This is a great tomahawk overall, one of the most popular on the market. I thought long and hard about giving it a chance! So, without much fluff, here is my M48 Tactical Tomahawk review.
Are you in a hurry? Check out this link to see the latest Amazon price for one of the best throwing tomahawks on the market. I absolutely love how sharp it is!
First Impressions. When grabbing it for the first time, I was amazed at how handy and lightweight this axe is. It has the perfect size for medium-load tasks: an 8-inch long head (20 cm) with a 4-inch edge (10cm). You won’t chop down a tree line, but it will definitely meet your camping requirements.
Size is a debatable topic regarding tomahawks. But this model has the perfect length; not too long and not too short. About 15 inches (38 cm). That is the perfect size for most activities that you will need to accomplish.
M48 Tactical Tomahawk Review
The edge is very sharp, something I rarely see on tomahawks these days. But given that it’s made from 2Cr13, a steel that is very easy to work with, I understand that they would pre-sharpen it right out of the box. Keep in mind, that 2Cr13 tends to lose its edge rather easily compared to other types of steels.
The axe-head has a sharp, pointy heel. You can sweep the tomahawk horizontally and use that hook to grab something. That’s more useful for combat, not that I would ever train with such a sharp item.
I do like the three holes in the axe-head, both from a design perspective and regarding function. They look cool! Having those holes reduces the overall weight of the head, restoring balance. Tactical tomahawks aren’t hatchets, so they need a lighter head for better handling.
This is a combat spike-tail tomahawk, not a flat-back. While you cannot use it for hammering a nail, I am sure you can find alternative uses for the large spike on the back-end of the handle, after all, it is extremely sharp. It can punch through anything!
This part is essential for me! My M48 Tactical Tomahawk review would not be complete without giving its steel a run for the money. I am most adamant about which type of steel my tools are created from.
The axe-head is made of stainless 2Cr13 steel. This is a standard, budget steel, the Chinese equivalent of 420HC (according to ASTM). I don’t like it in general especially for swords, but it is pretty good for axes. This is the kind of steel they make razors from!
Here is what I can tell you about the 420HC. Let’s rate it across the four dimensions of steel characteristics: It has modest edge-retention, meaning that the edge dulls slightly faster, compared to higher-grade steel. The 420HC scores averagely in terms of toughness and corrosion resistance. But the nice part is that it’s easy to re-sharpen.
This is a very low-priced tomahawk, good for training and general use, so they didn’t use high-end powdered steel – to keep the price down. I understand but I would have liked at least a mid-range steel.
How Does It Chop and Cut?
A good tool needs to perform, not just to look pretty! It must pack a punch. After all, tomahawks are tools for survival.
This M48 Tactical Tomahawk review is going to take you one step further, and exploring the awesome cutting prowess of its edge. First off, this is hands-down, one of the sharpest tomahawks I even saw. United Cutlery (the designers) didn’t hold back when they took this axe to the wetstone.
The head is 1 inch thick at its core, and it is tapered towards the edge. This design makes it ideal for splitting.
The spike can easily pierce through metal sheets, wooden planks, doors, and plaster walls.
You can chop wood both with the axe-bit and the spike. In fact, there is an advantage in chopping with that sharp spike: Since it has a narrow impact point, it goes through wooden logs much easier and the aggressive tapering splits the log further by applying more pressure as it sinks in.
This axe can chop but trust me, don’t try to fell a tree. Hard jobs require strength, and I fear the half-tang handle might not be able to take that kind of punishment. Can you make kindling for the fire? Sure, but don’t confuse this tomahawk with a splitting maul or a felling axe.
Is the Handle Good?
Glass Fiber Nylon (GFN) is a very good material, I like it more than plain wood. On top of that, this GFN handle is reinforced – so, it can handle punishment.
The steel axe-head is attached to the handle; They are separate items that are tightly riveted together. I see that the axe-head has an extension that is inserted in the hollow top part of the handle, and these two are secured with three rivets. Unfortunately, the handle is not full-tang, it comes down the shaft about half-way. I suspect that if you muster all your strength and bash something like a thick tree, the handle might break at the mid-point. I didn’t try it with any of my tomahawks, despite my confidence in GFN.
What I like about the handle is its ergonomics: there is a slight swelling in the middle to keep your hand from sliding when you feather with the axe. Additionally, you will find the grip very pleasing because of the uneven ripping surface.
There is a lanyard hole at the bottom, so you can slide a rope through and use it to holster and carry this tomahawk.
If you think the M48 Tactical is too long for you, there is another alternative with a shorter handle, the M48 Camp Hawk. (Image on the right side)
I think this one is better for throwing and it has a more durable handle that won’t break, given that it’s shorter and bulkier.
Cordura is commonly used for designing sheaths for machetes, knives, and tomahawks, and this product is no exception. It has a small sheath just for covering the axe-head; It is like a little protective cap against the elements.
Even though the steel is anodized with a protective coating, it’s a good idea to safely store the tomahawk in the sheath. You can easily strap the axe-head and secure it with the four snaps.
On the left side of the sheath, you will find a belt loop for hooking it on your backpack when you go camping. It looks like it’s Molle compatible.
In my M48 Tactical Tomahawk review, I won’t overlook design and style. For me personally, these are just as important as functionality and practicality.
This hawk’s design follows a combat / military theme: Very aggressive bevels, sharp spike, intimidating edge tip, and heal… It looks like the sort of tactical tomahawk that can cut, chop, break, grab, hook and pull.
Because it is a combat tomahawk, the steel isn’t as important. It a bigger criterion for breaching tomahawks. But you can still use it for survival and lightweight woodwork, so don’t let its military black-ops design fool you!
This tomahawk comes in various color-patterns and designs. The handle mid-section and the axe-head can be customized in terms of color.
I have seen M48 tomahawks with military camo, toxic green, or yellow color variations for the handle. The coolest M48 model I have seen features a gold-polished axe-head, and it looks amazing. Metallic gold and opaque black go incredibly well together!
If your aim is strictly functional and you need a survival tool for chopping and outdoor work, then I advise you to go with the default, black matte axe-head. The gold finish might wear off when you begin chopping and cutting, and it will look very bad. But it should hold pretty well if you only practice throwing! The rainbow pattern is amazing as well.
This tomahawk is largely considered one of the best on the market. Needless to say, it has an excellent score on most commerce sites. However, as always, there are some quality issues here and there. Every manufacturer has quality control and their products need to meet high criteria for passing successfully, but a few bad apples slip through the cracks, and people rightfully complain.
I read a few concerning feedback messages about the handle breaking at the middle when tossing and chopping. This happens because the M48 tomahawk isn’t full-tang, and the most vulnerable part of an axe is the insertion point. So, don’t use full-force when working with these tomahawks. Use them for lightweight throwing and chopping.
Bottom line, this won’t function for very long if you use it in high-stress, heavy-duty tasks, not because of the axe-head, which is strong. Because of the weak shaft! And a few people shared their concerns and bad experiences about breaking the handle. If you plan on using it for lightweight activities, then it’s an excellent tool.
For more insight into what kind of durability issues people found with this product, check out this Amazon review section.
I strived to be as unbiased as I possibly could in my M48 Tactical Tomahawk review. It is an amazing product, it has been on the market for years and it’s still selling. I see that as a positive signal about the quality and value of this tomahawk. I really like it!
Please share your experiences, likes and dislike regarding the product. What is your favorite tomahawk on the market? And how does it stack against the M48 Tactical?