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Crossbow Broadheads vs Compound Bow Broadheads

Are Crossbow Broadheads Different than Other Broadheads?

At face value, most people will see no difference at all between a crossbow broadhead and a compound broadhead other than what it says on the packaging.

While there is inevitably a load of marketing hype (like with anything) saying some broadheads are specially designed for crossbow use, there are a few differences and advantages to using specific broadheads, for compound and crossbows, and we’re going to look into them shortly.

Similarities Between All Broadheads

Let’s first quickly look at what exactly the broadhead is and its defining characteristics across the board.

A broadhead is a set of blades or blade used for hunting that is attached to an arrow shaft used specifically for hunting purposes. For target practice, the tip of the arrow shaft is called a field point.

There is a huge range of broadhead designs and blade configurations with specific purposes that provide hunters with different characteristics both in trajectory, airspeed, drop, and penetration capability.

Marketing aside, it needs to be said that most manufacturers are constantly working on producing better quality broadheads that cut more efficiently without sacrificing flight.

The principles of broadheads stay the same whether you are using crossbow specific or compound bow models.

How do heavier and lighter broadheads affect crossbow shooting?

The important thing to understand here is the FOC (front of center) of the arrow. This means that the front half of the arrow contains a higher percentage of the overall weight allowing it to penetrate better.

The combination of using a heavy broadhead with a light arrow results in a higher FOC (front of center). Or, it can also be affected by the insert that is added to the front of the arrow. This is the most common way to add FOC with a custom arrow.

Simply put, FOC will maintain the arrow’s energy for a longer period of time down range. This means a shooter is able to shoot longer distances with enough accuracy and energy to take game without sacrificing arrow speed. Heavier arrows with a good FOC will be more accurate and less affected by external forces like wind.

Lighter broadhead and arrow combinations will generally be more prone to planing (deviation from trajectory) and will lose energy quicker than a heavier arrow. However, if you can achieve the correct FOC combination, a lighter arrow can still be accurate down range and have a better trajectory.

Are Some Broadheads Universal?

By design, virtually all broadheads are cross-compatible between crossbows and compound bows because the threaded portion that attaches to the arrow is the same. The differences in design across all broadheads are to serve different purposes and offer specific characteristics, but they are all compatible with any arrow other than traditional arrows.

What’s Unique About Crossbow Broadheads

There is a good reason why crossbows have products made specifically for them, and it lies in the principle difference between a crossbow and a compound bow.

For conventional bow hunting, your choice of broadhead is generally affected by your specific draw weight. So if you have a lower draw weight, a fixed broadhead is advisable because you don’t want to waste the energy to expand the broadhead upon hitting the target. If you have a higher draw weight, you can use your choice of mechanical or fixed without worrying about penetration.

Crossbows remove this difference in the hunter’s ability because the string is, in most cases, mechanically drawn. This means that you can confidently choose between any broadhead you want.

Contrary to what most people say, crossbow broadheads aren’t heavier. The number one selling broadhead on the market is 100gr. The retention mechanism of your crossbow is going to be rated to deal with the forces or energy that is transferred to the arrow. Fixed blades will also have a different angle on the feral.

Can I Use a Compound Bow Broadhead with My Crossbow?

The short answer is yes. As we mentioned before, there is no difference in attachment for all broadheads so you can fit a compound bow broadhead to a crossbow arrow.

What about mechanical broadheads?

If you want to use mechanical broadheads with a crossbow, we would highly recommend that you use crossbow-specific heads.

Because the increased kinetic energy generated by a crossbow is so much higher, it can result in the premature expansion of a mechanical broadhead. This will affect the flight of the arrow increasing the chances you will miss your target.

Manufacturers have gotten around this problem by using higher tension mechanisms that only open on impact. This way you can maximize the benefits of using a mechanical broadhead.

Arrow Shaft Differences Between Crossbows and Compound Bows

The term shaft refers to the main body of the arrow. This is the foundation of the arrow. To this you will add a broadhead, nock (a plastic or aluminum attachment to help the arrow capture or sit against the string properly), and the fletchings (the small wings to help stabilize the arrow in flight).

Modern arrow shafts are made from either aluminum, carbon, or a combination of the two. These materials have the benefit of being lightweight and with carbon shafts, you have no risk of the arrow bending which can be an issue with aluminum.

In terms of the material choice, when you purchase a crossbow, the manufacturer will more often than not provide carbon arrows. While you are able to purchase different arrows from the manufacturer that will not void the warranty, most customers who want to purchase something custom will almost always receive carbon.

We have already mentioned grain which is the unit of measure for the weight of an arrow shaft. Manufacturers will usually provide this value on the product box, but they may just state GPI (Grains Per Inch). If they do, you will need to make a simple calculation:

Length of the shaft (inches) x GPI = Grain

In comparing crossbow arrow shafts to compound bow arrows, the only real differences are the spine and arrow diameter. A compound bow arrow will vary in length and the recommended length will generally vary between individuals because it depends on the draw length of their bow. For example, if the draw length is 28 inches, they will require an arrow length around 28”, depending on the bow. This is for safety and performance reasons.

A crossbow arrow shaft can also vary a lot in length, generally between 16 and 22”, but the average length is 20 inches. The length that you will need is not based on your drawing ability (like with a compound bow), but the specification of your crossbow.

For this reason, if you are purchasing new arrows for your crossbow, you will need to consult the crossbow manufacturer specifications for the length.

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Measure Arrow Length - Carbon to Carbon

Why Equalizing the Weight of Non-Lighted Arrows is Important

When choosing Firenock lighted nocks you have an option use the weight match nock system.

There is roughly a 23 grain difference when adding Firenock lighted nocks. It can result in lower impacted points at distances of 30 yards and beyond, and also change your front of center percentages.

There is a simulated weight that attaches to your nock just the same as the lighted nock that will make all of the nocks weigh the same. This will ensure your arrows all fly the same.

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