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Modern Ancient Warfare: The 15 Best Tactical Tomahawks

Soldiers, mercenaries, security personnel, law enforcement operators, and others who live and die by the gun are turning to tactical tomahawks to complete their combat kit. Below, we run through reviews of the 15 best tactical tomahawks and axes to get you ready for battle and survival alike.

Modern Tactical Tomahawk

Many boots on the ground fighters are finding that in addition to their traditional tactical load of spare mags, goggles, gas masks, watches, and fatigues, they also need a special breaching and survival tool. They require something that can pry open doors, hack through armor, and dig enemies out of their shells and bunkers.

A modern tomahawk can cut into a car, shatter the toughest glass, pierce through kevlar, and can dig in the dirt, hew trees, and work as much as a cooking and camp tool as a close-quarters combat weapon. These are supplements to go with your tactical knives, and a significantly more powerful tool than you’ll get with a survival blade. Plus, they are simply badass–let’s take a look at a few of the best tactical tomahawks you can buy.

The 15 Best Tactical Tomahawks

There’s a considerable difference tomahawk-shaped-objects and honest-to-god survival and combat tools. The 15 best tactical tomahawks below aren’t just decoration; they might make the difference between life and death.

1. Walther WAL50748 Tactical Tomahawk

Walther WAL50748 Tactical Tomahawk

As the company that specializes in making James Bond’s small, signature gun, we expect a lot from Walther. Luckily, they delivered with this urbane axe intended for use in urban landscapes. Ready for brick, metal, concrete, mortar, and all the materials of a city, it might not help you survive in the harsh wilderness, but fights in city streets just got a whole lot easier.

2. SOG Fast Hawk

SOG Fast Hawk - Tactical Tomahawk

A pound and three ounces is all the Fast Hawk brings to bear, since that’s all it needs. Throwing and light hacking are the intention here, as is fighting in close quarters, where every inch and ounce can make the difference between a swift kill and a sloppy struggle.

3. Liantral Survival Axe Kit

Liantral Survival Axe Kit Tactical Tomahawk

Why settle for a single tool when you can have the whole kit? That’s the philosophy Liantral seems to go by, since they pack–count ’em–six implements of survival into their tactical tomahawk. There’s a fish knife, magnesium rod flint, safety hammer, compass, emergency whistle, and of course, a trusty stainless steel axe head on board. Never leave home without it.

4. United Cutlery M48 Hawk Axe

United Cutlery M48 Tactical Tomahawk Axe

Beginning with a wide, upswept blade that hews and chops with swiftness, while the spiked reverse head provides plenty of picking and grinning, there’s few tactical tomahawks out there that have quite the same level of workmanship, combat readiness, and pure allure of the M48.

5. Browning Shock N’ Awe Tomahawk

Browning Shock N’ Awe Tactical Tomahawk

Normally “Shock n'” Anything will at least give you a big size. Instead, Browning chose to make this less than a foot long, using 1055 high-carbon steel to make it impressive, rather than just adding size. Dense and hard, you can use it as a work axe or hatchet, but it’s like using a SIG Sauer to open a can of beans.

6. Condor Tool & Knife, TRT (Tactical Rescue Tomahawk)

Condor Tool & Knife, TRT (Tactical Rescue Tomahawk)

550 paracord on the handle and a head specifically made to cut through plane fuselages, the TRT is a heavy monster that’s built more for rescue jobs or slow breaking & entering gigs. It’s too cumbersome for quick action in a tight spot.

7. Boker’s Plus Vox T-Hawk

Boker Plus 09BO100 Vox Tactical Tomahawk

Boker makes a mean tactical pen, and that same no-nonsense outlook has created one of the most delightful tactical hawks around. It’s SK5 carbon steel with a black coating to add in rust resistance. The whole build is straightforward function, without even an attempt to dress it up. Because it works well enough that window dressing would only drag it down.

8. Estwing Black Eagle Tomahawk Axe

Estwing Black Eagle Tactical Tomahawk Axe

A hammer company who decided to try their hand at making tomahawks, Estwing might have stumbled onto its true calling. Using the impact resistance and familiar feel of a hammer grip, you can kill or hack all the live long day using the comfortable Black Eagle. A true toolman’s weapon of choice.

9. 5.11 Tactical Operator Axe

5.11 Tactical Operator Axe

5.11 is rapidly taking over as the brand for all things truly tactical. Beginning with a Viking-style blade attached to what amounts to a complex ruler/hammer/meter stick/wrench, the Operator clearly wants you to notice its multiple functions, though it’s easy to get caught on the pragmatic permanence the body gives.

10. Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

Gerber Downrange Tactical Tomahawk

An axe head with integrated pry bar that is assembled in the United States for supreme structural quality, the Gerber Downrange puts itself above the competition thanks to versatility. Light as a long ‘hawk can get, but still as sturdy as any camp axe we’ve ever used, it’s a workhorse.

11. Columbia River Knife and Tool Kangee T-Hawk

Columbia River Knife and Tool Kangee T-Hawk Tactical Tomahawk

The first thing to know is that Ryan Johnson’s name is behind the Columbia River Knife and Tool Kangee T-Hawk. As you look over the head, bladed at the front and the top, it’s made for supreme cutting, gutting, or gripping and ripping into bone and flesh or metal on metal. Sometimes “eviscerate” is the best battle plan.

12. Spyderco Warrior Hawk

Spyderco Warrior Hawk Tactical Tomahawk

When cutting to the bone just isn’t enough, reach for the faceted head of Spyderco’s Warrior Hawk. Crafted from premium D2 tool steel, the blade is finished in a layer of titanium carbonitride for an edge that doesn’t dull–even when regularly bathed in the blood of your enemies. And speaking of edges, the Warrior Hawk is zero-ground for ideal geometry for cleaving your way through.

13. M48 Double Bladed Tomahawk

M48 Double Bladed Tactical Tomahawk

What’s twice as devastating as a finely honed stainless steel edge? The answer may not surprise you: It’s the vicious Double Bladed Tomahawk from M48. Styled after the fabled Viking double axe, it may be even more deadly, with its keen edge and well-balanced heft.

14. SOG Survival Tomahawk

SOG Survival Axe Tactical Tomahawk

Rough and unrelenting as the great outdoors, SOG delivers an indefatigable survival tomahawk built to ensure you survive the wilderness. Keep a handle on this tactical tomahawk with grippy paracord, then take a mighty swing to lead its stainless steel edge through its mark. But SOG doesn’t stop short; you also get a hammer edge, claw spike, and even a ferrocerium fire starter hidden in the handle.

15. USMC Elite Tactical Bruiser Tomahawk

US Marine Corp Licensed Elite Tactical Bruiser Tomahawk

The US Marine Corps is here to prove that the humble tomahawk is a reliable tool in life and death situations. Their officially licensed Elite Tactical Bruiser weighs in at just over 3 pounds, giving it plenty of chopping heft. Yet, it’s well-balanced for throwing at targets outside of melee range. 

Tactical Tomahawk Buyer’s Guide

So, how can you tell the difference between a tactical tomahawk that won’t let you down, and a decoration for your man cave? There are a few factors to keep in mind before you hit “buy”:

Durability

Whereas tomahawks were once made of bone, antler, or stone lashed to a tree branch, today’s tactical tomahawks are a lot more sturdy. Thanks to advancements in materials science and manufacturing, there’s no excuse for a flimsy axe or hatchet dropping the ball when you need it the most. Here are some of the most durable materials that constitute reliable tactical tomahawks:

  • 4140 chromoly steel
  • D2 tool steel
  • 1055 tool steel
  • SK5 carbon steel
  • 420HC stainless steel

Don’t forget that it’s not just the axe head which needs to be tough, the edge should similarly have some sort of resistance to corrosion and impact to keep its edge. Titanium carbonitride–the same stuff used in high-quality drill bits–keeps oxidation at bay and preserves your edge for longer.

And besides material concerns, the construction of your tactical tomahawk should be similarly robust. Many swear by “full-tang or bust”, and we’re not going to argue with that logic.

Balance, Weight, and Ergonomics

How easy a tactical tomahawk is determines how effectively you wield it. While not every axe is meant for throwing, any tomahawk benefits from a good balance between handle and blade–allowing your swings to hit true every time. This is also true of lateral balance; make sure your chosen axe doesn’t have any variation from side to side, or risk wobbling as your blade falls.

Overall balance doesn’t have to be dead-even between head and handle, but it should match the use-case. If you’re going to primarily be chopping or carving, you’ll want the balance point closer to the head. For combat, you’ll want it more in the handle as it will give you more control to aim your blows during melee.

Also consider the weight of your tactical tomahawk. Once again, fit the tool to the task; a heavy blade is better suited to heavy labor and mighty blows. On the other hand, a lighter axe is advantageous for long-haul hikes or wilderness survival where every spare ounce counts against your daily calorie intake.

Finally, don’t forget the grip. There are many materials which stand up to heavy usage and inclement weather, like paracord, leather, and even nylon. But once again, don’t just look at materials; look at how the grip is constructed to fit your hand. Another commonly overlooked feature is the shape of the axe’s beard–if it extends down too severely, it can hamper your ability to choke up the handle for fine carving work.

Extra Survival Features

Sometimes an axe is just an axe; but a tactical tomahawk can be so much more. One of the most common provisions is a flint or magnesium rod in the handle, allowing you to both chop down wood and start a fire with a single tool. Others may include a compass or hammer in the hilt. Also, pay special attention to the design of the head opposite the axe blade; they often contain a pick or hammer head for added utility.

Modern Tactical Axes: CONCLUSION

At this point, you’ve gotten the lay of the land when it comes to tactical tomahawks. Some have a superior build, others provide value for money. And still others might pack multiple tools into your trusty survival hatchet. They all have different designs, and are optimized for different users and scenarios. Which one you pick will largely  depend on your training and situation, but none will let you down in the field.

Have you used or purchased any of our recommended tactical tomahawks? Got any suggestions of other survival tools or implements of war we should cover?

We’d love to hear your feedback! Hit us up in the comments section below.

3 comments

  1. I’ve been carrying an Estwing hawk for about 8 months now on a daily basis. Bought it because I have trusted and used their hammers for years, and a lot of the other tomahawks I had tried out just felt flimsy or just mall ninja. The Estwing is a second to none chopping tool, a field/camping must have, and a combat powerhouse. Even in an urban setting. Back in December I was struck by a Ford Explorer while on foot, and as the driver prepared to speed off, the Estwing flew and obliterated the rear tire on the driver’s side. Once retrieved it made short work of the radiator, headlights and driver’s window. At which point the would be assailant quickly surrendered. I call mine a Portland Peacemaker

  2. What do you hipsters know about combat? Why don’t you sign up and give it a try? It isn’t cool. Tactical everything, posers, you just look ridiculous.

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