Shooting the right arrows is critical for your success as a bowhunter. The best carbon arrows for hunting perform better, have high levels of accuracy, and are more reliable, with the end result of you being more successful in the field.
For this guide, we’ll assume you already know the basics of hunting arrows, and that you have determined your own proper arrow length. The question now becomes which type of arrow is best for you.
Wood – For thousands of years humans have shot wood shafted arrows, but unless you are a traditional longbow hunter, or modern caveman, you will not be using wood shafted arrows. They are heavier, slower, and are harder to produce within the tight tolerances that hunting with a compound bow demands.
Aluminum – For a long time, aluminum was the arrow shaft of choice for bow hunting. Aluminum is inexpensive, lightweight, strong, and can be machined or ground to exacting tolerances. The weight of an aluminum arrow will always be heavier than a carbon arrow with an equal spine. With today’s high speed bows, some hunters prefer the heavier aluminum shafts to transfer the bows energy with more efficiency.
Carbon – Carbon arrows first came onto the hunting scene in the 1990’s and have gained in popularity steadily ever since, to the point where the vast majority of today’s bowhunters use carbon shafted arrows. Carbon arrows are lighter and hold tighter tolerances than even aluminum arrows, resulting in higher speeds, increased accuracy, and higher penetration.
Top 5 Carbon Hunting Arrows
Carbon arrows are by far the most popular type of arrows in use today. The best arrows are advertised to have straightness tolerances from 0.001 to 0.006 inches, and naturally the straighter the arrows the more expensive they will be.
Manufacturers carefully measure each arrow as they come off the production line, and are then separated into classes based on their straightness. Arrows are classified by this straightness, with premium arrows falling in the 0.001-0.002” range, mid-range arrows will be within 0.003-0.004”, and standard carbon arrows at 0.005-0.006”.
1. Carbon Express Maxima Red
The Maxima Red carbon arrows are one of the top hunting arrows from Carbon Express. The arrows are manufactured with a state of the art design, specifically aimed at providing improved broadhead performance and accuracy. This is achieved by having stiff ends that contain the in-flight flexing of the arrow (the dynamic spine).
The dynamic spine is efficiently controlled to the point that only 2 spine sizes are need to meet draw weights from 40 to 81 pounds. The shaft straightness is laser measured and sorted to a tolerance zone of just +/-0.0025 inches.
Other nice touches on these arrows are the LAUNCHPAD nocks, BullDog collars, and Blazer vanes. The nock collars alone make these arrows an interesting choice. You can put these arrows through some wear and tear and the collars protect the nock. The Maxima Red is a premium arrow, and customer reviews show that people have been happy to get a quality, consistent weight arrow for hunting.
The XT Hunter is the #1 selling hunting arrow produced by Gold Tip, and the 5575 Blacks are the most popular size with bowhunters. The XT’s are known to be a tough and reliable bowhunting arrow, and one that can withstand practice sessions as well as deer hunting season.
The XT Hunter 5575 has a weight grain of 8.2/inch, with a tolerance of +/-2 grain per pack of dozen arrows. In addition to that, the XT’s are hand sorted and laser inspected to a shaft tolerance of +/-0.003”.
These arrows are pre-fletched with 2” Blazer vanes, then all you have to do is cut the shafts down to your shooting length and epoxy in the inserts that come with the package. There are dozens of positive reviews on Amazon for these arrows.
Beman ICS Bowhunter arrows are one of the best mid-range choices for cheap carbon hunting arrows. You’ll get 12 arrows for the price of 6 premium arrows, without sacrificing all that much in performance.
The arrows come at 32” long, with pre-installed fluorescent yellow Easton nocks, so you’ll want to cut the shafts to length and glue in the provided Easton inserts and nocks. The artwork on the matte black shafts is really nice. I like the yellow leaf graphics with the ICS Bowhunter logo over the top.
The ICS Bowhunters have a shaft straightness tolerance of +/-0.006, which is good, just not what you’d get with a premium arrow shaft. That doesn’t mean the Beman’s aren’t going to be accurate, in my research, bowhunters have been extremely pleased with the accuracy and hard hitting performance out the ICS Bowhunter arrows.
The Maxima Blue Streaks are the lightest hunting arrows made by Carbon Express. If you’re looking for the highest possible speed in addition to accuracy, the Blue Streaks would be a solid choice.
The arrow shafts are made with a proprietary cross-weaved carbon material called Diamond Weave. The carbon weave creates an exceptionally stiff arrow that has equally great spine consistency.
The rest of the arrows are high in quality as well. You get an out of the box straightness tolerance of +/-0.0025 inches, and a weight tolerance of +/- 1 grain. The arrows come rigged with Carbon Express exclusive Launchpad nocks with BullDog collars to protect direct impacts to the ends. The Blue Streaks are also pre-fletched with blue and white Blazer vanes.
I love the finish ad look of the Maxima Blue Streak arrows. The metallic blue looks great on top of the BuffTuff finishing coat over the carbon fiber. Overall, I think this is a reasonably priced hunting arrow with premium features.
The PileDriver gets its name thanks to the fact it is the heaviest arrow produced by Carbon Express. This is good news for hunters who want to carry arrow momentum and impart more devastating impacts into their target at longer ranges.
The PileDriver arrows are also endowed with a technology called “weight-forward” which is intended to lead to tighter groupings. Keep in mind that you will need to cut the shafts to length and glue in some inserts.
I really like the looks of these arrows. They have a durable Mossy Oak Brush finish over 2/3rds of the shaft, and 2” bright yellow Predator vanes that make them look like a pretty badass arrow. I found numerous reviews online with many excellent overall ratings.
The Maxima Red and Blue Streak arrows are both considered to be some of the top carbon arrows for hunting. If you look at the specs closely, it’s actually hard to see the differences.
If you go by what Carbon Express says, the main difference is in how the shafts are constructed. The Maxima Red have stiffer ends to supposedly control the dynamic spine better, while the Blue Streaks use a “Weight Forward” shaft design and are a lighter arrow overall.
If you want to shoot a faster arrow, choose the Maxima Blue Streaks, and if you want the slight additional weight for hitting and penetrating power, go with the Maxima Reds.