#Sale++ $26.99 Cold Steel Trail Hawk American Hickory Handle Buyer Guide

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Cold Steel Trail Hawk American Hickory Handle Buyer guide

Cold Steel Trail Hawk American Hickory Handle Buyer guide Detail Features and Description :

Cold Steel Trail Hawk American Hickory Handle Buyer guide has fabulous features
  • Overall Length: 22.00"
  • Handle Material: American Hickory
  • Blade Length: 6 1/2" (Hawk Length)
  • Weight: 1.34 lbs.
Description Modeled after an early frontier pattern, our Trail Hawk can do it all. It's an excellent chopper and has a functional hammer poll with a hardened face so you can drives nails, hammer in stakes, and smash or crush just about anything. Best of all it's extremely lightweight and compact so it's a cinch to tuck it under your belt or lash it to a pack or shooting bag.

Real Customer Reviews

Cold Steel Trail Hawk American Hickory Handle Buyer guide

I almost rated this one star just to get people to read my review... this is REALLY long, but I love to share my passions, so if you have some time, grab a snack, and enjoy the read :)

I'll be posting this review on the other Cold Steel Tomahawks as well, so please forgive the repetition.

First off, this is not a hatchet, and it will never chop (and cannot split) nearly as well as a fixed head hatchet. Conversely, a hatchet has not the balance/edge geometry to throw or stick as well as a hawk, and the permanent nature of the handle/head fusion will suffer under the abuse of throwing, or they will simply just not fly well (try throwing a gerber axe/hatchet some time).

That said, my BIGGEST POINT of this ENTIRE review/blog/blurb, based on all the negatives I just read on the CS Tomahawk line is...


This is not a mistake... it is, in fact, the most durable design, and before metal heads it was very hard to accomplish. Just look at the negative reviews on the Vietnam hawk. This is what you can expect by trying to permanently affix your head on these types of hawks. The shock will transfer through the steel into the wood, which will give/crack/splinter under the relatively substantial amounts of torque/vibration.

I have years of experience throwing similar hawks... These are about the best "traditional" tomahawks made anymore, short of something pounded out by hand. It's unfortunate they are made overseas.. They are a little rough around the edges, but hell they are cheap! A little TLC before you start throwing will make them last for years. Everything said here goes for all the cold steel "American Tomahawk" hawks, as they all have their uses, merits, and drawbacks, and all use the same materials/have similar craftsmanship. My favorites are the Rifleman, Trail, and Spike. The Norse is also a sticker, but I always miss having something on the backside of the head. I would avoid the fixed head "tomahawks" like the Vietnam for any intent besides combat... they simply will not hold up to throwing, and don't have enough 'meat' in the handle/head union for much else like chopping. They are for flesh and bone, which is nothing.

Out of the box these are not perfect... most of the cheap Cold Steel stuff isn't (try one of their machetes some time) but you definitely get your money's worth. The paint sucks, the edges need work, and the set screw is a TERRIBLE idea. If you want to 'fix' your head in place, do so with wrappings/lashings (I.E. a fighting hawk instead of a throwing hawk) but never NEVER permanently pin/screw your head to the wood.. the shock of throwing (especially by newbies) will wear the handle out very quickly. The only permanent hawks I've seen hold up under constant use are the polymer handle ones (SOG), though these are not nearly as well balanced as a wood handled hawk for throwing, and they will eventually break/stretch/flex too far. Please also realize that there is a big difference between a breaching tool (which can look like a hawk) and a true throwing tomahawk. Balance is everything.

That said...

My background with throwing and tomahawks began at mountain man rendezvous in AZ as a child, long before cold steel existed. Back then, most of our tomahawk heads were hand made by blacksmiths, and intentionally kept loose on the haft, as this extended the life of the handles greatly, and allowed for quick/easy replacement of the handles, which we considered more or less disposable/easily replaceable to us. Being loose allows the handle to vibrate/bounce within the head, rather than absorb the shock of and impact on a small region of the handle. You will see this in action if you give it a chance... some times the handle will fly right out with a good stick! Think of how a bowling pin (I'm thinking the old maple ones) goes flying... then imagine than same pin held in place while the ball smashes into it... being allowed to 'bouce' and dissipate the energy prevents the wood from shattering. This is especially important with the tough but potentially brittle ash/hickory handles commonly used in modern hawks. After having read many negative reviews by others (where it seems experience may be lacking), I've decided to share my traditional tomahawk finishing/use techniques, hopefully to the success of others.

The goal is to allow the handle to float in the head, but still be able to be wedged tightly into the proper place for carry/utility. Done right the head should stay put until it really smacks something without your hand holding the other end. When it finally does rattle loose, you will see how much shock it would have had to sustain had it been permanently affixed. One quick proper swing, and it's right back where it should be. Piece of cake!

How to "FIX" your crappy CS tomahawk:

First, remove that set screw and throw it away. It will do more harm than anything else to the handle (short of using wedges). If the screw has already done ANY damage to the handle, contact CS and have them send you a replacement. You want absolutely no nicks, dings, flakes, cracks, gouges, etc in any part of the wood. The screw will do more damage than just the wood it compresses... it can actually cause the handle to shatter/split, which can leave you with some wicked splinters (I've had a 3"er removed, went clean through the web of my hand, got the scar to prove it ).

I agree with some other reviewers. I like to remove the paint and replace it with either gun blue, or a vinegar patina, which stinks less (once you're done, anyway). The paint these are coated with seems to make them more difficult to remove once stuck, and just looks out of place to me. I use a bench grinder fitted with a wire wheel for removing the paint. Easier to do with the head on the haft, just don't get the wire wheel into the wood!

Next, take the head off the handle, mount it in a bench vice blade down, and use a round (rat tail) file to take the edges off of the insides of the haft channel, top and bottom. Don't stop until it's nice and round, you want NO sharp edges contacting the wood. I like to finish this process with a med-fine sanding sponge cut to the right size. This will help to keep the head from 'biting' into the grain of the handle. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Why they cast/finish them with the sharp edges boggles me.

Next, flip the head over in the vice, edge up, and use your file to give it a nice convex edge. Doesn't have to be perfect, just smooth the hard angle out a bit... this will increase the 'stick' of your hawk immensely. Finish the edge with the big part of the sanding sponge, using the fine side, and make it purdy. Be careful! It's likely getting very sharp at this point (mine are usually WAY too sharp).

This step is not necessary, but I'm OCD and I do it anyway... and if you've never worked steel I don't recommend you try this until someone shows you how... but after re-shaping the edge, I also like to re-temper the edge as well, and make it a bit harder than it came from the factory. A map gas torch and a used motor oil quench work well for this, just don't heat too far up the blade (just the first 1/8-1/4"of the edge). Get it orange/yellow, then dip it in the oil, do this just once. You may want to redo the patina/polish the edge once more after this.

The last thing I do before I consider my hawk "optimized" is use my map gas torch to gently heat the handle and melt some beeswax into the wood grain. Pass the torch quickly over the wood... don't get it too hot! Begin by doing small sections until you get the hang of it. If you start changing the color of the wood, it is too hot and you may be making it harder/more brittle. Get it just hot to the touch, then rub it briskly with the beeswax, it should melt in like butter on toast. Do this until the wood begins to look hazy, give it one last quick overall warm up with the torch (you will see the wax melt) then quickly grab some brown paper (bag) and use it to polish the entire length of the haft, including (especially) the top and bottom. Squeeze the paper tight and give it a good brisk polish, If done right the handle should have a nice glossy sheen, and be squeaky/grippy/sticky to the touch (and smell wonderful). This coating helps with grip, water proofs the wood, protects/lubes the wood from the head, and also helps the head 'stick' on the end of the haft (see next section). You can get beeswax from a local beekeeper, or many craft stores sell it for candle making (a little goes a long way as wood polish)

Now the easy part!... slip the head on the handle (pay attention to the contour, thin side forward), not all the way, just far enough so you can grip the bottom of the haft with the head resting on the top of your hand. Make sure you have room behind you! Now give the hawk a stout, downward swing, using centripetal force to slam the head on the fat end of the handle. Viola! For an even more secure mounting, give the top of the haft a few gentile taps on a rock. The head should be securely seated on the end of the handle, and will stay put until you really whack something good with it (or you give the bottom of the handle a few gentile taps on a rock). The only caution I will give you is always look behind you, and don't let the head fall onto your hand, it can pinch and hurt like hell. If it ever comes loose just give it a swing, and it should stick right back. A little more beeswax between the head/handle makes a world of difference for this.

I hope this helps some people out. I've thrown hawks for a long time... I've been through hundreds of handles, both bought and hand made, and I hope what works for me will work for you too!

That's a lot of work for a $25 hawk, I know! If you want to experiment, by all means, but the process I describe here I have been doing for decades. It only takes an hour, start to finish, and will produce a hawk that will, in return, last decades, just take good care of the edge and wax the haft once or twice a year. If you don;t have a torch, an oven on low (200* or less) also works for heating the wood. You need 160 deg F to melt the beeswax.

Fun Tomahawk Game: Handles

(be careful of splinters, please)

Optional: Winner keeps loser's hawk head

I usually use a 12-24" section of log for my target... the bigger the better. Get it off the ground, about chest high.

Toss a coin, winner chooses to throw first or second.
Players take turns throwing.
Player 1 throws, hopefully with a stick.
Player 2 then throws and tries to split the handle of Player 1's hawk.
Should a player stick the target but miss his opponents handle, that player's hawk is left stuck, and the other player then recovers their hawk and throws.
Play continues back and forth until one players tomahawk is rendered useless (I.E. no handle).
Should a player throw without a stick, their opponent may then walk up and stick the missed hawk by hand while recovering their own, in any position they choose, before returning to the line and making their own throw.

Have fun, and thanks for reading! Read more ›

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#Sale++ $26.99 Cold Steel Trail Hawk American Hickory Handle Buyer Guide