After spending countless hours researching and browsing to find the best tactical tomahawk, I feel I have enough expertise to write a book. This tomahawk buyer’s guide is a comprehensive walkthrough to help you make the best decision possible. I included a top-rate tomahawk list of my favorite products.
Why Write a Tomahawk Buyer’s Guide?
Making decisions about what is the best tomahawk for a particular task has always been a herculean assignment. At one point or the other, you might have probably wondered what to look for when choosing one, what are the best materials, or what kind of tomahawk is better suited given their different variations and uses. Sometimes we can be really overwhelmed by these varying factors coupled with the wide market distribution of so many throwing axes and tomahawks.
Well, you can just stop worrying! I’m here to guide you through the process and answer your questions. This article is aimed at providing a detailed guide on how to go about purchasing the best tactical tomahawk for camping, throwing, and other engaging activities.
Ultimate Buyers Guide to Tomahawks
It is very crucial that buyers have a guideline for picking the best product for their needs, before making a purchase. This is especially true for tools and tactical blades. This guide helps a potential buyer narrow down choices, be more specific about what to look for, and become familiar with the things to avoid. It also helps the buyer mitigate costs and, to a large extent, prevent that awful feeling of “buyer’s remorse”.
How to Pick the Best Tactical Tomahawk
As pointed out earlier, choosing a good tomahawk is a complex process because there are so many variables involved. But do you know what is even harder? Choosing the best tomahawk that suits you!
Before buying one, certain factors should be considered. The most important one is determining what specific task the tool is intended for. Although tomahawks are multipurpose tools, there are certain types that are fit for specific purposes.
Tomahawks are useful for adventurers such as bush crafters, mountaineers, and trekkers. Sportsmen who play in axe throwing competitions also have great need of qualitative, well-balanced products. These tools are also used in the military and other related services (fire departments, lifeguards). So, you can choose from the different types of tools and axes, one that nicely satisfies your goals. Here are the two main types of tomahawks:
Tactical tomahawks: These are designed for survival, search & rescue operations (specific tasks with an achievable outcome). These tools are great for recreational users and military personnel as multipurpose, multi-functional tools. You can chop trees, build camps, make spears, arrows and accomplish many other tasks with these axes. They are useful for a host of other activities.
Throwing tomahawks: These are mostly used in sports games and contests where people compete to see who hits a target with better precision. So, opposed to the tactical tomahawk, a throwing axe is optimized for hitting the mark, for predictable mid-air rotation – and not for generic hand-held uses.
What Size, Length, Thickness, and Weight is Best?
When it comes to picking the best tomahawk there are essential design points to consider before going ahead and randomly purchasing one. I listed these points below:
Types of Axe-Head & Edge Designs
You will often see various types of axe-head and axe-bit models. You can readily choose between a single-head, a double-head, a spike-tail or even a flat-back. There are other designs, but these are basically the major ones.
Choosing the proper axe-head for your particular activities and requirements is the second step in buying the best tomahawk to match your style (or suit your needs).
How To Pick the Tomahawk Head?
A tomahawk with a spike is a great tactical tool for multitasking, effective at chopping, cutting and piercing. That curved pointy dagger-like tail can function like a hook or a pry-bar. Hikers would really prefer this type of survival tool. In my opinion, spike-tails are the best tactical tomahawks for throwing, camping and survival; They have good balance and a wide range of utility.
Single-headed and flat-back tomahawks have a narrower functional range, which doesn’t make them amazing multi-purpose tools. But they are good at specific tasks, as well as throwing. Most good throwing tomahawks feature a single-head design (like the traditional models).
Double-headed axes have regained some popularity recently and there are people who would argue these are better for throwing, with a greater chance of success because it seems logical that two edges beat one. I don’t think that’s the case; In fact, I think they are rather poorly balanced for throwing! But they do pack more force, which makes them better chopping tools. A double-headed hawk is also ideal for cutting of trees.
Best Length for The Cutting Bit
Moving down to the edge – correct terminology for an axe-edge is a bit but I will use the terms interchangeably. A longer edge inevitably leads to a heavier axe-head, which in turns offsets the balance. The extra weight will add more force to your swings, and this is ideal for splitting woods and breaching missions. But it makes the tomahawk difficult to aim with and throw.
The best tactical tomahawks and throwing axes have this problem solved with a couple of design tweaks: Make the bit (edge) longer but remove materials from the head (groves, cut-out circles and shapes). The Gerber Downrange tomahawk (one of my favorites) features an axe-head with a big gaping hole in the middle, for inserting your hand and using it as a pry-bar.
So, you can increase the edge length and reduce weight at the same time!
Long bits are good for chopping. On the other hand, a shorter edge will pierce deeper as it encounters less resistance. This makes it ideal for vehicle extraction in emergency situations and for piercing thick armor.
How Long Should My Tomahawk Be?
Now, this is a good question! Tomahawks come in all shapes and sizes, the average length ranges from about 8 to 20 inches (between 20 to 50 cm). The type of activity and work that you will be doing will inform you of how long of a handle will you need.
Purchasing the best tomahawk requires a bit of forethought on your part. Think about the type of activity you will be doing.
Long and sturdy handles are best for splitting wood, chopping down trees, breaching doors, breaking locks, rescue operations. These are heavy-duty jobs and a strong hatchet, or a powerful tactical tomahawk would be ideal for these types of activities. They offer a good swing especially if the axe-head is thick and heavy.
Medium sized handles may be useful even in such circumstances, but I would recommend them for such crazy adventures! Mid-range tomahawks are effective combat weapons and they can help you around the camp for making a fire and even preparing large game. These are great for survival!
Short handles are optimal for throwing, precision chopping and lots more. Because they are so lightweight, you can use them as every-day-carry tools (EDC) or part of your emergency kit. If you venture on a long hike, do bring a longer tomahawk, hatchet or a machete – because you’ll be needing one!
Which Steel is Best for Tomahawks?
When purchasing a tomahawk another important factor to be considered, is the kind of steel the axe-head is made of. Because a tomahawk is a multipurpose tool for survival and tactical use, it must be made from steel strong enough to resist impact without breaking or dulling.
If you pick the top-quality super steel, then the price will blow up and no one will buy it, so manufacturers try to use the best steel for the money
It must also be reasonably hard, so it can hold the edge properly. Generally, non-stainless, high-carbon steel such as 1055, 1095, and SK5 are considered the best choice options for making tomahawk heads as opposed to stainless steels like 420HC and AUS8. But I have seen some very good stainless tomahawks.
High-carbon steels are more prone to corrosion than their stainless counterparts, so they require extra care like regular oiling and cleaning.
Steel hardness is measured by the Rockwell Hardness C-scale (RHC) which is to a very large extent a precise measure of how hard a specific steel piece is.
A tomahawk head with a 44-48 Rockwell hardness is regarded as very tough but somewhat soft. It won’t chip or break, but you will need to re-sharpen it more often.
Conversely, a Rockwell hardness range of 54-58 would be regarded as very hard but somewhat frail. These tomahawks stay sharp for a long time (exceptional edge retention), but their edge might chip – especially if it’s very thin.
So, to strike a balance between toughness and edge-retention (hardness) you should look for an axe-head made of mediumly-hard steel (50-52 RHC). And this is considered as the best type of steel for tomahawks.
Choosing Your Handle and Sheath Material
Tactical tomahawk handles are made from a variety of materials. They can be wooden, plastic or steel handles (when there isn’t a delineation between head and handle – known as integral tomahawk). I think the latter is one of the best tactical tomahawks in terms of durability. The lowest chance of breaking!
When the axe-head and handle are separate pieces from different materials, we call these hybrid tomahawks.
But which handle material is best for a tomahawk? I’d leave you to make that choice, but I’ll assist by giving a brief insight into the pros and cons of each.
A wooden handle is cost friendly and conventional. It is also easy to change in a case it breaks. But it offers poor balancing because the center of gravity offsets towards the metallic head. That is good for chopping but not for throwing. Of course, even this depends on the overall design of the throwing axe, so it’s not a rule.
An integral tomahawk (head and handle are part the same solid piece of steel) is more expensive and definitely stronger. And manufacturers can impose center-balance by making the handle thicker and heavier towards the bottom. The best tactical tomahawk I ever used was integral, but it wasn’t particularly well-balanced.
A hybrid handle is not affected by humidity and corrosion, is lightweight and very easy to take care of. However, replacing the handle might be a bit difficult so it is advised that you keep a spare handle.
It is also important to keep your tomahawks safe and secure when you aren’t using them. Most of them come with a protective sheath for safe transport and storage. Most sheaths are leather, nylon, or something similar. They shield your axe-head against corrosion, so make sure you clean and wipe it before storing it away. If you don’t have a sheath, purchase one that matches the head and is stylish to your taste.
If you’d agree with me, it is safe to say that tomahawks are some of the best multipurpose tools. But are evolving, with new and better designs constantly coming into light. And with so many options on the market, this beginner’s buyers guide will help you pick the best tactical tomahawk on the market.
Our reviews list features some of the best models available. We went through the top-rated tactical axes and selected only the 4-star and 5-star products. This list will provide a bird’s eye view of the features, pros and cons for each tomahawk. You should have no problems choosing the one for you, based on our buyer’s guide.
So, what are you waiting for?? I hope this article has given you insights on what to look for when purchasing. I’d love to get your feedback on this topic and if there’s something else you still need to know, don’t hesitate to get through to me!!