The Best Tomahawk on the Market – Bushcraft & Military Grade Reviews
I'm faced with lots of these situations daily. Like when I want to split large logs to serve as a makeshift seat or when my knives aren't doing the job in dislodging a game's limb. You know, I need to do my processing as fast as possible.
A tactical tomahawk is one that's meant for a particular purpose or strategy. And I'm not the only one on the tomahawk train. From campers and survivalists to even war soldiers, everyone's leaving home with a hatchet in the backpack these days.
If you already have an axe, do you still need to get a tomahawk? The thing is, the axe is designed for just one chore for the most part, chopping. It has no tactical uses. The hatchet rather helps me at bushcraft operations and handles all my chopping as well. And seriously, do you want to be stuck with the weight the traditional axe adds to your backpack? The tomahawk is lighter, so you get more work done without the extra stress on your back.
Tomahawk – Bushcraft & Military
The hawks back in the 18th century used sharp stones attached to wooden handles and these took care of the basic cutting jobs. But the Europeans came on and introduced metal blades meaning you could now do more in half the time.
It's 2017, and many brands are introducing new hawk designs to the market. I've bought a couple and I swear by some of these brands. You want tomahawk reviews? Check them out.
You're looking at one of the most popular pieces on the market. Just take a few swings at maybe a piece of wood and you'd know why this is a crowd favorite.
The axe head is made of heat treated 420 stainless steel and measures 2.75 inches. I got this piece and noticed it had a strength of almost 53RC making it very resistant to extreme conditions.
The manufacturers got it ready for immediate work as the blade was already sharpened on arrival. I got the black, non-reflecting head because I'm in the wild till dark sometimes, but you can get the shiny, polished variant if it works for you.
And why I think this is tactical? It comes with a spike that's just perfect for my excavation operations. The hawk didn't come with a full tang so I thought it would loosen up in a few days. Turns out that the two screws attaching the head to the handle does its job as I've been banging this thing around for months now.
A patch on each side of the head makes my hammering jobs a breeze. I don't need another hammer! The blade's durable nylon sheath comes with an inbuilt belt strap, keeping the blade protected.
What's a hawk without a great handle, right? The SOG tactical piece delivers on that. The glass reinforced nylon handle of the axe brings it's weight to only 24 ounces and 15.75 inches in length, giving it a good swing. The handle comes with a few serrations though it's a bit slippery. I wrapped a little rubber on it, didn't take more than five minutes, and since then it's had the best grip in the world. And a lightweight hawk should have a fragile handle, right? Well, the F01 is an exception to that rule. It's taken a lot of beatings from different metal surfaces and still proven to be good value for my money.
When you discover that this axe was designed in the US by Ross Kommer, you'd know why it's one of the most sought-after pieces.
It's sword grade blade made of forged 1055 steel is 2.75 inches in length. This is my go to device when I need to break through glass, split kindling and do a few other camp chores. It didn't come razor sharp out of the box but it didn't take up to an hour for my ceramic rod sharpener to fix things.
The curved penetration spike adds to the sturdy nature of the axe. You need a hole in hardened surfaces? The spike to the rescue. It's molded polymer sheath with Tek-Lok belt clip easily adjusts for belt loop width. Feel free to practice drawing and resheathing this axe so you don't get injured out there in the field.
The manufacturers heard the cries of many survivalists on the handle. It has such a good grip mostly owing to its nylon paracord handle. And you thought we were done with spikes? There's a spike at the end of the handle to ease breaking in to things.
The hawk is quite a heavy one, but this extra weight feeds more power to each swing so you can get more work done in half the time. No surprises here as it's a full tang hatchet. Some people say it's smaller but hey, were you expecting a battle axe? Its size seems okay for me as it's okay to carry on your belt or if you're like me, it'd fit just perfectly in your backpack.
This axe designed by Smith & Wesson, one brand the weapons industry swears by, and manufactured by the highly coveted Taylor Cutlery is one product you can be sure gives a great bang for your buck.
It has such a simple all-black design that's perfect for my night time activities. It's definitely not a throwing hawk as it's on the heavy side, but if you want to smash through things, this is your baby.
This full tang axe made with 1070 high carbon steel has a blade length of 3.9 inches. I was worried about the blade's resistance to corrosion cause I'm working under the rain at times, but I noticed a protective coating on the blade that keeps it in check.
The blade's sharp out of the box, I've been using mine for seven months now and apart from the weekly oiling I do, I haven't needed to resharpen this blade. If you need your blade sharper anyway, a few minutes with a ceramic rod would do.
And I've seen very few spikes better than that the SW671 sports. These spikes help me penetrate block, aluminum, steel and many other tough metals. The hawk's black nylon sheath comes with a belt loop and 3 snaps for easy tool removal. I haven't seen much need for the loop though cause with the size and weight of this axe, my hips would be under intense pressure. If I'm carrying it for long periods, the axe fits perfectly in my bag.
The SW671's comes with a 10 inch steel handle that moves the overall length of the hatchet to 15.9 inches. The Kraton scales on the handle provide a firm grip even when wet, and it doesn't give the slippery feel I get with others when I'm on gloves.
Setting your eyes on this axe, you'd know it comes with lots of "rage." It's going for the kill. It needs something to destroy! I'm always faced with doors that just won't come out and walls that seem impenetrable. But err... that was before I got the downrange tomahawk (DRT).
You want something that multitasks? The DRT's axe head has three sides to it. An edge that helps me cut through walls and tight ropes.The hammer portion that works so well on my doors. Then you have a grip for controlling the pry bar end.
It has a 3.5 inch blade edge made with 420HC stainless steel with black cerakote finish. The blade's beard provides support for me when I'm climbing up difficult terrains. It's not all that sharp out of the box. So, do get a sharpener if you want a more refined edge.
The kydex sheath's design is well worth the money, nothing fancy but it sticks to my backpack. Two bands within the sheath keep the axe in place. I also use two other fasteners to attach the DRT to my body. The hawk has a desert tan G-10 scaled handle that brings the DRT to about 19.7 inches in length. The notches on the top and bottom portions of the handle improve my grip. The bottom portion has these notches on its front and back surfaces while the upper portion of the handle has them only in front. I've never been afraid using the DRT even without gloves as there are four grooves that give my hand a nice placement inside the handle.
Yes, this is a tomahawk. So, why Vietnam? Why LaGana? What do these words have to do with an axe? Okay, here's a little intro for you. A guy named Peter LaGana, first designed the piece in 1966 for the US troops in the Vietnam war. The company folded, after the war, in the 1970s, but was revived by Andy Prisco and LaGana in 2001.
The blade's cutting edge is 2.5 inches with the axe head made of drop-forged 1060 high carbon steel. I got this and noticed it had a strength of between 52-54 RC. At that level, the axe can smash its way through things. The configuration of the head and handle also, makes this axe nearly indestructible. I can say this because the axe has taken lots of hits since its purchase but it seems like I'm being told, "hey, I'd gladly take more!"
The blade is obviously made for its job as it features multiple cutting edges with its backside being well sharpened. It's MOLLE compatible nylon sheath keeps the blade in place.
The VTAC's handle is all super tough modified nylon that brings the overall length of the hatchet to 14 inches. It sports a few grooves and treads that keep my hand in place and stop the handle from slipping off. If you're still not comfortable with the grip, you can wrap a few rubber cords on the handle.
This hatchet is still used by the US Army today, so if you're looking for a military grade tomahawk, you've got your baby! If you're all about aesthetics, its simple but beautiful black design would make it your companion in the night. And all these features still produce a lightweight axe that doesn't take too much work to swing.
Now, there you have it. Reviews of my top five tomahawks. You should get the best survival tomahawk from them. But that's not all, there are five other products that seem promising, only needing improvements in a few places. Check them out.
Kershaw is one of the biggest names on the market. The Siege has a 4 inch blade length, made of 3Cr13 steel, a full tang glass reinforced handle protected with black oxide coating that brings the overall length to 16 inches.
It got to work out of the pack as I had a tree in my backyard that was destroying my fence. The hawk was so sharp in doing its job, most of the branches not needing more than one swing to come to ground. The back spike put the finishing touches as it penetrated different pieces that seemed stubborn. The pry bar worked well in getting nails out and the rubber grip kept my hand in place while swinging.
The axe comes with a sheath and a belt loop, though the loop didn't give me the aha! feel as it doesn't stay in place and could pull away and get you injured. The all steel make up of the hatchet makes it a bit heavier than its wooden or glass variants but I guess that's why it shows so much strength.
Also, watch out for the packaging. There's just a plastic cover to the sharp blade that you wouldn't want to take chances on.
If you're not careful, you'd confuse this with the SOG Tactical Tomahawk model FO1TN CP. But a closer look on the head and length of the hatchet and you'd spot the difference.
The axe features a 2 inch wide blade made from 420 stainless steel with a brightly colored finish. The design comes with two round holes to make it lighter and this really plays out when I swing this thing.
Just like its F01TN CP counterpart, it's large spike helps me penetrate wooden doors and holds me long enough when I need to pull myself out of a ditch. A black nylon sheath and a belt loop are included in the pack to keep the blade safe.
Two bolts and a metal ferrule help in tightly attaching the head to the handle. I thought the bolts would get weak so I smashed the handle on an iron surface to test the attachment. Turns out that the manufacturers did a good job as the handle stayed in place.
The handle is made of fiberglass reinforced nylon making the overall length of the axe 12.75 inches. My only issue with this hatchet is that its shorter reach makes me fatigued after swinging for some minutes.
There are very few people to meet to design a custom blade that gets the job done, Ryan Johnson is one of them. He teamed up with the Columbia River Knife and Tool to release this piece.
It's designed to be the best bushcraft tomahawk out there. The head shape? I can bet you've seen nothing like it. There's no spike at the opposite end but the 2.93 inch blade and the top edge are well sharpened.
The head is made from SK5 high carbon tool steel with a corrosion resistant coating on its surface. The steel handle comes with two removable scales made from glass filled nylon with choils along the front to improve grip. It makes for an overall length of 14 inches.
A covering for your blade, the Kydex sheath comes with a little strap. All of these and there's no surprise why this hatchet has a Rockwell Hardness of between 54 and 55. I feel uncomfortable with the handle when I'm chopping for long though it gets better with gloves on.
Another axe from Ryan Johnson. Its head is sharpened on both the top and leading edges. I couldn't tell the difference between this and the Chogan at first glance, but the Kangee's spike changed things a bit.
The head is also made from SK5 high carbon tool steel with a corrosion resistant coating on its surface. It's 2.93 inch blade is sharp right out of the box. I haven't needed to resharpen this tool. The steel handle again comes with two removable scales made from glass filled nylon with choils along the front to improve grip.
This hatchet shows so much strength when put to work owing to its Rockwell Hardness of between 54 and 55. I know because I've done most of the torture tests on YouTube and boy did the Kangee live up to the hype. A MOLLE compatible Kydex sheath with a strap functions to keep the blade in place.
This is another one for the survivalists. From a highly praised firm like United Cutlery, you can see why the M48 is a piece to get. Its head is made of 2Cr13 stainless steel and the 3.75 inch blade on it is good for your smashing and breaching.
The blade combines well with the spike at the opposing end to meet your personal defence goals. The fiber glass reinforced nylon handle has three separate bolts to hold it in place. I wrapped the grip in paracord and since then it's stuck to my hand like glue. You should try doing same if you're not comfortable with the grip.
And talking about holding its blade in place, the nylon snap button sheath that it comes with is meant for that. It's lighter than many others around and this gives you more swings in half the time.
You needed hatchet reviews? You got them. Those are 10 tactical tomahawks to die for. But, so you'd get a bird's eye view of how everything works, let's go back in time. How did the hawk craze start?
History Of The Tactical Tomahawk
The name comes from Powhatan tamahaac, and is derived from the Proto-Algonquian root, temah meaning 'to cut off by tool'. It was invented by the Algonquian Indians in early America.
The original design was with stones attached to wooden handles and fastened with rawhide. They were traditionally used as weapons and for everyday hunting. The Europeans remodeled the hawk by introducing metal blades which improved the tool's efficiency. Native Americans then introduced a hawk's poll which had a hammer, spike or pipe.
The design has changed since then as new models have now revived the throwing competitions of old. Some models even enable the piece to be used as a crowbar.
And the military hasn't been left out. Peter LaGana designed 4,000+ pieces to be used by the American troops during the Vietnam war and teamed up in 2001 with the American Tomahawk Company to revive production of what's now known in many quarters as the Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk (VTAC).
My Buyer's Guide
Believe me when I say the ten hawks I've reviewed up there are the best in the market. But it's too easy to get confused. Maybe you just registered for one of those throwing competitions and you think your winning tool is one that's ten times the weight of your arm. No problems! That's why I'm here. To take you by the hand and show you what you're looking for.
1. What Head Steel Do You Really Need?
This is the part of the axe that's going to be doing most of the chopping, breaching and shattering, under bad weather too. You don't want it broken after a few weeks.
Non-stainless, high carbon steels such as the 1055, 1095 and the SK5 are generally stronger with tougher edges than stainless steels like the 420 HC. The downside though is that high carbon non-stainless steels aren't as resistant to corrosion than their stainless counterpart. So, if you're buying an SK5 axe like the CRKT Chogan, it's good to get prepared for lots of maintenance.
The Rockwell Hardness C scale is one metric that measures the hardness of steel. RC values of between 50 and 52 are generally of very tough steels with good edge holding ability.
2. What Goes Into Your Handle's Length and Material?
The length of handle you'd be comfortable with depends on the hawk's intended use. If you need something that gets debris off the ground, then a short handle that gives you more control over the head is what you need. Don't go for a short handle though if you need the extended reach the long ones provide. And if you never knew, you generate more force when using a longer handle as compared to a shorter one.
For your handle materials, you don't want wood if you're going to use it for long. It's going to absorb moisture and the head becomes loose after some time. Go for the fiberglass reinforced nylon or even steel, they're both tougher than wood but try to keep them from too much exposure to ultraviolet light. Wrapping in paracord goes a long way in doing that.
3. How Heavy Should Your Hawk Be?
If you're going to be chopping through tough blocks and piles of plywood, then you need an axe head with the weight to get the job done. If you've signed up for a throwing competition, get a blade with a light handle to go with it. You stand better chances winning that way. But there are also heavy handles. And these make it practically impossible for you to get a good swing as a survivalist.
If you need to pull down a city, and maybe rebuild it in a month, you obviously don't need a hawk. Whether it's the best bushcraft or military grade axe you need, the top ten have been reviewed for you. It's now up to you. What do you want to do with it? Chopping, shattering or just throwing for fun? Breaking news! There's a hawk for you. Get your hands on one in this post and don't be afraid to try out more than one axe on this list to see which meets your needs.