Editors Blog

Best Broadheads Produce Best Bloodtrails

What are the best broadheads for bowhunting?

I readily admit that I had been a stubborn (not yet old) coot when it came to expandable broadheads. After dabbling with them in the late 1990s, I basically swore them off. "Not reliable enough," was my mantra.

I wasn’t the only one. Look at any of the popular press articles over the past 15 years or so, and a lot of other veteran bowhunters were on the same jag. That was until a few seasons ago when I shot broadheads like those from Rage Broadheads, New Archery Products and the TruFire Switchblade. I guess you would call these "third generation" (or is it fourth?) broadheads. These expandables feature blades that slide back — not cam backward — to open. Although I have had some of these types of broadheads basically blow up on me (bust apart on impact), I have yet to see one not leave a huge entry hole. If there is anything to be said about truth in advertising, these heads almost always live up to it in that regard on hits to a deer’s body cavity. In short, they create unbelievable entry and exit wounds and, best of all, almost immediate, idiot-proof bloodtrails.

I will always stop short of saying any single product is the be-all-end all of its class. However, as a whole, I will admit that today’s expandables have convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt that they are good choices for whitetail hunting. Here’s my take on the pros and cons:

Expandable Cons:
1. Not as durable as fixed-position heads.
2. As a whole, not as sharp as cut-on-contact heads.
3. Do not perform as others well when they encounter scapula bones and spinal columns.
4. They’re expensive (upward of $80 retail for three) and usually can’t be re-used.

Expandable Pros:
1. Very large entry and exit holes.
2. Almost immediate bloodtrails.
3. Improved cutting performance over first-generation broadheads (less energy transfer on impact).
4. Fly very close to field points no matter how well tuned your bow is.

The pros and cons are even, so what’s my final verdict? I will continue to use large, 2-blade expandables. Will I use them exclusively? No. There are many other bowhunting instances where I feel more comfortable using a strong fixed-position head. What’s more, if my age continues to limit how much draw weight I can pull (I’m pulling 64 pounds right now), I will most likely shoot cut-on-contact heads more often than not.

In case you’re wondering about the above photo, it is of the entry wound to a whitetail doe I shot last night. I almost couldn’t believe the performance. The deer was slightly quartering when I shot, and the two-blade Rage Titanium sliced a 3-plus inch hole behind the deer’s armpit. The broadhead made an equally large wound on the exit. The arrow was stuck firmly in the ground when I retrieved it. The deer ran about 40 yards before collapsing from massive lung and heart injuries. The bloodtrail was insane — not that I needed one to find the deer.

The end result: Instant venison. That’s how I like it.


8 thoughts on “Best Broadheads Produce Best Bloodtrails

  1. Island Sunrise Outfitters

    i have used muzzy fixed for a long time and was satisfied with their performance despite the difference in practising with field points and then changing over…but then Droptine Archery sent me the 2 inch Rage expandables and the doe i shot with it went 30 yards with almost the exact wound as in the picture…it was unreal on pass through…the practice tip does shoot like a field point…in this case, seeing is believing…until i have a reason to do otherwise i have made the switch…

  2. Michael Bray

    Fired my first shot with a Spitfire 2 weeks ago. Doe did a somersault at 18 yards. Found bolt on ground – two of three blades unopened (I believe the ground caused one to open). Blood covered vanes. No blood trail, no deer. I have heard a similar story from other hunters. I will never fire an expandable again.

  3. Brent

    I’m a big fan of the Rage broadheads myself. However, the last 2 shot with the 2 blade didn’t leave a great blood trail. The doe made it about 25 yds before she opened up and went down within 10 yds of that point. The buck I shot today took a shot low through the shoulder and it only got half penetration. As soon as he took off, he snapped the arrow. NO blood trail, even after hitting his escape route with hydrogen peroxide. Started walking the creekbed with no luck. He made it about 120 yds down the creek and to the top of a ridge where he collapsed. Love the Rage, but the last couple of hit have left a little to be desired. They do leave massive entry and exit holes when you get a pass thru.

  4. Johnny Mclaughlin

    I was also a fixed blade man myself until I tried the Grim Reaper broadheads and I will never go back I have taken deer with these heads that if they didnt drop with in sight of my stand the blood trail that was left by them was unreal.

  5. Tom Bunck

    I too was spectical of the mechanical broadhead, but after one of the younger guys at deer camp showed how his Rage did a beatiful 10 pt in, I had to give it a try. Since then I have shot several deer with it, and it truely is a punishing broad head. You do have to pay attention to the tip, and be sure the o-ring is where it sould be after loading the arrow. But the enterance and exist holes are unreal, and produce a blood trail you can’t believe.

  6. Dan Schmidt

    Thanks for the comments, guys. Scot: This was an ENTRY wound, not the exit wound. I was as stunned as you are. The exit wound was equally as large. Again, I am very impressed with the Rage Titanium 2-blade. It has produced extremely quick kills on whitetails.

  7. Mike Noske

    Expandables like NAP Spitfire are safer to handle. Having had a heart attack and now taking blood thinners, anything that makes ME leave a blood trail is bad news. The folding blades on the Spitfires close like a knife with the sharp edge inside leaving a safer to handle surface. I think they would be better for kids for the same reason.

  8. Scot Manaher

    Dan from my expierence of butchering over thousands of deer for hunters during deer season year after year, the size of the exit wound in the image you have provided has to be the most devastating exit wound I have seen to date!

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