Axes, hatchets and tomahawks

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by BlueDogScout, Jun 14, 2019 at 11:58 AM.

  1. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    so I’m at an interesting place. I am reducing gear for weight in my kit and why carry stuff I don’t use or need? Sadly my axe is starting to hit that category. I tend to use my saw more often than not. (Currently the big boy but I might go back to the gomboy) my hatchet (council tools camp carver) just seems like added weight. I’m torn because I love axes. I was thinking maybe a tomahawk to reduce weight but most are about the same. Looking for advice. Thanks!
     
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  2. freebirdfb

    freebirdfb Bushmaster

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    My cs trail hawk and kukri are about an ounce apart. If droppig weight is your goal consier a kukri in the 16-18 oz range.
     
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  3. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    That could work. All I use an axe for is just splitting down branches. I carry an LT Wright Large Northern Hunter. I haven’t batonned with it it’s a little small I feel. How do kukris do for splitting?
     
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  4. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    My advice is to send that Camp Carver to me.;)

    I currently have essentially 2 kits, a "bushcraft" kit, and a "FAT" bag, basically a bug out bag. I had to make decisions on tools for both and hit similar decisions....which is still ongoing, really.

    My bushcraft kit is stuff that I like and think is cool, but I learned a few things that helped me with my emergency bag...for which weight is a strong consideration, so that may apply to your conundrum.

    Here is my choices for cutting tools for my emergency bag;

    Corona 14" Razortooth pruning saw. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000GIIQFC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I realized that, really, the saw is the best tool when it comes to weight and production...but I am becoming less a fan of big folding saws, so I went with a non folding saw...gives me more cutting surface for the space and weight than a folding saw does. That was my thinking. I just decided that small saws should be folding, but big saws should be just a blade and handle. More tool per ounce, so to speak..

    Old Hickory 7" butcher knife.

    Damn hard to beat as a utility survival knife that is big but lightweight, and can also be used to strike sparks with a piece of quartz.

    Opinel #8

    This is for food, small game, and skinning. Very lightweight, compact, and also makes a great ferro rod striker when closed.

    If it is winter when I have to bail, I'll take the axe, but for the other 3 seasons, you will not that the one BIG item I take is a saw....a full 14 inch beast. It can do the most cutting for the least weight and calories. That was the one item I chose to go big on. I don't even have a hatchet, I figure I can saw a baton and baton a couple of pieces of wood with the Old Hickory if I have to. There are other ways to split wood, too.

    So...my advice?

    Keep a lightweight, basic kit of the stuff you need and use. Cut it down to the bare minimum. Then, build 2 or 3 sub kits that you can grab for specific outings or purposes.

    For example...I have a carving kit consisting of a spoon knife, a folding knife with carving tools, the Schrade cheap one at the moment, an auger and some gimlets, and a chisel gouge. It all fits into an Ak-47 magazine pouch. It is stashed unless I am specifically planning on using it, but it doesn't go into my base kit.

    Some things I keep in my kit that could be pared down, but I don't want to....like my fire kit. It is really kind of far too big, heavy, and extensive than it has to be...a ferro rod and lighter would be fine...but hey...I like having the whole shebang with my flint and steel, tinder box with magnifying lens, all of it.

    My axe, incidentally, is in my jeep. It is always in my jeep. So, I can more or less grab it any time I want to, but I keep it there with some other stuff because I travel logging roads a lot, and treefall blocking the road isn't unusual. I also keep a shovel and some other stuff.
     
  5. Togus

    Togus Echo of the Loon Supporter

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    I find when it comes to cutting tools that it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
    Unless it’s a day trip or a simple hike I always carry an axe. I rarely use it when camping or otherwise in the woods, but when I do need it, it’s made life a whole lot easier. Sure, I can chop with a large knife, I can split and baton wood as well, but will always choose an axe or hatchet first as I feel it’s the best tool for that task. Small hatchets and pack axes don’t weigh but a couple pounds or less, so unless one is into the ultra lite experience I feel there’s no reason not to have one, unless it’s just a simple matter of preference. I always have two knives, saw, and axe. I have not found conveying these to be a struggle but I’m not into the ultralite experience. My opinion is, keep the axe.
     
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  6. freebirdfb

    freebirdfb Bushmaster

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    They do well and tend to chop above their weight.
     
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  7. SpookyPistolero

    SpookyPistolero Slow learner Lifetime Supporter Bushclass I

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    While I don't think of them as lightweight, khuks certainly are versatile.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I might recommend the GB mini for weight savings. Very versatile and can still chop well enough. Can be used to split larger pieces if you baton them through. They chop a bit above their weight (but obviously aren't going to build you a cabin).

    Carve bowdrill set
    [​IMG]
    Prep food
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    My advice, tools are trip dependant.

    I've got trips where I'm camping in areas where most of the wood available is too big for small saws and choppers. If I know I'm going to an area like that and spending more time in camp then I'll bring an axe of some sort. You can always ditch the saw and just bring the axe. With practice you'll be surprised how efficient an axe is for bucking as opposed to just splitting, limbing and carving.

    I've also got trips where I'll be primary just hiking and spending little time in camp. So if I do make a fire it's going to be small and made with what I can gather and process with no tools. I'll bring a small knife on these trips and that's it.

    Honestly I don't find saws to be that useful in the woods. I'm setting up a light fixed Silky saw to mess around with. We will see if that changes my opinion. For me it might be useful for in between trips or trips with the kids. One thing I wouldn't mind using it for is clearing smaller blow downs from the trail in some cases.

    So if it's a trip where you think the axe will see a fair amount of use, bring it. If not leave it at home.
     
  9. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    What have you done already to reduce weight? Do you have a goal weight you’re trying to get to?

    I’ve gone down this particular rabbit hole myself. I tend to use a folding saw more than an axe. In the end I reduced the weight of my shelter and rain gear by going to a Gatewood Cape which is a shelter/ponch. Overall it saved me a couple pounds. I worked hard to get my base weight down so I can bring what ever combination of tools puts the biggest smile on my face.

    One thing in particular always strikes me as funny about this topic. Folks will stress about a few grams here or an ounce there when most of us could stand to drop about 20 pounds of body weight. That’s the cheapest and best for your health. That’s not aimed at the OP or anyone else just an observation.
     
  10. batmanacw

    batmanacw Bushmaster

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    I've got many hawks and modded hatchets that weigh under 1 1/2 lbs over all. While I will not suggest that a hawk or light hatchet are not a must for camping, I like them. I like using them. That makes the extra bit if weight worth it.

    Many here claim that a hawk is next to useless, but with a profile appropriate for the head weight, the performance increases dramatically.
     
  11. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Lots of great info there. The motivation or thought process in ditching the axe is less about weight reduction and more about the fact that I’m a gear junkie and I can’t carry everything. Lol I read a lot of older books and I think it was seton who said to divide your gear into 3 piles when you get back. The ones you rarely use you phase out. That’s where I am with the axe. It’s strange for me to want to go into the woods without one. I mean I lose 2.5 pounds which helps for my base weight goal of 25 pounds but at the same time I always considered it necessary equipment. But reality is I mostly use a saw. I have a car kit, working on the bushcraft/motorcycle kit lol I do keep my gear compartmentalized and I swap out based off of the trip. Everything I do is modular. Right now my focus is on the base kit that never changes if that makes sense.
     
  12. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    I agree and most trips are just weekends but do I really need it ? Or is it just an emotional attachment? I carry two knives but neither are terribly big and I always have a saw. Your advice is sound
     
  13. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Thank you, seems interesting but if no weight or pack space savings I’ll probably stick with an axe.
     
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  14. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Looks tasty! Lol yea I like a small axe never tried that one though
     
  15. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    That’s light my current carry is at 2.5 pounds so a smaller axe may work since what I use it for is limited anyway.
     
  16. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Agreed and depending on the trip I carry different things. I’m working on finalizing my base kit and keeping it around 20-25 pounds is the goal. This would be what goes no matter what and I add to it for the trip at hand.
     
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  17. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    My target is 20-25 pounds on a base kit. I have reduced out all no used or needlessly redundant items and tried to keep it at the core of what is needed for camp. I just find I use the saw more but struggle leaving the axe at home. I’m not worried about a few grams. But I don’t want to carry stuff I won’t use. I’m trying to rationalize the emotional attachment. Lol
     
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  18. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    In LA, I started out using the ax/hatchet that my northeastern forest style gear upbringing said should be carried. I quickly realized a machete (or kukri) would be a better choice (I went with a Tramontina machete). I used an AS Guide (similar weight-forward idea) for squirrel hunting there too, and it did really well getting me through some thick stuff and I didn't have to carry the bulky machete.

    Here in MD, I'm sort of back to a hardwoods area... mostly beeches, oaks, and maples, some sweetgum and others. Few pines. I've returned to carrying a hatchet. I waver between the Vaughn mini (12oz) and the Norlund (23oz). They both have a place depending on the trip. I seldom carry an ax, and have a 24" Norlund (2.5lbs?) and a 32" Craftsman (4lbs) that seldom see use. My 19" GB SFA is a perfect canoe axe/hatchet (if you choke up on it.)

    I use mostly a Bahco Laplander or Silky PocketBoy folding saw, again trip dependent, with larger take-down bucksaws and bowsaws reserved for canoe trips.

    edit: I tried a hawk for a few months once. Cold Steel Trailhawk maybe? I was not overly impressed. I liked the weight and would have eventually learned to strike more accurately with such a long handle, but didn't like how it didn't split wood well (I was dealing with some gnarly oak at the time, not nice finely grained dry seasoned maple). I also tried using it "dual purpose" as a skinner, and found that difficult as well. I think in retrospect a different blade shape (not the edge geometry, but a wider/longer blade curve) might have made for a different result. I'm willing to give it another shot now that I live in a different ecosystem.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 8:32 PM
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  19. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    I’m a Marylander originally. This resonates with me as the saw is the work horse. Got me thinking
     
  20. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    Ah, yeah mine is about eight and a quarter right now so bringing along some extra weight in tools isn't a big deal usually. I really enjoy axes so if I'm planning on using one I'll bring it. The more I use one the more efficient and versatile it becomes. Highly underrated tools in my opinion. My favorite is 1 lbs 15 oz without a cover. I need to bend a light kydex sheath for it.

    [​IMG]Camp Axe at the Falls 2 by MJGEGB, on Flickr
     
  21. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Is that full kit with shelter and sleeping gear?
     
  22. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    Saw is used more, and more effective, but it isn't any fun. Axes are fun. Knives are fun. Saws are just a tool...but if it wasn't so damned useful, we'd all just carry axes.

    As for tomahawks...I tried them, didn't care for them. They are not axes...they are knives on a stick. So for me, I just carry a big ol knife...a Skrama, rather than a hawk or an axe...it does everything I need for a day trip or anything short of a full on campfire.

    EDIT: Maybe that's a good rule...no campfire, no axe. Simple.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 9:14 PM
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  23. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    I grew up in upstate NY... local hardwood forest trips, and the semi-boreal Adirondacks (pine, birch, some maples). We used the saw a lot, and the hatchet/axe for splitting pine if that's all we had. the rest of it was mostly hand-broken/cracked, and it burned fine. I really like the folding saw/hatchet combo.
     
  24. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    No campfire? That’s not possible lol

    Agreed
     
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  25. batmanacw

    batmanacw Bushmaster

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    I find that a person's opinion of the capabilities of a hawk are directly proportional to the quality of the edge geometry used. If someone copies the factory blunt V grind it means the hawk will cut poorly. A thin convex devoid of bumps in the transition will yield much, much better results. The lighter the hawk the thinner I run it for maximum cut.

    I have several hawks that cut far beyond their weight. They can do work you would expect out of a hatchet or light axe. The H&B forge medium camp hawk and the Rinaldi Calabria hand axe are just two of them.
     
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  26. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Wanderer Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Are you hiking in over a few miles to your camping locations? Are you packing in all your amenities? Will you be staying mobile? You may not "need" a hatchet or big knife.

    Where I find hatchets useful is creating a camp site, crafting, driving stakes, and keeping a fire going for cooking breads and stews. I do carry a buck saw, but it only weighs a pound or so. The hatchet is right at 2.5lbs with mask. I use hachets more than I use saws or fixed blades in camp. Doing this keeps my knife's edge at its best for when I need it to cut cordage, clean fish, or game. Yep, I love hatchets.
     
  27. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    Of course, down to 20° but I'd add some clothes into the mix for colder trips.
     
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  28. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Just wow! Is there a post with photos of your gear?
     
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  29. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I still need to mod a half-hatchet into a "hawk-like object". My goal is to copy this one that @batmanacw made a while back:
    (Adam's pics which I saved on my phone)
    20190127_110059.jpg 20190127_123005.jpg
     
  30. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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  31. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Me too, so much so that I'm extremely tempted to do it to this beautiful Plumb Victory:
    IMG_20171024_221715.jpg
     
  32. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    CB279433-03F5-4785-89AC-EF587BB48ED4.png
     
  33. batmanacw

    batmanacw Bushmaster

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    It will have excellent steel.
     
  34. SpookyPistolero

    SpookyPistolero Slow learner Lifetime Supporter Bushclass I

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    He really took a pattern I hate and turned into something very cool. And that looks like a monstrous amount of work to remove all that without overheating.
     
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  35. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    Just recent trip reports. It's nothing special, mostly budget items minus my quilt and pad. I honestly always forget to take pictures of gear.
     
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  36. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    You should remember lol
     
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  37. Togus

    Togus Echo of the Loon Supporter

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    Try going without. If you find you can consistently process wood or otherwise get by without it then maybe you’ll feel better about it. If not you can always bring it on the next trip.
     
  38. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    This pic has the big three in it, shelter, sleep, pack 6 lbs

    [​IMG]

    I had the axe posted earlier on this trip as well.
     
  39. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    I’ve gone without on my last few outing. Processed fine with the saw. Splitting was different story by I survived lol
     
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  40. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    So light
     
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  41. Ketchikan85

    Ketchikan85 Tracker

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    I'm in the hawk camp, assuming you decide you need a chopper. They are so convenient, easy to pull the head off and carry that way, use with just the head and easy to make another handle with a stick.

    A good hawk is a chopping SOB. I use them so much more than an axe or hatchet. Never been much of a hatchet guy anyways.
     
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  42. Ketchikan85

    Ketchikan85 Tracker

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    Should also add that I'm not a fan of a knife doing the job of an axe/hawk etc either. It's akin to using a handgun to do a rifle's job.
     
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  43. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Agreed. I can baton but not a fan
     
  44. Ketchikan85

    Ketchikan85 Tracker

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    As said, if space is that much of a concern, just shove a hawk head in you pack. Whittle out a handle for it while depositing last nights enchiladas over a log.
     
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  45. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    Lol I like the way you think!
     
  46. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    My Trailhawk is light, gives me a hammer head and a long handle that swings the little head fast enough to compensate for the lack of mass.
    It is not an axe. It’s not for bucking up a night’s worth of logs or really anything over about two inches in diameter.
    For making stakes and driving them in, doing the coarse work of carving and splitting some kindling to get a fire going it’s a really handy and appropriate tool.
     
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  47. BlueDogScout

    BlueDogScout I just want bacon that doesn’t need cold Supporter

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    That’s what I’m looking for. Do you have a link or specs? Is it the crkt one
     
  48. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    Yes. The Cold Steel Trail Hawk.
    Here’s a link to one of the many threads devoted to the tool. Actually more than the Trail Hawk is mentioned and discussed.
     
  49. batmanacw

    batmanacw Bushmaster

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    H&B medium camp axe.... look it up. Massively better than any cold steel and I've got a couple.
     
  50. oddjob35

    oddjob35 Scout

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    For my AO, I am finding that a collapsible bow saw (Agawa Boreal 21) with a machete (in my case a 10" Parang) and then a small knife (fixed neck/belt knife or a folder in pocket) works well together for me. The larger saw allows me to process large wood more efficiently, the parang gives me brush clearing, light chopping or splitting capability and the small knife is for the fine work like cord cutting and food prep. Therefore I do not carry an axe , hatchet or hawk. This setup works for me in my AO for a basic carry, but gets added to or substituted if I have specific needs (like carving or making furniture etc.), your MMV.

    OJ
     
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