Estwing Tomahawk Axe Review – Worth It?

Categories: Survival Gear


I’m a sucker for a solid tomahawk and have been for as long as I could remember. They’ve just always felt like a natural weapon when I can get my hands on one. They’re something that I feel I can move well with and be in full control of as I swing.

Neither me nor the back of my head can say that about nunchakus.

estwing tomahawk in stump

That’s why anytime that I can get my hands on a tomahawk for a review I’m only too happy to give it a swing. For this review, I checked out the Estwing Tomahawk – a company long known for their solidly built sledges, hammers, and other tools.

So did Estwing hit the mark? Or should they stick to traditional tools instead?

Let’s take a look at the Estwing Tomahawk to see what we can find…


  • Blade length: 2.5”
  • Spike: 3”
  • Hawk head length: 7.38”
  • Total length: 16.25”
  • Weight: 7 oz.


Right away I could tell that I liked the way the Estwing Tomahawk felt in my hands. It was a manageable size and weight. Swinging the hawk with any respectable amount of speed didn’t feel like I was right on the verge of hurting my shoulder or needing to use two hands like some other full-size hawks can cause.

I felt like I had a pretty good grip on the orientation of the blade as well. If I was swinging, it didn’t feel like the hawk head was wanting to twist and rotate all over the place.

The Rope Test

the rope test

I started off with testing the overall sharpness of the Estwing Tomahawk. I wanted to know if it was sharp enough to cut through a thick length of rope that I’ve been keeping around for quite some time now. I figured that would be a good starter test.

cut a thick rope

The Estwing Tomahawk chopped through that rope all too easily. Three separate swings led to three separate and complete chops. That rope never stood a chance.

estwing tomahawk chopped through the rope

It was then that I figured I was going to need a much more challenging test for the Estwing Tomahawk. Time to take off the kid gloves.

The Log Test

I’ve recently been practicing my primitive shelter building and have a stack of 8’ long logs nearby I just felled. Seeing that most preppers buy tomahawks with the intention of using them for camp and bushcraft, chopping a log in half seemed like the next natural test to perform.

The log was a 5-6” diameter pine.

the log test

I chopped and chopped and chopped until that thing was cut in two.

While the Estwing Tomahawk eventually got the job accomplished, that was the most work I’ve ever had to do to cut a tree in two, and I’m no stranger to tomahawks and axes. It was a serious triceps workout. I attribute this difficulty in this chore to the small cutting edge of the blade and the lightness of the tomahawk head.

job accomplished
I now honestly think you could buildup your triceps with a tomahawk.

It simply took more effort to cut the same depth and width as it would with a heavier tomahawk. You can do these types of chores with the Estwing Tomahawk, but there are most certainly better tools for the job. 

If you were to use this tomahawk for the purpose of crafting field-expedient shelters you would burn an exorbitant amount of calories and work up quite a sweat (and appetite) to get yourself out of the elements. That’s likely not what you’re wanting in a survival situation.

The Spike Test

What about that spike? Is there anything we can do to test it out? I wanted to find some metal to put it through.

The only metal I had available was from my old quarantine coop for my newcomer chickens. While the roof was tin metal – not the thickest of materials – the spike had zero problem whatsoever going through it as you can see here.

It was loud as could be and sent chickens hollering and running all over the place, but it worked great. The only problem was getting the tomahawk back out. It took a bit of struggle and finagling, but eventually it was back in my hand.

The Throwing Test

Holding a tomahawk in your hand and not throwing it is a feat in and of itself. It’s simply too tempting. For my target I used my old chick tractor (what gives my new chicks fresh grass every day). I set the thing up on its side, stepped back about 15 feet, and started throwing.

the throwing test

One thing I noticed right off the bat was how easy this hawk was to throw. You can easily put some oomph behind this without feeling as if you’re shoulder is going to go with it. That’s one of the benefits of the lightness of this hawk.

balance point
Balance point is right there at the ‘G’ on the handle.

I was hitting the target no problem, and while I couldn’t get it to stick (likely a result of the way the wood fibers were running) there’s no doubt this thing can cause some serious damage.

throwing test wood

Further proof of such happened when I started moving further back. I paced out 30 feet and chucked the tomahawk. It made my chick tractor explode. The thing absolutely crumbled, rather surprising me. This thing was built with massive treated boards that had 3” screws in each side.

The only sign of weakness it’d ever shown was with the lid (not pressure treated). It looks like I’ll be building me a new chick tractor.

Thoughts on the Sheath

The sheath initially gave me problems. I couldn’t get the spike to go far enough in the sheath so that everything would snap shut. After messing with it for quite a bit I eventually was able to get it in no problem. Perhaps it just needed to be broken in?

thoughts on sheath
That snap on the left kept wanting to get in the way.

Once within the sheath though, you’ll have no worries about the blade accidentally falling out and cutting anything or anyone. Three separate snaps hold the thing together, meaning it’s staying in place until you want it not to.

three snaps hold thing together

Is the Estwing Tomahawk Good for Bug Out Backpacks?

Tomahawks don’t do much for survival if you don’t have them with you when you need them (and they are good for survival). The gear you leave sitting on your nightstand while you’re running for your life through the woods may as well still be back in the store.

The next test was to see if I could fit the Estwing Tomahawk in one of the smallest bags that I have: an Osprey Manta 20. These are fantastic daypacks for short hikes in hot weather, but they don’t have much space for anything more than an 8-hour or so trek.

I figured if the Estwing Tomahawk could happily fit within that, it could nestle into just about any BOB on the planet. Sure enough, I had zero problem getting the Estwing Tomahawk in there. It was just the perfect size.

good for bug out bags

To me, this says the Estwing Tomahawk can easily be at the ready stashed away in any BOB you have for when you need to head for the hills. I like that, especially considering that a great number of other tomahawks would necessitate being strapped to the outside of your pack. While that’s fine once you get out into the woods, you probably don’t want to be traipsing around through society with a tomahawk readily visible to every person who sees you.

You don’t have to worry about such with this hawk.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I thought that this was a great tomahawk. If you’re looking for something small, lightweight, that can easily be packed just about anywhere, and will permit you to engage in light campcraft chores, this hawk would work perfectly.

overall thoughts

If you’re looking for a solid workhorse though that you can engage in campcraft and bushcraft with all day long, I would look somewhere else. To me, the Estwing Tomahawk shines more as a personal defense weapon and as an always-ready/always-there hawk than it does for heavy use purposes.

It’s one of those tools for circumstances where you think “Man, I wish I had a hatchet or something” but are glad that you haven’t hauled the weight or bulk of an axe or hatchet. If you’re looking for something for long-term deep woods survival, I would recommend checking out some of the other options out there instead.

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