The whistle of a tomahawk twisting through the air, the solid THUNK! of its head sticking into dead wood… few things are as satisfying as a successful axe throw.
Since I was a kid, when my dad mounted iron tomahawk-style heads on ash shafts, I’ve been intrigued by the art of throwing an axe.
At camp sites we built targets from sawed-off logs and played games with points gained or penalties for missing a stick. You’d pace back from the target to find your “spot,” and then with a throw and the slight flick of a wrist release the spinning blade into the air.
This week it all came back to me. I was with three friends and my two young sons in the woods. We had a mean-looking tomahawk to test from United Cutlery, sold as the M48 Kommando Tactical Tomahawk on knife supersite BUDK.com.
It costs just $39. But for that price the M48 gives a stainless steel head bolted to a nylon/fiberglass handle made to take the beatings of being thrown.
The head on this piece is not to be taken lightly. Tote it carefully in the sheath and watch out once you’re ready to throw — both ends are sharp.
The double-edged design is made so you can double your chances sticking in the blade. On a throw, with the axe twisting through the air, it can strike a target on its wide front upswept axe blade or on its rear spike, a dagger-like protrusion set where a hammer or rounded blunt would usually be.
It worked for us. In an empty park near sunset we found a snag, its bark-less trunk weathered and gray.
I paced 20 feet back from the tree. My arm went back, and with a fling the M48 tomahawk left my hand and spun away through the air toward its target.
“Nice stick,” someone yelled, the axe head pinned five feet up the tree’s trunk. I still had the old skill.
Throwing a tomahawk is not about luck. The technique is deliberate and calm, a throw and a wrist-flick, the release timed so the blade cuts a horizontal path ahead.
Two friends tried the technique. Both threw too hard at first, the tomahawk spinning wildly and ricocheting off the tree. But with some instruction the M48 began to work for them, sometimes on its front side or, if it spun another half-turn, sticking in on the rear spike.
We abused the M48 Kommando in two spots and for over an hour of throwing. The piece is built solidly, showing not a sign of use despite some bad throws and misses where the blade hit the dirt.
I chopped the bark off another dead tree later in the night. The brand sells the Kommando as a multiuse piece that can be put to work chopping firewood. Just look out for that rear spike; it’s dangerous to swing this axe like a hammer with its backside spike pointed up.
We hiked out of the woods in the dark. The tomahawk gave a great excuse to get out, despite mosquitoes and the wood ticks we picked off in the parking lot. My kids were too small to try the axe this week. But they’re looking forward to the tomahawk “games” as they grow.
—Stephen Regenold is the editor of GearJunkie.com. See BUDK.com for more info on the M48 Kommando Tactical Tomahawk.
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