Hunters everywhere whether at archery shops or deer camps constantly toss the debate back and forth. This never-ending debate among hunters is filled with vocabulary such as “I never found that doe” or “that arrow wasn’t even close to where I put that pin”.
Every year there is a recurring argument backed up with particular scenarios, or a whole lot of “this one time”. The decision is ultimately up to the preferences of the hunter, or what he/she has tuned the bow for.
What’s the real difference between fixed and mechanical broadheads? For new bow hunters, knowing the difference is essential so you can choose the right arrow point for your needs. Here is a quick outline of the pros and cons of fixed and mechanical broadheads.
Having a fixed blade at the end of your arrow is much less stressful than trying to keep a mechanical head from opening on vegetation. Once I switched to using the fixed head while hunting from the ground the problem was solved, and I was no longer having issues keeping my broadhead intact.
When you hunt from the ground, odds of shooting through vegetation goes up. This isn’t to say we’re trying to shoot through tons of stuff, but if there is a little grass or a leaf in the way you want to have a broadhead that will drive through without being altered. Our fear with the mechanical in this situation is that the broadhead will expand prematurely and cause for flawed arrow flight.
The downside is in aerodynamics and flight path. Since there is more surface exposed to a fixed broadhead (with the blades acting as wings), many hunters will find their shots are inconsistent without a well-tuned bow. Fixed broadhead hunters need to tune their bow before the season starts so they’ll be ready to shoot when the time comes.
With little to no exposed blade surface in flight, these closed-in-flight bladed tips move through the air with little to no aerodynamic drag—which allows the rear of the arrow (the fletching) to do the steering part, instead of creating guidance issues where the front of the arrow wants to steer as well—a phenomenon known as “planing.”
As a result, deviations in arrow flight (caused from a poorly tuned bow or a rough release) don’t send the arrow off course, which maximizes forgiveness and the ability to hit what you’re aiming at. The mechanical’s ability to put you back on target—instead of forcing you to spend countless hours adjusting your bow and paper tuning—is too good to pass up. This is why mechanicals will always have their fans.
The sacrifice for this increased accuracy is in durability, price, and penetration. High-quality mechanical broadheads won’t have a high failure-to-open rate as some early models may have experienced as the technology was evolving. However, because the blades aren’t released until impact, you won’t have as deep of an entry point as you will find with a fixed broadhead.