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Lots of motor travel, want to build a decent survival kit, need a decent hawk/hatchet

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Sword and Shield, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. Sword and Shield

    Sword and Shield

    Apr 3, 2004
    I'm a doctor and ramble all over two states in my trusty Saturn between clinics. I'm working on laying in the panic bag, so to speak, first aid, fire, food and water, fire extinguisher, shelter and clothes, and one that comes to mind I need is a small hawk/axe/hatchet. Light is nice, as space is limited, and budget is tight. I can rework a mediocre piece if there's a gem beneath.

    I've been looking at CS's Norse hawk and frontier hawk, seem pretty good- light, capable, don't need much to get right. I have a leather-handled Estwing hatchet I love, but I don't want to relegate it to trunk duty.

    Any ideas?
  2. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    A lot of people seem to love the cold steel hawks, but I'd recommend getting a vintage riggers axe head to functionally restore. You could also just get a new Vaughan. They're a great tool as they have a great bit profile but also have an actual hammer for a poll ( one of the cold steel hawk's sort of has a hammer but they're not hammer makers so I wouldn't trust it )
  3. Pokerchip

    Pokerchip Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 26, 2015


    Jun 2, 2009
    I like the idea of the rigging axe also and don't forget half a dozen 16p galvanized nails. I have had a go bag or in my trunk since 2003.
  5. ISP 5353

    ISP 5353

    Sep 5, 2010
    Look at H&B Forge.....
  6. popedandy

    popedandy Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    The Rinaldi carpenter's hawk from Baryonyx is an excellent tool. The Cold Steel pipe hawk can be turned into a pretty good performer. The CRKT Woods Chogan is good once you thin the cutting edge. Condor makes a couple of pretty good small hatchets.
  7. littleknife


    Nov 29, 2000
    I think the rigging axe suggestions are good, but the rigging axe is still heavier than most tomahawks.
    I would suggest a rigging axe ‘light’: a carpenters half hatchet.
    Vaughan makes an excellent one, the hardened hammer poll is heavier than that on most hammer poll hawks, yet the hatchet is still quite light:

    Vaughan SH2 22-Ounce Carpenters Half Hatchet

    It has a very nicely shaped straight handle, a thin bit and long edge. While it is primarily a wood shaping tool, it can be used to split smaller diameter fire wood.
    It works very well as a hammer.
    It is also more sheeple friendly than a hawk.
    Several hardware store chains carry it. I would suggest an in store purchase after inspection.
    Some of the examples I have seen can have slightly crooked bit due to uneven grind etc.

    Finally, it is significantly cheaper than most hawks and better hatchets, yet provides a very good quality, especially for the price.
    In addition, the last time I checked, it was still made in the USA.

    Whatever you choose, good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  8. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    In a survival situation you won't actually be killing any zombies. More likely you will be splitting kindling or clearing branches off the road. For these actual tasks a small camp hatchet (boy scout hatchet) suffices just fine and will fit in your bug out bag. The current hardware store imports don't compare with the vintage stuff but they're still plenty good enough for your needs. They will need sharpening. These can be had for about $20 and will fill an immediate need until you can find and restore something better.

    Also consider adding a folding saw. A Tajima G-Saw 240 packs a lot of cutting power in a small package for about $25.
  9. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    I use a riggers axe too. Fleamarket found Estwing.
    As car kit emergency/survival purpose tool. Its real hammer is quite handy.
    However, I polished off its teeth. I dont want to imprint everything what needs pounding on.
  10. littleknife


    Nov 29, 2000
    The hammer surface on the Vaughan half hatchet is smooth to begin with. :)

    Also, I agree with Square_peg, that you don’t need a heavy tool for survival situation.
    The half hatchet is more than capable to split kindling, process firewood and clear branches, especially when combined with a folding saw.
    Also, the price of the Vaughan half hatchet is also around $20. You only need to make or buy an edge protector or mask for it.
  11. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Tac hawk, camp hatchet or other chopping toy in a emergency kit is not unlike carrying a 1/4 inch drive socket set in case u-joints fail, bearings seize or a car/truck wheel blows out. Waste of time! Figure out a way to mount a genuine fire axe on board and then you can go forward with some real confidence.
  12. littleknife


    Nov 29, 2000
    I respectfully disagree.
    The fire axe is a breaching/demolition tool, not much of a use in the country, near the road.
    A full size axe and/or a large bow saw is must in winter, in a heavily wooded area, e.g. in the boreal forest areas of Canada and the USA.
    If the roads are not running through forests, the full size axe has limited usefulness.
    In any other location or season, a small chopping/splitting/hammer tool is sufficient to build a temporary survival shelter, and process a minimal amount of firewood.
    Given that the O.P has limited space and budget, a hatchet/small axe + a folding saw is a logical choice.
    A hammer poll and some nails, as suggested above, will add significant additional user value at negligible additional cost and space.
    No solution is ideal, but I’d rather have at least some 1/4 drive sockets + a socket wrench with me, than nothing at all. ;)
  13. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    This is what I chose, a claw hatchet. And rather than 16p galv I choose 16p duplex. Tougher nail plus easier to pull and re-use.

  14. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    A half axe is a bit cheaper, and a bit lighter plus the exclusion of the milled face.
    Weather you go with a riggers axe or half hatchet I can confidently say that Vaughan won't let you down. My only suggestion would be to slightly curve the bit when you go to sharpen it to make it more like a tool meant for the woods.
    Other than that they'll just need a bit cover and varnish removed.
    If you want a standard hatchet the craftsman hatchets are made by Vaughan and while they're pretty rough the Steel is great and they're only 17$. A vintage head will still be better though and cost less.
  15. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I'm a CS hawk fan. I have the rifleman, the Norse, and the spike hawk. I'd probably go with a pipe hawk. The rifleman is heavy. Great for throwing and hitting hard. The pipe hawk is much lighter and has the hammer poll.

    The Norse hawk is great.

    One thing to consider, the CS hack handles are much more robust. And if you run one without the set screw, or carry an Allen wrench, the are super easy to replace.
  16. nzedge


    Apr 7, 2013
    you know what they say.....when in doubt... full sized rafting axe :D
  17. Beachlogger


    Dec 27, 2015
    i like the weight of the tommy axe on an 18" handle
  18. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    A smaller hatchet would probably be fine if ya wanna get a small fire going & possibly cut a sapling to drape a tarp (shelter) over. A fire axe would be handy if ya ever come up on an accident and have to pull someone from a burning car (as my brother once did). I carry a full sized axe in the spring during tornado season, in case I have to clear downed limbs out of the road. If the weathermen are going crazy about a nasty storm coming, I'll even throw the chainsaw in back.

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