The sport of hunting can become quite a costly one; as technology improves, arrows become lighter, bows become stronger, precision and range increase, but so does the price tag. Bows need to deliver some incredible force; however, a bow is only as good as its arrow. So which is the best hunting arrow for the money?
The best arrow for hunting is the one that fits your needs, archery style, and budget. The game targeted, bow’s draw strength, hunting technique, and how much you have to spend are determining factors when choosing the best arrow. The Easton 4mm full metal jacket is our pick for the best arrow.
Although many hunters recommend an Easton arrow of sorts, is the 4mm full metal jacket the right choice for you? What are the desirable traits of a quality arrow, and are any other contenders coming close?
The arrow, particularly the shaft, is an often overlooked aspect of archery and bowhunting.
Many hunters incorrectly believe that a “shaft is a shaft;” however, there are some definitive differences between a mediocre arrow and one that will serve you well and truly.
Arrows have seen some drastic improvements as technology has improved over the years.
Hunters can shoot further and more accurately with modern-day arrows due to reduced weight, less material flexing, and other improvements.
What makes an arrow great is how it fits the purpose it has been built for. In terms of hunting, does the arrow have the strength to fly through the air, strike the target, penetrate, and kill?
Some factors contributing to how effective an arrow is, include:
- Lightweight construction
- Durable materials
- High penetration potential
- Less influenced by wind during flight
Arrows are made of various materials and designs to meet these needs, including:
- Tough carbon core with durable alloy jacket
- Made for increased strength and performance
- Includes nocks and HIT inserts
- Fletched with Blazer vanes
The biggest contributing factor to the quality and efficacy of an arrow is the material used. Modern arrows are divided into five broad categories: carbon, aluminum, carbon/aluminum combinations, fiberglass, and wood arrows.
The most popular arrows for hunting are made of carbon or a carbon/aluminum combination.
These are some of the most popular arrows on the market. They are durable, don’t bend out of shape, and range in sizes and weights.
Carbon arrows are strong, light, less affected by the breeze while flying, and have a thinner shaft with greater penetration potential.
The downside that carbon arrows face is that upon impact, they can often splinter/crack, which may not be noticeable until you try and down game, in which case they lose their efficacy or even explode as they are loosened from the bow.
Carbon/aluminum composite arrows are slightly more expensive but are probably better suited for hunting. These arrows have carbon cores with aluminum surrounding them (jacket).
They are durable, are easily retrieved from targets. Although these arrows are heavier (which makes them slower than “pure” carbon), they have more momentum when striking the target, i.e., greater stopping power and penetration.
These arrows have lost popularity as carbon arrows became the superior material. Aluminum arrows are generally cheaper than carbon arrows, heavier than carbon (so impact harder), and their straightness tolerance is higher than carbon arrows.
However, these arrows tend to bend on impacts, which results in an almost useless arrow (target practice under the best conditions, throwing away under the worst).
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The original arrow material, wood, is still used today, but more often with traditional bows like recurved or longbows. The stiffness of the spine plays a fundamental role in these arrows, which is related to the wood’s density and the diameter of the arrow. A high spine weight and a small arrow diameter are essential when using wood arrows.
Wooden arrows are usually made of harder to medium woods like willow, cedae oak or elm. The shafts are usually constructed from single pieces to help with the stiffness of the spine, and to reduce the arrow diameter.
An arrow’s accuracy relates to how well it continues in a straight line toward the target after it is loosed from the bow.
A fundamental factor is straightness tolerance, which generally ranges between 0.001 and 0.006. An arrow with a 0.001 tolerance will fly straighter for longer than an arrow with a 0.006 tolerance. However, the importance of this is still under debate as the margins are so very small.
The type of fletching will also contribute to the overall accuracy of an arrow.
Arrows break, but they shouldn’t break too quickly, especially if you do not hit trees or rocks. A lot of the force an arrow carries is transferred to the target upon striking. During this process, the arrow should not break; otherwise, the stopping power is lost.
An arrow’s durability is linked to the materials used and the extras (like collars) added.
Overall, an arrow around the 400-grain total weight (including arrow, point, nock, fletching, etc.) is the target weight for most hunters. This weight provides a well-balanced arrow with a decent amount of stopping power.
A critical factor for most of us is the cost. Arrows need to be reasonable in their price for their quality. Although no one expects arrows (or should) to be free, they should not be excessive for things that eventually break/become lost. They have a shelf life and even the best arrow for hunting won’t last a lifetime.
The biggest determining factor is, does the arrow meet the intended purpose and what is that purpose?
Are you hunting large, medium, or small game? Are you hunting a variety of species? Does the arrow need to be versatile enough to take down an elk and a white-tailed deer or other antelope?
What you game you are hunting with bow and arrow will be a determining factor in what arrow you should purchase.
In the hunt for the one arrow to rule them all, we found that there were two very close contenders for the title of “overall best hunting arrow.”
The Carbon Express Maxima Red Vs. The Easton 4mm Full Metal Jacket.
Below we will compare these two arrows and decide who the winner for the venerated spot will be.
|Carbon Express Maxima Red
|Easton 4mm Full Metal Jacket
|Carbon center with an aluminum (7075-alloy) jacket.
|250 350 (rated for bows of up to 92 pounds draw)
|250 300 340 400
|Weight (in grains per inch)
|250 – 8.11gpi 350- 9.07gpi
|250 – 12.3gpi 300 – 11.7gpi 340 – 11.0gpi 400 – 9.8gpi
|Shaft diameter Inches)
|250 – 0.295 350 – 0.300
|250 – 0.247 300 – 0.244 340 – 0.240 400 – 0.234
|+/-0.003 (standard) +/-0.001 (match grade)
|Strong, durable arrows, the collar protects the arrow from hard impacts.
|Strong, durable arrows, but cracks do form below the arrowhead from impacts.
|Cost (per pack)
|$145.50 – $165 per pack of 12
|$190 – $229.99 Per pack of 12
|3x Blazer vanes
|Bare, or fletched with Blazer
|4mm micro nock
|Arrows need to be cut to size after purchase.Assist in controlling dynamic spin.Laser checked for straightness.
|Half-outs are included.Easier to remove from targets.Need to be cut to size after purchase.
|Medium to large game
These arrows are both well-made, durable, strong, and effective.
Personal preference and the arrow’s purpose are the driving factors when choosing. Are you hunting larger sized game? In that case, the Easton may be a better investment. If you’re hunting medium-sized deer, then either will be fine.
Many hunters prefer the metal jacket for its penetration and impact power but be aware there reports that the jackets may have a tendency to bend. Others swear by the carbon express.
For this comparison, we will say that the Easton takes first place with its extra weight and stopping power, but only by the smallest of margins, as the Carbon Express is also a great arrow there are others that will fulfil your needs but we are looking for the best arrows for hunting within a reasonable budget.
What determines a good arrow is its durability, stopping power, cost, and if it meets the purpose it was designed for. The Easton 4mm full metal jacket and the Carbon Express Maxima red are very close when choosing which arrow is best. The biggest deciding factor is what species you want to target and your personal preference for composite arrows vs. pure carbon arrows.