Dead Straight – The Best Hunting Arrows

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What’s a good hunting arrow and what makes a good hunting arrow? What are some of the best ones you can buy?

Hunting, specifically bowhunting is ever popular in countries where you can legally do it. It’s one of the most challenging experiences you can enjoy with a bow. The thrill of the hunt, tracking, waiting. Finally getting in close proximity to your prey, being able to smell them and hear their sounds, see their breath on the air. If the hunt doesn’t get your heart racing (or you live in one of those places where it’s illegal) then maybe the competition of a 3D tournament is more your thing. If that’s the case you may want to check out our guide on the best target arrows instead. Hunters… read on.

We’ve looked high and low to compile this list of some of the best arrows for hunting on the market today. Here are our findings.

Our Top Hunting Arrow Picks

Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers

What makes a good hunting arrow?

Toughness / Durability

When you miss, who knows where your arrow is going. Trees, rocks and the dirt are all good resting places. For a hunting arrow to survive a life like this, is has to be tough.Carbon arrows are amongst the strongest and most durable arrows made today.

Accuracy

Accuracy of arrows depends really on the quality of the build and the archer! How straight and uniform are they. Are they given weight and spine tolerances so you know the batch you have will all be similar?

Price

Always a concern for most of us but an enthusiastic hunter will see the value in buying and maintaining good arrows. Good arrows cost a little more but will last longer and perform better.

Penetration (Weight gpi)

The heavier an arrow is, the more punch it packs when it hits. That ‘punch’ is technically called kinetic energy and a heavier arrow has more of this than a light one. The harder an arrow hits the target the further it will penetrate and the more chance there is of a clean kill.

Arrow weight is measured in GPI (grains per inch). A grain is a unit of mass equal to 0. 0647 grams. The reason arrows are measured in grains per inch is because a good arrow is manufactured at maximum length (32”-34”) and then cut to the size of the archer. If you know the GPI and you know the arrow length you can work out the weight of the arrow shaft when cut.Before you decide whether a heavy arrow is better than a light one, ask yourself what am I going to hunt with it? A heavy (9-9.5 gpi) arrow would be good for Elk or Deer but for just hunting Turkey you’d be okay with around 7 gpi.

Wind Drift (Surface Area)

The fatter the arrow spine and the larger the fletchings the more of the arrow that is exposed to the elements and can be blown by the crosswind. A skinnier arrow with a low profile fletching will help to reduce this effect.

Fletchings / Vanes

You’ll find nearly all hunting arrows come with short 2” vanes. A shorter lower profile vane won’t slow the arrow as much as a larger one. A faster arrow packs more punch. An arrow with a short vane also won’t make as much noise through the air. Some animals can hear arrows in flight and react accordingly! Hunting is also usually done outdoors and the lower the profile of the vane the less it will be affected by a crosswind.

The Best Hunting Arrows

Carbon Express Maxima Red

There’s a lot of buzz around the Carbon Express Maxima Reds. It’s one of their flagship products. Maximas are supposed to help control dynamic spine. This is the flex of the arrow introduced in flight. With a broadhead fitted this is dynamism is exaggerated and the dynamic spine management of these arrows helps to get it back under control.

Carbon Express Maxima Reds come in 250 or 350 sizes, apparently that’s all you need with these arrows, 350 covers everything right up to 29” 92 lbs draw. These are fletched with 3x Blazer vanes, which are reckoned to be one of the best vanes on the market. All these arrows come in a matched set (minimum 6) and these sets are matched with a weight tolerance of +/- 1 grain. You can be sure they are straight because they’re laser checked to within 1/10,000 of an inch. The nocks on these come with proprietary collars called ‘Bulldog’ collars that help to protect the arrow against impacts and feature ‘Launchpad’ nocks that are self centering on the shaft.

Key Features
Price Range: Medium/High
Material: Carbon
Color: Black/Red
Straightness Tolerance:+/-0.0035″
Weight Tolerance:+/- 1 grain
Spine Tolerance:+/-0.0025″
Assembly:Need to be cut to size and finished
Specifications
SizeSpineShaft DiameterWeight (GPI)
2500.417″ 0.295″ / 7.49mm8.11
3500.342″0.300″ / 7.62mm9.07

What we liked:

  • Dynamic Spine Control
  • Matched Set
  • Accurate
  • Launchpad Nock
  • Blazer Vanes
  • Bulldog Nock Collar
  • Low Manufacturing Tolerances

What we didn’t:

  • Cost

Check the price on Cabelas »

Gold Tip XT Hunter

The Gold Tip XY Hunter arrow is designed for archers and bowhunters that marvel at precision and ingenuity. These carbon hunting arrows are laser inspected for straightness and then hand-sorted to ensure every arrow shipped from the manufacturer are within a straightness tolerance of +/- .003” and weight tolerance of +/- 2 grains per dozen arrows. 

This type of precision increases accuracy and consistency. This accuracy and precision have been favored by hunters since 1997. Each arrow includes the Accu-lite insert, a GT series nock, and 2” vanes. Find the Gold Tip XT Hunter arrow at Cabela’s sold by the dozen at the 32” shaft length and the weights of 300, 340, and 400 grains. 

If you are the type of hunter who finds themselves in the woods every free moment that they have, then the Gold Tip XT Hunter arrow is your match. These arrows will last the entire deer hunting season, even if you hunt every day while shooting the arrows hundreds and hundreds of times for target practice. Even after all that use, these arrows will still provide the same accuracy as when they came out of the box.

What we liked:

  • A trusted brand known for precision design and quality manufacturing since 1997.
  • Extremely accurate providing excellent groupings throughout the entire hunting season.
  • Includes Accu-lite inserts, GT nocks, and 2” vanes.
  • Contains a straightness tolerance of +/- .003” that is laser inspected.
  • Possesses a weight tolerance of +/- 2 grains per dozen arrows.

What we didn’t:

  • Not much!
A quick overview from the Sportsman’s Guide

MAK Hunting Arrows (M.A.K)

More target and practice arrows from M.A.K. These come with nickel plated field points and the last we looked they were also being supplied with 3 free broadheads. We wouldn’t however encourage you to hunt larger game with these. They aren’t designed for high poundage bows. Small game, you’ll be fine. These have nocks that are removable and adjustable and a colored or ‘cock’ feather so you know which way is up when nocking your bow.

Good value for money. Again probably not for the experienced or large game hunter, but great otherwise.​

Key Features
Price Range:Low
Material: Carbon fiberglass mix
Color: Black
Straightness Tolerance:Unknown / not specified
Weight Tolerance:Unknown / not specified
Assembly:None needed, complete arrow
Specifications
Size/SpineShaft DiameterLength
Unknown 0.307″ / 7.8mm30″

What we liked:

  • Low price
  • Good weight
  • Field tips included
  • Great for practice

What we didn’t:

  • Specifications Unclear
  • Fixed  length (30″)
  • Not for high poundage bows

Speciality Hunting Arrows

Gold Tip Twister Flu-Flu

The Gold Tip twister Flu-Flu is a feather fletched arrow that has been specially designed to minimize flight distance and ensure easy arrow recovery. These are best for hunting small game or shooting aerial targets. Times when you aren’t sure where your arrow will end up and bright colorations will help you find it. To quote the manufacturer they are designed to ‘put em down and still be found’. If you’re shooting aerial targets with these, they aren’t designed to fly further than about 100 yards, even when you fire them into the air. Again this means you can get them back.

They’re a durable arrow, well made, however the speciality nature of the feather means the price is higher than some other hunting arrows.

Key Features
Price Range: High
Material: Carbon
Color: White/Black
Straightness Tolerance:+/-0.003″
Weight Tolerance:Unknown / not specified
Assembly:Need to be cut to size and finished
Specifications
Size/SpineShaft DiameterWeight (GPI)
400 0.204″ / 5.2mm9.5

What we liked:

  • Easily Locatable
  • Enforced Short Flight
  • Best for small game/aerial targets
  • Durable Feathers

What we didn’t:

  • Expensive

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