Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: United Cutlery - M48 Ranger Hawk axe

Here is my first totally "tacticool" post in a while. I have shown you some axe-love in the past, and even debunked a cancelled product post and flirted with some serious and lustful objects but haven't really gotten up close and personal with the smaller choppers, till now!

This piece of bad-assed pointy is the
M48 Kommando Ranger Hawk Axe
from United Cutlery. I had seen this advertised on ThinkGeek, and loved the look of it, and for the price, was willing to grab one to mess with. ThinkGeek have changed their shipping conditions however and this as well as many other of their tool and cool items no longer ship to Australia. I don't know if this from their end or ours, but I was denied! I hate that. I managed to find alternate means of securing my item, via a well known ordering service named after a large South American river system. This too was not without issue, and following once cancellation, I managed to secure myself a chopper!

This head of this piece is "precision" cast 2Cr13 stainless steel, and features a wide bearded cutting edge, which sweeps downwards nicely, and has a very smooth geometry to its edge.The topside of the head has been beveled back and is not blackened like the rest of the head, which I thought was a little odd.. Three holes skeletonise the head, reducing the over all weight without making the piece flimsy feeling in the slightest. The back of the "beard" had a smooth finish and I felt I could grip it for precision whittling if it ever appealed to me. The whole piece weighs in at 1.088 kg (2.4lbs) and sitting at approximately 20cm (7 5/8") across the length of the head, and just under 40cm (15 1/2") "tall" This is a really light option for what it is.

There is apparently 90cm (36") a pole-axe version available as well, but it looks like it may be a different head too.

The flip side of the axe-head is this very impressive spiked beak, again with the edges being uncoated "false edges" in this case leading to a rather pointy, and well defined penetrating tip. the beak follows the same lines as the axe-beard, and sweeps downwards, aiding in transferring the energy of a swing. An interesting and well thought out feature seen clearly here is the notch cut into the underside of the beak, which fits the thumb-and-index finger top of your fist if you slide your hand right up the shaft to take a grip of just the head. This facilitates a really comfortable choked-up grip for fine chopping or perhaps cutting with the blade.
Traditionally,the back of a Tomahawk
seems to have primarily been a hammer type end, rather than a spike, which seems to have been more a common feature of the Warhammer. No less devastating when featured here though, I imagine.

The handle of this piece is nylon, reinforced with 30% fiberglass and features both a double sided "knuckle" for gripping and preventing you from accidentally sliding up the grip, as well as a series of deep groves running the circumference of the rounded handle.

A lanyard hole at the base fits paracord nicely, and in fact,  one of the options offered by United Cutlery is a cord-wrapped version (only on one colour of the handle as far as I can tell, the OD version). Speaking of which, there appear to be a number of colour options available for this, black, OD green, safety orange and rescue yellow. This is a really nice thought, allowing people to clearly indicate the tools function, or keep it subdued and inconspicuous for those people on two-way firing ranges who don't want to stand out.

The head of the axe is fitted to the haft with three TORX type screws, binding the tang to about 1/3 of the length of the haft. I was happy with the binding and security of this attachment, from the brief testing I gave this piece, but intend to do a whole lot more chopping with it shortly.

The sheath is probably the least satisfying piece of the package. Whilst the nylon and furniture was hefty and felt well put together, with rivets along the top and cutting edges, and press-studs to close the bottom of the sheath, for "pull-away" access, however, on the back of the sheath, the attachment options to mount the whole thing were pretty woeful on this model. A single narrow belt-loop was pretty limiting, and I think I will need to do some modifications before I can fit this into my current platforms and bug-out-bags. To be fair, the cord-wrapped / OD green option comes with a somewhat more accommodating sheath, with some PALS/MOLLE looking hook-and-loop tabs, but overall, this was a disappointing end to what was otherwise an outstanding looking and feeling little axe. . 

Perfect for that long trek in the bush, demounted search and rescue, breaching and increasingly for CQB if accounts are to be believed.   


M48 Kommando Ranger Hawk Axe
Click to go to Think Geek store listing ....
You may wonder, in this era, why would people be interested in a hand-axe, well here are some Hollywood-produced suggestions....

Making a lasting first impression.... Colonial era style

Up close and personal, Revolutionary War style.


  1. Great review, I've actually been thinking about buying this axe. After reading, I think I'll go with the 0D cord-wrapped option. Thanks, and awesome blog!

    1. thanks Dylan, I hope to take some footage of me hacking things with it soon ...


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