Types of Arrowheads and Crossbow Bolt Tips – Know Your Points and Tips!
Whether you prefer archery in the range or hunting out in the field, you’re going to need some form of projectile – bolts for crossbows and arrows for compound bows, recurve bows and longbows. The tip you choose will largely depend on the job you need the tip to do. Knowing the types of arrowheads and crossbow bolt tips and what they do is therefore vital to your success as an archer or hunter.
When considering the types of arrowheads or crossbow bolt tips to use, you have a reasonably large number of options:
- Bullet points
- Field points
- Combo points, pin points and target points
- JUDO points or other grabbing points
- Blunt points and bludgeoning points
- Fish points
- Bird points, snare points and Snaro
- Small game points and bulge points
- Fixed-blade and mechanical broadheads
Each point is designed with a different purpose in mind, and using the wrong point for the job can lead to breaking your arrowheads or bolt tips, losing them, failing to take down your prey, mangling targets or animals, reduced accuracy and poor experiences.
In other words, you really want to choose the right point for the job!
A Brief History of Arrowheads
Although Native American artifacts from various tribes are some of the most commonly quoted early arrowheads, they were actually first discovered in South Africa, in an archaeological site dating back as far as 64,000BC. The earliest arrowheads represents some of the first stone object tools humankind wielded to master their environment.
These projectile points were categorized into various buckets such as the lanceolate arrowhead, auriculate arrowhead, leaf arrowhead and triangle arrowhead, each representing stone arrowheads that demonstrate early human ingenuity.
The pronounced look of early designs didn’t change for a long time, and it wasn’t until the early medieval period, motivated by a lot of warfare, that the iconic stone tools of prehistory became optimized for better flight and more power, particularly for outdoor shots.
Although there’s no denying that modern designs have been impacted by technological advancements in consistency and precision, the beauty of bowhunting and archery is that so much still remains very true to the original form. Some innovations like mechanical broadheads or grabbing points are undeniable modernizing the sport, but many of the sport’s commonly used arrowheads honor centuries-old concepts and prove just how incredible human innovation was, even hundreds of years ago without the aid of computers and modern manufacturing processes.
So, with that, let’s take a look at the line-up of all the common types of arrowheads and crossbow bolts!
Types of Arrowheads and Crossbow Bolt Tips
There are a surprising amount of projective points and we’ve done out best to cover the lot! The common types of arrowheads and crossbow bolt tips, as well as some of the less common ones, are described below to help you understand their main purpose and get a feel for how they can work for you. So here goes!
Bullet points are named so because they resemble a bullet. They are probably the smallest arrowheads and feature round ends that appear as the simplest of all the types of arrowheads. Typically constructed from steel, they are aerodynamic and very durable, but don’t offer great penetration or cause major bleeding.
Although they can be used for hunting smaller game, they’re much better suited to cardboard or paper archery targets or bags, creating less wear and tear on the targets.
Bullet heads are also useful if you need to safely disengage a crossbow by shooting the bolt directly at a patch of nearby soft ground. Doing the same with a broadhead may damage it or dull the blades.
- 5/16" diameter, 100 grain
- Perfect for target practice in cardboard and foam targets
- The bullet point's shape makes it easier to pull your arrows
Field points are similar to bullet points, but are sharpened at the tip and feature a convex tapering from tip to base. They are the gold standard in precision and are typically used in Olympic archery and as a reference point to calibrate and tune bows and crossbows against.
They are highly aerodynamic, making the flight path predictable and precise. Commonly a steel point design, their slim and pointed design also offers decent penetration, but their narrow profile does not cause major damage.
They are perfect for hunting small game like ducks, squirrels rabbits, and can even be effective against some small carnivores like foxes and raccoons. They are a highly versatile point that should be included in every hunter’s arsenal.
Like bullet points, they are effective for disarming crossbows too.
- Tapered and Shoulder Design-- Minimizes damage to your archery target and can be easily removed from cardboard or foam target or bag without causing a large hole on it.
- Screw in Arrow Points Design—The archery points fits all compound bow recurve bow crossbow tightly and can be easily installed and removed from arrow.
- Archery field points 5/16, Length:78mm,Screw size:8-32, weight: 100grain(please allow 1-2% difference)
Combo Points, Bulge Points, Pin Points and Target Points
As the name suggests, combo points combine the elements of two other points, namely bullet and field points. They typically offer solid aerodynamics and penetration along with high durability.
Combo points come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s basically a bucket for points that don’t quite resemble standard bullet or field points. A common look, like the one shown below, is a longer, narrower and pointier profile than a bullet point. The slightly convex overall shape which makes them a little fatter than bullet or field points and has earned them the name “bulge point”.
There are others that are have squared edges, some that look like stumpy field points and some that look like little rockets. Combo points with straighter, more conical shaped heads are sometimes called pin points or target points and are typically used in archery.
- 125 Grains Diameter 9/32
- High precision CNC lathe, weight tolerance ± 0.5 grains.Solid stainless steel.
- Screw-in Arrows, Easy to Install and Replace
JUDO® points or other grabbing points
These points were originally designed for stumping and target shooting. Their blunt, steel tip is not intended to penetrate and the little spring-loaded fingers trigger when the arrow hits the ground, popping it up the air so it’s easy to see and recover when shooting in thick bush, grass and trees.
You will often hear these points referred to as “judo” points. To be clear, JUDO® is an official trademark owned by the company Zwickey. If it’s not a true Zwickey JUDO point arrowhead, it should be referred to as a grabbing point.
Although the original design by Zwickey was for target practice, these types of points are great for small game hunting, delivering blunt force trauma and ethically killing the target.
Anyone whose hunted small game like squirrels and birds will know that arrow recovery can be a challenge, especially if you’re shooting into trees or at the ground. That’s where grabbing points really shine. Paired with some vibrantly colored fletching, you’re much more likely to find and recovery your gear!
- Judo's spring arms snag grass and turf to prevent arrow loss
Blunt Point Arrowheads and Bludgeon Points
Another point that is great for small game hunting is the blunt point. These flat tip makes the points immediately recognizable and they are typically made of rubber, plastic or steel.
The larger style points like the one pictured here are sometimes referred to as bludgeon points, and they sometimes feature small, spiked ends which reduce deflection risk on impact.
Blunts are also used in stumping and target practice, and will reduce damage to your arrows and bolts. There are even slip-on and conversion varieties that effectively transform your field points or bullets in blunt points in a matter of seconds!
- Brand New & Original! Archery Gear Ready When You Are!
Small Game Points And Bulge Points
There are various styles of small game points out there. It’s really another bucket category for the types of arrowheads and crossbow bolt tips that are suitable for small game hunting. Blunt points, grabbing points and even some small broadheads fit the bill.
Although field, bullet and combo points have been used for small game, its not humane and is definitely not recommended in the interest of the values that surround the sport. Blunt force trauma is considered the best approach to small game, this being the focus of almost all small game points.
By far one of the most popular is the G5 S.G.H., short for Small Game Head, which is effectively a narrow profile broadhead with a blunted tip. The tip delivers the blunt force trauma which is typically of small game hunting points. The blades of the broadhead are actually to stop the arrow burying itself in the ground and help it stand up for easy recovery.
- Stainless steel one-piece construction;Designed to shock and tear;1" cutting diameter that can be re-sharpened
You guessed it! Fish points are for shooting fish! Bowfishing is incredibly fun and definitely worth trying if you haven’t done it before, but requires a little adjustment relative to land-based hunting. It also requires special bowfishing bows with built in reels and the use a specific points for catching fish.
The main identifying feature of fish points are the long barbs which protrude from the side of the head. These prevent the fish from slipping off the arrow once it’s been speared and anchor into it’s flesh so you can safely and easily recover your catch without losing it. Occasionally you’ll see fish points designed for full pass-through shots which don’t feature these barbs and only have the pencil point-like chisel tip.
They are also very robust and must be corrosion resistant given the environment they are used in. They are often made from stainless or galvanized steel and covered in a rust resistant coating.
- This Bowfishing Broadhead Fishing Arrow Tip Compatible with Compound Bow, Crossbow and Recurve Bow.
- 225 Grain weight 8/32 tread for superior impact and penetration.
- Broadhead Design for optimal cutting and fish removal, the main body is drilled to connect the fishing line.
Bird Points, Snare Points and Snaro
Surprise, surprise! Bird points are specifically designed for hunting birds! Who’d have guessed that!? These are amazingly innovative points that feature wide wire loops (typically four) which create a large surface area to increase the chance of hitting your target mid-flight.
The tip is blunt and so delivers blunt force trauma for a quick and ethical take down on direct hits, which is incredibly difficult for a bird in-flight. To increase your chances of success, the wide loops are designed to ensnare the bird’s body and wings when your shot is a bit off.
Originally invented by one G.W. “Doc” Schwarz who later sold the business and design to Brooks Johnson, the truly original Snaro seems to have fallen off the radar and been replaced by copycat models, which still seem to carry the “Snaro” name. I guess “Doc” and Brooks forgot to register the trademark!
In honor of the original designer and present owner, I prefer to call them bird points or snare points. The latter makes more sense as the design is actually very versatile and effective against other small game such as rabbits and squirrels.
- Large surface area wire point increases your chances of bringing birds down
- 6 broadheads , 200 grain,Strong and accurate with 3 inch wire diameter loops.
- Fits carbon or alloy arrows with industry standard 8/32 insert threads
Surprisingly, not all broadheads have a broad head! A telltale sign of a broadhead is actually is cutting edges which come in various types of blade shapes and designs. Their main purpose is to deliver raw damage and they undoubtedly regarded as a hunter’s bread and butter. From barbed heads to propellor-like blades, these arrowheads are the definition of deadly.
Unless you are hunting small game or just messing around with some target practice (and usually even if they are!), no hunter will leave home without their favorite broadhead. When it comes to hunting, there are no other types of arrowheads or crossbow bolt tips that perform as well as broadheads.
In simple terms, broadheads are razor-sharp, wide profile heads that are likely to be the points you think of when you imagine an arrow or crossbow bolt in your mind. There are many different types of broadheads, and it would become overkill to try and cover each of them here, but we’ll cover the basics.
Broadheads are commonly bucketed into one of two categories, fixed-blade or mechanical. Fixed-blades are stiff and solid and have no moving parts, the wide profile of the blades always ready to strike. Mechanicals blades are tucked inside the ferrule (central shaft) during flight before springing open upon impact to deliver a wide cutting diameter.
There is an ongoing debate among hunters over the best type of broadhead. It basically boils down the high penetration offered by fixed-blades vs the field point-like flight performance of mechanicals. If you want to learn more, we have some great coverage on mechanical vs fixed-blade broadheads, but we’re not going to get dragged into that right now!
What is worth pointing out is that the argument has given rise to hybrid broadheads, which feature elements of both major types. Unfortunately, it results in a broadhead that never really reaches the heights of the other two. That said, they’re worth a try, you might even really like them!
Beyond the overarching category, broadheads have loads of features and innovations. They can be made from a variety of materials, have very blade profiles and designs for various purposes and optimizations, include the ability to replace blades and even designs that help prevent you losing your arrow in the scrub!
Check out our article on all different types of broadheads to learn more.
- 1 - 1/16 in. CUTTING DIAMETER
- 1.725 in. OF TOTAL CUTTING SURFACE
- USE THE BUTCHER WHEN YOU NEED TO SHATTER BONE AND CREATE A PATH OF DEVASTATION.
What Should I Consider When Buying Different Types of Arrowheads and Crossbow Bolt Tips?
Now that you know all the different types of arrowheads and crossbow bolt tips, it’s worth considering a few different factors before you purchase.
What Are You Using The Arrowheads Or Bolt Tips For?
The first question is whether you are getting yourself some new points for archery or for hunting? For archery, you can quickly narrow your options to bullet points, field points or potentially combo points such as pin point or target points.
For hunters there’s a follow up question, are you doing target practice or getting arrowheads / bolt tips for the live takedowns?
If you’re doing target practice, your best bet is to use the same rig as you plan to hunt with. However, if you hunt with broadheads, this might not be practical. If the types of target shooting you get your training in with doesn’t work with broadheads, you’ll be forking out cash faster than you can save it!
So they way you practice really makes a difference.
- 3D Targets or foam targets – Use the same tips or points as you plan to use when hunting
- Archery targets or bags – Use field points, bullet points, or combo points, just like an archery shooter would
- Stumping or targets set up in the bush and scrub – Use blunts, bludgeoning points or grabbing points to reduce damage to your arrows and make sure you don’t lose any!
If you are using a different arrowhead or bolt tip for practice than you plan to use for hunting, you NEED to tune your gear for the hunting setup before you go. Tuning is an absolute art form with regular bows. Although a reputable dealer can help, you should learn to do it on your own. The simplest methods involve either paper tuning by trying to make perfect bullet holes in shots through paper, or by shooting both your training arrows/bolts and your hunting build and then correcting for the difference in groupings. As rough rules of thumb:
- Hunting arrows fall left of your training arrows / paper holes are dragging left – Adjust your sight to the right or arrow rest left
- Hunting arrows fall right of your training arrows / paper holes are dragging right – Adjust your sight to the left or arrow rest right
- Hunting arrows land below of your training arrows / paper holes are dragging down – Adjust your sight up, raise your nocking point or reduce tension on your lower limb / increase tension your upper limb by tiller tuning
- Hunting arrows land below of your training arrows / paper holes are dragging up – Adjust your sight down, lower your nocking point or increase tension on your lower limb / reduce tension your upper limb by tiller tuning
With crossbows, the process is a little easier and mainly involves “nock tuning” or “vane tuning”. The goal here is to identify which vane should be loaded into the rail to get the most consistent groups of arrowheads, as you may not be getting the accuracy you are after when using the cock vane. By trying a different vane in the rail you may find that some bolts group more consistently around your target. You then mark the new cock vane for each bolt and consistently load that into the rail.
Now, if you’re out on the hunt, the next question is what are you shooting?
- Small game like squirrels, rabbits or rats – Use field points, blunts, bludgeoning points, grabbing points, snare points, bulge points or specific small game points
- Birds – Blunts, bludgeons, grabbing points or bird points / snare points
- Bowfishing – Fish points obviously!
- Medium sized game like foxes, turkey and wild boar – Use bulge points or narrow profile broadheads, mechanicals actually really shine here
- Big game like deer, elk or bear – Broadheads, there’s really no other option here
How Do You Attach Points To Arrows and Bolts?
This is a point not to be ignored. If you already have arrow shafts, you really need to check this. It’s an absolute pain in the arse when your brand new field points don’t fit your arrow!
90% of points and arrow shafts are going to be screw-in. 80% of those screw-ins will be what’s referred to as “Standard 8-32” thread pattern, which will fit standard sized 5mm, 6mm or 6.5mm shafts. So there’s a good chance that even if you aren’t paying attention you will be fine.
But there are other attachment mechanisms.
- There’s obviously non-standard thread on your screws or bushing (the part of the arrow or bolt shaft you screw the arrowhead or bolt tip into). The most common non-standard thread pattern is “Deep Six”, which is designed for 4mm shafts
- There are glue-on solutions. You could use glue-on points on shafts designed for screw-ins, but they won’t last long
- There are also slip-on options, but there are almost exclusive to blunts and bludgeoning points
- There’s also conversions, which modify an existing point, typically a field point and convert it to something else, like a blunt or fish point
Just be sure you check the attachment mechanism on whatever arrowhead or bolt tip you buy.
Summary – Types of Arrowheads And Crossbow Bolt Tips
There’s loads of different types of arrowheads and crossbow bolt tips, right!? Bet you didn’t except to learn so much! With everything you know now, maybe you can even try your hand at making your own arrows?!
Archery and bowhunting have been around for millennia, and the sport has become incredibly nuanced and technical over that time. The innovations over the years have led to various different arrowheads and bolt tips that are optimized for specific purposes.
Some are more obvious, like design optimisation for specific targets, and some less-so, like a crazy claw mechanism that pops an arrow in the air so you are less likely to lose it after shooting! Where there’s room for improvement, you can be sure someone’s working on a solution.
So don’t feel overwhelmed. Feel excited! It’s one reason that I’m so passionate about bowhunting, there’s just so much to learn! I learn something new every single time I pick up my bow, look for some new gear, talk to a fellow hunter or sit down to write these articles!
So keep hunting and keep learning. Just like G.W. “Doc” Schwarz, maybe one day you can invent something new and awesome that revolutionizes archery and hunting for all us passionate followers out there. Just be sure to tell me about it, OK!?