Are mechanical broadheads the future? Maybe Not…?[179 days]

Worse than bow brands, religion or politics is any group discussion on fixed vs mechanical broadheads.

It is undeniable fact that both have advantages over the other. Whether you need the advantage it gives you, is another question altogether. But this post is not about fanning the flame of contention, rather, just an observation about developments over time…

We were having this discussion with a friend about where broadheads are going to, what is improvements, what is copying of design ideas and what is true innovation?!

Every year, the broadhead manufacturers come out with better, sharper, more penetrating, field point accurate broad heads. But inevitably, What you see in the press and on blogs leads you to believe that the innovation seems to lean to the mechanical side, rather than the fixed blade side. I am not saying that there are no new fixed heads, simply that there seems to be more development to mechanicals than fixed heads.

I think its simply a matter of physics…. flight mechanics are well understood. A blade is a control surface, the higher the speed on it, the more effect it has on flight. The bigger the blade, the bigger the control surface, the bigger control in front, the more control needs to be asserted at the back… super simplified (but in a nutshell) thats it… That said, we know fixed blades CAN fly straight… One of the most beautiful looong arrow hunt shots was filmed with the Bowtech Reign promo by Jim Burnworth, follow the flight from start to finish – and that was a Fixed Blade (Innerloc Carbon Tuner, I believe…)

The flipside is that undoubtedly the mechanicals had problems. It would be absurd to claim otherwise, however, archers are still talking about heads they tried in the 1990’s!? Even heads launched in the early 2000’s has had more than 10 years of development and improvement behind them, and most negative points has been addressed or is being addressed: Sucks up energy on opening? New release mechanisms reduced that. Blades that break, new material sciences addresses that. Flight? Its always been good…

Blades not opening? I struggle with that idea, but at best, with a modern head, even if you had a bad experience, the new generation hybrids seems to attack that problem head on with cut on contact bleeders that can literally function as a full fixed blade broadhead in their own right.

Which got me thinking… I wonder how many broadheads are on the market? My pro shop has 17 different heads I can choose from (fixed, mechanical and hybrid) So off I went to Lancaster’s Website to see whats available there:

  • Fixed Blade: 124
    (although… I am not sure how you count a Blood Therapy OCD as “fixed blade”?)
  • Mechanical / expandable: 75
  • Hybrid: 11

Now, many of these have duplicates (a 100gr and 125gr version) but even if you split half away, you still have over 100 broadhead choices, and I am sure Lancaster doesn’t stock everything that is available, do they?

So… how much innovation is left over? Is there any more development space?

My train of thought… excluding big game or dangerous game, with the tempo of development of bows and arrows, at some point in the near future we are going to pass through everything we aim an arrow at, regardless of head we choose, so I believe the shift in design will simply move to benefit lower poundage shooters, to benefit juniors and to benefit new bowhunters. Accurate flight and lethal penetration on bows that are possibly (probably?) less than optimally tuned?

And seeing that there are a lot less big game hunters hunters than plains game, I think the future developments will become mainly mechanical…?

Alternatively, will bows become so easy to tune that mechanicals will be a waste of time? Will easier, simpler with less moving parts win out?

About Sean Nel 51 Articles
Sean Nel is a staff shooter for Archer's Edge South Africa, Beestinger, GoldTip, Sureloc and Health Matrix as well as an accredited Archery Instructor with the South African National Archery Association (SANAA)