The common misconception among people who haven’t gone deep into combat zones is that tomahawks are silly little axes carried by racist stereotypes in Hiawatha cartoons from the 30’s. Truth be told, the tomahawk is alive and well, riding in the fists of some of the most hardened first responders, anti-terrorism experts, and survival badasses from every time zone. Made lovingly out of modern materials, a good tomahawk is a self-defense weapon, a tool for staying alive in the wild, and a tactical way for a lone soldier to lay siege to a reinforced drug den.
If you’re ready to hack through metal, turn a car into mincemeat, live off the land, or just want a showpiece for the next axe-chucking competition in your unusual neighborhood, we’ve got the 16 best tomahawks for tough sumbitches who demand quality cutlery when they ride into battle.
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SK1001-CP Survival Hawk
Toolkit: A handy hatchet, a rugged prybar complete with glass-reinforced nylon handle, or a firestarter, the SK1001-CP is the desperate measures that desperate times call for. Only a foot in length for easy carrying, taking this into the wilderness is worth the extra weight.
Combat Ready E.D.A.
Pocket Protector: It uses folding knife operation, but we swear the E.D.A. (EveryDay Axe) is one of the most impressive portable tomahawks ever crafted. Those familiar with knives will recognize the framelock, which gives it a sturdy, semi-fixed feel for biting deep in spite of the miniscule stature.
Cold Steel Trench Hawk
Near & Far: The straight polypropylene handle and tight balancing make the Trench Hawk stick true when thrown, and the broad cutting surface does ordinary digging and chopping work without complaint. For self-defense look no further than the ugly spike on the back. It only needs to land once.
Camillus Cutlery Company 19150 Sin
Rising Star: This was our first experience with Camillus Cutlery, and we’re nothing short of impressed. The Sin is made out of stainless steel with titanium bonding for enhanced weatherproofing that actually prevents rust. It also stops the blade from sticking when swung, making work or warfare simpler and a little more lethal. The gap in the head lets it be pulled from a sucking wound or carcass with ease.
Kershaw 1073X Siege
Continued Excellence: Kershaw’s love of blades has carried over from knives to the hawk world without missing a beat. The Siege’s handle has the trademark K-Texture for an easy grip while chopping through a door, using the hatchet head to cut wood, or prying open crates with the handle. The black oxide coating sucks in light for stealth use under cover of night.
USMC Licensed Bruiser
Ooh-Rah Standard: When the corps backs a product, it’s combat ready. Like the standard issue Ka-Bar that every jarhead has on hand, the Bruiser is an indelicate hunk of hardware meant to thrive wherever there’s life and death work to be done. When you want an item that is always faithful, rely on this.
Boker Plus Tomahook
Outsider: Tomahawks work well as axes, hammers, and prying tools, but it isn’t often that they are also able to be used as shovels and chisels. The strange build of the Tomahook makes it good for all these (which we doubted severely and were happy to be proven wrong) and offers a unique skinning edge when put into the proper hands.
Columbia River Knife & Tool Kangee T-Hawk
Double Team: The first tomahawk to come out of CRKT, the Kangee was actually designed by master bladesmith Ryan Johnson from RMJ Tactical. The glass-filled nylon handle and SK5 steel combine with a nice inward curvature to make a hawk that is as good for breaching as it is for prying. A true tactician, only a panic room door will stop this puppy in its tracks.
Cutting Combination: H.A.K.E.T stands for Hawk and Knife Emergency Tool, which is all you need to know about this piece. The heavy bolt in the center makes switching from hawk to knife a quick action and gives you several options for how the Haket is used, whether in survival or slaughter mode.
GG&G 1280 Battle Hawk
All Angles: Dig, poke, slash, hack, and jab, the sharp edges and jagged points of the Battle Hawk come in handy when you’re nose to nose with an adversary as it gives you tons of advantages in a close-quarters fight. Quick to bring the pain, make sure you know how to use it or expect it to be as much a liability as an asset.
Benchmade 172 Killian Forged Tomahawk
Barred for Life: Built for heavy breaching, this feels more like a crowbar in your fist than a tomahawk. The dense body can take tons of leverage, allowing it to crack into a bomb shelter like a sardine can, then hack down the opposition in a frenzy.
Hardcore Hardware Australia BFT01-G Tactical Tomahawk
Go Deep: In case you couldn’t tell by the massive G-10 handle, the BFT01-G is a serious MOE (Method of Entry) tool that stands up to heavy impact against serious shell armor. A breacher’s best friend, it isn’t quite as good at CQC (Close-Quarters Combat), so once you’re through the door you’ll want to switch to a knife or a sidearm for getting up-close and personal.
RMJ Tactical Jenny Wren TAD Edition
Ladylike: Named after a delicate bird, the Jenny Wren is a camp axe with a serious anger problem. Slick and nimble for close quarters fighting, it’s just as good at splitting wood as it is hewing through bone and sinew. It’s a favorite for fighting in tight spaces, and the tactical refinements Triple Aught Design put onto it are welcome additions to a bombproof little chopper.
RMJ Kestrel Feather Tomahawk
Quick Conceal: Those in the business will recognize the overall design of the Feather as being nothing but a lighter, shorter Eagle Talon. The point here is to bring the deadly swiftness of the Talon to those who need a hidden hawk that has loads of cutting surfaces for dealing damage when backed into a corner. At just 27 ounces that feels like less, we say: Mission Accomplished.
Recon: Using the same basic style as the Anubis, this is more of a bushcraft tool that can help with long treks into the unknown or gathering intel behind enemy lines. It’s light for easy carrying, but that makes it ill-equipped to handle heavy axe or hatchet work. Keep it on hand for clandestine ops or backpacking trips with an edge.
Winkler Knives WKII Stealth Axe
Out With the New: Daniel Winkler ordinarily designs traditional tomahawks, and is most famous for his work on the film The Last of the Mohicans. He also makes pieces for Seal Team 6, such as this close-quarters combat tomahawk. Meant only for wet work, it hacks and cuts an attacker to pieces, even with zero space to swing.