The most popular and best-selling arrow of all time is the XX75, which is an aluminum arrow. But that’s not where the story ends, because carbon arrows have become the go-to option for hunting these days.
How is it that the best-selling arrow of all time is sitting in a corner, collecting dust, while carbon is taking over the industry? In the carbon arrows vs aluminum debate, has carbon already shut down the competition?
There are two extremes here, and the best answer is perhaps the one that isn’t considered. For instance, Easton didn’t choose one material to use in arrow manufacturing—they went with two, combining the best aspects of aluminum with the best of carbon.
Carbon Arrows versus Aluminum
Key differences between aluminum and carbon arrows
Several key advantages make each arrow unique from the other. But the technology in today’s bows, especially crossbows, drives aluminum into a corner and, it’s mostly because of the weight.
|Aluminum Arrows||Carbon Arrows|
|Affordability||Lower cost||More expensive|
|Strength||Weaker than carbon||Stronger than aluminum|
|Durability||Shatterproof but bends easily||Stronger than aluminum/doesn’t bend easily/can shatter|
|Reusability||Need to be straightened after a few shots||More staying power but shatter in cold weather|
|Wind drift||Heavier and resists wind drift||Lightweight and more affected by the wind|
|Spine specs||Highly customizable||You get what you get|
The fundamental differences between the two arrows revolves around weight. Aluminum is typically a little heavier, which makes it less vulnerable to wind drift but still vulnerable to impact forces. Carbon is the exact opposite, but it is prone to crack and even shatter in cold weather.
Since carbon is lighter and faster than aluminum, it quickly rose to dominate the market, both in terms of standard bowhunting and crossbows. Aluminum arrows aren’t going away. Since their spines are highly customizable, aluminum arrows are very popular in tournaments.
Carbon arrows generally have a smaller diameter, and their trajectory is straighter and more true than an aluminum arrow. However, their lightweight steals some of the carbon arrow’s thunder, as its penetrating power is lessened because of it.
Can you Shoot Aluminum Arrows in a Crossbow
You sure can. For instance, the XX75 Wicked Ridge Aluminum Arrow weighs 435-grains and is designed for crossbow use. It’s the same arrow mentioned at the beginning of the article, although the XX75 transcends crossbows and is multi-platform.
It remains the best “precision-to-price bolt on the market today. In crossbows, aluminum arrows struggle with the same thing they struggle with in a regular bow, only more so. Their vulnerability is in their bendability. Crossbow impact forces are generally stronger than a standard bow.
Once an aluminum arrow bends, it’s difficult to straighten it out perfectly. Perfection is required when attempting to straighten an arrow because the tiniest millimeter off will affect the overall shot.
Accuracy of each
Carbon arrows are slightly more accurate. However, that’s in a bubble, with no wind, rain, or adverse weather conditions. Carbon is a lightweight material, and although it is faster, with a more streamlined trajectory, it’s vulnerable to windy conditions.
Aluminum is a softer, weaker material. When it leaves the bow, it immediately has a lowered trajectory. An aluminum arrow actually flexes on release, reducing both its distance and its precision.
Aluminum arrows are generally longer and heavier than carbon, so their distance is affected as well. But an aluminum arrow has more punching power when it reaches the target. It’s an interesting dynamic to play with.
Do you want more punching power or increased accuracy at an additional 20 yards? With carbon, you have more confidence in long-distance shots, but you have to consider the impact force of a carbon arrow as well.
Most veteran bowhunters place aluminum arrows in the beginner’s bracket, with carbon in the veteran bracket. If that’s all there is to it, this is a simpler or open-and-shut case. But that’s not all.
Penetration power is important as well, and it’s hard to argue with the incredible precision, range, and accuracy of the XX75. When you throw carbon/aluminum composites into the mix, the dynamic becomes more interesting.
In the end, a hunter has to go with what works for them. Variables are important, such as the difference between hunting in an open environment versus hunting in a dense forest. In cases like that, you simply go with what makes the most sense.
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