Wednesday, October 27, 2010

T3 Or Not T3

I imagine every bow hunter does it from time to time. As the season approaches you start to wonder if the broad head you are using is being all that it can be. This being my second season hunting deer, I certainly had more questions than answers. Last year I shot some old 100 grain Thunderheads but I really like the idea of a mechanical head flying like a field point. To me it makes sense because it would reduce shooting errors down to just the things I do and not flight characteristics. With that in mind I started researching the net.

    I had heard both the pro's and cons of some of the mechanical heavyweights in the industry. My trip to the local pro shop had me receiving a strong recommendation to purchase one of those heavyweights. You know the one. I won't name it but it's the angry one. I had heard enough mixed concerns about it that it made me somewhat leery. The head that caught my eye was the one I had heard nothing about because it was so new. I really liked the concept behind G5's offering in the form of the T3. The pro shop could give me no information as they had just received their first shipment and had no shooters using it yet. So I volunteered to report back to them what my experiences with the heads were. I'm now going to share my impressions with you. This is all from the field. I have done no side by side shooting on the range. Everything I'm about to relay to you happened as I was hunting.

    Before I go on I think I should set some parameters. Every time I read a discussion about performance invariably someone blames the bow, or the weight of the arrow. To give you some perspective so you can form you opinions of what I'm about to write I'll post my equipment stats.

Bow - 2010 Hoyt Alpha Max 32

Draw Weight - 60 pounds

Speed -     I haven't chrono'd it but according to the calculations my copy of software for archers I should be shooting somewhere in the neighbourhood of 289 fps.
Arrow – Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 350
Arrow length – 29 inches
Approximate arrow weight with 100 grain head (according to Software) 390 grains
Quiver – An old Quiki Quiver set up for fixed broad heads.

The concept behind the T3 is delightfully simple. There is a small knob on the sides of the leading corner of the blades. You can't see it in the above picture because it slides into a channel along the length of the head. When you slide the blade fully forward to close it requires a slight downward and forward pressure to cause those knobs to slip into a small grove inside the channel. The spider clip at the back simply provides upward pressure on the two small ridges above it causing the friction required to hold the blade in place. When the head contact an object it can penetrate the small shelf simply slides off those clips and the blade slides down the channel to open. Simple right?

G5 sends each set of T3's with extra clips which is good because they seem to be a one use situation. The instructions mention that after time they could wear out but my experience was that they would bend open when shot and never be the same again. This required them to be replaced. They send practice blades that don't depend on the clips because they don't open. When I installed the practice blades and took some test shots the head performed as advertised. It shot beautifully and truly was as accurate as my field tips.

The first problem I noticed was with my quiver. I had two problems. The first one was that placing the tip in the hole caused the blade to deploy in the quiver because the hole was fixed blade sized and not a small impression designed simply to hold the tip. That required a little tape to correct although I will admit it was not the most effective solution to the problem. The more significant problem I had was when the broad heads would shift from center in the quiver.

The issue wasn't one of sound, although that could be a possibility, it was the lateral pressure of the blade contacting the side of the quiver. For me this is a big deal. Any pressure placed sideways on the blades caused the spider clip to compress. The second these two small pieces of metal flattened out they lost the ability to keep the broad head closed. Certainly not what you want as things happen in the bush and your equipment should be able to take a little knocking around before failure.

One of the things everyone worries about is blood trail. I hit a deer with the T3 on my 4th day out. The blades deployed as advertised as it passed through the deer.

The blood trail started about 40 yards from the hit and was fairly substantial. Sadly I had switched trees in the dark and missed a small branch. The small branch didn't miss my arrow however and it deflected the shot badly. Many hours later and a mile away my attempts to pick up the trail ended and the deer was lost. That, however, is the topic of another story. Prior to that a significant amount of the trail looked like this.

A week later I was back in the bush on the edge of a field when a young buck came along and presented me with a 15 yard shot. This is where our tail of the T3 takes a turn for the worse. There's no worse sound, I'm now convinced, than the crack you hear of broad head on bone. I caught him in the shoulder blade. The T3 was an abysmal failure. Not only did it fail to penetrate the shoulder but it shattered at the top of the threads. The arrow simply bounced away and landed in the grass. The deer disappeared down the length of the field never to be seen again and without leaving a single drop of blood to follow. Needless to say the anxiety I felt from the shot prior to this was multiplied significantly as I watched another wounding. Just to clarify the head failed structurally without any outside interference. He didn't brush it against any trees. He was standing in an open field and the arrow came to rest within a few feet of where he was standing. The last I saw of him he was limping slightly as he slipped into the trees.

Much to my great sadness I have been forced to decide the T3 experiment is a failure. The problem with keeping them from deploying was annoying but the shoulder issue was the final straw. I haven't completely given up on mechanicals but I have to admit that last night I took the last two T3's off my shafts and switched to a different one. At the risk of looking like a sheep in the giant flock of bow hunters I put the angry one on. Hopefully my experience with it will be better.