Old vs new, tradition vs modernity, conservative vs liberal. These ever-clashing ideas can co-exist occasionally. A tactical tomahawk reconciles ancient and modern, and that’s one of the reasons why these weapons/tools are pretty popular lately.
While throwing a tomahawk looks so cool, there are many other reasons for the increasing popularity of this weapon. Besides traditional and cultural reasons, the tomahawk is one of the most versatile tools you will find.
What Is a Tactical Tomahawk?
A tomahawk is a type of a single-handed axe. It was invented and used by Native Americans long before Europeans discovered the New World.
More precisely, Algonquian North American natives invented it and used to call it “tamahaac” or “tamahikan”, hence the name.
While we easily identify tomahawks with Native Americans, their tomahawks looked quite different from our notion of fancy, sleek, metal axes. They were made of stone and attached to wooden handles by strips of rawhide. Only a handful of warriors and leaders possessed ornamented, luxurious tomahawks for ceremonial purposes.
However, everyday tomahawks were useful tools and if the need occurred it would become a versatile weapon.
When Europeans flooded the New World, they brought advanced technology along, and natives started creating tomahawks using steel or brass.
Metal has immensely improved tomahawks but in the following centuries improving technologies have eclipsed the use of it.
However, they made their way back in the second half of the 20th century. During the Vietnam War, thousands of American soldiers got a new version of the tactical tomahawk.
Furthermore, many members of law enforcement SWAT teams use tactical tomahawks. So, military use has inspired the revival of tomahawks. Historical significance and versatility made it widely popular, so it seems that tomahawk is here to stay.
Why You Should Have a Tactical Tomahawk
I love tomahawks, but it’s not like you have to own one. Truth be told, you can probably find a better-suited suited tool for any task.
For example, an axe is better to cut wood or break a door. Hatchets are better for chopping and splitting because they are a little bit heavier than tomahawks.
A crowbar is better for prying. Hammers are better for nailing. There are more specific weapons for any type of combat and so on.
But, between the lines lies the answer why tomahawk is such a great tool and weapon. It can do it all!
A tomahawk is not an indispensable item, but it is incredibly versatile and convenient.
While there are better tools for any given task, you can’t carry axes, hammers, crowbars, guns, and rifles around. Well, at least not at the same time.
In an emergency or survival situation, this lightweight tool can perform more tasks than any other. Maybe you don’t want to buy all these tools that you will use very rarely. A tomahawk is easy to carry and it is useful for so many different tasks.
So, if you’re into bushcraft, camping, you own a cottage in the woods, or you’re just prepping for SHTF, a tomahawk will be one of your favorite tools that can turn into a weapon if needed.
Not to mention that they look so cool. It is so easy to fall in love with tomahawks. Today, we have tomahawk throwing competitions that celebrate both skill and tradition.
How to Choose One – Main Concerns
Even though this versatile tool is basically simple, it is not easy to choose one.
There are so many different models out there. And they look quite different as well.
Not everything is about the looks though. Some tomahawks are designed to be very versatile, while others focus more on a couple of specific tasks.
So, there’s a wide range of weight, length, materials, and design. Each feature has certain advantages for specific tasks.
Therefore, you should first establish what will be your main focus, if any. In other words, do you want a super-versatile tomahawk, or do you prefer models that excel at one task but are still capable of versatile performance? Let’s break it down to find out more.
Tomahawks come in different sizes.
A handle can be quite short or it can be moderately long. It seems like a trivial difference but it affects tomahawk’s performance a lot.
It comes down to a simple formula: short handle – more mobility, long handle – more power.
Short-handled tomahawks are great because they are lightweight, easy to carry around, and you won’t get tired too soon. You can fit it into your backpack and conceal it easier. They are great for emergencies and some tactical scenarios.
Also, they offers a lot to campers and survivalists. While you can’t cut down a tree with one, it is handy to do some precision chopping, shaving, and to create a shelter. As for tactical purposes, it’s light and fast so it offers the advantages that come with speed. However, you won’t be able to breach a door or break a block wall.
Long-handled tomahawk offers more power, so it excels at tasks that need strong force and power. It is heavier than a short-handled tomahawk and the length provides more inertia when swinging.
As a result, you can strike with a much larger force. It’s a great tool for survivalists as cutting, chopping, and splitting is easy with these tomahawks. For tactical situations, it is great for breaching or breaking larger objects. On the downside, you will get tired faster. Some people use both hands for cutting trees and similar heavy tasks. Another problem is the size. It is a little bit cumbersome to pack it and carry around.
Obviously, each type of handle comes with some upsides and some downsides. Think about your priorities and what you will use it for often to make the right choice.
You have probably thought that the quality of a tomahawk was all about the axe and blade.
It is partially true, but handle and grip play an important part as well. No matter how strong and sharp your axe head is, it won’t do the job if you can’t grip it properly.
Actually, a tomahawk with a bad grip can be dangerous when you don’t want it to be. You don’t want to see it slipping away or flying when you just wanted to cut a tree branch.
You can come across many different grip materials, but there are two basic types: wrapping grips and polymer nylon grips.
Either way, you need to feel it, to figure out if you like the way it fits into your hand.
Generally, polymer grips are better. They are lightweight, more durable and they absorb shock better.
By the way, a glass-reinforced polymer is the most common material for tomahawk handles.
On the other hand, wrapped grips can be multifunctional in emergency situations. You can unwrap it and use it as a rope to tie something.
While tomahawk is a versatile tool altogether, not all of them are equally versatile. Some manufacturers try to create tomahawks as versatile as possible.
Others focus on a couple of features trying to make them as efficient as possible. Let’s see some of those features.
The axe head is the heart of your tomahawk. Beside the handle, it is the original part of the tomahawk from the very beginning.
The axe is responsible for tomahawk’s versatility in the first place. You can use it for chopping woods, creating shelters, smashing doors and other similar tasks. Any blade can be used as a weapon as well.
Some axes are more heavy and powerful, while others are lighter but razor-sharp. Think about your most common or most favorite way of using it before you make the choice.
A spike is an almost mandatory part of a tactical tomahawk. It is placed on the opposing end of the axe head.
A spike is not as versatile as an axe, but it is very efficient. You can use it to make holes in everything. It can even puncture through some bulletproof vests. Breaking the glass is another use of this tool.
A hammer may be placed at the back of the axe head or on the side of it.
The backside hammer offers more versatility and you can smash all kinds of things with it. The side hammer is helpful to hammer nails in survival or other similar situations.
A pry bar function is very convenient in tactical situations. It’s a great breaching tool.
Most tactical tomahawks are made of stainless or carbon steel. However, some of them are forged in one piece while others are welded.
A single piece steel construction provides durability. Modern technologies and new materials are decreasing the margin, but a full-tang construction still has an edge over other methods.
We tried to make a list that would fit anybody’s requirements. Different people have different needs and preferences, so it’s impossible to call any model the best overall. Therefore, we’ll present a couple of models that are really good value for money in no particular order.
7 BEST TACTICAL TOMAHAWKS YOU CAN GET TODAY
1. SOG Tactical Tomahawk
Superb craftsmanship and great versatility make this tactical tomahawk a great choice.
It is based on the Vietnam Tomahawk but with the use of modern technologies, it offers much more than the original model. It is ultra-light, razor-sharp, with a side hammer and spike to provide versatility.
- Has a spike
- Excellent build quality.
- Ergonomic handle
- Too small and too light for tasks that require power.
2. Gerber Downrange Tactical Tomahawk
This futuristic-looking tactical tomahawk performs beautifully. It is light enough to carry it around with ease but heavy enough to get the most jobs done.
Maybe it’s not the best tool for chopping woods, but as a breaching tool, it works great.
- Backside hammer
- Excellent pry bar with prying handle
- Very versatile
- It doesn’t come sharpened
3. Browning Shock N’ Awe Tomahawk Knife
Browning Shock N’ Awe Tomahawk is pretty small but very powerful.
Browning is a renowned manufacturer of survival gear and this product is another great piece in their collection. This tactical tomahawk has a great balance for throwing as well as for cutting.
- Surprising power for its size
- Very sturdy and durable
- Molle compatible
- Some users complained that the wrapped handle is not comfortable enough
4. CRKT Kangee
This tactical tomahawk is probably the most comfortable model out there. It is very lightweight. A curved ergonomic handle provides an excellent feel and control.
It comes in two available configurations: axe head with a spike or with a hammer.
- It’s a single-piece construction
- Excellent grip
- Not the most affordable model
5. Smith & Wesson Extraction and Evasion SW671 15.9in Full Tang Tomahawk
This beauty is a heavy-duty model. It is not really heavy, but it’s heavier than most of the competition. Smith & Wesson created it to be powerful and efficient. A simple design and great balance make it a great destructive tool.
Chopping wood or even cutting down a tree won’t be a problem.
- Single piece construction
- It is affordable
- Very durable
- A little bit heavy
- Needs sharpening
6. United Cutlery M48 U.S.M.C. Tactical Tomahawk Axe
This is another sturdy model. It also looks very cool.
The idea was to create a lightweight tactical tomahawk powerful enough to do heavy jobs. As a result, it is a medium weight tactical tomahawk with a lot of power.
- Very durable
- Powerful cutting and breaching tool
- Nice design
- Relatively lightweight
- Paracord handle wrapping may loosen and unwrap over time
7. Estwing Tomahawk Axe
Estwing tactical tomahawk is the lightest one on the list. But, don’t let the small weight full you. It has a great balance and it can do some serious damage.
You won’t be able to cut down a tree, but you can use it for a long time for smaller tasks without breaking the sweat. It is forged in one piece.
- Shock reduction grip
- Good for throwing
- Too light for heavy duty tasks
A tomahawk offers a wonderful versatility but it isn’t an almighty, omnipotent magic wand. A tactical tomahawk is a weapon that can be used as a multi-purpose tool.
You can’t expect it to shine in all areas, though. But, the fact that it can do so many different tasks is magical enough. This versatile weapon/tool saves space and energy while keeping the ability to get the job done.
So, think about your needs and preferences to make the right choice. Once you decide, don’t forget to practice. At the end of the day, your skill is as important as your tools and weapons.