Monday, July 22, 2013

Tomahawk pricing and ordering

Tactical Tomahawks:

06/27/14 - NOTE:  There are about to be a few changes in the 'hawks.  While the overall design will be staying the same, there will be some tweaks in finish and handle material, as well as new 15" versions of the three models.  There will be some change in pricing as a result, though the goal to provide quality tools to warfighters at an affordable price remains high on my list of goals.  In the meantime, use the current list of options and prices as a guideline and realize there may be some changes.

09/22/15 - The changes have been made to the 'hawks: The handle slabs are now TeroTuf, and the steel finish is now Caswell black oxide.  Color choices for TeroTuf and Kydex sheaths are either black or tan.  The price of the 'hawks themselves are unchanged, though sheaths and carry options have changed slightly.  The changes have already been made below.  Thanks!

To place an order or ask questions, send me an e-mail at helmgrind@gmail.com .

The final price depends on the options that you choose.  If you answer the questions for me below, I know all of the options you want and can get your order added to my list quickly and easily.  Otherwise, I end up having to coax the answers out of you over a series of e-mails.

The base price is for a hammer poll tomahawk with an unsharpened inner beard, which is $200 plus shipping.


Adding either a combat spike or a pry spike is an additional $25.  Adding a sharpened inner beard is an additional $25.


Length does not affect price, nor does color.

Your final price for just the 'hawk (no sheath or trainer) can range between $200 and $250 plus shipping.

If you order, answer these questions:

1.  12" version, 15" version, or 18" version.
2.  Which model?  Woodsman (hammer poll), Wrecker (pry spike), or War Chief (combat spike).
3.  Sharpened inner beard or unsharpened.
4.  Black, or desert tan for the handle slabs.  NOTE:  Olive drab is no longer an option.
5.  Kydex sheath or no.  If yes, then answer the sheath questions further down the page.
6.  Are you active duty military?  If so, what branch?  You go to the front of the line if you are.  Law enforcement and first responders go right behind them.

Sheaths:

Sheaths are Kydex, bottom eject, ambidextrous, MOLLE compatible, jump ready, with multiple carry options.  The base price for a bare sheath with one retention strap of 1" wide nylon webbing and no carry hardware is $50.  Each option will add to the total price.  Please answer whether you want the following options or not.

1.  Second retention strap.  $5  The Kydex itself retains the 'hawk just fine for general walking around, with the single retention strap mostly there in a precautionary role.  Unless you are going to be jumping out of an airplane with your 'hawk strapped to your gear the second strap is probably overkill, but if you are jumping with it or are a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, it's cheap insurance.  Retention straps are adjustable for tightness.
2.  Shoulder sling.  $15  Each end of the strap has a slider that allows you to quickly adjust the 'hawk from riding at your waist to snug under the armpit.  Quick-detach buckles mean that if you need to get the strap out of your way (going from hiking with it slung to riding in a vehicle, etc.), you can do so in seconds, then return it to a sling carry just as quickly.  It also means that you can cinch the strap up tight under your arm for maximum clearance with your other gear and still take the 'hawk off quickly simply by opening the buckle on one end of the strap.  The loops attaching the sling to the sheath can also double as belt loops, and are adjustable.
3.  Pair of rubber IWB bands.  $10  Loop over and snap shut with a pull-the-dot snap (http://www.dotfasteners.com/pull_the_dot.html).  Mine are mounted so that they can be rotated from an up orientation to a down orientation.  Work as belt loops or MOLLE attachment for quick attachment and detachment, while providing more flexibility in movement than MOLLE locks.  Note:  I do not recommend wearing an 18" model on your belt, as you'll likely have a bruised knee before you walk very far.
4.  Pair of MOLLE locks.  $14  Designed for attachment to standard MOLLE gear.  Doesn't work well with a standard belt, but great on a MOLLE vest or pack (or one of those MOLLE tactical seat covers for your vehicle :D ).  Holds more rigidly than IWB bands.  Can be quickly detached and moved around on a MOLLE setup, but works well as a semi-permanent attachment point.  Note:  I see no point in having both MOLLE locks and IWB bands unless you plan on swapping between the two for some reason beyond my understanding.  If you want both, I'll try to oblige you.  :)

If ordering either IWB bands or MOLLE locks, please tell me whether you would rather have them mounted on the left side of the sheath or the right, as seen with the tomahawk held in front of you with the blade facing away from you.  Otherwise, I will assume that it needs to be mounted on the left side, so that the 'hawk is carried on the right side with the edge forward.

Example setups:

MOLLE locks on the left, IWB bands on the right.  Both have shoulder slings and single retention straps.


Double retention straps, shoulder sling, MOLLE locks.




Single retention strap, shoulder sling, IWB bands.  Note that the second picture is how I plan on attaching all IWB bands in the future, where they can be rotated in either an up or down orientation.




Trainers:



Trainers are now available to order.  They are waterjetted from 3/4" ABS plastic (same thickness as the handles on the real tomahawks), with all the edges beveled the same as the handles on the real 'hawks.  They are the same profiles as the hammer poll tomahawks but with the corners rounded for safety.  In addition, holes have been added to the heads allowing for the attachment of padding when sparring with a partner.  These can easily crack a skull without it.  Train safely and be considerate of your sparring partner!

These have the same handle cross section as the real 'hawks, with the same holes in the handles in case you want to train with a lanyard, and balance at the same points as the real 'hawks.  They are a good deal lighter, as a wooden waster would be.  Only hammer poll models are available as there is no way of making a spiked version that would be safe; even a very rounded spike would easily open a skull or penetrate the flesh of a torso with the kind of leverage these have.  Although the hammer polls are 1 1/8" shorter than the spike models, they are long enough to practice hooking moves as you would with a spike.

Please specify whether you want a 12" model or 18" model.

Price (either length): $50 plus shipping

Tomahawk stats

Design:

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.


Materials:

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:



Dimensions: 

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.

Guarantee

All Helm Enterprises, Grinding Division products are guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship to the original owner.  I will repair the problem, replace the item, or refund your money, whichever makes sense. 

Nothing is idiot-proof; they keep making better idiots.  Anything can be broken if you work hard enough at it.  While I build my tools to be very tough and serve well under rigorous conditions, please don't be an idiot with them. 

That being said, so far I have been very fortunate in having satisfied customers.  Thank y'all!

Tactical tomahawks history

I'm still in the process of getting the ball rolling on everything, but the first product from Helm Enterprises, Grinding Division and what started the whole shebang is my line of tactical tomahawks.

These have been something I've wanted to make for a long time, longer than the existence of Helm Enterprises, Forging Division. I had planned to build a relatively traditional forged tomahawk with a punched eye, using some form of synthetic material for the handle since I didn't trust wood with a warfighter's life.  I've spent a lot of time clearing brush, and no other material has felt better than a good hickory handle.  However, I've also spent too much of my life replacing broken wooden handles (and had new wooden handles that broke literally on the second swing after replacing the old one) to trust it on a modern battlefield.  I worked on developing processes and tooling and figuring out materials needed, then began building prototypes.




The prototypes worked as well as I could ever ask for in most regards.  The heads were very tough, withstanding abuse while still cutting well (which is the primary use for a cutting tool, right?) and the handles felt great while withstanding more force than a comparable hickory handle.  Then one of the prototype handles broke.  This happened after extensive abuse and then occurred at the end of a pre-existent crack that came from me driving the wedge that held the handle to the head in too deeply.  Even so, that raised a very large question mark in my mind.  Adding to that was the fact that a major usage of modern tomahawks is prying, used in breaching and other activities where a minimum of hand tools are available, making the tomahawk essentially a wrecking bar or multitool that you could also fight with.  The handles, while they felt as good as hickory when chopping, flexed too much when prying to be effective in that regard.

So while reassessing the handles and trying to figure out how to address these issues, a good customer of mine, a Navy SEAL, came along and told me he needed a full tang tomahawk.  That's a stock removal project moreso than a forging one, and to do one is less efficient than doing a batch.  Also, it would solve the flex and breakage questions on the handle.  So I decided to completely shift direction on the project and make it a stock removal one.  That led to lining up material suppliers, finding a waterjetter, figuring out how I was going to build CAD files, etc.  I took my original design with its planned options of multiple lengths, combat spike, pry spike, or hammer poll, and sharpened or unsharpened inner beard and adapted it to the new processes I would be using. 

After building a set of prototypes and adjusting as needed...






...I continued destructive testing.

 


Satisfied with the results, I finalized my CAD files, ordered material, and had blanks cut out.





I finished up my first batch of one of each length and poll/spike and got them ready in time to debut at the 2013 Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia.


Hammer polls:

 
 
 
Combat spike:
 

 
 
Pry spike:
 







While I am currently still working on upgrading tooling and processes to streamline building 'hawks, I will be making more of them soon.  The first few customers who have gotten them have given me good feedback and are very happy with their purchases so far.

Welcome!

Hello, and welcome to Helm Enterprises, Grinding Division, a wholly owned subsidiary of Helm Enterprises, Forging Division.  :)  My name is James Helm.  My focus has been on forging hand tools, particularly cutting tools, and I now turn part of my attention to making hand tools by grinding.

The primary goal of Helm Enterprises, Grinding Division is to build quality blades with military and first responder end users in mind.  These brave men and women put their lives on the line on a daily basis and often those lives and that of their team mates and those they are helping depend upon their equipment.  My forged blades have served members of the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy (alphabetical order, guys), as well as several different law enforcement agencies.  It keeps a man humble knowing that someone may die in service to his country if the tool he made for them fails.

The second goal of Helm Enterprises, Grinding Division is to allow me to work more efficiently, producing more blades while keeping prices reasonable.  I love forging and prefer it over grinding, but it is a slower process.  With standardized designs I can work more in batches, making things faster.

The third goal is to never compromise on quality.  These will not be fancy pieces; they are working tools.  The finish may not be polished, but the performance will be high and they will serve the end user well.  Functionality is at the forefront of design, from the blade shape to material selection.  There are a lot of froofroo designs out there.  I'm keeping it simple and straightforward and above all making sure that it works.

Thank you, and check back as I add to this site.  Take care out there.