Many hunters want to know – should I shoot an aluminum or carbon bolt out of my hunting crossbow? The answer to this question is not as simple as saying, “Always shoot carbon – it’s far superior to aluminum.”
Both hunting crossbow bolt types have advantages, so here are some factors to consider when making your choice.
Aluminum crossbow hunting bolts, like our 435-grain XX75 Wicked Ridge Aluminum Arrow, generally have the highest precision-to-price ratio of all crossbow bolts on the market. In other words, you typically will get a high level of accuracy and energy from an aluminum crossbow bolt, but for a lower price than a similar hunting bolt made from carbon. However, aluminum bolt shafts can become bent if you do not use the proper target for practice, if you take a high number of practice shots, or if you harvest an animal. Once an aluminum bolt is bent, it is very difficult to straighten it back out – which usually leads to accuracy issues and the loss of that crossbow hunting bolt. Aluminum bolts tend to have a stiffer spine – which hunting crossbows generally like – and tend to weigh more because the aircraft strength aluminum alloy used is denser than a shaft made from carbon fiber. Aluminum crossbow bolts are also easy to repair with the proper equipment.
On the other hand, carbon crossbow hunting bolts, like our 400-grain TenPoint Pro Elite 400 Arrow, generally weigh less overall than aluminum bolts but still maintain a stiffer spine due to the increased strength of the carbon fiber weave. Because carbon fiber is less dense than aircraft strength aluminum alloy, the shaft weight is lighter, and this translates into faster crossbow shooting speeds and flatter shooting trajectories than aluminum bolts. Carbon does not bend in the same way aluminum does, so maintaining shaft straightness is generally not a problem. Carbon crossbow bolts are much less likely to encounter accuracy issues from being shot repeatedly as compared to aluminum bolts. The process of fabricating the carbon fiber and weaving it into a bolt shaft is technologically more complex than the extrusion process used to make aluminum bolts, so carbon crossbow bolts are oftentimes more expensive. Repairing carbon crossbow bolts is more difficult than aluminum because the carbon fiber material is more difficult to clean and can be tricky to prepare for proper glue adhesion.
BUDGET AND PREFERENCE
While aluminum crossbow hunting bolts have a strong spine, fly accurately, and are less expensive, they also tend to bend from repeated shooting, resulting in a loss of accuracy over time. Carbon crossbow hunting bolts are lighter than aluminum bolts, have a stiffer spine, and are less susceptible to bending, but they also are more expensive and more difficult to repair. Ultimately, the best crossbow hunting bolt for you to shoot is the one that best meets your budget, your repair preferences, and gives you the most confidence in making an accurate shot.