When it comes to throwing weapons, the throwing axe and tomahawk are two of the coolest/most popular. They’re often thought of as outdated weapons, but you might be surprised they’re still being used by some units in the US military, including special operations and reconnaissance teams.
While some are strictly for throwing, there are some awesome “tactical axes” that can be used as versatile tools, which is why they are popular among the camping, outdoor, and survival communities.
In this review we will cover the differences between them, as well as hatches, and I’ll so you some of my favorites in all 3 categories.
- Here is a List of the Best Throwing Axes and Tomahawks in 2019
- 1. SOG Fasthawk Axe (Best Seller)
- 2. Estwing Double Bit Axe
- 3. Cold Steel 90TH Trail Tomahawk
- 4. Estwing Sportsman's Axe (Best Hatchet)
- 5. Thrower Supply Throwing Axe
- 6. Zombie Killer Skullsplitter Axe
- 7. SOG Voodoo Hawk Mini F182N-CP
- 8. MTECH USA MT-602G10 Axe 10-Inch Overall
- 9. IUNIO Camping Axe
- 10. Columbia River Knife and Axe Tool
- Throwing Axe and Tomahawk Buying Guide
What is The Difference Between Throwing Axes and Tomahawks?
These terms are often used interchangeably by companies when marketing their products, but there are distinguishing differences. I hear a lot of debate about which is better, but really it just comes down to preferences and what function you are performing.
Weight: Typically, tomahawks are lighter (weighing between one to two pounds) than axes. While a lighter tool is good for backpacking or as a portable tool, the heavier head on an axe gives it a mechanical advantage for chopping and cutting (which is why a lot of people prefer axes for camping). That’s not to say tomahawks can’t chop/cut well, just axes are usually preferred.
Head and Handle Design: Tomahawks usually have a removable head, which can be nice if you’re trying to fit it into a pack or using it for travel. You can just pack the head and make a handle on site if needed. That said, a removable head also means it’s more prone to come off if not properly secured.
Size: Tomahawks are typically a little smaller (are about 15 to 16 inches) than throwing axes (which are between 15-20 inches). The head of a tomahawk can be removed from the handle for backpacking/portability.
Blade Design: When comparing a traditional axe and tomahawk, the blade of a tomahawk is typically thinner than an axe and more so designed for penetration rather than splitting. Tomahawks are more so thought of as weapons and axes more so as tools, but in reality, they both can do both jobs quite well if you know how to use them. For camping purposes, I tend to prefer an axe. I’m a larger guy and don’t mind carrying around a little more weight and tend to do more cutting/chopping then actual throwing anyway.
Here is a List of the Best Throwing Axes and Tomahawks in 2019
1. SOG Fasthawk Axe (Best Seller)
Type: Throwing Axe, chopping, camping, survival, and backpacking hatchet
Weigh: 19 ounces
Length: 12.5 inches
Before you read my review of the Fasthawk, check out this video to see it in action! this Hawk is a ton of fun to through and is very durable.
It has a 2-inch blade fashioned from 420 satin-polished stainless steel. The axe head is made separate from the polymer handle, which has a very long life span. This hatchet conforms to the standards of the “World Axe Throwing League”, but not to the “National Axe Throwing Federation”, as they accept only wood handles. Not only is this compact axe good for throwing, but it is multipurpose, with a hammer and spike for piecing opposite of the blade edge. The ballistic nylon sheath attaches sling style to your camping gear or belt making it the perfect survival axe. It is handy, easy to carry, and not in the way.
The lightweight design makes it difficult for beginners to learn
2. Estwing Double Bit Axe
Type: Axe, Wood Splitting Tool
Weight: 38 ounce
Length: 17.2 inches
Hardly any products compare with the excellent quality of Estwing. They have been making fine axes and tools for over 70 years. The Estwing “Double Bit Axe” comes with a lifetime warranty and is made in the USA. You will definitely get a lifetime of hard work with it’s rugged forged steel construction. The grip is patented for maintaining impact reduction and vibration, while giving an easy grip for tackling wood splitting in the wilds and other outdoor chores. If you are wanting a reliable top quality versatile axe/tool, this is the one for you. It comes complete with a mega tough and quality made nylon sheath.
Here is a is a pretty good video review of the the axe.
3. Cold Steel 90TH Trail Tomahawk
Type: Throwing hatchet, camping
Weight: 1.34 pounds
Length: 22 inches
Before I talk about this Tomahawk, check out this video review. It talks about some reasons you might want to carry tomahawk instead of an axe. Agree or disagree with the video, it’s still a pretty entertaining video to watch.
The “Trail Hawk” made it on this list in second place because it is as close as you can get to a professional throwing hatchet or axe without being one. It is perfect for practice out amongst the hills and in the woods. The handle is just a tab short for meeting the requirements of the NATF (National Axe Throwing Federation).
A “hickory“ handle is required when it comes to the wood type for an authentic handle. The “Trail Hawk” has a very beautiful classical appearance. It is a nice looking hatchet, as stated, and has a completely hand forged head made of carbon steel. The blade length is considered long at 6 1/2 inches, with a primary edge of of 2 1/4 inches. The pricing is amazing in general. If an inexperienced thrower accidentally breaks the wooden handle, it is easy to replace.
The wooden handle is more prone to being damaged than most other materials
4. Estwing Sportsman's Axe (Best Hatchet)
Type: Camping Axe
Weight: 1.86 pounds
Length: 14 inches
The “Estwing Sportsman’s Axe” is made in the USA and is absolutely beautiful. The craftsmanship is amazing. The “Estwing Sportsman’s Axe” sports a real leather grip and is fantastically forged all in one piece of tempered steel, accounting for its durability and longevity.
If you want a camping and hiking axe that is going to be around a long time, then this is the one for you. Eastwing is very well known and some of their axes from the 1940s are still in service today, as they were handed down from generation to generation. Eastwing builds tools to last. The 3 ¼ inch blade is hand sharpened and polished before it ever gets to you. There is no need to be concerned about the quality of this fine camping axe, which also comes with it’s own ballistic nylon sheath with a loop for your belt. No detail is left out when it comes to the “Estwing Sportsman’s Axe”. I attached a video review of this axe below. This hatchet is a dream for camping!
5. Thrower Supply Throwing Axe
Type: Professional level throwing tomahawk/axe
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Length: 19 inches
This professional throwing tomahawk/axe is placed at the top of the “Best Throwing Axes and Tomahawks of 2018” because it is exactly what you are looking for when it comes to professional competitions. The wooden handle meets the requirements of the NATF(National Axe Throwing Federation).
They require wood (Hickory) handles in order to duplicate authenticity. The “Axe-Win” is certainly a good representative of an authentic axe, hatchet, and tomahawk. The head of this award-winning tomahawk/ axe is hand forged with high carbon steel. Each one is done individually by the best in blacksmith work. The utmost in detail and quality craftsmanship have gone into each one of these tomahawks/hatchets, making sure they are perfectly balanced for the ultimate in throwing experience. The weight and length, plus all other standards (including the 3.75-inch blade) of this quality competition tool adhere to the requirements of the NATF.
Here is a video review of the axe.
6. Zombie Killer Skullsplitter Axe
Type: Throwing Axe
Weight: 8.6 ounces
Length: 11.5 inches
The “Zombie Killer” made the list of “Best Throwing Axes and Tomahawks of 2018” because of its popularity, gross sales, and satisfied customers. Everyone should own at least one and they make great gifts. This armory replica (which is very serviceable) will certainly blow your mind while being put to good use with your throwing skills. Its heavy sawback design is deserving of attention and can remind one of a “Ninja Star” to a certain degree when throwing it because it is so “lightweight”. Do not let the weigh of it convince you that it is not durable because it has proven it’s strength under the most rigid of conditions.
The “Zombie Killer” is solidly constructed of stainless steel with a black powder coating. The bright orange logo on the black head says “Zombie Killer”. The “Zombie Killer” will fit neatly into your hand and features a matching (orange) nylon cord wrapped grip with a large finger hole. The finger hole gives you the leading edge in accuracy when throwing. This is a whole lot of design and flare, while still being incredibly useful for almost unbelievable pricing and comes complete with a “snap fastened” nylon sheath. The loop on the professional sheath attaches to a belt, backpack, or where you would like to carry your throwing axe for safety when not in use. I attached a video of the axe below. The video clarity isn’t great but it’s still nice to see how the axe looks in person.
7. SOG Voodoo Hawk Mini F182N-CP
Type: Throwing Axe, Survival
Weight: 23.1 ounces
Length: 12.5 inches
This fantastic little straight edge axe/hawk can be used for throwing, or as a survivalist tool. The “VooDoo Hawk” creates magic in it’s throwing power and has other values too when it comes to survival skills. In addition to the blade, it also has a hammered edge. The head is made of stainless steel and it has a hardness rating of RC. 46-52,as determined on the “Rockwell Scale”. It is a convenient size and perfect for where ever you are, rather you are in the woods, trekking the mountains, or in the urban jungle. Its handle is fiberglass-reinforced nylon.
The handle of this mini tomahawk is a very strong point of strength as far as special features go. It is anti-corrosive and temperature resistant, making it the perfect all-weather tool. It is comfortable to grip even in less than ideal weather conditions, such as cold rain and snow. For secure storing, it comes with its own nylon sheath. These little compact throwing axes and hawks are all the rage and are becoming a necessity for modern venturing. It is almost as common as having a purse and a lighter. You might not be clearing away branches and other items all of the time, but when you are not, you can sure count on good entertainment in throwing.
8. MTECH USA MT-602G10 Axe 10-Inch Overall
Type: Tactical Battle Axe/Hatchet, survival
Weight: 1.5 pounds
Length: 10 inches
This ultra-cool tactical battle axe features a 5-inch blade and G10 handle scales for great looks and use. In addition to the blade, it has a hammer back, giving it a variety of uses in survival type scenarios. It is easy to carry and comes complete with its own sheath. It is solidly constructed of black 400 stainless steel. You don’t have to worry about losing your survival tool because the head cover has buttons to securely fasten it in. The “Mtech” logo is on the axe body and the sheath. You’ll definitely want to add this little beauty to your other tactical tools and weapons. No one will ever believe how much you paid for it. And Yep! As an added bonus it is quality crafted in the USA.
9. IUNIO Camping Axe
Type: Multifunctional Camping Axe, Tactical, Survival
Length: 16 inch
Along with the “Zombie Killer” axe, you will definitely want to invest in this multifunctional axe as a “must have” for your survival gear or even carry in your car for emergency use. This comes with extensions which makes it more than your average multi-use tool. The “IUNIO” is complete with a rugged knife extension and other attachments. You can make it full size at 16 inches or shorter. It is all up to you. It even comes with a compass, should you need one. If you go into the wilderness and can only take a few things you will definitely want to choose this axe and accompaniments. The axe has a100 percent lifetime warranty and comes with a sheath.
10. Columbia River Knife and Axe Tool
This “Nobo” is a real beauty. “Hot” forged out of 1055 carbon steel. The “Tennessee Hickory” handle is amazing. This was actually designed by a professional in the tactical and combat survival business by the name of Ryan Johnson (of RMJ Tactical in Chattanooga, Tennessee). It is modeled after the 18th-century tomahawks, applying the technology of modern engineering. Ryan Johnson, the designer, has applied a specialty of using the “old tomahawks” and redefining them for “Special Forces” and military applications, including law enforcement. When he came up with the “Noho” he mostly designed it, not as a weapon, but as an outdoor tool for survival. This is the idea camping axe/tomahawk. It doesn’t come with a sheath or head cover, but you can order one made of full grained leather, specially designed for it from the same company. This same manufacturing company also makes quality knives.
The only con to this excellent piece is that it does not include a sheath.
Throwing Axe and Tomahawk Buying Guide
Brief History of Throwing Axes/Tomahawks/Throwing Weapons
Throwing weapons date all the way back to prehistoric times. Caveman used crudely fashioned tools such as stones and sharpened sticks for hunting and self-defense. We often envision stones and rocks as the cave man’s tools, but the “throwing stick” has gone down in history as one of mankind’s first weapons (more commonly known as a spear). It is said the “Throwing Stick” was the weapon of choice for Egypt’s “Tutankhamun,” around 1300 B.C.
When metals became incorporated in throwing weapons, the Japanese developed “Shurikens”, also known as “Ninja Stars”. The Ninja Star was similar to the Hira-Shuriken, which was a round throwing weapon with four blades. The Native American tribes really contributed to advancements in throwing weapons. As you most likely know, the Native Americans were famous for throwing their “Tomahawk” fashioned from a rock tied with sinew to a strong stick. They were very adept at throwing these towards their target.
When the Europeans came to what we now call America, they also brought advanced throwing weapons made with metals. The Native Americans quickly adapted and the “Throwing Axe” along with a brand-new form of their “Tomahawk” (incorporating metal) was thrust into their hands. Since then throwing axes” and Tomahawks have developed into very sophisticated precision weapons that are still used on the modern battlefields.
Differences Between Axes, Tomahawks, and Hatchets
The terms axe, tomahawk, and hatchet are often used interchangeably by companies for ease of advertising purposes, but there are differences between them. It’s also important to note there are design differences between traditional axes and throwing axes. As mentioned earlier, the biggest differences are in weight, size, head design, and differences in how they are meant to be held and used.
Distinguishing features, carry style, and Uses
- Tomahawks are usually thought of more as weapons than tools, but in reality, they can be used as tools as well. A distinguishing difference between a tomahawk and an axe is the removable head, which can be an advantage if you’re looking for a more portable blade/throwing weapon. You hold a tomahawk (often called a “hawk”) with one hand when throwing it. You grasp it almost like it is a hammer, and you are getting ready to pound a nail. The “nail” is the target. The tomahawk flies speedily through the air and “nails” the target right on the head. In a lot of competitions and clubs, throwing tomahawks, axes, and hatchets, are often referred to as one in the same. You hardly hear the word hatchet anymore (except for in camping and outdoor use), it is mostly “hawks” and “axes”.
- Hatchets are made to use with one hand, have a fairly short handle, and often include a hammered edge. Originally, they were designed to fit into smaller spaces which required less of a “back-swing” than an axe. You don’t hear the term “throwing hatchet” much, even though they are easy to throw. Hatchets have always been as much fun to throw as a knife. The “Battle Hatchet” has been taken over by the “Battle Axe”. Hatchets for outdoor use are commonly employed in cutting saplings and clearing small branches along trails and such. Boy Scouts like to carry them. The modern compact axes double as a hatchet and are very “multi-purpose”.
- Axes, as mentioned before, the terms axe and tomahawk are often used interchangeably, but there are distinguishing differences. Along with the differences noted under the tomahawk section, axe heads are typically a little heavier and on average are bigger than tomahawks. That said, when it comes to throwing competitions they fall into the same category. Throwing axes of today are precision crafted weapons. The WATL (World Axe Throwing League) permits either throwing with one hand or two hands. Axes require two hands for splitting firewood or logs. The long-handled axe is perfect for chopping up firewood because of its strong striking power when brought down full force from an overhead swing. The axe was the lumberjack’s constant companion, and they too, had competitions. It would be nigh impossible to cut a huge tree down with the common hatchet of “yesteryears”.
6 Tips and Consecrations to Find the Best Throwing Axe for You
Browse over these tips and consecrations to find the perfect axe or tomahawk for you.
- Overall Weight – For the NATF (National Axe Throwing Federation) the axe head must weigh between 1.25 and 1.75 pounds. Lighter axe heads are preferred by most professional throwers because they feel it allows them to make more accurate throws. If you plan to participate in these local clubs and throwing competitions you can use your own set of axes, but make sure they comply with the NATF standards. You do not want to waste your money on an axe that does not meet weight standards. It is like getting a regulation basketball, or any other sport item. You want the right one that meets regulations and standards.
If you are just beginning or just want a fun throwing axe or throwing tomahawk for recreational use it’s okay to use a non-regulation. Some weigh up to five pounds and will stick in wood easier because it’s easier to throw them with greater force. If you watch professionals throw its quite impressive. Yhey hit targets perfectly, and at just the right angle for penetration, even with the lighter throwing axes and heads. It just shows what these throwing weapons are capable of with some practice.
- Design/Functions – As mentioned above, some axes are meant solely for throwing, while others are designed more to be “multitools” or tactical throwing axes. In the list above of the best throwing axes I have listed each axe’s category but be sure to research and read product descriptions/reviews to ensure you are getting an axe that will best perform the function you’re buying it for.
All the axes on this list are capable of being thrown, even the ones designed for camping and survival purposes. However, not all meet NATF standards if you plan on practicing for or using them for throwing competitions.
- Grip – The grip refers to the covering on the handle of your throwing axe, the part where you hold on to it. The grips can be made of several materials, including plaster polymers, synthetic leather, and genuine leather. G10 scales perfectly when it comes to grips for throwing axes. Some of the axes have a “shock reduction grip” or “all-weather grips” but these aren’t really necessary when it comes to throwing axes, unless you are using them for multifunctional purposes, such as survival or tactical situations where they are likely to be used in adverse conditions.
- Material – I prefer solid steel throwing axes and tomahawks. Composite materials can also be good. Pro axe throwers will often use a wooden handle because it is required by the NATF (National Axe Throwing Federation). Wood handles are not recommended for beginners, as they can break easily, especially when they are thrown inaccurately or incorrectly. If you are using your throwing axe in the outdoors it is best to get a one made of steel in that is designed more as a tactical throwing axe.
- Skill level required – When you are purchasing a throwing axe, you should always bear in mind your skill level and rather the axe meets your needs or not. Most reputable dealers will list if it is a good throwing tomahawk or throwing axe for beginners, and visa versa. Also, something to take into consideration is rather it can be used in competitions and does it meet the standards of the NATF for professional axe throwers.
- Budget – Price and budget is always a major consideration. It is worth your while to go the extra mile and invest in an axe that will pass the test of time. Pay attention to customer reviews and compare similar throwing axes on the market axes to find which one has the best features for the least money. A really good tactical throwing axe can be quite expensive, but on the average, most throwing axes are very affordable. I will list what I think is the best budget throwing axe above.
Are throwing axes safe for kids?
Most areas of the United States permit kids to use throwing axes in a guarded and safe environment under the close supervision of an adult. The legal guardian or parent must be present. If you are in the state of Illinois, you need to check the laws really close regarding the use of weapons in any form, no matter what your age, when it comes to throwing axes.
Are throwing axes legal?
In most cases throwing axes are legal to carry and use in such places as a “throwing club”. It is not legal to throw an axe where it could seemingly harm another individual. In the matter of self-defense, it would fall into the same category as any other weapon when it comes to being tried because you caused harm or death with your throwing axe. It is always best when transporting your throwing axe that it be in a “sheath” or a covering for the blade. Certain areas such as Illinois, California, and Texas, have definite laws requiring such for bladed weapons. The axe and hatchet are used for camping and other completely harmless outdoor activities and have been used for centuries. If you are in doubt as to the legality of your throwing axe, take the time to check into local laws and those of your state pertaining to such.
How hard is it to throw a “throwing axe”?
Throwing a “throwing axe” is not real difficult, but it might take quite some time before you can hit your target. For beginners, it is best to start with a small hatchet with a blade that is not extremely sharp. Safety would be the number one concern. After a while, you will become adept at the rotation throwing used when throwing an axe, and striking a target. Really, it simply comes down to time spent praticing and how well you can build up your axe throwing muscle memory. How long it takes to become adequate will completely depend on you and will be different for everyone!
What makes a throwing axe “Tactical”? A “Tactical” throwing axe is one that can meet the requirements of tactic use, such as in military combat. Police will often use tactical weapons as an immediate form of support should they get in danger. Tactical gear is often finished with camouflage or dark finishes such as black. Be cautious of buying a low-quality throwing axe because it looks cool and is using the description of “tactical” to make a buck. There are some very high quality and well crafted “tactical” throwing axes on the market when it comes to the best of “Throwing Axes and Tomahawks”.
Whether you’re a beginner axe thrower or a seasoned veteran, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality throwing axe. Tomahawks and axes are one of the earliest weapons and are still being used in the US military and even by special forces and reconnaissance units.
There are tons of different axes, some are strictly for throwing and some are more multi-purpose and good for camping and as tactical weapons/tools.
This was a long review, let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines. As an outdoor enthusiast, he has been testing outdoor and tactical style gear for over 20 years. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. On this website, we only write about things within our range of expertise like tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. Check out the “About Us” tab to meet the team.