Here's something I've been sitting on for a little while, and wanted to bring into the light, now that we are on the cusp of spring.
Much like Gimli The Dwarf I do enjoy the heft of a good axe in the hand. I've been chopping wood since I was 8 or 9 I think, off and on (our current house doesn't even have a fireplace), but I do have a brazier and the Pot Belly Stove project. I've previously reported on my other axes, including my outstanding FISKARS log splitter and my little United Cutlery M48 Ranger Hawk. In addition, I have at least one other traditional wood-hafted chopping axe, and two hatchets. Lots of axe-action. So when I saw that Global Gear was stocking the big sister of the Ranger Hawk, the "Tactical Axe" I thought I just had to get my hands on it.
The toxic green "zombie apocalypse" version of the axe is called a walking axe, referring to it being walking stick height. You can see here that this is pretty much the case, and for people shorter than me this would probably even be a comfortable option. It's just not quite long enough for me in this role. More on that later. (Check out my new 5.11 Tactical Kilt, too)
Here I've lain the two M48 axes side by side so you can get an idea of the differences between the heads.
They both share the "bearded axe" design that I am very find of, and you can see that the Walking Axe has a more pronounced curve to the head, as well as being longer edged.at around 12cm (5") of blade, and being 20cm (8") long. Wielding it brings out my Viking heritage more than I care to say ...
The other features of the head differ between the tomahawk and the walking axe, which was interesting. It wasn't simply a matter of putting the same head on a different shaft. Instead of three circular holes running backwards from the head, three triangular holed run down the length of it. These sit well past the secondary grind, and add to the liveliness of the blade considerably.
This is probably a good thing, because instead of the sharpened pick at the back of the axe, the Walking Axe features a curved hammer/handle end. With these considerable differences this really is a stand-alone piece. You can also see the differences in the shaft, which I'll cover in a moment.
There are two sets of ringed groves set into the haft, one down at the butt, the other about midway, which is a slightly larger set having two sets of 8 groves, the lower set just a single set of eight. As well as these there is the "knuckle" bump at about three quarters of the way up the haft, a features shared by the Ranger Hawk, as well as a set of finger grip lumps behind the beard that the Ranger Hawk does not have.
The cast 7Cr17 stainless steel blade is quite sharp and has considerable bite, good for chopping as well as whittling, if you can manage the long haft. As with the Ranger Hawk, the axe head is attached to the haft with three separate metal hex bolts.
The fittings are exactly the same between the two, and I suspect I could swap them out without any trouble at all.
You can see here the hammer/handle end is actually quite curved, and lacks a flattened striking face, more like a ball-peen hammer.
The fact that the hammer/handle end has a downwards curve lends itself to the idea of using it as a "break and rake" tool for clearing window frames, in the event you need emergency entrance (or exit). It, like the head of the blade, is quite thick, surprisingly so given the over all weight of the axe, which is only 1.4kg (3lbs) or so.
It also gives a nice, ergonomic place to rest your palm whilst hiking with the axe, in its walking-stick aspect.
The slight skeletonisation of the head drops the weight again, and adds a double line of gripping points to add to your ability to retain the tool when holding it.
The axe comes with a synthetic rubber "guard" which in theory pegs itself closed through the top of the cut-aways in the head. In my one, this didn't quite work, and I had to run a twist tie through the loop in order to snag it shut. With drain holes a-plenty, and covering the bitey tops and bottoms the of the beard, this does a good job in protecting the user, the environment and random passer-s by from feeling the bite of the axe.
This is a fun piece, and very lively in the hands. The play from gripping it, swinging it, and the slide of hands along its haft makes it a very quick and light tool, a far cry in feel from my FISKARS log splitter, and felt much more like a sword than a hammer, so to speak.
The lightness of the head will play a part in its usefulness when it comes to chopping and splitting, but for brush clearing, and the lopping of limbs, I suspect it will do just fine.
The fiberglass reinforced handle, as I say, is a tad too short for me to use as a walking stick, personally, but I have a big household, and I'm sure someone will find it useful in our upcoming camping and adventuring summer!