Messerist tomahawk, RTAK-II, Camp Defender 2


January 6, 2013, 09:22 PM
messerist has shown us several ( pretty tomahawks (, and I PMd him to ask if he'd make one for me. After I got back from Afghanistan, the time was right for both of us, and we talked about it. After being sure he understands what the customer wants, he forges the hawk from a hammer made of 4140.

I am very interested in both history and manual weapons, and I thought this might be a good chance to test a quality tomahawk in a traditional style against large outdoors knives. I asked messerist if he would be willing to take a few pictures of the process, and he sent me A BUNCH.

Here are some. I'm going to post most as links instead of posting them in-thread, for size reasons.

Drifting the eye to fit handle ( This drift will accomodate most commercial handles.

In the forge (

forged blade ( hours later, whew! Thatsa lotsa pounding!

tempering (

I took the tomahawk out and tested it against my never-used 5160 RTAK-II and the original Camp Defender 2. I took RC, my fiance's son with me the first time, and was able to visit Sam the second time. Good times. :)

The entire review, all 3000+ words and 43 pictures is at Shooting Reviews (

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January 6, 2013, 11:03 PM
One thing I just didn't have space to include in the review was throwing.

It's harder than it looks. I've thrown knives before, and oddly enough, this seemed harder.

Derek Zeanah
January 6, 2013, 11:18 PM
That's awesome.

January 7, 2013, 11:19 AM
Friggin fantastic !

I think the only thing that could possibly make this any better would be one of those hidey-holes in the handle for various small survival kit.

This is truly a magnificent piece !

January 7, 2013, 11:54 AM
Well, that's an idea. The problem, though, is that a hollow handle would reduce counterbalancing weight. Also, readily available wooden handles couldn't be used.

January 7, 2013, 11:59 AM
I understand that completely.

Its still absolutely fantastic ! Thats a very well made tool !

January 7, 2013, 12:56 PM
Good review. I'm curious as to why you got a spike hawk. While it no doubt increases the tool's capability, at the same time it also reduces its value from a utility standpoint due to the increased risk to the wielder during use.

...I do not believe a tomahawk or hatchet has any real advantage at a campsite over a large knife designed for outdoor use...

How much have you worked with other tomahawks and hatchets? I'm inclined to agree with you that a tomahawk doesn't have any real advantage over a large knife, but you lost me when you included hatchets. A good hatchet like the GB Wildlife Hatchet is optimized for utility purposes in a way that most tomahawks aren't in my experience. Their geometry cuts better, whereas a tomahawk tends to be designed with a thicker, more durable edge as befits its weaponized origins.

January 7, 2013, 01:49 PM
Thank you. Good questions.

I was conflicted on a hammer face versus a spike. In the end, I probably got the spike because a large knife (to me) is a tool that can be pressed into service as a weapon. Tomahawks are more weapons that can be used as tools.

That's a good point. When I spoke of them as a single entity, I was using the traditional N American convention of using tomahawk and hatchet interchangeably. You are definitely correct in that the very robust edge of messerist's traditionally styled hawk is more tough than optimized for cutting, as some more recent hatchets are.

Thanks for the feedback and thoughtful questions.


January 7, 2013, 01:56 PM
That is phenomenal. my son and I both do hobby black smithing. Boy, I would love to have enough skill to do that. Did you shoot any video footage of the project?

January 7, 2013, 02:02 PM
Maybe messerist might be willing to shoot some the next time he makes one. (Like me, some of his pictures were taken by a little helper. :D) Troy?


January 7, 2013, 02:46 PM
You guys are pure class! Thanks for all the kind comments. John, thanks for the review and affording me the opportunity to be included . A video is in the works but my oldest cameraman is only ten and has the attention span of a gnat. I'm working on one.:D

January 7, 2013, 02:53 PM
A video is in the works but my oldest cameraman is only ten and has the attention span of a gnat.HEY! I've got one of those, too! :D

Troy, it was awesome to get to work with your fantastic hawk! My 4 year old wants to open ALL our cans with one now! :D


Brian Williams
January 9, 2013, 08:32 AM
the attention span of a gnat.
My son and I resemble that.
Nice Hawk.
How much for a similar hawk but with more of a beard to it.

January 9, 2013, 09:31 AM
messerist works with the customer to be sure they get the shape they want. It's still $225 shipped with maple and hickory handles.

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