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three decorative linesARROW SPINE CHART BY DEFLECTION
UNIFIED FOR ALL ARROW BRANDS USING ACTUAL SPINE DEFLECTIONS (FOR USE IN MODERN COMPOUND BOWS)


NOTE: This chart is normalized for modern compound bows with IBO speeds between 280-330 fps. For faster bows, read chart one block down and to the right. For slower bows, read chart one block up and to the left. Chart not applicable for traditional bows.

NOTE: Actual arrow spine deflections do not necessarily match the manufacturer's marketed spine sizes (Gold Tip 5575, Carbon Force 200, Carbon Express 60/75, etc.). Manufacturer spine sizing systems may be arbitrary (100, 200, 300, 400) and may or may not reflect the arrows' actual spine deflections. For example, a "Carbon Express Maxima 250" has an actual spine deflection of .404", not .250" as the sizing suggests. In this case, the rating system is arbitrary. To be safe, DO NOT assume an arrow's spine size is the arrow's actual deflection. See actual arrow specification data on our main arrow page before using this chart to select an appropriate spine stiffness for your bow. See below for more details. If you need help, call our pro-shop at 877-410-7811 or email us for assistance.

KEY   1     2     3     4     5     6     7  
 

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.580-.620"

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.480-520"

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.430-470"

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.380-420"

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.330-370"

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.280-320"

Use arrows with
actual spine
deflection of:
.230-270"


master arrow spine deflection chart
 

WHAT IS A SPINE DEFLECTION ANYWAY? HOW IS IT MEASURED?

An arrow's spine deflection is the arrow's measured resistance to bending. Basically ... an arrow's spine rating tells you how stiff the arrow is. As you may know, arrows should neither be too limber or too stiff. For proper safety and best performance, the arrow spine must be matched to the output of the bow. Arrows which are too stiff or too limber will not fly well and will degrade the accuracy of your bow. Arrows which are dramatically underspined (way too limber) can even present a failure hazard. So selecting the proper arrow spine is very important.

According to the modern standards (ASTM F2031-05) an arrow's official spine deflection is measured by hanging a 1.94 lb. weight in the center of a 28" suspended section of the arrow shaft (not to be confused with the old AMO standard of 2 lb. and 26"). The actual distance the 1.94 lb. weight causes the shaft to sag down is the arrow's actual spine deflection. For example, if a 1.94 lb. weight causes the center of a 28" arrow to sag down 1/2 inch (.500"). Then the arrow's spine deflection would be .500". Stiffer arrows will, of course, sag less. More limber arrows will sag more. So the stiffer the arrow is, the LOWER its spine deflection measurement will be. The more limber an arrow is, the HIGHER its spine deflection measurement will be.  


WHY ISN'T THERE A UNIVERSAL SPINE RATING SYSTEM?

Well ... there is ... sort of. The gold standard for rating arrow spine has always been Easton's fitment charts. Before carbon arrows hit their stride in the 1990's, practically every archer in the world had at one time studied the little blocks on the Easton chart, trying to decide if the 2219's, 2413's, or 2315's would be better (remember?). The basic rating system wasn't really hard to understand. The first two numbers were the arrow's diameter (in x/64th's of an inch) and the second two numbers were the shaft's wall thickness (in x/1,000th's of an inch). So a 2315 was an arrow shaft with a 23/64" diameter and a wall thickness of .015". Easy enough.

But what did that really mean? The rating system had nothing to do with arrow spine, directly anyway, and the numbering system wasn't necessarily sequential. A 2315 arrow was actually heavier and stiffer than a 2413 arrow. A 2219 was surprisingly heavier than a 2512, but not as stiff. And a 2314 and a 2315 oddly weighed the same but had different deflections. Ok. So it wasn't so easy. But Easton's engineers crunched all the numbers and the handy aluminum arrow charts solved all the woes with their nice little organized blocks.

Then carbon arrows came along and made things easier ... almost. Since carbon arrows had a much broader ranger of application, there was no need for 10 to 15 sizes of the same arrow. For most carbon arrows, 3 to 5 sizes covers virtually every application. So Easton simplified the sizing system by basing the sizes on actual spine deflections. Easton's familiar carbon arrow spine sizing system (500, 400, 340, 300) is basically the arrow's spine deflection x1000. So a 500 shaft is a .500" deflection. A 340 Easton shaft is a .340" deflection ... and so on. So forgiving the shift of the decimal, the Easton spine sizing system matches up nicely with actual spine deflections. Unfortunately, the system is somewhat counterintuitive. For Easton/Beman arrows, the lower numbered shafts are actually the stiffer heavier shafts, and the higher numbered shafts are the more limber and lighter shafts. This naturally goes against the bigger is more line of thinking.

Since most people don't know how spine deflections are obtained, or why they matter, some archers will simply buy the "larger" size for heavier bows and "smaller" sizes for lighter bows. Of course, this is completely backwards. So we all ultimately ended up back at the Easton charts studying the little blocks. And why not? No archery pro-shop is complete without a big Easton chart on the wall. So why mess with tradition? Turns out, Easton wasn't the only player in the carbon arrow game. In fact, they were one of the last to join-in when they purchased Beman in 1995.

By that time, Gold Tip already had a five year head start with their popular graphite arrows. And Gold Tip had really simplified things with an easy 3 size system ... the famous 3555, 5575, and 7595. The system was intended to be self-explanatory. The 3555 roughly fit a 35-55# bow, a 5575 fit a 55-75# bow, and a 7595 fit a 75-95# bow. At least that's how most archers understood the sizing. But this wasn't always the case. The Gold Tip arrows had spine deflections of .500" (3555), .400" (5575), and .340" (7595) respectively. So a 53# bow shooting a 30" arrow actually required the 5575 spine (per the Easton gold standards anyway) instead of the 3555 the sizing convention might suggest. So it wasn't long until Gold Tip published their own charts (yes, with the little blocks), based essentially on the Easton spine deflection data. And much to our dismay, Gold Tip tended to reinvent those charts every other season and shift some blocks around a space or two (which invariably sent a few of our customers into a panic attack over which block was really theirs).

To be fair, Gold Tip's system really wasn't so bad ... comparatively anyway. There was worse to come. Not to be outdone, Carbon Force Arrows, a division of PSE, decided to really simplify things and make their sizes completely sequential ... 100, 200, 300, and 400. So the larger the number, the heavier and stiffer the arrow. Fine! But this scrambled all of our brains even worse because their arbitrary sizes actually overlapped the arrow deflections. The Carbon Force 100 has a .500" spine, the 200 has a .400" spine, the 300 has a .340" spine, and the 400 has a .300" spine. Try to wrap your noodle around that! Back to the charts we went. And just as our grey matter started to congeal from Carbon Force, Carbon Express reinvented their generally understandable 30/50, 45/60, 60/75 system (similar to Gold Tip's system but with the same drawbacks) to a system that's not just arbitrarily sequential (150, 250, 350), but varies from shaft to shaft. Their Maxima 250, for example, has a spine deflection of .404", but the Maxima Hunter (camo) 250 has a spine deflection of .417". Oh boy!

It boils down to this. Whether you like Easton arrows or not, Easton is the big dog in the arrow market (biggest by far). And Easton's competitors don't want to be seen as "copycatting" Easton by following Easton's sizing format. They want to be unique and develop their own marketing and sizing system for their products ... even if it ultimately leaves us all confused. There are well over a dozen popular carbon arrow manufacturers who sell carbon arrows in the U.S., and all of them are trying to sing their own tune. For archery enthusiasts this is both good and bad. Competition and innovation will continue to keep prices low and product quality high, but we'll all have to continue to put our thinking caps on when we shop for arrows. Because the "universal system" isn't really so universal.

The only universal system is actual spine deflection. That's the only apples-to-apples system that applies to every brand and model of carbon arrow. As long as the various carbon arrow manufacturers provide their spine deflection data (and they test using the industry standard method), manufacturers can size and market their arrows by any system they like ... and we can still reference the proper application to the gold standard Easton charts. So not to worry. If your favorite carbon arrow comes in sizes 5000, 6x9, 1080i, and 2XL, we can always return to the master chart to makes sense of it.


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