When shopping for the best crossbow bolts, you have probably noticed that most manufacturers list both the shaft straightness, expressed in thousandths of inches, and the overall bolt weight tolerance, expressed as grains. You have also probably noticed that the price of the crossbow bolts increases as these numbers get smaller. So – what is the real significance of shaft straightness and arrow weight tolerances and why do arrows with tighter tolerances cost more? To answer these questions thoroughly, we need to discuss shooting consistency.
To shoot any group of projectiles accurately and with high precision, your projectiles must be as identical to one another as possible and you must launch the projectiles with the same force and motion each time. In other words, to shoot both accurately and precisely with your hunting crossbow, you must shoot crossbow bolts that are consistent in their shaft straightness and overall weight and launch those bolts with the same force and motion each time you take a shot.
The shaft straightness measurement tells you how close to perfectly straight the group of crossbow bolts you are purchasing really is. For instance, most crossbow bolt shafts on the market have straightness measurements that range from 0.006” to 0.001”. This means that if your bolts are said to have a shaft straightness of 0.006”, then the arrow shafts will be up to 0.006” from being straight. Granted, 0.006” is very close to being straight, however arrows that have a shaft straightness of 0.001” come much closer to being perfectly straight. Arrows that have a smaller shaft straightness measurement have a likelihood of shooting more accurately and with greater precision than ones that have a larger tolerance, and hence, are more expensive.
The overall weight tolerance measurement is equally important as shaft straightness because it tells you how closely the weights of each of your crossbow bolts match one another. In other words, if you are looking at purchasing bolts that have a weight tolerance of 5-grains, this means that the bolts in the box could vary in weight by as much as 5-grains from each other. Again, to shoot most accurately and precisely, you want your bolts to weigh as closely to one another as possible. In similar fashion to shaft straightness, crossbow bolts that have a tighter or lower weight tolerance tend to group better and carry a higher price.
At TenPoint, we are committed to providing crossbow shooters with bolts that allow them to shoot most accurately and precisely with their crossbows. After all, most of the folks who are shooting our crossbow bolts are using them for hunting, and the difference between shooting a bolt with low tolerances and shooting one with high tolerances can mean the difference between wounding an animal versus a harvest and recovery. Our Pro Elite 400 Arrows with Easton carbon shafts are straight to within 0.003” and are weight-sorted by hand to weigh within just 2-grains of each other, per box. We achieve this precision through a strict quality control process in which we check the crossbow bolt shafts to be sure they meet the specified straightness tolerance and we weigh each arrow by hand and sort them prior to packaging.