The hype surrounding the “business” end of an arrow is, at least in this writer’s humble opinion, at an all-time high. My inbox doesn’t go a week without an email from a would-be broadhead manufacturer looking for advice on how and when to bring his new deer destroyer to market.
The problem for these young fish: The expandable broadhead ocean is full of hungry sharks, sharks that own a number of patents and have cult-like followings. I do admire their entrepreneurial spirit and spunk, and while a few of them undoubtedly escape the teeth and emerge into the industry, many get swallowed by the sharks.
I’m sure the neurons in your brain have already developed the question, but I will go ahead and pen it for you: Just who are the sharks? Each of you reading this has your own opinion, and to be frank, if the company you have in mind is established in the outdoor industry and packs of their heads can be found in pro shops and box stores, you’re shooting a shark. Just remember, sharks come in all sizes.
Though I shot many over the years, here are a few sharks I chose to swim with this past season.
Rage: I know there are some who wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for a truckload of Rage heads. Yes, I take the time to read your emails. Then there are those like me that tremble with excitement when threading a Rage onto an arrow. Personally, I shake because I know the damage that will result when the beast is released and the head hits home. After a season of shooting Rage broadheads, I will gladly testify to their accuracy and lethality. The red-carpet blood trails I had the privilege to follow — both on well-hit animals and those I was a little worried about — were incredible.
My Rage of choice is the Rage Hypodermic. I haven’t had time to test the new Hypodermic +P yet, but that day is rapidly approaching. What first drew me to the Hypodermic was its exclusive needle-point-like hybrid tip. This tip is small and streamlined, which keeps arrow kinetic energy up and boosts downrange accuracy. I’ve tested both the included practice tip and the actual Hypodermic out to a distance of 100 yards, and with a well-tuned bow, both are field-point accurate. The ferrule is one solid piece of stainless steel, and the .035-inch blades are surgically sharp. The first animal I shot this past season was a plump black bear and I could practically fit my fist in the entry hole. This 100-grain head promises a 2-inch cutting diameter, but in my experience the holes (both entry and exit) tend to exceed this measurement. Lastly, and probably most importantly, this head stays compact and closed in flight via the Shock Collar. In my mind, the addition of this piece of blade-retaining-plastic changed the game for Rage and its many followers.
NAP: I stopped the heartbeat of a number of critters with NAP’s now-legendary Killzone in 2015. NAP’s broadhead roots run deep, and plenty of innovative thought and knowledge were poured into this 100-grain, 2-inch cut head. One key feature that makes the Killzone so special is the fact that the head sports no O-rings or rubber bands. The rear-deploying blades are tucked tightly away into a pair of side grooves that run almost the entire length of the ferrule. Keeping the blades closed to ensure maximum accuracy and proper penetration is NAP’s spring-clip design. In my years of testing and tinkering with these heads, I’ve never had a premature blade deployment.
Offered with a cut-on-contact or trophy tip (my choice for its bone-crushing ability), the Killzone is field-point accurate out to a tested distance of 100 yards. In addition, I’ve found that nearly every Killzone I’ve zipped through an animal and recovered was intact. The blades, though no longer what I call “razor sharp,” typically fold right back into the ferrule. Replacement blades can be purchased and heads can be touched up in a matter of minutes. On one particular south Florida hunt last fall, I shot a deer and a hog with the same Killzone. All I did was swap the blades and give the head a little work over with a sharpening device. In addition, on that same hunt, I put the trophy tip through the skull of a gator, anchoring the ancient beast in a matter of seconds.
WAC ‘EM: I never thought Mike Stroff and his partner David Langston would do it, but they did, and I will be forever grateful. The Wac ‘Em Expandable 3-Blade looks like a cross between a weapon you’d see on the hit Lord of the Rings series and a nuclear warhead. The good news is this new-for-2016 100-grain head hits like a warhead and, from my experience, would cut a nasty Orc in half. The ferrule is constructed from durable 7075 aluminum and the .034-inch stainless-steel blades are crazy sharp.
I was involved in the initial in-the-field testing process, and I want to note that as of press time I’ve fired four Wac ‘Em Expandable heads at four different critters (two axis does and two whitetail bucks). All expired within sight. The head flies like a field point (tested out to 100 yards) and leaves an incredible blood trail. Each shot was a pass through, which I believe is due to the placement of the blades behind the head. Let me explain. The needlepoint head pokes a hole and begins the penetration process. The prongs (which catch bone, organ and the like) sit almost a full inch behind the head. This design boosts penetration and creates massive exit wounds. Why? Because the blades sit so far behind the actual point of the head, the broadhead retains kinetic energy and the blades do not begin to deploy until deep inside the animal.
As for their overall durability, aside from having to clean mud and debris from the pre-cut veins in the ferrule, the blades fell right back into place (minus the one odged in an oak tree 20 yards behind the axis deer it blew through like butter), and the heads and ferrules were ready to use again.
Broadhead choice can be a sticky subject. My advice? Find a few you have confidence in and go paint the fall woods red. What do you think? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.