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    Carbon VS Aluminum – Which is Better?


    “Should I be shooting Carbon or Aluminum Arrows?” This is a very common question I hear from a lot of archers. The truth is, is that there is really no set answer it is basically a case of your personal preference. As with any products there are always pros and cons to them. In this article I am going go through some of these pros and cons with you.

    Aluminum arrows have been around for decades, since about 1939 when James Easton created the 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.

    Carbon arrows have only been around since about the early 80′s and is a fairly new and evolving technology. Due to this carbon arrows are more expensive than aluminum arrows and there are not as many sizes available. Carbon arrows if damaged and shot have been known although rare to explode or shatter.

    Carbon arrows however will not bend and are more durable than the aluminum. Carbon arrows because of the increase in strength and durability in the shaft does allow for deeper penetration. As the technology advances carbon arrows are slowly coming down in price.

    In my honest opinion I would recommend using carbon arrows and there are a few reasons for this. The biggest reason is that they do not bend and this is huge. I have seen a carbon arrows stepped on, deflected off trees, and fences and put through absolute hell and they are still as straight as the day they were bought.

    Now obviously for safety reasons I would not recommend purposely sabotaging your arrows because although the cannot bend they can be cracked or stressed and if damaged bad enough could shatter upon shooting. Also carbon fiber allows for more flexion so when the arrow hits the target and vibrates because of the sudden stop it will be less likely to stress the arrow shaft and cause it to weaken.

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    9 Responses to “Carbon VS Aluminum – Which is Better?”

    1. Steve Williamson Says:

      Carbon arrows do in fact bend and if you dont believe me try flexing an arrow in a severe arch and then spin it, it will wobble like a weeble!

    2. Admin Says:

      Hello Steve, it is true that carbon arrows do bend, however it is not in the same way that aluminum arrows bend. There are two reasons why aluminum arrows will wobble after being bent or hitting something. The first is that the one or more of the layers of carbon that make up the shaft is broken or splintered thus degrading the overall structure and balance of the arrow, and the second is if your insert or tip is bent. Usually once you replace the tip or insert the carbon shaft will straighten back out. Obviously carbon arrows are not meant to be bent in a severe arch and this will of course more than likely break or ruin your arrow.

    3. Brendan Ralls Says:

      Honestly i love Carbon arrows better because they shoot and start spinning faster also they arent as heay and dont drop as much as aluminum arrows

    4. oregonman Says:

      Having my 3rd surgery in the am to fix tendons and nerves. First two surgeries doc removed 90 pieces of graphite.

    5. Sarah Adkins Says:

      Ive tried shooting the carbon arrows, I love the speed and accruacy BUT they do not penatrait like an aluminum arrow, probably because of how light they are. I shot a doe at 30 yrds with a 70 pound draw weight and the arrow did not even go through, so blood trail was at a minimum, not good. I want my arrows to punch a hole and crush bone, not just stick out of a deer. Im staying old school.

    6. McNugget Says:

      I agree with the recommendation. Carbon is the way to go. I have found carbon to be more durable, when properly used (inspect/FLEX your arrows!), and with carbon I can generally more easily attain a higher FOC than with aluminum. That said, I have comments for a few of the commenters:

      @oregonman: Sounds like you got what you deserved. Carbon arrows do shatter, as stated in the original article, for a number of reasons, most often traceable to user error: the arrow is too light for the bow (still rare that this would cause a shatter if the arrow is properly loaded); OR the arrow was previously damaged and not inspected properly (flexed, should not make a sound) before it was fired; OR the arrow was not properly seated against the string. At any rate, if you’re going to imply that the carbon in your arm was the fault of the arrow and not something you overlooked, you need to tell the whole story. I have shot hundreds (maybe thousands, haven’t really kept count) of shots with carbon arrows (usually the same three), and never had one blow up. I use the same carbon arrow every time I shoot a deer. I have only EVER seen ONE blow up, on my grand-dads tenpoint compound… he only loaded the arrow to the anti-dry fire device (about 1″ off the string). He deserves carbon in his arm too, as far as I’m concerned, though I’m grateful it didn’t happen to him, and I’m sorry you had to learn the hard way. Hope you get back to 100%!

      @Stevewilliamson: carbon arrows flex, more so than aluminum. They do not bend. Try flexing an aluminum arrow as far as you can a carbon arrow of the same weight, and you will kink it every time. A bent carbon arrow is most likely damaged. Flex it back and forth… if you hear ANYTHING, cut/break it in two and throw it out, so no one else ends up like oregonman.

      @Sarah Adkins: You gotta make the arrow the weight you want it. There should be no difference in arrow weight for a given bow, once you find what it likes best. The difference in weight between aluminum and carbon is how the weight is distributed, I.E. how you decide to build your arrow. I have found I prefer the ultralight carbon arrows (mine weigh 250-275 grains finished, 375-425 with point/head) with a heavier insert and/or head/point. I have a 17.5% FOC which gives me amazing accuracy and long range capability. You should know the minimum weight for your bow (my xbow is 350gr minimum) and realize that most bows will perform best at 5 grains per pound of draw (for my 180lb Tenpoint GT Flex, that is 180×5= 900 grains!) I have not tried a 900 grain arrow, they would be pretty slow, but pack enough energy to skewer an elephant!

      The point is, carbon is not lighter than aluminum, unless you build your arrow so. I recommend you go for at least 15% FOC (look it up if you don’t know what I mean) and this is easier to achieve with carbon arrows, in my opinion. Setup thus, they will in fact penetrate BETTER as they are stiffer than aluminum, loosing less energy on impact due to vibration and flex. With my 420 grain excalibur firebolts, I have never failed to shoot through my deer, out to 50 yards, even on quartering shots.

      Happy hunting!

    7. Joe Bob Says:

      even if carbon arrows are light, you can always put weight tubes in them.

    8. Kerry Says:

      The weight argument is not valid. With either allum or carbon you have to have the same weight arrow. If you shoot a 9.8 gpi arrow then 9.8 gpi of carbon or allum is the same. you may have to go longer with carbon or shorter with allum for an overdraw. Go too light and blow your bow same as dry firing. Carbon once flexed beyond what it can handle will loose its strength in that area and can blow. a cracked allum arrow is noticeable but a cracked carbon is not that noticeable.

    9. this guy Says:

      @Mcnugget saying someone deserves to have a carbon arrow explode into their arm is probably one of the more tasteless things I have heard someone say in a while. Believe it or not people are not perfect and accidents happen, you have no right to judge. Some people get carbon poisoning from carbon shafts that shatter and they have to amputate. Good information, but try to be less of an a-hole about it.

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