Mechanical vs Fixed Blade Broadheads

For many years archery camps has been divided into two camps.  One half favour fixed blade broadheads and the other mechanical.  One would think that the older hunters would be in the fix blade camp, the younger in the mechanical but this is not the case.  One thing all archers can agree on is that broadheads must be sharp, balanced and well-tuned.

All broadheads have a ferrule which is the main body of the head, a point and either an insert or threaded portion to attach the head to the arrow.

The difference between a fixed blade and mechanical head is determined by how the blades of the head are attached to the ferrule.

Fixed blade heads are machined either as one solid piece or have replaceable blades that are fixed to the ferrule.

Mechanical heads have blades that move on impact, that swing open and pivot through the ferrule.

Cutting diameter refers to the circular area from the most outward points of the cutting blades of the head.  A larger cutting diameter greatly increase the opportunity for more devastating damage causing greater blood lose and blood trails.  But with larger diameter comes the chance that wind may steer the arrow off target affecting accuracy.  Smaller cutting diameters offer less cutting surface but greater accuracy and better penetration.   Things to consider when choosing broadheads are the anatomy of the game animal you are pursuing.  Is the animal a small body?  Does the animal have tough skeletal structure protecting its vital organs?  Will a larger diameter head increase or decrease your chances of penetrating and damaging those vital organs?

Penetration of the arrow through the target is another item to consider.  The arrow must pass through the target leaving a wound that will allow a greater blood trail.  This brings us to arrow head weight.  Whether you choose a fixed blade or mechanical head, you must choose the right weight.  Broadheads come in a range of weights from 85 grains to 140 and some heavier.

A great starting point is to select a head weight that matches your regular field point weight that your regularly target shoot with.  You have your arrows already matched and tuned for maximum performance already at that weight.  Do not fall victim to the thoughts that bigger and heavier are better; choosing a head too big and heavy can cause poor performance.

Accuracy of your arrow is the most important item to consider.  If your arrow cannot consistently hit the target you are aim for, you’re not going to be successful.

Mechanical vs Fixed Blade Broadheads001Fixed Blade Heads


– no moving parts, rubber bands or collars

– removable or replaceable blades

– more suitable for lower poundage draw weights

– very good penetration to kinetic energy transfer (no energy loss on impact)


– Smaller cutting diameters ( 1 ¼ inch is about the biggest)

– Flight patterns in wind can cause drifting

Mechanical vs Fixed Blade Broadheads002Mechanical Broadheads


– most of the time they shoot exactly the same as your field points

– significantly larger cutting diameters (up to 3 inches)


– need an O-ring or rubber band to hold the blades closed until time to deploy

– possible the blades may open early

– possible the blades open late or not at all

– poor penetration due to kinetic energy loss needed to open the blades at impact

– weaker blades due to being thinner and not ridged

This brings us to a sub category of hunting heads, not always sharp or large but designed for special species.  The “Small Game” hunting arrow tips come in different shapes and sizes.  Most are designed with the idea of blunt force impact doing the dispatching of the game.  The simplest of these are sometimes just added between the arrow shaft and field point like Bateman Adders.

Mechanical vs Fixed Blade Broadheads003Some heads are a bit more involved with springs and wires designed to grab and tear along with transferring blunt force from the arrow like the Zwickey Judo Unloseable.  I prefer the one piece style heads like the G5 Small Game Head.  They offer a 1“ grabbing diameter, are stainless steel that can easily be sharpened with a round file.

For the bird hunters out there, the archery pros have you covered as well.  With the Snaro Bird heads, it is possible to take pheasants, ducks, grouse and small mammals.  These heads have a blunt center with four wire loops in the form of a clover.  These heads are heavy though, weighing in at 200-300 grains and a very large diameter of up to 6“.  These heads fly much slower and are not effective at long ranges, but are fun for an afternoon of some different hunting.  Key points to remember when setting up broadheads no matter what style you choose are to make sure they are sharp and practice, practice and wait for it …….. PRACTICE!

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