Hunters each have their preferences, and that’s not going to change.
That’s never truer than with the grain weights of our favorite broadheads; you’ll find guys who swear by the 100 grain over the 125. You’ll also find the opposite.
So we thought we’d take a look and see the differences for ourselves!
TL;DR: 100 vs 125 Grain Broadheads for Crossbows
In a hurry? Here's a quick summary.
100 Grain Broadhead
125 Grain Broadhead
Suited to a hunter with a light setup who favors smaller prey. It gives a little extra range.
Suitable for crossbows, and higher draw weight and larger prey such as elk or bears.
What is a 100 Grain Broadhead?
The 100 grain broadhead is the most common and popular broadhead on the market and is widely used by marksmen and hunters. It’s suitable for recurve bows, compound bows, crossbows, and traditional longbows. Just about every manufacturer out there carries a 100 grain broadhead in their range.
100 grains is equivalent to 6,479 grams, or 0.23 ounces. The grain weights of broadheads can vary from 55 grains at the lightest end, all the way up to 300+ grain options at the heaviest, although the use and manufacture of these are quite low in the sport.
The 100 grain is something of a benchmark or average. Many bow enthusiasts will start out using this weight and perhaps change preference over time.
The 100 grain comes in all types: a fixed blade, removable blade, and mechanical blade options are available in both chisel-point and cut-on-contact (COC) points. There are also two, three, and four-blade varieties out there, so there’s quite a range of choices.
Overall, the 100 grain head tends to travel slightly faster than a heavier head, but there will be a corresponding slight loss in kinetic energy on contact with the target.
What is a 125 Grain Broadhead?
The 125 grain broadhead is the second most popular broadhead, right behind the 100 grain. It’s also widely used. This broadhead is suitable for use with recurve bows, crossbows, compound bows, and traditional longbows. However, it’s not carried as part of the range with every manufacturer, and so some marksmen and hunters find they have to change brands when opting for the heavier head.
125 grains is equivalent to 8.09 grams, or 0.28 ounces. As with its slightly lighter counterpart, the 125 grain can be found with both cut-on-contact (COC) and chisel-point options, in all three basic head-types (fixed blade, removable blade, and mechanical blade).
Again, they’re manufactured in two, three, and four-blade variants, designed for specific advantages and tastes. There’s really no shortcut answer to which of these particular blade types a hunter should prefer, and no substitute for experience in these matters.
The grain weight differences between broadheads may seem nit-picky and academic, especially with closer grain ratings, but these small differences matter. The 125 grain will travel slightly slower than the 100 grain but has the inverse advantage of marginally higher kinetic energy upon striking the target.
Relevant Characteristics Between 100 and 125 Grain Broadhead
Before we break into the comparison details, here’s a quick overview.
100 Grain Broadhead
125 Grain Broadhead
Approx 6-9 fps faster
Approx 6-9 fps slower
Medium (dependent on many factors)
Medium (dependent on many factors)
2-3% lower (dependent on many factors)
Front of Center
2-3% higher (dependent on many factors)
Available almost universally
Availability (Ease of Purchase)
Certain manufacturers do not produce them
2-3% lower KE, 5-7% lower momentum
KE / Momentum
2-3% added KE, 5-7% added momentum
Similarities and Differences
Well, those are the bare-bones facts and ratings. Sometimes it can be a little dry and a lot of folks tune out a bit when the straight numbers are listed. So, let’s put a little flesh on those bones by putting them into a bit of context.
100 and 125 Grain Broadhead Differences
Let’s begin with first analyzing the differences between these broadheads so you know what to expect in terms of performance.
The broad rule of thumb for calculating the speed variance is that you lose between one and 1.5 feet per second (fps) for every five grains of weight added to your arrow. Remember that this chronograph measurement is taken just as the arrow is released, so the loss will accumulate over the distance of the shot too.
This is true of wherever the grain weight increase occurs along the whole length of the arrow, from nock to tip. While the loss may have slight drawbacks, it’s correlated to an inverse increase in KE, which makes up for it.
Kinetic energy (KE) and momentum are not the same things. They’re related but are different physical forces. They’re measured differently. KE represents the energy that a moving body possesses, while momentum represents the mass of an object in relation to its velocity.
In both cases, there’s an increase when grain weight is added to the broadhead, which means a harder-hitting projectile that penetrates more deeply. This is a clear advantage for hunting. As a result, you’ll have to recalibrate your shots to accommodate the greater curve that comes with the weight.
Front of Center
Front of Center (FOC) is a measure related to balance. Simply put, if you take a fully set up arrow and balance it across your finger, the balance point should be slightly to the tip side halfway along the shaft. In other words, if you balance an arrow across your finger at exactly halfway along the shaft, it should fall to the tip/point side, with the fletching going upward.
100 and 125 Grain Broadhead Similarities
Not that you’ve seen the differences, let’s have a quick look at which aspects are the same.
Most arrow shafts are specifically designed under certain parameters and will function best under those conditions. Whenever you alter some aspect of your setup, it will impact your shaft and cause it to behave in different ways.
However, with the moderate change of 25 grains between the two heads, it isn’t likely that you’ll have to change your shaft diameter or the amount of flex it has under load (often called the “spine”).
So, all other things being equal, this small weight difference ought not to affect it much, unless your setup was already testing your shaft’s spine to the limit before you added the weight to the broadhead.
If this is the case, then you may have to select a stiffer spine to avoid getting loads of wobble in the flight of your arrow.
The thing is, for several reasons, the 100 grain broadhead is the mainstay of the industry, and they’re by far the top sellers. This means that manufacturers produce them in all their designs and sell them at all outlets.
The same isn’t quite the case for the 125 grain, but in the end, it amounts to very little actual difference for you. While you might not find the exact 125 grain you want in every outlet, there are enough variations and manufacturers in the range to ensure that you won’t go without.
If your brand doesn’t provide the one you want, there will be another, which is practically identical to it, and which you can modify a little if you have to. All the main kinds of head and all the blade variations and tips are available to hunters.
This is especially true online. If you do a little research, you’re sure to find a broadhead that you like, in either grain weight.
Advantages of 100 Grain Broadheads
The 100 grain broadhead certainly has several factors in its favor. We’re going to look at several key benefits for you to consider.
Lighter and Faster
The main thing which hunters mention in connection with lighter broadheads is the speed of the arrow. The lighter the arrow, the faster it will be released from the bow. That much is quite true, and it can have the advantage when prey are skittish and the shot is at a longer range.
This is because a faster arrow means less reaction time for the prey, which can mean the difference between a kill-shot and a gut-shot animal that you may not be able to track down.
A second consideration is trajectory. A well-balanced arrow with a lower overall grain weight will fly with a straighter curve than a heavier one. This means your aim requires less correction over distance.
Some hunters find this makes life easier for them. They prefer to keep things lighter for that reason.
Not all hunters are strong enough to pull heavy bows, and some find that their accuracy is vastly improved by using a lighter option. Once you get up around the 125 grain mark and above, things go to the heavier side and therefore become less compatible with the lighter poundage setup.
When the weights begin to exceed specs, the accuracy goes out the window, and the kinetic energy you need for the shot just isn’t there. If you like the lighter setup, then the 100 grain is going to be better for you than anything higher.
When your chief concern is accuracy, and you feel at ease with the flatter trajectory, then a lighter may be better for you. You’ll get those 300+ fps effects you’re after, and the arrow won’t travel in the dropping arc some heavier options will bring. These are valid considerations, and lighter is better here.
Younger and older hunters who prefer the lighter setup may find that they control the 100 grain a bit better. That’s great if it’s working for you once you’ve put it all together in the way you like.
Advantages of 125 Grain Broadheads
Next up, let’ evaluate the pros of the 125 grain broadhead that sets it apart from the 100 grain.
Impact is the big one here. With every grain of weight you gain, you lose a little speed, but you gain both kinetic energy and momentum. Kinetic energy and momentum are really just fancy talks for saying that your arrow hits harder and goes deeper.
This will have no benefit in an archery range, and in fact, competitive archers tend to go for light equipment. But when you’re hunting in the woods, the impact is a major consideration, since you want your shot to be effective in killing the animal as swiftly as possible.
Front of center is another point you hear a lot about, and it has everything to do with the stability of your arrow.
Most hunters don’t pay all that much attention to this, and so many are hunting season after season with an arrow that isn’t perfectly set up.
To put it bluntly, if you can’t control the position of the broadhead, you can’t be shooting too accurately. Getting your balance right is a huge deal because you want those tips going into a small grouping, each and every time.
Consistency is where it’s at with any kind of hunting, and if your FOC isn’t within the 10-15% range, you simply won't have the kind of consistency you’re after.
Strength is a significant consideration, especially to those hunters who go after larger quarry, and along with those extra 25 grains of weight comes a heftier design. Depending on the manufacture of a particular broadhead, the tendency will be to add some extra bulk to the head, which makes it more robust.
Along with the extra clout you get from the added KE, there’s also added impact to the head itself. A bulkier design will be an advantage in terms of wear and tear with those larger prey. This means less replacing of heads and also that little extra strength to pierce through bone.
For a lot of hunters currently using 125 grain heads, there’s a speed/impact trade-off that works for them. Better for the hunter, better for the prey. With a lot of folks shooting at a minimal or even under-minimal FOC and 100 grain heads, the switch to 125s can suddenly make them into better archers overnight.
Groupings are tighter and more consistent. For most standard setups, the 125 grain head is perfectly compatible, and may even be more suited, overall. If the prey is on the larger side, this is a switch you won’t regret.
What About 150 Grain Broadheads for Crossbows?
Let’s take a moment to look at the 150 grain broadhead for crossbows. It’s slightly heavier, but it contains a few factors also worth considering.
Crossbows typically generate more power than bows and fire bolts at higher speeds too. With this surplus of power and speed, the crossbow is ideally suited to heavier setups when it comes to the total grain weight; as a result, it’s not uncommon to find seasoned crossbow hunters using the 150 grain option for their broadheads. Some go even higher, in fact.
Because of the high speeds, the tradeoff between speed and impact is barely noticeable with crossbows, since some crossbows are rated in excess of 500 fps with a 400 grain bolt setup. Losing, say 20 or 30 fps, doesn’t matter when the extra bang you get on impact more than makes up for it.
Similarly, the extra weight won’t change your trajectory arc much either so it’s a win all day long. Another point that you don’t hear all that often is the noise factor. Heavier bolts and arrows absorb the power of the bow more effectively, and so produce less noise when fired.
It may seem like a small thing, but over a longer range, and with nervous prey, it can mean the difference between that neat and quick kill and a messy gut-shot animal that you’ve got to track for miles in the woods.
This is a major consideration, even though it’s basically a useful side-effect of upping the grain weight to 150 or more. The sturdier design of heavier heads will also give you that extra durability, and cut down on having to constantly replace heads that have chipped or bent on a large elk’s ribcage, for example. Over time, these kinds of savings can add up.
Why Switch to a Heavier Grain Broadhead?
The heavier grain may not sound like the obvious preference, but there are a few reasons you may want to look into it.
The heavier broadhead gives you more punch on impact; that’s just physics. For prey that is medium-sized and up, there’s no arguing the point that heavier is better. You want to hit your mark hard and create damage that kills quickly.
For a lot of folks using standard rigs, the heavier head would bring an advantage to their balance and ultimately, to their accuracy. Maybe not everyone, but a lot of hunters.
Firing your broadhead season after season into bone and gristle means serious wear and tear on that metal. It may not seem like much, but a little extra metal in the design can mean you keep them longer and spend less.
For medium to small quarry, a lighter setup with smaller broadheads is probably your best ticket. You’ve got a less dramatic arc to your arrow’s flight and a nice high speed too. That all works well, and it also works if you’re not quite able to draw back those higher pounds. 100 grain with light gear is perfect for prey around whitetail size and under.
With higher poundage and larger prey, it makes much more sense to be using the 125s instead. Elk, buffalo, and bears are probably going to be too much for the lighter stuff, so if that’s your target, then you have to think about the added impact.
People Also Ask
There’s always more to add to any guide of this kind, so we put together some commonly asked questions, just to try to cover a little more ground which we couldn’t do in the main article itself. You may have asked these questions before, yourself!
Is There a Difference Between Crossbow Broadheads and Regular Broadheads?
There will always be manufacturers who market things in particular ways, but in the end, there’s little or no difference between them. A broadhead that works for your bow will likely work as well for your crossbow too, provided you’re within specs and haven’t altered anything.
What Grain Broadhead Should I Use for Deer?
Whitetails are your mid-range prey size, and so there’s some overlap. They’re at the top end as far as lighter grains go, and at the low end as far as the heavier heads go. This means you can effectively hunt them with 100s, all the way through to the big stuff.
Why Do My Broadheads Shoot Left?
It’s possible that the fault is with the heads themselves, but that’s unlikely. The most probable cause is the tuning of your bow. You can judge this by firing a different set of broadheads, and seeing if the results are similar. If so, it’s the tuning.
Can All Crossbows Support Heavier Broadheads?
As a general rule, they can. Given the amount of power the average crossbow generates, they’re often better suited to the heavier options than the lighter ones. However, it’s up to you which weights work best for your purposes.
How To Tell Which Broadheads a Crossbow Can Support
Equipment of this kind typically comes with some rather detailed instructions, which will include all these kinds of specs and ratings. Please ensure that you stay within these recommendations, for safety, and the warranty.