Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (2023)

Tools are usually made with a specific function in mind, which means there is no true all-around tool. For preppers staying in one location, it is possible to keep multiple kinds of tools to aid in accomplishing the task at hand.

The tomahawk and the axe may look similar but have completely different areas where they perform best. However, based on the number of tasks in which one excels, the tomahawk is a clear winner.

There are many types of axes and tomahawks. In this article, we will be comparing the traditional tomahawk used as a tool, and not as a weapon, and match it against a full-length axe.


Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (1)

A tomahawk is a bladed tool attached to a heft (handle) traditionally made of wood. It’s typically used for tasks that require cutting with a sharp edge. Its steelhead is thin and curves more than an axe. The backend of the blade can either be a spike or a hammer. A tomahawk’s eye, which is the hole where the heft inserts are often rounded.

Its heft becomes wider in diameter as it reaches the top part. The reason for this is that the steelhead is inserted from the bottom of the handle, and pushed upwards until it is held in place by the widened part of the heft. Due to this, it is easier to replace the broken handle of a tomahawk when out in the wilds.

(Video) Hatchets Vs Tomahawks

The length of a tomahawk’s handle varies from 16 inches up to more than 21 inches. Unlike the axe, its handle is typically rounded and straight, without a knob at the bottom.


Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (2)

Similar to a tomahawk, an axe is a bladed tool attached to a heft made of wood. Its steelhead is heavier, denser, wider, and less curved compared to a tomahawk’s. Additionally, the steelhead is fatter and shaped like a wedge. The back of the blade is blunt and flat.

The axe’s eye is wedged shaped. Compared to a tomahawk’s handle, the axe’s heft is carved at the top to accommodate the steelhead. It is then secured by driving a wedge on the top part of the axe to tighten the fit of the steelhead on the handle.

On top of this, the axe’s handle is usually longer, at more than 20 inches up to 31 inches in length. The handle is squared and has a knob at the bottom that functions to keep the hands from slipping when chopping wood.


These two tools will be compared based on the following tasks that are essential in a survival setting.

(Video) Tomahawk vs Hatchet

  • Felling a tree
  • Chopping and splitting wood
  • Cutting branches
  • Carving wood
  • Field dressing a game
  • Cooking
  • Clearing an area/path
  • Building a shelter

Felling a Tree: Axe

Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (3)

The winner in this category is the axe. It is no surprise since it was made for this purpose. Its wedged-shaped, dense steelhead and its long handle make it an efficient tool for cutting down a tree. Its long handle is made for a wider backswing which increases the force of impact, digging deeper into a tree trunk.

Additionally, its dense head and handle absorb the force much better, easing up the vibrations that travel into the user’s arms, which prevents easy fatigability.

In comparison, the tomahawk can also be swung with a wide backswing to increase its force. However, the length of its handle, the lack of a knob, and the relatively lighter steelhead limit the force of impact compared to an axe. On top of this, its thin blade digs too deep and will often get stuck. There will also be more vibrations transferred that can easily tire one’s arms.

Chopping and Splitting Wood: Axe

Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (4)

Again, the axe is the clear winner because its design was made for this purpose. The wedge-shaped design of the steelhead easily chops and splits wood in half without getting stuck. Its long handle and the knob at the bottom of the heft makes it easier to swing the axe properly.

(Video) Saw vs. Axe vs. Hatchet vs. Large Knife (Bushcraft Tool Comparison)

The tomahawk on the other hand can still be used for chopping and splitting wood. However, due to its thinner blade, it’s harder to split wood, and would often get stuck in it. Furthermore, since its head is lighter, it cannot produce the same impact as the axe when used for chopping.

Cutting Branches, Carving Wood, Field Dressing, Cooking, Clearing an area/pathway and Building a Shelter: Tomahawk

Unfortunately, this is where the axe stops excelling. For the rest of the survival tasks, it is the tomahawk that holds the advantage. The main reason why an axe loses out from these tasks is due to its weight, and size. It can’t be efficiently held on one hand, and its weight and size make it difficult to use on tasks that require more control.

To reiterate, we are comparing a full-sized tomahawk and a full-sized axe. Since we are looking to find out which is a better all-around tool and it would be inappropriate to use different types to compare different tasks. As such, we are sticking to comparing only one type from each category.

  • Cutting Branches

The tomahawks lighter steelhead and thinner blade make it easier to wield using one hand. Due to the lighter head, it can also be held at the middle of its heft, to swing it in much tighter spaces. Furthermore, it can be used on top of trees since it doesn’t need a stable footing to swing it properly.

  • Carving Wood

Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (5)

The thin and light head of the tomahawk can be easily removed and used to carve wood. Its heft can even be modified to turn the tomahawk into an adze, a tool with a cutting edge perpendicular to the handle rather than parallel used for smoothing out logs, and as a makeshift hoe.

(Video) What is the Difference Between a Tomahawk Vs Hatchet Axe

  • Cooking and Field Dressing

Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (6)

Since it is easy to remove the tomahawk’s blade, it can be used as a knife for preparing ingredients for cooking. Unlike the heavy axe head, the tomahawk’s thin blade is easier to use in tasks that require more finesse. It can be used effectively to field dress hunted animals which require careful removal of the innards, without accidentally puncturing the intestines. Also, it can be used to peel fruits and skin wild game.

  • Clearing an Area

Aside from its ease of use for cutting down branches, it is also easier to use a tomahawk for clearing bushes and vegetations. Being able to hold and use it with one hand makes the tomahawk efficient at this task.

The hammer at the back of its blade can be used to breakdown rocks. An axe cannot be used for this purpose since it will loosen the fit of its head. For the tomahawk, this is not much of an issue since it is easier to retighten its steelhead.

  • Building a Shelter

Tomahawk vs Axe - Which is a Better All Around Tool? (7)

Building a shelter requires the combination of different functions in which the tomahawk excels on most of it. It requires the combination of felling a tree, chopping wood, carving wood, clearing an area, and hammering spikes. All of which combined can only be done by a tomahawk.

(Video) Machete VS Tomahawk - Which is Better !? Survival 101

Other sources would also compare these two tools in the context of self-defense and hunting. Most would often cite the tomahawks use as a throwing weapon. However, in a survival setting, throwing away your tool is a poor action to take, and it’s better to bring other forms of protection than to use an axe or a tomahawk for self-defense.

Ultimately, the tomahawk’s weight and size make it a better all-around tool compared to a full-length axe. It’s a versatile, lightweight tool that should be preferred over the axe when venturing out into the wild.

Related posts:

  1. 4 Types of Axes for Bushcraft Skills and Survival
  2. Difference Between Axe and Hatchet: An In-Depth Comparison
  3. 21 Most Dangerous Knives for Survival and Self-Defense


What is the difference between tomahawk and axe? ›

The first element is that tomahawks have a more or less round eye, unlike an axe, which has a narrow and almost triangular eye. This design characteristic is a remnant of early axe designs and has remained in use primarily because it is easier to put a handle in a round eye than a narrow eye.

Is a tomahawk better than a hatchet? ›

Uses – Tomahawks are more versatile than hatchets. They can be used for chopping, throwing, combat, and self-defense, while hatchets are ideal for cutting and chopping.

Are tomahawks good tools? ›

Tomahawk basics

The hawk's head shape is narrower than a hatchet's, with a smaller blade that penetrates more deeply when thrown or swung. These features make it a very effective, controllable wood cutting tool — it can also be used to split wood, but it's not ideal for that task.

What is a tomahawk good for? ›

Tomahawks are useful in camping and bushcraft scenarios. They are mostly used as an alternative to a hatchet, as they are generally lighter and slimmer than hatchets. They often contain other tools in addition to the axe head, such as spikes or hammers.

Do Navy SEALs use tomahawks? ›

Tomahawks were used throughout the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s to cut through jungle brush and chop, slice and dig to survive. While the US military did not officially issue tomahawks, the Marines, Army Rangers and Navy SEALs used them as discreet tools to get the job done.

What's so special about tomahawk? ›

Why Try a Tomahawk? The tomahawk steak is an incredibly tender steak with buttery, rich flavor. This section of the animal naturally collects more intramuscular fat, creating the beautiful white lines of fat – the fantastic marbling unique to the rib primal.

Do US soldiers use tomahawks? ›

The tomahawk was commonly carried by soldiers even prior to the Revolutionary War, but its use in modern times is not unprecedented. According to Johnson, soldiers have used tomahawks in most of the major wars the United States has fought.

What tomahawk do Navy Seals use? ›

SEAL Team 6 reportedly uses tomahawks created by renowned North Carolina knife maker Daniel Winkler. Winkler also created the tomahawks used in the 1992 film “The Last of the Mohicans.” Pictured here are the WK Ranger Breaching Axe and WK Ranger Axe.

Do Marines use tomahawks? ›

The U.S. Navy awarded a $217 million contract on May 24, 2022 for 154 Tomahawk Block V cruise missiles with 70 missiles going to the U.S. Navy, 54 going to the USMC, and 30 to the Army. The Army and USMC will have their missiles fired from trailers whereas the Navy will have them fired from their Mark 41 VLS cells.

Are tomahawks worth it? ›

Is it worth it? Well, that's up to you. If you are looking for a chunk of beef that looks and feels like you could go out and hunt more beef with it, the Tomahawk Steak is the cut for you. It's an impressive steak that's great for dropping jaws.

Are tomahawks good for self-defense? ›

Tomahawks with spike-style polls have become top sellers for self-defense. Having both a deep penetrating spike and the wide cutting face on the main blade makes a spiked 'hawk an excellent close protection tool. Some users have concerns about the spike because a sharp edge is always directed back at them.

Is a tomahawk good for cutting wood? ›

Hatchets, axes, or tomahawks make splitting and chopping wood a breeze. Don't struggle with a knife, or however else you're getting by.

How much damage does a tomahawk do? ›

Today's Tomahawks either carry a 1,000-pound conventional warhead or a package of 166 cluster bombs. The standard range is 1,000 miles. The 1,000-pound bomb is powerful enough to destroy a house or blast a crater roughly 20 feet wide, as shown in this Raytheon video.

What brand of tomahawk does the military use? ›

American Tomahawk Company is a US-based company which manufactures modern tomahawks for use by the US Military.

Can tomahawk hit ships? ›

Tomahawk Block V have longer range and dynamic targeting with the capability to hit vessels at sea (maritime strike role).

What axe does the military use? ›

The 5.11 Operator Axe is one of many handheld compact axes aimed at military service. The tomahawk, the hatchet, the ax, and other hand wielded cutting implements have a long history of service with the United States military.

Why are tomahawks so expensive? ›

The main reasons why a Tomahawk Steak is so expensive are the quality, prep time and size of the steak. They're a very large, Prime cut of beef that takes a lot of time to properly butcher in order to turn a Ribeye into a Tomahawk.

Why is it called tomahawk axe? ›

“Tomahawk” was derived from the Algonquian word otomahuk (“to knock down”). Early versions were made by tying a stone head to a handle with animal sinew or by passing a double-pointed chipped stone through a hole bored in a handle.

How accurate is tomahawk? ›

The Tomahawk is a long-range, unmanned weapon with an accuracy of about 5 metres (16 feet). The 5.6-metre- (18.4-foot-) long missile has a range of up to approximately 2,400 km (about 1,500 miles) and can travel as fast as 885 km (550 miles) per hour.

Are tomahawks lethal? ›

Tomahawks can be used to chop wood, break doors, dig, and some models can hammer nails (by using their sides). Modern tomahawks have a back spike; although both sides can still be lethal, even if dulled.

Can a tomahawk be used for anti ship? ›

The high subsonic (about 550 mph/885 kph) Maritime Strike Tomahawks will be equipped with a multimode seeker to accurately hunt for moving enemy vessels, but will also retain their land-attack capability for surface targets.

How much does a tomahawk missile cost? ›

Raytheon builds Tomahawks at a facility in Arizona. Each missile costs the Navy more than $1 million. In 2020 the Navy has around 4,000 Tomahawks.

What knife does Delta Force carry? ›

The Ontario 6143 M9 Bayonet Fixed Blade Knife is perfect for Delta Force operations. With a similar basic design to the Ka-bar style knife, the Ontario 6143 takes it a step further in functionality. This blade also doubles as a fixed bayonet for the M16 service rifle.

How heavy should a tomahawk be? ›

What cut is a tomahawk steak? The tomahawk—also called the cowboy ribeye or cowboy steak—is a large bone-in rib-eye steak cut from between the 6th and 12th ribs of the cow and usually weighs between 30 and 45 ounces.

Who makes the best tactical tomahawk? ›

11 Best Tactical Tomahawks
  • Estwing Black Eagle Tomahawk. ...
  • Cold Steel Trench Hawk. ...
  • Walther WAL50748 Tactical Tomahawk. ...
  • SOG Voodoo Hawk. ...
  • Gerber Downrange Tomahawk. ...
  • Hogue Knives EX-T01 Tomahawk. ...
  • Spyderco WarriorHawk. ...
  • TOPS Knives VI Ax.
25 Oct 2022

Can you throw a Tactical tomahawk? ›

Anyone can throw a tomahawk. Hatchet or tomahawk throwing is an activity that can be enjoyed year round in the back yard or in the woods. For centuries Native Americans and Mountain Men have used tomahawks and axes for hunting, chopping firewood, and protection, now they can be used for recreational fun.

Are tomahawks tools or weapons? ›

The tomahawk was a true multi-purpose tool. With it one could dress game, chop wood and clear brush. Choking up on the handle, the user could use it much like a knife. The length of the handle gave the blade tremendous velocity and force as well, making it a formidable weapon.

Who uses a tomahawk? ›

General Purpose Tool

Many Native Americans used tomahawks as general-purpose tools. Because they were small and light, they could be used with one hand. This made them ideal for such activities as hunting, chopping, and cutting. Both the Navajo and Cherokee peoples used them in this way.

Are tomahawks still used in the military? ›

The U.S. Army Stryker Brigade in Afghanistan, the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Grafenwöhr (Germany), the 3rd Brigade, and the 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis began carrying and using tomahawks as part of a rescue kit and as “modular entry tool.” And soldiers aren't the only modern users.

Is T Bone and tomahawk the same? ›

Tomahawk steak is not the same as a T-bone steak. A tomahawk steak is a cut from the beef rib primal which is essentially a ribeye with the bone left in. T-bone steak, on the other hand, is cut from the short loin of the cow and has a “T” shaped bone.

Should a tomahawk be sharp? ›

Rule #2: Keep the blade dull. You don't need a razor sharp edge to make your tomahawk stick in the target. So, as an added safety measure to you and those around you, keep the blade dull enough that it won't easily cut through skin.

Can Tomahawk missiles be intercepted? ›

Yes, intercepting incoming supersonic cruise missiles is possible.

Can a tomahawk carry a nuclear warhead? ›

The Tomahawk is an intermediate range, subsonic cruise missile that is launched from U.S. Navy ships and submarines. It provides a long-range, deep strike capability. The Tomahawk can carry either conventional or nuclear payloads, though policy decisions have phased out their nuclear role.

How far can you throw a tomahawk? ›

Advanced adult competitors can throw at distances up to 30 feet. Each of those throw lines should be marked prior to the event.

What steel is best for tomahawk? ›

When making a knife or axe, a high or medium carbon steel is needed. This kind of alloy is also called “spring steel” or “tool steel”.

Which tomahawk is the fastest? ›

With a whopping 2,586 hp and weighing only 749kg, it's the fastest car in Gran Turismo 7 by a significant margin, capable of reaching 370 mph with no tuning. Thanks to its active aero and insane power, the Tomahawk X VGT is a handful to drive.

What's the best axe for cutting wood? ›

  • 1 Fiskars Splitting Axe.
  • 2 LEXIVON V28 Chopping Axe.
  • 3 WilFiks Chopping Axe.
  • 4 Estwing Special Edition Camper's Axe.
  • 5 Best Choice 14-Inch Outdoor Camp Axe.
  • 6 BRUFER Hickory Wood Handle Axe.
  • 7 CRKT Woods Nobo Tomahawk Axe.

How heavy should an axe be for splitting wood? ›

Standard splitting axes come with heads that weigh between 3 and 6 pounds. Mauls, with sledgehammer-type heads, can weigh as much as 8 pounds. Unless the plan is to compete in wood-splitting competitions, it's usually best to go with an axe head that weighs 4 to 6 pounds.

What is tomahawk man's weakness? ›

His weakness is the Plant Barrier, which defeats him in seven hits, but as the player has fair enough energy to destroy him with it and Mega Man must get near Tomahawk Man to hit him with it, it can be quite difficult to beat him with the Plant Barrier without taking damage.

Is a tomahawk a throwing axe? ›

If you look at them superficially, axes, hatchets, tomahawks, and throwing axes are all basically the same. They have a handle, some longer than others, and they have some sort of a wedge-shaped head that enables them to cut wood and/or be thrown.

What is considered a tomahawk? ›

The tomahawk steak is essentially a ribeye beef steak specifically cut with at least five inches of rib bone left intact. The extra-long, french trimmed bone utilizes the same culinary technique that shapes a rack of lamb.

Is Cowboy and tomahawk the same? ›

The tomahawk—also called the cowboy ribeye or cowboy steak—is a large bone-in rib-eye steak cut from between the 6th and 12th ribs of the cow and usually weighs between 30 and 45 ounces. The bone in these bone-in steaks is not like the standard bone-in steak bone.

Why are tomahawks expensive? ›

The main reasons why a Tomahawk Steak is so expensive are the quality, prep time and size of the steak. They're a very large, Prime cut of beef that takes a lot of time to properly butcher in order to turn a Ribeye into a Tomahawk.

How much does a good tomahawk cost? ›

You can expect to spend an average of about $100 on a quality Tomahawk Steak, and the reality is that around $50 to $80 of that is paying for a considerable length of bone and a more Instagram ready steak.

Is tomahawk better than rib eye? ›

They taste the same in terms of flavour, but because Tomahawk steaks and OP Rib steaks cook more slowly than Ribeyes, it may be juicer (if left 1-2 minutes longer on the grill).

What is the difference between a cowboy cut and a tomahawk? ›

A cowboy steak has a short frenched bone; the tomahawk, a long frenched bone.


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