As part of our 2014 Mechanical Broadhead Battle, we conducted the "Hard-Impact Test," designed to simulate the performance of a head after it passes through a hard material such as rib bone.
Each head was shot through .03-inch sheet metal at a range of 25 yards, and we recorded each impact using high-speed video equipment.
Cabela's Instinct Incision
The Instinct Incision features an aircraft-grade aluminum ferrule and hardened chisel tip. Blades are made of stainless steel and are advertised at .03-inch thick. At the fully open position, they create a 1.75-inch wound channel. In flight, the blades tuck into the ferrule and are held in place with a thick rubber O-ring. In flight, the Instinct's profile measures only .75 inches in diameter to enhance flight performance. MSRP: $34.99 per 3.
Dead Ringer Super Freak
The Super Freak features an aircraft-grade aluminum ferrule and case-hardened, stainless-steel, trocar tip. Patented setscrew adjustments give the archer a choice between 1.75-inch and 2.25-inch cutting diameters. Spring stainless steel blades measure .032-inch thick and are tested to 185,000 foot-pounds of shear strength. The partially exposed blades make a .75-inch cut upon impact before over-the-top deployment to the full 1.75-inch diameter. MSRP: $44.99 per 3.
The Havoc is a 2-blade design that incorporates a no-screws blade capture at the front end and G5's Dual Trap blade-retention system that holds the rear of the blades securely until impact. An all-steel collar and elastomeric ring, which make up the Dual Trap, are designed to provide strength and reliability. The Lutz blades are .03-inch thick and reach a 2-inch cutting diameter when fully deployed. The stainless steel ferrule terminates in a cut-on-contact tip. MSRP: $49.99 per 3.
The Hunga Munga features a 3-blade design that opens to a 1 7„16-inch cutting diameter. Blades are able to open independently and follow what the company calls a "Meat Scoop," which pushes impact material into the blade to force deployment. A blade clip snugly secures each blade before and during flight, eliminating the need for O-rings or rubber bands and also reduces noise from rattling. The tip-forward design is intended to reduce deflection on steeply angled shots. MSRP: $34.95 per 3.
Innerloc EXP 2-Blade
The EXP 2-Blade uses a small spring clip that acts as the pivot point for the blades and also applies a small amount of pressure that retains the blades in flight. A "cam" built into the blades interacts with the clip and actually varies the amount of tension they experience throughout the deployment process. Another unique feature is found in the two-function collar that can be flipped for two cutting-diameter choices — 1.125 inches and 1.44 inches. Stainless steel components are designed to get the job done regardless of weather or temperature. MSRP: $37.99 per 3.
NAP Spitfire Maxx
The Spitfire Maxx carries a larger cutting diameter than the original, with an advertised reach of 1.75 inches. No O-rings or rubber bands are needed, as NAP uses a unique, pressure-retention system to keep the .03-inch blades secure until impact. NAP's patented, micro-groove ferrule is advertised to improve flight characteristics and penetration, while the Diamize sharpened blades are said to cause massive hemorrhaging. MSRP: $39.99 per 3.
No Limit Archery Grave Digger
A combination of fixed and mechanical blades makes the Grave Digger unique among our contenders. A cut-on-contact blade made from 420 stainless steel forms the tip and creates a 1-inch cutting diameter, while the curved, mechanical blades open to a 1.75-inch cut. The curvature actually protrudes somewhat when closed, causing the mechanical blades to catch on the impact material and forcing them to deploy. MSRP: $42.99 per 3.
The Hypodermic's two rear-deploying blades are made of stainless steel and measure .035-inch thick. A solid, single-piece steel ferrule is machined with a hybrid tip that couples the benefits of a hard-hitting chisel with the aerodynamics of a low-profile, leading-edge blade. A unique plastic Shock Collar holds the blades securely in flight but releases them on impact for complete deployment. MSRP: $44.99 per 3.
Rexpid uses a one-of-a-kind gear system that forces the blades to open in tandem and also provides the tension needed to secure the blades in flight. The stainless steel head has two ears that protrude out each side where the blades are attached. The trocar tip is designed to carry the Rexpid II through tough hide and bone, while the sharp blades are intended to create a high hemorrhage rate. MSRP: $39.99 per 3.
The Steelhead has been around for a long time and has a reputation for being rugged and dependable on game. It has three blades that open to a 1.125-inch cut through an over-the-top action. Stainless steel blades are secured to the body with small screws and are held in place during flight with a rubber band. The ferrule is a one-piece, solid steel unit that is titanium nitride coated. The Steelhead also features a machined chisel tip for bone penetration. MSRP: $39.99 per 3.
Slick Trick Nuke
The Nuke has a 1.3-inch diameter in flight and expands to a 1.8-inch cutting diameter when deployed. It takes little movement for the blades to make that transition, which translates into efficiency (less wasted energy). An aluminum body with steel Trocar tip works with the stainless steel blades to create what Slick Trick calls quick-killing "Slug Holes." Slick Trick has a reputation for super sharp blades, and the Nuke had the sharpest blades in our test. MSRP: $39.99 per 3.
Trophy Taker Ulmer Edge Stainless Steel
The Ulmer Edge Stainless Steel is a low-profile head that features rear-deploying blades. Even the back sides of the .036-inch thick blades are sharpened to cause damage on the way in and out for non-pass through shots. A distinctive blade engagement feature is advertised to allow the blades to pivot around bone when necessary. A setscrew locks the blades in place for practice sessions. The single-piece, stainless steel ferrule is machined into a chisel tip to optimize hard-impact penetration. MSRP: $49.99 per 3.
Wasp Jak-Hammer SST
The Jak-Hammer SST is outfitted with Wasp's Stainless Smart Tip (SST), which pre-aligns the edges of the trocar tip with the line of the three blades. This creates a straight cutting path from tip to tail. The stainless steel blades are held in place with an O-ring until impact, when they open to a 1.25-inch diameter cut. Blades measure .036-inch thick. MSRP: $31.99 per 3.