Tomahawk and Hatchet review.

For those who live in areas where firearms are not an option and those that are smart enough to have a back up.

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Tomahawk and Hatchet review.

Post by Woods Walker » Sat Sep 02, 2006 6:47 pm

One item I always pack in my BOB or camping gear is a Tomahawk or Hatchet. They are very versatile and is one of the few alternative weapons/tools with the exception of the knife and baton that can be REASONABLY carried in some situations. These can perform many of the same roles filled by other tools/weapons. True I will not be carving miniatures of fertility goddess etc but I have used these tools to cut rope, clean fish and game etc just like a knife. Some hatchets make darn fine hammers to drive tent stakes or shelter poles in frozen/hard ground, crush bones to get at the marrow etc. They can perform the light duty of an Axe. Chop and split wood for fuel or to build a shelter. As a weapon for melee a tomahawk or hatchet combines many of the best attributes of all the others. It has some of the reach and power of the Axe but the user is not committed to a 100% offensive stance. It has some of the cutting advantages of a knife but combined with the power of a hammer. So when the ammo is gone and the walking scarecrows and zombies are still coming these weapons/tools will not let you down. Here is a review of some Tomahawks and Hatchets that I have used over the years. I am by no means an expert on anything so all I am offering in my experience. One thing everyone should consider is safety. I have had sticks fly back and strike my safety glasses during chopping. I have cut my fingers and had some near misses do to laziness and stupidity. Be very careful. These things can take a finger like nothing so don’t let your mind wander.

1. The Fiskars Hatchet.

http://www.fiskars.com/US/Garden/Retail ... ntId=85474

These hatchets come in two handle lengths 8inch and 14inch. They can be purchased at hardware stores etc for about 20 bucks. These are the same as the more expensive Gerber models. My advice is to avoid any Tomahawk or Hatchet with less than a 10inch handle. These hatchets have very strong handles and will not break no matter how much abuse the user subjects them too. I have beaten the hell out of mine and with the exception of cosmetic scratches etc the thing is perfect. The Hatchet is about 1.5 lbs and comes with a plastic sheath/carry handle. The head is connected with an insert-molded design so it will not fall off anytime soon if ever. My overall impression is the Fiskars hatchet is good. Not the best but good enough for the money. The edge holds up well and the 7/8 lb head offers enough power to perform most jobs. The only real downside is my hand gets blisters after about an hour. Putting on gloves seems to take care of this issue. I am thinking about wrapping the handle in some 550 to see if that helps.

Here is a photo of my Fiskars.

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2. The Wetterlings Hatchet.

http://www.wetterlings.com/

This is a good Hatchet for less than 30 bucks. The total weight of the hatchet with leather sheath is 1 lb 9 oz. The sheath has a good belt loop. The head is hand forged with a weight of 1.25 lbs and has a very useful hammer reverse end. The extra weight in the head offers greater impact, all the better for splitting wood and driving poles, cleaning game and fighting off zombies etc. The 13inch Hickory handle was very easy to work with. Something about it just looks cool. The Wetterlings is a real workhorse and maybe weapon of last resort.

A photo of the Wetterlings hatchet with sheath.

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Here is a photo of the Wetterlings Hatchet in the field. The shelter is a Kifaru paratipi with homemade stove.

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3. The Cold Steel Nose Hawk

http://www.coldsteel.com/90n.html

This is from the Cold Steel web site:

“Capturing the Viking spirit, the Norse Hawk’s 4" blade features a highly curved cutting edge and terminates in two sharp points. These points increase the chance of a stick when the Norse Hawk is thrown”

Specifications

Overall Length: 19"
Hawk Length: 5 1/2"
Weight: 22.6oz. (approx.)
Primary Edge: 4"
American Hickory Handle

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well the reality is a bit different. I can’t fault the durability of the head. It has held up much better than I expected. But the design does not lend it self to real world use. It can chop wood but falls short compared to the Fiskars and Wetterlings. The handle is hard to keep a good grip and the head slips. Even if secured from downward slippage with leather it tends to push it’s way up more and more. I guess it could be dangerous as a weapon however the handle slips in my hands. The only real positive being that when the handle breaks I could just make a new one if in the field or during a PAW etc. However I look at this hawk more of a novelty item.

A view of the Nose Hawk “Capturing the Viking spirit”. Whatever the f@ck that is :?: :roll:

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4. The LaGana Tactical.

http://www.americantomahawk.com/products/vtac.htm

Modeled after Peter LaGana’s Viet Nam tactical Fighting hawk. This hawk retains all the brain smashing goodness of the old hawk with some modern updates. :D When the Ammo runs low and the zombies are moving in for your brains or packs of starving walking scarecrows are asking for your last MRE and will not take no for an answer you could do a lot worse for a last ditch melee weapon. Here are the listed Specifications for this fighting hawk.

The NEW LaGana Viet Nam Tactical Tomahawk ("VTAC")
...the evolution of the "Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk"
Steel: Drop-Forged 1060, Rc 52-54
Handle: ST super-tough modified nylon

Ergonomics: Oval design indexing finger grooves
Overall Weight: 1 lb./453.59 grams practical
Overall Length: 14" /355.6mm practical
Sheath: Jumpable nylon LBE/LBV, MOLLE, Sling, Belt
NSN: 4210-01-518-7244
CAGE: 3G5W0
SKU "VTAC" LaGana Vietnam Tactical Tomahawk

My hawk’s weight with sheath is 1 lb 9 oz. It has 5 cutting edges. It came tactically sharp. This means that it won’t shave hair but will keep an edge. The cutting edge is made to keep its sting after a great deal of use. I have seen advertisements showing some fool shaving with an axe or knife. This looks great but in reality you don’t want a field knife or hatchet shaving sharp. You will just roll the edge after the first hard use. The handle is synthetic. It grips well but I am thinking maybe some 550 wrapped around the handle could make it better. A good chopper but not up to the standards of the Wetterlings however much better than the Nose hawk as the LaGana is a real tool not a novelty item. The sheath opens from the top and attaches to PALS webbing on any military pack. It has two D- rings.

My LaGana.

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One of the downsides to this hawk is no hammer rather a spike. Cool looking but a hammer would be more practical for me.
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There are some military photos of the American Tomahawk Lagana Tactical

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Well there you have it. I like tomahawks and Hatchets. They are just all around good. Small enough to be carried in a larger BOB. They can do some of just about everything. Plus I think they look cool. Never underestimate the coolness factor.
Last edited by Woods Walker on Sat Sep 02, 2006 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Brash » Sat Sep 02, 2006 7:03 pm

This thread kicks ass, once again WW. As I'm currently looking for a decent hatchet for my BOB I found it extremely useful. Thank you.
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Post by CLEAR CUT » Sat Sep 02, 2006 7:12 pm

I have the Fiskars one and I absolutely love it. I've got a Cold Steel hawk and I like that one too. The head has an allen head set screw in the back of the Axe head and makes sharpening it a breeze.
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Post by Woods Walker » Sat Sep 02, 2006 10:02 pm

Brash.

Thanks.

Clear Cut.

I liked the Cold Steel Trail Hawk better. True the head is lighter but the over all shape worked better than the Nose hawk and it has a nice hammer back side. I gave mine away so didn't include it in the thread. I should have kept it and tossed my buddy the Viking spirit.

Here is some good footage of the LaGana in action. I forgot to add it to the main feed.

http://www.americantomahawk.com/media/av/kevlar.mpg
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Post by mr. right-wing » Sat Sep 02, 2006 10:17 pm

My turn to complement you Walker, bitchin gear!
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Post by mrclarkbkk » Sat Sep 02, 2006 10:28 pm

WW....first off, thank you. That was a very informative and well written article. I have been looking for a good hatchet for sometime now and am probably going to buy one of the Wetterling Hunter hatchets. I was wondering though, if you had any experience with the Cold Steel Rifleman's Hawk? and if so, what you thought of them?
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Post by Woods Walker » Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:07 pm

Mr.rightwing.

Thanks. You have given me a bad case of Kukri fever.

http://www.coldsteel.com/kukri.html

mrclarkbkk

Good to see a fellow Mason. I am past master of Corinthian 104. Current Senior Deacon and will remain there forever as no one seems to be able to do the job.

http://www.corinthianlodge104.org/index.php

The Rifleman’s hawk was too heavy at 32 oz. Also it is inconceivable that the drop forged head could compare to the hand forged Wetterlings. The only other hatchets that are as good or better are the Gransfors Bruks and a few others but they are 3 times more expensive. Hard to beat a hand forged Hatchet made in Sweden for so little money. However the Rifleman's hawk does have a nice looking Hammer. The hammer on the Trail Hawk was good so I bet the Rifleman's hammer would work too. But I just don't see the ColdSteel Hawks being in the same League as the Wetterlings.

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Cold Steel Nose hawk's head.

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The quality of construction is just better with the Wetterlings. Here is a review of the upper end tools.

http://outdoors-magazine.com/s_article. ... rticle=147

http://outdoors-magazine.com/s_topic.php?id_rubrique=20
Last edited by Woods Walker on Sun Sep 03, 2006 12:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Rus » Sun Sep 03, 2006 12:17 am

damn good write up, and a owner of the fiskars hatchet myself. thanks!
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Post by mr. right-wing » Sun Sep 03, 2006 12:44 am

Woods Walker wrote:Mr.rightwing.

Thanks. You have given me a bad case of Kukri fever.

http://www.coldsteel.com/kukri.html

mrclarkbkk

Good to see a fellow Mason. I am past master of Corinthian 104. Current Senior Deacon and will remain there forever as no one seems to be able to do the job.

http://www.corinthianlodge104.org/index.php

The Rifleman’s hawk was too heavy at 32 oz. Also it is inconceivable that the drop forged head could compare to the hand forged Wetterlings. The only other hatchets that are as good or better are the Gransfors Bruks and a few others but they are 3 times more expensive. Hard to beat a hand forged Hatchet made in Sweden for so little money. However the Rifleman's hawk does have a nice looking Hammer. The hammer on the Trail Hawk was good so I bet the Rifleman's hammer would work too. But I just don't see the ColdSteel Hawks being in the same League as the Wetterlings.

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Cold Steel Nose hawk's head.

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The quality of construction is just better with the Wetterlings. Here is a review of the upper end tools.

http://outdoors-magazine.com/s_article. ... rticle=147
Give into the fever brother, join the kuk cult. However, as much as I love CS, buy an original Nepalese. These are the guys I bought my 2 from. If you like the one I have (not the bowie point, thats one of a kind 8) ) its called the highland on the page.

Heres link: toratoratora.co.uk

As for 'hawks, I looove the Siber Commanche.
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Post by Woods Walker » Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:21 am

Mr.rightwing.

Thanks for the link.

The Siber Commanche is just crazy cool. Here is another top end Hawk maker.

http://www.haysknivesmontana.com/tomahawks.html

I hear the cry of the Siber Commanche but I think the Montana hunter is going to be my next hawk for the BOB. I like the LaGana but need the hammer end. Going to order the 14 inch handle rather than the 10 maybe next week. Then the Kukri will be next..... :twisted:
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Post by Civilian Scout » Sun Sep 03, 2006 10:03 am

Excellent post, Woods Walker.

For me, Fiskars + 550 cord = :)

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Post by Gun_Nut_2k1 » Sun Sep 03, 2006 10:34 am

Nice Hatchets. I think I will have to pick one up. I especially like the La Gana.

One thing that I am having trouble getting my mind around. Is that snow around your tent? I mean snow? Like Frozen water? And you still camped in it? :shock:
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Post by 2now » Sun Sep 03, 2006 12:31 pm

Great topic! I am constantly looking for a BoB axe/hatchet.

I have been considering a classic tomahawk designed to slip on to a new handle. My reasoning is that I can put it in the pack with a cut down handle to save weight, but if I find I am going to be using it long term it is just not that hard to craft a longer handle.

My alternative would be a boy’s axe. I’ll see if I can get a picture.

I prefer the 19”+ handles, as it lets you get two hands on the tool. Once you can get 2 hands on it, your cutting power, and safety go up dramatically.
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Post by Woods Walker » Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:45 pm

Gun-nut.

I go out for weeks during the winter. The coldest was -20. However freezing rain is so much worse. The hatchat is needed to split wet frozen wood etc.

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Post by Gun_Nut_2k1 » Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:08 pm

Man I live In Southern AZ. We had like a 1/4 inch 8 years ago one winter and people died! I was a little kid when I lived in Kino, OR so I vaguely remember the horrid cold. No way on earth would I go Camping in it. Hell it rain is bad enough to camp in. :D
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Post by Woods Walker » Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:14 pm

I am counting on winter to thin out the walking scarecrows or Zombies in a PAW. But also like the no bugs and snow.
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Post by TheLastRifleMan » Sun Sep 03, 2006 7:10 pm

Woods Walker, my compliments on a top notch posting!

I have used two hatchets extensively: a Granfors Bruk Hiker's axe and a Cold Steel Trail Hawk.

The Cold Steel is a nice all around tool. The hammer head poll works but is a bit too small for tent stakes and the like, IMO. I do not care for the set screw attachment set up. It just seems like a solution to the handles not being tight enough to the heads and needing a quick fix. But it does take a good edge, has enough wieght to do cutting jobs well and makes a damn nice throwing 'hawk.

The Granfors is so choice. It holds an edge like a razor and takes very little work to bring the edge back to the same sharpness. As a matter of fact, it shaved the hairs on my arm when I first bought it. It has cut lots of kindling, firewood, made at least two deer blinds from tree limbs and beheaded a wild turkey. It is a rare trip to the woods indeed without it.

I have looked at the Fiskers and wondered how good they could be. Nice to know they work. I have been looking into a Wetterling, one that is the next size bigger then my Granfors.

I will have to post picks soon. I have done some handle customizing on the Cold Steel that turned out well.
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Post by misanthropist » Mon Sep 04, 2006 4:45 pm

I am a huge fan of the Wetterlings axes. Personally I prefer the one that is one step larger than yours; the handle is about 19 inches long and if necessary you can press it into two-handed service very well.

I do like the GB stuff, but the two problems I have found with it are that a) it rusts like hell and b) the blade is too thin. I like the shape of the Wetterlings more; it is not as good for narrow chopping, perhaps, but far better for splitting. In my opinion the shape of the Wetterlings is ideal for the single-axe user.

Of course the Wetterlings has faults as well. It comes very dull. On this point I disagree with WW - I keep all my axes shaving sharp and I never have problems with rolling the edge. I do not like to use an axe that will not shave EXCEPT when cutting driftwood, which is sandy and eats blades.

Furthermore, the handle is often lacquered on the Wetterlings, which is lousy. Sand off the lacquer and rub in linseed or tung oil - this will raise the grain and give a surface with exactly the right mix of "slip" and "grip" to avoid blistering your hand under hard use.

Finally, the sheath blows - or rather, the design is good, but the leather quality is awful. I broke two in the first month of having the axe - it would have been two in a week but it took three weeks for them to mail me a replacement (which they did for free, and told me they were looking for a new leather supplier as they were also unhappy with the quality of the sheath. I guess the issue might have been resolved by now, but I don't know.) I made a new sheath for mine out of a couple of bucks worth of heavy vegetable tanned leather. Total cost was five bucks. I used the same basic design as the stock sheath, only I made an actual loop for my belt rather than the flap with two holes it came with.

Anyway I love the Wetterlings and stopped using most of my other axes once I got it tuned up. It did take an afternoon of screwing with the blade and an hour or so of oiling the handle, and maybe three hours to get the sheath sorted. But I personally don't believe a better axe is available for any money.
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Post by thorian » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:03 am

I <3 Fiskars

I have the 14 inch hatchet and I absolutely love it. I use mine for paring the branches off of fresh cut firewood. I have also used it as a plane and hacked a few sheets of plywood to size to fit the holes we cut in a moble home that had floor rot.

I wonder how well their splitting maul works. I want one of the 10lb steel wedge handle jobs since the 8 lb ones always seem to get stuck with me. then I bust the handle using a sledge to drive it through.
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Post by TheLastRifleMan » Tue Sep 05, 2006 5:47 pm

misanthropist wrote:I
I do like the GB stuff, but the two problems I have found with it are that a) it rusts like hell and b) the blade is too thin. I like the shape of the Wetterlings more; it is not as good for narrow chopping, perhaps, but far better for splitting. In my opinion the shape of the Wetterlings is ideal for the single-axe user.
That is a complaint I have heard many times about the GB. I have not found it to be a problem with mine, since the thin head works for the chores I require of it. After a couple of coating of good old Johnson's Paste wax, the rust problem has been kept to a minimum.

I do agree about the Wetterling's handles. Sand that stuff off as soon as you get it. Tung oil is your best bet. Just remember to use 0000 steel wool to remove the excess and give it a nice smooth feel. Paste wax will seal it well and gives a bit of grip to the wood.
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Post by jor-el » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:37 pm

Woodswalker, I noticed your personal ultralight tent looks a lot like an Ecotat.
Awhile back I asked people about it and got fairly negative but uninformed responses. Regardless, I'd appreciate knowing what you use kit-wise and how that all works in the cold.

No doubt the Wetterling is a better woodcutter, but the CS hawks were meant for somewhat different tasks, such as throwing and fighting. I'll concede the Hawk heads loosen. They were meant to come apart rather than break at the eye. Also, I agree the Rifle Hawk is a little heavy on a 19 inch handle. They do make 24 inch and 30 inch handles.
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Post by Woods Walker » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:57 pm

Jor-el

I have a Nylon Ecotat and don't much care for it. My advice it to avoid it. Carry a Sil Nylon tarp/poncho combo if you want a poncho for an extra 10 oz. This way you have a tarp to work with your bivy. I used a USGI poncho but replaced it for a Golite model to save 2 lbs or if I have rain gear the small ID Siltarp 1 for 6 oz. You really need a tarp to work with the bivy for it to be a reasonable shelter. Think about getting inside the thing on your belly in a blizzard or heavy rain. A tarp over the entrance is a necessity in my view. The Patrol bivy has enough room for a winter bag etc. I am 6-1 245 lbs so I guess it would be roomy enough for anyone.

I have moved away from the Bivy/tarp combo for my Main Bob. I did this after living out of the thing for about a week a few years ago in February. I froze my ass off. My bag gained about 8 lbs of ice. I was always cold. The bottom fell out during an Ice storm. I was forced to break camp and limp back to my car. The worse 10-hour hike in my life. I now use the Kifaru Paratipi or a woodstove under a tarp.

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I have used the Paratipi up by Pulaski NY winter steelhead fishing with a noodle rod. It must have been –5 outside and 120 inside the paratipi. Went to bed warm so the whole night was better. No 4am holy shit it’s cold shaking. If you can’t swing the Paratipi maybe you should consider a Golite hex with bug nest. Here is mine.

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The shelter is really not that much harder to pack than the Gortex bivy. With bug nest it is only about 4 lbs. The Bivy is about 2 lbs 14 oz. You get so much more living room with the Hex. It can take a good winter storm too. The price is about 250 buck on sale now:

http://www.campsaver.com/categories.php ... HgodcisNtQ

This is cheaper than the Gortex Bivy.

Now back to the threads Topic.

I tend to use Tomahawks and Hatchets as tools. I think in my BOB a better woodcutter may be of more value than a fighter or tossing my hawk at trees. But for a fighter my LaGana seems better than the any of the CS hawks. I did like the CS Trail Hawk. Just think the Nose hawk is silly. I bet any hawk or hatchet would make a fine last-ditch weapon. Even a tool like the Wetterlings would do some real damage as a last ditch melee weapon. My next hawk will be the Montana Hunter.

http://www.haysknivesmontana.com/monthunter.html

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Don’t get me wrong. My axes are not dull. :D
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K5 Tactical

Post by Bobby Sixkiller » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:13 pm

I have a K5 tactical tomahawk. K5 makes four variations: "tactical" models have a sharpened beard, "utility" models don't. They have an option for a spike or a hammer poll.


Mine is a Utility Hammer Poll. I really like my K5. It is heavy duty. You can use it to pry, dig, chop, hammer. It's the most handy camp tool I own.

Here's a pic of the K5 Tactical Spike:
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Here's a review:

http://www.tacticalgearreview.com/wordp ... awk-spike/

Here's K5's web sight:
http://www.k5tactical.com/

K5's owner is named Eddie. Really nice guy. He posts regularly over in the tomahawk forum on Bladeforums.com.
"Fortune favors the prepared mind."
Louis Pasteur 1822-1895
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CLEAR CUT
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Posts: 6864
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:36 pm
Location: In a bunker with dick cheney

Post by CLEAR CUT » Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:31 pm

Here are a couple shots of mine.
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ON top-The Fiskars Combo(axe and saw) and from Left to Right- My official BSA hand axe, Cold Steel's Frontier Hawk, a Spiked Back Hawk, followed by a pair of Hatchets from Plumb.
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I have a drywall hatchet that I forgot to add but I seldom use it because I have a screwgun.
The greatest mask of all is not wearing one.
You can't tarnish a rusted blade.
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Zoltan wrote:Chimps are fucking dangerous
Don't ever forget your DBP's!

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