You can’t watch a movie, play a video game or pick up a gun magazine without seeing the latest tactical tomahawk wreaking havoc and looking lethal. Specific examples that come to mind are scenes from “The Patriot” and “The Last of the Mohicans” as well as the Medal of Honor video game franchise. Of course, much of the usage portrayed is hollywood fiction and mere possession of a tomahawk won’t make you into a steely eyed tomahawk fighter any more than owning a 1911 will turn you into a gunfighter.
The recent rise in popularity of the tool does bear some looking into. If you take the tomahawk back to its Native American roots you’ll find blades made of stone that were one sided, similar to a hatchet in functionality. As time went on the blade changed to metal and the other side began seeing pipe heads or spikes for either ceremonial or utility purposes.
There were a small number of tomahawks issued during Vietnam and recently in the sandy and mountainous regions of the world. Conventional and special operations forces are carrying tomahawks again. The tomahawk can be used for breaching, bushwacking and, shall we say, “self-defense.”
There are a number of companies that sell tomahawks and most of them are high quality while some are not. Prices range anywhere from $30 to $700+. Some of the most widely available commercial tomahawks are composite construction and aren’t made in America. The ones that are made here, or in a country of one of our allies, are pricey. Talking with a friend he mentioned that Estwing, the American hammer manufacturer, was now making a tomahawk and that it was a a great value at $40.
I looked into it and discovered the Black Eagle tomahawk. It is forged from a single piece of steel. The tang is surrounded by Estwing’s excellent Shock Reduction Grip which not only absorbs whatever shocks would be sent to your hand it also has a decent tackiness to it to prevent slippage when wet.
The Black Eagle measures just over 16” and weighs 27 oz. It has a blade/spike configuration and its blade is 2.5” wide. The blade comes from the factory with a utility edge that most people will want to hone before using. The spike at the rear does not have sharpened edges and it’s up to the end-user to decide if they want to put an edge to that as well. Depending on your usage it may not be necessary.
My typical usage for the tomahawk isn’t as an implement of warfare, throwing it into the temples of unsuspecting taliban sentries but rather chopping limbs, digging small ditches and using the flat to drive in a stake or flatten something out. I must say that I’m pretty happy with it. The handle is execeptional. I have had some really off-kilter hits that should have left my hand stinging and I didn’t feel a thing. The single forged construction also inspires confidence. While other hawks have a blade attached to a handle, inviting failure at that weak spot, the Black Eagle doesn’t have such a weak spot.
I know there is a lot of attention to throwing tomahawks and there are even competitions for that particular skill. I don’t have any tomahawk throwing knowledge, experience or desire so I can’t speak to whether the Black Eagle would be a good throwing ‘hawk. I know that when using it, it feels well balanced and the blade and spike easily set with little effort. I think that speaks a lot to the handle geometry.
The Black Eagle line comes in different blade and handle colors. While mine is all black, there is also an all blue version and a black metal/leather handle version as well. It comes with a usable but cheaply made sheath. Mine now rests in a custom kydex sheath made for it by Don at Morph Custom Kydex. While there is no secondary retention, the sheath securely holds the tomahawk in place whenever it is rigged to a pack using the sheath’s eyelets.
I know some people will deride the Estwing offering because “it looks like a tool” or “it’s not tactical enough.” However I invite you to think about the Glock. It’s ugly and it doesn’t look cool but by gosh it gets the job done and it’s the definition of reliability. I think the same could be said of the Black Eagle. Yep, it looks like a tactical framing hammer. But it does everything I ask of it, for about $40 and it will probably be a tool I hand down to my son. Can you say those three things about the tacticool ‘hawks out there?
Where to find it: