Recently I received some Smoke Broadheads from Fulton Precision Archery for testing. Brett Fulton was looking for a frank and honest evaluation of them and I felt I could make that. Honestly, I would have prefered 125 gr. heads as my setup works best with those. However, Smokes are currently only available in 100 gr. flavor. Fulton is currently working on a 25 grain bushing, but these were not yet available at the time of testing.
The blades on these heads are nicely sharp, front and back. In my opinion, they are absolutely adequate. The blades are designed to deploy with a little tip pressure. More pressure than I would like, but they do open quite fast. I wanted to try to time blade deployment but it can’t be done. The blades open from a cam action force supplied from the tip. So, literally, the faster the arrow hits the faster the blades open. If you are very careful you can apply the force very slowly and open the blades in slow motion. This is good news to me. If it were a set speed I would be afraid of outrunning deployment with a fast bow.
I noticed immediately that these broadheads will not deploy in a foam target. This is readily admitted on the Smoke web site (SmokeBroadheads.com). They claim hide pliancy of a real animal is required to deploy the blades. To simulate an animal I took a nylon feed bag and stuffed it with polyester pillow stuffing then placed it in front of a broadhead target. I figured the poly bag would serve to represent a pliable animal skin. This worked perfectly! The Smoke broadheads open and sink into the broadhead target just like one would want.
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Next, I tried taping over the blades and it did indeed prevent blade deployment. HOWEVER, this is where it gets really interesting. If I only tape one blade, statically you can not get the blades to deploy. One blade blocked prevents the other two blades from deploying. I figured the same would be true on the dynamic test. But, big surprise! When launched from a bow the unblocked blades still deploy and lock open like they are supposed to! This really confused me at first. It was tough to figure out. But, I’m pretty sure this is right. The puckering effect of hide adds an additional dynamic force to snap the blades open like "flicking open" a folding knife. The unblocked blades locked open and cut as advertised. The long tip helped keep the head on path. This surprised me and encouraged me. Here’s an expandable that literally has a fail safe built in to open. Two ways the blades can deploy is pretty neat.
So then I put a piece of Masonite in front of the broadhead target. Hard stuff. No flex. I didn’t expect the head to open and it didn’t. The poly bag proved to me that a little bit of flex is all these heads need to succeed. (Exactly as the manufacturer claims.) The blades tried to open but didn’t make it to lock position so they closed back up. There were small cuts where the blades tried to deploy but it was evident they closed back up. The tip on this head is so aggressive and well made it needs little force to penetrate. The next surprise was when I pulled the arrow out. The back cut on these blades came into play and the head opened jack knife style and cut it’s way out backwards. Three ways to open? That’s pretty amazing.
Since I've mentioned the locked open position, I'll expand on it just a little more. Maybe you are familiar with the old "cross bolt" style lockblade knives. These were, in fact, sold as "Lockblade" style knives. You opened them and then pushed the cross bolt to lock the blade open. Only if you didn't remember to push the lock bolt, the knife wasn't locked (Oops)! Later on some of these knives had springs on the crossbolt that would lock as soon as you fully opened the blade. A better design, but if for some reason the blade wasn't absolutely, fully opened it wouldn't lock. As a manufacturer, you've got two choices with that lock mechanism. Make the hole a tight fit with the bolt to get a secure lock or make it loose so it is locked with some play. The latter is the route that Fulton Precision Archery went with the Smoke Broadhead. The hole is a loose fit and though the blades are "locked" they still have some play. That’s okay as they are still locked open. Until you lift the spring you can’t close them. It’s a smart compromise with that mechanism. I agree with it.
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In all, I've decided maybe these heads were in fact judged a little harshly on the forums at first. I did manage to get one of the broadheads stuffed with enough target foam that it would no longer deploy. Deploying it by hand was a real chore too. In short, if you check the head and reset it before you use it, you can be pretty confident it's going to work.
Yes the Smoke Broadhead does need something like skin covering and material with some give to it in order to work properly. But I am much more confident that's all these things need having tested them.
Additionally, the Smoke broadhead is accurate. Out of my setup they hit almost precisely the same location as my 125 gr. heads at under 25 yards. It’s beyond that range I have issues even with 100 gr. field points. That’s just the way my setup is. So, I can’t comment on their accuracy beyond 25 yards and be fair. Especially if I already know I have problems with 100 gr. field points at that distance.
I wanted to try the Smoke Broadhead in Texas on a doe axis deer or pig. Either one would have been a great test subject to verify performance. However, it just wasn’t to be. I sat for a couple days and just didn’t get the opportunity I needed. Well, that’s hunting.
I left a couple Smokes with a friend there in Texas who hunts pigs regularly. He managed to get a pig a few weeks later. It’s was a quartering toward him shot, so punching through the thick shield on a wild hog was unavoidable. The broadhead penetrated end to end on the pig! It didn’t go far at all. Unfortunately, my buddy didn’t have a camera with him. Maybe next time.
I still haven’t had any animals inside the range I need to test one. I feel like these heads do indeed have potential though.
To Be Continued... ?
About the Author: Leo has been fishing ever since he can remember and hunting since 1980. He has hunted and fished for several different species in many different places over the years. Leo graduated with a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University. He understands the mechanics of equipment and the processes it takes to manufacture it. Leo has been happily married since 1995, he and his wife have no children. Besides hunting and fishing Leo likes to take pictures, read and play guitar. You can contact Leo via the Hunting Resource Forums.