The 12 Best Tomahawks Out There

When selecting one of the best tomahawks out there, especially if you want the best tactical tomahawk, there's some life or death factors to consider.

I know what you're thinking, that all tomahawks are basically the same, but nothing could be further from the truth.

types of tomahawks

Did you know: most people choose a tomahawk based only on how “badass” it looks.

It makes sense if you’re using a tomahawk just for sport, to play around with. If it breaks, it doesn’t matter.

However, if you want to get the best tactical tomahawk or combat tomahawk, that's a huge mistake, and it could cost you your life.

In a tactical or combat situation, you want a tomahawk designed specifically for close quarters combat (CQC) and self defense. Think about it.

Or maybe you’re looking for the best military tomahawk intended for military, firefighting, or police? If so, you want a tomahawk specifically designed for breaching, excavation, and extraction.

Yet another situation is wilderness survival. A tomahawk is an excellent addition when selecting tools for a survival situation. In that case, you want the best survival tomahawk that can also handle wood processing tasks.

The final situation to think about is getting a tomahawk for sport. In that case, you want one that’s great for light use and showing off to your buddies.

In all of these situations, there are several critical factors to consider, which are discussed below. But first, a little about me. My name is Paul, and I’m a machinist that loves tomahawks. Why, you ask?

tomahawk

Because they look awesome and there’s something about swinging one that connects you to the rawness of warrior energy. It's a powerful feeling.

In this guide, I discuss the 4 most common situations for using a tomahawk and the 5 critical factors to think about when selecting one. I have also included reviews of the top 12 tomahawks on the market.

I hope this guide saves you a tremendous amount of time in making your selection. As I mention in many of my guides, always start any tool selection process off with answering this simple question:

What do you want the tool to do and in what situation?

So let’s get started! Below, I discuss each of the 4 situations you might need a tomahawk for and the top factors to consider. I also have reviews of the top 3 tomahawks for each situation.

But first, let's start off with a high level summary of the top 12 tomahawks across all 4 situations.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Best Tomahawks Summary Table

Below is a comparison of some of the top tomahawks available for every situation.

Image

Model

Activity

Length

Weight

Price

Rating

browning shock n awe

Browning Shock N' Awe

Tactical & Combat

10.5"

1.5 lbs

$

crkt kangee

CRKT Tactical Kangee

Tactical & Combat

13.75"

1.75 lbs

$

cold steel trench hawk

RMJ Tactical S13 Strike

Tactical & Combat

13.5"

1.25 lbs

$$$$

smith wesson sw671 extraction evasion tomahawk

S&W Extraction & Evasion

Military & Police

15.9"

2.7 lbs

$

gerber downrange military tomahawk

Gerber Downrange

Military & Police

22"

1.9 lbs

$$

estwing ebta black eagle tomahawk

Estwing EBTA Black Eagle

Military & Police

16.25"

1.7 lbs

$

tomahawk

CRKT 2725 Kangee

Survival

13.75"

1.75 lbs

$

american lagana vtac

American LaGana VTAC

Survival

14"

1.6 lbs

$$

crkt chogan 2730

CRKT Chogan

Survival

19"

2 lbs

$

united cutlery m48 tomahawk

UC M48 Ranger Hawk

Sport

15.5"

2 lbs

$

sog tomahawk

SOG Tactical

Sport

15.75"

1.5 lbs

$

cold steel trench hawk

Cold Steel Trench Hawk

Sport

19"

1.5 lbs

$

cold steel trench hawk

Bonus: Cold Steel Trainer Hawk

Bonus: Practice Thawk

19.75"

1 lb

$

Picking a Tomahawk for Any Situation

When selecting a tomahawk, it’s important to identify the situation you plan to use it for. The situation will determine what factors to consider.

Below I have listed the 4 most common situations and a brief description of what a modern tomahawk would be used for:

A. Tactical/Combat: Close quarters combat (CQC), self defense

B. Military, Firefighting, and Police: Breaching, excavation, extraction

C. Survival: Wood processing, self defense/CQC, camping, hiking, backpacking

D. Sport: Light use, cool toy, mounting on the wall, barbeques, throwing

Next, I’ll discuss each of the 4 most common situations in detail as well as the critical factors to think about when selecting a tomahawk for each situation.

Tactical/Combat

best tomahawk

By tactical situation, I mean any situation that might result in decisive combat, in which melee weapons are used.

Another common term to describe this interaction is close quarters combat, or CQC for short.

If it comes down to using a tomahawk to defend yourself or someone else, the situation has reached a level of escalation in which you need to de-escalate or end the altercation as fast as possible.

This includes a home defense situation or even CQC (close quarters combat) in a warzone.

Factors to Consider

Let’s walk through some of the factors to consider for a tactical/combat situation.

Purpose

How will you use the tomahawk in a CQC (close quarter combat) situation? Will the thawk you select look intimidating but fail to perform if actually used?

Intimidation can be a force multiplier in some situations and can help to end a confrontation before it even begins or escalates; however, you want to have confidence that your thawk is rugged enough to do its job too.

Reliability and Durability

You want a thawk that will not fail even if it’s abused in this situation. It needs to prevail in the situation so that you do too.

Design

Design is very important. The balance of the tomahawk, the ease of deployment and handling, and the ultimate effectiveness of the tomahawk are critical. Is the design excellent for the task? I recommend full tang designs and carbon steel (not stainless steel) for this situation.

Cost

For this situation, cost shouldn’t be a barrier but we all live in world where we have budget restrictions. Although, when your life or someone else’s is on the line, a couple of bucks savings isn’t justifiable. Funerals cost a lot more.

Size (Length and Weight)

For a tomahawk in this situation, I’d recommend a length and weight that is best for the operator that will carry it.

If you are comfortable with a longer and heavier hawk, then go for it. But if you prefer a thawk that is light or shorter to be more nimble and faster, then select a hawk that meets this requirement.

The key is picking a size that is best suited for your comfort level with the weapon and your combat style. It’s important to remember that you will be carrying this weapon with you, so size (length and weight) is critical.

Summary​

In a tactical or combat situation, you want to ensure you have a highly reliable, well designed, intimidating tool that is suited for de-escalating and neutralizing opponents up close and personal.​

Best Tactical Tomahawks and Combat Tomahawks

1. Browning Shock N' Awe Tomahawk
browning shock n awe

The Browning Shock N’ Awe is my #1 recommendation for several reasons.

It's light weight (1.5 lbs), 10.5” long, and has a full tang design.

It's also 1 piece of 1055 high carbon steel, and reasonably priced.

If 10.5” is too short, Browning makes a 13” version called the Browning Shock N’ Awesome for a few bucks more.

Paul's Top Pick

Ideal for: Anyone that wants a compact, lightweight CQC battle tomahawk that is built to triumph in battle. The Shock N' Awe is the best combat tomahawk in my opinion.

Pros: Made by a trusted brand, Browning. Compact, lightweight, and has a full tang design (1 piece of 1055 high carbon steel).

Cons: 10.5” might be too short for some folks, especially if you like more range. There's a 13” version for a few bucks more.

2. CRKT Kangee
crkt kangee

The CRKT 2725 Kangee is made by the Columbia River and Knife and Tool company (CRKT), which builds some incredible gear.

This tomahawk was designed by Ryan Johnson, a celebrity in the tactical arena.

The CRKT 2725 Kangee is 13.75” long and weighs 1.75 lbs.

It comes with a molle compatible sheath (it weighs about 1.5 lbs without the sheath).

It has a full tang and is 1 piece of SK5 forged carbon steel. It's also referred to as a crkt hatchet by some.

The top face of the Kangee can be sharpened to add an entire new dimension to your CQC tactics with this tool.

Pros: Designed by one of the best tactical thinkers in the industry. Made by CRKT. Full tang. Rugged design.

Cons: The price is a little higher for this excellent thawk, but worth it.

3. RMJ Tactical S13 Strike

If you have the money to spend, the RMJ Tactical S13 Strike is the way to go. It would be my #1 recommendation but it’s very expensive. In addition, there's limited quantities made, so you might have to wait awhile to get one.

The RMJ S13 Strike is 13.5” long, weighs only 1.25 lbs, and is a full tang design made with hammer forged, all chrome 4140 steel. This thawk is designed to pierce a Kevlar helmet.

Ideal for: someone that has lots of funds for a premium thawk as well as the patience to wait in line to get one.

Pros: Lifetime warranty. Premium quality and design. A hand forged tomahawk. Full tang. A beast.

Cons: Very expensive. This tool is out of most folks’ price range for a thawk, which is why it’s my #3 recommendation and not #1.

Military, Firefighting, and Police

sw extraction tomahawk

By a military situation, I mean any situation in which a tomahawk will be used not only as a possible weapon, but more so as a battlefield tool used for breaching, excavation, and extraction.

In other words, to destroy physical barriers such as doors, walls, fences, windows, barricades, etc. This situation includes use by Military, Firefighters, Police, and SWAT.

There are obviously other tools that can be used for this purpose (think of a huge, but heavy pry-bar), but the right tomahawk can be extremely effective at this task.

In addition, tomahawks are lightweight compared to these other tools. They can be very effective at eliminating physical barriers to ensure situations are resolved as quickly as possible.

I've read several firefighting and police stories in which having this type of tomahawk saved a life, as the first responder didn't have to run back to his vehicle to get a pry bar or fire axe at a critical moment.

Factors to Consider

Below are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting a thawk for this situation.

Purpose

How will you use the thawk? Some common uses for tomahawks in this situation are breaching operations, obstacle removal, extraction, excavation, and other utility uses.​ Having a tool on your person with this capability could be a life saver.

Reliability and Durability

Reliability is very important but not as absolutely critical as in a tactical/combat situation discussed above. However, durability is very important as you will bashing other hard materials.​

Design

Design is important in the sense that the thawk you choose is made for chopping, piercing, prying, and dominating physical barriers.​

This includes having not only a good blade on the thawk but also a piercing spike on the opposite end of the blade. You also want to look for a hawk that can be used as a pry bar.

Cost

For military or police use, cost shouldn’t be a barrier but we live in a world in which these budgets are limited. Fortunately, there are some outstanding thawks available at reasonable prices.​

Size (Length and Weight)

In terms of size, a thawk for this application should be longer and heavier if possible. This will give you more weight that translates into more momentum and breaking force as well as more leverage from the longer length.​

Summary

When selecting a tomahawk for a military, firefighting, or police application, you want a tool that is designed to be very effective at breaching, extracting, prying, and removing physical barriers.​

In addition, you want your tool to be long enough and heavy enough to give you mechanical leverage and additional striking power.

Top Recommendations for Military, Firefighting, and Police

Here’s my top picks for this situation:

1. Smith and Wesson Extraction & Evasion Tomahawk
smith wesson sw671 extraction evasion tomahawk

The S&W Extraction & Evasion Tomahawk is built tough.

It’s 15.9” long, weighs 2.7 lbs, and is made with 1070 high carbon steel.

It’s made of 1 piece of steel that is 8 mm thick and has a full tang. This thawk is designed to take abuse and get the job done fast.

Smith and Wesson is a great brand that makes incredible products, and this one is no exception.

It’s my #1 recommendation for military, firefighting, and police because of its robust design and very reasonable price point.

Paul's Top Pick

If you have a bigger budget and want an even more specialized thawk for breaching, then my #2 recommendation is better for you.

Pros: Rugged design. Full tang: 1 piece of thick 1070 high carbon steel. Made by Smith and Wesson, a solid brand. Very reasonable price. Can also be used for self defense in a pinch.

Cons: Designed for extraction, but not as specialized for it as other breaching tools.

2. Gerber Downrange Tomahawk
gerber downrange military tomahawk

The Gerber Downrange Tomahawk is a rugged tool designed specifically for breaching tasks.

The axe head can cut through walls, rope, and other light barriers and the hammer head is perfect for busting door knobs, locking, devices, and hinges.

This thawk also has a pry bar integrated into its handle, allowing the user to get a lot of leverage.

This thawk is designed to demolish physical barriers. It also comes with a molle compatible sheath.

It’s just over 19” long, weighs 2.5 lbs with the sheath (1.9 lbs without the sheath). Made with 420HC steel and has a full tang.

Pros: Made in the USA. Designed to be rugged and specifically for breaching operations. Full tang. Perfect for military, firefighting, and police.

Cons: Higher price. Not designed for fighting someone in a tactical or combat situation as it’s specialized for breaching.

Comes with a dull blade (done on purpose for safety in breaching operations). The blade can be sharpened though if you want a breacher and a fighter in the same thawk.

3. Estwing Black Eagle Tomahawk Axe
estwing ebta black eagle tomahawk

I'm a big fan of Estwing tools. They really know what they're doing and make some very durable products.

The Estwing  Black Eagle Tomahawk is an excellent choice for breaching use if you’re on a very tight budget. It’s inexpensive, and it chops through brick better than it does wood according to many reviews.

It's 16.25” long, weighs only 1.7 lbs, has a shock reduction grip (70% vibration reduction), and has a full tang (1 piece of forged 1055 steel).

Pros: Made in the USA. Solid full tang. Built to last. Very reasonable price. Long, but light weight.

Cons: Not as incredible at breaching operations as the above recommendations; however, it’s a lot cheaper. It’s the lower budget choice.

Survival

crkt kangee tomahawk

In a survival situation, you need a tomahawk for multiple uses, including: wood processing, hunting, self defense, and as a utility tool.

This type of tomahawk can also be a great choice for camping, hiking, and backpacking.

A tomahawk intended for survival should be selected strategically with your other tools and gear for a survival situation.

For example, depending on what axe and/or hatchet you have, you’ll want a tomahawk to compliment your capabilities and even provide some overlap capability for critical survival tasks.

Another great option for self defense in a survival situation is a machete. I wrote a separate guide on how to select the best one.

Factors to Consider

Let’s take a look at the factors to consider when picking a tomahawk for survival.​

Purpose

What will you use the thawk for in this situation? Wood processing? Hunting? Self defense? Breaching operations?​

​Overall, a survival situation might require a tomahawk that can perform well in multiple situations described in this guide. Or depending on your gear, a thawk might be selected for one specific role. How does the thawk fit in your overall gear strategy?

Reliability and Durability

Both reliability and durability are absolutely critical in a survival situation. You most likely won’t have access to buying a new tomahawk if yours fails. I’d recommend getting the best possible thawk for your budget for this situation.​

Design

The best design will be dependent on what your planned role for a thawk will be in this situation. If you plan on using the thawk for wood processing, make sure it’s a great design for handling wood.​

Look for a thawk that is designed specifically for breaching operations if you plan to have a need for destroying a lot physical barriers (see military, firefighting, and police situation above).​

For self defense needs, look for a thawk that is designed for a tactical/combat situation.

Overall, for survival, I would recommend finding a thawk made with high carbon steel and a full tang design (1 piece of steel).​

Cost

Most of us have limited funding. In a survival situation, prioritize which tools you will use the most for critical survival tasks, then spend your budget accordingly.​

If a tomahawk will be a primary tool and weapon in your gear, then spend a little more. If it’s just a nice to have, then spend more on tools that will matter most to you based on your survival plan.​

Size (Length and Weight)

The size of the thawk you choose will depend on your intended role for the tool. Perhaps you want a larger thawk to have additional bashing power and mechanical leverage through a longer length.​

Or perhaps you want a compact, lightweight thawk that can be rapidly deployed and used for self defense or even throwing. Let the desired role of the thawk dictate the length and weight needed.​

Summary

For survival, you want to select a tomahawk that will extend and compliment your other survival tools.​

Your survival needs will be dependent on your situation and the environment you will be in, and you want to prioritize your survival tasks and then spend your budget accordingly on the best tools for these tasks.​

Top Recommendations for Survival Tomahawks

Below are my top recommendations for a survival situation:

1. CRKT Kangee Tomahawk
crkt kangee

The CRKT 2725 Kangee is made by the Columbia River and Knife and Tool company.

It gets my recommendation as the best survival tomahawk.

CRKT also makes the CRKT 2720 Chogan, which is nearly the same thawk but with a hammer head on the end instead of the spike.

Either version is great for survival.

Ryan Johnson, a legend in the land of thawks. designed both the CRKT Kangee and Chogan.

Paul's Top Pick

The Kangee is 13.75” long and weighs around 1.5 lbs without the molle compatible sheath it comes with.

It's made from 1 piece of SK5 forged carbon steel and has a full tang.

Pros: Designed by Ryan Johnson, a thawk legend. Made by CRKT, a great company. Full tang with a built-to-last design.

Cons: A little more expensive than some of the other thawks here, but not too bad.

2. American LaGana VTAC
american lagana vtac

The American Lagana VTAC is a design inspired by the original Vietnam Tomahawk that is well renowned but rare and costly to find.

This thawk is made with drop-forged 1060 steel. It's 14 inches long, weighs 1.6 lbs, and comes with a molle compatible nylon sheath.

Pros: Made in the USA. Design inspired by Peter LaGana’s original Vietnam tomahawk, a legendary weapon.

Cons: Higher price. It’s not a full tang, but the design looks sufficient to take significant abuse.

3. CRKT Chogan T-Hawk (2730)
crkt chogan 2730

Columbia River Knife and Tool makes a very cool, old-school looking thawk called the Chogan T-Hawk (2730).

CRKT makes another Chogan thawk (the 2720) that is all steel.

This version of the Chogan (2730) is about 19” long and weighs around 2 lbs.

The thawk head is made of 1055 high carbon steel. The handle is wood, so not a full tang.

Pros: An old-school thawk for those that love wood handles.

Cons: Not a full tang. The head comes off the handle, as it’s held to the handle via tension. The upside is that in a survival situation, the handle can be replaced with wood if it fails.

Sport

united cutlery tomahawk

When selecting a tomahawk for sport, your selection criteria can be a lot more relaxed.

It’s all about finding a thawk that feels balanced, ergonomic, and throws well if that’s your intent. In addition, how it looks might be very important to you.

Factors to Consider

Let’s take a look at the factors to consider when picking a thawk for sport.

Purpose

How will you use your tomahawk for sport? Casual use in the backyard? Showing off to friends? Throwing? Maybe just as a prop on your wall or bookshelf?​

Reliability and Durability

If you’re going for a throwing tomahawk, then durability is a significant factor. If the tomahawk is just for show, reliability and durability don’t really matter.​

Design

There are tomahawks available that are designed just for throwing. If are looking for throwing hawks, then select one that is designed specifically for that task.​

Cost

With cost, you can go fairly cheap. If you plan on throwing it though, make sure it’s designed for this and won’t break on the first toss if it’s a cheap one.​

Size (Length and Weight)

The size you want for a thawk in this situation could vary. If you want something to look intimidating and cool, then go with a large thawk. If you plan on throwing it for sport, then go for a smaller hawk that is well balanced.​

Summary

For sport, you can have more relaxed criteria when selecting a tomahawk.​

If you simply want a cool tomahawk to show to your buddies at a bbq or to play around with in the backyard, there are plenty of lower cost options. Some of the best of these are reviewed below.​

In addition, there are also thawks designed specifically for throwing.​

Top Recommendations for Sport Tomahawks

1. United Cutlery M48 Ranger
united cutlery m48 tomahawk

The United Cutlery M48 is 15.5” long, weight around 2 lbs, and looks awesome. It’s a great choice for a sport tomahawk.

It’s made in China with 2Cr13 stainless steel and doesn’t have a full tang, which is why I recommend it for sport and not any of the other more serious situations above.

It will hold up to light duty and would look great on your wall or at a barbeque.

Pros: Looks epic and it's reasonably priced. A great show piece. It won’t rust, so low maintenance.

Cons: Made in China. Not a full tang.

2. SOG Tomahawk
sog f01tn cp tomahawk

SOG makes some great products, and the SOG F01TN-CP Tomahawk is no exception.

This is one of the most popular sport tomahawks out there. It’s also referred to as the sog hatchet.

The overall design is a salute to the original VTAC, of notable legend.

It's 15.75” long and weighs 1.5 lbs.

In addition, this thawk does not have a full tang and is made with stainless steel, which is why it’s one of my recommendations for sport and casual use.

It’s great for light duty and showing off to the boys. I wouldn’t take it into a combat situation though.

If you're looking specifically for the best throwing tomahawk, SOG makes a throwable version (set of 3).

Pros: Design inspired by the original and legendary VTAC. Low cost. A sweet looking thawk.

Cons: The head is stainless steel, and this thawk doesn’t have a full tang.

3. Cold Steel Trench Hawk
cold steel trench hawk

The Cold Steel Trench Hawk is 19” long, weighs 1.5 lbs, and is made with 1055 carbon steel.

I love Cold Steel. They make some great stuff.

The Cold Steel Trench Hawk Axe doesn’t have a full tang design, but it looks awesome. It’s perfect for light duty and looking tough.

Pro: Made by Cold Steel, a brand I love. The head is carbon steel, not stainless like most sporty thawks. Looks sweet. Fairly cheap.

Cons: Doesn't have a full tang.

BONUS: Best Practice Tomahawk
practice tomahawk

If you're looking for a practice tomahawk to sharpen your tactical skills, Cold Steel makes a great trainer thawk.

This trainer tomahawk is made of black neoprene rubber with no sharp edges.

It's cheap and an outstanding way to get a feel for a tomahawk.

It's 19.75" long, weighs around 1 lb, and it has a good balance to it.

I recommend training with a rubber thawk like this before you use your actual thawk, as a safety precaution.​

Conclusion

In summary, we discussed the importance of identifying your situation first before selecting a tomahawk. What will you use the tool for? This question clarifies your situation.

The most common situations are tactical/combat, military (and firefighting/police), survival, and sport.

We also discussed the top factors to consider for each situation.

Lastly, we reviewed the top tomahawks in each situation. I hope you enjoyed this guide. Best of luck out there!

paul brown

Now it's your turn! Please post a comment below. Share a story or your insights. If you enjoyed this article, please share it on facebook and twitter. Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers,
-Paul Brown

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