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Education / Training Why You Should Never Shoot a Mechanical

Why You Should Never Shoot a Mechanical

Each fall, hundreds if not thousands of hunters share horror stories of making perfectly placed shots on quarry yet failing to recover the animal when a heavy blood trail suddenly went bone dry. And the vast majority of these harrowing tales come from bowhunters who tipped their arrows with two-blade mechanical broadheads.   

Sure, mechanical broadheads typically advertise field-point accuracy and larger cutting diameters than their fixed-blade counterparts. But they don’t always live up to these claims and can leave hunters with tag soup or even worse — a wounded animal.

Here are just a few reasons you should stick to fixed-blade broadheads and never shoot a mechanical.


Because of their construction, fixed-blade broadheads achieve better penetration than mechanicals. With proper shot placement, you have much better odds of a passthrough on any species with a fixed head. Especially for youth shooters or anyone pulling lower poundage as well as hunters chasing elk or other bigger game, fixed-blade broadheads are hands-down the better choice.

Strength & Durability

In third-party performance tests, fixed-blade broadheads consistently outperform mechanicals in terms of strength and durability. Most can stand up to hitting — or even cutting through — bone or even an occasional non-animal hard surface. While fixed heads could last you years with some TLC, many mechanicals are unusable after a single shot. Their open-on-impact design makes them more susceptible to breakage. And while it doesn’t always ring true, the majority of fixed-blade broadheads are engineered with strong steel ferrules, while mechanicals usually sport less-durable aluminum.


Without the moving parts and extra components of a mechanical, fixed-blade broadheads are generally more reliable. O-rings and collars frequently fail, often causing mechanicals to malfunction or even miss their target altogether. But a solid fixed-blade broadhead won’t come open and rattle in your quiver or fail to cut through flesh on impact.


While the price difference between mechanical and fixed-blade broadheads on average isn’t drastic — and some mechanicals are actually cheaper — well-cared-for fixed heads will cost you less in the long run. The blades are easier to sharpen when regular wear and tears begins to dull them, and many offer a single-step process to swap out old blades for new. And because they’re more durable and reliable, you’ll have fewer fixed-blade casualties in the field. While fixed-blade broadheads are generally the better option, there are cheap, poorly made models of every type, so be sure to invest in quality.


Most mechanical — and even some fixed-blade — broadheads are marketed with claims of field-point accuracy. But their flight path isn’t identical to practice points, and these deceptive marketing tactics can give hunters false confidence. Despite less drag, more forgiveness, and better overall accuracy, mechanical broadheads will still vary in flight performance from your field points. The reality is hunters should never take for granted that any broadhead will fly a certain way and should always fire test shots before hunting with them.

10 thoughts on “Why You Should Never Shoot a Mechanical”

  1. The Bow Bully,

    Firstly, I think I speak for all the other squirrels, welcome to our nuthouse. Secondly, may we call you TBB? And c) what would you recommend firing a broadhead into when testing?


  2. Bow Bully,

    I would have bet 05 bucks that this blog subject would have stirred up the proverbial hornets nest of replies. There really must not be many hunting archers in this corner of the airgun world. As far as my preference, I’ve used Zwickey Eskimoes or Black Diamonds for the last 35 yrs or so. Don’t plan on changing anytime soon!

    I often wondered why anyone would use a broadhead that they can’t sharpen and maintain themselves? That doesn’t appeal to me but then I’m just a crotchety old geezer according to my better half.


    • Bob
      You mention bow hunters.
      Funny as it may be. The way the laws are in my state it makes hunters lean towards bow hunting. Otherwise it’s shot gun. I have been a shot gun hunter for some time. I never took the bow and arrow plunge. My daughters both shoot bow and arrow actually and are very good. We actually or I should say they hunt bow with my brother and his two daughters. I’m there but I don’t hunt bow. It’s fun. But I like rifles. And as it goes my brother shoots pistols over rifles. So yep we got a mix going on. But we do all like getting into the air guns. For sure airguns are what is shot most year round when get together.

      • Gunfun!,

        Yea, went the bowhunting route because of the blog title. I figured if we are talking broadheads we’re trying to slip a sharp pointy thing into somethings ribcage. To me that says bowhunting, not archery per se.

        Maybe sometime you should pick up a bow and just play around with it for awhile. It’s kinda like airguns, you either like doing it or you don’t. If nothing else it will be a new experience to add to your repertoire of life experiences. It sounds to me that you already have several people that would be glad to show you the ropes and get you started in the right direction. It’s funny but both of my daughters are really good with a bow but neither one ever wanted to go hunting with dad. I think it had something to do with ” BOYS “? As for me, I’m a bowhunter, I love hunting whitetails! I’ve taken deer with rifles, shotguns, pistols, muzzleloaders, crossbows, and compounds but what really floats my boat is slipping a 125 gr. Zwickey into the boiler room of a nice buck at 12 yds using one of my homemade longbows! It just doesn’t get any better than that for me!!!! Sorry, I got a little carried away there. Hunting aside, there are many other activities that involve archery. Formal target matches, 3D shoots, archery golf, shooting aerial targets, bow fishing, or my personal favorite, good old stump shooting. Nobody has a better time just wandering around in the bushes all day shooting at sticks, stones, leaves, bushes, rotted stumps than I do. You want to get good with a bow, stump shooting will do it for you!

        Two questions: How is that shoulder doing? Didn’t you go to the chiropractor awhile back for it? How is that HW35E shooting? Need some trusted feedback on its shooting characteristics as I might not be able to wait till you get bored with yours and want to part with it. It’s one of those I think I need one right now but really don’t things.


        • Bob
          The shoulder blade is definitely better. And I have and do shoot bow and arrow here and there. I use my daughters compound bows when I do shoot. Or I should say when they shoot. I have to say my youngest daughter 21 that lives at home is the best bow shooter of us all in the family. My oldest daughter 24 can shoot bow pretty good but favors rifles the most.

          And your bow plinking woods walking sounds right up my alley. But I think my Semi-auto Marauder takes care of that catagory. And I can’t get rid of the Hw35e. It’s a little like a hw50 and hw30 at the same time. So far it’s been my go to starling pesting gun. I have not missed with it yet. From 10 to 40 yards it hits and that’s with .22 caliber premier hollow points. Sorry but I like the Hw35e too much right now. But I will for sure let you know if it is time for it to go.

  3. First things first- for testing broadheads (including mechanicals, I shoot Rage) I just use the Bone Collector brand target rated for broadheads and crossbows. But I do not think it’s going to stop a 500 fps air bolt from a dragon claw.

    Now that’s out of the way, I am gonna bet your chances at losing a animal with a fixed blade are just as high as with a mechanical, if you haven’t tested them and know your setup is accurate.

    And there are a lot of fixed blades that make the same claim and don’t even come close.

    I agree you should test your broadheads. I had to tweak my Rage heads to get them to shoot straight. Also I got my bow paper tuned at a good shop, now even my fixed heads will group right in there with my field points from as far as I’m gonna try to kill something.

  4. Bow Bully,
    Back when I hunted with a compound bow, I shot fixed-blade broadheads because that’s what my experienced friend (who had taken dozens of deer with his compound bow) told me I should use. But he also did point out the importance of shooting and sighting in with those broadheads before deer season..
    An interesting report; keep up the good work. 🙂
    Take care & God bless,

  5. BB,

    Agree that a solid broadhead is the best solution.

    From what I’ve seen, the main reasons people have problems with broadheads is that the don’t tune them (the axis of the head is out of alignment with the axis of the shaft) and the vanes/feathers that are OK for field points aren’t adequate to stabilize the broadhead. Having the correct spine is very important as well.

    I’ve found that (maybe) one out of six broadheads will be aligned (straight out of the box) and the others required heating and tweaking to true-up the ferrule/broadhead to the arrow. Once tuned, that broadhead and arrow always stay together as a matched set, if you swap it to another arrow it will likely be out of alignment again.

    The other issue with accuracy is the failure to practice shooting with broadheads -they are not field points and do not fly the same. In preparation for the hunt, I’d spend the last week before season practicing ( minimum, 100 arrows a day) with broadheads.

    Broadheads are not “difficult” to shoot if you just need to make sure that the arrow, bow and the shooter are in harmony..


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