I was given the opportunity to review the Cold Steel Trail Hawk from the good people at Knife Hog back in May. I am only now getting to this review which is long overdue. I was interested in reviewing this particular tomahawk for two reasons. First, I think a Tomahawk is a great addition to field gear for the utility it provides, which I will discuss later and secondly because of the Cold Steel brand. Cold Steel has been making tough products for over three decades so I was excited to get my hands on a piece of gear from them that fit nicely with my ideas about survival tools.
Before the tomahawk arrived from Knife Hog, I researched the Trail Hawk a little. I discovered that the Trail Hawk was actually made by the American Tomahawk Company which is a division of Cold Steel. As far as I was able to glean from looking around the web, the American Tomahawk brand is used by Cold Steel for their imported products. I may be completely wrong about this, but the tomahawk I received is clearly stamped “Taiwan” on the blade. Does that mean it isn’t the same quality as Cold Steel? Not necessarily but I was intrigued by this a little more.
I’ll start off with the specs of this tomahawk and my first impressions upon receiving it from Knife Hog. Before I get into that, I will say Knife Hog delivered this tomahawk very quickly and it was exactly as described on their website. The retail for this tomahawk is $29.52 on Knife Hog right now.
Trail Hawk Specifications:
Overall Length: 22″
Hawk Length: 6 1/2″
Primary Edge: 2 1/4″
Steel: Drop Forged 1055 Carbon
Weight: 23.6 oz (Approx.)
Handle: American Hickory
The Trail Hawk was a little longer than I had anticipated but the almost 2 foot long hickory handle allows me to swing this chopper comfortably. The length would seem to make this a little harder to configure for carrying but with the right Tomahawk holster that should be fine. The handle isn’t too wide or too thin and fits really nicely in my hands.
As I inspected the blade, The first thing I noticed was the set screw in the blade that presumably could be tightened to keep the blade attached to the handle. My blade was already a little loose. Nothing major, maybe a wiggle of a couple millimeters but I think I would need to tighten this after a good bit of use and this fact right here had me a little concerned with the strength of the overall tomahawk. After chopping with the tomahawk for a little while, the axe blade was noticeably looser and was already due for a tightening. The head is a simple hex which I have here, but what if I was in the field?
The Trail Hawk has two ends on the blade. The first is the chopping edge and it is 2 and 1/4 inches long. When I received the tomahawk, the blade was decently sharp, but nothing like a knife. I do know these are different tools, but it still seems to me if you want to chop something more easily you would have a sharper edge. I tried this out on several pieces of wood with the factory edge and the harder woods were much harder to bite into. Was this because of the sharpness of the blade or the weight of the head?
Older wood (softer) was much easier to chop although this tomahawk isn’t great at chopping. The long handle makes for a nice feel when you swing, but I think the size and weight of the blade make it tougher to really work with this tomahawk. If you are looking for a superb tomahawk for chopping small trees, I might look somewhere else. This is also not a tomahawk I would try to use to nail things either. The square surface on the opposite end was used to pound in tent stakes, but again the weight of the tomahawk made it largely ineffective for me.
I will say that I am not an expert so your mileage may vary.
Is this tomahawk a good deal? It could be. The edge is nice enough to stick into wood even though it doesn’t remove it quickly. If you are looking for a nice throwing tomahawk, this might be good. The weight and balance feels nice to me, but I was looking for something to really chop wood and this tomahawk isn’t what I would consider excellent at that. It was perfectly fine at busting up small pieces of wood for kindling, but I think it would be really hard to chop a 4″ diameter log in two. I also tried splitting some of the firewood, but the head just wasn’t cooperating with me.
The price point is nothing to sneeze at though. At under $30, If you are looking for something to occasionally take camping with you or to throw around in the back yard, the Trail Hawk is a fairly cheap tomahawk that if nothing else could be what you start with. I really appreciate the folks at Knife Hog for letting me get my hands on this and if you are looking for something to cut or chop with, you should check out their site.
What’s your favorite tomahawk?