Top Hat Points
When I choose a point for an arrow my choice is, Brass or Steel - bullet or field and the weight, it has always gone without question that the point will be a taper fit, parallel points just never came into the equation.
Just 2 weeks ago I attended the NFAS 3D champs, this year held in the lake district, with my best arrows in my quiver and the feeling that I could be in with a shout at a top ten place I approached the first target to collect my arrow from the kill, as it came out I could tell that today might not be my day. The point was somewhere in the 3d. 3 targets later and the same thing happened. Being the lake district there is barely an inch of soil covering the rock underneath and a miss would result in a broken arrow, needless to say the few arrows I has taken out with me were soon shattered and all I was left with were 2 shafts with no points and 13 targets still to shoot.
From the first day I ever started archery points coming off at inopportune moments has been something which drives me insane, I hear folks swearing that a particular method works for them and that they have never lost a point. Believe me I am a desperate man and have tried everything anyone has ever suggested to me, I say everything but what I mean is almost everything, I even know one guy who drills the tiniest hole through point and shaft which he secures with a very small nail along with 2 part Araldite. Even for me this is a little too extreme.
When I first saw the advertising for TopHat® points and the claim that you don't even need glue I was sceptical.
TopHat® make several claims, first no glue, second these points will screw on and 3rd that they are self centring and lastly that you don't even need to taper the shaft as the points will fit on parallel. If all this is true then it could be the answer to not just my prayers but also all those other archers out there who are sick and tired of taper tools that don't fit, points that won't stay on and all that messing with glues and hot melt.
The best method of attaching TopHat® points is by using their special preparation tools. Namely their thread roughing tap, this puts on a thread for the point to follow rather than going in "bare" with the point. Using this in conjunction with their assembly tool will make life easier as the tool has been designed to hold the tap securely whilst not damaging or scratching it, this is the same tool to use whilst screwing on the point.Top Hat say " The parallel guide of TopHat® Screw Point and the central application of force using the TopHat® Mounting Tool generates a consistently controlled turn which maintains the optimum torque.You feel when the cone of the point finally centers and firmly attaches itself to the wood shaft.The relatively low force required enables anyone to get their arrows TopHat® fit."
So far so good, it's true the point goes on central and is easy to apply. Inside the point is a self tapping thread, even if you have used the tapping tool first it is this thread which will hold the point on to the shaft.
One thing that struck me was that the point doesn't fit flush with the shaft, the lip of the point itself is slightly proud to the shaft. TopHat® claim this makes a slightly wider entry hole for the shaft to follow which in turn will aid removal. I tend to like my points flush, mind you this has always been because I didn't want the point to be ripped off on exit when I was using hot melt.
So the points are on the arrows and now I need to test them. Before I do though, lets just take a look at the range of points that TopHat® produce.
This is where I started to get quite excited about the whole TopHat® concept, firstly we have several choices of material, blued steel, stainless steel, brass and a steel nickel alloy- the StNi alloy intrigued me and after chatting with Wolfgang at TopHat® it seems that the StNi looks just like stainless but it cheaper, what it's corrosive properties are and weather it reacts like stainless only time will tell. It is worth noting that brass points absorb more shock in the case of a miss, which should be self evident as i am sure we have all had brass points go blunt when hitting a small stone. Stainless points are not something I have come across before but apparently they are very popular in Switzerland..
Once you have decided on the material you have the usual choice of size from 9/32" all the way up to 23/64", which of course will be determined by the shaft diameter. Next you need to choose a profile. There are 3 to look at, bullet point which are more favoured by target archers, then field points and lastly 3D point, these have been designed to have more chance to stick in a 3D.
When we look at the weights available you will find a huge selection from 30 grains right up to 165 grains, some of these weights have in the past been really hard to get hold of in the UK and Europe. If you wanted an out of the ordinary size ( and even 23/64" points) it has entailed a search through American dealers and a purchase from there with all the hassles that entails - now you can order direct from TopHat® using their excellent website.
Why might you want weights such as 145 grains and 165 grains ? firstly this allows more options when arrow tuning and for hunters it allows you to set up arrows with a heavier upfront point, again allowing you to tune an arrow for hunting without having to have a broadhead on the front.
If you have read any of my other reviews about shafts and arrows you may have noticed how frustrated I am over the fact that shafts are not always exactly the same measurements in terms of diameter. if you are contemplating using parallel points this could be an issue as obviously the shaft diameter will be critical in weather the point will fit.
TopHat® have addressed this potential problem with their shaft former tool. Quite simply it fits in to a drill and with one of the adapters screwed in ( there are 3 - 5/16..11/32..23/64) you will be able to feed in the shaft and it will compress the shaft to the correct diameter for the point you will be using. It works brilliantly.
Here is another thing you will love, they have produced a range of "long" points- how often have you had a shaft snap just behind the point ?, if like me you use arrows that are tuned perfectly at the correct length then the arrow is no longer of use- I don't have enough shaft left to just put another point on and make a shorter arrow - for a start it will no longer be tuned right. I usually keep these arrows and later I foot them. It's a real pain but other than just throwing away what is otherwise a perfect arrow, there isn't any choice.... until now....You could use these long points to add extra strength in the first couple of inches of the arrow or take your slightly shorter shaft and use a long point which will bring the arrow back to it's correct size !! Even though they are longer they still weigh the same as a short point.
As a user of wooden arrows I have always looked enviously at all the screw in kit that is available for carbon or ally shafts. The next little bit of kit TopHat® produce had me rubbing my hands with glee, it's an aluminium adapter which will allow your wooden shaft to accept a range of screw in accessories and points.
Once the adapter is on you have the choice of a huge selection of point weights...20-30-40-60-85-105-125-145gn - the adapter itself weighs in at 40gn so in fact you have from 60gn right up to 185gn. This would probably allow you to tune almost any spine shaft to your bow - oh what fun !!! It's isn't just points though, how about some screw in broadheads and the ability to swap between points and even different brands of broadhead without messing with glues and torches, just simply unscrew the point and screw a new one on, job done in seconds and in the field too.
It isn't just the fabulous range of points and adapters that make these quite possibly the best archery find I have made for years, it is also the ease with which I can take the same shaft and have several different points on it at different times. There is even a whistling arrow point, I can just keep the point in my pocket and if I wish, just screw it on for a quick shot and then take it off, I don't have to carry about an arrow I might use just once in a day. If you prefer a point which looks a little more traditional or old fashioned how about the bodkin point (Mittelalter).
Be sure to use the assembly tool when using these points as the blued steel and the StNi points have been chemically worked and can be tough to screw on the point - this is where the thread tapping tool comes in handy - you may also find that on hardwood foots or bamboo that tapping the thread can be harder than for Cedar or Pine shafts. There are also some special pliers that can be used so that the point doesn't get damaged when screwing them on. My advice would be to buy the range of tools - there are only a few and if you use this system the tools will pay for themselves in short time.
So we are back to the question do these points work ? As I said, I had been sceptical that a point put on without any form of glue would work... I need not have worried, I tried to get the points off using brute force. the shaft was clamped into a vice and I used an assortment of tools to try to pull, prise and rip the point off the shaft. I couldn't get one to come off. When using hot melt probably the biggest cause of points coming off is a change in temperature or when the point becomes heated, the seal between point and shaft is broken and the point comes off the next time it is shot. I tried heating up the point with a torch, still I couldn't get them off. In fact the only way they come off is when you unscrew them. Quite apart from all the obvious and utilitarian advantages, these points look great too, all too often the taper put on by a sharpening tool will not quite be covered by the point leaving an otherwise beautiful arrow looking a little bodged at the tip - because these fit over the shaft everything looks just right.
The points work... I am not one for grand and bold statements as they usually come back to bite you.... however....these are in fact THE BEST POINTS I have ever used and I can categorically say I will never use a tapered point again.... these are brilliant. Use these once and you will say the same. The points are a little more expensive than standard points but they are worth every penny and more.
Features & Design
TopHat® have looked at the demands of archers that use wooden shafts and have, in turn addressed every aspect. All of the things which drive me crazy have been solved. The Adapter is excellent and allows the use of a whole range of screw in points.
Excellent, 5 star - The best available .... have I made myself clear ?
Value for Money
Of course - the fact is that these points stay on your arrows, the days of digging your points out of trees is over, when a product stands head and shoulders above the competition then it is worth a small premium.
Brilliant - I can't recommend these highly enough - I started the review determined that if these points had a fault I would expose it- they don't and I couldn't... I won't be using anything else...