What is a tactical tomahawk axe? Well, it’s actually many things! It is an axe used by soldiers in the field for breaching. It can also be used by a hobbyist to clear tree limbs, cut wood, and throwing. It is also a great survival tool for the coming Zombie Apocalypse. It really is a must-have for anyone who doesn’t want to turn into a mindless, flesh-eating corpse. Okay, that’s probably not 100% true (90% at most!), but really, the name comes from an Indian (North American Indigenous Peoples/First Nations Peoples, etc. – whatever the politically correct name is nowadays) that means “To Cut Off By Tool”.
Through much of its early history, the tomahawk was used mostly for everyday tasks and also for war. However, when early European settlers introduced metal blades in place of stone/flint blades, the tomahawk became a super-valuable, very important tool for daily use by both Europeans and First Nations.
Because the tomahawk has such a history of being “thrown” in battle or hunting contexts, throwing contests have existed throughout North America since colonial times, and now there’s an even more active revival for axe-throwing. There are axe-throwing centers all over the continent, but that’s another topic altogether!
Nowadays, hatchets and tomahawks are used by a huge variety of folks worldwide for activities like camping, hiking, hunting, bush-crafting and in some areas for some people, it’s considered an “every day carry” (EDC) item! The practicality of it has not diminished (other than the frequency of our need for it) since it’s useful for cutting, trimming, hammering, throwing, breaking, chiseling, escaping, clearing and about a thousand other things!
If it isn’t already obvious, it’s clear that tomahawks exude an aura of nostalgia, practicality, “cool-ness” and even “manly aggressiveness”. I get it! And that’s why the lowly tomahawk continues to enjoy a degree of popularity and even surging in popularity among enthusiasts worldwide!
This guide will briefly review 10 of the top-selling tactical axes available.
There is a weight/power trade-off in tactical tomahawks. If you want something that will smash through sheet metal, doors, or a fuselage with easy, you will need some weight in the tactical axe; however, if you want something that is easy to carry around for long ruck marches, you would want something that is a little bit lighter.
Because of this, the tactical tomahawk should be somewhere between 1 pound and 2 pounds. Over 2 pounds and, in my opinion, you are better off leaving it home.
Here are other important factors when considering a tactical tomahawk:
SOG is a company with a long record of providing good, high-quality tactical equipment. This axe is not an exception to that history. It is based on the Vietnam era tomahawks and feels very good in your hands. It weighs 1.5 pounds exactly and clears tree limbs with ease. I was actually able to down limbs that were nearly 2 inches in diameter with 2-4 swings! (sometimes)
The blade is razor-sharp right out of the box and, after the backyard tests, it stayed sharp as well. The balance is very good since they did have 40 years to perfect this ax. It does not have a full tang (the tang stops at the last screw on the handle) but that didn’t throw the balance off at all. The head of the axe features a flat edge for hammering and a spike for piercing (or breaking glass in an emergency).
The grip is very nice. All of the tomahawks we reviewed for this article had good grips. No cheap, flimsy grips were found.
The sheath was good as well. It was a nylon sheath with two clips on the bottom. SOG also provides MOLLE sheaths if you need to attach this to your rucksack. It features loops for attaching to 1.5-inch belts.
Overall, it’s a great breaching axe, camping axe and backpacking axe with a versatile ballistic nylon carry sheath. It’s our top pick for a versatile tactical axe for breaching operations obstacle removals, extraction and lots of other survival applications.
Truth be told, it was just the price that kept this one out of our #1 spot. It’s certainly the most versatile of all our tomahawks. It’s a pretty obvious 3-in-1 tool that includes a Hammer Head, Pry bar and Axe. This is an American made tool with some serious capabilities. The hammer head and pry bar are just a few of the useful features on this top-of-the-line survival tool. Much of its capabilities are geared toward first responders (ie. Fire Fighters) in an emergency situation. The hatchet is specifically designed to be light (so you’ll actually carry it with you) but also have the ability to easily shred and splinter a door with the blade, then using its hammer (on the reverse side of the blade edge), you can smash through locks, door knobs and hinges as necessary, and finally, the pry bar is ready for use at the base of the handle. The great part is that the pry handle is controlled by the handle located right inside the head of the axe!
One of the features that stands out to us is the Cerakote coating on the 420 HC stainless steel. As if the stainless steel wasn’t good enough (in other words it IS GOOD ENOUGH!) for any hatcheting purposes, Gerber decided to kick up the quality and aesthetics a notch by using a special Cerakote exterior coat on the steel. Cerakote is a ceramic-based finish that can be applied to metals, plastics, polymers, and even wood. The unique chemical formula used for Cerakote ceramic coating enhances a number of physical performance properties including abrasion/wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, impact strength, and hardness.
If you can scrape together the budget (right now it’s almost half price!!!), then this is our strongest “buy” recommendation!
We love the Paragon War Party tomahawk because it’s more of a collector’s item combined with a very useful tool/weapon that is of the quality you could pass down to another generation! Yes, it’s that good! While many decent Tomahawks come in around $45, this one is available for the low low price of only $550!!!! Yikes! What’s the deal?
Well, the War Party Tactical hawk axe offers a collaborative design from Paragon Knives and Sakura Blade Works of Japan. This intimidating piece of hardware is outfitted with a bearded D2 steel blade and a super durable gray coating. It features a black G-10 carbon fiber combo handle, and the design and finish are truly artful on this piece! It’s a limited edition axe that will look amazing on your man cave wall and also makes a very useful addition to your tactical gear. It’s really not a run-of-the-mill tomahawk, but a generational heirloom quality chunk of hardware … or should I say, “piece of art”?
I’m not sure – maybe both!
The Smith and Wesson Extraction and Evasion Tomahawk is a tough, full-tang tomahawk with a reliable 1070 Carbon blade and head. While it is a bit on the heavy side, we like some of its features like the hard blade material and the TPE overlay on the steel handle. TPE is basically a composite of different polymers that have thermoplastic and elastic properties as well as simply being protective of the steel underneath.
Speaking of the handle, it’s well-designed for a two-handed grip for power thrusts related to extraction and emergency uses. The pointed spike on the back is extremely durable (more durable than a sharp blade for example). According to our assessment of the features in addition to the reviews from over 250 verified buyers on Amazon, this is a tool made for professionals (ie. Fire Fighters, First Responders, emergency workers). Its features are geared for extraction and emergency entry. It’s not quite as suitable for camping and outdoors. Not because it’s not capable, but because its bulk and weight are a bit restrictive for wilderness applications where size and weight are everything.
Plus, the point on the back is very durable, but for outdoor use, I’d go for the M48 because of its more refined blade features for cutting, shaving, etc.
Columbia River is an exceptionally well-respected name in the knife and blade industry. This Oregon-based company puts out some of the best and most consistent quality implements in the industry. The Kangee is what I would call an under-stated tool that bucks the trend of tomahawk appearance. It doesn’t look like its counterparts from the other companies on our list. It looks like more of a small axe.
While we don’t think you’ll need it for this purpose, CRKT has designed this tomahawk for self-defense …. and also “utility”. Designed by RMJ Tactical, this tomahawk is born of 30 years of design experience. This tool is made of one chunk of high carbon steel which means it’s full-tang and it’s super-hard compared to many of its competitors. There’s a powder coat finish on the blade to make it look cook, but more importantly, it’s to help minimize blade rust (since the steel is harder, the trade-off is that it rusts easier than “stainless steel”).
One of the best and most unique features of the T-Hawk is that it is designed with comfort in mind. Not just comfort in swinging the tomahawk as you would imagine, but also comfort in doing more precision work. There’s an index finger choil just under the blade which aids in shaving and shaping wood as well as in performing tasks that require a degree of precision.
Here’s a rescue tomahawk that jumps out at us for a number of cool features that make it an excellent value! The TRT (stands for “tactical rescue tomahawk) is made (you’ll never guess) in El Salvador! Not that it really matters, but I thought it was a welcome reprieve from the standard Chinese manufacturing origins of many knives and other cutting implements!
The tough and hard 1075 steel is coated with an epoxy black powder coating so it looks pretty snazzy and modern – not to mention aggressive and “manly”. The steel is tempered so chipping is likely not going to happen, but we did notice the handle was completely round. That’s not great for alignment in your hands (better if it was oval) but overall, users were happy with its weight (heavy enough for tough duty). The spike on the back is not sharp at all, but anyone with a grinder of some type would be able to prepare it for use with proper sharpening.
It’s certainly worth mentioning that it’s also a full tang construction with one piece of high carbon steel.
I’ve said this about companies before, but it’s as true or truer with Spyderco – “This company is one of the best-known and most iconic knife companies in the world!” Spyderco is truly a king amongst kings! The WarriorHawk is, in one sense, a cut above ALL the other tomahawks or hatchets we have on our list because its steel is in a league of its own. The D2 steel is a high-end steel that doubles the price of any knife or tool over its softer, stainless steel counterparts. In this case, it is further complemented by a titanium carbonitride coating that eliminates reflection and maximizes corrosion protection.
The cutting side of the head is faceted to maximize penetration and both its edges are zero-ground for superior edge geometry. As expected, the WarriorHawk is designed for multiple applications which include close combat, breaching and overall utility cutting. The spike on the opposite end of the head is suitable for puncturing lots of things like fuel tanks and even tires. It’s perfect for breaching windows as a break-and-rake tool. As expected, it’s a full tang tool with a pry edge at the bottom of the handle.
The 3-D machined G-10 scales offer a solid grip and high-end feel. The custom-molded snap-fit Boltaron sheath looks very cool but ads a ton of value to the product. It also comes with a padded zipper pouch for long-term storage.
Another CRKT makes our list, but this one is a bit of a looker with a pretty handle and a nostalgic, classic, less aggressive look. It’s not meant as much for emergency uses as it is for outdoor utility and camping or hunting contexts. The classic-looking head features a hammer on one side and a great-looking blade on the other.
We like the finessing in the forging process. It’s drop-forged and differentially heat-treated, which means that the forward edge is hardened to hold its edge better, while the back end is a bit more springy and tough. Without adding a wedge, the exposed top of the head is a bit larger than the hole in the head and it’s tapered so it actually gets tighter with use!
It’s the best-looking tomahawk on our list (according to ME, that is) and it’s perfectly balanced if you grab it just below the head.
Browning is a name that holds some weight in the outdoor tool and gun industry. It’s a name that you can typically associate with quality and longevity. Perhaps that’s why the Shock N Awesome tomahawk originally ran for well over $100. It’s now less than $85, but that’s still twice the price of other decent options (albeit with less impressive names and histories behind them).
The overall design of the Shock N Awesome reminds me of a small belt tool from an Orc in Lord of the Rings. The intimidating spikes and angles are impressive (if you’re into that sort of thing), but this bad boy has more to offer. It’s not all show! It’s a full-tang, one-piece hot-forged steel tool with a spiked pommel. The 1055 Carbon Steel head is covered by a black powder coating, and it features a G-10 handle and a polymer belt sheath with MOLLE attachment system. It looks like this particular model is a product of Taiwan. That’s not a bad thing necessarily! My absolute favorite EDC knife is an OKC (Ontario Knife Company) Carter Trinity, and it’s made in Taiwan. It is NOT a cheap, sub-standard piece of steel. That I can tell you for sure!
Here’s a unique-looking tool from Timahawk that looks a lot like an emergency tool a firefighter would use. It’s quite beefy in your hands and it is arguably the best “all-around” utility tomahawk on our list. It does look a lot like the Gerber Downrange Tomahawk, but there are differences. Let’s get started with the overview!
First of all, the 4130 Chromoly is an aircraft steel that can be shaped nicely during manufacturing and has the ability to be hardened pretty well for most uses. It’s heat-treated and oil-quenched (the blade edge) and the tool is full-tang. Unfortunately, no sheath is included, but that’s the cross you’ll have to bear on this one!
The shape of the Timahawk allows for a fist to be protected if grabbed right beneath the head. It seems designed for self-defense or combat in that a closed fist can offer a punch that delivers not a knuckle sandwich, but a long, sharp slicing blade! The back of the head features a tool much like a pry bar or a hoe for digging. It’s called an adze hammerhead. It can really move a huge amount of dirt in an outdoor camping, hunting, survival situation. The bottom of the handle features a pry tool with a nail extractor. The pry tool is easily operated with the handle that made right through the middle of the head!
The blade length is about the same size as a full-sized fireman’s axe, so it can really process more wood with each blow. It’s really an ideal first responder access and extraction tool. The length of the shaft allows for lots of leverage when prying or swinging, though it’s not nearly as effective as its big brother the Timahawk Survival Axe.
So, which one of these 10 tactical tomahawks are the best? Well, as you might expect, it depends on your needs so I made two groups: for foot soldiers and for mobile soldiers. If you are going to be rucking it for day after day, you would want the lightest tool you can get and the SOG Tactical would be it. If you are a mobile soldier who rides around on something besides your feet, I would go with the Timahawk. However, if I’m just a backpacker who wants to show off a cool toy, I’ll get the Browning Shock N Awesome.
Do you have one of these tactical tomahawks at home? How do you like it? Or, do you WISH you have one? Tell us in the comment box below. We love hearing comments from readers. Tactical tomahawks are often paired with survival knives and pocket knives.
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