The best penetrating broadheads have historically been those that start cutting the instant the tip touches the animal. The main blade forms the tip--it's all one piece--and once the tip starts the cut, the blades continue to slice easily through the animal.
Most bowhunters understand that cut-on-contact heads penetrate better than any other heads on the market, yet these heads are only now starting to gain widespread acceptance among compound bow users. The reason is simple: the quality of these designs is improving to the point where they can be shot at higher arrow speeds. Previous generations of these heads were typically made by welding the parts together, ultimately causing poor flight if the ferrules weren't aligned perfectly with the blades.
It was impossible to achieve any kind of reasonable consistency with these heads using anything but the biggest, slowest arrows. After buying a fast compound in the mid-80s, the problem was revealed to me firsthand. I attached one of the popular cut-on-contact heads onto my 2413 arrows and watched in amazement as the arrow nose-dived and hit the ground five feet short of the target!
MAKING A PRECISION HEAD
The heart of the Steel Force design--and the thing that sets these heads apart from previous generation cut-on-contact heads--is the ferrule and blade attachment system. Because the ferrule and blade are separate parts their tolerances can be better controlled. The ferrules on Steel Force broadheads not only line up perfectly with the arrow shaft, they hold the blades in such a way that they also line up. This ensures a straight broadhead that spins true in your hand and hits consistently where you are aiming.
All Steel Force broadheads, new and old, feature the company's patented blade-retention system. The system relies on a lock washer at the back of each head. The washer has slots and you turn it until these slots line up with rear flanges on the blades. When all the flanges are engaged in the washer slots, you simply turn the washer with the tool provided. This pulls the blades back tightly into their retaining slots and locks them solidly in place.
Steel Force is using its cut-on-contact experience to produce a replaceable-blade, cut-on-contact broadhead. The Venom weighs 100 grains and produces a one-inch diameter cut. The head's unique lock washer assembly retains the blades rearward.
Steel Force president Bill Henderson explains why this retention method makes the most sense. "On impact, all broadhead blades are naturally pushed back," he said. "This works against retention systems that work by forcing the blades forward by compressing the back of the blades into the arrow's insert. If the blades are even slightly loose for any reason, they can work free on impact and come out. However, with a system that retains the blades by pulling them back, impact forces serve only to force them into their seats even harder. The blades can't come out."
"Steel Force heads are best known for three things," said Henderson. "We make cut-on-impact heads that are razor sharp right from the box. We are also the only company making 100-percent titanium blades in our Sabertooth line and we are known for the serrated blades available on many heads."
Thin bleeder blades are standard on most Steel Force heads to create a larger opening for better blood trailing. The Hellfire series uses much heavier, .040-inch thick, secondary blades in lieu of standard .015- to .020-inch thick bleeder blades. You will also find several two-blade heads in both the Sabertooth and Premium lines for hunters looking for maximum penetration.
Finally, Steel Force combines service with craftsmanship. During the off-season, you can send up to nine broadheads at a time back to the factory to have the main blades sharpened for a minimal fee of just $3.75 for shipping and handling.
NEW FROM STEEL FORCE
I always loved the looks of the original Rothhaar Snuffer. It was a rugged, mean looking three-blade head, but it never shot well from my compound bow. The Venom is a new broadhead from Steel Force that captures this same look in a replaceable-blade design. This cut-on-contact head features a sharpened stainless steel tip that is slotted at the back to accept .025-inch thick blades. The blades load from the front, just like the two-blade Steel Force heads and are held in place with the same lock washer assembly.
The Venom is currently available only in a 100-grain version but Henderson is hopeful that he will have 85-grain and 125-grain versions available later in the year. The 100-grain model has a cutting diameter of one inch.
Most bowhunters find it difficult to apply a razor sharp edge to their sharpenable broadheads. "The Real Deal" broadhead sharpener is a do it yourself at home tool and works differently from knife sharpeners. You clamp the blade in place in a holder that runs on two rails. Then you slide the blade holder and blade against a stationary grinding surface. In this case, the grinding surface is a high quality diamond hone. Moving the blade back and forth rather than the hone allows for precise control of both blade angles while working the entire edge in one motion.
Sharpening cut-on-contact broadheads is a challenge for most bowhunters. The Real Deal makes the process simple. The system will apply a razor sharp edge to Steel Force's broadheads, and all two-blade, fixed heads and all replaceable blades.
According to Henderson, The Real Deal guarantees that you will get the correct sharpening angle. He also emphasized the importance of pulling the blade along the surface rather than pushing it into the surface. "In most cases, it is not necessary to remove material to create a super sharp edge."
The Real Deal comes with a leather strop and 2400-grit grinding compound to finish the sharpening process. The Real Deal is in keeping with the company philosophy of providing the very best tools for the job.
When I asked Bill Henderson to offer a single reason why hunters should consider Steel Force broadheads over others on the market he said, "Our competitors buy their blades pre-sharpened by strip grinders. We sharpen every single one of our heads before it goes out. When you buy a Steel Force broadhead, you are buying a handmade product."
For more information about Steel Force products contact: Ballistic Archery Inc. Dept PB, P.O. Box 9, Rosemont, NJ 08556-0009; (609) 397-1990; www.steelforc