Summit Treestands
450 gr arrow versus 650 gr?
Equipment
Contributors to this thread:
Mike Ukrainetz 05-Jan-21
joehunter 05-Jan-21
wyobullshooter 05-Jan-21
Ermine 05-Jan-21
Glunt@work 06-Jan-21
Matt 06-Jan-21
GF 06-Jan-21
wildwilderness 06-Jan-21
pav 06-Jan-21
WV Mountaineer 06-Jan-21
altitude sick 06-Jan-21
Drahthaar 06-Jan-21
Bowboy 06-Jan-21
Mike Ukrainetz 06-Jan-21
Rocky D 06-Jan-21
Dale06 06-Jan-21
Ollie 06-Jan-21
Ironbow-cell 06-Jan-21
Treeline 06-Jan-21
Wally 06-Jan-21
Nick Muche 06-Jan-21
Treeline 06-Jan-21
carcus 06-Jan-21
Shawn 06-Jan-21
Shawn 06-Jan-21
GF 06-Jan-21
Jaquomo 06-Jan-21
Buglmin 06-Jan-21
Willieboat 06-Jan-21
Treeline 06-Jan-21
cmbbulldog 06-Jan-21
Hondolane 06-Jan-21
Mike Ukrainetz 06-Jan-21
Too many bows Bob 07-Jan-21
Lee 07-Jan-21
Shawn 07-Jan-21
Kurt 07-Jan-21
Korey Wolfe 07-Jan-21
Mike Ukrainetz 07-Jan-21
Ollie 07-Jan-21
Willieboat 07-Jan-21
Mike Ukrainetz 07-Jan-21
Dino 07-Jan-21
GF 07-Jan-21
goyt 07-Jan-21
carcus 08-Jan-21
GF 08-Jan-21
WV Mountaineer 08-Jan-21
brunse 08-Jan-21
12yards 08-Jan-21
GF 08-Jan-21
Spiral Horn 08-Jan-21
Mike Ukrainetz 08-Jan-21
altitude sick 08-Jan-21
Spiral Horn 08-Jan-21
Mike Ukrainetz 09-Jan-21
WV Mountaineer 09-Jan-21
TD 09-Jan-21
Glunt@work 09-Jan-21
Bowfreak 09-Jan-21
05-Jan-21
Which weight arrow do you think is the most effective hunting arrow for western big game, not just whitetails? Assuming a 29 in draw on a 70 lb bow. I listen to the Ranch Fairy on YouTube and Dr. Ashby going on about 650+ grain arrows and how they are essential for bone breaking capabilities as if that’s all that matters? Maybe it does only for shots under 20 yds. What about effective shooting out to 60 yds? What about pin gap? What about shooting without being able to use a range finder first? What about wanting to be able to dial your sight to 80 yds on a totally relaxed animal and make the shot on occasion? Do these things not matter in a Western hunt for muleys, elk, moose etc? What do you think?

From: joehunter
05-Jan-21
Just watch Youtube videos and see what happens. Shooters are not missing elk. They getting deflections that cause the arrow to miss or worse wound animals. Most of the time hunters are shooting through small holes in cover. It is obstructions above the line of sight of the animal (above the pin) that deflect arrows. Good balance of speed and arrow weight is what you want out of a well tuned bow that shoots with perfect arrow flight!

05-Jan-21
My arrows have always been in the 430-445gr range and have been extremely effective on deer, antelope, moose, and elk. This coming from someone that’s about 3” shy of that 29” DL and not even close to 70# draw weight anymore.

05-Jan-21
Increasing arrow weight will make your bow more efficient and quieter and give you more penetration due to having more retained momentum. On mass, there isn't really a threshold, but rather a continuous improvement. I'd suggest going with the highest total arrow weight you can that still gives you the trajectory you want with a spine that is optimal or slightly over spined. I primarily hunt out west and for me this is typically around 475-530 grains. I can still dial my sight to 120 yards to shoot TAC and zip through big bull elk at 60-80 yards (with the right broadhead). Unless you are using a longbow on Cape Buffalo, I wouldn't get hung up on the 650 number. I've talked with Dr. Ashby and he's a good guy, but I don't think this applies very well to outwest hunting with longer shots.

From: Ermine
05-Jan-21
I usually use an arrow that is between 450-500 grains. That seems to be a nice balance of speed and weight in my opinion. That has worked well for me for western animals. I think when it comes to breaking bones and penetrating shoulders a 600 grain arrow is needed.

From: Glunt@work
06-Jan-21
It's all a balance. But to answer your question about shooting 60-80 yards mattering out west...no.

I've lived and bowhunted in the west my whole life and shooting those distances doesn't matter at all to me. It's not about killing as far away as I can when I bowhunt. I've watch many great animals walk out of my life because I couldn't close into my fairly short ( by today's standards) effective range. Swapping gear to "fix" that never crosses my mind. For me, nothing is broken. That said, everyone has their own idea of what bowhunting is and where the satisfaction comes from.

I'm not elitist about it, just what works for me to have the most fun bowhunting. I have a 1000 yard rifle and when it's on my shoulder I'm playing a completely different game.

From: Matt
06-Jan-21
"I listen to the Ranch Fairy on YouTube..."

That was your first mistake. ;-)

I am a fan of having an arrow speed around 270 fps and will generally play with arrow weight to stay around that speed (+-10 fps). That usually puts me in the 450 gr. range.

From: GF
06-Jan-21
I guess if I wanted to be able to shoot big Elk from 60-80 yards and break big bones reliably.... I’d go with about 510 grains.... with a full-bore .58 cal conical.

Or 230-ish with a .54 roundball, but definitely holding off of the shoulder.

But seriously.... Those hail-mary shots aren’t gonna happen unless you catch a bull loitering out in the middle of some kind of meadow or sage flat. I don’t know about you guys with the fast bows, but for me, my trajectory at 60-80 yards puts my arrows up about 30 feet in the air.

For my purposes, arrow weight is an artifact; it’s where I end up once I am as tuned as I can get with an arrow that keeps my now as quiet as I can get it. I’m not about to use a noisy bow on every shot to improve my odds just a bit on the longest shot I’d consider taking. Not a good trade-off.

I used to hunt with arrows that were about 550 grains out of a #53 recurve (at my DL). Now I’m thinking more 540-ish from a #62 R/D longbow, and I have zero reservations about that combo, provided I can get it to bare-shaft acceptably (and quietly) out to about 30-35 yards. That’s plenty of mass, and it ain’t gonna bounce off if you send it 100 fps faster.

Jaq might even tell you that 450 is ample, but my bows get a little loud at 7 GPP. Might consider that weight from a #52-#53 or even the #48.

JMO, consider splitting the difference in weight, but shoot over a dB meter on your phone, and see how loud your bow is at the different GPP increments. Just remember that it’s a log scale...

06-Jan-21
I like to shoot about 280 fps in a compound for western hunting. Seems like a good balance. So whatever weight gets you there .

From: pav
06-Jan-21
I'm in the same crowd as Matt and wildwilderness. Prefer an arrow that yields 270-280fps out of my setup. That happens to be a 475-490gr arrow. Shoot the same setup for everything and have not been disappointed with the results on elk or moose.

I have some friends that swear by 600+gr arrows. They are shooting recurves and longbows though...not compounds.

06-Jan-21
With a 29 inch draw, I’d be around the 500-525 mark. You’d still have great trajectory. But have a lot of ump too.

06-Jan-21
I’ll (weigh in) on this and agree that the 270-280 ish speed is nice and forgiving. And most people with average draw length buy their bow of choice. Then the arrow spine for that poundage. And then end up with an arrow weight around 400 grains.

It takes extra time, knowledge, work and money to add weight while keeping good arrow flight.

So most just shoot what they buy at the store and call it good.

Also why a lot of arrows are still sticking out of the side of an Animal while it runs away.

As GF said a 450 grain arrow does not fly flat past 20 yards. At 60-80 yards and 300fps you are not shooting Thru holes in the brush.

My opinion is 400 minimum. And 500 is much better. 70# and 600 grains should be one quiet pleasant bow to shoot.

You’ll be shocked at the little impact it has on how many shots you get to take.

If your hunting open prairie and shooting Mulies or antelope at 80 yards. You should have a range finder and an 80 pin for which ever weight you go with.

Also at 60 or 80 is exactly when that extra weight really shines. So it’s just the opposite of wanting a light arrow at 80 yards. Unless It’s about the arc and not what happens when the arrow arrives on target

From: Drahthaar
06-Jan-21
If you want to shoot 60 to 80 yards get a rifle , bow hunting is up close and personal . Forrest

From: Bowboy
06-Jan-21
At your draw length and poundage 450-500 would be a happy medium.

06-Jan-21
Well, according to the Ranch Fairy you guys are all horribly wrong! Me too I guess. I went to a 520 grain arrow from 450 and I disliked having my 60 yd pin so low in my sight housing. (5 pin setup) and then if I did want a follow up shot at longer range my level was in the way to even see further. If I went to 650-670 grains I can’t imagine my pin gap?! With what 3 pins? And I always try to get to sub 40 but it doesn’t always work out that way out west. And I’ve shot right through a few moose and elk with 450 grains.

From: Rocky D
06-Jan-21
To really make a more accurate determination I think at a minimum you have to count for draw. Without draw weight as a variable many of the recommendations do not apply across the spectrum of draw weights from 50-70 lbs. A certain amount of speed is required and extremely important for slider sights and shooting at extended distance.

Please keep focused on draw weight and not on distance to the target.

From: Dale06
06-Jan-21
I’m shooting a 450-460 31” grain arrow, at about 270 FPS, with an Iron Will coc broadhead. It has blown through lots of larger animals. I’m sticking with that and will let the “experts” crunch their formulas and theory’s.

From: Ollie
06-Jan-21
Maybe bowhunting is not a long range sport.

From: Ironbow-cell
06-Jan-21
I have used 620 grain arrows a lot. When I first started dropping arrow weight I was concerned with penetration, but wanted a flatter shooting arrow. I now shoot 465 grain arrows at 265fps and penetration is not a problem. Never shot an elk in the scapula, but blow through whitetails easily.

From: Treeline
06-Jan-21
Killed an awful lot of elk, mule deer and even a moose before I paid any attention to arrow weight.

Had a lot of pass-throughs on elk, even with my big old 1 3/8” Snuffers off of 60# longbows. Had noticeable improvement in penetration when I went from wood to aluminum arrows. Significant improvements when I switched to carbon...

Shooting those arrows through a chronograph, my bows were launching them right around 200 fps.

Once I got a scale and weighed my arrows that had worked very well, I found out my arrows were way too light at 425 grains...

Pretty sure any arrow that flies good out of a compound will work. More important will be your broadhead and where you put it.

From: Wally
06-Jan-21
I shoot 405 to 420 on elk and deer with no issues. The biggest thing is sharp cut on contact fixed heads. I couldn't imagine launching rainbows hunt elk the canopy. You're giving up 25% of your speed for a 3% gain in KE. Plus being off 5 yards could mean wounding or missing an animal with a heavy set up. Ranch Fairy shoots pigs at 20 yards from a tree stand and tells his cult how great it is for a pay check.

From: Nick Muche
06-Jan-21
450 is plenty to kill anything in NA with ease.

From: Treeline
06-Jan-21
Yup.

From: carcus
06-Jan-21
I'll take a 450gr arrow over a 650 all day long

From: Shawn
06-Jan-21
Draw length matters a lot and people don't mention it much. I shoot a 500 grain arrow and only 55# but also short on power stroke. 27.5". I would love to get 260 or 270 with that but I get 245ish. I don't buy the ranch fairy's fairy dust but I do like a heavier arrow with higher doc. I shoot 175 grain broadheads. With my site I can only adjust to 60 yards and my tape marks are

From: Shawn
06-Jan-21
Along ways apart from 40 to 60 but I would only shoot over 50 of I already had an arrow in a critter. I like heavy as I tend to hit animals more towards the shoulder than the guts. Hell if people wanted they could shoot an expandable at 320 fps with total arrow weight of 340 grains and shoot everything dead in the center of body, get a giant hole wait 24 hrs and go find it dead and stunk up!! Oh wait lots of folks do that already!! Shawn

From: GF
06-Jan-21
“ Also at 60 or 80 is exactly when that extra weight really shines. So it’s just the opposite of wanting a light arrow at 80 yards.”

Agreed. Drag increases exponentially with velocity, so the faster, lighter arrow will scrub off a lot more speed and continue to decelerate at a faster rate than the heavier one even after its velocity has dropped below that of the heavier arrow.

So it’s pretty much lose, lose, lose....

From: Jaquomo
06-Jan-21
450 for me whether with a 53# recurve or 62# Bowtech., for whatever western big game (and caribou) I hunt. If I ever draw a moose tag I may dial that arrow weight up a bit. Reduced margin of error with flatter trajectory leads to better accuracy at unknown distances. I've never ranged an animal before I shot it. IMO 450 is a good balance for ME.

From: Buglmin
06-Jan-21
Like Lou, I like a 460 grain arrow from my recurves and compounds. Playing around in the archery shop making arrows and shooting them through chronographs at three feet and then again at 20 yards shows you just how fast heavy arrows loose speed. And once you start dropping arrow speed, you drop ke, momentum. I never could get the concept of guys saying a heavy arrow don't loose arrow speed as much as a lighter arrow does. Chronographs prove that concept wrong...

Ever wonder why guys like the ranch fairy and the good doc shot bows over 70 pounds, with 650 grain arrows?

From: Willieboat
06-Jan-21
This year my arrow is 440 complete pass through on my bull with a Rage on the front of it!

Mike, what do you see with most of your clients ?

From: Treeline
06-Jan-21
Lou, broke two ribs going in and the cracked the offside shoulder blade with a 425 grain arrow tipped with a 3-blade Snuffer on my moose off a 57 pound longbow.... 450 is plenty.

From: cmbbulldog
06-Jan-21
I’m at 400 and have a much greater “error window” for a misjudge in yardage, which gives me a greater chance to put an arrow in the vitals. And 400 grains is more than enough to kill a elk or any animal smalller.

From: Hondolane
06-Jan-21
Matt 100% right

06-Jan-21
Willieboat, me and 90% of my clients/hunters shoot a 400 to 500 grain arrow at 55 to 72 lbs draw weight which gives the ability to have 5 to 7 pins within your sight housing or a slider pin that goes from 20 to about 100 yds. This to me seems like a very, very important feature for western big game hunting and it will shoot right through elk or moose unless you hit bone. So shot selection is important especially at longer ranges, basically avoid quartering toward you shots and you’ll be good. Which is what we do.

But I listened to a Kifaru podcast with Dr Ashby and it was fascinating with him breaking bones on hundreds of big African animals with a recurve and a 650 grain minimum arrow, sometimes going over 1000 grains! So he says shoot a heavy, well constructed, high foc arrow with a sharp broadhead and worry about bones no more, just shoot them! Sounds like a fantastic concept. The Ranch Fairy has a similar theme. But Ashby’s average shot distance was 13 yds, always under 20. If we limited ourselves to that or even under 40 yds we certainly wouldn’t kill nearly as many animals as we do therefore it sure doesn’t seem like a more effective western big game hunting setup? Tough to make that rainbow arc work on those longer distances! So hence the question, just generally, 450 or 650?

07-Jan-21
Mike, If you were gun hunting would you take a .17 Remington to hunt elk? The bullet goes about 4000 fps and has virtually no drop out to 300 yards. Nobody would do that, because once the bullet got there, it would penetrate about 2" and then quit. You would use something a lot slower that shot a lot heavier bullet because once it got there, it would keep on going. Same with an arrow. Just hitting the critter doesn't mean a lot. Getting a killing shot because the arrow keeps penetrating does. The "rainbow arc" can be compensated for with sight adjustments. I'd always choose the heavier arrow. TMBB

From: Lee
07-Jan-21
I shoot a 575 grain arrow for whitetails as that weight out of my bow is going to crunch some bone if I screw up. I’ve also shot a number of elk and a mulie or two. I shoot a faster setup for out west. I figure I’m probably not getting through that shoulder no matter what if I screw up so might as well shoot a flatter setup. I will say there is a major difference in adrenaline rush shooting a bull screaming at 10 yards on the ground vs. seeing one at 80. Seems a ridiculously long shot that removes a lot of fun too me. Might as well be gun hunting at that point.

Lee

From: Shawn
07-Jan-21
I don't get the response how ya handle the arc concept. Just like the 90 meter Olympic style shooters. Hell they are shooting 200 fps if that and they keep their arrows in a 6" circle or whatever. Shawn

From: Kurt
07-Jan-21
I agree with Mike U, and am shooting a skinny micro diameter 475 grain arrow at about 270 fps the past 7 years. I only hunt the west and north. Penetration with a 1-1/2" original 3-blade NAP Spitfire mechanical has been very good, even shot a black bear thru the shoulder blade and spined him last spring...lucky as the shot was a bit high, spot and stalk.

That said I've killed a few elk and one moose and one grizzly with 380 gr arrows with pass throughs on the moose and a couple elk (small 1-1/8" three blade head). Also killed a very large pile of critters with 525 gr aluminum arrows with 3 and 4-blade fixed heads.

They all work, just ensure the bow is tuned for good arrow flight and the broadheads are sharp. Good luck!

From: Korey Wolfe
07-Jan-21
I got on a Ranch Fair kick this summer and increased my arrow. I've killed a bunch of deer with the new set up and it does go into the dirt a little further after exiting the deer. However, I shot over several deer that I bet would have impacted lower with a little more speed.

I will be going back to my 485 grain arrow this summer...

07-Jan-21
Maybe I’ve given a lack of info so people are missing the point of the post. I choose 650 grains compared to 450 because 650 is the EXACT, specific minimum amount needed to break ANY bone on an elk or even a moose. That is according to Ashby. It isn’t 575 or 600, it’s 650+ with high FOC. So worry no more about a quartering to you shot from an elk or moose, just shoot it, even break a back leg on the way out! Complete penetration every time, assuming a well constructed arrow and a very sharp, tough broadhead, specifically not a mechanical. If true, this is an incredibly useful arrow to be shooting for short range bowhunting, 13 yd average shot from Ashby on hundreds of animals and with a recurve or longbow! All scientifically documented. I’m very impressed with it and tempted to try it out but...

BUT if it’s so awesome why isn’t everyone shooting a 650+ grain arrow?! I would estimate the average hunting arrow weighs about 450 grains, so that’s why I picked that number. So why shoot 450 when 650 is way better?! He and Ranch Fairy claim that lack of penetration is the #1 reason for hit but lost game. So get rid of it and you are golden. Well, mostly. The problem is I think the 650 arrow will cause you to miss more, kill less animals overall, even if you can keep an 8 inch group at 60 yds and want to shoot that far. You can’t have a 5 pin sight anymore, you can’t have a dial sight that even goes out to 60 yds, can you? Not with a less than 70 lb bow anyway? You must know your exact distance, compensate for any slight up or downhill angle exactly on every shot.

Does ANYONE on here actually hunt with a 650+ grain arrow and consistently kill animals at 30-60 yds. Anyone? Love to hear from you...

From: Ollie
07-Jan-21
Clearly the intent of your post is to disparage the work of Dr. Ashby. I’ll take his recommendations over yours any day.

From: Willieboat
07-Jan-21
Mike, I think you are answering your own questions. Between what you see with your clients and your own success.

650 may be fine on a baited bear stand but would be a total downfall on a fast shot stalking mulies.

I have listened to the Dr. and the Fairy........some of the stuff they discuss makes total sense,some of it doesn’t.

In my own case I’m primarily hunting elk and don’t see the need for areal heavy arrow. I’m using a 440 grain arrow and wouldn’t hesitate to use it on anything on the North American continent. Get it flying laser beam straight with a good sharp broadhead and kill the shit out of stuff.

07-Jan-21
Ollie, I’m not at all disparaging Dr. Ashby! He has incredible experience, way more than me, and I’m very impressed! Incredible stuff!! I believe all that he says. But it’s all close range, maybe bowsiters think the bone breaking ability is well worth any shortcomings of a 650 grain arrow? If so, why doesn’t anyone in all the posts above actually shoot one? Do you? Shoot animals past 30 yds with it?

From: Dino
07-Jan-21
Ollie...have a beer man. Mike is asking some very good questions.

From: GF
07-Jan-21
“ don't get the response how ya handle the arc concept. Just like the 90 meter Olympic style shooters. Hell they are shooting 200 fps if that and they keep their arrows in a 6" circle or whatever. Shawn”

When was the last time you saw an Olympic archery range with tree canopy overhead?

But this silliness of assuming that using a 650 grain arrow will allow you to shoot clean through anything at any angle is just… Silly.

If you are content with taking raking angles at 60 or 80 yards, might I suggest a .45/70 (405 load), a heavy full-bore conical or a stout bullet in something from an ‘06 chase at .270 or larger?

If that’s the kind of shot that you’re interested in taking, at least have the decency to use an adequate weapon.

From: goyt
07-Jan-21
450 gr

From: carcus
08-Jan-21
I drank the cool aid a few years ago resulting in wounds from high and low hits, IMO a heavy arrow will cost you more game. I like my 480gr arrows, they seem to bust through everything. A 650 grain arrow is great as long as its travelling 280fps

From: GF
08-Jan-21
Not that guys aren’t killing Elk every year with 450 grains clocking 160.

Just sayin’.... Maybe it’s not the arrow’s fault?

And no, a heavier arrow will NOT lose velocity faster than a lighter one, because Physics. All else being equal.

08-Jan-21
Nope. But it loses it a lot closer to the bow then a lighter one. Might be at a slower rate. But, pin gaps with a heavier arrow says that. I reckon you could call that science too.

From: brunse
08-Jan-21
I have watched a 450 grain arrow, leaving a bow a about 290 FPS, completely break a bull elks humerus at 38 yards. Too bad the arrow did not enter the chest. Ever try to catch up to a three legged bull elk in the timber at 10k..... good luck.

If a would a should of.... a few more FPS (or better yardage judgment) would have punched through what some call the V. Instead some bear stuffed his belly.

From: 12yards
08-Jan-21
I'm a woods whitetail hunter 95% of the time. Take an elk trip maybe once every 5 years. I've been hunting since the late 70s and started with arrows in the 600 grain range. I now use arrows in the 400-500 grain range. I honestly could get by using very heavy arrows because my shots are close, usually 30 yards and in. Recently I've been going down in draw weight, and I've found as I do, my arrows have crept up from closer to 400 to closer to 500. I just worry more about penetration (although with a 29.5" draw length I have a bit of advantage) now. But I don't really want to go to 650. I think at my bow specs in the 50-55# range I don't want to lose too much trajectory. At 450 to 486 (my current arrow weight), my bows are very quiet and I still have decent trajectory. I shot my MN buck at 35 yards this year which was the longest kill shot I've ever taken and been successful. So I still have the range I need. Still like having deer at distances that match my name on here. Bottom line, both 450 and 650 will work very well. You'll just have to choose your shots slightly differently. Might have to get closer with the 650. But IMVHO, most guys on here are good enough hunters that they can make either one work.

From: GF
08-Jan-21
“ But it loses it a lot closer to the bow then a lighter one.”

That’s only possible if the arrow is poorly tuned. More Inertia + Less Drag, so there’s no way for an equally well-tuned arrow to lose more velocity (either absolute fps or %).

The pin gaps will be larger, absolutely. Slower is slower, but if you’re using a rangefinder it’s only an issue because of overhead obstructions and hang time. If you’re hitting high or low, either your rangefinder is unreliable or your accuracy problem isn’t velocity-related.

From: Spiral Horn
08-Jan-21
Hi Mike,

I’d highly recommend the 450gr arrow vs the 650gr. Personally been lucky enough to take an extremely wide variety of species all over the globe. Where legal, successfully used ~450gr setup to take virtually everything from Grysbok to Eland, Pronghorn to Moose, Fallow to Red Stag. Got 95% pass-throughs on everything. With the right broadhead and components that setup simply works for most everything below thick-skinned game.

Another key point is I’m intimately familiar with how that arrow will fly and perform under a wide variety of actual field conditions.

Not a fan of multiple arrow setups for non-dangerous game, especially with the same bow. At the moment of truth everything needs to be intimately familiar with as little thinking as possible. Confidence is everything.

Also not buying the idea that a 650gr arrow will ALWAYS smash through bones of an Elk or Moose, or suffer minimal deflection on a 50yard+ shot. When impacting bone an entirely new set of complex variables come into play - there are no sure things here.

Since you’re a spot & stalk hunter with a proven track record on longer shots you’d be better served with the 450gr arrow - flatter shooting, sufficient KE for the game pursued, and noticeably faster time-to-target than the 650gr.

Of course, if we were talking thick-skinned game or wild bovines I’d recommend something much heavier than 650gr.

08-Jan-21
You can't say a 650 grain arrow will break any bone. Mass by itself does nothing. Throw your arrow at a bone and it will bounce off. Mass times velocity (momentum) gives you the penetration force to break bones. The mass you need to break a bone will depend on the velocity of the arrow and the size of the bone. A more accurate statement would be that Dr. Ashby found that a 650 grain arrow consistently broke the bones he was trying to break (buffalo ribs about a half inch thick) out of the longbows he tested.

08-Jan-21
(My words in brackets. Looks like it is and it isn’t precisely 650 gr. That was the number Ashby used in a podcast and ends this paragraph with. And yes as Bill V says the testing was done on Asian water Buffalo ribs.)

(Here it is from Dr. Ashby’s website): 2008 update part 1. The Heavy Bone Threshold

Of all terminal performance factors the most misunderstood seems to be the Heavy Bone Threshold. Most folks think the Heavy Bone Threshold means any arrow above this mass always penetrates heavy bone, and/or no arrow below this mass ever penetrates heavy bone. This is incorrect. The Heavy Bone Threshold represents a point of arrow mass where there is an abrupt increase in the frequency of heavy bone penetration. All broadheads tested, of all types, exhibit this sudden increase in the rate of heavy-bone penetration. The abruptly increased penetration-rate consistently occurs in the vicinity of 650 grains of arrow mass. The specific mass value varies slightly, from between about 625 grains for a broadhead like the very long and narrow, experimental Grizzly Extreme to around 675 grains for a short-wide multiblade, such as a 160 grain Snuffer. For the most tested broadhead, the single-beveled 190 grain Grizzly, the threshold falls almost precisely at 650 grains. (Almost PRECISELY,)

(He also adds later in the study that a high foc, 25+%, arrow will greatly help penetration through the body cavity after breaking a rib on the way in, it’s very educational stuff! Better than doom scrolling through the news!)

08-Jan-21
I am only using just over 500 grains at the moment. 400 grains has killed a lot of animals.

As Spiral Horn said A very important part of the equation is that the arrow is driving the broadhead as straight into the target as possible. Delivering what ever momentum to a tiny surface area A Porpoising and fishtailing 800 grain arrow wastes a lot of penetration

From: Spiral Horn
08-Jan-21
Asian Water Buffalo are much tougher than anything a bowhunter will face in North America. So I’m at a loss as to why that study is the basis to determine what arrow weight is appropriate for North American Game. In fact, I’d never consider using a 650gr arrow for Asian Water Buffalo - way too light in my opinion. After viewing countless broadhead studies I’ve concluded that their results are very often not an accurate reflection of how they’ll perform on game. There’s a difference between a live animal and dead tissue. If someone feels they need a 650gr arrow for North American Game, by all means, go ahead. Based on my experience and what I’ve witnessed, predict they’ll be disappointed if they spot and stalk hunt a variety of game,

As Jay highlighted - my friend Ricardo first turned me on to the concept that all else being equal, arrow tuning is one of the most important factors in penetration. Tightly concentrated uni-directional force to a single point is a proven concept.

09-Jan-21
So I guess the 650 grain guys killing stuff out to 50-60 yds don’t exist? It’s all 400 to 550 grains and avoid heavy leg bones.

That is unless you want the short range game, 650 grains of a well constructed, tough arrow with a sharp, cut on contact fixed blade broadhead and shoot whatever body angle you want.

09-Jan-21
GF, a rangefinder requires time you likely won’t have in some situation. Or ironically need for ranges most will shoot unless you have a lead pole nocked up on the string.

I could reason it to death in hypothetical situations too. But, I like most others choose what is the best compromise for what they do the most. And try to perfect it in its use.

From: TD
09-Jan-21
The 450ish (I think I'm around 460 right now) has killed train loads of very large hard to kill animals. (Honestly.... deer are creampuffs WRT size and armor.....) Also in many circles that IS considered "heavy". Seriously doubt many more would have died with 650+....... very possibly fewer.... I think 450-500 is in or near a sweetspot of "flat enough" and "plenty enough" for the girls I go out with......

However anyone using less than 400 is obviously insane..... =D

Beauty is in the eye of the bowholder.......

From: Glunt@work
09-Jan-21
For sure a great flying arrow trumps many other factors. My set-up is around 32# of KE, 37 slug momentum which is extremely low compared to a modern average weight compound. But, I expect an exit wound on any shot that isn't in heavy bone and rarely don't get it with deer to elk size game.

We've all seen some instances of a set-up with more than double those numbers getting poor penetration. I like heavy arrows because long shots aren't a priority for me (and I paid a little bit of attention in science class) but currently I'm shooting a relatively light arrow because it tunes great from the bow I'm using at the moment.

If I were shooting a compound and interested in maximizing my range for NA game, I would likely be shooting something in the 400-500 range and, like any set-up, be focused on getting a great tune. I know what that weight arrow can do from my relatively wimpy trad bows.

From: Bowfreak
09-Jan-21
Ranch Fairy shoots top pin distance at hogs under a feeder. His method works great for him. Shoot and arrow that gives you a reasonable trajectory and a reasonable speed and pick your broadheads based on setup and you are golden. A guy with a 26" draw length shooting 60 lbs is going to have a miserable trajectory with a 650 gr arrow. A guy shooting 80lbs and a 30" draw would probably do fine with a 650 gr arrow.

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