A tactical tomahawk is:
A well-designed tactical tomahawk can be used for:
For a detailed discussion of our design philosophy, please see the "What do you mean when you say 'tactical'?" question in this section.
At first, the scabbards were top load and gravity was key to keeping the tomahawks in the scabbard. Then, tomahawks began to be carried by folks who were jumping out of stuff from high altitudes, and we began working on designs that would provide a secure hold. About that time, we had a request for a shorter tomahawk that could be a concealed carry under a suit jacket, and Ryan initially developed the bottom-eject scabbard for that purpose. The scabbard was designed to have a "pinch" at the bottom to secure the hawk and with a good tug, the hawk would release. As more people used the bottom-eject scabbard, it became apparent that this scabbard worked well for just about everything. There is a knack to a quick release from the scabbard: give the hawk a slight rotation as you pull down. Pull down so the forward blade rotates out first. It may take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, the release is a smooth as butter.
The scabbard is designed to be ambidextrous and is set up for multiple carry options by using the web slots. The scabbard can be set up for belt loop, shoulder strap, weapon sling or rigged directly to MOLLE gear, giving you unlimited configurations for securing your hawk to webbing, back packs belts, and slings.
If it gets really dirty, just wash it with soap and water; there is almost no cleaner that will really hurt it. It's probably best to remove the straps and wash them separately. Let the scabbard air dry and you're back in business. There is no normal maintenance involved except to ensure that the straps are in good condition. You can lightly lubricate the inside of the scabbard every now and then just to make it easier to get in and out.
The edges of the spike are not sharp. The spike geometry is ground in this manner to provide maximum penetration while maintaining rigidity and strength. While you can certainly hook with the spike there isn't enough width there to make an edge that would actually cut anything and still maintain its original purpose: to punch through Kevlar. Also, not having an edge there provides non-lethal hooking for control of an opponent in close quarter combat situations.
The spike as a hole puncher and a hook. There are plenty of cutting edges available mere inches away on the other side.
Although the silhouettes of these tomahawks are virtually the same, there are some significant differences between the hawks. The Eagle Talon and the Kestrel are laser cut from sheet steel and then the bevels are milled to shape. In comparison, the hammer-forging process on the Shrike does about 90% of the shaping for us and allows us to put a slight indention in the head of the Shrike. This forms a "rail" along the head that reduces drag when the tomahawk is going in and out of material. The material rides along this "rail," reducing surface area and therefore reducing drag. Typically, the Eagle Talon and Kestrel's forward edges are about 1/4-inch longer than that of the Shrike, but due to the nature of the process there are some variations. Also, the spike on the Shrike is a little taller and thinner than the spike on the Eagle Talon and Kestrel — more of a tanto blade shape. This was done to improve penetration capability and strength on the Shrike. We have kept the original spike geometry on the Talon and Kestrel.
The handles are different as well. The Talons and Kestrel handles are formed when the tomahawks are laser cut. We apply G-10 textured scales or slabs to the steel handle. In comparison, the Shrike has a tang that is an I-beam cross section. We weld a piece of 4130 steel tube on the end of the tang, then the handle material is over-molded onto the steel. This construction forms a 3-inch hollow in the end of the Shrike's handle, where we place a 3-inch sharpening stone under the "skull crusher" end cap.
Several years ago, when I was making a special order knife for a SWAT team member, my good friend and resident critic John Hutcheson came by the shop and looked the knife over. "The tip is too narrow and thin," he said. "It will break if the person using the knife tries to pry something open." I told John that this knife was not meant to be used as a pry-bar, just for cutting.
John then said something that both defined the word "tactical" for me and, most importantly, changed my design paradigm forever: "The situations this person finds himself in should determine what this knife is used for. If he needs to cut something, it cuts. If he has to pry a door open, it's a pry-bar. These are high-energy situations where every second counts. You can't carry everything you would like to carry; the knife will have to be able to complete a multitude of tasks."
In a perfect world a soldier or law enforcement officer would have ready access to all of the tools and weapons he ever needed, but that just isn't possible. That is why the tools they carry should meet the following criteria:
It takes more than an aggressive look or a gray and black finish to make a tomahawk a tactical tomahawk. Remember, tomahawks were "tactical" for hundreds of years in their original forms. That is, they met the needs of the soldiers and frontiersman as both a tool and weapon in the battlefield conditions they encountered.
In our view, a contemporaru tactical tomahawk should be able to withstand all modern battlefield conditions — areas ranging from the Salt Lake City, Utah, Olympics, to the Jungles of South America, to the rugged mountains in Afghanistan. (RMJ Tactical tomahawks have been carried in all three).
A tactical tomahawk should be easy to use and carry. A well-designed tomahawk feels like a natural extension of the arm. The use of it should be intuitive. It is interesting to note that people throughout history have been naturally inclined to "hack" with a bladed object. (For more on the subject, see David Grossman's On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.)
As for the tomahawk scabbard, it should securely hold the tomahawk in place while making it easy to draw the tomahawk out. Also, the modern scabbard should have multiple carrying options.
Finally, the modern tactical tomahawk should be able to perform as an efficient tool and weapon for the many tasks soldiers and officers encounter.
We are proud to make tomahawks that meet these requirements. It is not by chance; it comes from many hundreds of hours of design time, customer input, customer requests, and testing, testing, testing.