Do you know the difference between an ax, hatchet, and tomahawk? Can you spot the difference between them at first glance?
You’re not expected to be able to instantly tell the difference between them as they all look similar unless you’re a seasoned ax-slinger and have been reading The Survival Journal.
Related: The Top 10 Survival Hatchets Ranked.
In this post, we explain the differences between the three types of blades so you can stay sharp.
Axes vs Hatchets vs Tomahawks
Each one of these blades is used for different purposes.
What are the differences between all of them? How are they similar?
Keep reading while we go through the ax, hatchet, and tomahawk. We’ll also mention a fourth tool that is worth knowing,
The hatchet does a much better job at splitting tasks work then the hawk, but as far as any chopping work that you have to do. The tomahawk is on unmatched in this category. This is due mostly to the width of the blade. The bit of the tomahawk is thinner so it’s not going to get stuck in wood.
The hatchet is a better option for Bushcraft purposes like splitting and chopping wood than the Tomahawk.
Using a hatchet is ideal for chopping work it’s ideal for splitting small pieces of firewood and chopping branches off of trees to use that as you’re making a survival shelter in the woods.
The tomahawk is actually a type of hatchet. People usually don’t see the difference between the hatchet and a tomahawk. The primary differences between a hatchet and a tomahawk is simply a method in which the head it Is attached.
It’s safe to describe a tomahawk as being a smaller version of an ax.
Tomahawks are also known as a “Hawks”. The tomahawk has a thinner blade in general compared to the hatchet.
Hawks can look very much the same as a hatchet except for the one part of it that separates itself from a hatchet.
What makes a tomahawk, a tomahawk?
According to Wikipedia, a tomahawk as a type of single-handed acts from North America Indians. It resembles the hatchet with the only distinguishable difference being the straight shaft. The shaft is straight on the tomahawk.
Where is the cool name from?
Good question. The name “Tomahawk” came into the English language in the 17th century as an adaptation of the Virginian Algonquian word and was invented by the Algonquians.
The hawk was made to be used as a single-handed weapon and tool. They were traditionally used as a one-handed weapon by the North American Indians.
The meaning of the word tomahawk is “Used for cutting”. It was also a Native American emblem of warfare. It symbolized two sides of the coin, war and peace.
Key point: The hawk is primarily used as a weapon, the hatchet is primarily used as a tool.
The hawk contains three primary parts that make it unique to the hatchet and axe. The components are:
- The eye of the tomahawk is round in shape. Not a perfectly circular shape, but round enough in a way that makes it look different than the narrow eye shapes of axes and hatchets.
- The handles are more extended than that of axes and hatchets.
- Tomahawks can be hafted from the bottom, while hatchets and axes can only be hafted from the top.
Axes and hatchets look very similar but these two tools are used to perform very different functions. Both of the tools consist of primarily two parts. Hey headed made of steel which is attached to usually a wooden handle. It’s not uncommon to find a hatchet that is made of hey large or single piece of steel period The term “bit” is a term to describe the sharp edge of the tool. So if you ever see the term “double bit ax” it’s referring to an ax that has a sharp edge on both ends.
The core functions and uses of axes are primarily for:
- Cutting and Chopping wood
- Splitting logs
- Hunting as a weapon
- Firefighters use axes
The biggest difference between axes have over hatchets and Tomahawks is the sheer size of the tool. Axes are made to be used with two hands so they can be used at their maximum swinging and striking power.
Axes are primarily used for more labor intensive type of work like splitting larger logs that a hatchet is ineffective at, and for felling trees. However, an axe can also be used in a similar fashion as you would use a hatchet or hand axe.
You can do this by moving your hand placement on the acts upward toward the bit which would allow you to take shorter and faster one-handed swings much like you would with a hatchet. Which is a common technique that is used by Bush crafters and woodsman.
There are also different types of axes and they’re all made for specific purposes. Such as the splitting maul which is the best axe for heavy-hitting labor. The main difference between the different types of axes is the width and angle of the bit.
The 4th Blade
There’s also a fourth tool for chopping that you should know that is called the “handaxe”.
It is also meant to be used with one hand like a bee tomahawk and hatchet, but the hand ax has a longer handle and is not used for striking purposes.
This tool comes right in the middle between hatchets and axes. Since they are designed to be used with one hand, they come more closely related to hatchets and hawks.
Now you know how to identify the differences between axes, hatchets, and tomahawks.
To wrap up this guide. Axes, hatchets, tomahawks, and hand axes all serve their specific purpose and it can all be used and one work session depending on the specific task that is needed to be done.
Use a hatchet for chopping. If you need more power and force for larger chunks of wood or for tree chopping, use an axe. If you need something in the middle use a handaxe. And if you need to defend your tribe and need a weapon, go with the tomahawk.
If you had to pick one of these tools I have to use as a tool for your house the hatchet would most likely give you the most bang for your buck it has the most versatility and mix between power and functionality of the four different tools.
Do you use all four of these tools? Which one do you prefer?