Product Review: Wac’em Archery Exit Broadheads

by Tom Ryle on November 1, 2014

Exit in packageWhen it comes to business of broadheads, I’ve always preferred 3-blade designs mainly because I like to open up a triangular shaped hole in the hide of big game.  Wide, two-blade cut-to-the-tip designs are proven as well and I’ve used them plenty.  Four-blade broadheads have always interested me, especially since the trend toward smaller aspect ratios took hold several years ago.  With shorter blade length, you lose valuable cutting surface (cutting edge length).  So that additional blade equates to more cutting opportunity of vital tissues.

Over the years I have experimented with a variety of 4-blade models and have always experienced some level of windplaning or accuracy issues.  While I often enjoy micro-tuning my gear to perform, let’s face it – out of the box accuracy is optimal.  Given the opportunity to review Wac’em Archery’s Exit Broadhead, I was genuinely interested in testing their claim of “True Field Tip Accuracy”.

Let’s get to it.

Assembly

Compared to other smaller form-factor broadheads, I found the Wac’em Exit 4-blade heads to be a tad more difficult to assemble.  But to be fair, I am comparing them to similar sized 3-blade heads, which, by design, provide more room to work when installing blades.  After I installed the blades of the first head, the rest were pretty easy.  The learning curve has more to do with technique than anything else.

Specifications

  • Material: Hardened Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 100 grains (available in 85, 100, 125 grains)
  • Blades: (4) Replaceable Blades
  • Blade Thickness: .027″
  • Cut Diameter: 1 1/16″
  • Sharpens on any flat stone surface
  • Made in USA

Price

$38.99 for a 3-pack from www.wacemarchery.com.  I did find the price varies from retailers, ranging from $30-$39.

Sharpness

While I do not have a scientific approach to measuring sharpness at my disposal, I did examine the blades of the Exit Broadhead under 20x power magnification and compared them with blades from two other popular broadheads.  They appear to be mechanically stropped to create a much smoother cutting edge than grinding alone can produce.

Specifications aside, the rubber meets the road in the field.  So to the woods I went with a quiver of Wac’em Exit-tipped arrows.  On November 9th, I crossed paths with an old battle-scarred Columbian Blacktail buck that was intent on mounting a hot doe.  One fleeting shot opportunity through the ferns paid off.  As you can see in the lower photo, the pass-through exit hole was impressive!

2013 buck edited

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Shootability & Wind-planing

When installing the Exit Broadheads I did not rotate my inserts to achieve consistent relational alignment with my fletchings.  I just installed them onto my hunting arrows and started shooting.  My first shots were at 15-20 yards to look for anything obvious.  Then I moved back to 30, then 40, and finally 50 yards, shooting three arrows at each distance, twice.  I saw no porpoising or fish-tailing whatsoever.  In short, the Wac’em Exit easily earns the label of true-flying broadheads!

I can finally make the statement my broadheads and field points do in fact shoot the same under normal field conditions.  No tuning, sight pin adjustments required for my set-up!

Durability & Penetration

My favorite part of any product review is what I call “destructive testing”.  As a manufacturer, you can learn a lot about materials, design, manufacturing processes, etc.  As a consumer, you can learn so much about quality, performance, and value by simply putting a product through extreme conditions, whether they replicate real use cases or not.  Part of the objectivity in product testing is the reality that I will often ruin an otherwise brand new product in a matter of seconds.  And that’s the whole point!  Nobody is going to spend their hard-earned money on a product just to find out if it’s going to hold up.  Instead, we buy blindly and hope for the best.   The broadheads installed on the front of your arrows are arguably the single-most important piece of equipment you take afield.  After all, your broadheads are what kill game. They simply must perform and “hope” isn’t good enough.

TEST #1 – Destructive Test

SAFETY NOTE: AUTHOR ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR INJURY OR DAMAGE(S) SUSTAINED BY DUPLICATING THIS DESTRUCTIVE TEST PROCEDURE.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REPLICATE THESE TESTS.

Target: (1) 2″x12″x12″ concrete paver brick

Bow: LimbSaver Proton (62#, 27.25″ draw)

Arrow #1 Easton aluminum 2117, 4″ plastic vanes (3-fletch).

Total Arrow Weight: 514 grains

Arrow #2 Gold Tip XT Hunter 5575 carbon arrow, NAP Quickfletch (3-fletch).

Total Arrow Weight: 457 grains

Shot distance: 10 feet

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Shooting any broadhead into solid concrete is sure to reveal failure potential as well as any other test.  Material properties and assembly dynamics are challenged in a manner unlike any scenario presented by hide, tissue and bone.  Even large “live” bones have an inherent softness and shock absorption effect on ill-placed arrows.  Hard, dry concrete is indeed a hard stop.  I’ve watched some heads literally explode upon impact.

As usual, I was wearing safety glasses for this testing. The first shot with the Easton aluminum arrow produced a divot in the concrete block.  The broadhead was intact and the hardened stainless steel tip showed little damage. Impressive.

TEST #2 – Penetration Test

Target: (1) piece of 3/4″ laminated cabinet-grade maple faced plywood

Bow: LimbSaver Proton (62#, 27.25″ draw)

Arrow #1 Easton aluminum 2117, 4″ plastic vanes (3-fletch).

Total Arrow Weight: 514 grains

Arrow #2 Gold Tip XT Hunter 5575 carbon arrow, NAP Quickfletch (3-fletch).

Total Arrow Weight: 457 grains

Shot distance: 10 feet

wacem plywood

The purpose of this subjective test was to see how far the compact Exit broadhead would penetrate a dense, yet softer material than concrete.  As you can see in the photo, the broadhead is fully committed to the plywood now.  All blades stayed in tact for this test. Imagine the force imposed on the blade retention features in a test like this.  Again, impressive.

Final Analysis

Hair, skin, flesh, and bone all work against the kinetic energy delivered by your arrow.  Skill, restraint, good shot placement, and a well-engineered, razor-sharp broadhead is required to harvest game quickly and ethically.  No broadhead can make up for the first three; that’s your responsibility.  The Wac’em Exit broadhead certainly fulfills the last requirement.

As a formally trained machinist, I’ve always been a fan of precision manufacturing.  I weighed each Exit Broadhead on a calibrated digital grain scale and found each weighed in precisely at 100 grains.  Consistency is king when it comes to arrow construction.  To that end, you can rest assured these broadheads will deliver extreme accuracy and durability from package to package.  I highly recommend the Wac’em Exit 4-blade broadhead to any bowhunter searching for an exceptional product.

For more information, contact Wac’em Archery at www.wacemarchery.com or by calling 1-800-362-0044.

 

Copyright 2013 FreshTRAX Outdoors.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Product Review: KUIU Binocular Harness System

by Tom Ryle on November 7, 2013

glasssing smallIf you’ve spent any time toting binoculars in the mountains then I’m confident you’ve cussed your bino harness a time or two. They either ride up on the back of your neck or allow your binoculars to bounce incessantly against your chest, usually both. And if you’re like me, you’ve tried them all and settled on the one that causes the least amount of frustration.

I had the opportunity to test the new KUIU Binocular Harness System soon after the July 2013 product launch. Like every product in their lineup, KUIU’s Binocular harness system is unique and purpose-built to carry a wide range of 10x and 15x glass typically used for mountain hunting. (Pocket-sized folding models are best suited for a shirt or pack pocket).

Since KUIU’s birth a few short years ago, I’m continually reminded of famous architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  Mies strove toward minimalism and is often associated with the aphorisms, “less is more” and my favorite quote, “God is in the details. In my experience, that’s where real user value lives – in the details. KUIU’s bino harness was obviously conceived through a rigorous iterative design process, whereby continual prototyping and testing led to thoughtful features and execution details. KUIU founder, Jason Hairston had this to say:

“We spent 2 years designing, testing and refining the KUIU Binocular Harness into the most functional system created. Our design holds your binoculars tight to your chest, is extremely quiet, allows for easy one-handed operation, and is modular with two sizes to fit a wide range of binoculars.”

What You Get

The harness comes with the full containment pouch and a separate “bikini” strap for outings that don’t require as much full-body protection. And the featherweight ripstop rain cover is always at the ready to keep rain, dust, needles, and other debris off your glasses. There are also two mesh side pockets that are suitable for diaphragm calls, wind checker, or other small items. I use one for elk calls and the other to store the rain cover.

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Like other products in KUIU’s Guide series, the KUIU Binocular Harness System is constructed of Toray Primeflex® 4-way stretch soft shell fabric with a micro-fleece lining for quiet use. The Primeflex® fabric combined with an elastic cord and Duraflex cord locks provide customized fitting to assure protection for your optics in all hunting conditions. Although the system is treated with the high performing Toray Kudos®DWR, a 30 denier sil-nylon diamond ripstop CORDURA® Fabric rain cover is included to ensure complete waterproofness.

How It Works

As I mentioned at the outset, one of my top gripes is when a harness rides up on my back, which creates slack and the dreaded bounce so common with most harnesses. The KUIU binocular harness solves these two common problems through a unique tethering approach. The KUIU harness transfers the weight of the binoculars away from your neck and shoulders by connecting the top straps (over shoulder) to the binoculars while the side straps (around body) connect to the semi-rigid “pouch” (or bikini strap) only. When you lift your glasses out they are no longer tethered to the pouch in front, providing full range of motion. There is no struggling to overcome strap tension elsewhere in the system.

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Without the use of elastic, the KUIU system fits comfortably and snuggly around your upper chest, provides even weight distribution and prevents annoying bounce and sag when running or crawling.

Unlike most other binocular harnesses on the market, the KUIU system peels down and forward from the top, allowing for efficient one-handed operation. The roof of the lid is semi-rigid as well to protect the eyepieces, and has a handy finger loop on top that is sized to fit a gloved hand.

My Experience & Assessment

As a product designer I judge products, in part, by how well they serve my needs repeatedly in real-world conditions. As I mentioned at the outset, if a harness rides up my neck or beats my chest, it stays home.

This past September I was hunting Roosevelt elk along the jungle-like Washington coastline. Contrary to the reputation for rain, September is often hot with temps pushing 90 degrees or more. As a result elk are often found in the canyon bottoms amidst an unrelenting obstacle course of thick brush, thorns, and downed timber. Navigating this country can be exhausting, not to mention very hard on gear. You can expect to be literally crawling on hands and knees and navigating around ancient logs too tall to climb over. An endless sea of sword ferns produce pungent, gritty pollen that covers everything as your movement disturbs thousands of reaching arms. Think: dust mask! Meanwhile, salmonberry, devils club and other vegetation work you over like a drive-through car wash!

IMG_1981 KUIU Review

One morning I battled my way up a familiar drainage. Normally I keep my binoculars in my pack until I get higher on the ridge but on this day I wanted to see how well the KUIU harness would perform. After a full hour of abuse I headed up out of the bottom toward a favorite glassing spot at the edge of some big timber. I pulled my binoculars from their protective pouch and despite a few lone twigs in the bottom; the lenses were clean and free from fern pollen. I had cinched down the elastic to create a tighter than normal seal around the eyecups which worked well.

There was no noticeable bounce throughout my hunt but to test this further I wore the harness during a recent stair running session in my office building. The attach points create a “neutral mass weight” condition whereby there is equal support from the top and bottom, resulting in the weight to become static against your chest. There is not a bias in either direction; no ride-up and virtually no bounce.

As consumers, we all have to balance price with quality and performance. It’s no mystery that KUIU designs and manufactures some of the finest gear on the market, and while much of their offerings are targeted at extreme-conditions adventures, their binocular harness system is appropriate for all types of hunting.

Sizing Options + Pricing

The Binocular Harness System is available in Vias or Verde Camo. The large sized system weighs 7 ounces, fits binoculars up to 10×42 and is available for $79.99. The extra large weighs 8 ounces, fits binoculars up to 15×56 and is available for $84.99.

About KUIU

Based in Dixon, California, KUIU was founded in 2011 to provide customers with the world’s most advanced hunting layering system and equipment on the market. KUIU provides remarkable apparel and equipment that is light, packable, and dependable. By eliminating retailers and selling their products exclusively online, KUIU drives the ultimate shopping experience. They provide superior customer service, lower pricing, and the highest product quality. For additional information visit www.KUIU.com or call 855-367-5848 Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-5:00PM PST.

© FreshTRAX Outdoors 2013, All Rights Reserved.

 

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