> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Review: Cold Steel Trail Hawk



Review: Cold Steel Trail Hawk

Tomahawks have been getting a lot of attention lately, so I picked one up a month or two back--needed to see what all the fuss was about. I picked up a Cold Steel Trail Hawk--a very affordable but somewhat barebones 'hawk. 

Cold Steel's line of tomahawks have become very popular for modifying and customizing--they're cheap, and the base hawk is practically crying out for help. From the factoring, the Trail Hawk has an unfinished handle, while the blade is coated in some black protective coating. Honestly, it's not a very attractive hawk, but makes a great platform to start from.

I have not done anything too extreme with my hawk. Here's what's been done:
  • Set screw removed, which allows me to quickly remove the head if necessary
  • Handle sanded and shaped for better fit with the hawk head
  • Used a wire brush to remove most of the black paint, which ended up giving it a cool weathered look
  • Finished the handle with walnut stain
  • Sharpened it up--was not as easy as I'd hoped, but I've got a decent edge on it.
I'm pretty happy with how the hawk looks now--much more attractive.

I've taken the 'hawk on several trips, used it for daily chores and generally put it to some good use. Here's some thoughts:
  • The Trail Hawk is a great size--the 22" length is very handy and usable without being too short.
  • It's also lightweight--it carries easily. In use, it's fast and agile.
  • The hammer poll is very useful. For a general-use hawk, I would recommend hammer over a spike.
  • Edge retention is so-so. 
  • I would like a sharpened "beard"--the lower portion of the head. Would be very handy for draw cuts, shaving wood, etc. Will have to figure that out. 
  • Not a very good wood splitter. The thin, light head tends to get stuck halfway through and just doesn't have the weight or shape to get through wood very well. I'm not talking about full-scale firewood chopping, just in getting a piece of maybe four-inch thick wood sliced up for kindling. A small axe works much better for wood splitting, as does a decent size knife and baton.
  • In general, handy and works well for light tasks where an axe is too clumsy. However, struggles on tougher work that an axe has no problem with.
  • Definitely a capable weapon--it's very fast and manueverable in the swing. 
Now, I can't say whether a 'hawk will work out for you over an axe, machete or other big chopper. It won't replace an axe, and if you're going to be doing lots of wood splitting and heavier work, I'd go with an axe of some variety. 

However, for general chores, smaller tasks, hammering and so on, the tomahawk is great. It is a super versatile tool. If you can remove the head, you also have some other options that an axe won't give you--you can use it as an adz, chisel, wedge and so on. This is a great YouTube video that demonstrates some of the versatility. And, if you're looking for a weapon, the 'hawk is a great one, especially in spike poll flavor--there are plenty of videos on YouTube of spiked hawks going through helmets, kevlar vests, car hoods and so on.

The Trail Hawk is a good buy if you're interested in tomahawks but don't want to fork over hundreds for a custom/high end model. They also make a fun project if you're looking to customize something. For the $22.99 that Amazon is asking for 'em, they're a great deal.