Carbon Shafts vs. Aluminum Shafts for Hunting Purposes

Technology has allowed the archery industry to evolve rapidly, especially when it comes to arrow technology. How do you choose? Aluminum or Carbon arrows, both have their pro’s and con’s.

In the recent past, the standard in the industry and out in the field had been to shoot aluminum arrows for hunting purposes. Now, its carbon arrows as the prohibitive favorite amongst bow hunters.

Aluminum arrows have been around for decades, since the late 30’s, early 40’s when James Easton created the first aluminum arrow shaft. There are upsides to using aluminum arrows such as aluminum arrows have been tried and tested for years. Aluminum arrows also offer more of a size selection usually at a cheaper price than carbon, which is what makes them a popular choice. When it comes to shooting at targets because aluminum arrows are usually bigger around they are a whole lot easier to pull from the targets.

There are some downsides to aluminum however. The biggest issue with aluminum arrows is that they bend very easily and are less durable than carbon. Over the last few years the prices while still lower than carbon in most cases are going up and are expected to become pretty close if not match in price.

As for my hunting arrows, I require an extremely straight shaft that allows consistent insert alignment, valuable fletching clearance with larger vanes for premium offset, a durable nock, and a lightweight shaft to provide me more consistency to reduce my yardage estimation errors and of course, I want a dependable, tough shaft.

In the last few years we have seen some worthwhile technology advancements that will influence us to choose to hunt with a different type of hunting arrows. The archery industry as a whole has witnessed several advances that have completely changed the thought process and alignment of their loyalty to different equipment amongst the average bow hunter. We have seen tremendous improvement of the carbon shaft straightness and weight consistency of the same shaft as well as carbon shafts accept inserts and uni-bushing style super nocks. Plus, as all of these improvements have been made, prices are much lower and comparable to that of a good quality aluminum arrow.

Lets also breakdown the carbon shaft and see if it fulfills our requirements as the perfect hunting arrow. Today’s carbon arrows provide a straightness tolerance of .006″ or better which works very well for hunting. The straighter the straightness tolerance of arrow shafts increases the more cost prohibitive they are for us to buy.

In addition to this, carbon arrows have inserts just like the ones that we have used in the aluminum arrows and most of the carbon shafts today use an Easton Super Nock or equivalent just like the top of the line aluminum arrows. Carbon arrows are a lot more durable than the aluminum shafts and do not really bend at all. If bent, they are broken.

Carbon shafts and their advantages over aluminum are that it takes less time to recover from the archer’s paradox and therefore means that it has the entire shaft directly behind the arrow point quicker which translates into better penetration of the game and provides flatter trajectory downrange. The most common argument that has been going on for the past 10 to 15 years is it fact or fiction that the thinner diameter shafts will penetrate better than the larger diameter shafts when a broadhead has created a larger hole ahead of the shaft. It’s just my opinion that I get better penetration from carbon arrows than I do with aluminum arrows from the same poundage bow. I really have no concern one way or another why, if the end result provides me better penetration. One more clear advantage recognized by hunters and industry geeks is with a smaller diameter shaft wind will affect the arrow much less than thicker diameter arrows.

I would have shot carbon arrows years ago for hunting but I couldn’t feel comfortable changing my fletching setup for the clearance I am accustomed too. One of the big myths in bow hunting is that a heavier arrow will increase your Kinetic Energy (KE) of your bow and help with penetration. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you shoot a heavy arrow, your bow speed will be slow, and if you shoot a lighter arrow, your bow speed will increase in a manner that keeps your KE within about 5% of each other. Sometime the lighter arrow will have more energy and sometimes the aluminum will. It always depends on your specific setup.

With a given draw length, your bow will only improve its KE by you increasing the poundage of your bow. However, always remember by increasing your poundage on your bow it can and will create poor form and bad habits if you’re not first spending the time on a range practicing and improving your consistency to insure success in the field. Do not misunderstand me, I still shoot aluminum arrows for some things and they work great… but, you might want to test out some new technology advancements if you are experiencing doubts about your standard set up.

At Crossbow Xperts, we carry PSE Carbon Force, Gold Tip, Easton, Beman and Carbon Express. Not to say others aren’t good too, but we have never used any others and would make sure other Carbon Shafts stand up to these branded shafts with tolerances and quality. I know you will be pleased with the performance of carbon arrows if you can take the time to test them out sometime.

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