Often, when people say the word ‘Tomahawk’, it conjures up pictures of native Americans waving their wooden handled or steel tomahawks around in the air as they charge into battle or hunt an animal. However, tomahawks have evolved exponentially over the years and are now a crucial piece of equipment for the outdoor adventurer.
It’s hard not to look cool or feel awesome when you are wielding a state of the art, modern tactical tomahawk in your hands, and their look is only a part of their charm, they are also quite inexpensive and multifunctional. They may be larger and a little more awkward to carry than a fixed blade, but they do offer more functionality and everyday use.
This article looks to help you understand exactly what makes a tomahawk “tactical”, as well as give you a few things to look out for before buying, and of course, a top 8 list of the best tactical tomahawks on the market based off of those criteria.
What makes a Tomahawk “Tactical”?
Well a tactical tomahawk varies from a regular tomahawk in a lot of ways. For one, they are usually extremely hard to break. Most of the tomahawks on the lost below are rugged in their design and are made to last, regardless of how harsh the work you are doing might be. The handle will usually have an anti-slip grip for added control and it will be shock proof.
Many tactical tomahawks are also two-sided to some degree, in that on the other side of the sharp blade, will be another smaller blade or a blunt edge for clubbing, this is particularly useful for hammering or for added self-defence. Of course, the tactical tomahawk should always be light and easy to carry.
A tomahawk that is heavy and intrusive can not be tactical. Similarly, the blade itself is often coated in order to preserve its sharpness and longevity for the user, coatings like titanium nitride or Cerakote are often used by manufacturers to increase longevity and coat the blade. The strength, durability, light weight, and versatility of the tomahawk are ultimately what makes it tactical.
What should I look out for before buying?
The reason that I have grouped size and functionality together here is because I feel that when it comes to the tactical tomahawk, they both go hand-in-hand. While tactical tomahawks will often be larger than regular tomahawks, it is important to buy the right one for you and your needs, a couple of inches or grams can make the difference when packing or carrying something on your travels, so it is always key to keep an eye on the dimensions of the tomahawk.
Similarly, the functionality of the tomahawk for you, may well depend on the size of the tomahawk itself. Some people may prefer a smaller or larger blade or handle and finding the right fit for you will help make using the weapon easier.
Many of the best tomahawks will require you to pay upwards of $100, however you can still buy a proficient and multifunctional tomahawk for between $50-80. It is still important that you shop around to find the best deal. Often, hardware stores or online shops have discount promotions running, so getting the perfect tomahawk for you at an even better price is a real option.
1. Browning Shock n’ Awe Tomahawk Knife
Browning is one of the biggest names in the industry, and their tactical tomahawk evidences their commitment to quality and excellence. It is one of the smallest tactical tomahawks, not only on this list, but on the entire market, and is crafted out of a single piece of steel. The handle is made of military-grade paracord, making it easy to grip and adds little extra weight onto the already ultra-light tomahawk.
The cord itself is also shock resistant, meaning your arms and hands are kept somewhat safe during use. It comes with a polymer sheath that attaches to a belt and is easy to carry and the spiked pommel on the other side of the blade is useful for digging or as an alternative method of self-defence. It is both light and durable, making it ideal for camping, splitting firewood or outdoor use. At just 10.5 inches long and at 3.5oz in weight, for $70, this may be a little more expensive than average, but is a high-quality tomahawk and compared to some on this list, it is very well-priced.
2. Gerber Downrange Tomahawk
Look at any top-rated tactical tomahawk lists on the internet and I guarantee you that the Gerber is on every single list. There is a reason for that. It is one of the highest quality and multifunctional tomahawks on the entire market.
The design is both unique and rugged, with a 16-inch handle and a bevelled axe head that is open in the middle, offering a host of functions. The size and design of the tomahawk allow for great force to be used successfully in the most difficult of situations. The back of the axe head also works as a hammer, due to its blunt design and can break locks or smash through surfaces if necessary. The end of the handle even contains a pry-bar which can be easily controlled by the strong non-slip grip at the rear of the tomahawk.
It is made from military-grade 420HC steel, offering a lifetime of durability and dependability and the sheath that comes with it has indestructible MOLLE webbing, the same webbing used on racing boats. It has the most unique look out of all of the tomahawks on the list, but it is priced at about $250, so while it offers some of the best functionality and dependability, it comes at a price.
3. Estwing Black Eagle Tomahawk
As American as it gets, Estwing are one of the few tactical brands that still make their products in the USA, and their Black Eagle is both a quality and affordable piece of American manufacturing. The best way to describe the look of this tomahawk is, it looks like a hammer, but instead of a hammer head, it is a tomahawk head.
The tomahawk itself is made of forged black steel, and it in one piece, preventing any breaks, and is supported by a shock-resistant nylon grip. It is 15.5-inches in total, which is a decent sized tomahawk and comes with a nylon sheath as well for added protection. It is extremely well priced at just $50 and is one of the few bargain picks on the list.
4. SOG Voodoo Dayhawk
In terms of style, convenience and performance, the Voodoo Dayhawk by SOG is one of my favourites on the list. SOG is well known for their tactical equipment, and their flagship tactical hawk is as they put it “tiny but mighty”. It measures 12.5-inches but packs a punch with a glass-enforced nylon handle, hammer pommel and MoV steel head and spike combination. This formidable design combined with the fact that it is one of the lightest and easiest to throw hawks on the market make the $60 price tag seem menial.
5. Spyderco Warriorhawk
Aside from being the coolest named tomahawk I have ever seen, the Warriorhawk has a lot of incredible functions. However, be warned, it will set you back $300+! The head is made of indestructible D2 steel and is optimised for maximum strength and for cutting, breaching and close contact. The blade itself is razor sharp and is coated in titanium carbonitride, which not only prevents reflection, but also coats the blade and prevents wear and tear.
The other side of the blade is designed with utility in mind also, optimised for ‘break and rake’ functions, window breaching, digging, or puncturing. The scales on the handle itself are of non-slip G10 scales. The sheath is custom made and there is also a zipper pouch included, allowing for both protection and storage. It may cost a lot of money, but it is the ultimate survival tool if you are outdoors.
6. Paragon War Party Tactical Tomahawk
I will once again warn you of the price, this tomahawk is upwards of $500, so beware before you get too attached. In saying that, if you are looking for a tactical tomahawk, there is little that this can not do. It is designed like something you would see in a sci-fi programme and the blade itself is designed for maximum cutting ability.
Similar to the Warriorhawk, it contains indestructible D2 and G10 steel, but also incorporates carbon fibre, making it lighter. Its blade was made in Japan and the tomahawk itself is only in limited circulation, so if you want not only a tactical tomahawk, but a collector’s item, this is the best on the list.
7. United Cutlery UC2765M48
With this tomahawk I not only bring you quality, but I also bring you back down to realistic price points. It has the longest axe head on the list, measuring 8-inches and is 15 inches long in itself, which is a deadly combination. The head itself is made with military-grade stainless steel and the handle is reinforced with strong and lightweight fiberglass, giving you durability, shock resistance and the ability to utilise the axes lightweight in versatile ways.
The primary cutting edge is offset on the opposite side by a second, smaller cutting edge for added support also. For $65 or $87 with a tactical compass, it is well priced and well worth consideration over other, more expensive options.
8. 5.11 Tactical 51121 019 1sz Operator Axe
A tomahawk that is nearly as long as its name, the 5.11 has 24 functions, making it the ultimate multifunctional tomahawk. Its design is nearly medieval, with a pry bar for removing nails, a wrench, and hex openings, the SCM 435 steel design is made to last and to be lightweight.
The tomahawk brings no nonsense functionality, and its online reviews only go on to further reinforce that it is one of the most versatile, multifunctional and well-rounded tomahawks on the market. Look to pay between $150-200 for this, but if you do, you will have one of the best tomahawks that money can buy.