The choice between mechanical or traditional broadheads is one of the most important decisions a bowhunter can make and should be based partially on science and equally on personal shooting techniques Razor-sharp, cut-on-contact (COT) broadheads have been a foundation of bowhunting since Fred Bear demonstrated the effectiveness of his two-blade model. On the downside, COTs often don’t fly the same as target points, forcing a user to practice with broadheads (which is somewhat expensive and target-consumptive) or resight their bow for broadhead impact. Keeping broadheads razor sharp can be difficult, and it can be a hassle to safely change those with replaceable blades.
Mechanical heads (MH) usually impact identically with target points (or practice heads), allowing for easier practice sessions and less target consumption. Most never need sharpening and are razor-like right from the package. On the downside, MHs require more kinetic energy to open and, being machines, are subject to opening failure. Models often cost up to $15 each and are not reusable.
Which is best? For lower draw-weight bows (45–50 lbs.) and for such large game animals as elk, moose, or brown bear, the greater penetration of COT gives them the edge, no pun intended. For draw weights of 60 lbs. or more and particularly for crossbows, MHs will increase the convenience of practice along with your field lethality.