Broadheads for Wood Arrows
By: Dale Karch and Todd Smith
Glue-On Broadheads have taken every kind of big game known to man.
What's up with all these glue-on broadheads? Which ones are the best? Which ones should I use? What are the differences?
These are all great questions and we hear them often from our customers who are thinking about adding glue-on broadheads to their gear for the first time. We've been supplying broadheads to the traditional market for more than 25 years now. Today we're going to share with you what we've learned about glue-on broadheads. We hope that this column will shed some light on these 'tried and true' broadheads for wood arrows.
In the world of wooden arrows, longbows, and recurves we believe that broadheads must have three main attributes:
- First, they must fly accurately. Broadhead design, length to width ratios, balance, and straightness will all affect good arrow flight. Generally speaking, wide non-vented heads will be more likely to wind plane (be deflected by crosswinds). Whereas more narrow heads, especially if they are long and slender, will be less prone to wind plane. Vented heads rarely, if ever, wind plane regardless of their dimensions. To fly accurately, not only must the head be manufactured and ground precisely, the bowhunter must also mount them on his arrows correctly. They must be in perfect alignment with the shaft and the shaft should be as close to perfectly straight as possible. That's a tall order, especially for wooden arrows. But, if your arrows are straight AND your broadheads are aligned correctly then your arrows should fly straight and true. In this scenario any well-designed, glue-on broadhead should fly well. However, if your arrows are not perfectly straight, then vented broadheads will fly more accurately for you because they have less surface area and less wind resistance. With vented heads, the wind resistance flows through the openings whereas on non-vented broadheads the wind resistance pushes against the flat surface area causing lift on a miss-aligned broadhead. With lift comes broadhead steerage and erratic flight.
- Second, they must penetrate well. Strength, shape and design are the major contributors here. All of the broadheads mentioned in this column are well designed. Strong sharp broadheads that are flying true, and don't hit solid bone, will penetrate well. It is generally accepted that two-blade broadheads penetrate the best but also produce the smallest wound channel. Three and 4-blade broadheads still penetrate well and leave a much larger wound channel resulting in better blood trails. When considering which style to use, the bowhunter should consider the game being hunted, the draw weight of the bow and the overall mass weight of the arrow. Many traditionalists go for 2-blade broadheads on large animals such as elk and moose figuring that the deeper penetration will be more important that a better blood trail. We agree to a point, but Dale has used 4- blade broadheads on some pretty big critters, like kudu and zebra, with excellent results. It's a judgment call on the part of the bowhunter. However, we prefer and recommend multiple blade heads in most situations.
- Third, they must be easy to sharpen. In today's market of razor sharp, replaceable blades for nearly all screw-in broadheads, many bowhunters are not aware of the fact that the factory grind on most glue-on broadheads is not shaving/hunting sharp right out of the package. This factory grind gets them close to what we call 'hunting sharp', but the bowhunters themselves must put on the final edge. Ease of sharpening is influenced most by the relative hardness of the steel (its Rockwell rating). Basically, the harder the steel, the tougher it is, and the softer the steel the easier it is to sharpen them. The key to good broadheads is getting the steel tempered hard enough to give you strength, but soft enough to allow you to sharpen them with a file. For these reasons, we prefer broadheads with a Rockwell rating in the mid to high 40's. Another factor that influences ease of sharpening is the angle of the factory grind. If it is too steep, most of the 'quick and easy' sharpening aids won't work. This means that the bowhunter will have to reduce that angle themselves. For easy sharpening, stick with broadheads with a nice low factory grind like you'll find on the Woodsman® Broadheads.
Woodsman® Broadheads require little sharpening out of the package.
Which glue-on broadheads should I buy? Several brands come instantly to mind, and it's only fair to start with the old timers in the industry like Zwickey, Ace Archery, and Howard Hill.
Zwickey broadheads have long been the standard that other broadheads are measured against. They have taken tons of big game, and the fact that they're still one of the top producers of glue-on broadheads speaks very well of their entire operation. With longevity comes fame and Zwickey Broadheads have incredible name recognition. Almost everyone has heard of Zwickey. Available in both 2-blade and 4-blade versions, you can't go wrong with Zwickey Broadheads. From the small 5/16" Eskilite 'Black Diamond' to the famous Eskimo, and the massive Delta. Zwickey broadheads are hard to beat. They are priced right in the middle of the spectrum too so not only are they quality broadheads, but they are affordable too.
Zwickey offers such popular broadheads as The Black Diamond, Eskimo, and Delta.
Ace Broadheads, another old-timer in the market, have a loyal following and are actually enjoying a recent revival in popularity. Available in 2-blade only, they are another excellent example of a reasonably priced, quality, traditional two-blade broadhead.
The Ace two-blade broadhead enjoys a loyal following.
Howard Hill broadheads, like Howard Hill bows, have a following of bowhunters with a fierce loyalty to the old-time tradition and legendary accomplishments of one of the greatest archers of all time, Howard Hill. These broadheads have a long and colorful history, and die-hard Hill fans are certain to make them a part of their traditional set-up. They're a bit tricky to sharpen, but they are an old time classic with a long and revered history.
Howard Hill broadheads have as rich a history as the man for whom they're named.
What about the old Bear Greenheads? No article about glue-on broadheads would be complete without the mention of Fred Bear's 'Greenheads,' but we're sorry to say, these venerable heads are no longer in production. Too bad... They were one of the best broadheads of all time and many bowhunters are still stalking their prey with quivers full of arrows tipped with their trusted old friend, the Bear Greenhead.
Now, what about the more recent entries in the glue-on broadhead market? Broadheads like Magnus Classic, Woodsman, and Grizzly?
Magnus Classic broadheads are the dominating force in glue-on broadheads today. With plenty of mix-and-match models of glue-on broadheads, available in 2-blade, 3-blade, and 4-blade versions they have a broadhead for any situation imaginable. Ever improving, they have an excellent out-of-the-package grind that is almost hunting/shaving sharp, and a diamond tip that dramatically increases the strength of this already tough broadhead over any 'needle-point' head out there. We have personally used these broadheads for years and have great confidence in them. In addition, they are reasonably priced and carry a lifetime guarantee.
The dominating force in broadheads, Magnus Classic offers a wide variety of heads.
The Woodsman® Broadhead is our bestselling 3-blade broadhead. They're long and lean vented 3-blade broadheads that have proven themselves on big game time and time again. They're quickly becoming a household name. They fly true, and once you get used to the 3-blade configuration, they're easy to sharpen. This is a 'must have' broadhead for any archer.
A great broadhead for big game, the Woodsman is a best seller.
Eclipse Broadheads are very reminiscent of the Zwickey Eskimo 2-blade, but they are unique in that they are Teflon® coated for superior penetration. They are a medium priced, 2-blade broadhead designed to penetrate the world's toughest game.
Except for their Teflon® coating, Eclipse two-blade broadheads are similar in design to the Zwickey Eskimo.
Zipper Bows offers the Grizzly Single bevel broadhead and the Bod-kin 3-blade broadhead. The Grizzly (and its big brother the Kodiak) have been in great demand ever since their introduction over fifteen years ago. They are almost a 3:1 ratio, very long and narrow. They fly very well, penetrate well, and since they are sharpened with a single bevel, they are easy to finish sharpening to a 'shaving-sharp' edge. They are very popular with bowhunters hunting in Africa as they are nearly indestructible and have proven themselves on the toughest African game. Still very reasonably priced, they are a broadhead worth considering. The Bod-Kin is a 3-blade glue-on broadhead that has stood the test of time. Easy to use and inexpensive, a broadhead that many have seen in their Grandparent's quiver.
The Grizzly Broadhead is popular with bowhunters pursuing African game. The Bod-Kin is a cost effective broadhead that gets the job done.
Zephyr Broadheads are quality and precision all the way. Offering cutlery grade stainless steel and shaving sharp blades right out of the package. Their unique bleeder blades sit forward in the ferrule so you don't have to slot or cut off your wood tapers to use them. May be used with or without the bleeders as either two-blade or 4-blade broadheads. All these features do come at a price and you'll pay a little more for a three pack than you will for most other glue-on heads by the six-pack. Still, there are bowhunters out there that don't mind paying for convenience and quality, and these excellent broadheads offer both.
Zephyr offers cutlery grade stainless steel and shaving sharp blades right out of the package.
If you find a rugged, dependable glue-on broadhead that you want to use on your aluminum or carbon arrows, you're in luck! Glue-on broadheads can also be mounted on broadhead adapters to work in carbon and aluminum arrows. Broadhead adapters are made out of aluminum or steel. The steel add extra weight to your set up and are very strong.
With the different adapters on the market, you have many options for mounting your glue-on broadheads on carbon or aluminum shafts.
Traditional, glue-on broadheads are in demand and for good reason. They're solid, dependable, and lethal. Whichever broadhead mentioned above you chose, you now know that these tough, cut-on-contact broadheads are at home on any wood arrow, or even a carbon or aluminum arrow. So get some on your arrows now and go hunting. Try them, then tell your friends about them. See for yourself why you should be using glue-on broadheads for wood arrows.
Dale Karch & Todd Smith
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