It wasn’t long ago carbon arrows were a novelty among serious bow hunters. Anything short of an aluminum arrow generated giggles, smiles, and rolled eyes from the hard-core archer.
Admittedly some of the early models of carbon arrows were less than perfect. Problems included troublesome outserts, strange nocks, vanes that didn’t stick, vane clearance problems, and tuning headaches when shooting broadheads.
An admitted speed freak when it comes to bow hunting, I started experimenting with carbon shafts half a dozen years ago in an effort to add 10 yards to my effective hunting range. Today, I’ve completely made the switch over to carbon arrows and I’ve gained a lot more than 10 yards.
Making the switch to carbon arrows has helped me build a bow hunting system that offers flatter arrow flight, better shooting accuracy, increased penetration, arrows that are easily tuned, and a bow that’s quiet. All this was accomplished with 10 pounds less draw weight that I formerly shot with aluminum arrows.
Carbon arrows deliver higher performance because they feature three important characteristics. Graphite arrows are lighter per inch than aluminum, stiffer than similarly spined aluminum shafts, and in most cases straighter than aluminum shafts.
Carbon is also tougher than aluminum, standing up to much more abuse than aluminum shafts. I personally have shot several deer and a black bear using the same carbon shaft. After all this use, the shaft is in perfect condition and I expect to take another animal with it this year.
With a typical carbon shaft, hunters can shoot less draw weight, yet still enjoy more speed and better penetration than possible with aluminum arrows. And the cost of most carbon arrows is about the same as premium aluminum shafts.
Here are some of the carbon shafts available today.
Arrow Dynamics Nitro Stinger
Clearly the most unique carbon arrow on the market, the weight-forward design of this shaft is not only an eye catcher, but a practical feature as well. Because the shaft is bigger at the tip end than the nock end, the center of gravity is better able to stabilize broadheads in flight.
This weight-forward design is also responsible for delivering more power at the moment of launching, resulting in flatter arrow trajectory than possible with other similar weight shafts.
The Nitro Stinger is also available in just three spine sizes suitable for those shooting 30- to 90-pound bows. An internal nock and point insert help to make this shaft one worth taking a look at.
The Carbon Express produced by Game Tracker/AFC features cross-weave construction that makes it possible to use in-line point inserts and arrow nocks. Slightly larger in diameter than AFC’s other carbon shafts, the Carbon Express is available in three spine weights (100, 200, 300) for bows with draw weights from 30 to 90 pounds.
A Bohning Signature or Easton Super Nock fits snugly into the shaft, allowing the nock to be easily indexed for vane clearance. A standard A/C/C glues into the point end eliminating the need for a point outsert. The straightness factor for these shafts is an amazing .0025 of an inch.
In addition to the Carbon Express, Game Tracker also produces several other carbon shafts that feature the new in-line nock and point adapter system. All are somewhat heavier than the super-light Carbon Express, but all feature amazingly high straightness factors. These shafts also offer a wide variety of unique features such as camo finishes. Noteworthy shafts include the Carbon Lite, Accel, Carbon Advantage, V-Max, and Carbon Realtree.
Beman’s ICS (Internal Component System) shafts are very similar in looks, design, and performance to the Carbon Express. Available with three spine weights, these shafts also accept A/C/C inserts and Easton’s Super Nock. Both the Beman ICS and Game Tracker Carbon Express are available only from archery pro shops as bare shafts or custom-built arrows.
Gold Tip XT
The Gold Tip XT shaft was the first all-carbon arrow designed to accept internal components. Five different layers of carbon fibers are wrapped to provide not only a strong shaft, but one that boasts a .003-inch straightness factor. Gold Tip sells their own arrow nock known as the Lock Nock. This unique product allows hunters to index the nock for vane clearance, then tighten it down using a set screw to prevent it from moving in the field. A standard 246 aluminum insert is used to accept field points and broadheads.
Like their competition, the Gold Tip shafts are available in only three spine sizes to make arrow selection easy.
The Carbon Impact shaft was one of the first to use wrapped carbon technology to produce super light, straight, and tough arrow shafts. Known as the GUIP process this design technology was developed in France.
Carbon Impact shafts are available in three spine weights like their competition, but they are also broken down into four color-coded grades including Gold/Target, Green/Target or Hunting, Orange/Hunting and Yellow (an economical hunting arrow). The straightness factors of these shafts range from .001 inch for the target arrows to .006 inch for the economy hunting shafts.
Carbon Impact shafts accept their own RotoNock and nock insert that can easily be indexed for vane clearance and a glue-on point outsert.
The Carbon Tech shaft is somewhat similar to the Carbon Impact except four different spine sizes are offered. Each spine size is available in four different grades including the CT-1 which is a competition grade arrow, the CT-2 designed for serious hunters, the CT-3 for economy minded bow hunters, and the CT-4 targeted towards the low-end market.
These shafts accept a wide variety of arrow nock designs all produced by Carbon Tech. All nocks allow for easy indexing and vane clearance. Glue-on point adapters are used for hunting broadheads or in-line style field tips may be used.
Carbon Tech also offers a unique product called a Deco Wrap that eliminates the need to dip arrows. Made from adhesive backed plastic, the Deco Wrap is rolled onto the shaft then the vanes glued in place.
Buying Carbon Shafts
Most or all of these shafts are available only from archery pro shops. Many models are so popular that getting some to try may require adding your name to a waiting list.
Normally sold as shafts, customers can build their own carbon hunting arrows or have their favorite pro shop custom build them as needed. Some of these shafts are also available custom-built from Tru-Flight as part of their premium hunting arrow line.