Understanding Carbon Arrows
Axis.jpgMany of today's serious bowhunters are finding that carbon arrows offer real benefits.  There are three kinds of carbon arrows on the market right now: pultruded, cross-weave (internal component) and carbon/aluminum composite.  Pultruded carbon shafts have uni-directional fibers that don’t have enough burst strength to withstand internal components.  Therefore, the point and nock fit into outserts that go over the outside of the shaft instead of inserts that go inside.  There hasn’t been much innovation in pultruded carbon shafts recently.  Typically, they are considered economical options to a company’s top of the line carbon shafts and weigh approximately the same as SuperLite aluminum sizes in the same stiffness range.

Internal component carbon shafts are made with a cross-weave of carbon fibers in alternating layers.  In this orientation the fibers are able to counteract forces from the inside, permitting the shafts to support traditional point inserts and nocks that slip inside the shaft.  Internal component carbon arrows are where most of the latest developments have been centered.  They are available from several companies and are much lighter in weight than aluminum options.

The final category of carbon arrows are hybrids, those composed of both aluminum and carbon.  The most popular and prevelant of these shafts is the Easton a/c/c.  Available in a variety of sizes these arrows offer the straightness of an aluminum arrow combined with the strength of a carbon arrow and are loved by bowhunters and archers who demand the highest quality arrow available.  However, they do cost significantly more than both standard carbon or aluminum arrows.

While all styles of carbon arrows tend to be more bend-resistant and penetrate significantly better than aluminum, they share one disadvantage.  Carbon arrows are smaller in diameter and require that the arrow rest be positioned with the support arms closer together.  This makes it more difficult to achieve perfect arrow flight as the fletching has less room to pass through.  Although the rather recent advances in total containment and dropaway arrow rests have eliminated many of the fletching clearance problems of two-prong rests and are gaining popularity with archers every day.


Testing done by AFC/Game Tracker, and confirmed several times since, has shown that small diameter shafts (especially those made of carbon) produce better penetration than large diameter shafts of the same weight shooting the same broadheads.  This is due to the reduced amount of surface area, and therefore reduced friction, of carbon shafts.

Just recently, several companies have begun producing even smaller diameter, thicker walled carbon shafts that have quickly gained popularity with bowhunters across the globe.  Shafts such as the Eason Axis ST, Beman Max 4, and Carbon Express Maxima are micro-diameter carbon shafts that pack the punch of an aluminum arrow.

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