4 Surprising Facts About Tomahawks Throughout History

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When you think of combat tomahawks, you probably associate them purely with Native Americans. While that’s partially correct, hand forged tomahawks are used even today in a variety of situations. Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about the role of these weapons in both combat and leisure situations.

Origins of the Tomahawk

Tomahawks were originally used by Iroquoian and Algonquian Native Americans. They were both tools and weapons. They changed over time, but the standard design included (and still includes) a small cutting blade on one side of the axe head. On the other might be a spike, still common today, or a pipe bowl. The latter type were particularly important ceremonial items, since they represented both war (the blade side) and peace (the pipe side).

The Tomahawk in American History

Tomahawk axes soon became ubiquitous tools for American colonials and frontiersmen. Trade with the British allowed for new tomahawks heads, made of metal and modeled on Royal Navy boarding axes, to come into use. During the Revolutionary War, all soldiers were required to carry either a tomahawk or a small sword. These were used for chopping wood and hunting game, and served as backup weapons should the flintlock rifles used at the time fail (which they often did).

The Tomahawk in Modern Combat

Combat tomahawks, made today by major weapons manufacturers, are carried by elite law enforcement and military units. Most frequently, SWAT and special forces soldiers use tactical tomahawks essentially as multi-purpose tools to break down doors, smash glass and even chop through cinder block.

The Sport of Hawk Throwing

Tomahawks have also seen a popular resurgence in throwing competitions. Hawk throwing is an event included at hundreds of gatherings and competitions held through throughout the United States each year. The best throwing tomahawks balance weight and length; a longer handle or heavier weight results in a slower spin. For beginners, this may be useful in learning technique and adjusting for greater accuracy. Despite high-tech models created with steel and fiberglass, winners often use traditional, wooden-handled hawks.

Are you looking to purchase a combat tomahawk? Do you intend to use it as a tool, or for throwing? Join the discussion in the comments.

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