Tag Archives: Harlan Whitman

Tactical Tomahawks: Harlan Whitman Instinct

Harlan Whitman designed the Instinct Tomahawk as an evolution of the many generations of tactical tomahawks that came before.  He grew up in Missouri with an artistic Mother and a mechanical Father. He has a degree in industrial design, but claims that he “tries to forget” most of what he was taught.  According to Harlan, “As with my art and products, everything takes a lifetime of experience to develop. That’s what you pay for when you buy handmade.  It was designed to chop and look sexy doing it.”

He drew everything on paper full size, then cut it out of foam core or plywood to play with and modified it as necessary.  He kept working on the shape until people would say, “This feels like it will chop for me.”  After a few people handled the prototypes, he continued to modify it and eventually moved to real steel.  He says that he personally prefers the feel of the 1/4″ thick model.

Instinct Tomahawk Dimensions:

  • Overall length: 14″
  • Blade length: 3.875″
  • Head length: 5.75″
  • Head thickness: .375″
  • Blade material: O1
  • Heat treating: Differential heat treat.
  • Handle material: O1 full tang construction.
  • Grip material: Red G10
  • Grip texturing: Smooth
  • Grip diameter:  3.5″-3.75″
  • Metal finish: Hand sanded to a shine, clay colored patina
  • Options available: Fully custom
  • Colors: raw steel, patina, parkerized grey or black
  • Pricing: This hawk sold for $750 /sheath $50
  • What materials: Will do leather or plastic.
Other info: (answers by Harlan)
  • What kinds of people are using this tool? Campers, military, art collectors, knife collectors,
  • For what purposes? Chopping stuff I hope! Sadly, I have produced an axe that was supposedly framed. :(
  • What is your testing process: Haha!  Someday I really should make a video! I cut, chop, smash, and pry.  Put them in a hydraulic iron worker a few times.  I break them!  Testing with out failure is pointless.  It will fail, I want to know where.
  • Who manufacturers it: Me. Heat treating or differential heat treatment is out-sourced to Stack Metallurgical. They also do work for Leatherman, Benchmade, Kershaw, and Boeing.
  • Manufactured in Portland, OR and Tuscumbia, MO
  • How many are produced? They are all unique and I honestly don’t keep track.
  • How are they sold? In person, online, or find me at The Oregon Knife Show at table C-4.
  • How can people purchase: Send an email to harlanwhitman@gmail.com
I design out of passion and dedication. I believe that the feel of steel in hand has become a genetically embodied cognition.  I would not  sell a knife that I would not give to my brother.
I started making knives because Carson(my younger brother) and I got tired of breaking the wood handles on our tomahawks when throwing multiples at the target.  At the time, we could only find crap stainless all-steel hawks.  They were always too expensive or cheap and lame, so I drew something up and sent it to Creative Waterjet .  I still every now and then will produce and sell my original design. With many it is still a favorite. Now here I am seven or so years down the road still playing with steel and not going to stop. Was forced to slow down over the past year or so due to extremely painful tendonitis. It was very hard to deal with. I have healed up for the most part and am excited to get back into the game with bigger ambitions than before.