An often overlooked piece of gear in the bowhunter’s toolkit is a reliable arrow.
Arrows aren’t as exciting to tinker with as the latest carbon compounds, but behind the bow, they’re the equipment that has the most impact on deadly accuracy. You can skate by without a stabilizer or the latest camo duds. But you’re not going to hit bullseyes or vitals without a quality, well-tuned arrow.
After releasing hundreds of hunting arrows over the past couple decades, we narrowed down the list to our top-performing favorites.
Jump to: Hunting Arrows We Use
We’ve nocked dozens of different arrows in pursuit of all types of game across varied landscapes. These shafts that stood out from the rest all had a few things in common.
We’re looking for straight-shooting arrows constructed of high-quality materials that can power through prey with reliable consistency.
Jump to: What Makes a Good Hunting Arrow
The MeatEater crew has flung these arrows at a variety of species, and they’ve outperformed the rest.
Carbon Express Maxima Triad
Black Eagle X-Impact
Victory VAP Elite
|Highlight||Best Overall||Best Penetration||Most Durable||Most Accurate|
|Weight Tolerance||+/- 1 grain||+/- 1 grain||+/- 1 grain||+/- 0.5 grain|
|Spines||300, 350, 400||200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900||200, 250, 300, 350, 400||250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 600|
|Price Per Dozen||$320*||$200*||$264*||$200*|
|Product Notes||Product Notes||Product Notes||Product Notes|
Whether you’re spotting and stalking elk, calling gobblers to a blind, or ambushing bucks from 20 feet up, these are the non-negotiables when choosing hunting arrows.
Bowhunting is a game of inches, so arrows that consistently produce tight groups at the range are critical to success in the field. Spine, straightness, and weight tolerances should all be tight to ensure arrows are flying the same from shot to shot.
Whether it’s busting through bone or surviving a whiffed shot, hunting arrows should be able to take a beating without splintering, bending, or breaking. High-quality carbon shafts constructed with thick walls as well as features such as strength-boosting jacket systems and stainless steel components can keep arrows in your quiver season after season.
Long-range shots at western big game will demand a different arrow setup than 15-yard chip shots in the whitetail woods. Sometimes a heavy and hard-hitting arrow is best, while light and fast-flying arrows will be the better choice in other scenarios. The best hunting arrow is the one built for the quarry you’re after, the conditions you’ll face, and your individual rig.
If you want one solid arrow that’s versatile enough to get the job done on most big game, it’s the Carbon Express Maxima Triad.
Primarily a public land whitetail hunter, Tony aims for a finished arrow weight of around 500 grains, so he opts for the 350s which tip the scales at 10.1 grains per inch.
RED ZONE Technology, laser-matched sets, and Launchpad Precision Nocks combine for excellent downrange accuracy, while the extreme small diameter construction ensures optimal power and penetration without crosswind drift.
“Overall, they are just a solid choice for all kinds of big game, and they are extremely consistent from arrow to arrow spec-wise,” Tony said. “They are also small-diameter shafts, so penetration isn't an issue.”
For a nano diameter arrow that can get great penetration on big-bodied bulls, Jason sticks with the Black Eagle X-Impact 250.
“The quality of Black Eagle Arrows has impressed me over the years. I know the owner Randy and trust in his products,” Jason said. “The reason I went with the X-Impact is how light they are for the 250 spine (I shoot full-length shafts at a 32-inch draw and 72-74 pounds). This allows me to get a little speed back after I put 200+ grains of weight on the front.”
The X-Impact’s lightweight High-Mod carbon shaft paired with added weight up front ensures true flight for long-range accuracy.
“I like a good strong component system like the Black Eagle Outsert FOCOS,” Jason said. “Add all this to a .001 or straighter and +/- 1 grain tolerance, and I'm sold.”
Janis looks for reliable arrows that can stand up to whatever he throws at them.
“No matter what arrow I'm using, I want it to be tough and the connection between arrow and broadhead to be tough,” he said. “Sirius's products check that box.”
He shoots the company’s Gemini with its Stainless Outsert System. The shafts’ premium carbon sports a woven outer jacket to further boost strength and accurate consistency.
“They're also straight as hell, with super tight tolerances,” Janis said. “And heavy — I like to drive a heavy arrow. They go through ribs and lungs, no problem. And if you happen to hit scapula or humerus, they'll go through them too.”
Mark wants pass-throughs, takedown power, and consistent arrow flight when bowhunting bucks. The best arrows for the job? Victory VAP Elite.
These hand-fletched shafts boast top weight and straightness tolerances for ultimate accuracy plus an advanced nano ceramic coating that maximizes penetration and allows for easy target removal during long practice sessions.
“These micro-diameter, hard-hitting arrows get great penetration, resist drifting in wind, and get me the best groups I've ever been able to manage,” Mark said. “I keep coming back to them year after year.”