When it comes to turkeys, having an arrow tipped with the right mechanical broadhead can mean the difference between success and failure.
by Jace Bauserman
The thought terrifies me, but if I were told I could bowhunt only one animal for the rest of my days, my choice would be the wild turkey. Why? The list is long but distinguished. For me, few things trump their vibrant fans, iridescent feathers, colorful heads, and deafening gobbles. I can’t get enough of them. Plus, tags are affordable, and since the U.S. harbors four sub-species, road trips can be planned.
Whether you’re a seasoned longbeard guru or new to the archery turkey game, few things will boost your butterball body count like picking the right mechanical broadhead. Yes, turkeys have thick feathers, but they are also thin-skinned and light-boned. Stay away from small-cutting fixed-blade heads. When it comes to skewering a bird, you want a large-cutting expandable broadhead boasting a cutting diameter between 1.5- and 2.3-inches.
The vitals of a turkey are small. In fact, unless you go for a decapitation, you have an area about the size of a softball to work with. I want all the cutting diameter I can get and pass-through penetration, as it applies to turkeys, isn’t a must. A two-inch mechanical broadhead grinding away inside of a 22-pound bird leads to a short death sprint.
Another reason I’m of the mechanical camp when it comes to turkey broadheads is accuracy. Although turkeys are often shot at short ranges, pin-point accuracy is paramount. While I always recommend confirming it, most quality mechanical heads will be fixed-blade accurate out of a well-tuned bow.
No, I’m not a fixed-blade hater. They have their place and I love them when hunting certain species of game, just not turkeys. I promise you will recover more birds — even those hit marginally — if you go with one of the following large-cutting expandable heads:
SEVR Titanium 2.1
Built like a German tank and engineered to kill, SEVR’s Titanium 2.1 ($13.99 each) is fitted with non-barbed, contained-in-the-ferrule blades. Upon impact, the blades jump into action and lock in place. As the blades rip through feather and flesh, patented Lock-and-Pivot technology allows the blades to pivot around bone and the like to keep the arrow driving straight. Practice Lock — one of my favorite features — means you can insert a single screw into the ferrule of the Titanium 2.1 to prevent blade deployment. This allows you to practice with the same head you hunt with. The blades sport a .032-inch thickness and the tip of the head is needle-point sharp.
NAP SpitFire DoubleCross
A front-deploying head creating two-inches of drop-a-tom devastation, NAP’s SpitFire DoubleCross ($39.99/3-pack) blends a total of four blades with two-stage deployment. The front-deploying main blades carve a two-inch cutting diameter while the rear-deploying bleeder blades showcase a 1 1/8-inch cutting diameter. The beauty of the SpitFire DoubleCross design is that this mechanical head cuts vertically and horizontally regardless of the angle of impact.
TRUGLO Titanium X Backflip
The newest addition to TRUGLO’s Titanium X line, the Backflip ($43.99/3-pack) comes in two- and three-blade mechanical models. Both feature a reverse-opening blade design that flips back as the titanium Tri-Cut tip pushes through feather. The location of the blades allows the Backflip’s head to start carving a wound channel and the blades to track seamlessly behind. This design reduces friction and boosts overall penetration. Each model uses a grade-5 titanium ferrule and precision, surgical-sharp .031-inch thick blades. The two-blade Backflip creates a 1 ¾-inch cut while the three-blade carves a 1 ½-inch wound channel.
Rage X-Treme NC
A tried-and-true turkey killer, Rage has made its famous X-Treme head more lethal than ever. Fitted with NC (No Collar) Technology, the X-Treme NC ($39.99/2-pack) features an extremely swept-back blade angle and the Shock Collar blade retention system has been replaced with the fail-safe NC blade retention system. Cutting-edge finger-like tabs on each blade’s Slip Cam pivot point prevent premature blade deployment. The X-Treme NC boasts a massive 2.3-inch cutting diameter and a 1.425-inch long 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum ferrule. Each blade is .039-inches thick, and the heads are available in a cut-on-contact leading-blade or bone-crushing chisel tip.
TenPoint EVO-X CenterPunch Broadhead
TenPoint leaves nothing to chance, and after an extensive field test in which the manufacturer sent 20 industry-leading broadheads downrange, the CenterPunch ($44.99/3-pack), according to TenPoint, was the clear victor in the categories of accuracy, strength, durability, and overall performance. A rear-deploying head, the EVO-X CenterPunch features a collarless design that keeps a pair of .030-inch thick blades contained inside of the 7075-T6 aluminum ferrule until impact. Tested at the ultra-high speeds today’s crossbows are capable of, this mechanical delivers a 1 7/8-inch cut and promises devastating results.
There you go! Five heads you can depend on in the spring woods. Grab a few packs, do some testing, and decide which one is right for you.
Horizontal vs. Vertical
It’s important to understand that most mechanical heads designed for crossbows will work with vertical bows and vice versa. Of course, most manufactures make crossbow and vertical-bow-specific models, but not having the word “crossbow” behind the name of a head you love doesn’t make it obsolete when it comes to firing that head from your horizontal field companion.
The key to a good crossbow broadhead is the broadhead’s ability to stay closed when fired at high speeds. While most broadhead manufactures post fps ratings, some don’t. If you’re questioning whether your tried-and-true vertical mechanical can be used out of a crossbow, all it often takes is a call or email to the manufacturer. With that noted, my favorite method is to simply test the head. The same holds true for the crossbow shooter looking to shish kabob a bird with a vertical bow. Don’t be afraid to take your crossbow-branded broadhead and use it with your vertical bow.