Behind the Scenes With Swhacker

President and CEO Keith Kelly explains the origins of Swhacker’s unique expandable broadhead design — and offers a discount on your next order for mentioning this article.

Behind the Scenes With Swhacker

Engineered to the very demanding specs of renowned archer Levi Morgan, the #269 features unique arced blades for maximum penetration.

Broadheads come, broadheads go. Over the years only a few have remained constant, surviving the pressure that comes from consumer use in tough conditions and the cut-throat world of corporate competition.

Swhacker ( began in the 1990s as many bowhunting companies did, with a hunter who had technical knowledge creating a broadhead he wanted to use. At the time, mechanical heads still were considered a novelty of sorts. The fixed-blade head had its diehard adherents, who likely would’ve believed in napped stone heads back in the day if they had been shown something made of steel. Such is the progression of tools and equipment.

Swhacker’s calling card was an expandable head in which the blades opened after getting past the ribs of big game animals. Through trial and error, persistent belief and, ultimately, proven results in the field, Swhacker found its footing. Today it is among the notable names and products in bowhunting for hunters pursuing everything from feral pigs to moose and elk.

Keith Kelly, CEO and president of Kelly Products Inc., the parent company of Kelly Outdoor Products Group that includes Swhacker, spent some time with Archery Business giving insight about the broadhead company.


AB: Thanks for visiting with us this month as hunting seasons get started throughout the country. It’s the greatest part of the year, right? Swhacker is well-known among bowhunters and retailers, but tell us a little about the company and how it got started.

KK: Every year as summer progresses, hunters start looking toward fall in anticipation of the hunting season to come. It seems that it can never get here quick enough! I know we’re all excited to get back out there, whether it be sitting in a treestand here in Georgia or on the side of a mountain out west glassing for elk.

Swhacker’s design was developed by Rick Forrest, a former NASA engineer, who saw gaps in the market. He loved the mechanical head he was using, but when it came to elk hunting, he was having issues with penetration and blade breakage. That’s where the idea originated of opening the blades after they pass through the ribs. Of course, the designs have been tweaked over the years, but that is where the original idea came from. Hank Parker, a professional fisherman and renowned hunter, partnered with Rick and that’s when the Swhacker brand was brought to market. The duo has since partnered with Kelly Products’ Outdoor Products Group, which also owns TAC Vanes and C’Mere Deer attractants.

Blade-lock technology allows Swhacker expandable blades to be locked in the closed position for practicing.
Blade-lock technology allows Swhacker expandable blades to be locked in the closed position for practicing.

AB: What is something people don’t know about Swhacker?

KK: Swhacker was originally designed in the 1990s to solve the issues mechanical heads had when used on large animals such as elk. Its unique design allows fresh, pristine blades to unfold inside the body cavity of the animal to slice through internal organs without being dulled by bone and hide.


AB: Some of the best learning experiences come from mistakes or “Oops!” moments. Tell us something like that about Swhacker that turned into a great learning lesson or success for the company.

KK: Swhacker’s first blades were made in Lutz, Germany. They were very sharp, but the strip-grinding process left the blades brittle, a common issue with our competition. This forced us to develop a tougher, more durable blade that bends rather than breaks. Now our blades are designed to bend 60 degrees before fracturing.


AB: How has the broadhead business changed over the years for Swhacker and in general?

KK: When we started back in the ‘90s, getting hunters to try a mechanical head was tough. Many people were used to fixed-blade broadheads. Today’s archer is more open to mechanical heads. The belief that fixed blades are necessary for big game will continue to lessen as more people see and experience what these broadheads can do. There are also fewer state restrictions on the use of mechanical broadheads.


AB: In-field results likely drive your development for new products or updates. How long do you work on something and test it in the field, with whatever changes or tweaks may be necessary? How much do you rely on customer feedback for this?

KK: We perform intensive field testing of all new designs in real hunting situations and always take customer feedback seriously. The time frame for testing depends on what we’re trying to accomplish with a new design. Some designs were tested for multiple years through several iterations of prototypes before finalizing the end product. We do not release a new product until it has been tested at all extremes, and we are absolutely certain it is ready to be released to the public.


AB: What makes Swhacker different from its competitors?

KK: Our delayed deployment design sets us apart and allows larger animals such as elk, moose and bison to be reliably taken. The fact that our design allows for unrivaled accuracy compared to field points also sets us apart. We keep our specifications very tight, which shows when spin testing our broadheads.


AB: What do you see in the future for Swhacker from a materials standpoint, such as designs with titanium or other materials? Will we see new things like that in the industry, overall, in the next five to 10 years?

KK: There always will be innovations in this industry, and we want to stay on the leading edge. We continually evaluate new designs and materials. Our priority is ensuring our customers will always get the highest quality product that they’ve come to expect from Swhacker.


AB: Are you seeing any trends with broadheads? More interest in crossbow heads?

KK: The crossbow market in general is growing at a rapid pace, and hunters need broadheads that will perform well with the high-speed crossbows. While we have several offerings for use with crossbows, we are looking at new and exciting ways to serve the crossbow customer even better. More hunters are realizing the advantage big mechanicals bring to the table and the popularity is growing, including the crossbow market.

While Swhacker is known primarily for its expandable heads, the company also offers top-notch fixed-blade and hybrid broadheads.
While Swhacker is known primarily for its expandable heads, the company also offers top-notch fixed-blade and hybrid broadheads.

AB: Hunters hear about scads of new or updated broadheads every year from the ATA and SHOT shows, along with other events. Traditional marketing and advertising along with social media also drives conversations. How does Swhacker stand out amid the noise?

KK: That is a great question. To start, I’ll say we have some great partners that truly believe in our product and wave our flag at every opportunity, which goes a very long way. Our following on social media has grown significantly over the past several years. We have a great field staff who are quite active online. And our customers love to show off the blood trails that our broadheads create.


AB: I’m a retailer considering adding new broadheads in my shop. How is Swhacker going to stand out to me? Do you offer special pricing, deals or other programs?

KK: Dealers, mention this article to receive 5% off your next Swhacker order. The offer ends Dec. 31, 2021.


AB: Anything else you’d like to add about Swhacker that dealers should know?

KK: Our Levi Morgan Series broadheads have MAP pricing keeping others from undercutting your selling price. Also, check out C’Mere Deer and TAC Vanes. Contact Kelly Brand Management to get set up; or 406-203-8122.


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