View Full Version : Vanes or Feathers?

04-27-2012, 04:27 PM
Years ago I shot feathers on wood shafts; then Feathers on aluminum shafts; then vanes on aluminum and then vanes on carbon shafts.
Recently I went back to feathers on carbon to compensate for the weight of Nocturnal nocks while maintaining same FOC balance.

The rap for vanes has always been more durable and weather resistant.

More durable? I have come to the conclusion vanes are less durable. Just touch one with another arrow and they are torn, nicked, or rippled. As such they fly like crap. Feathers take target/group crowding with no ill effects. Just fluff it back again. Even missing sections don't matter.

Weather? A quick shot of G96 weatherproofing and that is a non issue, too, No smell, no worry. ATSKO weatherproofing is good. The powder works; it's the same thing as used for dry flys. Feathers are feather...
Years ago we used paraffin dissolved in mineral spirits for both fletching and dry flys, just dip them and shake off the extra. The wax left on the feathers doesn't smell after the solvent evaporates off.

I've dusted off the Bitz Jig mounting 4" and 3" feathers, right helical. These arrows fly GREAT! Better than any vane I have tried. It's very noticable!

I was trying Gateway Rayzr's but I feel all the hype is BS. They are expensive and I feel they are no better than regular 3 or 4 inch parabolic feathers on a helical.
The vanes I've used are Blazers, Vane-tec HP-2, AAE PM-20 and PM-23.

Am I missing something? I'm finding it hard not to give up on vanes and just stick with 4" feathers.

Anyone else using feathers because they feel they are better?

04-27-2012, 04:38 PM
AT INFILTRATION! FOBS! End thread! Oh and shoot Rage while you're at it.


I have no experience with feathers but am curious to see where this goes. I personally shoot Blazers right now and haven't had any real issues.

04-27-2012, 07:31 PM
I'll back you up on this one. DP is just flipping ya crap lol. I'm using the Gateway 2" Rayzr feathers and they fly great, manage my broadheads, and take a licking. I probably won't go back to vanes. Just like you said these feathers take all kinds of abuse and just keep flying!

04-27-2012, 07:44 PM
I recently bought some GT's with 4" feathers and they perform better than all my blazers put together.

04-27-2012, 08:00 PM
I haven't shot feathers with anything other than traditional bows, but they do seem to fly as well or better than vanes. As far as durability, I think vanes are nearly equal, but not quite as good. I really have see discernable difference in my vanes if I have a hole shot through them, or a slight tear. Been known to just clip off a tear, and shoot arrows with one vane shorter. Doesn't really seem to effect flight. I use 2 inch Blazer and Predator vanes. I even have a few arrows that lose vanes, and I still shoot them with good accuracy out to 40 yards or so. Beyond that, they do drift away. I always wait until I have a half dozen or so to refletch before I do it. lol

04-27-2012, 08:07 PM
dugout, you're not alone in your reasoning. I've been saying the same thing for years. I have the same opinion about Razyrs, too. I don't care how many people say they work with broaheads. A 2" feather is just that; a 2" feather, and expensive ones at that.

Razyrs working well with broadheads is just a product of the bow/arrow combo being tuned well. Maybe that and guys shooting mechanical heads which have less tendency to plane in the first place.

I'm in total agreement with your assertion that feathers are more durable, too. Sure they get ratty and torn up, but even at that they still work just as well as new ones with target or field points. For hunting it's not much problem to put new ones on the arrows to ensure their good flight. Even if a feather is missing or gets tore off the arrow will fly OK. Unlike vanes they just don't weigh enough to upset the balance.

Personally I shoot 2" feathers for 3D. Most imes I'll shoot 4" feathers for indoor shooting. I don't hunt any more but 4" was the standard for that, too.

And just like you I've spent decades shooting both vanes and feathers so can see the results in an objective manner, from experience and not just conjecture.

04-27-2012, 08:43 PM
I had Truflight send me a sample of their 2" shield cuts to try them out, and the difference between them and the blazers was immediately apparent; the arrows' recovery time was quicker after the shot, and my groups @ 40 yds tightened up (20 and 30 yd groups were already tight enough to warrant not shooting groups anymore). I usually had to re-fletch a vane or two every week (I shoot alot), but since I switched to feathers they have held up well enough that I have only had to re-fletch one in the last 2 months, and that's cause I shot 2 broadheads together and it got cut off!

Now I haven't been shooting sticks for more than a few years, but I've tried lots of vanes in that time. This is the first set of feathers I've fletched, and have no experience with them otherwise... but man I love em!

One side note, I did end up going with Gateway Rayzrs because they were more readily available. It seems that the 2" feathers run about 2X more than the Blazer vanes. But if they keep lasting the way they have, its well worth it!

04-28-2012, 04:01 AM
Hey I got to go with the norm on this one, I to received some feathers from tru flight, just tried them last week, and it was apparently night and day to vains , feathers are way more accurate,Then I did a stupid ,took a couple shots for groups ,n wacked em off dang I hate when I do that!!!:rolleyes:

04-28-2012, 07:57 AM
I switched to feathers a couple of months ago. Truflight sent me their sampler pack, a man on this sight sent me a pack of gateway 2inch razyrs. the quality of the cut with the razrys are better than tru flight, i havent shot my razrys, but i bought more razrys and im going to fletch a dozen victory vap v1 with them. The tru flights fly well, i killed two alligators with easton axis arrows fletched with tru flights.got a pass through with two arrows with feathers, and they came out in perfect condition, i just slapped some powder on them and they were good to go. you can buy large amounts of powder for a decent price. i wouldnt buy gateways powder, it cost 10 bucks for a tiny like travel sized baby powder bottle, i went to my local bow shop and they had a giant gold bond sized bottle for like 10 bucks. i didnt think the feathers were all that expensive,a pack is like 5 bucks on gateways site.

04-28-2012, 10:07 AM
I do not do vanes, (nasty plastic psuedo feathers).
3'' parabolic feathers for 3D, 4'' parabolic for hunting.
I don't weather treat them, and still get good performance unless the rain is extreme.
I admit to having fobs for 3D to cope with those really bad conditions.

I like fletching my arrows to match my bow strings, usually with 3 different color feathers.
Looks real good (to me anyway).


04-28-2012, 10:11 AM
i started using feathers on VAP 600 carbons when i bought my martin mystic with shoot through cables for 3d. i shoot in the barebow division. 2 1/2 inch parabolic feathers clear the cables well through the draw. shield shape of the same length are a little higher and catch the cables through the draw. i buy trueflite as they're generally easier to find, a little cheaper and have better colours in the size i use.
i also use 2/1/2 feathers on my very light 3d target recurve vap 800. there is also a samick sage which i shoot off the shelf with timbers and 4 inch shield feathers.
fletching tape adheres well, and it's quick and easy to use with a bit of practice. damaged feathers fletched with tape are easily removed. good news when using wraps. no need to remove the whole wrap like you might if replacing damaged glued vanes. worth trying.

05-25-2012, 12:10 PM
Definitely some good points and pluses for using feathers. Besides the "vulnerability" to getting feathers wet and the higher cost versus vanes, the only other main reason I see for using vanes is the documented speed loss over distance that occurs with feathers, due to the higher drag they produce (which is why they stabilize arrows so well). Archery Report ran a pretty extensive test in 2010 of several vanes and at least one set of feathers, measuring arrow speed up close, at 20, 30 and 40 yards, then graphed them all so the reader could see how each performed. You can read the report here (http://archeryreport.com/2009/10/fletching-review-speed-drop/). 4" Gateway feathers were tested alongside several vanes from different makers. In the "speed" test, at point blank range, the feathers were the fastest out of the bow, but they also slowed down the fastest over distance, falling to the middle of the pack of tested vanes at 30 yards distance. By 40 yards they were at or near the bottom of the slowest fletchings and ended up with the greatest drop overall. This report also tested the noise that each one produced and it was noted the feathers produced the most noise as well, again to be expected given the high amount of drag they produce in flight.

While the Bi-Delta vanes I use weren't included in these tests, I have used Blazer and 2" Fusion vanes, which were tested, for quite some time. In calm conditions all three of these perform so close as to be hard to discern any real difference, even out to 60-70 yards. It was when I tested all three in windy conditions that I discovered, at least for my setup, that my choice of 2.5" Sharkstooth vanes outperformed Blazer and Fusion vanes as the Sharkstooth fletched arrows were hitting/grouping very noticeably closer to my aiming point (i.e., less wind drift) out to at least 50 yards, which was as far as I shot in those windy conditions. Again, these are my observations with these three vanes and with my setup. Your mileage might vary but I thought I'd throw this out there for others to read and ponder.

05-25-2012, 02:32 PM
Rockyhud, thanks for the link. They put an awful lot of work into that test and the results are interesting. There are endless variables in archery equipment it makes any test subject to "yea, but". I would have to concur with some of the observations of the feathers. I get equal launch speeds to VaneTech HPs, like a blazer, but much more distance between my pins, especially between the 30 and 40 yard pins.
My biggest "what if" is arrow weight? I launch heavy arrows at the tests 40 yard velocity. As speed decreases so does feather drag but is it proportional? What about increased momentum down range of a heavy arrow? Does it lesson the 30 to 40 yard decrease in velocity?

I'm currently launching a 340g arrow, 6.2g/lb, at something like 260fps. I have Broadhead tuned and I'm extremely happy with what I'm seeing out to 40 yards, which is as far as I care about.

The current question I'm wrestling with is 3" parabolic or 4" parabolic. I am having a tough time seeing a difference. I have been shooting them mixed randomly with zero difference in POI or group size.

05-26-2012, 09:18 AM
Got some goose feathers a while back to try on my next set of cedar shafts, I'll be making those up next month. they'll be a bit heavier than the carbon I'm currently shooting out of my recurve. Tried a larger verison of a Rayzrs, cut a wild turkey feather into a 3" rayzr like feather, and got stable flight as far as I wanted to test 'em, hoping the the goose feathers will be a bit quieter, gonna go with a parbolic shape, just need to get a Young feather burner. Almost not worth looking for on Ebay, usually can get a new burner for the cost and shipping of a used one.