Best Mechanical Broadheads – 2019 | Bob Robb
Best Mechanical Broadheads – 2019
by Bob Robb
Bowhunters under 40 years of age don’t remember the evolution of the mechanical broadhead. Innovative archers had experimented with the idea of expandable broadhead designs for decades, including the 1956 Mohawk, 1959 Geronimo, 1972 Pioneer Game Tamer and 1983 Viper, but it was Greg Johnson and his Rocket Aerohead in the late 1980s that was the first successful commercial design. However, to be blunt about it, the first mechanical broadheads basically sucked. They had all sorts of design flaws, were flimsy, and didn’t always perform as advertised. So many bowhunters were disappointed with them that for a brief period their future was in doubt. Today, of course, mechanical broadheads have evolved to a point where the best are easy to tune, fly like (or nearly like) a field point, are strong, have razor-sharp blades, and can penetrate as deeply as the best replaceable-blade styles, and their popularity has soared.
There are two basic types of mechanicals out there these days, the hybrid type that features both a fixed 2-blade head with additional mechanical blades that open upon impact withstanding. These are those that hold their blades intact by some sort of friction system (the NAP Spitfire is one example), where the blades are attached to the ferrule near the rear of the broadhead, and pivot backward upon impact. The second is the slip cam design, where the blades are attached near the broadhead tip, and upon impact “slip” rearwards, expanding as they go. Here the blades are held in place by either a plastic collar or rubber O-ring. The Rage family of broadheads were the first of this design. There are also 2-, 3-, and 4-blade designs.
I’ve shot all the designs at both targets and game and killed quite a few large animals with them as well as deer-sized animals. This past September, for example, I shot a 5×5 bull elk in Wyoming at 28 yards that was slightly quartering to me in the right scapula with a 125-grain SEVR Max Cut and a Victory Archery VAP 350 from a 70-pound Mathews Triax; the head blew right through the bone, and the bull was dead in less than 60 seconds. Admittedly, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the mechanical camp, but today I’d bowhunt any big game animal in North America (and that includes Alaskan brown bears) with the best mechanical broadheads out there.
And what are the best? My criteria for the best mechanical broadheads are simple. First and foremost, they have to fly accurately – and the best do at all distances. Second, they have to have razor-sharp blades. Third, they have to hold together after they hit their target. Fourth, the wider the cut (within reason), the better; I like a cutting diameter of at least 1 3/4-inches. And fifth, the simpler the design, the less there is to go wrong, and that’s always a good thing. Oh, and the basic design? For me, the slip cam design is the best, but they are also the most expensive. With that being said, in alphabetical order, here are my picks for the 5 best mechanicals out there today.
Bob’s Top 5 Mechanicals – 2019
- NAP Killzone: One of the first slip cam design broadheads that uses a spring clip, not a collar or O-ring, to hold the blades in place, the Killzone is a head I started shooting when they first appeared several years ago. I liked them then, and still do. They feature super-sharp blades and a 2-inch cut, with both a chisel tip and “Trophy Tip” designed for impact on bone, and practice heads are available as well. For more information, visit www.newarchery.com/product/killzone/.
- NAP Spitfire MAX: For those who like heads with blades that fold back (and a three-blade design as well), this is an excellent choice. I bowhunted with some of the very first Spitfires ever made, and have watched their design and performance improve over the years. I really like them for use of deer-sized game. These feature a 1 3/4 inch cutting diameter, cut-on-contact point, and need no O ring or collar to keep the blades in place. For more information, visit www.newarchery.com/product/spitfire-maxx/.
- Rage Hypodermic NC: The two .035-inch thick blades provide a large 2-inch hole, and they fly like a field point. Best of all, it requires no O ring or collar to hold the blades in place during flight. Instead, finger-like tabs on the blades’ Slip Cam actually “pin” the blades in place in the closed position. Upon impact, the blades seamlessly deploy. I’ve used Rage broadheads to kill a lot of animals, and they have never failed me. I also really like the Rage Trypan and Hypodermic broadheads and have killed lots of game with both. For more information, visit www.feradyne.com/rage-broadheads.
- SEVR: Introduced in 2018, SEVR offers three basic heads – Ti 2.1 Max Cut (2.1-inch cutting diameter), Ti 1.5 Max Penetration (1.5-inch cutting diameter), and AP 1.7 (1.7-inch cutting diameter), designed as a head for both crossbow and compound bow shooters looking for a value broadhead. Both 100- and 125-grain Ti 2.1 and Ti 1.5 are available. They feature a titanium ferrule, .032-inch blades, and a patented Practice Lock feature that allows you to practice with the same head you’ll be hunting with (and it works great, by the way.) I shot them a lot this past year, and killed a pronghorn at 58 yards and bull elk at 28 yards, both with devastating results. They are only sold direct-to-consumer via their website, and you can buy as few as one at a time. For more information, visit www.sevrbroadheads.com.
- Swhacker Levi Morgan Model 261: The world’s most accomplished target archer (and one heckuva bowhunter), Morgan helped design this highly accurate chisel-tip mechanical that also features a unique arched blade design which helps reduce drag as it penetrates through the body cavity. It also has a ribbed ferrule, which adds strength. Upon impact, the sharp 1-inch wing blades cut through the hide initially and then swing the primary blades into place to deliver a 2-inch wound channel. Added bonus: Swhacker’s advanced blade lock technology, which locks the blades in the closed position so hunters can practice with the same broadhead they hunt with. For more information, visit www.swhacker.com/products/levi-morgan-261.
Looking for a Christmas gift for the bowhunter in your life? Check out Bob Robb’s Gift Guide | Mechanical Broadheads.