Bitzenburger Fletching Jig
The Best ?....or just the most expensive ?.................
I have never tried to work out how many arrows I make over the course of a year but it runs into the thousands, as part of a commercial operation with arrows that are not put on with a helical twist you may be surprised to know that the Bitz is not my first choice.
The Bitz is hailed as the best fletching jig by everyone who has anything to say about jigs and although I do use Bitzenburger jigs I think there is something of the Emperors new clothes about it.
It’s cast Alloy and certainly looks and feels robust compared to most other jigs, in truth it does offer almost every function a fletcher could want, with the straight clamp you can produce straight and offset fletches, with the addition of a reassuringly expensive helical clamp it is possible to fletch 3 or 4 feathers in a variety of angles from 120° through 4 fletch 75°X105° and 4 fletch 90°, they offer an additional nock receiver to enable 4 fletch 60°X120° which is actually a much more useful combination than the others ( you actually don’t need the nock receiver to achieve 60°X120° - and else where on this site you will see a method which achieves perfect results using any fletching jig ). The Helical clamps are ground with a radius to ensure a true helical.
It does what it sets out to do well, angles are always correct and there are a few nice features which make this a nice jig to use. The edge of the clamps are ground to an edge which helps eliminate glue build up – it helps but anyone who has used any kind of fletching jig will at some point take a blade ( something we all know we shouldn’t do !) and try to cut/peel or scrape the bits of glue which find their way on to the edges and in some cases inside the clamp itself, now with the Bitz this is a very dangerous thing to do, the alloy is soft enough that even a craft knife will take little chunks or digs from the clamp.
Each successive scrape or cut will erode the efficiency of the jig and give an ugly finish to fletched arrows – this is a one way street from which there is no remedy apart from another reassuringly expensive clamp – having paid a lot of money fro this jig you had better look after it properly. This is the reason I save these jigs for special jobs – mostly these are arrows for me or custom jobs which require a high standard of finish.
Other niggles are the looseness of the nock receiver, it doesn’t impact performance but you always need to just double check you are actually set up properly as the thing feels sometimes that it is wobbling about.
The biggest pain however is setting it up for helical fletching, now this isn’t really the jigs fault but it does require some trial and error to get right, the combination of dials to swivel the clamp angle means that there are an infinite number of permutations of helical angle, if you are using a multiple jig set up this can be a headache, once it is set up however fletching is a breeze.
What I do like about them is they look and feel solid and I get a warm feeling when I see a line of Bitz’s on the workbench, there is no doubt that the Bitzenburger is a quality instrument which performs exactly as you would want.
Features & Design
It sounds mean given that everyone else rates this as supreme but I would prefer it in steel
Once it is set up it offers excellent combinations of fletching, if you fletch commercially this could be the jig for you, it’s as good as anything else on the market and the finished article attests to the efficiency of this jig
Value for Money
I reckon that will raise some eyebrows, this jig is too expensive, there are others out the which perform as well, are just as solid but are way cheaper. Sure, you buy it once and have it forever but for the price of 3 of these I could buy 2 Jo Jans – which would allow me to fletch 12 arrows at once.
I would like to give it less because of the price however at the end of the day it is a superb piece of kit, You are paying for the name and the fact that everyone says it’s the best……. if it is, and I am not sure it is……then it isn’t by much.