Monday, July 22, 2013

Tomahawk stats


There are three different basic designs of tomahawk, each available in three different lengths and three different color schemes.  There is the hammer poll, combat spike, and pry spike.

I've had a number of people ask me about the difference between the combat spike and the pry spike on the tactical tomahawks. 

The combat spike is formed by two arcs meeting to make a point.  It's designed to easily penetrate but then easily slip out to allow for a follow up shot if needed.  It's absolutely vicious in that regard, and is a pure weapon.  On the off chance that the opponent survives a wound from the combat spike, it's going to be very difficult to sew up.

The pry spike is formed by two lines meeting to make a point.  It is intended to slip into narrow gaps and then lever out.  In conjunction with the rounded top of the 'hawk's head, it acts like a roller head pry bar with an ax blade on the other side.  The spike is angled in relation to the handle to give good knuckle clearance when prying (one of the alterations made during the prototyping phase).  It's still a vicious weapon and withdraws easily to allow for follow up shots.

And a side-by-side look.

And, of course, the hammer poll.  Aside from utilitarian tasks, the hammer poll makes a great impact weapon, and the slight hook on the bottom of the poll helps during CQC in catching and re-directing limbs.

The butt of the tang is exposed, giving an extra hammering surface and protecting the end of the Micarta from damage in impact (say if you throw it, which I strongly advise against).  The handle widens as it approaches the end and has a swell in width to aid in retention in the hand while swinging.  Throwing tomahawks have handles that are the opposite, tapering to the end in order to easily slip out of the hand when thrown.  I consider it more important to keep the tomahawk in your hand during usage, especially if it must be employed in the heat of close quarters combat, than to be able to throw it.


The steel of the tomahawks is 4140, a very tough alloy.  I've made hammer heads, axes, and dies for my 100 pound ram power hammer from it.  It's also what the prototype 'hawks were forged from.  It performs very well from a simple heat treatment, and I do my own heat treatment in-house.  After the blanks are cut by waterjet, they are normalized three times to refine the grain and make the steel tougher prior to grinding the bevels.  After grinding, they are hardened and tempered to the point where they will hold an edge chopping hardwood all day, yet not take undue damage if used for more abusive tasks like cutting into a car.  The bevels are also ground with that in mind, able to cut well while still being stout enough to handle more brutal service without failing.

The handle slabs are 1/4" thick TeroTuf, a composite material made of resin-impregnated layers of cloth.  It's very durable, grippy, and impervious to most chemicals.  The slabs are attached with flared stainless steel tube rivets, which are extremely strong and allow attachment points for lanyards, wraps, etc.  I no longer use Micarta as I find the TeroTuf lighter, grippier, and tougher.

The coating on the steel is Caswell black oxide.  While protective, it will wear during usage. 

Some of the photos in this post show older 'hawks with a Durabake finish that I no longer use, as well as Micarta handles.  The Caswell black oxide and TeroTuf looks like this:


The steel of the tomahawks is 1/4" thick.  The cutting edge is 2 13/16" in a straight line from point to point.  The spiked heads are 7 5/16" long and the hammer poll heads are 6 3/16" long.

The three available overall lengths are 12", 15", and 18".

I found that whether the tomahawk had a hammer poll or a spike didn't change the weight much; the length did.  The 12" ones are around 25 ounces, the 15"ers are 28-29 ounces, and the 18" ones are around 30 to 31 ounces.

Here are the points of balance for the two different lengths:

Other options:

Any of the tomahawk designs can be ordered with the inner beard either sharpened or unsharpened.  This adds to its fighting effectiveness, especially when hooking extremities.  However, it can make it a little more dangerous to handle, and certainly adds to the aggressive looks.  If its usages are going to be more benign and around people who may look askance at anything they perceive as a weapon, the unsharpened beard may be a better choice.  I have had a customer use his sharpened inner beard to cut branches and vines while hooking them, but it is more intended for folks who may have to use it in a fight as a last-ditch CQC weapon.

The tomahawks can be had in either black, desert tan, or olive drab color schemes.


  1. Would you consider making a custom 24" model for use as a firefighter's axe?

  2. Thanks for this post. I'm new to all of this and still finding my way. I've recently been keen in collecting and owning a tomahawk ever since I saw this cool movie. Throwing tomahawk is now a passion and my love for the tool is growing each day. I've been reading a lot of good product reviews and tips on how to find an excellent product. I've also seen this site that took me on a step-by-step on how to throw a tomahawk. Way too cool! Here's the link