By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting & Shooting Editor
In my bowhunting career I’ve gone back and forth between fixed-blade broadheads and mechanicals. In my mind it’s like the old Miller Lite commercial with one side yelling “Accuracy!” while another screams “Penetration!”
I’m not saying I’m the authority on all things bowhunting, but I’ve generally been satisfied with my choice of using tough, heavy fixed-blade heads on anything much bigger than deer. If I freak out and shoot an elk in the shoulder, I want to give my arrow the best chance of reaching lungs. But whitetails are different.
Certainly there’s a great deal of difference between a 275-pound Iowa whitetail buck and a 70-pound Texas doe, but on average whitetails weigh around 150 pounds and are not all that tough. I’ve done extensive testing by shooting whitetail shoulder blades placed in ballistic gelatin, and just about every broadhead I’ve shot—fixed blades and mechanicals–pierces right through them with modern compound equipment. So for whitetails, accuracy, not penetration is what’s most important to me. The most accurate broadheads tend to be mechanicals.
When it comes to mechanicals, I like the simple ones with large cutting diameters. Simple, meaning no rubber bands or crazy spring-loaded designs that I have to mess with each time I pull an arrow out of the quiver. There are many that meet this requirement, but one that is often forgotten because the company hasn’t offered a “new and improved” version in decades is NAP’s Spitfire head.
Three blades are held into the Thunderhead-style ferrule by good ol’ friction alone; when the point penetrates—and it will penetrate thanks to a steel chisel tip—the blades must open. Slow motion video footage shows them opening to their 1 ½-inch diameter max even on objects with as little resistance as an apple.
Of course there are gurus who claim that rear-deploying blades are superior—and I’m certainly not arguing against the effectiveness of Rage-style heads because I’ve taken a pile of game with them. But I do not like how its blades can come unseated so easily without me knowing it. What I do know is that there’s nothing fancy about the Spitfire design, and it has never failed me on deer when I did my part.
Other than being sharp, simple and accurate, I like that it’s available in a 125-grain version, a practice head is available for it, and its blades are replaceable so I don’t have to pay for a fresh three pack everytime one whistles through a deer and drives into the dirt. $40
Pros: reliable, accurate, large-cutting diameter, replaceable blades
Cons: is not part of the Rage rear-deploying cult