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Welcome to the 3Rivers Archer's Den

Archer's Den

Welcome to the Archer's Den. Here you will find a gathering of traditional archery stories, tips and techniques, trophy animals taken with traditional bows, and plenty more. Stay a while and learn something. We hope you enjoy and even submit a trophy of your own, or leave a comment on a post.

Tag Archives: broadheads

Arrow Tips by Gold Tip: Broadhead Tuning

Gold Tip logo

Arrow Assembly
Broadhead Tuning
Paper Tuning
Bare Shaft Tuning

Broadhead Tuning – Things to Consider:

The more blade surface a broadhead has, the more steering ability it will have. For this reason fixed blade broadheads with large cutting diameters tend to be slightly more difficult to tune.
Although mechanical broadheads tend to have fewer tuning issues than fixed blade heads, they still need to be properly aligned and their point of impact needs to be verified prior to hunting.
Gold Tip recommends test shooting any style of broadheads for accuracy prior to hunting.

Step 1: Bow Tuning

In order to achieve good accuracy with broadheads, it is imperative that your bow be properly tuned. Consult our tuning instructions above and, if needed, consult a technician at your local pro shop for help with bow tuning.

Step 2: Broadhead Alignment

When a broadhead is installed into an arrow shaft, it is common for the broadhead to seat incorrectly on the insert. This will cause misalignment of the broadhead in relation to the arrow and will cause the broadhead to wobble when spun. In order to achieve good accuracy, the broadhead must be centered on the insert in order to spin true on the shaft. To do this, follow the steps below:

1. Using an arrow spinner (like the Pine Ridge Arrow Inspector) place the point of the broadhead against a cardboard box. As you spin the arrow, the point will make a circle if it is not properly aligned. If the broadhead is properly aligned it will not appear to move and no additional steps are needed. (see figure #1)
2. If the point does make a circle, rotate the point to its uppermost point of movement and mark the box with a felt pen at that point. (see figure #2)
3. Rotate the arrow 180 degrees from that point and simply apply pressure to the point of the head on a hard surface. The goal of this is to push the broadhead into alignment with the insert. (see figure #3)
4. Put the arrow back on the spinner and check the head again for alignment. With a little trial and error you will soon become proficient and will be able to align a broadhead to the insert in under a minute. Keep in mind that shooting an arrow can cause misalignment, so it is a good idea to spin your broadhead tipped arrows repeatedly, particularly after shooting them.

Step 3: Fletching

After bow tuning and broadhead alignment, you are now ready to test your arrows for accuracy. If you are experiencing poor accuracy with a well tuned bow and properly aligned broadheads, it is likely that you are not giving the arrow enough guidance. The answer to this is fletching. Increasing the amount of fletching either by using longer vanes, or more vanes (4-fletch instead of 3-fletch) will give better guidance and increased accuracy. Be careful however, as too much fletching can have other adverse effects such as excessive drag than can also hamper performance. The key is finding a happy medium. This may take some trial and error depending on your setup. The best rule of thumb is to use the smallest amount of fletching possible while still being able to achieve field point accuracy with your broadheads.

Figure 1
Using an arrow spinner place the point of the broadhead against a cardboard box.
Figure 2
If the point does make a circle, rotate the point to its uppermost point of movement and mark the box with a felt pen at that point.
Figure 3
Rotate the arrow 180 degrees from that point and simply apply pressure to the point of the head on a hard surface.

Broadhead Sharpening Videos from 3Rivers Archery

Sharpening the Woodsman Broadhead

Dale Karch of 3Rivers Archery demonstrates how to sharpen the deadly Woodsman Broadhead using the Stubby JewelStik Diamond Hone, Broadhead File, Flat Stone or Flat Diamond Sharpener, and 3Rivers Broadhead Holder.

Sharpening 2-Blade Broadheads

Dale Karch of 3Rivers Archery shows you how to sharpen 2 blade broadheads using the Grobet Broadhead File and the Stubby JewelStik Diamond Hone.

True Angle File Set

Dale Karch of 3Rivers Archery shows you how to use the True Angle File Set for sharpening 2 blade broadheads. Also used is the Stubby JewelStik Diamond Hone (Item #7252).

Choosing a Broadhead for the Shot of a Lifetime

By Dean VanderHorst
Arrow Production Manager

When choosing a broadhead, there is a lot of information out there to wade through that can be confusing and overwhelming. “Do I shoot 2-blade or 3-blade?” “Is 4-blade better than both?” “What really is a fixed blade broadhead?” “How important is grain weight?” “Why would I want a single bevel broadhead?”
How to Choose a Broadhead

So many choices can be disillusioning to the archer trying to find the perfect broadhead. In my opinion, most every broadhead on the market today will be effective on the whitetail deer-sized big game that most of us tend to hunt. Broadheads have attributes that make them unique and different, but what we need to get at is which one will be the best fit for you.

Dean VanderHorst with Canadian Moose
Every archer should have the same goal in mind when selecting a broadhead. That goal should be to produce a quick, humane kill with good blood trails to recover the game. To this end, many archers overlook the essentials, and get lost in the hype of broadhead advertising when selecting a head. There are two basics in broadhead selection that every archer has to attain to be effective in the field: sharpness and arrow flight. If either of these criteria are not met it will result in poor penetration, bad shot placement, and will inevitably end in wounded and lost game, which is not what any bow hunter desires.

Woodsman Elite Screw-In Broadhead

To begin the selection process we need to narrow down the possible candidates. There are several ways to look at this: number of blades, bevel, and weights. But I personally always start with the simplest of questions: “What can I sharpen?” If a broadhead is not sharp it is not worth its weight in salt. Sharpness is an overlooked basic when selecting a broadhead. Start separating the candidates based on this basic criteria. There are many heads that are hunting sharp right out of the package like Woodsman Elites, Silver Flames, Zephyrs, and Alaska Bowhunting Supply’s Ashby broadheads. Out of those you have many types of broadheads like 2-blade, 3-blade, and single bevel that would satisfy the most discriminating archer. Even though you need little to no sharpening skills when you remove these heads from the package, you will need some honing skills to re-sharpen the heads after shooting. If any amount of sharpening is out of the question there are still some broadheads to fit the bill. Steel Force broadheads come in a variety of combinations from single bevel heavy weight heads to two and 4-blade double bevel combinations, plus Steel Force offers lifetime factory re-sharpening. Out of the package, these have to be the sharpest broadheads that I have ever encountered. Other choices in the category include Muzzy broadheads with replaceable blade
options. This limits other broadhead options, but if sharpening is the issue then simply removing the blades when they dull and replacing them with razor sharp new ones takes sharpening out of the equation.

Zwickey Delta BroadheadThe final category of broadhead sharpness is the “you sharpen” broadheads. These types of heads are attractive to many traditional archers because of the lower initial cost, and with some sharpening they can provide years of service. Most all of them come out of the package with a fine edge on them, but they will require sharpening to make them hunting sharp.

Broadheads like the Woodsman original 3-blade, Zwickey two and four blade broadheads, Eclipse 2-blade, Ace 2-blade, and Simmons two and four blade heads are excellent choices and offer a wide selection of grain weights, blades, and bevels in both screw in and glue on types. They are perfect for those willing to break out the files and stones to put on a razor sharp edge.
DMT diamond stones, Lil’ shaver sharpeners and the KME broadhead and knife
sharpeners make this process very easy to accomplish.

Dean's Moose Hunting Set-Up

Once the sharpening challenge has been surmounted I like to next consider weight. It can be a simple process of shooting various weight field points from 100 to 315 grains to find the appropriate weight that will provide good arrow flight from your set up. Or start with a predetermined point weight and find the shaft that provides the best arrow flight with that weight. Whether you are bare shaft tuning, paper tuning or flight tuning there will be a weight point at which your arrow selection and bow set up will shoot the best. Targeted set ups can also be calculated with programs like a dynamic spine calculator. Programs like this allow you to enter data about your bow and arrow, narrowing the process down so you don’t have to test a wide selection of shafts and points. The final goal is all the same; a perfectly tuned arrow set up. When your set up is perfected and tuned with a determined point weight and
you are comfortable with your sharpening ability, you have narrowed the field of broadheads to consider, making the choice a lot less daunting.

Now that a point weight has been determined we can start culling out candidates by blade and type. Two blade broadheads are the oldest design of broadhead. From the first primitive stone points to the most high tech single bevel heads, 2-blade heads are a tried and true effective design. Studies show two blade heads, and in particular single bevel two blade broadheads, are by and far the best penetrating heads. 3:1 ratio broadheads (3 times as long as they are wide) have a long and lean design, causing the blade to rotate and cut upon entry. This provides excellent bone-splitting capabilities and long wound channels characterized by the “S” shaped entry wound. Other time-tested heads like the Zwickey, Eclipse, Ace, Simmons and Stos should not be discounted either. The old saying “the sun never sets on a Zwickey” is very true. Few broadheads can boast greater than a half-century history, during which they have taken probably every land animal on the planet, from the smallest of mammals up to elephants. They are as effective and as relevant today as when they were first manufactured.

Steel & Aluminum Broadhead Adapters If a 2-blade design is what you are set on, separate the heads based on weight selection, bevel and your sharpening ability.

A wide variety of brass, steel and aluminum adapters of various weights make different weight combinations even more attainable with various heads. Cost will also become an issue here too. Some broadheads can cost as much as $30 per head or as low and $3 to $5 each. Consider how the broadhead is made and what advantages it offers for the price. Most of the time it will be the durability of the broadhead that is the deciding factor.

Zephyr/Eclipse & Simmons Bleeder Blade

Four blade heads for the most part are two blade broadheads with a replaceable pre-sharpened bleeder blade. There are a few exceptions, like Muzzy and Zwickey heads. But in the traditional style Zephyr, Eclipse and Simmons bleeders can be replaced and also shot with or without the 4-blade option. The advantage of the 4-blade option is that the wound channel will be opened on another plane, making it less likely for the wound to close. That way the animal will not bleed internally, and you will not have to worry about following small, obscure blood trails. The biggest disadvantage to a 4-blade is the impeded penetration caused by the bleeder blades versus a two blade head. Again thinking of deer sized game, this should not be an issue.

The final design of broadhead types to consider is the 3-blade broadhead. Although the number of three blade heads is not as diverse as two blades, they do offer a lot of variety. Woodsman original, Woodsman Elites, G5 Montecs, and Snuffer broadheads are among the most popular of the 3-blade heads. The Woodsman line offers the greatest variety of weights from which to choose.
Original Woodsman Glue-On Broadhead

With 100 grain to 250 grain weights, and with weight adapters for glue-on original and Elite heads, there is an array of weights that can be created. The advantages of the 3-blade are simple: superior flight characteristics, easy to sharpen & resharpen, and more cutting blade length than most other broadheads given the length and width characteristics. Because of the design of 3-blades heads they take the guesswork out of sharpening angles. By laying the broadhead flat across the two blades and honing/sharpening on files or stones, the process of sharpening becomes quick and easy. The near 3:1 ratio of heads like the Woodsman broadhead provides optimum penetration and superior blood trails due to wound channels, which means quick demise and recovery of game.

Once you choose a style of head there is still some work to do. Broadhead flight is a critical factor in performance. Do not assume that once you are tuned with field points that you just need put on a broadhead of the same weight and that is it. In some cases, broadheads can be interchanged with field points and flight characteristics will not change. However, in many cases there might be some tuning involved with the broadhead that you choose to shoot. Starting with a perfectly tuned field-tipped arrow means the broadhead is the only factor when starting to try various broadheads and weights. There are a couple of avenues to take in this stage of broadhead selection. If the broadhead being tested does not fly true, you can choose to tune the shaft or the bow to the broadhead. This requires a little more work since you would have to start the bare shaft tuning, taper tuning or flight tuning process as you did with the field point. The disadvantage that I find in this process is if you want to change from broadheads to field points throughout the year it is not as easy as taking a broadhead off and putting a field point on. I always want to keep my set up simple.

Once I have found a weight, blade and style that I am comfortable sharpening, my next step is test shooting a couple different broadheads that fit those criteria. At this point broadhead flight is the only thing to consider. To be lethal and accurate, a broadhead must have true arrow flight. There is no compromise at this point. If the broadhead you have selected is hard to tune or provides erratic flight, do not be afraid to select another head with similar criteria to test. When a big buck is standing in front of you too much is riding on your shot for you to not have 100% confidence in your broadhead tuning and sharpness.

The Author admiring the great outdoors
There are many criteria to consider during the process of selecting a broadhead; from weight, style, what can be sharpened proficiently, tuning, and arrow flight. But now there is one final component: PRACTICE! Given all of these components, every broadhead is lethal given that you do your part and put the arrow where it needs to be. My personal rule is to almost exclusively shoot broadheads at least one month prior to season during regular practice. This provides extensive knowledge and confidence with your set up and flight characteristic of your broadhead and arrow. Once all of the pieces have been put together you will have the best broadhead to accomplish your hunting goals.

For more information contact:
3Rivers Archery
PO Box 517
Ashley IN 46705

Sharpening Traditional Broadheads

By: Dale Karch and Todd Smith

Sharpening a broadhead with a CC sharpener
Sharpening broadheads is a misunderstood, but necessary art.

The guy behind the counter hands you your first pack of cut-on-contact broadheads. First there’s the blank stare… the deer in the headlights look. Then you see a glimmer of the light flickering on as the realization sinks in.

“You mean I have to sharpen ’em?”

This is a valid question that we get all the time. It makes sense too, if the only broadheads you’ve ever been around are the ‘razor-sharp right out of the package’ kind, then why would you have to sharpen them? The truth of the matter is, 95% of all cut-on-contact broadheads need to have their final edge sharpened by the bowhunter before they are taken into the field. The good news is, with the sharpening aids available to all bowhunters today it’s not difficult to do. Read on and we’ll describe some hand sharpening techniques as well as introduce you to some of the more popular tools and accessories available for sharpening traditional broadheads.

Woodsman BroadheadZwickey Eskimo Broadhead
Safety first. Use extreme caution whenever working with broadheads.
They are extremely sharp and may cause serious injury or death if used improperly or carelessly.

Hand sharpening without sharpening jigs and aids is demanding but also gratifying. Many bowhunters take pride in the fact that they can sharpen broadheads well this way. Before starting the sharpening process, mount all your broadheads on your arrows and make sure they spin straight and are installed correctly. As you go through the steps of sharpening, you’ll need to continually check the finished edge for sharpness. How you test for sharpness is up to you. In bowhunter education courses we teach a technique of stretching rubber bands across a small wooden frame from both directions to create an overlapping pattern. Then we push the broadheads through. If they cut the rubber bands easily, the broadheads are sharp. Most archers simply see how well the broadheads shave the hair off of their arms. We do not recommend this as the potential for injury is too high. Some folks carefully rub the edge of their thumb sideways across the edge. (Not along the edge! If you do that you’ll cut yourself for sure.) In time, you’ll acquire the knack to know, by feel, just how sharp the edge is. Once you think it’s sharp try the rubber band test.

Now, let’s sharpen some broadheads.

Well-designed, quality broadheads will be easy to sharpen. Take a close look at the factory grind. This is the angle of the grind on the broadhead right out of the package. It should be a smooth, straight, gradual grind terminating to a nice ‘almost sharp enough’ factory edge. Broadheads with grinds like this will be easier to put the final edge on. As we mentioned in the last column, another key to good broadheads is having the steel tempered hard enough to give you strength, but soft enough to allow you to sharpen them with a file. We recommend giving your broadheads the file test. Make a pass or two along the bevel of your broadhead with a good quality file. If the file skips off the broadhead and doesn’t bite into the steel, the steel is too hard for file sharpening. This is not necessarily the end of the road for that broadhead as there are diamond hones on the market that can sharpen nearly any steel no matter how hard it is. Still, for the bowhunter who wants to be able to re-sharpen broadheads in the field, they must pass the file test.

Two and four blade broadheads first. For smooth stock removal, we recommend a bastard file. For home sharpening a 10-12″ file is suggested. For ‘in the field’ sharpening get a 6-8″ model. Buy only high quality files, this is not the time to scrimp. Right-handed bowhunters will normally hold the arrow in their left hand and sharpen the broadhead with a file held in the right hand. Some people chuck them up in a padded vise and there is even a tool on the market called the Arrow Grabber that you hold in your hand and it supports the arrow and broadhead while you work.

Bastard FilesArrow Grabber
A bastard file and Arrow Grabber are valuable broadhead sharpening accessories.

We always file from the back of the broadhead toward the tip. You can sharpen from either direction and there are arguments that defend both schools of thought. Still, sharp is sharp, so file in whichever direction you prefer.
The object is to follow the primary angle of the main bevel, removing the same amount of steel from both sides until you have a very thin, razor sharp edge. Before you see the final razor edge, you will see what is called a ‘wire edge’. This is the result of removing stock evenly from both sides of the broadhead. The wire edge is a sign that you’re doing a good job and you’re almost there. When the wire edge is removed properly, a sharp edge is left behind. It’s a good idea to count the number of strokes you make on each side. Push firmly but not too hard. You’ll be able to feel when the file is removing steel. You may want to take a marker and color in the factory bevel. Then when you start making passes with the file you’ll be able to where you have removed material and you can adjust your angle as needed as you go to match the factory angle. Once all of the ink is removed, go to the other side and repeat the process. Many bowhunters believe in and use the coarse, ‘file sharpened’ edge that you’ll have at this point and this is as far as they go. To really finish the edge though, some sort of stropping is still necessary. You can use a piece of tooling leather, a hard Arkansas stone, or even ceramic crock sticks for this. Smooth, steady light pressure is the key here. The closer the edge gets to final sharpness, the lighter your strokes need to be. When you’re finished stropping, test for sharpness. If they pass inspection, they’re ready to hunt.

Three-blade broadheads like the Woodsman are actually quite simple to sharpen if you follow some basic guidelines. The nice thing about three blade broadheads is you always work on two blades at a time so the blades themselves act as guides helping you maintain the all important, consistent angle. For these 3-blade broadheads it’s best to first mount them to your arrows and use the shaft as a handle to pull the broadheads across your sharpening tool. Start with a 12″, quality single cut bastard file. This file will be wider than the two blades of your broadheads so you can remove material from both blades at the same time. Don’t press too hard! This is the mistake most people make when sharpening broad heads. Light, steady pressure consistent throughout the stroke is the key. As mentioned before, you may want to use a marker to cover the factory bevel and help you gauge how much material you have removed. If you mark over the bevels and only remove enough material to remove the ink, then go to the next two blades, then to the third set, you should have removed almost the exact same amount of material from each blade. This leaves you ready for polishing. The polishing step is best done on a fine diamond sharpening surface like the JewelStick® Diamond Bench Stone. Remember light controlled strokes. Now your three-blade broadheads should be ready for hunting, but you may also want to strop them lightly on a piece of tooling leather at this point. This final stropping action will align the microscopic steel particles taking your edge from sharp to ‘scary’ sharp.

Woodsman 3-blade broadhead
Three blade broadheads like the Woodsman are quite simple
to sharpen if you follow some basic guidelines.

If you did everything described above correctly your broadheads are ready. If not, you might be thinking that the process is easier said than done. You would not be alone! When sharpening anything, maintaining a consistent angle is the key. This is where most people run into trouble and this is exactly why there are so many excellent sharpening systems and aids available on the market. Some of the most common are: The KME Knife Sharpening System, 3Rivers CC Sharpener, Lil’ Shaver, and the Hollowground Sharpener.

KME Knife SharpenerHollow Ground Broadhead Sharpener
For fast and accurate sharpening, you can’t beat using a sharpening jig.

The Lil’ Shaver is another tried and true unit. It’s a jig with three angle choices built into it. Clamp your mounted or non-mounted broadhead into the jig. A file on a positioning block does the cutting. Slide the jig arm through the locating hole of the jig body and push the file against the broadhead from one side to remove stock. Then take out the arm, flip the unit over, re-install the arm and stroke this other side of the broadhead until a sharp ‘file sharpened’ edge results. This jig sharpens all two or four-blade heads. The file that comes with the kit is aggressive and removes stock quickly. The LIl’ Shaver is another good choice for re-shaping blunt factory grinds or reestablishing a good primary angle on dull broadheads.

Lil' Shaver Broadhead Sharpener
The LIl’ Shaver is a jig with three built-in angle choices.

The Hollowground Sharpener is a bit unorthodox but very effective. Instead of flat, it uses two round files to sharpen and they actually create a slightly concave shape to the edge. Quite a few archers put faith in this hollow ground edge and it is a strong seller. The kit includes a ceramic rod for polishing the final edge. For the fans of hollow ground edges, this sharpener is a good choice.

Hollow Ground Broadhead Sharpener
The Hollowground Sharpener uses two round files to sharpen,
creating a slightly concave shape to the edge.

Have you got all that? Good! But wait, there’s more. Now for the rest of the story. For broadheads that have good factory grinds right out of the package, or for broadheads that you’ve used a sharpening aid to revamp the edge, here are a couple of tools that take you to ‘hunting sharp’ with the greatest of ease. They are the AccuSharp and the 3Rivers CC Sharpener. Both of these sharpening tools utilize carbide teeth to actually strip metal off of both sides of the blade bevel at once. Especially if you already have a wire edge established, these tools will remove that and align the entire final edge resulting in a sharp, ready to hunt broadhead in a matter of moments.

The AccuSharp has a comfortable handle and a safety guard to protect your fingers. Operation is simple. Hold your arrow on a hard surface and draw the AccuSharp from the back of the head to the tip. Repeat as needed with less pressure each time until you are satisfied with the edge.

AccuSharp Knife and Broadhead Sharpener
The AccuSharp offers simple operation as well as safety features.

The 3Rivers “CC” (Ceramic-Carbide) Sharpener also uses carbide teeth, but with this tool you hold the unit on a hard surface and draw the broadhead through and between the teeth allowing it to remove metal on each pass. As always, use less pressure as you continue. Once you are satisfied with the edge, stop. The “CC” also has the advantage of a ceramic surface that can be used like a crock stick for finally polishing of the edge. You may even alternate at the end of the process between the teeth and the ceramic stropping surface until you reach ultimate sharpness. This sharpener is one of the handiest tools we’ve ever found for broadhead and knife sharpening. They’re small (approx 3/4″ x 3″), lightweight, and sharpen edges perfectly! Keep one with you at all times when hunting for fast field touch-up of broadheads and hunting knives.

3Rivers CC Sharpener
Small and lightweight, the 3Rivers “CC” Sharpener provides two
sharpening surfaces… one carbide and the other ceramic.

As you can see, broadhead sharpening is a bit of an art. A very straight forward and necessary element of bowhunting with cut-on-contact broadheads. It’s an important skill to learn, and whether you hand sharpen with a file or take advantage of some of the many time saving commercial sharpening systems available, always make sure your broadheads are, ‘hunting sharp’. We owe it to ourselves, to the animals, and to the great sport of bowhunting. Yes, you’ll have to touch up those edges yourself but after a bit of practice and with the right tools, you’ll have no problem at all sharpening traditional broadheads.

Keep Hunting
Dale Karch & Todd Smith

For more information contact:

3Rivers Archery
PO Box 517
Ashley IN 46705

260-587-9501 or check us out on-line at

Broadheads for Wood Arrows

By: Dale Karch and Todd Smith

Woodsman BroadheadsGlue-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
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 Black Diamond BroadheadsZwickey Eskimo BroadheadsZwickey Delta Broadheads
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.

Ace 2-blade glue-on broadheads
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 Glue-on Broadheads
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.

Snuffer 3-blade BroadheadsMagnus Classic MA II Vented BroadheadsMagnus Classic MA I 4-blade broadheads
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.

Woodsman 3-blade Broadheads
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.

Eclipse 2-blade Broadheads
Except for their Teflon® coating, Eclipse two-blade broadheads are similar in design to the Zwickey Eskimo.

The Grizzly single bevel broadhead (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.

Grizzly Single Bevel BroadheadsKodiak Single Bevel BroadheadsBod-Kin 3-blade glue-on Broadheads
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 Scirocco Glue-on Broadheads
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.

Steel Broadhead AdaptersBroadhead adapters
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.

Keep Hunting
Dale Karch & Todd Smith

For more information contact:
3Rivers Archery
PO Box 517
Ashley IN 46705

or check us out on-line at

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