Ask MeatEater: What’s the Best Broadhead for Deer?

Ask MeatEater: What’s the Best Broadhead for Deer?

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers (and if we don’t, we’ll make them up). Every day, fellow MeatEaters send us more than 100 emails regarding hunting, fishing, cooking, conservation, and more. So, we decided to publish a series dedicated to our favorite FAQs. This is Ask MeatEater.

While hunters are often too quick to blame a faint blood trail on broadheads, they can be the difference between a full freezer and lost deer. The business end of an arrow is arguably the most important part of an archery setup and they’re downright fun if you want to experiment at home or at the range.

Over the last decade, I’ve switched deer broadheads every single year. I’ve shot every style on the market—from the giant mechanicals that look like they could bring down a ‘squatch, to the dart-like fixed blades that resemble what the first hunters used. From my anecdotal observations, here are the best broadheads for deer hunters.

Best Fixed Blade Broadheads for Deer
The benefits of using a fixed blade broadhead is that they’re more reliable and more durable. They don’t rely on any moving parts, they’re better at bullying their way through bones, and they can kill more critters without repair. But the drawbacks are that you’ll get smaller cuts and worse flight. They’re often the choice for generalist hunters who want a broadhead that’ll perform on elk, deer, and turkey, and penetrate shoulders, ribs, and breastplates.

I like a fixed blade that uses quality materials and has an efficient design. Two such broadheads are the SIK F4 and QAD Exodus. The F4 is a traditional two-blade broadhead with two bleeder blades that has a big cut diameter at 1.35 inches. It’s about as accurate as a fixed blade broadhead gets and will cut going in and coming out. The three-blade Exodus has uniquely swept-back blades that create a 1.25-inch-wide cut. It’s known for consistently winning broadhead tests for both penetration and durability, with countless YouTube videos and magazine articles showing it ram its way through carpet, steel, plywood, and whatever else people throw at it.

Best Mechanical Broadheads for Deer
The benefits of using a mechanical broadhead is that they create enormous wound channels and are superior in flight. They usually make larger entry and exit holes, cause more internal damage, and take little to no tuning. But the drawbacks are that they can potentially come open in your quiver or in flight, or possibly not deploy in an animal. They’re also less durable and have more drag, which limits penetration. Mechanicals are usually the choice for hunters that want easy-to-follow blood trails and are confident they can avoid a deer’s shoulder.

I like a mechanical that cuts at least 2 inches and has a simple deploy system. Two such broadheads are the SEVR Titanium 2.0 and NAP Spitfire XXX. The two-blade Titanium 2.0 is a rear-deploying broadhead with a 2-inch cut. Its one-piece titanium ferrule makes it more durable than most mechanicals, and its lock-and-pivot blades maneuver around bones rather than going through them. The three-blade Spitfire XXX is a front-deploying broadhead with a 2-inch cut. Its trophy tip is able to break through bones easier than most mechanicals and its three-blade cut has created the largest blood trails I’ve ever seen.

Final Shot
To be totally honest, any broadhead will kill a deer if the shot is right. No big, giant buck is going to survive an arrow through both lungs or the heart—but there’s still the matter of making the process as quick as possible and getting a clean recovery.

There are tradeoffs with whatever choice you make between a fixed blade and a mechanical, two blades and three blades, 100 grains and 125 grains, front deploying and rear deploying, etc. Like picking a height to set tree stands or buying a bow, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Although I have total confidence in these four broadheads for deer, you just need to choose the head that’s right for your setup and your style of hunting.

Feature image via Captured Creative.

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