When it comes to the qualities bowhunters look for in a broadhead, strength is certainly near the top of the list. Because no matter how well a broadhead flies, how sharp its blades are or how big of a hole it makes, none of that matters if the head can't hold together when shot into the hair, hide, muscle, sinew and bone of a stout big-game animal.
Many broadhead makers claim their heads are tough, and truth be told, most probably are strong enough to get the job done under normal circumstances. Still, there is no denying the fact that some broadheads are tougher than others. While making plans for our 2013 broadhead test, we couldn't help but wonder how the heads in our test would hold up when subjected to a severe level of abuse. Just like Timex used to do with torture tests it put its watches through, we wanted to see if these broadheads could "take a licking, and keep on ticking."
With that in mind, we decided to conduct the zero-penetration test by firing each test head directly into a concrete construction block from a distance of 25 yards. A fresh section of block face was used for each head, and we recorded each impact using high-speed video equipment. As you will see in the videos that follow, these were violent, punishing impacts more severe than anything a broadhead is likely to encounter on a game animal.
Given that, we were not surprised that a handful of heads were partly or completely destroyed upon impact. More surprising — and reassuring, from a bowhunting perspective — was the fact that many of the heads in our test not only withstood the impact but buried themselves into the concrete while remaining completely intact.
In addition to the video footage here, we closely inspected each head after impact and rated the damage for each model on a scale that ranged from light to moderate to extensive.
Carbon Express XT 4-Blade
The Carbon Express
XT 4-Blade is one of two heads in this year's test with two primary blades and two bleeder blades. The backs of the primary and bleeder blades are sharpened so they cause additional damage if they stop inside the animal and start to back out. This head proved strong in our hard-impact and zero-penetration tests, as it only suffered a broken tip while passing through the sheet metal and embedded into the construction block in one piece. Below-average penetration and a slow hemorrhage time were noted. Accuracy was superior, as testing found the maximum deviation from a fieldpoint was an impressive quarter inch.
Price: $27.99 (per 3)
Clean-Shot Hollow Point
Designed to work like a core drill, the Clean-Shot Hollow Point
removes a .25-caliber hole while penetrating material. The Hollow Point's blades are quite sharp, and with a total cutting potential of 1.8 inches, it fared better than average in the hemorrhage test, with an evacuation time of only 14.6 seconds. However, the head suffered notable damage in our hard-impact and zero-penetration tests.
Price: $29.99 (per 3)
The 3-blade Fulton Ramcat
featured the widest cutting diameter of the bunch and had a total cutting potential second only to the 6-blade Toxic. It emptied our hemorrhage bag faster than any other head and actually had the best penetration in our foam-only test. However, penetration fell off the pace in our combo-material test. The Ramcat was fairly accurate relative to a fieldpoint, and while it suffered significant damage in the hard-impact test, it was largely unharmed in the zero-penetration test.
Price: $38.99 (per 3)
Flying Arrow Toxic
The all-new Flying Arrow Toxic
from Chris Rager (former owner of Trophy Ridge and Rocket Aeroheads) is intriguing, to say the least. It has a unique, 'coring ' design featuring six curved blades that punch a very large, cloverleaf-shaped hole in whatever they penetrate. The Toxic received high marks in the hemorrhage test, with an evacuation time of only 11.2 seconds. The Toxic also few extremely well, with only the slightest variance from a fieldpoint.
Although the measurements were very difficult to validate due to the curved shape of the blades, we gave the Toxic a huge total cutting potential of 3.06 inches — by far the most cutting surface of any head in the test. All those blades kept the Toxic from penetrating as well as smaller-profile heads, but with an entry hole that big, perhaps that's a moot point. The Toxic also sustained significant damage in our zero-penetration test.
Price: $44.99 (per 3)
Super-sharp blades and an average total cutting potential helped the G5 Striker
perform well in the hemorrhage and penetration tests. Throw in some adversity in the form of the combo-material penetration test and the Striker did even better. It also performed well in our durability tests. The head suffered only slight blade marring after passing through sheet metal, and when we shot it into the limestone construction block, it buried itself so deep we couldn't pull it out! In accuracy testing, the Striker hit the target .75 inches high and .33 inches right of center compared to a fieldpoint at 25 yards.
Price: $42.99 (per 3)
The Innerloc Falcon
proved to be accurate, with only a small variance compared to a fieldpoint. The head has average sharpness and one of the smallest profiles (total cutting potential 1.487 inches) in the test. Hemorrhage testing followed those numbers, with a below-average evacuation time of 18.1 seconds. However, the small profile aided the Falcon in penetration, as it ranked second in the foam-only target and jumped to No. 1 in the combo-material target. The Falcon also more than held its ground in durability testing, with only slight tip rolling and minimal blade marring.
Price: $38.99 (per 3)
Muzzy's all-new Trocar
took the top spot in sharpness, with a number close to our reference razor blade. It also has one of the larger cutting diameters of the group and a better than average total cutting potential. Blade marring was the only noted damage in the metal and block tests, making it one of the most durable heads we tested. The Trocar scored in the top third of the class in foam-only penetration tests and ran in the middle of the pack in the combo-material penetration test. On the downside, the Trocar's accuracy was not among the top heads tested, and it scored a modest 15.7 seconds in the hemorrhage test.
Price: $29.95 (per 3)
NAP Thunderhead Razor
Accuracy was a highlight for NAP
, as it impacted the target only a tenth of an inch right of the fieldpoint. The Thunderhead Razor was also in the top half for sharpness and had an average hemorrhage test, which followed its middle-of-the-road cutting diameter and total cutting potential. It fell off the pace in penetration but proved extremely tough against our sheet metal and construction block durability tests.
Price: $34.99 (per 3)
With a 1.25-inch cutting diameter and 1.875-inch total cutting potential, the QAD Exodus
placed third in the hemorrhage test and was better than average in penetration. It also did well in our block and metal testing and was above average in sharpness. In flight testing, the Exodus impacted the target .256 inches right and .483 inches high as compared to the fieldpoint.
Price: $39.99 (per 3)
Rocket Ultimate Steel
With its 3-blade, 1-inch cutting diameter design, the Rocket Ultimate Steel
registered average foam-only penetration and better-than-average combo-material penetration. Its results in the hemorrhage, sharpness and fieldpoint
comparison tests were below average. Although it was difficult to assess the result of the zero-penetration test because the head was buried in the block, it looked to be intact.
Price: $39.99 (per 3)
This head has two primary blades and two smaller bleeder blades. In one of the highlights of the test, the Solid S30V
hit the exact same hole in the exact same rotation on three out of three shots in our fieldpoint comparison test. Although it hit the target 1.2 inches left and 1 inch high compared to the fieldpoint, it was incredibly consistent. This head also performed well in the hard-impact test, with only slight damage. The S30V had below-average results in the block, penetration and hemorrhage tests.
Price: $79.99 (per 3)
Slick Trick Viper Trick
The Slick Trick Viper Trick
sports a high total cutting potential rating of 1.94 inches on a relatively small cutting diameter of 1.0625 thanks to its 4-blade configuration. It performed well in the fieldpoint comparison test, with only a slight variance from center and was only .7 seconds from the top spot in the hemorrhage test. The Viper Trick was about average in terms of penetration but proved tough in our durability testing.
Price: $30 (per 3)
Trophy Taker Terminal T-Lock
The Trophy Taker Terminal T-Lock
is a relatively small-diameter, 3-blade head that excelled in both the foam and combo-material penetration tests. It suffered very little damage in our sheet metal test and flew true, as indicated by its near-center impact in our fieldpoint comparison test. Its sharpness ranked in the bottom third of the test heads, while evacuation time in the hemorrhage test was in the middle of the pack.
Price: $39.99 (per 3)
The Wasp Boss
showed itself to be rugged, with great results in our durability tests, and it performed very well in the combo-material penetration test, coming in fourth. It was just below average in the hemorrhage test and impacted the target .2 inches right and .516 inches high as compared to our fieldpoint.
Price: $33.99 (per 3)
Check out more of our 2013 broadhead tests in the September issue of Bowhunting Magazine.