The tomahawk is a versatile tool. It is at home in the woods with a camper or on the belt of a soldier. Its uses are many. The typical tomahawk has changed very little over of the years. Tomahawks from Omnivore Blade Works (OBW) are far from typical tomahawks.
I was lucky to be part of a “pass around” that was orchestrated by OBW on the Usual Suspect Network. A few weeks ago a box arrived on my door step and, inside, I found a brand new, pristine Jackal model tomahawk and a rough but ready looking Recon model tomahawk. I set about playing with both of them immediately.
The Jackal is a smaller, trimmer, lighter tomahawk at just 14″ overall. It has a finer edge and excels at cutting as well as chopping. It featured a digital camo paint scheme and beautifully machined and finished natural color micarta handle slabs. The paint and handle materials can all be customized at the time of ordering.
One of the most distinctive features of the Jackal are the “teeth” on the pommel. They are reminiscent of the the teeth that you might find on the the tomahawk’s namesake. The Jackal also features a very blade like spike that comes to a very sharp point.
The Recon tomahawk is a full size tomahawk at 18.5″ overall that has been stripped to its barest essentials. It is slim, light, and very fast. There are no handle slabs, only an aggressively skeletonized haft of steel that can be cord-wrapped if the user chooses. The name Recon speaks to its spartan style, light weight, and speed.
The rear of the Recon features an impressive spike that is designed for piercing strength and durability. The spike has a series of thick edges that will pierce readily without being fragile and prone to chipping and rolling. The Recon that was sent to me had been through OBW’s testing. It was beat up, ragged, worn, and rough looking but still just as functional as ever. Before it was sent to me it spent 2 weeks out in the elements to prove that the coated 1095 steel could handle it.
I used the mouse pad backed sandpaper method to sharpen and polish the edges of the Recon. There was some surface rust to remove but nothing that compromised the function. After just a few moments the cutting edges were fairly clean and had a fresh working edge.
Apart from the dimensions, both of these tomahawks share a lot of characteristics so I will talk about their uses together. Both ‘hawks are made from a classic hard use cutlery steel, 1095. It was easy to sharpen and held up well to all of the tasks outlined below.
First, lets state the obvious. A tomahawk must be able to chop and these ‘hawks can certainly do that. They easily limbed trees and snapped through smaller branches. They delivered all of the chopping performance that you would expect from a tomahawk.
What really surprised me was the uses for all of the other cutting edges that I found. Both tomahawks have cutting edges that run along their top edges from the bit to the spike. I found tons of uses for this. I found that it was actually easier to use this edge to create “fuzz sticks” for fire starting. It could also be used like a ulu with rocking cuts to quickly prep jute twine for tinder. The uses were limited only by my resourcefulness.
A spike can be a useful thing in the woods. The spikes on both ‘hawks could be used like an awl to bore holes but the more blade-like spike on the Jackel was easier to use for these tasks.
I found that the Jackal was much easier on the hands with its hand filling micarta handle slabs. The Recon’s handle was made more comfortable with gloves, but I would definitely want to cord wrap it if I planned to use it for a long period of time.
The Recon was a great thrower. It stuck pretty readily even though I am a lousy tomahawk thrower. I am not sure there is much of a practical reason to throw a tomahawk, but it is certainly fun and it did put the durability of the Recon to the test. The Recon shrugged off throwing with no ill effects. The Jackal’s edge geometry is thinner and it is not suitable for throwing. It is a more pure cutter.
I used both tomahawks to split wood into kindling. Both tomahawks split wood easily. The camo finish on the Jackal held up surprisingly well during this test.
One of the coolest features that you might not notice in the pictures is that the circular cutout under the bit and beard area of the tomahawk is sharpened. This was awesome for hooking and cutting cord. It was also really great for limbing. You could reach up over head, hook a branch, and then pull down sharply to easily remove branches that were out of reach. The same technique could be used closer to the ground for clearing brush, much like a bill hook machete. Just make sure to keep something like a ceramic rod on hand to sharpen this area since typical square stones won’t work.
A typical tomahawk has a straight haft. The OBW ‘hawks have a slight curve and contours that make them comfortable to use and very aggressive when chopping. The slight curve allows you to really snap the ‘hawk with your wrist for an extra little bite when you are chopping. These are shaped very well for prolonged use.
The sheaths that come with the Jackal and Recon are works of functional art in themselves. They are a combination of kydex, micarta, shock cord, and metal that work together to make some seriously innovative sheaths. Both sheaths have locking mechanisims that keep the tomahawk in the sheath until you are ready to produce it. The kydex work is impeccible and there are amazing details like precisely machined micarta used as spacers to allow for the thickness of the ‘hawks and aid in retention. I have never seen micarta used this way with kydex.
The Jackals sheath worked by placing the spike in first and then the bit. A small pin that was tensioned by shock cord could be slid up to release a disk that rotates in such a way that it locks the bit in place. It sounds and looks complicated but it was actually quite easy. I must have spent 10 minutes just playing with the mechanism.
The Recon’s sheath is a bit more simple. You place the bit in first and the the spike. Once the spike is in place, a pin could be slipped into a place that locked the ‘hawk in the sheath. The pin is captive and kept under tension with shock cord. It is a very elegant solution. This sheath also featured a large belt loop.
As enamored as I was with the amazing locking mechanisms and workmanship on these sheaths, I did find myself wishing they were smaller. I think that the locking mechanisms required much more material than a simple friction or click type sheath would have required. There are also many cutting edges that must be covered so that also adds to the size. Still, the sheaths were extremely functional and easy to use. you can not help but be impressed with them. They almost steal the show.
These tomahawks from Omnivore Blade Works are just too cool. They look and perform extremely well. The sheaths will keep you entertained for hours and they will keep your tomahawk safe, too. I am extremely impressed with the whole package. It was hard to send these tomahawks on to the next person in the “pass around.”