Survival Tools

Hatchets and Tomahawks in Survival Scenarios

The right survival tool can be the difference between life and death. Crisis situations demand a tool that is both versatile and reliable. You might have to be on the move for miles or to be hunkered down in a shelter for several days. Hatchets and tomahawks are survival tools that should be on your packing list.

What is the Difference Between a Hatchet and a Tomahawk?
A casual observer may see hatchets and tomahawks as being the same tool. A more intensive search reveals that this is not the case. Both tools are unique in their own ways, and each are worth investigating. Both hatchets and tomahawks can serve very useful roles in your survival arsenal.

  • Hatchets serve as dependable and sturdy camp tools. They should be on hand at any campsite and backpacking journey. Building a suitable fire for warmth and protection is made much easier with a hatchet. Larger pieces of firewood can be made much more manageable with a hatchet, not to mention the creation of effective kindling.
  • Those larger logs and branches can also be wrangled more easily for constructing a shelter in an emergency situation. Many hatchets come equipped with a flat poll (back) that serves as a hammer head opposite of the cutting edge.
  • In hunting situations, the short blade is maneuverable for dressing  game, as well as sturdy for breaking apart bones.
  • Look for a hatchet with full tang construction, or with the steel head and handle made as one continuous piece. Full tang construction increases the strength and durability of this useful tool. Ranging from around 1 or 2 pounds and 16 to 24 inches, a hatchet can fit in easily with gear and be very light to carry over distances.

The Aggressive and Dynamic Tomahawk
The image of a Native American wielding a tomahawk for hand-to-hand combat or throwing is part of many popular films and stories. The tomahawk has been used in many combat situations since, but the role hasn’t changed much over time.

  • The tactical tomahawk gained popularity as a combat tool in various military campaigns, the Vietnam War most notably. The small size and lightweight construction makes it effective for personal protection. The aggressive design of a tomahawk clearly conveys its ultimate purpose.
  • A tomahawk also meets additional needs like breaching doors and windows for dynamic entry and for opening crates. A smaller cutting edge is available, and a spike end is often the option opposite of the edge. This spike can host a few options like a serrated edge or a crowbar end, depending on the intended use of the tool.
  • The more streamlined handle and grip may decrease construction utility but in turn makes for a much lighter tool that is packable and, lest we forget, throwable. Yes, while not the best combat technique, throwing a tomahawk can be an option in crisis scenarios.

A well-constructed and reliable hatchet or tomahawk should be part of your emergency preparedness items. Its size and versatility are undeniable, and the usefulness of each tool will reveal itself in a survival situations. Use hatchets for keeping a safe and warm camp. Use the tactical tomahawk for personal safety and a situation that demands strength and aggression.

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Steve Ference

Steve Ference

When he's not writing post-apocalyptic fiction or survival guides, Steve's snowshoeing on the Pacific Crest Trail or training for his next off-road triathlon.

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