CAMPING & HIKING

Best Tactical Hatchet: All You Need to Know for Surviving The Wild

Best tactical hatchet
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Are you going on a prolonged camping trip where making a camp fire is allowed? Then you will probably agree with us that you need to carry with you the best tactical hatchet to chop some wood.

What is exactly the difference between a hatchet and an axe, you might be wondering? A tactical hatchet is a small axe with a short handle used with one hand. But there is a difference between the two tools – a regular axe is designed to be wielded with both hands for maximum striking force, while a hatchet is a much smaller axe for one-hand operation. So, in a real-life situation where you’re going camping, an axe will be too heavy and impractical because you won’t need a lot of wood, while a hatchet is going to be just the one tool you need – lightweight, small, and mighty!

The choice of the best tactical hatchet on the market is huge, and not everybody can make the best decision for oneself. And that is precisely why we came up with this guide. In this text, we will be covering the things you need to consider before buying a tactical hatchet. We have also reviewed seven top picks for your selection.

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightOverall LengthMaterialPrice
SOG Tactical F01TN-CP24 oz.15.75 in420 stainless steelCheck price on Amazon
Cold Steel 90RH Rifleman36.5 oz.22 inDrop forged 1055 carbon steelCheck price on Amazon
Fiskars X722.4 oz.14 inForged carbon steelCheck price on Amazon
Estwing E45A54 oz.26 inForged one-piece solid steelCheck price on Amazon
Gerber Gator26 oz.15.6 inForged steelCheck price on Amazon
Cold Steel 90PTH24 oz.19 inDrop forged 1055 carbon steelCheck price on Amazon
Tekton 328420 oz.14 inForged & heat treated steelCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

You can’t have the ultimate hatchet that has all the advantages and no disadvantages, but there are some important things you must look out for that will make for a very good hatchet. Here are the major points to consider before buying.

Shaft Size and Design

This is the most obvious difference between the axe and the hatchet. The hand axe is about two-thirds the length of the regular axe and the hatchet is even smaller, measuring roughly half the size of the hand axe.

These variations in shaft length account for the differences in cutting angles and leverage during chopping. You should choose a shaft length that is suitable for your application with respect to the required striking force.

Hatchet in wood

The shaft of a hatchet is mostly designed to curve forward, whereas that of the hand axes is mostly at right angle to the head itself. Also it is common to find metallic shafts in hatchets and almost never on hand axes.

Head Shape and Weight

The head of the hatchet is narrower when compared to an axe, and it also has a smaller body and larger cutting blade. Hatchets also sometimes come equipped with a hammer head for special purposes, whereas there are never such provisions made for axes.

As a result of size, the camping axe head will generally weigh about twice as much as the hatchet head and this variation in head weight accounts for their unique applications. The hatchet is more suited for lightweight chopping and the axe can handle heavier jobs.

Head Material

The most important part of a tactical hatchet is the head. Therefore, it is extremely crucial for you to choose high-quality head material. The popular materials used are stainless steel and forged carbon steel.

Hatchets

Forged carbon is the most popular choice found in most models. Its toughness, durability, hardness, deterioration resistance, wear-resistance, edge retention, and initial sharpness offer a convenient option for any heavy handed individuals.

Portability for Backpacking

Also by virtue of the size of hatchets, they are more portable when compared to axes. They can also easily be carried in holsters and pockets whereas axes are a bit more bulky and cumbersome.

Hatchets also tend to weigh less than axes do; though, this is not always the case. There are some models that may weigh more than 30 ounces. For ultra-light backpacking, you should consider a hatchet that weighs between 20 and 29 ounces.

High-Quality Sheath

Having a high performing tactical hatchet is not enough. You need a high-quality sheath for easy backpacking and transportation. A good sheath will protect the head from the elements and keep you safe from the sharp edge.

The ultimate solution for most people is a leather sheath, simply because it soft, silent, durable, and very comfortable. The major drawback of leather sheath is lack of water resistance; it is not the ideal choice in humid and rainy conditions.

Hatchet sheath

Image credit: pinterest.com

The alternative is a kydex sheath, which is basically made from thermoplastic material. Kydex is highly water-resistant, making it suitable for humid and rainy environments. However, it is noisy as well as disruptive, especially when drawing your hatchet.

Best Products on Today’s Market

The above information should help you understand what the best tactical hatchet is made of in terms of design and quality. To help you choose the right tactical hatchet for your application, we picked and reviewed the following top products on today’s market.

SOG Tactical F01TN-CP TomahawkSOG Tactical Tomahawk F01TN-CP

Price: Approx. $45

Weight: 24 oz.

Blade length: 2.75 in

Overall length: 15.75 in

Specific features: 420 stainless steel, glass-reinforced nylon handle, non-slip grip, tough ballistic polymer handle, nylon carry sheath, and a lifetime warranty

Best use: Extraction, obstacle removal, excavation, and breaching operations

Description: The SOG Tactical F01TN-CP Tomahawk is a very versatile tool designed for applications such as breaching, excavation, removing obstacles among other utility applications. It is available at a very budget-friendly price range.

Its 420 stainless steel build with its fine black finish, the axe blade is equipped to deal with corrosion and impact stress and thus gives it so much durability. Apart from being tough, the stainless blade has excellent edge retention.

This tool features state-of-the-art engineering and it is multifaceted as a result. With its blunt edge, it can be used as a hammer; its chiseled edge makes it suitable for extraction. The handle also comes with a non-slip grip that allows you to operate the hatchet in humid conditions.

The hatchet does not feature a full tang. The available one is about three inches long and is held in place by a metal sleeve and two screws. You can confidently use this hatchet to split 4-inch thick wood.

PROS:

  • The 420 stainless steel blade will not corrode or rust with time
  • Glass reinforced nylon handle is stable, strong, and has superior impact resistance
  • Side hammer checkering allows for accurate placement during the pounding
  • Nylon sheath is strong and remarkably quiet for tactical situations
  • Futuristic style of the hatchet has gained popularity worldwide

CONS:

  • It is not a full tang, making it less suitable for serious splitting work
  • The head may loosen up if exposed to strenuous chopping and splitting

Related: The blunt edge needs sharpening and the Lansky Puck Blade & Tool Sharpener will do you a lot of good. The sharpener can be used by experienced and novice users.

Check the price on Amazon

Cold Steel 90RH Rifleman’s HawkCold Steel Rifleman's Hawk

Price: Approx. $45

Weight: 36.5 oz.

Blade length: 3.5 in

Overall length: 22 in

Specific features: Lightweight design, pommel, drop forged 1055 carbon steel and American hickory handle

Best use: Outdoor use, including tactical, camping, and hunting

Description: The Cold Steel 90RH Rifleman’s Hawk is a high-quality tactical hatchet for the money. The hatchet is engineered from 1055 carbon steel material, which has been heat-tempered to prevent breakage. This material provides you with a durable and long-lasting blade.

Its lightweight, razor sharp head and pommel makes it the ideal companion for your hunting and camping trip. The head of this tomahawk is so tough and versatile it can split wood and hammer nails down easily and quickly.

The pommel can also be used to baton wood and dent metal sheets. American hickory is a very good fit for this tomahawk as it is very shock resistant and it features a sturdy structure that will provide you with an evenly balanced grip.

This hatchet features a superb cutting edge that is factory honed. This edge has proven to last ten times longer when compared to regular steel blades. It is also suitable for throwing, thanks to the two sticking points.

PROS:

  • Drop forged 1055 carbon steel is tough, durable, and offers long-lasting service
  • American hickory handle is strong, durable and it does not break easily
  • Factory honed cutting edge is ten times durable compared to other steel blades
  • Traditional American hammer head butt is suitable for hammering stakes
  • Cutting edge is held in place by two sticking points for effective throwing

CONS:

  • It is a bit heavy and may require a longer handle for better performance

Related: You need a sheath for safeguarding the blade, and Cold Steel also produces the Rifleman’s Cordura Sheath. The sheath allows for easy transportation of your hatchet.

Check the price on Amazon

Fiskars X7 HatchetFiskars X7 Hatchet

Price: Approx. $30

Weight: 22.4 oz.

Blade length: 2.5 in

Overall length: 14 in

Specific features: Forged carbon steel, fiber handle material, proprietary blade-grinding, perfect balance, and chops deeper

Best use: Chopping during camping or hunting

Description: The Fiskars X7 Hatchet is a lightweight axe at just over twenty ounces with most of its weight concentrated on its head. This amazing hatchet combines heavy-duty materials with adept construction to provide you with an almost unbreakable chopping tool.

This gives you better control for tasks, such as scraping and carving. The weight distribution and blade geometry are excellent, and with its unbreakable design, it maximizes the performance. This makes it better at chopping and gives it better blade penetration.

It is lightweight as a result of the hollow handle design and it comes with a protective sheath for easy carry and transport. Its blade is razor sharp and it has a little bit of a hammer for hammering and trouncing wood.

Out of the box, the hatchet is ultra-sharp with superior biting power compared to conventional tomahawks and axes. The design allows you to bring your fingers a little closer to the blade, allowing you to use the hatchet as you would a knife.

PROS:

  • Forged carbon steel blade has good edge retention and it is easier to sharpen
  • Low friction blade coating cuts smoothly through wood for easy operation
  • FiberComp handle is shock-absorbing, lightweight, and stronger
  • Insert molded head is inseparable and will not break or loosen up easily
  • Textured slip-free grip improves control by reducing hand strain

CONS:

  • It may get blunt very first when exposed to strenuous cutting

Related: The blade of this hatchet is ultra-sharp out of the box, but it gets blunt first; therefore, you should consider buying the Fiskars Axe and Knife Sharpener. The sharpener is strong, durable, and very effective.

Check the price on Amazon

Estwing E45A AxeEstwing E45A

Price: Approx. $130

Weight: 54 oz.

Blade length: 4 in

Overall length: 26 in

Specific features: Forged one-piece solid steel blade, lightweight, nylon-vinyl comfort grip, fully polished, leather sheath

Best use: Chopping, felling, and splitting during camping and hunting

Description: The Estwing E45A Axe is lightweight and durable. This unique cutting tool is engineered to offer unmatched performance. Unlike conventional hatchets, this model can smash, cut, and chop almost anything that you set your eyes on.

This tactical hatchet is crafted from forged one-piece solid steel material, which is strong, durable, and has a better hold on the edge. The solid steel construction ensures that the head doesn’t become loose during overstrike.

It is ideal for camping, hunting and farm use. With its forged steel head and patented shock reduction grip, it cuts deeper and faster into wood. You won’t have any complaints when you use this axe for felling, trimming trees or splitting and chopping wood.

It comes competitively priced and we highly recommend it. As far as performance is concerned, it will withstand the test of time and exceed your expectations. Artistically, the hatchet is intimidating, attractive, and convenient.

PROS:

  • Forged one-piece solid steel is strong, durable, and effective at retaining sharpness
  • Nylon vinyl grip handle is durable, comfortable, and non-slip in humid conditions
  • 4-inch edge allows for easier chopping and faster and deeper cuts
  • The longer handle allow for superior swinging and striking force
  • Included sheath offers blade protection and easy transportation

CONS:

  • Handle is too long for convenient one-hand operation
  • The sharpness of the edge may deteriorate faster

Related: If you plan to do some bush cutting, the axe will simply not cut it. Instead, you should check out the Fiskars Garden Machete. It does say it’s for the garden, but it will serve you great in the great outdoors as well.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber Gator Combo AxeGerber Gator Combo Axe II

Price: Approx. $40

Weight: 26 oz.

Blade length: 2.7

Overall length: 15.6 in

Specific features: Forged steel head, glass-filled nylon handle, gator grip handle, lightweight, longer handle

Best use: Outdoor adventures, including camping and hunting

Description: The Gerber Gator Combo Axe is a long handle version of the popular short handled gator. You get extra striking force with this longer handle and it makes for an excellent addition to your camping, hunting, and bushcraft gear.

With the gator texturing for better grip, there’s a lot of shock absorption going on to ensure that you don’t feel the impact of striking as much as you should. This allows you to use the hatchet in strenuous cutting chores.

The handle is glass nylon filled, which is rugged and lightweight for easy handling, swinging, and striking. The handle is incorporated with a coarse blade handsaw, which is strategically held in place by a magnetic force. You can use the handsaw for cutting branches.

The major drawback of this hatchet is associated with the handle. Unlike similar or competing models, the handle cannot be replaced, since it is the one that magnetically houses the handsaw. But it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

PROS:

  • Forged steel head is rugged and durable for retained edge and great performance
  • Glass filled nylon handle is lightweight and strong for a secure and comfortable grip
  • Long handle offers a superior grip and great striking power
  • Comes with a handsaw for cutting branches as well as brush
  • Provides excellent edge retention after sharpening

CONS:

  • Does not come with a sharp edge
  • Not convenient to replace the handle

Related: We recommend you to buy the hatchet along with the Bahco Sharp-X Blade Sharpener. You will need the sharpener to improve the sharpness of the edge prior to first time use.

Check the price on Amazon

Cold Steel 90PTH Trench HawkCold Steel 90PTH Trench Hawk

Price: Approx. $40

Weight: 24 oz.

Blade length: 3.5 in

Overall length: 19 in

Specific features: Drop forged 1055 carbon steel, polypropylene handle, resistant to impact and shock, and cutting edge and wedge shaped spike

Best use: Camping and hunting

Description: The Cold Steel 90PTH Trench Hawk is remarkably tactical, making it ideal for a variety of functions. There is so much you can do during camping or hunting, including chopping and slashing of wood and grass.

Tactical black styled tomahawk with a synthetic handle. The hatchet is perfect for use in confined spaces like trenches, bunkers, and alleys. Drop forged from 1055 carbon steel with differential hardening, the head of the axe can withstand a huge amount of stress.

The handle is also designed to absorb a lot of shock and will still stand strong even in the harshest of conditions that would easily cause damage, even to a tough hickory handle. It also comes with a secure ex-sheath that is neatly designed to cover and protect the blade.

As far as durability is concerned, the Cold Steel Trench Hawk is remarkable. The insert molded head prevents breakage during an overstrike, and ensures that the head doesn’t become loose.

PROS:

  • Drop forged 1055 carbon blade offers strength and excellent edge retention
  • Polypropylene handle is strong, versatile, lightweight, and non-slip
  • Handle is cheap and easy to replace when broken or worn out
  • Patented secure-ex sheath protects the edge from damage during transportation
  • Longer handle for superior swinging and striking power
  • Sharp spike can easily be used as a weapon

CONS:

  • Not remarkably sharp out of the box

Related: We advise you to buy this Dual Grit Sharpening Stone along with the hatchet. The stone is easy to use and can be used for all types of blades.

Check the price on Amazon

Tekton 3284 Camp AxeTEKTON 3284

Price: Approx. $20

Weight: 20 oz.

Overall length: 14 in

Specific features: Forged and heat treated steel head, multipurpose head, fully polished finish, soft non-slip rubber grip, and heavy-duty handle

Best use: Hunting, camping, general outdoor activities

Description: The Tekton 3284 Camp Axe is the high performing tactical hatchet of the 14-inch Tekton tool. This resourceful cutting gear, puls top-of-the-line resources with ingenuity and skilled construction to offer you an ultra-sharp and an unbreakable hatchet.

The Tekton 3284 was engineered with remarkable power to weight swing in mind. It is nothing like conventional tactical hatchets, simply because it is suitably balanced to provide optimum chopping and cutting force with every swing.

The exceptionally strong and waterproof fiberglass handle will not break, crack, or shrink. In fact, the handle is protected from impairment due to miss strikes by the outer poly jacket. This improves the reliability and durability of the hatchet.

This is an amazing cutting tool for the money. You will have a hard time pointing out flaws. Backed by Tekton warranty (not specified, you need to inquire through Tekton support), the Tekton 3284 is worth every penny.

PROS:

  • Forged and heat treated steel is strong and offers excellent edge retention
  • Fiberglass handle is strong, waterproof, and features an outer poly jacket for durability
  • Ergonomic, non-slip grip guarantees a firm grip to prevent injury and strain
  • Multipurpose head is convenient for chopping, sawing, and slashing

CONS:

  • Comes with a shorter handle, which may limit the striking power

Related: We recommend you to buy this product along with the Rothco Canvas Axe Sheath for protecting yourself from the edge of the blade.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Having the right tool with you is essential and can make a huge difference; so, it is important to be prepared. One very important aspect of a tactical hatchet is safety. To protect yourself and others around you against any harm, you need to follow all the safety guidelines.

Choosing a high-quality model may not be as easy as you would have thought. Use the information in the buying guide section to select a hatchet that will best suit your needs in terms of features and performance.

Have we successfully help you find what you were looking for in the market? Please share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments section below, and we will join you in the conversation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.