Here’s my advice:
Don’t underestimate the tomahawk’s bushcraft abilities.
While there is a longstanding debate over bushcraft hatchets vs bushcraft tomahawks, tomahawks absolutely have many advantages that other tools simply don’t.
To name a few:
- Removable head makes for a good hand axe
- Great for skinning animals
- Strikes a good balance between knife and axe
- Easy to fashion a makeshift handle
And many more.
Now you may be wondering, what’s the best bushcraft tomahawk?
I’ve done all the hard work for you and identified four of the best bushcraft tomahawks on the market.
If you’re short on time, I’ve put together a list of the best bushcraft tomahawks below.
- 1 CRKT Nobo Tomahawk – Best Bushcraft Tomahawk for the Money
- 2 CRKT Kangee Tomahawk – Runner Up Best Bushcraft Tomahawk for the Money
- 3 16” Estwing Tomahawk Axe – Most Durable Bushcraft Tomahawk
- 4 Cold Steel Trail Hawk – Best Cheap Bushcraft Tomahawk
- 5 SOG Tactical Tomahawk
- 6 SOG Voodoo Hawk Mini – Best Mini Bushcraft Tomahawk
- 7 Buyer’s Guide for Bushcraft Tomahawks
CRKT’s Nobo tomahawk can handle nearly all your bushcraft tasks. It’s a more classic style tomahawk that would look at home on the frontier.
One feature I really like about this tomahawk is the versatile Nobo style head. You can remove the head from the handle and use it as a sharp hand axe for precise work. It makes skinning animals, carving wood for traps and other precise bushcraft tasks much easier.
The Tennessee hickory handle is strong and easy to replace if broken. Since the head is friction hung, it’ll also stand up to tough tomahawk throws without much issue. Let your inner bushcraft ninja be free with this bushcraft tomahawk.
It doesn’t include a sheath, so I’d recommend you pick up an aftermarket leather sheath to go with this bushcraft tomahawk.
Overall, it’s a great tool and one of the best choices if you’re looking for a classic tried and true tomahawk.
- Hot forged 1055 carbon steel
- Tennessee hickory handle
- Outdoor axe with beard
- Designed by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical
- Limited Lifetime Warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship, see company site for details
This Kangee tomahawk is much like the Kobo style, but with a deadly reverse spike that increases its throwing and self-defense capability. If you’re worried about defending yourself from predators when out in the bush, this tomahawk offers you serious power that should help you sleep easier at night. The reverse spike can easily debilitate any attacker with a single blow.
While it’s good for self-defense, this tomahawk is still great for chopping trees and branches. You can even remove the head and skin animals by using it as a hand axe for greater precision.
Although I will say that the reverse spike does somewhat limit its potential as a precise hand axe. Trying to do precise work while having a sharp spike pointed back at you can be somewhat worrying. Don’t hit yourself in the head with this bushcraft tomahawk either!
Like the Nobo tomahawk, this one doesn’t include a sheath either. Consider sourcing a leather sheath for this tool, as the sharp spike on the back is scary sharp and deadly.
- Made of highest quality material
- Manufacturer: CRKT
- CRKT Woods kangee t-hawk Axe with Tennessee hickory handle
Estwing is a brand name company that is well known for their tough tools. This tomahawk is no exception and makes a great choice for bushcraft.
It’s one solid piece of 1055 forged carbon steel, making it a rock solid heavy-duty tool that’ll likely never break. You’ll find it has a great balance that makes it easy to swing and comfortable to use during hard bushcraft tasks.
Another feature that makes this tomahawk more comfortable to use is its shock absorbing handle. A rubber sleeve is put around the steel core. This helps to reduce vibrations by up to 70%, meaning no hand and wrist pain after a hard day’s work.
Also included with this tomahawk is a nylon snap-sheath that comes in varying colors depending on which color tomahawk you choose.
All-in-all, this is a great bushcraft tomahawk for the money. It’s a quality tool that has been made in the USA since 1923, making it sure to last a lifetime.
- FORGED STEEL CONSTRUCTION - Maximum strength and durability for a lifetime of hard work
- OUTDOOR VERSITILITY - Perfect for chopping small trees & branches. Use pick end for breaching, excavation & extrication
- HEAVY DUTY SHEATH - Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge
- PATENTED SHOCK REDUCTION GRIP - Comfortable, durable & reduces impact vibration by 70%
- MADE IN THE USA - Our tools are proudly crafted in Rockford, IL using the finest American steel
Cold Steel’s Trail Hawk is a great cheap bushcraft tomahawk that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Many people like this tomahawk for its great effectiveness that can be had for a low price.
This tomahawk is great for chopping trees, logs and branches with ease. To help prevent rust, they coat the steel with a black epoxy coating. Some people remove this coating and refinish the steel to their liking. This is quite common, as this is a great low-price tomahawk that many choose to modify as a project tomahawk.
I like the Tennessee hickory handle, although it could be sanded down for a better finish.
While this tomahawk doesn’t include a sheath, you buy a decent one separately for dirt cheap.
- Hawk Length: 6 1/2"
- Handle: American Hickory
- Overall Length: 22"
- Steel: Drop Forged 1055 Carbon
- Primary Edge: 2 1/4"
SOG’s tactical tomahawk may look like an urban operator’s tool of choice, but it still has its place out in the bush. This tomahawk has undeniable power and reliability that comes from its composite design.
Glass-reinforced nylon makes the handle sturdy and able to stand up to tough jobs. 420 stainless steel holds a good edge while keeping away rust while you’re out in the sticks. The handle to head connection is only partial tang, but there is a steel strengthening rod inside. I would limit how much you throw this tomahawk since the design doesn’t do well channeling shock away from the head handle connection.
A bonus nylon sheath is included with this hatchet to make it easy to carry while on the trails. Throw in a lifetime warranty and you’ve got a great tomahawk that is well suited for bushcraft.
- 15.75" HARDCASED BLACK STAINLESS STEEL TACTICAL AXE: The Tomahawk hatchet is a versatile breaching axe, chopping axe, camping axe and backpacking hatchet with a 2.75" stainless steel blade
- 24 OZ. LIGHTWEIGHT HAND AXE: Light yet very heavy-duty, the Tomahawk hatchet is a durable utility and breaching axe, and a practical choice as a versatile axe tool and camp axe
- TACTICAL TOMAHAWK WITH SHEATH: Tactical axe includes a ballistic nylon sheath that can be slung from your belt or gear for easy access; an effective hunting hatchet and camping axe
- HAMMER EDGE + PIERCING SPIKE: The Tomahawk hatchet features a checkered hammer edge and a spike opposite the tactical axe head for piercing
- SOG FOR LIFE: Take care of your tactical axe and we'll take care of you; we gladly consider repairs and replacements for your properly maintained SOG Tomahawk hatchet
This voodoo mini tomahawk is a great choice for saving space without giving up power. It’s one of the best choices for ultralight bushcraft because of its small size.
The stainless-steel blade mixes edge hardness and rust resistance for powerful chopping that can withstand wet and nasty conditions. Its multipurpose head has a spike on the reverse face that is great for throwing and self-defense.
Where the head connects to the handle is a reinforced connection that ensures the head never leaves the handle. Even after tough throws and chops, it’ll have no issue standing up to whatever punishment you put it through.
The included sheath could have been much better in quality. Instead of metal snaps, plastic snaps are used on this sheath. It works great for most people without issue, but a few said they had issues with the snaps breaking on them.
All things considered, if you’re wanting a good ultralight bushcraft tomahawk that packs serious power, it’s a great tool that will serve you well.
- 12.5" STAINLESS STEEL MINI AXE: The Voodoo Hawk mini tactical axe is a chopping axe, camping axe, backpacking axe and throwing hatchet with a 2.75" satin-polished stainless steel blade
- 23.1 OZ. LIGHTWEIGHT HAND AXE: Light yet very heavy-duty, Voodoo Hawk throwing axes are both superb survival sports axes and a smart practical choice as a chopping axe or backpacking axe
- TOMAHAWK AXE WITH SHEATH: Mini axe includes a ballistic nylon sheath that can be slung from your belt or gear for easy access; an effective hunting hatchet and camping axe
- HAMMER POMMEL + PIERCING SPIKE: The Voodoo Hawk tactical axe tool features a stainless steel pommel for hammering and a spike opposite the mini axe head for piercing
- SOG FOR LIFE: Take care of your mini tactical axe and we'll take care of you; we gladly consider repairs and replacements for your properly maintained SOG Voodoo Hawk tomahawk hatchet
Buyer’s Guide for Bushcraft Tomahawks
There’s many things you’ll want to consider when choosing a bushcraft tomahawk.
I’ve identified a few key points you should keep in mind when making a purchasing decision. You may already know a few of these points, but if you know bushcraft knives but are unfamiliar with tomahawks at least one of these will likely be helpful news to you.
What type of steel?
Steel is an important factor when choosing a bushcraft tomahawk. While both carbon steel and stainless steel can work under near every circumstance, you might favor one over the other depending on your needs. Here’s a quick rundown:
Carbon steel is generally better at holding a sharp edge for longer. After a hard day’s work, you’ll likely find a carbon steel tool held its edge better than a stainless steel one. It’s usually more resilient to physical damage and can take a beating.
One downside of carbon steel is rust. The high carbon content makes this steel much more prone to rust, meaning you should regularly oil your carbon steel bushcraft tomahawk to prevent corrosion.
Stainless steel is a good choice if you’re worried about your tools rusting when out in the bush. There’s less worrying about keeping your tools clean.
Stainless steel generally doesn’t keep an edge as well as carbon steel, but depending on the blend, it can be neck and neck. It’s also important to note that a high quality stainless steel will outperform a low-quality carbon steel in every aspect.
How is the Head Hung?
If you’re unfamiliar with tomahawks, there’s two ways to hang a tomahawk head.
The traditional way is to use friction to hang the head. This is done by having the handle getting wider at the top so that the tomahawk’s head can’t slide over it. The benefit of hanging the head this way is that less shock is transferred to the handle when the tomahawk is thrown.
Since the head isn’t directly connected to the handle, it’s unlikely the handle will be damaged during tough throws.
Another benefit of hanging a tomahawk via friction is that you can easily remove the head by sliding it down to the skinny end of the handle. You can then easily use the tomahawk head as a hand axe or slide it onto another handle for easy replacement.
The other way to hang a tomahawk head by mounting it to the handle. This is usually done with composite bushcraft tomahawks. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, it just means you need a tougher handle that can withstand the shock of throwing.
What Handle Material Should You Choose?
Choosing a hickory handled tomahawk means you can easily find a replacement incase your handle were to break. If the tomahawk is hung in a traditional manner, you can simply slide it off to use as a hand axe or replace the handle.
Plus, hickory handles also have good balance. It’s very natural to swing a hickory handled bushcraft tomahawk. Composite handles might feel off-balance compared to hickory handles unless they’ve been fined tuned to perfect balance.
If you choose a composite handle, it’ll likely be a material like glass reinforced nylon. These are durable handles, but they sometimes only have a partial tang. This throws off the balance a bit and makes them more likely to break when thrown.
How Much Should a Bushcraft Tomahawk Weigh?
Typically, you want your bushcraft tomahawk to weigh between 1 to 2lbs. 2lbs is on the heavier side, with around 1.3lbs being the sweet spot. Tomahawks lighter than 1lb can still work find, but you may find they lack the power to chop tough branches and logs.
When bushcraft tomahawks weigh more than 2lbs, they start getting much harder to throw. Swinging a heavier bushcraft tomahawk will also tire out your arm much faster when compared to chopping wood with a lighter tomahawk.
Plus, using a heavy tomahawk to skin animals, feather sticks or carve wood for snares and traps makes it difficult to be precise. Heavy bushcraft tomahawks can be cumbersome and tire out your arm when trying to hold it still for precise work.