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.