A tomahawk is a kind of axe that originated in North America. The first tomahawks looked like a hatchet with a long, straight handle. The name tomahawk comes from the Algonquian word "tamahak," which means blade. People started using the English term during the 17th century. Originally, tomahawks were a versatile tool used by Native Americans and European settlers. They used the tool as a throwing weapon or in hand-to-hand combat.
Metal tomahawk heads appeared in North America when European settlers arrived as these early immigrants brought Royal Navy boarding axes with them, and the tool featured a metal head. The settlers used the heads to trade with the Native Americans for food and other supplies. Before the Europeans arrived, the Native Americans did not have iron making expertise. Therefore, early tomahawks made by them did not come with metal axe heads. Instead, the tools featured stone or deer antler heads.
Today, historic reenactment organizations hold tomahawk-throwing competitions. In fact, the sport has become a popular tradition. Also, master artisans continue to craft hand-forged tomahawks for decorative and practical purposes. Some martial arts schools even teach past fighting methods that involve the tool such as Okichitaw, which is a battle technique from the colonial period.
Some people use tomahawks for outdoor recreation since the tool is helpful for constructing a basic shelter or cutting up wood for a campfire. In fact, outdoor enthusiasts may use a tomahawk instead of a hatchet because the tool is lightweight and slender. Often, a tomahawk will have additional tools, such as a hammer or spike, attached to it.
Throwing weapons are still used for hunting game. However, some states do not permit hunters to use alternative weaponry like tomahawks or throwing knives.
During the Vietnam War, Peter LaGana designed specialty tomahawks for select United States military units. The deadly weapon featured a wooden handle, leather sheath and hatchet type bit. Soldiers referred to the weapon as the "Vietnam Tomahawk."
Tomahawks are growing in popularity. In 2001, the American Tomahawk Company collaborated with Ernest Emerson to design a line of modern tomahawks. Mr. Emerson is a custom knife manufacturer who began his own knife company called Emerson Knives, Inc. The company named the tool VTAC, which stands for Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk. SOG Knives Inc. and Cold Steel also make Vietnam tomahawks. SOG named its version the Fusion Tactical Tomahawk while Cold Steel honored the weapon's past by calling it the Cold Steel Vietnam Tomahawk. Classic weapon enthusiasts should keep in mind that original Vietnam tomahawks are hard to find and pricey.
Tomahawk manufacturing companies often make the tool from dropforged alloy steel that is differentially heat-treated. The production method allows the manufacturer to make the chopping and spike sections of the tomahawk harder than the center area. As a result, the tool features a shock resistant base that includes durable metal elements.
In addition to the Vietnam tomahawk, the SOG Company also makes a Tactical model. The tomahawk weighs 2 pounds, and owners can use it to prune trees, as decoration or for outdoor purposes. It features a razor sharp blade that will let users remove tree limbs with just a few whacks.
United Cutlery is famous for making quality tomahawks. The company manufactures the tool in different sizes to accommodate tomahawk throwers of all heights. United Cutlery makes specific models for children and adults.
The American Tomahawk Company manufactures tomahawks for Cold Steel. The tools are made with precision, and the company uses durable 1055 carbon steel for the blade section of the device. Cold Steel tomahawks are manufactured for competitive throwing events and survival situations. The company's tomahawks are sturdy enough to chop firewood, and when the tool features a hammer head or a flat poll addition, owners can use it to pound in tent pegs.
The Browning Company makes guns, knives and tomahawks. The Shock N' Awe Tomahawk is included in the company's tactical knife line. To create its line of tactical knives, the company worked with knife experts from special ops, military organizations and law enforcement. Browning's tomahawk features black powder coating, a one-piece handle and a forged 1055 stainless steel blade. It has a curved penetration spike, and it measures slightly more than 10 inches long.
Hardcore Hardware is another tomahawk manufacturer that makes the device with additional tools. For instance, the company's tactical tomahawk comes with a spike while the pommel section features a chisel point for prying tasks.
Tomahawks are a distinctive tool that will add a unique element to any knife or weapon collection. However, tomahawks are more than just a decorative item as the tool will come in handy during outdoor adventures, camping trips and throwing competitions.