Monday, June 8, 2015

Gear Review: Small Diameter Hunting Arrows (Part 1)

When I was a kid, I didn’t give a second thought to hunting arrow design. My brother and I would head right for the arrow bin at our local department store and just grab some arrows. We opted for quantity over quality and wanted to know how many arrows could we buy. To us, it didn’t matter that we were shooting 32” aluminum arrows and our actual draw length was 25”. Arrow Spine? What was arrow spine? Fortunately, as we matured, our increased knowledge pertaining to the specifics of proper equipment and form took over. We now shoot the proper arrow, at the correct length, matched with the draw weight of our bows. We all need to grow up sometime.

Bow hunters are particular about the arrows they shoot, and they should be. As a bow hunter who actively hunts deer and feral pigs, I need an arrow that is tough and will deeply penetrate. It’s no secret that I have shot many different slim diameter arrows in the past with excellent results. My curiosities lead me to see which ones would perform the best. While some bow hunters want speed, other focus on kinetic energy. If you wanted a sports car, you wouldn’t opt for a tractor trailer, or would you want a combination of the two? Either way, you want to get the most out your arrows.

Disclaimer: At the time of this article, I was not on any arrow company pro staff, nor was I paid by any of the arrow companies to write this review or include their arrows. In fact, the arrows in this review were either provided to me or I purchased them. While some major arrow companies opted not to participate in this review, I included some of the best arrows I could get my hands on. The HybrimatCRM target was also provided by American Whitetails as part of this review.

Why did I choose the HybrimatCRM target to gauge arrow penetration into foam? First and foremost, the target is virtually indestructible and stops the arrows dead. I have used some other brand name targets and the slim diameter arrows blew right through them. After using the HybrimatCRM for this review, I can tell you that I am more than impressed.

All arrows were shot from my compound bow set at 70 lbs. The finished length of each arrow from throat of nock to end of insert or outsert is 28”. After double-checking the spine and tolerance with cutting them that short, I verified all of the arrows would work well with my set-up. I used a digital scale to weigh each component before assembly and the fully assembled arrows.

Introducing the participants and assembly results:

GoldTip Kinetic XT Hunter – The components weighed in exactly as GoldTip stated and this was the heaviest arrow of the bunch.

Deer Crossing Archery SD Hunter – I opted to use the 120 grain stainless steel outserts offered with these for increased Forward of Center (FOC). These outserts go completely over the shaft and not into it at all. All three outserts weighed in differently by a few grains (122, 124, 118). None of them came in at 120. I had an issue getting the outserts to fit over the SD Hunter shafts properly, too. It took some time, but I was finally able to get them to fit. The FOC was 15.5%.

Deer Crossing Archery Hunter - I had issues with the inserts fitting into the shaft. Two of the three inserts fit perfectly, but the third shaft was either too narrow or the insert too wide. Either way, I could not get it to go into the shaft fully. I tried fitting the inserts in the other two Hunter shafts and had no issues.

Carbon Express Piledriver Pass Thru Extreme – Manufacturer specs matched my findings.

Easton Deep Six XD - Manufacturer specs matched my findings.

Victory Armor Piercing (VAP) – Manufacturer specs matched my findings. The Penetrator II outserts fit into the shaft and have just enough on the outside to keep it in place. The FOC was 13%.

When it came time to test the into the HybrimatCRM target, I asked fellow bow hunter, Brett Bumgarner if he’d be a witness to what I was doing, look and listen for abnormalities, and to also verify my measurements. I took six shots using each manufacturer’s arrows at 20 yards, and took the average penetration for my final result. Average penetration is listed below by arrow, ranked from deepest penetration to least.

Arrow Brand and Style Penetration (in inches)
Carbon Express Piledriver Pass Thru Extreme 11.88
Deer Crossing Archery SD Hunter 11.83
Victory VAP V3 11.79
Easton Deep Six XD 10.83
GoldTip Kinetic XT Hunter 10.41
Deer Crossing Archery Hunter 9.92

These were all fairly close penetrating into the foam target, but the Cabron Express Piledriver came out on top here. The next test would be a good one for all bowhunters to see. Part 2 will be posted later this week.

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