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The cutting edge: the business end of arrows is getting sharper, stronger, and more accurate every year.

ONE of my bowhunting buddies believes we are living in the good old days of modern broadheads. Is he qualified to speak on this subject? Probably, because as a highly successful whitetail guide he has made a career of tracking and recovering deer shot by his clients. Very likely he follows more blood trails in one month than most of us do in many seasons.

Recently, my guide friend compiled a list of broadheads he would not allow in his camp. He had judged their performance--or lack of it--over many hunts and many deer. Now, when people call to book a hunt, my friend asks up-front which broadheads they shoot. If their choice is on his hit-list, he invites them to change broadheads or outfitters.

It's important to note that my friend's list now contains fewer models than it used to. That's not because he has relaxed his standards. Rather, my friend believes, it's because manufacturers are now making better broadheads than ever before, and bowhunters are making better choices.

I would agree. Indeed, I would argue that we're experiencing something of a revolution in broadhead design, material, and performance. Like bow makers, broadhead manufacturers have taken a hard look at previous offerings and said, "We can do better." And they have. Fixed-blade heads fly truer. Replaceable-blade models are tougher. Open-on-impact heads are performing better than ever. If you need proof of these claims, check out some of the following models. They're the best evidence we can offer that we're living in the good old days of broadheads.

1 | AFTERSHOCK ARCHERY

AfterShock Archery adds two exciting new heads to its 2005 lineup. Hunters seeking a mechanical broadhead with a 2-inch cutting diameter should take a look at the Tremor 125. Incorporating the same tough, anodized ferrule of AA's successful HyperShock 125, the Tremor also sports curved, .032-inch stainless steel blades that open on impact. The Tremor is designed for fieldpoint accuracy and pass-through performance on big game, even for hunters shooting lower-poundage bows.

Turkey addicts will be pleased to see AA's new Gobbler 100 and 125-grain models. Designed with AA's patented Inboard Center of Gravity, the Gobbler blades remain closed during arrow acceleration and then open smoothly on impact. This design ensures that the Gobbler will fly cleanly through the camo net covering the windows on many popular turkey blinds. The curved blades produce a cutting diameter of 2 1/2" for the 125 and 2" for the 100-grain Gobbler.

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2 | AMERICAN BROADHEAD COMPANY

American Broadhead Company (ABC) has enlarged its popular Sonic to create a new broadhead this year called the Liberty. Identical in configuration to the Sonic, the Liberty is a three-blade, cut-on-impact broadhead incorporating ABC's "zero plane technology." This design spaces the blades 120 degrees apart, minimizing turbulence and ensuring that broadheads fly like fieldpoints, even on bows shooting 300 fps. Offered in 100 and 125-grain weights, the Liberty sports a 1 3/16" cutting diameter and tough .036" stainless steel blades.

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3 | ARROWDYNAMIC SOLUTIONS

When Arrowdynamic Solutions (AS) introduced its Gobbler Guillotine, the company proved it could think outside the box. AS continues that trend with another innovative design, the new Atom big game broadhead. The Atom, available in 100 and 125-grain models, features a one-piece solid titanium ferrule. But the blades are what set this broadhead apart. Made from a nickel-titanium alloy, the Flexible Razor Wire blades pass through the body of the broadhead, curve back along the shaft, and lock into machined grooves. This design allows the blades to flex and compress as they meet bone or cartilage, then spring back after contact, resulting in maximum penetration.

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4 | BARRIE ARCHERY

Barrie Archery took two years to design its new Snyper XP3 expandable, but Barrie says this head was worth the time and effort. The XP3 takes the basic design and performance of Barrie's popular Snyper broadhead a step further. The main feature of the XP3 is the Devastator Tip, a stainless steel, cut-on-contact design with concave, chiseled edges for maximum penetration. The Cam Action blade system ensures that the three stainless steel, .027" thick, rear-opening blades always open on impact. Available only in a 100-grain model, the XP3 has a 1 1/8" cutting diameter when opened.

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5 | CRIMSON TALON

Crimson Talon has two new broadheads in its lineup. The Crimson Croc is a fixed-blade model with four Teflon-coated, serrated main blades. Offset bleeder blades create a "spiral wound channel" that retards clotting or closure. The Crimson Croc is available in 100 and 125-grain weights with 7/8" and 1 1/8" cutting diameters respectively. Finally, each Croc is spin-stabilized to ensure that every head flies field-point true.

For fans of expandables, Crimson Talon has produced the Black Mamba, a 100-grain head with replaceable, .030" surgical steel blades. The blades, expanding to a 1 1/16" cutting diameter, are deployed by an Inertia Trigger Cam that eliminates the need for rubber bands or o-rings. Tipped with a Spiral-Kut Tip, the Black Mamba is spin-stabilized with Spin-Tite Airfoil Technology, which results in true flight and increased penetration.

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6 | EASTMAN OUTFITTERS

Eastman Outfitters has taken its popular Tri-Loc broadhead a step further by introducing the Tri-Loc ST3, a hybrid head incorporating cut-on-contact performance and the convenience of replaceable blades. The titanium-coated Trocar tip on the 100-grain ST3 features offset cutting surfaces. Three ribbon-sharpened stainless steel blades are locked to an aluminum ferrule for extra strength and stability. Eastman is so confident in this blade-attachment system that the company will send you a free three-pack if you ever lose a blade on a game animal.

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7 | G5 OUTDOORS

G5 Outdoors, maker of the popular Montec broadhead, enters the mechanical arena with its Tekan broadhead. The Tekan is made with G5's patented one-piece Head to Thread construction, meaning there are no pins or screws on the stainless steel ferrule. The tough, cut-on-contact tip boasts a 5/8" surface. Two replaceable and resharpenable "camming" blades (.040") are secured in flight by an o-ring that helps spring the blades open on contact. Offered in 100 and 125-grain weights, the Tekan has a 1 5/16" cutting diameter.

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8 | GOLDEN KEY-FUTURA

New from the folks at Golden Key-Futura are the Deadhead Banshee broadheads. Banshees have hefty .048," stainless steel blades in a cut-on-contact design. The basic screw-in broadhead comes with two main blades; if a larger entry/exit channel is desired, bleeder blades can be installed. Available in 100 and 125-grain weights, Banshees are designed to fly well from low-poundage bows and on light arrows.

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9 | INNERLOC/SULLIVAN

Innerloc/Sullivan offers its popular EXP mechanical in a two-blade model this year. Like its three-blade predecessor, this 100-grain head gives shooters the option of changing cutting diameters. That is, by reversing the stop collar, you can reverse the blades for a 1 1/8" or 1 7/16 cut. Practice blades are also available for the EXP, and Innerloc's ClipLoc blade-control system eliminates the need for o-rings or rubber bands that can be affected by weather and wear.

Fixed-blade fans should take a look at Innerloc's Stainless Extreme, now offered in a 125-grain version. This three-blade head has the same small profile and superior flight as last year's 100-grain model, and it employs Innerloc's 100-percent stainless steel ferrule, blades, and tip. Finally, hunters seeking a light head to shoot off a fast bow need to give the Series 100 a look. This four-blade, 85-grain head sports the same flight performance as last year's sleek three-blade model but with additional cutting surface and only a 10-grain weight gain.

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10 | MAGNUS

Because of the popularity of its Stinger broadhead, Magnus has expanded that line with the introduction of the Stinger Buzzcut. The main feature of this 100-grain head is the serrated edge on the main blade, which results in an increased cutting surface and superior penetration. The main blades are made from knife-grade stainless steel and can either be replaced or resharpened. Bleeder blades are double-edged, 3/4" wide, and attached with Magnus' Bleeder Blade Locking System. Like other heads in the Stinger line, the Buzzcut comes with Magnus' lifetime guarantee.

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11 | MUZZY

Long known for producing quality broadheads, Muzzy introduces the Phantom for 2005. The cut-on-contact, traditional-style head comes with bleeder blades attached and is offered in 100 and 125-grain models. For shooters seeking lighter heads, the bleeder blades can be removed to reduce weight by 20 grains.

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12 | NEW ARCHERY PRODUCTS

Known for producing innovative archery gear, New Archery Products continues that trend with its Nitron all-steel mini-head. Offered in 100 and 125-grain versions, the Nitron is a replaceable three-blade design centered on a one-piece, nickel-steel ferrule. The Nitron's surgical-steel blades have a 1 1/16" cutting diameter, making this a small broadhead that delivers a big punch.

NAP fans seeking a mechanical broadhead should take a look at the Spitfire XP Pro Series, which now features a replaceable, nickel-plated, cut-on-contact tip. Like regular Spitfires, the XP models incorporate the retention-clip blade-locking system, which eliminates the need for an O-ring. Plus, they have micro-grooved Slimline Ferrules to further increase penetration. Available in 100 and 125-grain models, the XP's three blades ride on NAP's microgrooved ferrule and cut a 1 1/2" diameter hole when opened.

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13 | RAZORCAPS

At first glance, Razorcaps appear to be simple, fixed-blade, cut-on-contact broadheads, but they offer several innovative features. Although the stainless steel blades can be resharpened, replacing them is as easy as sliding a new three-blade unit onto the stainless ferrule and its Cap Lock locking system. Also, you can beef up the weight of the lightest RazorCap (100 grains) by simply adding heavier ferrules, available in 25-grain weight increments, up to 200 grains. With an overall length of 2 3/16", this is a long, lean head. The razor-sharp, durable .040" blades ensure maximum penetration.

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14 | ROCKET AEROHEAD

Rocket Aerohead's new Recon XP duplicates field-point accuracy with its Center Drive Ferrule system. The Recon's twin Razor Cutter blades are enclosed within the ferrule, eliminating exposed blade surface and maximizing arrow flight. When the XP Tip hits the target, it is driven into the sturdy ferrule and activates the hefty .027" blades. Available in 75 and 100-grain models, the Recon sports an impressive 1 1/2" cutting diameter.

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15 | STEEL FORCE (BALLISTIC ARCHERY)

Steel Force continues to place quality heads on the market with its new Steel Venom broadhead. Thanks to a unique locking system, the replaceable stainless steel blades reach all the way to the tip, resulting in maximum penetration. The hardened-steel tip features angled cutting surfaces that are in line with the blades, resulting in superior flight and no noise. Steel Venoms come in three weights: 85 grains with .020" thick blades and a 1" cutting diameter, and 100 and 125-grain models with .025" blades and 1 1/16" cutting diameters.

Turkey and small game hunters will appreciate Steel Force's new Talon series, unique heads with serrated, forward-facing teeth designed to limit penetration. The hefty (.048") stainless steel main blades cut a large hole, thanks in part to rugged bleeder blades. Finally, the aircraft-grade aluminum ferrule ensures that this head can take some punishment.

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16 | TIGHT POINT

The folks at Tight Point set out to deliver a simple, high-performance broadhead when they developed the Shuttle T-Lock. The heart of this head is a strong, single-piece steel ferrule with a cut-on-contact tip. Tight Point's O-Ring Technology provides a moisture barrier between ferrule threads and the arrow insert, which centers the point for straight flight and prevents the head from rattling loose. The base of each stainless steel blade (.041" thickness) attaches to the ferrule with T-Lock blade-locking system. The Shuttle T-Lock is available in 100 and 125-grain weights.

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17 | WASP

Wasp expands its line of high-quality broadheads with the SharpShooter 100, a 100-grain, fixed-blade head with a 1" cutting diameter. The main blade of this wicked-looking head is .040" thick, its bleeder blades are .027" thick and both are replaceable. To ensure proper blade alignment, the SharpShooter 100 has a self-aligning blade-locking system that uses a hardened, stainless-steel forward section that aligns the main blade to the ferrule. The SharpShooter will be available this July.

Today's high-speed bows were the inspiration for Wasp's Boss broadheads. For 2005 the company added the Boss 4-Blade 100 to this popular line. It's a fixed-blade head that flies like a mechanical thanks to its unique ferrule-to-blade configuration. Tipped with an SST Trocar Tip, the 100-grain Boss 4-Blade has a 1 1/16" cutting diameter and .027" thick stainless-steel blades.

This is only a sampling of the broadhead market, but it demonstrates why the "unacceptable" list of broadheads is growing shorter every season. Without question, bowhunters today are enjoying the good old days of broadheads.

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Title Annotation:BROADHEADS
Author:Bestul, Scott
Publication:Bowhunter
Date:May 15, 2005
Words:2149
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