When it comes to hunting, accuracy and efficiency are paramount. Whether you're a seasoned hunter or a novice, researching hunting gear options is essential preparation. Two critical components that greatly impact your bowhunting success are your broadhead and vanes. In this blog, we will review recent discoveries from a series of field tests that will help you evaluate the accuracy and efficiency of your current setup.
The TAC Vanes and Swhacker Broadheads’ teams spent a day on the range testing leading hunting vanes and broadheads against the new LRP arrow system. Pro archer, Levi Morgan, along with former aerospace engineer and one of the designers of Swhacker Broadheads, Rick Forrest, and TAC Vanes operations director, Randy Groff, weighed in on the performance results in a live video. Watch the video here.
The tests set out to show the accuracy and consistency of the vanes through time to stabilization and groupings on target, as well as the drop of the arrow on a 100-yard shot. The broadheads were tested on penetration performance and durability. The TAC Vanes LRP arrow system, complete with 2.25” Driver vanes in 4-fletch and 2.75” Driver vanes in 3-fletch, and the LRP broadhead, were tested alongside AAE, Flex Fletch, Bohning Blazer, Q2I, and DCA vanes. The broadheads were tested against Grim Reaper, Rage, NAP, Megameat, and Iron Will broadheads.
1. Time to Stabilization
With this test, the team was looking to see which vanes caused the arrow to start spinning sooner. The arrow spin rate tells us how many feet the arrow can travel out of the bow before it rotates 90 degrees. We realized the higher spin rate was directly related to the amount of drop and drag as well. Here’s how the competition stacked up:
Distance to a full 90-degree rotation:
TAC 2.75” 3-fletch = 5.65'
Flex Fletch = 4.9'
TAC 2.25” 4-fletch = 4.88'
Q2I = 4.14'
AAE Max Stealth = 4.1'
Bohning Blazer = 4'
DCA = 4'
2. Arrow Drop Test
Observing performance in the 100-yard arrow drop test tells us how much an arrow has dropped at 75 yards. In tests like this, you want to see the arrow remain higher on the measurement with less drop. Here’s how the competition ranked: (These numbers are in inches and are only relative to each other.)
Measured on a 10-foot-long measuring pole:
TAC 2.75” 3-fletch = 9.2-feet; reading; drop of 8-feet
TAC 2.25” 4-fletch = 6.2-feet; reading; drop of 3-feet 10-inches
Flex Fletch = 6-feet reading, drop of 4-feet
Q21 = 5.4-feet reading; drop of 4-feet 8-inches
Bohning Blazer = 4.6-feet reading; drop of 5-feet 6-inches
DCA = .8-feet reading; drop of 9-feet 11.2-inches
The LRP arrow with TAC Vanes was the clear frontrunner when it came to having the least amount of drop.
3. Penetration Test
Dubbed everyone’s favorite test, the hide and plywood penetration test into ballistics gel allowed us to see broadhead performance at impact and during penetration. We were looking at several factors, including strength at the point of impact (how well the blades held up and were the edges still sharp), size of the entry hole, and subsequent damage done inside the cavity (cutting diameter).
Blades remained sharp and intact:
Blade(s) broke off in gel:
Blades opened in flight:
One blade broke off in flight:
We also wanted to test a Swhacker expandable against a fixed-blade competitor. When we looked at Swhacker compared to Iron Will in this same test, we saw stark differences in the actual cutting diameter versus the claimed cutting diameter for the Iron Wills.
Swhacker 2" = depth into gel 7.45"
Swhacker 3" – depth into gel 6.57"
Iron Will Single Bevel = depth into gel 8.75"
Iron Will Wide = depth into gel 7.01"
4. Rib Tests
We ran a few tests through rib bones. For this test, we used a rack of ribs from a pig with the goal of hitting the center of the rib.
With all expandable Swhacker broadheads, the wing-blades are 1” wide at impact. This will usually result in a 1.25 - 1.5” entrance hole, similar to the entrance hole of most fixed broadheads.
The fact that Swhacker broadheads nearly penetrated the same as the Iron Will broadheads should be enough to consider opting for the larger wound channel of an expandable broadhead. They are also considerably easier to tune and they will be more forgiving than large fixed broadheads.
Preserving the main blades creates a big advantage in the design of Swhacker broadheads and makes them unbelievably lethal for any North American big game animal.