If there was an Arrow Hall of Fame, Easton’s Full Metal Jacket would be in it. This legendary shaft is trusted by legions of bowhunters around the globe, and for good reason. The FMJ line features a high-strength carbon core wrapped in a blanket of 7075 aluminum alloy. The shafts fly like darts, penetrate like crazy and pull easily from foam targets. In addition, Easton offers the shafts in 4MM, 5MM and 6MM models. Why? Simple. Options. Having a lineup of FMJ shafts available in a variety of diameters, spine sizes and dollar amounts appeals to the masses. The more options, the more bowhunters that head to the woods with a quiver full of FMJ shafts.
I’m one of those bowhunters. I’ve been an FMJ fan for years. I’ve shot animals big and small with the entire trio (4MM, 5MM and 6MM) at a wide range of distances. I even hammered an American alligator in Florida, anchoring the 10 ½-foot beast with a single blow to the head using a NAP-tipped FMJ 6MM.
When I heard there was a new addition to this renowned lineup, I couldn’t wait to test it out. When it comes to arrows, I simply can’t get enough. After all, the arrow is what our pricey bows push downrange. It is your arrow, coupled with a broadhead, that impacts the animal. It’s how the arrow performs that leads to either a smile or a sob story.
After spending two full weeks testing Easton’s new Taper 64 (or T64) FMJs, I can promise you’ll have more exuberant tales than painful memories.
A Quick Overview
I don’t want to waste words covering what you can read at www.eastonarchery.com, so here’s a quick crash course on this new offering. The T64 was designed for downrange penetration and accuracy. The shaft measures 6MM at the insert end, tapering to 4MM at the nock end. Because that 6MM portion is at the shaft’s front, this design boosts FOC (Front of Center) by about 30 percent. That means you won’t need to increase point weight or add a brass insert to boost FOC. The arrow will slice through the wind and retain more downrange energy, and because the shaft tapers, there’s reduced friction as it soars through the wind or an animal. The result will be more pass-throughs on big game. The shafts are available in a pair of deflection sizes that cover spine sizes from 400 to 300 and shaft lengths from 26 to 32 inches.
My inbox has been blown up by those wanting to know about cutting shafts. The big question, “How do I cut the shaft down without affecting taper?” The answer: Easton has included a “Max Cut” line on the lower portion of the shaft. The lettering is white, and you can’t miss it. As long as you stay below this Max Cut line, you won’t affect taper or performance.
Another big question, “Can you see the taper?” The answer: Yes, the taper is noticeable and, in my opinion, adds to the uniqueness of the shaft and gives it a racy, impossible-to-ignore look.
After cutting my arrows down to 29 inches, I cleaned the inner portion of the insert end with a Q-tip doused in rubbing alcohol. I then glued in the inserts. The T64 shafts boast 6MM RPS (Replaceable Point System) inserts instead of HIT (Hidden Insert Technology) inserts. For those of you who’ve built 4MM and 5MM FMJs and are used to the grinding stone and green HIT insert tool, you won’t find these with the T64. Simply apply your glue of choice to the RPS inserts, twist and turn them on the way in to ensure glue is delivered to the entire inner diameter, and then seat the insert by pressing down on a hard surface. I prefer to use a magazine set on top of wood. This protects the shaft and ensures a good insert-to-shaft bond. My finished arrow length was a shade under 29 1/16 inches with the inserts.
The arrows wrapped easily using Bohning Blazer Wraps and the shafts fletched up quickly in my Bitzenburger jig. I like a bit of spiral to my vane orientation, and I use a right helical clamp. A helical vane orientation gets arrows spinning and works well with field points, as well as mechanical and fixed-blade broadheads.
Finished arrow weight with an attached 100-grain point was 514.8 grains.
In the Shop
At my local pro shop, I fired my newly made Taper T64 arrows through a chronograph and through paper and bare-shaft tuned them from a distance of 20 yards. For such a heavy shaft, I was impressed with the three-arrow average 264-fps rating. This speed, combined with a grain weight of 514.8, creates a kinetic-energy rating of 79.53 foot-pounds. That’s more than enough energy for any North American big game. The bow the arrows were fired from was Prime’s Logic CT5 set at 70.1 pounds of draw weight and a draw length of 29 inches.
These shafts tuned up quickly. It took only two shots through paper to create the tear I was looking for. Bare-shaft tuning was equally easy. In fact, my bare shaft shot hit right next to my fletched shaft at a distance of 20 yards. (I purposefully shot the shafts at separate spots so I could better evaluate the position of each shaft.)
At The Range
This is, without question, Easton’s best FMJ incarnation to date. Wow! I was flabbergasted with my 80-, 90- and 100-yard groups. I shot three-arrow groups at each range, and only the 100-yard group measured more than 3 inches in diameter. Its exact diameter was 5.75 inches. Out of a Spot-Hogg Hooter Shooter in wind speeds of 6 to 9 mph, which hit the shafts on their left side, arrows found the same hole time and time again out to a distance of 80 yards. These arrows are scary accurate. And, because of their weight, they’re whisper quiet. They help ensure a bow is quiet and featured a low decibel reading, recorded with a quality microphone, downrange.
Like other members of the FMJ family, the T64 shafts pulled like butter from foam targets, and though I won’t be able to expand on their full penetration ability until I run them through a few hogs in the coming months, I will note they buried deeper into fresh foam than my 5MM FMJ shafts.
Yes, Easton knows these shafts are pricy. They have to be. The engineering process is complex. The T64 wasn’t created to replace any of the trusted shafts in the FMJ line. They were created to fill a niche, to provide those super-anal archers like me a shaft that promises enhanced downrange accuracy and penetration. The Taper 64 is available only through authorized Easton dealers and comes with a price tag of $299.99 per dozen.
These shafts have earned a place in my quiver, and I will keep you all updated on their in-the-field performance in the coming months. Until then, shoot on, my friends.