails that Freddy Krueger himself would find terrifying. Without mentioning any brands, there are some two bladed monsters on the market that have been compensating for bad shots since their first pass through an animal. With some brands offering a 2 inch cutting diameter, there is no doubt they will get the blood flowing.
Cost EffectiveNow that my terminal damage rant is over, I can get on to the cost effectiveness. This should have been added to the durability category but I made it one of its own. Being that fixed blades are typically more durable and you can use them over and over, I have to imagine you’ll get the picture on which style is the most cost effective. A solid fixed blade will really only ever need to be sharpened. On the other hand, an expandable will need replacement blades and some even need O-rings to hold the blades in place.
Whether the cost or minor differences in durability, accuracy or penetration make that much of a difference is up to you, the shooter. If I haven’t said it enough, I shoot expandable broad heads. I’m happy with my setup, but I may try a couple new products, as they are only getting better with each passing year. There are so many choices in the market today. This is just a heads up for what I have learned along the way. Just remember, you can have the best broad head on the market but if you don’t practice with your bow, you may never even hit a deer.