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.
Quick Picks: Best Hunting Arrows
- Carbon Exp. Maxima Hunter
- Cabela’s Stalker Extreme
- Carbon Exp. Maxima Red
- Easton Full Metal Jacket
- Carbon Exp. Maxima Blu RZ
- Cabela’s Carbon Hunter
- Easton Aftermath
- Gold Tip Hunter Pro
- Gold Tip Hunter XT
- Easton Bloodline
Is Carbon the Best Type of Shaft?
- 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 10 Carbon Hunting Arrows Comparison
Here is a comparison chart of our Top 10 carbon arrow choices. “Our Score” is a mix of our experience with aggregated user scores from many different retailers.
|Model:||Our Score:||Size (Grain/Inch):|||| Tol:|
|Carbon Exp. Maxima Hunter||(4.8 / 5)||250 (8.0), 350 (9.7)||±.0025″|
|Cabela’s Stalker Extreme||(4.8 / 5)||55/70 (8.4), 65/80 (9.3)||± .003″|
|Carbon Exp. Maxima Red||(4.8 / 5)||250 (8.1), 350 (9.1)||±.0025″|
|Easton Full Metal Jacket||(4.7 / 5)||Multiple||±.002″|
|Carbon Exp. Maxima Blu RZ||(4.6 / 5)||250 (7.45), 350 (8.45)||±.0025″|
|Cabela’s Carbon Hunter||(4.5 / 5)||55/70 (8.4), 65/80 (9.3)||±.006″|
|Easton Aftermath||(4.5 / 5)||340 (9.6), 400 (8.8)||±.005″|
|Gold Tip Hunter Pro||(4.5 / 5)||340 (8.9), 400 (8.2)||±.001″|
|Gold Tip Hunter XT||(4.4 / 5)||300 (8.9), 400 (8.2)||±.003″|
|Easton Bloodline||(4.3 / 5)||330 (8.7), 400 (7.7)||±.004″|
Carbon Hunting Arrow Reviews
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 Hunter
The Maxima Hunter is one of the fastest and most accurate camo hunting arrows 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.
Maxima Hunter arrows are endowed with the proprietary dual spine construction called “weight-forward” technology. The front of the arrow is heavier than the rear, which is designed to lead to tighter groupings.
I really like the looks of these arrows. They have a durable Mossy Oak finish over 2/3rds of the shaft, and 2” bright red Blazer vanes that make them look like a pretty badass arrow. The Maxima Hunter earns our recommendation as the best hunting arrow for the money.
2. Cabela’s Stalker Extreme
View on Cabela’s
The Stalker Extreme’s are very popular with bowhunters. They are manufactured for Cabela’s by Easton, and very similar in specs and performance to the Beman ICS Hunter arrows. The Stalker Extreme’s are built with Blazer vanes and if you like to use lighted nocks, choose size S. The nocks can be turned with a tool to customize to your liking. All you have to do is cut to length, true the end, and glue in the inserts. For a .003 arrow shaft, these are really good arrows for the price.
3. 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 needed 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.
4. Easton Full Metal Jacket
The Easton FMJ is a durable, small diameter arrow for hunters who like a heavier arrow. They fly straight, and shed wind very well. Easton Full Metal Jacket arrows use a smaller diameter combined with a thicker carbon fiber wall. The shaft is sheathed with a metal allow, creating the “metal jacket”. The idea is the metal reduces friction in flight, and easier to pull. You might hear random complaints of an arrow bending, but a lot of those people are shooting targets and not using an arrow puller. The Full Metal Jacket is a solid arrow with a good reputation.
5. Carbon Express Maxima Blu RZ
The Maxima Blu RZ is a lighter hunting arrows made by Carbon Express. If you’re looking for the highest possible speed in addition to accuracy, the Blue RZ 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 Blu RZ is 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, this is a premium priced hunting arrow with premium features and performance.
6. Cabela’s Carbon Hunter
View on Cabela’s
Looking for the best cheap hunting arrows? The Cabela’s Carbon Hunter arrows should be among the first you consider. The Carbon Hunters are also made for Cabela’s by Easton. This model is nearly identical to the Beman Bowhunter arrows. The tolerance is a modest .006 inches, but to be honest, most regular shooters are not going to notice the difference. Besides price, you might like the longer 4” AAE vanes, and the five layer shafts have proven to be durable.
7. Easton Aftermath
The Aftermath arrows are relatively newer additions to the Easton lineup. They have a straightness tolerance of .005 inches, putting them in the same category as the Cabela’s brand name arrows. The shafts are made the USA and have a slick finish for low friction and easy removal. If you are looking for a cheaper arrow with good speed that also maintains high energy, the Easton Aftermath should make your hit list.
8. Gold Tip Hunter Pro
When you step up to the Hunter PRO, you get arrows with extremely tight tolerances. The shafts are straight to an amazing .001 inch, and the weight only varies by 0.5 grains per inch. With the tighter tolerances you do pay a premium price, but if you pride yourself on perfecting your shooting, these arrows might be what you need. The shafts are on the lighter side, but they are excellent if you like to build arrows with more FOC.
9. Gold Tip Hunter XT
The Hunter XT is among the top selling hunting arrows produced by Gold Tip. 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 Hunter XT 400 has a weight grain of 8.2/inch, with a tolerance of +/-2 grain in each pack of dozen arrows.
In addition, 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, and 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.
10. Easton Bloodline
The Bloodlines are really good hunting arrows, especially if you like a lighter shaft (8.7 and 7.7 gpi). The tradeoff in weight is made up for in velocity, giving you a great combination for bowhunting. The shafts have a decent tolerance of .004 inches, and the 0.5 grain weight tolerance is solid too. Like most Easton arrows, the shafts are made in the USA, and feature the popular HP inserts.
I really think these arrows look nice, with the red H nocks and red/white Blazer vanes. The Bloodline arrows are one of the best mid-range choices for cheap carbon hunting arrows. You basically get 12 arrows for the price of 6 premium arrows, without sacrificing all that much in performance.
Carbon Express Maxima Red vs Blue Streak
The Maxima Red and Blu RZ 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 has 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.
Product Images courtesy Cabelas.com
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