O.K. A dumb Hawk question?


June 5, 2013, 08:42 PM
Never having owned one in my life?

I fail to see how they could do anything as well, or more importantly, as well as a real hand ax or hatchet?

Other then throwing, where I can see the wrong way, slip fit handle would be easier to replace with a broken tree limb in the back woods with a pocket knife?

What's the big draw that keeps the hawk crowd coming back??

It seems to me their claim to fame was because the village unemployable kid could make them after his first day of OTJ blacksmith training. :D


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June 5, 2013, 08:53 PM
I always wondered the same thing RC, I just never had the guts to ask the question.

June 5, 2013, 08:57 PM
John and I did a little testing a while back: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=693990

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 09:01 PM
For me, I took to the hawk because the size, weight, and balance went better with my shtf kit than my Arms and Armor Viking War Axe. It was easier to pack around for just woods bumming, and I like the extra length and velocity over a standard hatch. The tomahawk is a fighting tool, not a just for kicks thrower, that is also a valuable woodcraft tool. It allows for techniques that I knife type weapon simply cannot perform the same way. For example, tomahawk throwing took the place of the backup pistol in its heyday. It is the speed and ease of use that separate a real tomahawk from a hand ax, and it takes a non-production modern piece to really see the difference, as well as having examples of each type to hand.

A problem that I have had, over and over, is that when performing martial techniques with a non slip fit handle is that the blade flies of. The slip fit makes the ax head fit tighter the more you use it, which is particularly important if you are swinging it through the air, fight style, versus almost always connecting with a solid, meaty object.

June 5, 2013, 09:09 PM
A problem that I have had, over and over, is that when performing martial techniques with a non slip fit handle is that the blade flies of.Mmmm?

That right there is a non-issue if a conventional handle is properly fitted to the head.

Lumberjacks built America with timber ax handles fitted to the head from the back, and wedged in place with wood and double steel wedges that could potentially let the head get loose and fly off.
But they never did.

A single bit hawk being easy to make, fast & light as a weapon, and having a more easily reparable handle in the field I can understand.

But for pure utility, I still don't get it.
What will a single bit hawk do that this or this won't do better??



Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 09:14 PM
For utility? It slips in my belt easier, has more reach, and is purely a personal preference. You are correct about it being easier to replace the handle in the backwoods. The tomahawk is much more a frontier tool than a city tool.

As to the wedged in bits, it was them I was referring to. A point you may not know about, it tomahawk/axe fighting, you are often using the heel of the blade to pull against a weapon or body part to lever it out of the way. The wedged in bit is much more likely to pull off, under those circumstances..

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 09:17 PM
I also like the grip that I get with the tomahawk. I can adjust it easier to the myriad of tasks I like to get myself into when in the woods with an ax.

June 5, 2013, 09:21 PM
Did Vikings use Tomahawks? No. Did they essentially rule the world? Yes. lolz

June 5, 2013, 09:21 PM
I carried one for fifteen months in Baghdad during the surge. I brought it over thinking it would be good for breaching but it stayed on my assault pack right up until the end. I used it one time to shatter a car window to look inside. It was however worth every penny. I used to hold it when I would talk to bad people. People in war zones have guns pointed at them all the time and almost never get shot. Everyone has been cut by a knife and remembers it hurts. Mine never drew blood nor needed to.

June 5, 2013, 09:23 PM
A point you may not know about, it tomahawk/axe fighting,I doubt there is any directing you have pulled on an ax I haven't pulled on it the same way over the years.
We used to cut & split firewood to heat the farmhouse all winter when I was just a little bitty ax & hatchet wielder!

If your fighting ax head got loose & came off?
It wasn't properly fitted with a dry seasoned handle & wedges in the first place.


Ohen Cepel
June 5, 2013, 09:25 PM
Personal preference.

Handle change as mentioned before, easier to change grip as needed (choke up or move to the end for more power), lighter, head can be removed to use more as a knife, usually longer. I'm sure there are a few things I'm missing.

They have become a bit of a fad lately and the prices of some are just crazy in my mind. The Cold Steel Trail Hawk is a great one to try if you want to give it a shot for under $50.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 09:27 PM
Actually, the Vikings used the same handle design as the tomahawk, and the standard hand ax was little bigger than one. The tomahawk is an evolution of a contemporary of the Viking raids, the Francesca, a Frankish throwing ax that helped create France. It was drug back out of history and employed in the new world as a throwing and camping ax to go out with the voyageurs.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 09:30 PM
Your wood ax has never dealt with shields and other weapons moving at velocity in the opposite direction. I can say that my experience in this field will outweigh anything you have to argue against those facts.

Wedges also weaken the wood around the impact area.

June 5, 2013, 09:39 PM
I can say that my experience in this field will outweigh anything you have to argue against those facts. Wedges also weaken the wood around the impact area.Then sir, I bow to your years of gaming experience. ;)

But the fact remains, you can't beat or pull an ax head off a properly fitted handle with a pneumatic jack hammer without breaking the handle off the head.


June 5, 2013, 09:40 PM
well that eastwing has a steel solid tang the head sure ant gonna come off, you will never need to change a handle and you can split with it so ill take that over a hawk anyday.

June 5, 2013, 09:40 PM
Your wood ax has never dealt with shields and other weapons moving at velocity in the opposite direction. I can say that my experience in this field will outweigh anything you have to argue against those facts.

Wedges also weaken the wood around the impact area.
All Vikings used shields and opposed weapons that moved. What on earth are you talking about? Perhaps you'll tell us that "oh, that's a 'wood'" axe' ". lolz.. yea, they'd sure chop wood too. And about everything else.
Perhaps many here "have an axe to grind" or are trying to selling tomahawks

Sam Cade
June 5, 2013, 09:48 PM
Actually, the Vikings used the same handle design as the tomahawk


Historical Norse fighting axes of the viking era were frequently wedged.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 09:52 PM
I believe that ax handles may have been one of the caliber debates of their day.

June 5, 2013, 09:55 PM
Another point to ponder.

Almost all blacksmith, carpenters, shingler's hatchet, and machinist hammers built in the last several hundred years used a wood handle fitted from the rear with wood & steel wedges.

If those hammer heads continued to get loose and fly off because they were pounding plow shears, peening rivet heads, or pulling nails with them??

We would all be living in mud huts and riding barefoot horses, without steel horseshoes, nails, and a pick-up truck to pull the horse trailer to the job-site..

Because all the innocent apprentice bystanders would have been killed by flying blacksmith, carpenters, shingle hatchet, and machinist hammer heads!!

A handle fitted from the rear and wedged in place from the front has proven over century's to be a superior method of doing it.

I believe that ax handles may have been one of the caliber debates of their day.I believe you are right.


June 5, 2013, 10:03 PM

Historical Norse fighting axes of the viking era were frequently wedged.
And sometimes looked like this..


Sam Cade
June 5, 2013, 10:04 PM
Tomahawk vs. Hand Axe is a mostly a marketing thing anyway.

tomahawk (n.)
1610s, tamahaac, from Algonquian (probably Powhatan) tamahack "what is used in cutting," from tamaham "he cuts." Cognate with Mohegan tummahegan, Delaware tamoihecan, Micmac tumeegun.

a light ax used as a missile and as a hand weapon especially by North American Indians

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:04 PM
It's easier to produce the wedged in type with machinery. The slip over are fitted to a particular head, harder to model. The wedge type also take better to making a more sculpted handle, thus there use in specialized tools, such as those you named.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:06 PM
That looks like a slip over type handle to me. Note the wood looking balls above the head, between the upper lugs.

June 5, 2013, 10:08 PM
Well, they certainly didn't slip that handle down the front side of the head when it wasn't looking, now did they!!


Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:10 PM
From what I have seen and felt, a tomahawk is a small, typically single handed fighting/throwing ax designed to be used against un- or lightly armored opponents, on the velocity over mass principle.

The hand ax is older, and more Old World, designed ranging from tiny, close melee quarters fighting to almost two handed size, with a focus on defeating armor, shields, and battle mounts, on the mass over velocity principle.

Think 1 pound versus 2-4 pounds.

June 5, 2013, 10:13 PM
It looks like it'd do some whomping.

June 5, 2013, 10:22 PM
But the question remains.

What will this do:

That this won't do as well or better??


Besides get loose and let the head rotate on the handle when pounding on a rounded surface of the eye not designed for pounding in the first place?


Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:27 PM
There are more designs of tomahawk than you are giving them credit for. I prefer the poll hammer style hawks personally.

That model Cold Steel whatever-hawk can throw and possibly pack easier. There is a reason that the tomahawk and the hatchet both exist. I don't want to come across like I'm as focused on tomahawks that I may be. I own something like 8 different ax designs, including two hatchets. Different jobs, different axes.

Not sure you know, but the handles on tomahawk are usually tear shaped or flattened diamond shape in cross-section, not round. Hard to show in a side on shot that shows off the blade.

June 5, 2013, 10:31 PM
I think about any "hatchet"/handle has at least a sweet swell and or well thought out "wow" or two.. when it comes to the wood/haft. Back in the old days they were all made and affixed by hand by the owner. The owner generally made the head also. No big deal really, so they say.

Sam Cade
June 5, 2013, 10:36 PM
Tomahawk: A light hand axe built as cheaply as possible and sold to native Americans during the colonial period.

Tomahawk: A light hand axe built as cheaply as possible and sold at considerable markup. Often has a backspike and advertised as a "fighting" axe.

Tomahawk: A hand axe with a funky grind and a back spike. Often absurdly heavy and/or expensive despite limited utility.

June 5, 2013, 10:41 PM
I think the Indians were easily satisfied. They had no armor and their bows were about like a Bushman's (well, they were weak).. they were stone-age.
The Vikings invented steel, if I'm not mistaken. They'd use it, too.. so they say.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:44 PM
I am also willing to admit that the industry of modern tomahawks is almost totally junk, aimed at the sport of tomahawk throwing. I have literally seen them advertized as being iron instead of steel, followed by a paragraph explaining how alsome that was and how it made all of the hawks affordable.

I have also seen a lot of people selling the look of a fighting ax/indian war relic to poor fools who have bought into the home decor/"historic collectable" by a "master craftsman". Gets under my skin. It is hard enough to find the real thing without the waters being muddied up further.

June 5, 2013, 10:45 PM
Not sure you know, You keep dismissing me like I just fell off a turnip truck last week.

I started edged weapons collecting in 1950 something.
And I started making fighting knives during the Vietnam war.

There isn't too much I haven't seen, owned, or studied in the last 60 years in edged weapons, or firearms!

Just never owned a single bit hawk, because they never made any sense to me at all, other then like I said.

Light, cheap & easy to make on the frontier, and easy to re-handle in the wild.

The oval-shaped, slip-fit U.S Army mattock wood handle on this one has shrunk up so much over the years would be in danger of flying off if used.


A like age U.S Army Foraging Ax in my collection with a wedged in handle is still as tight as it ever was when it was made in 1943.


Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:48 PM
Vikings had steel, being Iron Aged and all that. Indian war bows fit in the 55# average range, which is legal to hunt bear with. One of the old great archers took an elephant with a 55# bow, one shot.

Before muskets became the norm, Indians used armor, shields, and built forts as common practices in the East.

From what I have read, the Indians were sold the mass produced goods, and the sellers kept the good stuff for themselves and their white customers.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:51 PM
My apologies, sir. As I said, I am new here still, and I am really not sure what you do and do not know. Neither your age nor experience level is directly indicated on your profile, as I can see it from here. I had a thought, and was a tad confused by the wording of your post. I assure you that no insult was intended. I am actually quite interested in your opinion.

Personally, I'm just enjoying learning stuff and looking at things from new angles.

June 5, 2013, 10:55 PM
That mattock handle would easily come off were you to joust with the handle. That's not good.

And a 55lb bow is nothing to sneeze at.. if you want to call it/them that. I think the old longbows were 90lb and up

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 10:59 PM
The English ones found on the Mary Rose wreck averaged 150#+, with a number of them being over 200#. Strong enough throw half inch shafts 37" long 300 yards with a miniature spear head on the front.

In comparison, and it was done as such, Indian bows were puny.

June 5, 2013, 11:07 PM
Neither your age nor experience level is directly indicated on your profile, as I can see it from here.Neither is yours, as I can see it from here.

Never mind.

Lets just agree to disagree, and go to bed.

How bout that?


June 5, 2013, 11:08 PM
Yea, I understand. I was showcasing my understanding how or why the American Indian would be satisfied with a cheap tomahawk.. it was a quantum leap from what they had, which was a rock.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 11:16 PM
It is a valid point, though you are not going to see me volunteering(twice) to be hit by either. It's kind of how cheap sheet steel machetes are being used in Africa now. Not good, but in a vacuum with a lack of better they more than get the job done.

June 5, 2013, 11:19 PM
Well that's the wrong attitude. Take pride in your work.

Archaic Weapon
June 5, 2013, 11:25 PM
I'm hoping to getting into the making process in the next few weeks. If I ever get anything worked out, maybe I'll send rc a sample to destroy and evaluate for me, since he seems to know what he's doing. I just hoping it doesn't fall through, as future plans are want to do.

CA Raider
June 6, 2013, 01:27 AM
hawks ...

the positives - excellent for throwing (doesn't matter whether the target gets hit by the blade or the back of the axe head ... it's a bad day for them), I like them better for chopping kindling for fires, darn good weapon for hooking the edge of the head around things (like shields and rifles), excellent for general purpose survival and construction of log homes, and particularly good for hollowing out tree trunks to make canoes. for these various reasons - they were highly prized in the early days of America. And YES - they are intimidating !

the negatives - bl**dy heavy (so I never carry one when I am backpacking these days), can be very slow in a fight (usually too heavy to be a fast-moving weapon), many times a good machete will do most of the same things as a hawk - and some things a lot better.


Pete D.
June 6, 2013, 06:22 AM
What the tomahawk excels at is being thrown. In other respects, a properly made tomahawk is as useful as a standard hatchet with the same weight head.
A throwing hawk has no poll and the handle is tapered, shaped as an extremely elongated cone, indeed the eye of the headitself is wide at the top, narrower at the bottom so as to accommodate the shape of the handle. In cross section, the handle is also egg shaped. This combination of shapes insures that the head won't fly off - the entire handle is the wedge - and also prevents breakage. If a thrown hawk were to hit handle first, the force of the hit pops the handle out of the head.

June 6, 2013, 06:50 AM

I think many, if not most hawks have a more robust edge than what we think of as hatchets. This makes them strong, but not as effective for chopping. Historically, though, the words "tomahawk" and "hatchet" were used interchangeably.


Archaic Weapon
June 6, 2013, 01:07 PM
That thicker edge probably has to do with a design change(or not), to make sure the edge survives being thrown into a log for the duration of it's existence.

June 6, 2013, 02:13 PM
Sure. It makes them stronger, but not as effective for just chopping.

Archaic Weapon
June 6, 2013, 03:44 PM
I am not disagreeing, but those hawks are not intended to chop much. Some are, and I like those.

The short of it, modern hatchet for yard work, modern tomahawk for throwing, "tacticool" tomahawk to sell to people who have no experience doing either?

June 10, 2013, 06:51 PM
I bought this HB Forge tomahawk in 1974.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/knives/tomahawks/DSCN1190HBForge1974.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/SlamFire/media/knives/tomahawks/DSCN1190HBForge1974.jpg.html)

I find that the classic American tomahawk provides a long lever angle and cuts extremely well for its weight. It cuts faster than small hatchets. You cannot pound tent stakes with it, you have to cut a chunk of wood to do that. Today we no longer carry things, but there was a time when you carried it, or you left it behind. Light weight was therefore an important factor if you wanted to take it with you. Original tomahawks were utility tools and carried on the person. There are tomahawks that are purely weapons, and you run across the pipe tomahawk, (did they smoke these regularly?) but I believe the majority of tomahawks made were primarily utility tools.

In this day and age it is impossible for us to understand just how expensive iron and steel were before the Bessemer converter. But a trip to the iron mill at Saugus will help that understanding. Wooden shovels with metal tip caps were used because an all steel shovel was too expensive. Peg construction was common because nails were very expensive. HB forge makes their tomahawks with a 1095 blade insert. I don’t know if original tomahawks had a iron head with a steel insert, or a mild steel head with high carbon steel insert, either way would not surprise me given the cost of steel prior to the 1850’s.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/knives/tomahawks/DSCN1201HB1095bit.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/SlamFire/media/knives/tomahawks/DSCN1201HB1095bit.jpg.html)

I have thrown this tomahawk hundreds of throws, the top end gets a bit battered. If the head gets a bit loose a good whack on a stump and the head is firmly attached.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/knives/tomahawks/DSCN1196HB1095Bit.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/SlamFire/media/knives/tomahawks/DSCN1196HB1095Bit.jpg.html)

June 11, 2013, 11:09 PM
Thanks for the education.

July 14, 2013, 09:31 AM
I believe a tomahawk handle would be easier to replace by a person in the wild, away from the tools and services of civilization.
Nature give a tapered shape to tree limbs.

July 14, 2013, 09:35 AM
What's your question?

July 21, 2013, 12:55 AM
Tomahawks were originaly a little hatchet used on sailing ships. The British, especialy the Hudson's Bay Company, started using them as trade goods for fur. They were not invented by the Indians or the Vikings.

July 21, 2013, 08:13 AM
The word tomahawk originally referred to a Native American war club. It eventually became synonymous in the US with "hatchet", and the American Indians finally stopped making almost any war clubs, so the term is now always used in the modern sense to describe types of hatchet.



July 21, 2013, 01:02 PM
Little different pov on the subject. While a hawk can be used as a tool, a point made by a seasoned training officer many moons ago was if he saw a hand axe or hatchet in a vehicle he assumed tool, if he saw a hawk he assumed weapon.

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