Your broadheads must have razor sharp edges to deliver the cutting force required to quickly kill your target animals. Even the best broadheads can get dull or nicked up over time, from practice, or the occasional errant shot that puts your blades in contact with sticks and dirt. This is obviously not good for the sharpness of the blades, and likewise for the killing power of your shot.
If you ask “how to sharpen broadheads?” on hunting forums, you’re likely to get the quick and unhelpful answer of “just buy new blades”. Not everyone can afford the latest heads and sharpening broadheads is an easy way to save some money when preparing for bow season. Even if you save your older blades for practice, learning how to sharpen a broadhead blade is a useful skill. Here is how to do it.
The Sharpening Process
The sharpening process will vary slightly between the different types of broadheads. You would not sharpen a traditional broadhead the same way you sharpen 3 blade broadheads. And not all 3 blades are constructed the same. Some are solid pieces of metal, while others are individual blades held together by a ferule.
A solid 3 blade broadhead is easier, you just lay the head flat on the stone and you’ll be cleaning up two edges at the same time. For ferule broadheads, you will simply repeat this process on each blade and reassemble.
1. Find the Blade Angle
The first step is to find the right sharpening angle for your broadhead, as not all manufacturers are alike. Grab yourself a sharpie marker, any color will do, and color over the angled edge of the blade. Now you lightly run the blade over sharpening stone. If the coloring is evenly removed, you have found the right angle to sharpen the broadhead. If just the edge is cleaned, your angle is too high and you need to flatten it out some. A tool like the KME Sharpener or Smith’s Broadhead Station makes this step (and the rest) easy.
2. Initial Sharpening
The next thing to look for is nicked up or flattened spots on the edges. These need to be knocked down with a coarse sharpening stone or file. If you don’t have a stone, you can tape coarse sandpaper (400, 600, or 1000 grit) onto a piece of glass. Glass works well because it is usually very flat, and flat is critical to getting a perfectly sharpened blade edge.
3. Polishing the Edges
Now you want to take the cleaned up broadhead blades and complete the actual sharpening process. First you need a way to securely hold the blade while you work it on the stones. The KME Sharpener and Smith’s Broadhead Station have this built in. If you don’t have a specialized tool, there are many other ways to hold the blade such as a needle nose vice grips, a window scraper, or even an Exacto Knife holder for smaller blades. You just need something to firmly hold the blade and maintain the angle.
Now grab some honing oil or polishing compound, and a fine diamond sharpening stone. Use a firm pressure, but not so hard that you can’t move the blade across. You want just enough pressure to feel a little resistance. Make controlled strokes until you have evenly removed the marker from all sides of the blades. Keep track of the number of strokes you make so that you remove the same amount of metal on all blades.
4. Stropping for “Scary” Sharp Edges
Stropping is the process of burnishing the metal molecules into alignment, which can create that ‘scary’ sharp cutting edge that bow hunters’ desire. You can use an Arkansas stone or a piece of tool leather backed on a piece of wood to do this. Draw the blade up the stropping surface, using a controlled movement, with the cutting edge trailing. Light pressure is all that is needed for this final step. Use polishing compounds as needed. Test your edge by pulling a piece of rubber across the edge. If it cuts instantly, you have a hunt ready broadhead.
Best Broadhead Sharpener Reviews
King Sharpening Stone
The King sharpening stone is great dual purpose whetstone you can use with your hunting knives as well as your broadheads. The King stone is made in Japan, and is marketed towards kitchen knives, but it can be used for hunting purposes as well. It is dual sided, with 1000 and 6000 grit, which is nice to be able to sharpen and hone using the same stone. Soak the stone in water until the air bubbles has dissipated, and you are ready to start sharpening broadheads.
G5 Montec Sharpener
The G5 sharpening stone is a more compact stone compared to the King, and has a nylon carry case that would make it easy to pack on trips. It’s only 3-1/4” long by 2” wide, and also features two sides for sharpening (600 grit) and honing (1,200 grit). This is a diamond stone, so no water is needed, but honing oil is always helpful. You don’t have to use G5 broadheads on this stone, any brand will be able to be sharpened on it.
KME Broadhead Sharpener
The KME sharpener is a cool little device for hardcore bowhunters. It’s basically an aluminum frame with jaws, and an adjustable steel roller pin. The jaws grip and hold the blades in place during sharpening, while the roller pin adjusts to help you find the sweet spot angle to sharpen at. Keep in mind this tool is only for sharpening traditional flat sided broadheads. Combine this tool with a high quality diamond stone and you can have a highly effective broadhead sharpening setup.
G5 Stick Sharpener
This tool works by having you push the broadhead blade through the carbide sharpening bits. The carbides are adjustable so it should provide years of use. The G5 stick sharpener is an awesome little tool that should earn its place in your hunting pack. It’s probably not as precise as you might get by doing the full blown sharpening process, but you never know when you might need to sharpen up a blade in the field.
I hope you see that learning how to sharpen broadheads is a valuable skill to learn. It’s not a complicated process, but like any other hunting skill it is something you need to practice to get great results. Practice sharpening broadheads this season and your wife will thank you (maybe!) when she sees how much money you’ve saved.