The arrows you choose to shoot could be the single most important factor in your hunting success. However, finding the best hunting arrows can be a complicated and confusing endeavor, especially for new hunters.
On the surface, all arrows look pretty much the same. However, there are plenty of differences, some are impossible to discern with the naked eye. Spine, weight, material, and straightness tolerance all have an impact on how each arrow performs, both in the air and when it reaches the target.
If you’re in the market for some new arrows, but aren’t sure what to look for, we’re here to help. We’ve done plenty of research, both on the practice field and in the woods, to bring you this list of what we consider the best of the best.
Table of Contents
- How to Choose Your Hunting Arrows
- Best Hunting Arrows on the Market Reviews
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose Your Hunting Arrows
While even novice bowhunters are familiar with how their bow works, few archers (even those with experience under their belts) understand the intricacies of how an arrow performs. Arrow selection is a hotly debated topic in hunting circles. The fact that there are a lot of differing opinions about what makes a “good” arrow only work to further muddy the water.
Here are a few key things to consider when shopping for hunting arrows.
While there are many hunters who swear by a certain brand of arrow, you shouldn’t let brand loyalty limit your options. Every major arrow manufacturer offers terrific arrows. However, not all of their arrows are designed to perform the same way. Instead of shopping by brand name, look for arrows that will be effective on the animals you plan to hunt.
You should also check the recommended arrow spec of your bow. These are usually listed in your user’s manual.
While some traditional archers still use wood arrows, most modern bowhunters shoot arrows made of aluminum, carbon, or a composite aluminum/carbon material.
Aluminum arrows tend to be heavier than carbon arrows of similar design. The extra weight leads to slower arrow speeds. However, aluminum arrows are typically quieter in flight.
Carbon arrows dominate the bowhunting scene. Although they tend to be significantly more expensive than aluminum options, carbon arrows are lighter, faster, and penetrate deeper.
Arrows made from aluminum/carbon composite attempt to combine the best of both worlds. Composite arrows are extremely durable and provide the most consistent performance from arrow to arrow.
When it comes to consistent long-range accuracy, composite arrows are your best bet. However, these arrows are usually more expensive than pure carbon arrows, which can become a financial burden if you tend to lose a lot of arrows.
Modern archers have access to arrows in a wide range of diameters. Thicker arrows are usually preferred by target archers, because the larger diameter covers more target area, leading to higher scores.
An arrow with a wide diameter also has more surface area, which causes friction behind the broadhead. This can slow the arrow down while it is still in flight. It can also decrease penetration, once your arrow strikes the animal.
For bowhunters, there are more advantages to using arrows with thinner shafts. Thinner arrows fly faster, penetrate deeper, and are less affected by wind, which makes them better for shooting outdoors.
Spine is the measurement of an arrow’s stiffness. Generally the lower the spine rating, the stiffer the arrow.
Shooting an arrow that isn’t properly spined can have disastrous effects on accuracy. There are several factors that determine the amount of spine you need, including your draw weight, the length of the arrow, and the total weight of the arrow (including the point and fletchings).
The heavier your draw weight, the more an arrow will flex during flight. If you are shooting a low poundage bow, a fairly flexible arrow should work well. However, if you’re pulling major weight, especially if it is in the 60- to 70-pound range, you’ll want to choose stiffer arrows.
A crossbow arrow will typically have a stiffer spine than arrows suited for a recurve or a compound bow. The extra stiffness helps bolts perform properly at the breakneck velocities modern crossbows produce.
Longer arrows naturally have more flex than shorter arrows. You can actually make an arrow stiffer just by shortening it. Spine is typically measured on a 28-inch shaft, so if you need to cut your arrows to fit a shorter draw length, you should start with a more flexible arrow, then have it sized to fit your needs.
The straighter the arrow, the more consistently it will fly. Because arrow straightness can be difficult to discern with the naked eye, manufacturers provide a straightness tolerance rating.
Most arrows fall into a straightness range somewhere between .006” and .001”. An arrow with a .001” tolerance is the straightest. Arrows with this rating will not deviate beyond 1/1000 an inch from its true center.
A lower straightness tolerance (such as .006” or .005”) will work fine for most close- to mid-range hunting situations. If you’re hunting out West where the terrain is wide open, a better straightness rating will come in handy when you’re shooting long-distance.
Arrows with a low straightness tolerance tend to be more expensive, so be sure to budget some extra cash if you want super-straight arrows.
The perfect arrow weight for hunting is a hotly debated topic. There are nearly as many recommendations for what constitutes the “perfect” weight as there are bowhunters.
There are also a million variables that can affect how an arrow performs in the field. Although we can make educated predictions, they are only predictions. A slight breeze, the angle to your target, and how the animal is standing when the arrow strikes are just a few variables that can impact arrow performance.
In most situations, a 500-grain arrow is heavy enough to humanely harvest North American big game animals. You’ll need at least a 400-grain arrow for whitetail deer. While 400 grains works fine for small game, you can use something a bit more lightweight and still manage to hunt ethically.
Best Hunting Arrows on the Market Reviews
Here are a few of what we consider the best arrows for hunting currently available to modern archers.
Carbon Express makes some seriously tough arrows, and the Maxima XRZ definitely qualifies. Built with what the company dubs “Backbone Technology”, these arrows have thin strands of Kevlar integrated into the carbon weave. Not only does this method improve strength and durability, it also promotes spine consistency through the entire shaft.
These arrows are laser checked for straightness and have a tolerance of .0025”. They are available in a range of spines and weights (and have an impressive + or – 1 grain weight tolerance). These are some of the most consistent hunting arrows on the market.
The Bloodhunter features Bloodport’s patented Blood Ring Technology, which lets you quickly and clearly see the type and quality of blood on a pass-through arrow. The innovative white ring, provides vital information on what organs the arrow hit, so you can make smart decisions about how and when to trail a wounded animal.
Bloodhunter arrows are available in four spine options – 300, 350, 400 or 500. These carbon arrows are made with Bloodsport’s patented Rugged Wrap Construction. They have a straightness tolerance of .004” and an inner diameter of .244 inches.
Gold Tip engineers a variety of hunting arrows suited for everything from rabbits to hogs to moose. If you’re dedicated to the whitetail pursuit, their Valkyrie XT arrows should be right up your alley.
They come straight from the factory with 2.75-inch, low-profile veins, and with its lightweight carbon construction, the Valkyrie is built for speed. They have a .003” straightness tolerance and come in spines ranging from a super-stiff 300 to an ultra-flexible 600.
The Victory XTorsion sets the bar for high-performance, micro diameter arrows. These arrows have a .204-inch diameter and a .006” straightness rating. Additionally, every arrow is digitally spined for incredible downrange consistency.
With a hybrid design that incorporates stainless steel into the high modulus carbon fiber, XTorsion arrows are tough as nails. If you want a shaft that won’t shatter when it strikes bone, this one holds together and then penetrates to reach deep-set vitals. These arrows are perfect for bowhunters seeking large or dangerous game.
You can get a half dozen Victory XTorsion arrows for under $100, which is honestly a steal.
The Easton name is almost synonymous with archery. Their Full Metal Jacket arrows definitely embody the quality associated with the Easton label.
A great all-around option, Easton FMJs feature a shaft that is sheathed in a metal alloy. The design works to reduce in-flight friction and also makes them easier to pull from practice targets.
Easton FMJs have a straightness rating of .002”, and they are available in a variety of diameters and spine.
Carbon Express Maxima RED are some of the most popular hunting arrows on the market today. They use an exclusive hi-tech carbon material construction that manages dynamic spine to maximize broadhead performance. These arrows work beautifully for a variety of hunting applications.
All Maxima RED arrows are laser checked for straightness and have a straightness tolerance of .001”. They are available in two different diameters, .295” and .300”, and two different spines, 250 and 350.
Easton’s 6.5 Bowhunter arrows come with Microlite nocks which shorten the distance from the shaft to the bowstring. This design helps decrease overall weight and improves arrow alignment.
Easton 6.5 Bowhunter arrows also feature inserts with a larger shoulder to increase strength and provide deeper penetration. Rounding out the total package, these arrows are fitted with Bully vanes. Bully vanes are super compact and engineered specifically for broadhead stabilization and ninja-quiet flight.
Made with 100 percent carbon, Gold Tip Hunter PRO arrows are designed for speed, stability, and strength. With a tight .001” straightness tolerance, these arrows offer reliable downrange accuracy. Although made for hunting, Gold Tip Hunter PRO arrows also work well for 3D target competition.
Archers can choose from 300, 340, 400, and 500 spine and diameters ranging from .291” to .302”.
These highly affordable arrows from Easton are an ideal option for budget-conscious hunters. Aftermath arrows have a low profile and a super slick finish to reduce friction. The result is increased velocity and deeper target penetration.
Made from 100 percent carbon, Aftermath arrows are tough enough for repetitive shooting, whether you’re shooting at stationary foam targets or big game animals.
The Bloodsport Onyx is one of the strongest micro diameter arrows on the market. Bloodsport uses a patented process to create a thick carbon-walled shaft. Coupled with a front-of-center weight distribution, Onyx arrows produce less windrift and deeper penetration than most other designs.
Each Onyx arrow also includes Bloodsport’s proprietary Reliable Outsert Component system, which allows you to easily and firmly attach broadheads or field tips.
Priced well under $10 an arrow, Bloodsport Onyx arrows offer plenty of power and performance for the money.
Hunting is an incredibly diverse sport. The needs of an elk hunter differ greatly from those of the average squirrel hunter. We’ve tried to include a little something for everyone on our list of the best hunting arrows.
Although a quality arrow can definitely help you improve your archery performance, nothing works better than good, old-fashioned practice. Once you’ve chosen your arrows, you’ll want to spend plenty of time sending them downrange to improve your shooting skills before opening day.