The 10 Best Hunting Arrows

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This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Bow shooting may be a traditional sport, but that doesn't mean the technology hasn't come a long way since the days of wood and stone. In particular, hunting arrows have improved both in material and design in recent years, allowing for greater accuracy, speed, and penetration. Our list includes offerings from some of the top brands, with options suitable for novices to advanced marksmen. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Carbon Express Maxima Red

2. Easton Genesis II

3. Gold Tip Hunter XT

Editor's Notes

September 13, 2020:

Whether you just got an archery set and are ready to move onto some better arrows than those included with your kit, or simply need to re-up on your supply after the last hunting season, you'll find what you need here.

First and foremost, when choosing your hunting arrows, you'll obviously need to make sure you are buying the right kind for your weapon. So, if you have a crossbow, you need to make sure you don't accidentally pick out arrows designed for a compound or longbow, and vice versa. It is also important to match your arrows to the draw length and weight of your bow. After matching your arrow to your weapon, there are other factors that should be considered, such as arrow design, weight, and material, and your intended application. We took all of this into consideration when selecting the options on this list.

Those who like to hunt big game will want to focus on arrows that have high stopping power, such as the Carbon Express Maxima Red, Victory Archery Xtorsion SS Gamer, and Carbon Express PileDriver. The Carbon Express Maxima Red has a specially designed shaft that allows them to handle the pressure from high draw weight bows without it affecting how they fly, resulting in a projectile that hits the prey with a lot of kinetic energy behind it. The Victory Archery Xtorsion SS Gamer are heavy, perhaps too heavy for some, and have a carbon over steel construction that makes them resistant to torsional deflection, and which makes them less prone to splintering like pure carbon options. That, combined with their small diameter means they'll penetrate deeply when they hit.

While carbon arrows are great for a variety of reasons, their cost may be prohibitive for some, and if you don't have the budget to buy good carbon arrows, you'll get better consistency for your money with an aluminum option like the Easton Genesis II. These are the only arrows approved for use in National Archery for School tournaments, which should tell you a lot of how consistent their construction is and how accurate they can be in the hands of a skilled archer.

Those who can't quite decide whether they prefer carbon or aluminum arrows may want to consider the Easton FMJ, which feature an aluminum coating over a high-carbon core. This construction is said to offer the increased penetration of carbon arrows, but without the tendency to develop small cracks that compromise their integrity.

May 08, 2019:

Arrows come in a variety of configurations and no two archers may ever agree on which truly offer the best balance of speed, accuracy, and penetration force. That being said, it isn't too difficult to put together a nice collection of options that will have at least one choice to suit every user. If you are a crossbow hunter, we recommend the Carbon Express PileDriver, which are intentionally heavy for the highest level of penetrating force, and the Barnett Outdoors Headhunters, which have a nice consistency and feature thick walls to protect against breakage. For the bowhunters out there, we have put together a larger arrangement to choose from. When it comes to top of the line options, the Carbon Express Maxima Red, Carbon Express Maxima, and Gold Tip Hunter XT are no brainers. With exceptionally tight weight tolerances and a straightness of +-.003 of less, you can expect every arrow to fly exactly the same. The Easton Genesis II are a high-quality, yet affordable aluminum option that are approved for tournament use by the National Archery In The Schools Program, while the Victory Trophy Hunter feature helical vanes for quick stabilization after leaving the bow. The Tiger Archery Carbon and Antsir Outdoors Carbon were included as our two budget-priced options that are great for practicing with or keeping on hand as spares.

Special Honors

BlackOut Envy X5 The BlackOut Envy X5 have ±2 grains weight tolerance that, when combined with ±.005 inch straightness tolerance, should ensure they offer reasonably consistent flight performance. They come with nocks installed and are available in two shaft weights, both of which have an all-carbon construction.

4. Carbon Express PileDriver

5. Easton FMJ

6. Carbon Express Maxima

7. Victory Archery Xtorsion SS Gamer

8. Barnett Outdoors Headhunters

9. Guide Gear Victory Trophy Hunter

10. Tiger Archery Carbon

Understanding The Different Types Of Arrows

Most experienced hunters would say that if you are on a tight budget, you will be better off with a good aluminum arrow than a low-quality carbon one.

When you first enter the market in search of hunting arrows, you may be surprised to find that they come in a variety of different materials: wood, fiberglass, aluminum, and carbon. While all of these can take down game, it is important to educate yourself on the pros and cons of each, so you can make an informed decision regarding which best suit your needs.

Wood arrows have been around for as long as people have been hunting with bows. Despite their longevity and beautiful aesthetic, advances in technology have made them the least popular option for modern day hunters. That's because wood arrows are fragile and need to be very carefully matched to your bow's draw weight. Also, they should never be used with compound bows, which will put too much pressure on them, and which are what most hunters use these days.

Fiberglass arrows are a multi-purpose option that are just as suitable for hunting as target shooting. They are also affordable and relatively durable, so you can use them in either compound or recurve bows. Unfortunately, they tend to splinter over time and must be inspected often to ensure they are still safe to shoot.

Aluminum arrows are a popular choice because they generally have the highest accuracy-to-price ratio, meaning you can get an affordable arrow that will still fly true. They won't splinter under heavy draw weights, yet still have rigid spines, but they are heavy, so won't fly as fast as a lighter material. The benefit of their weight is that they hit hard and take down game well.

Carbon arrows are some of the most durable and accurate arrows, but they are also the most costly. While you can find some budget options, how well they fly will always be questionable. Most experienced hunters would say that if you are on a tight budget, you will be better off with a good aluminum arrow than a low-quality carbon one. Carbon arrows are lightweight, extremely fast, and can handle high draw weights well.

Making Sense Of Arrow Spine Ratings

When looking at the various arrows on the market, whether they be aluminum, carbon, or any other material, you will undoubtedly notice they all have a spine rating. Many people often confuse this with weight, but it is actually referring to a very different metric. Arrow spine refers to the rigidity or strength of the shaft. An arrow with too little spine for the draw weight of your bow could potentially splinter when under load and experience release problems, while one with too much spine can cause flight issues. Because of this, it is important to match the spine weight with your bow.

Because of this, it is important to match the spine weight with your bow.

There are actually two spine measurements — dynamic and static. Dynamic spine refers to how an arrow reacts when released from the bow, or otherwise stated, what effect the stored energy (also known as potential energy) produced by the bow has on the shaft as it is shot. The problem with dynamic spine ratings is that they are affected by a number of variables, such as the draw strength of the bow and the weight of the arrow head. Because of this, we recommend you focus on static spine ratings, which are not affected by other variables.

Static spine refers to how an arrow, cut to a 29-inch shaft length, reacts when an 880-gram weight is suspended from its center. The arrow is supported at both ends by points that are exactly 28 inches apart. How much the arrow deflects, measured in inches, is its spine size. For example, if the arrow's shaft bends 0.4 inches, then it would receive a .400 or 400 spine rating. This means that a higher spine rating actually translates to a softer spine, whereas a lower rating means the arrow has a stronger spine. It may take some trial and error to determine what spine strength best works for your set up, but once you have identified it, you should stick with it unless you increase your draw weight or make some other change.

A Brief History Of The Bow And Arrow

The humble bow and arrow has an amazing history and, along with the spear, is one of the oldest projectile weapons still in use today. In the past they have been used for providing food, waging war, and sport. Of course, in most countries around the world today, their use is solely for recreation. It has been such a prominent weapon in the history of mankind that it found its way into the lore of most cultures at one point in time.

In the past they have been used for providing food, waging war, and sport.

Historians have yet to pinpoint exactly when the bow and arrow was invented, but hard evidence proves they have been in use since ancient times. A bow was found in by Archaeologists in Holmegård Swamp in Denmark that dates to 6000 B.C.E. Close to Hamburg, Germany, even older arrows have been found, which date to roughly 9000 B.C.E. If we look at indirect evidence though, then the history of the bow and arrow goes back much, much further. There are findings in Sibuda Cave in Africa that indicate this weapon existed as much as 64,000 years ago.

Because the bow and arrow is featured in mythologies from many ancient cultures, there is no way of knowing which culture first developed it. In fact, it appears as if it may have been invented independently by multiple cultures and at multiple times in history. This point is based on the fact that pre-civilized people on nearly every continent, who it is believed never had contact with one another, developed a similar form of the weapon.

From whenever it was first developed up until the invention the firearm in the 12th and 13th centuries A.D., the bow and arrow was a prominent weapon in warfare. By the 1500s A.D., archers in the majority of European armies had begun to be replaced by firearm divisions. Strangely though, Chinese armies continued to use archery divisions alongside firearms units until the 1800s.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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