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Rató:rats

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Do any of you guys have experience with the Track tomahawks? I’m specifically looking at their British Military model for a throwing/camp hawk. I’ve never owned a 4140 alloy steel axe is it any good?

I’ve got this guy made from a farriers rasp. It’s awesome steel but it’s pretty thin bladed. More of a thrower than a camp tool.
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old ugly

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i have often wondered why you would throw away your weapon.
anyway, i know we practice that.

the British military style tomahawk would be a good all round, more useful axe for camp. probably throw ok once you learned it . the style pictured above would likely throw better.

i gave up throwing my tools into the bushes, just didn't make sence.

ou
 
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Flintlock

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I've got a few and Track sells great hawks for the money, some of mine are 30 years old now and have built shelters, cleaned game, chopped through bone, split kindling and have been thrown through many handles.
 

necchi

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I have probably 4-5 TOW hawks in different models, (my son touted himself as a hawk toss champ for several years).
The finely cast 4140 hawks available from TOW are of good quality and a great value.(IMHO) The carbon content is still high enough so that a good file and stone treatment can bring the edge to darn near razor sharpness and still be strong enough to not chip or break.
If you wanna set-to the task, they can be polished to a mirror bright finish.
I don't have the British model you speak of (I need another hawk like another hole in my head!) but I have been around several folks at camp that use them for all-around camp chores and tossing.
If your question is about the cast 4140, it's a great grade of steel to use for hawks and blades, you'll be happy with the durability as well as the ability for continued sharpening as needed.
Don't forget to get extra handles,,

p.s. The hickory handles are a good quality too, but machine produced, they always require a little custom work for a proper fit too each individual head.
 
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smoothshooter

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I have probably 4-5 TOW hawks in different models, (my son touted himself as a hawk toss champ for several years).
The finely cast 4140 hawks available from TOW are of good quality and a great value.(IMHO) The carbon content is still high enough so that a good file and stone treatment can bring the edge to darn near razor sharpness and still be strong enough to not chip or break.
If you wanna set-to the task, they can be polished to a mirror bright finish.
I don't have the British model you speak of (I need another hawk like another hole in my head!) but I have been around several folks at camp that use them for all-around camp chores and tossing.
If your question is about the cast 4140, it's a great grade of steel to use for hawks and blades, you'll be happy with the durability as well as the ability for continued sharpening as needed.
Don't forget to get extra handles,,

p.s. The hickory handles are a good quality too, but machine produced, they always require a little custom work for a proper fit too each individual head.
I always questioned throwing away a perfectly good weapon too, but these days, I guess it doesn’t matter.
I have the British Army model. It is a good size and weight for general use, but I want to put a different handle on it. It has the common tomahawk sliding fit reverse-tapered handle that always comes loose and allows the head to slide down the handle. It would be more useful to me with a more conventional hatchet or small axe handle rigidly attached to the head with a split end through the eye and a small tapered wooden or metal shim or wedge driven in the split so the head stays on tight.
 

necchi

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but I want to put a different handle on it. It has the common tomahawk sliding fit reverse-tapered handle that always comes loose and allows the head to slide down the handle.
Well that goes to what I mentioned, handles need to be "fit" to each head they're used with. Think about it,, "back in the day" they didn't sell hawk handles, taper fit was the customary way to make and sell an axe head be-it axe or half-axe (for at least a few hundred years anyways). If ya needed a handle you went out and found a goodly looking branch and set down with a sharp knife and commenced a whittlin on it. I imagine scraping helped get a decent finish for the hand.
Same as today with that type of axe head, only we can use a small rasp and sandpaper to kinda speed up the process.
I've seen it countless times at today's rendezvous, folks just think I bought it, it should fit and work.
If ya shape the handle to fit(?),, you can actually have a hard time getting the darn thing out.
As soon as a poorly fit handle is used for just one week-end, the handle wood gets compressed from all the beating and ya can't get it to fit cause it's been beatin down too small to fit.
It's a quandary,,
 

Rató:rats

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Well that goes to what I mentioned, handles need to be "fit" to each head they're used with. Think about it,, "back in the day" they didn't sell hawk handles, taper fit was the customary way to make and sell an axe head be-it axe or half-axe (for at least a few hundred years anyways). If ya needed a handle you went out and found a goodly looking branch and set down with a sharp knife and commenced a whittlin on it. I imagine scraping helped get a decent finish for the hand.
Same as today with that type of axe head, only we can use a small rasp and sandpaper to kinda speed up the process.
I've seen it countless times at today's rendezvous, folks just think I bought it, it should fit and work.
If ya shape the handle to fit(?),, you can actually have a hard time getting the darn thing out.
As soon as a poorly fit handle is used for just one week-end, the handle wood gets compressed from all the beating and ya can't get it to fit cause it's been beatin down too small to fit.
It's a quandary,,
I always questioned throwing away a perfectly good weapon too, but these days, I guess it doesn’t matter.
I have the British Army model. It is a good size and weight for general use, but I want to put a different handle on it. It has the common tomahawk sliding fit reverse-tapered handle that always comes loose and allows the head to slide down the handle. It would be more useful to me with a more conventional hatchet or small axe handle rigidly attached to the head with a split end through the eye and a small tapered wooden or metal shim or wedge driven in the split so the head stays on tight.
Appreciate the input boys
Yes handle to head fit was an issue for me for a while but I eventually just decided to saw a slot in the top of the hawk handle and then drive a hardwood wedge in. On my Coldsteel and Bravehawk Forge hawks the handles haven’t loosened in years of throwing and chopping. I think putting a wedge in a tomahawk head may have been more common in the 18th century then we suppose.
As shown in these contemporary examples from Old Dominion Forge
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Notchy Bob

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A lot of native trade axes, pipe axes, or tomahawks were fitted with a "gasket" of hide, wrapped around the wood inside the eye of the head. Some existing examples still have this gasket intact. I was just admiring one of these in Gary Hendershott's online catalog recently.

Sometimes nails were driven in the top, to serve the same function as a steel wedge. The Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly had an article a couple of years ago about the cast iron "Missouri War Axe" heads traded to the Osages by Dunlap & Flores. Sometimes the axes were sold with the hafts installed. These typically had five hand-forged nails driven in the top. I believe the traders hired local Indians to do the hating for them.

I read in a recent post on this forum that Beaver Bill Keeler, blacksmith extraordinaire, sets his tomahawk handles with a hydraulic press. They don't come out!

I have seen documentation of people on the frontier throwing axes, primarily for amusement, although I suppose it would have been a useful skill in battle. I have also read that native people did not throw tomahawks, but I guess throwing or not throwing would depend largely on who and where, or maybe an individual's personal preference. I have read that war axes typically had rather blunt edges, I suppose to reduce penetration, and were used more like clubs than axes (i.e. blunt instruments rather than cutting tools). I can tell you I would not want to be on the receiving end of a war axe, whether blunt or sharp, swung or thrown! Ouch!

I am not a thrower, and it is a curious fact that the sport of tomahawk throwing has become so pervasive that people now accept competition "throwing hawks," designed in the late 20th century to conform to NMLRA rules, as historically accurate. They aren't, really. In my opinion, "throwing hawks" make clumsy camp tools. As noted in one of the posts above, the head can come loose and slide down the handle if it isn't securely fitted, which is probably better than the head flying off, but it can be troublesome, nonetheless. Also, the standard tomahawk handles have too much taper for my taste. The taper is there so it will slide out of your hand smoothly when being thrown at a target. However, this means you have to grip that small handle very tightly for chopping chores. It can become tiring for your hand if you do much chopping.

If you use one tomahawk for double-duty, camp chores and chopping as well as throwing, and you are happy with it, that's great! For myself, a camp axe with a more ergonomic grip, and a cutting edge not abused by throwing, is preferable for camp chores.

Respectfully,

Notchy Bob
 

necchi

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A lot of native trade axes, pipe axes, or tomahawks were fitted with a "gasket" of hide, wrapped around the wood inside the eye of the head.
Provenance? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense to me.(?)
Why would someone need to do that for a functional axe?(?), when wood is/was free???
Wow,,
I mean If I was alive 200years ago,,(aka; 1821) having bought an axe,, (and hap-haphazardly broke the handle) ,,why would I think that putting a piece of leather around the stick that holds my axe would make it better to use?
Ergonomics? Pre-1860,, ergonomics?
And, Who/what causes abuse of an edge because of throwing?


Attach files
 
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necchi

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Guess what,, I have taught my children and grand children the ability to throw a tomahawk, weighted between 8 and 16 oz. at target 15-20 feet away,, and hit the target the size of a playing card,,repeatably,,
During that process, they learned at the same time that "any" similar item can be thrown just like that,, and still hit a targeted area.
Is this supposed to be some kind of random thing taught for fun in 2021?
Or a naturally honed skill with hand tools that was actually learned at an early age in 1776?
You teach your way,, I'll teach mine.
 

Notchy Bob

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Provenance? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense to me.(?)
Why would someone need to do that for a functional axe?(?), when wood is/was free???
Wow,,
I mean If I was alive 200years ago,,(aka; 1821) having bought an axe,, (and hap-haphazardly broke the handle) ,,why would I think that putting a piece of leather around the stick that holds my axe would make it better to use?
Ergonomics? Pre-1860,, ergonomics?
And, Who/what causes abuse of an edge because of throwing?
Attach files
necchi,

Thanks for your comments! It appears I have offended you in some way, which is regrettable. That was not my intention.

As stated in my first post, I have seen documentation of people, native and non-native, throwing axes on the frontier. I have not seen any evidence of any sort of generally agreed upon rules for competition back then, though. Axe throwing, insofar as I have read about it, was pretty informal. The point I unfortunately did not make clear was that the sport of tomahawk throwing was codified by the NMLRA in the 20th century, with specific restrictions on equipment. The length of the axe's cutting edge could not exceed a specified measure, for example. Today's "throwing hawks" are designed to take advantage of what the rules allow, and judging from the popularity of "throwing hawks" on the market, customers seem happy to take advantage of the design. The cutting edge is the maximum allowed length, the upper corner or toe of the blade sweeps up, there is a an undercut from the heel to the eye to lighten the weight, and the handle is tapered for a clean release. Evidently, a lot of competitors feel these design features give them some advantage. Early trade axes did not typically have these features, but people threw the axes anyway. It sounds as if you have taught your kids to throw all sorts of things accurately, and I infer that you and your kids don't need axes specifically designed for throwing to be competitive. I'm sure you guys have collected some well deserved awards.

Regarding your other remarks: The leather "gasket" wraps around the wooden haft inside the eye. You see this on intact handles, not broken ones. Here is one example, from Gary Hendershott's Old West 2019 Collection:

2021-05-03 (1).png


This was not just for pipe axes. There are several examples shown in Mark Francis' book, The Missouri War Axe. I have not tried installing a leather gasket in hafting any of my own axes, hatchets or tomahawks. I'm sure the people who did that back then had a reason. I'm guessing if the inside of the eye was very rough, irregular, or uneven, the relatively softer hide would fill some of the gaps. I'm not sure why they did it, but there are multiple examples of axes assembled that way.

I don't know when the term, "ergonomics," was coined, but you can bet people on the frontier understood the concept. "Ergonomics" simply refers to the practice of making tools and implements more user-friendly. This old axe, collected from the Lakota, has a nice, beefy handle, with the addition of brass tacks to improve the grip:

Sioux Tomahawk.1.jpg


That is the definition of ergonomics! This New Mexican axe also has a handle that would provide a much better grip than the tapered handles on today's "throwing hawks":

New Mexican Axe.jpg


My point about a "more ergonomic grip" for a camp axe simply meant a handle with more mass and less taper than on the typical throwing tomahawk.

As for the abuse of an axe's cutting edge, my idea of a sharp axe came from my dad. A sharp axe is a safer axe because it is less likely to glance off the wood when chopping. It is also more efficient... you get more work done with a sharp tool. You sharpen the axe and you keep it sharp. You don't chop wood lying on the dirt, because dirt dulls it, and if you hit a rock it will very likely chip the blade. If my dad had caught me throwing any of our good axes or hatchets, I would have been punished. He was typical of the men of his generation and culture. They used a lot of euphemisms in their speech, and if one of the old timers was talking about a man and said, "He keeps a dull axe," it meant the subject was a sorry, lazy, careless fellow. It's just that I cringe at the idea of throwing a good camp axe when it might possibly hit another axe, or glance off the target and go into the ground or hit a rock or knot or whatever. If I were to take up throwing, I would use a dedicated throwing axe, and save my good one for chopping.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

necchi

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Thank you for the renditions of museum quality historical keepsakes, they're nice.
It's just that I cringe at the idea of throwing a good camp axe
Ok.
I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking that this was going to turn into a topic about the historical use of hand tools or the use/abuse of modern hand tools when I responded to the OPs question about TOW's current offering of 4140 cast steel axes.
If you'd like, I'll PM you my personal address here in central Minn,,
,, you can stop by any time your in the neighborhood and check my hawks,, or my axe, double axe, splitting mall or heck even my pocket knife for dullness. I might have to touch'm up a bit before ya shave with'm,, but I Ok with how I use my tool(s)
 

tenngun

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I bought the Light infantry axe from Townsend at least thirty years ago. And it’s served me well. It’s the only tomahawk I own now that’s useable. I threw it on a woods walk a couple of years ago but in general I don’t throw, and haven’t since the ‘90s. Tracks a little different but I think it would serve me well
 

LRB

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4140 steel is a chrome molybdenum steel widely used in modern cartridge rifle barrels. Although there are better steels for axes, it does well enough when heat treated for light to medium work. It is not so good for knife blades, as it just will not hold an edge as long most folks would like. Axe angles are most often wider than knife angles, and makes heat treated 4140 an acceptable light axe steel.
 

Loyalist Dave

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i have often wondered why you would throw away your weapon.
anyway, i know we practice that.
"Throwing the tomahawk was another boyish sport, in which many acquired considerable skill. The tomahawk with its handle of a certain length will make a given number of turns in a given distance. Say in five steps it will strike with the edge, the handle downwards ; at the distance of seven and a half, it will strike with the edge, handle upwards, and so on. A little experience enabled the boy to measure the distance with the eye, when walking through the woods, and strike a tree with his tomahawk in any way he chose." Jospeh Doddridge Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of The Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

I'm not sure that throwing the tomahawk had any real martial purpose (other than looking "cool" in a motion picture), but perhaps was simply a game, as was mumbly-peg.

LD
 
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I do not throw axes or tomahawks, It would seem foolish to throw a good weapon at a opponent as it would seem as with a knife these would be last resort weapons. Yes as Dave stated in his reference about boys throwing well boys will be boys what ever time period. I knew a older fellow who was deadly with throwing a regular hatchet, thought about dating his granddaughter when younger until he had a discussion with me and finished up with a throwing demonstration ending the thought process.
 

Notchy Bob

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Here is another quote, from Frederick Gerstaecker's Wild Sports in the Far West:

2021-05-07.png


The book was published in 1864, but details Gerstaecker's time in Arkansas in the late 1830's. This passage refers to a short period of time he spent in the company of a band of Choctaw people. Note the Indian people of the eastern states, including the Mississippi Choctaws, were "removed" to the west in the early 1830's. Parts of Arkansas and Kansas were included with Oklahoma as "Indian Territory."

As @Loyalist Dave alluded (above), tomahawk throwing may have been more of an amusement or pastime than a martial art, but it was certainly done.

Notchy Bob
 

Robby

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To throw or not to throw. A subject that gets hashed out many times over the years. I no longer have my notes on the subject but there are many historical references to tomahawk's being thrown in the heat of battle. My own thoughts on the subject are that I would never self impose limitations on myself in the use of weaponry. Like many things in life, it is better to have the ability to accurately throw a hawk and not need it than need that ability and not have it.
Robby
 

necchi

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I find the direction of this thread somewhat surprising.

I'm not sure that throwing the tomahawk had any real martial purpose (other than looking "cool" in a motion picture), but perhaps was simply a game,
As @Loyalist Dave alluded (above), tomahawk throwing may have been more of an amusement or pastime than a martial art, but it was certainly done.
Notchy Bob
Hey! You guy's are starting to "get it" huh?
"Hawk toss" is "Sport", kinda like "competition shooting", (which also has no military/"martial" value in and of itself).
Some people "win" the game of hawk toss and prizes (others loose),, It's fun.
Hint; If your "throwing away" your hawk while tossing at the block,, turn the block away from the tall grass and brush. A block that has short grass behind it, makes finding the errant throw much easier
Fer Cryin out loud,, it's a game, if ya wanna win,, practice.
(staple a vertical string on the block,, and cut it in half,, repeatedly)
(don't just hit a card,, cut a corner off it)
Over hand, Under hand, Crazy hawk, Side hawk,, Left hand,,
Hawk toss is a learned and practiced skill. And just like any other honed skill or technique learned early on in life help's develop character within the individual devoted to the practice.
Please, don't mock or belittle those that have a skill you feel is foolish or don't personally possess.
Go ahead, try it, there are folks that miss their first few shot's at a target while shooting rifle or handgun too,, (how do they get better?)
 
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