Bent Blades

Sponsored by: Whitetail University, Atsko, Swhacker Broadheads, C’Mere Deer.

By: Wade Nolan Bowhunting Biologist

So there’s that buck. You waited all year, then the 3-second window opens and then the shot. The broadhead is a little forward and one blade hits the rim of the shoulder blade and the other blade a rib. The vitals are just an inch further in…but one blade broke off on bone. The arrow twists and angles down missing the vitals. That buck will be going for hours. He was never recovered.

Little things matter. Brittle broadhead blades that break when they encounter bone are responsible for many lost deer. This problem is not only relegated to mechanicals. Many fixed blade broadheads share this common flaw with blade manufacturing and design.

Let me shed some scientific light on this blade issue.

Today’s bows shoot at sizzling speeds. Faster arrows with winged broadheads are harder to tune and group. The result is erratic flight. Mechanical broadheads were a great breakthrough for accuracy because their blades are typically deployed after impact. They fly like a field point because they resemble one in flight. However, there is a blade efficiency problem.

These Ohio bucks fell to the devastating Swhack.

As many as 95% of broadhead blades are made the same way with a strip grinding process. Imagine a long ½-inch wide rolled coil of steel that is passed through a stamping mill to outline the blade and then the outside edge is sharpened. The blade outline is stamped deeply into the strip so the manufacturer can snap the blades out of the strip to build the broadhead. It is very similar to snapping a single graham cracker out of the panel of crackers.

Utility knife blades are made with the same strip grinding process used on most broadhead blades. The steel is brittle and designed to break away when snapped out.


You have seen these stamped strip blades in your workshop. Ever see a utility knife with a strip of blades in the handle? We use the blade until it is dull then snap it off and use the next one. The utility blades are stamped into a brittle tempered strip or steel, then sharpened. The steel must be brittle for the blades to snap out for use. This is exactly the process that 95% of all broadhead manufacturers use when having their blades made. Broadhead blades are stamped into a long tempered strip, and then sharpened. They have to be made of tempered brittle steel or they won’t snap off of the strip. Does brittle steel sound like a bowhunting idea to you?

Broken broadhead blades are the rule if your blades are made with the strip grinding method. I broke these with a little twist with pliers.

Add to this that most mechanical blades are small willowy slivers sometimes only 1/8 of an inch wide. This is a recipe for broken blades. Some stamped blades are weakened with cut-outs that reduce the blade strength. These broadhead blades are made with the efficient and cheap strip grinding process. I think the cheap part may drive many of the manufacturing decisions.

This may be economical and easy when making broadhead blades but brittle steel is bad. These strip ground blades are heat tempered to where they resemble glass. The problem is they easily break when bent. If a blade encounters bone, it must do some flexing to get through. If blades are brittle, they break instead.

You’re probably familiar with hack saw blades that are made of tough steel that bends rather breaks.

There is a second way to make blades but it is more expensive. Broadhead blades can be stamped out then sharpened and tempered to where they are both flexible and strong. You want blades to be flexible as a hack saw blade so they bend and don’t break. This is exactly how Swhacker engineers designed the tough Swhacker blades. Not only are they designed to manage force vectors when they encounter bone but they can flex and bend around hard bone and keep on penetrating and cutting.

We put Swhackers and a thousand dollars worth of other broadheads through some rough scientific testing in a shooting lab. Even when we shot through steer shoulder blades the Swhackers keep performing.

This means that both of the razor sharp Swhacker blades continue through the animal. Swhacker Blades don’t fail. I’ve tested these blades in the lab against 1-inch plywood, bison and steer shoulder blades and even steel drums. Across two years I’ve never lost a blade in testing. In rare cases, when encountering a hard bone our blades bend rather than break. Yes, we have bent a few but the cutting power was retained. Swhackers don’t lose blades.

I was able to bend this Swhacker blade way past 90-degrees. Swhacker blades can be relied on not to break.

I know it is a bit radical but I took my pliers and bent a Swhacker blade all the way over to 90-degrees…then to 120 and beyond. How does this blade hold together even after a violent bend? It is designed to bend rather than break. No brittle Swhacker blades. The cutting edge is still razor sharp and the CAD designed blades have been run through a Finite Element Analysis program for maximum strength under stress. It wasn’t a lucky design… it is a functional design.

Each of these broadhead blades were held in a pliers and the opposite blade bent using another pliers. They all snapped just like the utility knife blades. No blade made it to ninety degrees and most snapped with less than a 45-degree bend. If the blades on your broadhead break off when they hit bone, you’re going to lose a lot of bucks.

Bent blades that stay together and pass-through to exit mean the energy was used to cut tissue. An intact but a bent blade means you just won the engineering challenge. Those Swhacker bucks are recovered.

I thought you’d like to know the science behind our blade standards. We are different because of engineering and unchallenged among broadheads. Watch this…. Seeing is believing. Watch this short video clip on the actual bend or break test. We tested your broadhead!


Maybe you’d like to see the science.  FOR VIDEO: CLICK HERE

This broadhead has blades that are designed to bend… not break.

Hope you learned something new.

Designed by a rocket scientist and relied on by the best bowhunters in the world.

For more please go to: Swhacker Broadheads

One Response to "Bent Blades"

  1. Justin Duyck   2012/12/05 at 5:03 pm

    I recently guided a friend of mine who showed up at camp with another brand of mechanical broadheads. I handed him a pack of Swhackers and said “better use these instead.” That morning he arrowed a nice ten point. As the shot was released the buck ducked and turned into the arrow which caused a direct hit to the shoulder bone. Having seen this shot many times before I have no doubt a fixed blade broadhead would have stuck right there and any other mechanical blades would have sheared off on impact, but not the Swhacker. Because of its unique design the broadhead not only stayed intact but nearly cut the bucks heart completely in half. Wade, awesome broadheads and great article.