Tag Archives: axe

Make Your Own Tactical Tomahawk

What’s a man to do when he can’t afford the current asking prices for a high-quality tactical tomahawks?  Make your own!  No, you don’t have to build a forge or set up an anvil in the living room.  You can start the project with a number of tools that are readily available:

The Estwing Carpenters Hatchet($33.80 Amazon.com)

Total weight: 1.5 lbs.  Overall length: 14.15”



The Estwing Carpenters Hatchet(Leather Grip)($43.98 Amazon.com)

Total weight: 1.5 lbs.  Overall length: 14.15”



Estwing Rigbuilder Hatchet ($42.09 Amazon.com)

Total weight: 2.5 lbs.  Overall length: 16.75”



Stanley Fatmax AntiVibe Carpenters Hatchet($40.65 Amazon.com)

Total weight: 3 lbs.  Overall length: 13”



I am sure that there are many other tools that would work just as well, but the example we will cover today uses the Estwing Carpenters Hatchet.

The first step was to grind down the lower portion of the blade to create a bit of a curve as opposed to the stock straight edge:



Next, mark where you want to grind the beard:


Remove the material using whatever tools you have available(dremel, grinder, cutoff tool, etc.) and give the beard a nice, hollow grind:



Now it’s time to get started on the spike



Notice how the spike grind stays right along the top of the upper hammer groove so as not to waste any material:



Here is a top profile: 


And the finished product:


You can also add some artwork to your new tactical tomahawk:


The poster of these photos warns that “Unfortunately krylon stays sticky on the rubber handles of the Estwings so the recommendation is that you use the McNett camo form tape if you want to do your own like this without having to use duracoat.”



Be aware that the work in the example posted above was done by Ryan Johnson, who makes high-quality tomahawks for a living.  Your results may vary.  Here are the finished products from other “less professional” sources:

estwing03 estwing02

estwing01 estwing

estwingleatherfinished estwingleatherfinished2

Get out there and make your own tactical tomahawk!  Let us know how it turned out.


Special thanks to those first had this idea and shared it!  Most of this information was collated from the following sources:




Tactical Tomahawks: Sayoc Winkler RnD Hawk


The Sayoc Winkler Rnd Hawk is a tactical tomahawk that came from the collaboration of  Sayoc Instructor Rafael Kayanan and Master Bladesmith Daniel Winkler.  Kayanan drew from his experience as the Chief Tomahawk Instructor for Sayoc and Winkler from his decades as a  bladesmith.  Their goal was to design a “pure combat” tomahawk for Military Special Operations personnel.

Winkler and Kayanan were introduced to each other by members of Naval Special Warfare for whom they were both providing services.  A collaboration seemed like the natural next step.  It took months of close communication to combine Kayanan’s design ideas with the technical realities and construction expertise of Winkler.  Careful design consideration was Winkler_101121E-web given to materials, weight, multiple grip positions, balance, and “natural fluid motion.”  A year later, the Sayoc/Winkler RnD Hawk was born.  According to Winkler, “…the best and most thoroughly tested Combat Axe available.”

Kayanan’s expertise came into play during the testing of the ergonomics, concealment aspects, multiple grip positions, and grip/edge memory.  Winkler tested the performance aspects in regard to penetration, edge holding, and strength.

According to Kayanan, most of the design variances from traditional tomahawks were to increase the effectiveness of modern grip positions.  The versatility of the R&D Hawk allows “individuals who have expertise in tomahawk close quarter fighting or are adept with various edged weapons like karambits, bowies, and short swords to easily adapt their methods…” says Kayanan.

When asked about the purpose of this tactical tomahawk, Winkler replies, “Getting the job done!”  The military special operations personnel and field professionals using these tactical tomahawks agree.  Hundreds of these tools have been manufactured and sold from the facility in North Carolina.

These tactical tomahawks definitely display a unique synthesis of ergonomics, performance, and aesthetics.  Winkler says that "Weight, balance, quality, materials, attention to the detail… without extra hype” are what differentiate their Hawk from other tactical tomahawks on the market.

Here are the specifications:

Overall length: 13”short winkler

Weight: 22 ounces

Blade length: ~2”

Head length: 6” with Front Spike / 5 ½” with regular head

Head thickness(at thickest point): .375/1000” (about 3/8”)

Blade material: 5160 Steel

Tang Length: Full length tapered and skeletonized tang for strength, weight, and balance

Heat treating: Computer controlled Salt Pot soak and draw

Handle material: Wood, Recycled rubber, or Micarta

Handle Circumference: 4”-4.5”

Grip texturing: Rubber provides best gripping surface either wet or dry. Wood and Micarta handles are sand-blasted to enhance grip texture

Grip diameter: Varies depending on grip position, about 4” to 4 ½”

Metal finish: Caswell no glare or K&G Durable Gun coat

Handle Options: Curly Maple, walnut, Recycled Rubber, or Micarta

Finish Options: Caswell or a variety of K&G finishes – Black, Jungle Camo, Desert Camo, or Woodland Camo.

Size Options: There is also a Compact version available for more discrete carry and close quarter use.

Pricing: $740 – Regular Head style, $760 with Front Spike. (Discount for Military, LE and First Responders)

Custom felt-lined kydex sheath with quick release bungee retainer and rubber two-position belt loops is also available for $75(Molle adaptor is available for an additional $30)

The Sayoc/Winker R&D Hawks can be purchased here or you can email [email protected]


To see more of Daniel’s work be sure to visit http://www.winklerknives2.com/

More about Daniel Winkler

More about Rafael Kayanan

What is a Tactical Tomahawk?

winklerhawks_02 Those that listen to the podcast know I enjoy poking fun at the “tactical” modifier being stuck on nearly everything these days, but is a tactical Tomahawk really any different than what the American Indians carried a hundred years ago?  Have manufacturers simply painted them black and jumped on the tactical bandwagon?

Let’s look a the definition of tactical:

capture 09-May-1101

According to this definition, a tactical tomahawk varies from a “regular” tomahawk in the fact that it is particularly well suited to particular actions or strategies with a specific end.  In other words, the tactical tomahawk is a purpose built tool.  Those purposes vary from rescue to fighting and nearly everything in between.

The tactical tomahawk that you select should fit the job it needs to complete.  Let’s look at some common characteristics of most modern tactical tomahawks:

Full Tang Design

This means that the handle shaft and tomahawk head are made from a single piece of metal.  This is a great design as it greatly reduces the chances of head separation.


Modern tactical tomahawks use steel alloys that fit their priorities for the design. Materials are chosen for edge retention, durability, sharpness, corrosion properties, and weight.  Also, different materials and textures are used for the handle to increase grip, decrease conductivity, etc.


You may see some off-the-wall designs that look nothing like the original tomahawks. Much research has gone into ergonomics of the swinging motion of the arm. This research has resulted in hand tool designs that are not limited to 90 degree  angles(like the ice axe on the right). Depending on the purpose of the hawk(breaching doors, fighting assailants, punching holes, hammering, chopping) the cutting edge or spike may be placed at a different angle or distance from the handle centerline to increase the efficiency of our own body motions.

short winklerLength and weight

One of the great advantages of a tomahawk vs. a fighting knife is the added reach and momentum that comes from the length of a tomahawk.  Lengths and weights vary depending on the purpose. A longer, heavier tomahawk may be better for breaching duty because of the extra momentum, but a foot soldier may find that same tool unwieldy or heavy for close quarters fighting.


A modern tactical tomahawk is not typically thrown, but balance is still important.  A fighting tomahawk becomes  ungainly and difficult to move quickly if the head is too heavy.

walter brend Cutting Edge 

Tactical tomahawk cutting edges and spikes vary in length, angle, and curvature and are very similar to those used by American Indians. 



What do you or would you use a tactical tomahawk for?  What characteristics are you looking for?