gerber downrange 610x320

The Best Tactical Tomahawks of 2015

Best Tactical Tomahawk Reviews

The tactical tomahawk is quickly becoming a popular choice as a multi-function tool that is adaptable to a wide range of applications from cutting and chopping, breach and extraction, to survival and defense. The ability to effectively replace several tools in a lightweight and compact device that is easy to carry and deploy is a welcome solution for campers, preppers, first responders, law enforcement and soldiers. Tomahawks also have a wicked appearance and a devastating effect when handled properly. This is a review of some of the very best tactical tomahawks of 2015.

Ultimately, each person’s unique set of requirements will dictate what the best tactical tomahawk for the money is  for them. What exactly makes a tomahawk tactical? Namely, what it’s used for. One may prefer a survival tomahawk over one specialized for extraction and evasion or one built for throwing,  but no matter the application, certain offerings rise above the rest in regards to quality, effectiveness and value.

The following ten tomahawks all excel at their tasks and will make a fine addition to your arsenal. It’s not easy to make a list like this in category so full of choices but we have chosen our favorites, those whose aggregate qualities make each of them a great value. Follow the link under each tactical tomahawk to see the full review, specifications, and rating for each.

* If money is no object, there are also many fine custom tactical tomahawks available and we will address those in another article. For the purpose of this list, all the tomahawks listed are readily available and non-custom made with the exception of a few user-defined options such as color or grip type.

*For other axe reviews see Hatchet Reviews, Felling Axe Reviews, Splitting Maul Reviews, Hudsons Bay Axe Reviews.


1. Shrike by RMJ Tactical

RMJ Tactical hails from the great southern city of Chattanooga, TN and they have been at this tomahawk business for decades. In the past they made more historical versions of hawks and reproductions for camping and such, but they have changed with the times and now are one of the most respected names in police, fire, military, and tactical applications. The Shrike is their crowning achievement.RMJ Shrike Tomahawk

The Shrike is constructed of 4140 chrome-moly steel for its high tensile strength in material 3/8 in thick. It’s differentially heat treated meaning the material is first heat treated and the edges are then flame hardened. This means that the handle is tough and resilient while the edges are hard, to hold their sharpness.

This tactical tomahawk head has a narrow design with a wide cutting front edge transitioning into an edged back blade on the beard used for pulling and tearing. The front edge and spike are flat ground which gives them the best durability during impacts.

The spike is long and narrow and built for penetration more than cutting; this is no delicate cutting tool. It will easily piece a steel door, or heavy tire…



shrike shrike review



2. Hardcore Hardware  BFT01-G Tomahawk 

Hardcore Hardware may not be a name that you recognize but they have been designing and manufacturing specialized tactical tools for military, law enforcement and fire personnel in Australia for some time. Their designers work directly with field specialists to establish product parameters. Their contribution to the tomahawk arsenal is the BFT01-G and it’s a beauty.

Hardcore Hardware TomahawkLike the Smith & Wesson E & E, the HH tactical tomahawk is a solid heavyweight. It’s based on full-tang D2 tool steel body that comes in at 8mm or close to 3/8 in. It’s has a sleek black Teflon finish from top to bottom and with only a small logo on the head face. The head is something to behold, fronted by a 3.46 in extended beard blade edge with a modified Tanto point on the poll although I doubt that you would ever need to choke up on this for fine work.

The Tanto is narrower than many hawk points and designed to sink….deep. This feature, along with the pry tip at the end of the extra long handle makes this model better suited for extraction and general demolition than any other on the list. The manufacturer claims this will go through a brick wall given enough determination and I believe it…READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE


hardcore bft-01 review



3. SOG F01P-K Tomahawk

The SOG Specialty Knife company got its start by reproducing a unique Bowie knife carried by special ops units in Vietnam. SOG quickly grew based on its high quality products, exacting workmanship and attention to detail. The company and its products are highly regarded and used by military, police, and security personnel. Since its first production knife was inspired by a Vietnam era weapon, it is no surprise that they now produce a modern version of perhaps the most unique hand carried weapon of that war, the Vietnam Tomahawk.SOG F01P-K Tomahawk

The SOG Tomahawk takes the original classic and improves on it, using a 420 stainless steel head, hard coated, corrosion resistant head with a 2.75 in edge. Although reminiscent of its older cousin, the F01P-K has a modified head with a flatter 3-edge pointed poll.

The combination of edge sizes and shapes makes this a very versatile tool for chopping, digging, prying and notching in addition to its obvious self-defense capabilities. An interesting addition is the checkered striking side surface which allows for accurate pounding or driving of nails or pins.

Although a good sharpening session may be required on arrival, once the SOG tactical tomahawk is sharp it has great edge retention under normal use…       READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

sog tomahawk review


4. American Tomahawk VTAC Lagana

Now for the original, the Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk by American Tomahawk company. Founded in 1966 by Vietnam soldier Peter LaGana, it produced over 4000 of the original design VTAC tomahawks that were used by soldiers in the Southeast Asian theater. The company closed its doors after the war but it was reopened in 2001 by Andy Prisco and Peter LaGana. They started with the original VTAC design, apply some new technology and materials to the classic and now present a formidable tactical tool for the military and civilians. Certain units in Afghanistan (Stryker and recon units) are issued this very model for combat use.


American Tomahawk VTAC LaganaThe fact that this design has stood the test of time, with few refinements, is a testament to its superiority and proof that it is the seed that all modern tactical tomahawks grew from.

The design hasn’t changed much since the original but this 21st century version begins with a Drop-Forged 1060 hardened steel head that is 8.25 in overall. Like its predecessor, the head is a narrow design with multiple hardened cutting edges including a 3 edge poll and a sharpened backside beard edge that allows for cutting and tearing on the backstroke.

The edge angle and hardness produces one of the toughest and most resilient edges that stands up to enormous abuse. Reports from the field are excellent on the durability of this hawk and soldiers love them…READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

American VTAC tomahawk review


5. Gerber Tactical Downrange Tomahawk

There is a lot to like about the Downrange Tactical Tomahawk and let’s start with the fact that it’s made by Gerber. The Gerber Company has been around since the 1930’s and most red-blooded American boys could count a Gerber as their first pocketknife. I think I still have my first Gerber knife around somewhere. Gerber gear is made just south of Portland, Oregon (you can see them from I-5) and this tomahawk is truly American made. That should be important you. Not only that but it comes with a lifetime warranty and Gerber has been making equipment for the military for many years so they know a thing or two about tactical gear.Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk packs a lot into its medium-ish size and weight. It’s based in a one piece 420 HC steel construction with Cerakote, a ceramic hybrid epoxy-like coating that is often used on guns or on high temperature equipment that requires a tough, impact resistant surface. The Downrange has a unique head design; it’s got a medium beard cutting edge on the front and a hammer on the poll. The only one in this bunch that uses the hammer poll, and the fact that the open head with finger grips is used as a handle for extra prying power means this hawk definitely leans toward breach and extraction.

The head cutout may reduce the weight to a detriment for chopping but I feel the added ‘handle’ more than makes up for it in overall utility. The front edge is typical of this type of hawk although a few users have complained of the brittle nature of the 420 HC…         READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

gerber downrange tomahawk review


6. Benchmade  Tomahawk

Benchmade Knife Company is a relative new comer on the scene but have quickly made a name for themselves as a respected custom knife and blade manufacturer. Another company out of Oregon, they are truly American made and recently put out their first tactical tomahawk. It’s a dynamic tool with a design that puts it into the breach and extraction category.

Benchmade Tomahawk

The full tang 4140 chromoly steel design of the Benchmade Killian Tomahawk is thick, at around 3/8th of an inch and has a traditional shape head with hardened edges and a 2.5 inch primary edge turning into a  edged beard. With forcible entry and massive damage infliction expected, the front cutting edge has an apple seed mill bevel that is perfect for standing up to brutal use.


It’s not the best edge mill for cutting so if that is your main desire you may consider a re-mill and sharpening. The compact poll spike is great for sinking deep into material and the respectable 36.8 oz weight of this hawk will help you get maximum penetration…READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

benchmade killian tomahawk review


7. Condor Tactical Rescue Tomahawk

The Condor Tool & Knife Company was founded in 1787 in Solingen, Germany. They are said to be the world’s largest, and one of the best, sword makers. It’s no secret that Germany knows steel and how to produce with it. Let’s face it, they’ve been at this game a long time. In the 1960’s, economics forced the company to relocate some of its manufacturing to Santa Ana, El Salvadore but the tooling and the training is the same apparently. At least it shows that in their Tactical Rescue Tomahawk.Condor Rescue Tomahawk


You will immediately notice that this Condor Tomahawk one-piece high carbon steel  is folded and welded directly into the handle. It’s 1/4 in thick, has an epoxy black powder finish and is plenty strong. The head is 7 in overall with some great features. First, the well-sharpened blade edge extends down the backside of the beard, greatly increasing the cutting area (and contributing to a great look).

At the termination of the backside blade there is a cutout to use as a nail puller or a prying point, a nice feature. On the other end, the poll is fashioned into a deep narrow spike with heavy serrations along one side. This is perfect for piercing, prying or digging and debris removal. This thing screams utility… READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

condor tactical tomahawk review


8.Cold Steel Trench Hawk Axe

The Cold Steel Company has been around since 1980 and quickly earned a reputation as a quality knife maker. In addition to knives and tomahawks they make an array of tactical and outlandish weapons, throwing stars? Sword cane? Steel-knuckled tanto trench knife? So naturally they have an offering of the tomahawk variety.

Cold Steel Trench Hawk Axe

They make a Vietnam style hawk but the Cold Steel Trench Hawk Axe is their most popular offering and it’s easy to see why. It’s a long handled, lightweight, small head hawk with good looks and some interesting features. The head is made from Drop Forged 1055 Carbon steel and has a 3.5 in edge with extended beard. The bevel angle is quite steep, not made for deep cross cuts but instead, brute chopping strength.


The poll is shaped into a flattened wedge triangle point with deep, sharpened edges; excellent for piercing penetration. The differentially hardened drop forge steel head holds an edge well after a thorough sharpening and is able to withstand a tremendous amount of abuse. It’s finished in a matte black which sets it off from the slightly shiny handle. The Cold Steel weighs in at just 24 oz so it’s a capable thrower if that’s your thing…   READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

cold steel trench hawk review


9. Columbia River Knife and Tool Kangee Tomahawk

Columbia River Knife and Tool is another Oregon outfit that makes a unique and effective tomahawk. Custom designed by Ryan Johnson who has decades of experience and know-how, the Kangee is a smaller hawk with excellent balance and some features that make it a great combination of breach tool and self-defense weapon. Columbia River Kangee Tomahawk


The Kangee tomahawk is a beauty, with a one piece design out of SK5 carbon steel in black powder coat. The head is heavily beveled for smooth entry and deep cuts with a sharpened top edge that transitioned into a spiked poll. This thing is lethal, the wrap around cutting edge means this thing is deadly from every angle.

For those interested in self-defense and hand to hand combat capabilities this is your match. The compact head design is excellent for chopping, piercing, breaching and more and the SK5 hardened steel holds an edge exceptionally… READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

columbia kangee tomahawk review


10. Smith & Wesson Extraction & Evasion Tomahawk

Smith and Wesson is another big name manufacturer with a indisputable reputation that has thrown their efforts into the tomahawk game. The S & W branding on this hawk is unmistakable if a little overdone. But quality is paramount in a tool such as this and its clear immediately on handling the E & E that it’s a contender in every way.

Smith & Wesson Extraction & Evasion Tomahawk

The first thing you will notice about the Smith & Wesson Tomahawk is the weight. This is no lightweight throwing T’hawk and its 43 oz makes that perfectly clear. This thing is a monster, the full-tang design is made of a single piece of 1070 High Carbon Steel and is nearly 3/8 in thick and has a sleek satin grey finish.

The Smith and Wesson tactical tomahawk  is beveled all the way around which adds some style to the look and the sharp bevels of the cutting blades (approx. 20 degrees) bring this behemoth to a sharply pointed poll on the backside and a 4 in razor sharp edge on the front.

The long edge beard is not sharp on the backside but allows you to choke up on the handle for carving or shaping while protecting your hand…                                                  READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

Smith & Wesson Extraction & Evasion Tomahawk review






oregon cordless chainsaw

Cordless Chainsaw Review – Oregon CS250 40-volt

Oregon PowerNow CS250 40-volt Cordless Chainsaw

Oregon cordless chainsaws have quickly began to rival big names such as Makita for top honors in the heavy duty cordless chainsaw class. The Oregon PowerNow CS250 cordless chainsaw featuring a 4.0 Ah battery and 14” bar, is the flagship model and is a great choice for medium to heavy duty cutting chores.


oregon cr250 cordless chainsaw


Considered the most powerful and versatile of the Oregon series, the CS250 has some very cool features that set it apart from its smaller cousins and gear it nicely for heavy duty cutting. The 14” bar is suited nicely for the power output of this saw and the output is very good for material diameters over 1- inches.

Oregon has a suite of accessories including different battery sizes and quick chargers available, and a wide range of outdoor landscaping tools that are battery compatible if you are not married to another battery config with your existing tools. It also has some nice features that make it unique such as the built in chain sharpening system and a trigger operated chain brake.

As with other cordless chainsaws, maintenance is virtually eliminated, even to the point of chain sharpening which will please most people who are adding a cordless chainsaw to avoid the hassle of gas saws.

The Basics
The CR250 cordless chainsaw comes in a 9.3 pounds empty, which is on the heavier size but appropriate for a saw with this power output and sporting a 14in bar. New on this saw is a very interesting feature called PowerSharp System which allows you to sharpen the chain while on the saw by simply pulling a lever. This is a really helpful feature since keeping a sharp chain is so imperative on cordless saws. Early reviews of this system are good and the sharpening components are replaced with the chain when that time comes, ensuring that the system is always functioning properly.


The 40 volt MAX lithium power is great for most jobs but the Oregon CC250 does a one feature you may love or hate. There is a safety feature that will automatically shut down the motor if it begins to overheat. A smart protective feature, but one that may be bothersome if you tend to lean into the cut. When the saw is allowed to work itself through a heavy log it works fine.
The saw is available in 3 models: 1.25Ah, 2.4Ah, or 4.0Ah battery. This is great if you own other Oregon tools and batteries and have some extras, but really, for a cordless chainsaw with an ambitious 14” bar, you shouldn’t consider using anything less than the 4.0Ah battery unless you will limit its use to light duty.
A few things to consider…The CS250 has an automatic chain tensioner but it isn’t a tool-less design, so when you do need to do make adjustments, you better have a screwdriver around. It’s fairly maintenance free so it’s a small issue, but one to thing about anyway. Another complaint from users is that spillage from the chain bar oil reservoir can gum up the chain break mechanism and cause some malfunctions so care is recommended when topping off the chain bar oil.




We love this saw in the field. It feels lighter than its 12 lbs (with 4.0Ah battery) would suggest and overhead work is easy as well as carrying it up ladders. The automatic chain break is a reassuring feature, it’s easy to get complacent with cordless chainsaws as they can sound and feel less dangerous than a gas saw. We really liked having the chain stationary once off the trigger.
Admittedly, we did force the motor safety stop a few times (yes, we are heavy handed like that) but when not forced, the saw performed excellently over several hours of limb cutting of up to 8 or 9 inch diameters. One thing we will say, the battery time is not the best and we were hot swapping with another battery about every 60 minutes during our heaviest cutting. The batteries also don’t fade, and simply stop when they need recharged, although the LED indicator lights are quite accurate and we were never surprised by a battery change.

The Bottom Line
The Oregon CR250 is a great addition for any homeowner or landscape professional. No it won’t make firewood all day, but that isn’t what it’s designed for. What it will do is handle any medium to heavy yard and property work that you may require and do so in a safe and easy way. The PowerSharp system really sets this saw apart and making frequent sharpening greatly helped performance and ease of use. The Oregon also carries a 3yr manufacturer’s warranty. Outside of the Makita line, we consider this the best cordless chainsaw in its class and one that will be great for most people and most applications.

Bar Length: 14 in.
Batteries Included: 1
Battery Type: 40 volt Li-Ion
Chain Speed: 2350 FPM
Weight: 11 lb (5.0 kg) with
1.25 Ah Battery Pack
12 lb (5.4 kg) with
2.4 Ah or 4.0 Ah
Battery Pack




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Cordless Chainsaw Review – Makita HCU02C1 LXT 36 Volt

Makita HCU02C1 LXT  Cordless Chainsaw, 36-volt Lithium-Ion


In its class, the Makita HCU02C1 cordless chainsaw is the top of the woodpile. Makita practically invented cordless tools and their reputation speaks for itself. If you want the benefits of a cordless chainsaw but demand top performance, then the Makita is your tool especially if you are already invested in their suite of other 36 volt tools.

The price may scare some folks off and it’s a hefty one, but in this case you get what you pay for. Make no mistake, if you a truly a weekend warrior and just plan on pruning back your property twice a year, you can make due with other quality cordless units for much less money. But if you plan to regularly limb and cut trees, or you need a saw that can handle carpentry and framing needs, the additional cost of this Makita cordless chainsaw will more than pay for itself in performance and quality.

Weighing in a 10 pounds puts this saw on the heavier size for its class but it is extremely well balanced and quite easy to handle from a ladder or when doing overhead work. Much of the weight comes from the battery but most will appreciate the trade-off between weight and power delivery.

If you have used any other 36 volt Makita gear, then you won’t be surprised by the output and capacity of the included lithium ion battery. Cordless chainsaws are notorious battery eaters and having a spare on hand is great for extended work times although one battery is plenty for the average homeowner’s typical usage. If you haven’t upgraded your cordless kit to 36 volt yet (we can’t blame you for suffering for sticker shock on a 36 v kit) Makita actually makes an adapter that allows most 36v tools to run on two 18 volt batteries. This backward compatibility is a great way to help out loyal Makita customers and a real positive nod to customer-centric attitude of the company.

As with other cordless saws, maintenance is a thing of the past. This Makita has adjustable automatic chain lubrication with large oil reservoir and large oil filling port with view window to easily add and check bar oil level

The Basics

The 12” bar on the HCU02C1 is big enough for most jobs in the yard and the  job site and contributes to the overall balance of the tool. The chain performance is good and replacements are readily available. Of course, like  with any cordless saw, keeping the chain sharp is the key to extending the  run time of the battery as a dull blade will force the motor to work much  harder, especially in hard woods such as oak or hemlock. Chain adjustments  are tool-less and easy although rarely required under most conditions. As  expected, the Makita has a front hand guard which engages the electric  brake, something to be appreciated on a saw this strong.


In the field, the Makita cordless chainsaw performs admirably, whether  cutting trees down or bucking them up. The 1650 FPM motor is fast and rock  solid and doesn’t overheat or stall under normal use. In fact, it is preferable  for limbing work and its lightweight makes it perfect for working off a roof or  ladder. It makes an excellent tool for framing or timber framing and is great  for cutting beams or joists.

We put one through a weekend of demolition during testing and outside of  additional chain sharpenings due the materials we were working with, it  performed like a champ. It’s great when you need more than a sawzall but  less than a full-bar chainsaw and a must when working indoors. We avoided  downtime by using two batteries but found that even one battery provided an  entire day of occasional use. The Makita is reasonably quiet too which is  nice if you have a full day of cutting in store.

The Bottom Line

You might balk at the price of this unit, especially considering other options in the cordless category as well as comparable gas units that are available. To address both concerns; there is not a cordless unit that can compete head to head with the Makita’s combination of performance, quality, and reputation. Similarly, the Makita eliminates the hassles of gas units: mess, maintenance, and weight. And this cordless unit will pay for itself in saved fuel costs, storage safety issues, and it will start and run reliably regardless of weather conditions or state of repair.


Bar Length: 12 in.
Batteries Included: 1
Battery Type: Li-Ion
Chain Speed: 1,650 FPM
Noise: 89 dB (No Load), 90 dB (Load)


See Other Cordless Chainsaw Reviews Here

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MFE01 Tactical Tomahawk

What is a Tactical Tomahawk?

What is a tactical tomahawk?

The term tomahawk conjures up images of Native Americans with their adopted specialty tool in hand ready for anything. And the correlation isn’t wrong, originally a striking tool made from stone or bone, they were later adapted from small European axes or forged from scrap metal, into lightweight and thin axes that served a multitude of purposes from wood chopping and ceremony to combat and defense.

Largely forgotten throughout the 20th century, the tomahawk made a comeback during the Vietnam War when they found use with the Army in situations where a heavy cutting blade was needed as well as something that could be used for demolition, forced entry, extraction, and defense. Hence the tactical tomahawk was born.

Sometimes referred to as a tactical hatchet or military tomahawk, the modern tactical tomahawk is a term that covers a wide range of multi-purpose axes in a variety of styles and degrees of quality. It can’t be denied that some are made more for looks than utility, but a great many of these tactical tomahawks are built with incredible durability and quality by some of the most respected manufacturers around.

What mostly defines the tactical tomahawk is its multi-use capabilities. It seeks to replace several tools into one lightweight axe that can handle a multitude of jobs. They retain their status as a defensive weapon for obvious reasons, but thankfully most will be used for other important tasks such as breaching, extraction, demolition, cutting, chopping, and prying.

The tactical tomahawk is a true multi-tool and beyond military applications first responder duties, the tomahawk makes an excellent camp axe and companion in the woods to hunters, hikers, and explorers.

The feature set of each tactical tomahawk ultimately determines its best application but the best tomahawks all share the following features:


Like typical wood cutting axes, all tomahawks and tactical axes are made from modern steel alloys that chosen to strike a balance between sharpness, edge retention and durability. They are constructed in two configurations:

Full-tang construction: In this case the axe is made from a single piece of steel which is forged into the head and the handle. This type of construction is extremely strong and that axe head cannot be separated from the handle.

RMJ Shrike Tomahawk 2

Partial-tang construction: In this case the axe head and handle are built separately then attached in some fashion. This may have benefits in using a non-steel handle for weight reduction but comes at the obvious cost of strength.

SOG F01P-K Tomahawk


In the case of full-tang tactical tomahawks, the handle is made from the same steel material that the cutting head is made from. The think steel is generally wrapped with a grip material or has grip scales attached on either side that may be made from a poly material or other high performance synthetic. Full-tang handles are best for military and heavy duty applications where a high degree of strength is required for leverage in breaching and demolition situations.

In the case of partial-tang tactical tomahawks, the handle could be made from any durable material but generally are constructed of wood or a durable poly or modified nylon. Although these materials are lightweight and durable, they can fail and separate from the cutting head. For light duty applications, hiking, and camping this lightweight may be advantages.


Sizes vary from around 10 inches to over 20 inches. Smaller tactical tomahawks and tactical axes are great for hiking and camping, but a longer handle is advantages for prying and breaching and in the case of self-defense a longer handle length would give great advantages.


Although tomahawks are rarely thrown, balance is still important for safety, ergonomics, and efficiency. Typically, the center of gravity should be near the top of the handle close to where the cutting head attaches.

Cutting surfaces:

Tactical tomahawks use multiple cutting edges as well as piercing and prying points. Each brand is slightly different but most use a wide, strong, front cutting edge that is typical of any good splitting axe. The type of steel used and the grind angle of the cutting edge affects the edge retention and durability. Most tomahawks use a high angle grind that creates an edge perfect for heavy duty cutting, crushing, and demolition.

In addition to the front side cutting edge, many tomahawks have additional cutting surfaces on the bottom or backside of the beard and/or the top edge of the head. These unlike a traditional axe these secondary cutting edges allow the tomahawk to cut or pry on the backswing.

Cold Steel Trench Hawk

One distinctive feature of tactical axes and tactical tomahawks is the additional tool on the back or poll end of the axe head. This feature is usually some type of spike for piercing or prying. This multi-edged spike can be used for many breaching and extraction type of applications. A few tactical tomahawks use a flat hammer style poll for pounding or compromising locks.

Ragnarok 14

The modern military tomahawk or tactical hatchet is a  very popular tool that is excellent for many activities  and applications. To find out the best tactical tomahawk for  your needs, check out these tactical tomahawk  reviews for detailed information and specifications of the best  tactical tomahawks available.









Ragnarok 12

Ragnarok Tomakawk by Bawidamann Blades

Ragnarok Tomahawk

What do you get for the RMJ Tactical fanatic who has everything? Well, if you have good taste and the right budget, you get to deliver one of the most interesting and beautiful tactical tomahawks around, the Bawidamann Blades – RMJ Tactical hybrid known as the Bawidamann Ragnarok tomahawk. What is it you ask? Well it’s what happens when you pair the finest tomahawk makers with artist-designer-mad genius Andrew Bawidamann.

RAgnarok 12

Andrew is a talented Ohio based painter and designer who takes inspiration from WW2 Bomber nose art to create modern versions of pin-up art. Along the way he also has his hand in industrial design, knife making, military accessories, and other self-proclaimed ‘shenanigans’.

Along with some of the wildest custom knives around, another of Bawidamann’s specialties is the (PUP) Pals Universal Platforms, which is a modular kydex sheath system for knives, mags, and other small EDC items that works with the MOLLE platform.

Recently Bawidamann and RMJ collaborated on a fantastic new tomahawk called the Ragnarok. The hawk is based on an RMJ Tactical foundation of 1/4″ 4140 Chrome-moly steel, Bawidamann design and it incorporates stunning micarta scales by VZ Grips and a machined grip surface along both edges of the handle. Similar in size and weight to the RMJ Kestrel, but the Ragnarok was designed with an artist’s eye for the aesthetic and this thing looks pretty enough to be painted on the nose of a plane. It is available in two colors of DuraCoat finish, bronze/black or tungsten/black

The angular head is beautifully balanced and differs from its curvy Kestrel cousin as does the shovel head pry tool at the end of the handle. Although on the shorter end of the spectrum, the light weight and well-thought ergonomics of this tool make it versatile and formidable. The unique texture and shape of the micarta scales cover the majority of the single tang construction providing a stylish grip for any kind of mayhem necessary.

The Ragnarok is relatively light, coming in at just 20oz for the 12” model and 22oz for the larger 14” model but the differentially treated Chrome-moly is what you would expect from RMJ and devastatingly effective as usual. It comes equipped with it comes with a Kydex sheath incorporating PUP-style quick detach straps, MOLLE ready.

The Ragnarok tomahawks were a limited initial production run which sold immediately on release but the next run is in the works. To stay up to date on the next availability, sign up for the newsletter here: 

Ragnarok 14


• Pry bar handle/ax head entry tool

• Bikini QD PTD Strap Boltoron Sheath

• 20oz 12 22oz 14

• 4140 Chrome-moly

• Differentially heat treated

• VZ Custom Grips RAGNAROK Pattern Grips.

• Lanyard para cord




sharp axe courtesy of gabriel amadeus

How to sharpen an axe with a file


How to Sharpen an Axe

When you invest in a high quality axe or hatchet, you want to keep it in the best possible condition. A good axe, when properly taken care of will last a lifetime. In fact, many of us are using axes that belonged to our fathers or grandfathers.

Axe sharpening and edge honing is vital to keep your axe safe and effective. Many injuries occur from an axe head bouncing off a log or a glancing shot. Axe sharpening can be done in the shop or by field sharpening.

If you are new to axes or a casual user, you may have never sharpened a tool before or simply bought hardware store quality axes prior to this, but learning how to sharpen an exe is easy and after a few sessions you will become very good at it. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable and a great way to end a wood cutting session and prep your axe for storage.

Don’t try and use an electric grinder to sharpen your axe, you are likely to draw the temper out of the steel and soften the edge. This can ruin your axe. Instead, use a 10” – 12” mill bastard file. These long flat files usually have a course and a fine side and are long enough that you can use two hands for greater control.

1. Secure your axe. The first step in axe sharpening is to clamp the axe to your bench or in a vice so that it won’t move around while you apply pressure to the file. Most axe bevels are 20 – 30 degrees. If you aren’t skilled with a file or are a novice, it is easier to secure the axe bit at the desired angle and use the file at a right angle to the blade which is easier to determine by sight.

Keep in mind that most axes use a slightly convex shape that protects the cutting edge by pushing the wood away after the initial cut. See the diagram below.

axe profiles


2. When you file a new edge, do not file the cheeks of the bit flat rather, follow the existing bevel. You want to evenly remove a small amount of the bevel as you file the edge so that axe retains its geometry even after many sharpening. If you only sharpen the cutting edge eventually it will become stubby and not split the wood correctly.

3. Protect yourself and stay safe. Wearing a pair of leather gloves will protect you from the file edges and axe edge.

4. Hold the file oriented along the center line of the axe head (or at a very slight angle) and the corner of the cutting edge. File in one direction only and lift the file away from the axe on the return stroke. Filing away from the blade edge and back toward the poll will help to keep the edge from rolling.

5. To sharpen an axe, you want to create a fan-shaped effect on the cheek of the ax, filing back 20 3 inches. See photo:

sharpen axe into fan edge


6. Clean as you go. The teeth of your file will become clogged with shavings from the axe as you work. Stop often and clean the file with a wire brush or file card.

7. To keep the axe edge even and prevent rolling a burr onto one side, switch edge sides often.

8. After the new edge is established with the file matching the existing bevel or edge angle, use an axe stone to finish and polish the new edge. The axe stone is used to hone the filed area smooth. Use some honing oil for a better result.

Start by using the coarse side of the stone. Move it in small circular motions over the entire edge. Do this until no file marks remain. After you have polished the edge with the coarse side, repeat with the fine side. Then, turn the axe over and repeat on the other side.

9. At this point you may strop the axe with a piece of thick leather to remove any small burr or wire edge that remains. Hold the axe with the bit facing away from you and hold a leather strop at a 45 degree angle over it. Pull the bit toward you and then away from you several times.

10. To protect the newly exposed metal from rust, use a mixture of light machine oil and then rub in a mixture of light oil and beeswax.

Taking these steps to regularly sharpen an axe is the best way to increase your work efficiency as well as stay safe while using your sharp ax.


Featured image courtesy of Gabriel Amadeus


gransfors bruks splitting axe

Gransfors Bruks Splitting Maul Review

 Gransfors Bruks Splitting Maul

Gransfors Bruks Splitting Maul

Located in the Swedish village of Gränsfors, the Gransfors Bruks Forge has been making axes for over 100 years and their reputation is worldwide. All the axes produced by Gränsfors Bruk are hand forged and they are so proud of the workmanship of their smiths that each axe head is marked with the identity of the man who made. The heads are minimally finished, just on the cutting edge so evidence of the quality forging is seen on the axe.

In addition to this handbuilt tradition, Gransfors also has made a commitment to the environment and only uses environmentally friendly materials in the production of their axes such as foregoing paint and epoxy adhesives on their handles and using no harsh chemicals when tanning leather for their sheaths. 

Their Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is the heaviest axe they produce, but still on the lighter side in this category with a 5.5 lbs head and a  2.5 inch cutting edge. Like many of the European axes, the bit edge is a little thinner than others for easy cut entry but transitions nicely to the wide poll. The head is edge beveled to reduce sticking in the cut and the slightly extended poll end is designed for effectively driving a splitting wedge.

The Hickory handle is on the shorter size for this type of axe at 31 inches but has the nice addition of a protective steel collar below the axe head to help absorb some abuse from heavy hitting and some light grooves at the handle end help grip. This model also includes a vegetable-tanned leather sheath and is an effective tool at a user-friendly size and weight, perfect for round splitting. 

Gransfors Bruks is a company that needs no introduction when it comes to axes. Their performance and European workmanship is second to none. They put as much effort into their splitting mauls as well. This medium weight Gransfors Bruks splitting maul is as fine an axe as you could ask for, its got a sharp, deep cutting head, high quality steel, a stout Hickory handle, and great performance. You might balk at paying this much for a splitting maul, but you can rest assured that its the last one you will ever buy and quite likely a tool that you will pass down to your son someday.

See Amazon customer reviews here

For reviews of other quality splitting mauls see the Splitting Maul Guide.

Length: 31.5 in

Weight: 5.5 lbs

Handle: Hickory

Edge: 2.5 in

Poll: Flat

Base: Hand forged steel


featured photo by Andy Carter

condor maul

Condor German Splitting Axe Review

Condor Tool German Splitting Axe

Founded in 1787 in Solingen, Germany the Condor Tool & Knife Company are legendary sword makers and have a long heritage in creating superior steel products. Some of the companies manufacturing has since been relocated some  to Santa Ana, El Salvadore (including this axe) but Condor has maintained a good reputation with their current products.

It’s a stretch to call this German splitting axe a maul, due to its lightweight cutting head, but its unique features make it anCondor tools splitting maul interesting option and one that might work well for folks that do occasional work on softer wood splitting and could benefit from the reduction in weight.

The head on this Condor German splitting axe is  7 in. overall with a 3.5 inch and is made from   1045 high carbon forged steel with minimal finishing. The head is heat treated and annealed to a 45-50 Rockwell hardness.

 It weighs just 4.5 pounds which seems featherweight in comparison to the other axes in this class and what makes it really unique is the German style design.

On each cheek of the head is a polished and raised flare that transitions from the cutting edge into a narrow ridge for spreading the cut during penetration. This reduced cheek contact area helps drive penetration into the cut and reduces sticking significantly.

Often, axemen take their splitting maul to the grindstone to narrow the profile of their tools in order to increase penetration performance and reduce sticking, The Condor GS splitting axe is a nice compromise between the narrow penetrating profile of a felling axe and the fat wedge of a typical splitting maul.

Condor tools splitting maul sheathTo get the swing started, the Condor uses a 34 inch American Hickory  handle for strength but instead of the usual round or oval profile of a splitting maul handle it instead uses a flatter profile with a compound curve, much like a typical felling axe. Also included is a simple but adequate riveted leather sheath with single-strap closure.

It might not be fair to compare the Condor German style splitting axe with other mauls since it falls somewhere in between a maul and felling axe,  but its performance is admirable at the task and the lightweight quality makes this a breeze to swing all day. The narrow head improves penetration and reduces bounce and for most wood types this is great little German splitting axe. The Condor company is well respected and the price is a very reasonable making this a a serious contender.

See Amazon customer reviews here

For reviews of other quality splitting mauls see the Splitting Maul Guide.

Length: 34 inch

Weight: 4.5 lbs

Handle: American Hickory

Edge: 3.25 in

Poll: Flat

Steel: 1045 high carbon forged 

Check out the Condor in action by the guys from

Fiskars X7 Hatchet

Fiskars X7 Hatchet Review

Fiskars  X7 Hatchet – 14-Inch

Fiska Fiskars X7 14-Inch Hatchetrs is a Finnish company with over 350 years of tool making history. It’s hard to argue with a heritage like. Although an old company, Fiskars prides themselves on innovation and have developed what they consider a cutting edge axe. The Fiskars X7 uses advanced blade geometry, a wedge shaped head, and a special low friction coating. The lightness of this axe contributes to a faster swing speed and deeper cutting.

All X-Series axes feature a smart design that distributes the majority of the weight to the axe head while keeping the stronger-than-steel FiberComp handle lightweight. This perfected weight distribution provides an optimal power-to-weight ratio that increases swing speed to multiply power, much like an aluminum baseball bat. X-Series axes give you more power at impact to help you get more done with every swing.

The X7 maximizes power to weight ratio by using a lightweight FiberComp handle which leaLength: 14 inch  Weight: 1.7 lbs  Handle: Steel  Edge: 3.25 in  Poll: Flat  Steel: Forged tool steelves most of the
weight in the head and at the point of impact. this 14 inch composite handle has a rubberized coating for added grip and is excellent in wet weather or in conditions that would be detrimental to a wooden handle.

Traditionalists may be suspect of the comp handle but they have proven durable under normal use, even in over-strike situations. The comp handle has shock absorbing qualities and a Permahead design that is over-molded to the head to eliminating the possibility of head separation.

However, the joint where the handle wraps the head can get wood splinters jammed in it and cause cracking if not cleared. This is serious consideration especially if you are doing deeper cuts where the wood can get wedged in this space.

The 20 oz head on the Fiskars X7 hatchet  is  drop forged stainless with a double-hardened bit with a  Rockwell hardness of 45-50 on the 2-3/4 inch edge. Fiskars bevel convex blade geometry claims to add more power and wood dispersion for cleaner, one-strike splits. This proprietary edge bevel creates a durable cutting edge that stays sharp. If you regrind this edge, to a thinner bevel, you may not retain the same edge durability. This is a straight wedge shaped head which aids splitting but may affect deep cuts.

This Fiskars comes with kind of an interesting sheath. Its plastic with a quick release and handle built in. I see this as more of a blade cover and way to hang it in the garage. Its not much of a holster for mounting and I wouldn’t trust the quick release on a long hike through the brush. Definitely losing points in the sheath department.

If one can get over traditionalist attitudes and see this Fiskars X7 hatchet for what it is; a lightweight axe with excellent performance and price from a trusted company, it will be a serious contender for for capable hatchet for most folks. The field reviews back this axe up.

Here is an excellent additional review on by coloradowildman that has more info on the Fiskars X7.

See customer reviews at Amazon here.

Length: 14 inch

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Handle: FiberComp

Edge: 3 in

Poll: Flat

Steel: Drop forged stainless 

Estwing E24A Sportsman's Hatchet

Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Hatchet Review

Estwing E24A Review

Estwing E24A


Photos by Robert S Donovan


Estwing is a well-known axe and tool manufacturer located in the Chicago area. They have been manufacturing tools since 1923 andEstwing E24A Sportsman's Hatchet  if you are a carpenter or tradesman, you have probably owned and appreciated an Estwing hammer. Their American made hatchets are also great and maybe the best value for the price in this group.

The Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Hatchet is a very popular hatchet for a number of reasons. First, the one-piece forged steel design means you will never have to replace the handle under normal circumstances. The full-tang 14 inch steel handle is wrapped with stacked leather washers and polished, resulting in a firm and comfortable grip.

One drawback of that full-tang handle may be the fact that some shock from striking and splitting is transferred to your hand, more so than a traditional wooden axe handle but its not excessive. It’s likely that the hatchet will be used in short periods of time and leather handle wrap also helps. The one complaint made against this hatchet is the ultra thin section of handle between the axe head and the grip. It’s plenty strong enough at this size but not practical for holding if one were to want choke up to do some carving or close work.

TEstwing E24A Sheathhe hatchet is just under one pound and the narrow head has a 3.25 inch cutting edge. The cutting edge holds its sharpness well and only requires minimal dressing during normal use. Although the axe head and cheeks are quite thin, the cutting edge is a bit thicker than one would expect making penetration a bit of an issue and rendering it mediocre for carving or shaping work.

The lightweight design however, makes this a great camp axe and the included leather sheath makes transport and handling safe.

The leather sheath that is included is nicely tooled and of a high quality with belt slot and utilizes an open poll which is preferred for safe hammering tasks without removing the sheath.

Although it lacks the traditional Hickory handle,  this Estwing E24A review revealed a quality hatchet with good cutting ability and edge retention and the one-piece construction  is practically indestructible. The leather handle and tooled sheath get high marks and for most people, this is a great little utility hatchet selection.

See the other hatchet reviews here.

Estwing E24A by Robert S Donavan

See Amazon customer reviews here.

Length: 14 inch

Weight: 1.7 lbs

Handle: Steel

Edge: 3.25 in

Poll: Flat

Steel: Forged tool steel

A great review from the good folks at Black Owl Outdoors, check them out

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet 2

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet Review

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

 Gransfors Bruks Wildlife HatchetLocated in the Swedish village of Gränsfors, the Gransfors Bruks Forge has been making axes for over 100 years and their reputation is worldwide. All the axes produced by Gränsfors Bruk are hand forged and they are so proud of the workmanship of their smiths that each axe head is marked with the identity of the man who made. The heads are minimally finished, just on the cutting edge so evidence of the quality forging is seen on the axe.

In addition to this hand built tradition, Gransfors also has made a commitment to the environment and only uses environmentally friendly materials in the production of their axes such as foregoing paint and epoxy adhesives on their handles and using no harsh chemicals when tanning leather for their sheaths. 

Gransfors hatchets are well-renowned for their quality axes and their Wildlife Hatchet is no exception. The Hickory handled hatchet is 13.5 inches long, perfect for one handed use and carries a one pound head with a 3 inch cutting edge. It’s handy and easy to carry at 1.3 pounds, great for backpacking and trekking. Unlike most utility hatchets, the Gransfors has an extended beard on the edge which is great for protecting you hand while choked up on the handle for carving, shaving or other close work.

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

The handle of the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is 14 inches long and made from Hickory, pre-drilled for a lanyard and embossed with the GB logo mid-span. It includes a Swedish made tanned leather sheath that will protect you and the blade during transport. A smart feature on this sheath is that it leaves the axe poll exposed while the edge is covered. This allows the hatchet to be used for driving tent stakes or striking without having to remove the sheath.

We love everything from Gransfors Bruks, their hand forged axe heads, stamped with the initials of the forger, the narrow head and extended beard, the minimal finish on the Swedish steel, the simple, effective and beautiful Hickory handle, and the all around performance. The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet is no exception. If you need one hatchet to last a lifetime, this is it.

See Amazon customer reviews here

See other hatchet reviews here

Length: 13.5 in

Weight: 1.3 lbs

Handle: Hickory

Edge: 3 in

Poll: Flat

Base: Hand forged steel


Featured image courtesy of Andy Carter