July 01, 2013In the last ten years it has been exciting to see all the new broadhead designs introduced into the market. Some of the best designs have lasted while many others have fizzled out. One of the designs that have stuck is the two plus inch cutting diameter. It quickly became apparent when previewing the 2013 broadheads that dozens of broadheads are stretching beyond two inches this year. Many of these will hit the shelves of your local pro-shops this year. Nearly every major manufacturer has at least one deadly design with blades stretching beyond two inches.
With this in mind it was time to find out if this was worth all the hype. We will take a deep dive finding the truths about big broadheads. Almost any broadhead shot into a broadside deer for a double lung is going to lead to a short blood trail. But what happens when a two inch blade is used for an unfavorable hit. Maybe the arrow flies too far forward hitting the shoulder or a twig sends it into the stomach section. It is time to find out what are the advantages and disadvantages.
Pro: Large Cutting Diameter
In the last several years I have tested more broadheads than most will shoot in a lifetime. Yes, big blades mean a big cutting diameter. When making a perfect double lung shoot who would not want a bigger wound channel. Even when hitting a bit too high or far back a bigger blade gives you more chance of cutting something important. This is a huge advantage that will ultimately leave wide blood trails. This extra cut means there is more hemorrhaging causing a quick kill. Matt Bateman from Grim Reaper Broadheads has used a two inch broadhead on many animals. Bateman said, "The bigger the cutting surface the more blood gets put on the ground."
Big blades expand the range and give a chance for a poor opportunity to allow a blade to cut a vital organ. Bateman said, "Large three blade two inch diameter broadheads can really save you on a marginal shot, especially when hitting back farther. Using these big blades helped me recover a whitetail when my arrow flew high. I was fortunate that one of the blades cut through the top of the lungs helping me with a successful recovery."
The author watched this buck fall within 30 yards to the perfectly placed arrow and large cutting diameter. Author photos
Con: Less Penetration
The larger blade broadheads take more kinetic energy to properly perform. Bigger blades hit more whitetail ribs and take more energy to push through the animal. This increased blade length means more friction. Even with a perfectly placed arrow pass-through shoots can difficult.
During a recent mid-November hunt I squeezed the trigger on a buck which presented a perfect broadside shot. My arrow penetrated the buck pushing a gaping entry hole. Upon recovery I found the arrow to be lodged in the other side of the rib cage but did not exit. There was nothing but ribs yet the penetration was trivial. After searching for a better large diameter broadhead I quickly found a solution with improved penetration.
Not all broadheads are created equal so proceed with caution when deciding.
Within the past two years, there have been several heads reaching beyond two inches. Trying to keep a broadhead at 100 grains and provide a high quality head is a challenge. I have not found
any bigger broadhead that has impressed me.
Traditionally the blades have not held the
strength or integrity.
Pro: Quality First
My first experience with a big blade did not leave me with a positive experience. The broadhead had little penetration, poor blood, and a long track. After testing several others I quickly concluded that was a poor design. All broadheads are not created equal. There are many big blade heads that do not perform well in the field. When blades open independently of each other it is a plus on quartering away shots. Additionally, I though forward-deploying blades would be the better performers of penetration and larger entry holes but quickly found this to be untrue. Look for broadheads with a majority of positive reviews and you'll find those few golden nuggets within the crowd.
Con: Bone Crunch
While big blades have some big advantages there is a limit to the capability. Smaller blades mean improved performance on bigger game. Anything bigger than a whitetail and I would proceed with caution using a large blade. Smaller heads provide improved penetration and better performance with bigger-boned animals. Bateman was quick to say, "two inch broadheads are not for everyone. Those shooting less than 65 pounds or bigger game should use a smaller head." Hunters have to have a realistic expectation and know there will be less penetration.
Additionally if big bones are contacted there are diminishing returns on the shot. Because it takes more energy to break bone the arrow needs all the energy possible to push through both a big bone and onto a vital organ. No one wants to break shoulder bones but anyone who hunts long enough will inevitably hit a big bone.
Pro: Knockdown Power
A well placed broadhead into the lung with a two inch blade gives some serious knockdown power. Some of the bigger heads I have tried leave short blood trails and big knock down power. Having a whitetail fall within sight is a relief. In 2011 I was able to drop two whitetails within sixty yards of the stand during the same morning hunt. I attribute this to the success of the bigger heads. While using smaller fixed broadheads I had longer blood trails. Although the end result was always the same the blood trails were longer. Perfectly placed arrows and bigger blades leave the hunter with less tracking.
Heading into the season with the right expectation will ensure you are setup for success. I have really enjoyed shooting a large broadhead while hunting whitetails across the Midwest. My shot opportunities rarely extend beyond 30 yards. Also my bow delivers enough kinetic energy to provide me with many pass through opportunities. Many of these have given me big blood trails and many animals falling within sight. Take these pros and cons and decide if this is right for you.