|Edwood's Tacker Dan Graymatter Tomahawk|
For those who don't recognize him, Edwood is an active member of a specialized law enforcement unit in Mexico--a country that has been quasi-apocalyptic for years now. Fighting on the front lines of the war with the cartels, Ed's worked a lot of dangerous jobs and survived a lot of dangerous situations. He has stories about raids on growing operations, drug houses, running protective details for politicians and more.
Edwood is also a man who knows his blades; in addition to on-the-job experience, Edwood has sought out training from some of the best edged-weapons trainers in the business. He's currently studying under Scott Babb, founder of the Libre Fighting System. Ed understands the art and technique behind using blades in modern combat...and he's got years of experience doing so.
Finally, Edwood has an impressive arsenal of high-end edged weapons-- especially tomahawks. When your life depends on a tool functioning when you need it most, the question stops being "how much?" and more about the actual performance and reliability of the tool in question. And they sure don't sit around gathering dust in a safe. So, Ed has hands on, real-deal, life or death experience with edged weapons made by some of the very top names in the business...RMJ Tactical, Winkler II, Tracker Dan and others.
So, naturally, when I wanted to talk theory on the real-world use of the tomahawk, I sought out Edwood. He's a pretty uniquely qualified guy...and he's also a good friend and regular reader of T-Blog.
Huge thanks to Edwood for the thoughts and insights given in the interview below. All images are his, by the way. My questions are bolded. If we're lucky, Ed will swing by and answer some reader questions, too.
How long have you been carrying tomahawks? Do you still regularly carry/use one?
I have been carrying what you would call a tactical tomahawk for about 4 years now. I always have one in my rifle case, and I mount it on my plate carrier if I'm heading in to a place where I might need it (urban operations or counter narcotics operations out in the wilderness).
Tell me a little bit about why you like 'hawks. What qualities of the tomahawk make it especially suited for your chosen roles?
The first time I saw a hawk, it was during a training assignment I was sent on in Coronado, CA and a few of the people we were training with had hawks on their gear (Winkler’s). I was the first to raise my hand and ask what they were used for. I got a fast lesson on the CQC applications of the hawk and a lot of its practical applications as a field tool that day.
I learned that small compact hawks are very potable and have a lot of uses when out in the field. I also learned to appreciate a spiked tomahawk in offensive applications on people wearing heavy clothing or soft body armor, and as well as what I like to call disruptive applications on enemy equipment or material (I will expand more on this a bit later). Since some of the times I do use these axes the way I might use a pray bar, I have come to prefer full tang hawks.
|A Winkler R&D Hawk and other tools of the trade.|
The first hawk I carried was a Winkler R&D Hawk and it has become my favorite. A collaboration between edged weapons expert Rafael Kayanan and Daniel Winkler, the goal was to exceed the standards of what a tomahawk could be--a practical application tool of exceptional craftsmanship. Despite its sleek appearance, the Sayoc-Winkler R&D Hawk is made with edge awareness, economy of motion and mobility in mind. It is designed so that the heaviest area rests at the head, and the hawk's full tang is tapered, reducing overall weight to an approximate 1 1/2 lbs. Featuring an upward curve to reinforce grip, the handle is 13 inches long.
The special feature of the front spike on this axe got my attention. I always have to keep in mind that some of the bad guys out the use Kevlar vest, and being able to penetrate such armor is something I always look for in a weapon, that front spike does the job well.
What are your preferred 'hawks? Why?
I like compact hawk for ease of carry. Full tang for the hard use I put them through. Spiked for its advantages as a weapon and as a tool. When I mentioned disruptive applications I was referring to the fact that at times we work in small groups out in the field and every now and then we find large narcotics plantations or drug processing houses way out in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Sometimes we find only a few people there or no one at all, since some of these places are used only on a seasonal basis
We can’t carry all the equipment and fuel they use in these places out. So we destroy or burn anything we can before we leave. I use the hawk to flatten tiers, cut up irrigation lines, smash communications equipment, make holes in fuel drums or water drums, etc.
My favorite hawks are my R&D Spiked hawk with rubber handles and the Graymatter tomahawk that I got from Navy Seal reservist Tracker Dan. Both have more than proven themselves out in the field. The sheathing system on the Winklers and the Tracker Dan hawks is the best on the market in my opinion. It's fast, it allows single hand draw and it has great retention.
Does a 'hawk have a place in your go bag/bug out bag? Why/why not? Is there another "big blade" you've chosen?
Yes it does, I actually have a go bag with me or near me at all times, it’s a real need in my life sadly, and it has gotten me out of some very bad places in the past. Aside from my R&D hawk, I sometimes strap my Winkler jungle knife on my pack if I’m out in the jungle areas of my country. I once used my R&D hawk to butcher a pig which made a great meal for my guys, the hawk defiantly has its place in my go bag.
At times I have also have carried my hawk under my jacket during some work in a very bad place. It was good to have just in case things got really bad.
Any new tomahawks you have your eye on? What do you think about the new RMJ designs from CRKT?
The only one I’m interested in right now is the RMJ Jenny Wren tomahawk, it’s about the perfect size for my needs. But since the hawks I have are almost indestructible, I don’t think I will be replacing them any time soon. As for the CRKT hawk, I really have no experience with it, but the handle shape looks promising, if looking for a good balance between a tool and weapon.
I would like to add that if you do get a hawk with the intent of using it as a weapon, you need to keep in mind that they do have a specific way of moving in your hand. I recommend you get a trainer made to match any hawk you get and if you can get some training in its use. In my case, I have trained for some time in the Libre Fighting System, under founder Scott Babb, where I have learned a lot about the tomahawk and its versatility as a weapon.
Thanks again to Edwood for spending the time to his share knowledge and experience with the rest of us. Stay safe down there!