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Thread: TOPS hawks: Yes or no?

  1. #1

    TOPS hawks: Yes or no?


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    So I was looking at the TOPS hawks and not sure if I like them or not. I want an old school longer hawk definitely but some of the designs look interesting like the hand axe or max mini axe. One thing I like about hawks is reach and I feel something this small would kind of defeat the purpose of a self defense hawk or axe. Also you cant' replace the handle if it breaks. opinions?

  2. #2
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    I say no, as you have doubt already.

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    The max mini axe looks to be a full tang design, I doubt you would break that handle. I have several full tang hawks, like the Ontario RD Hawk, and it's micarta is just held on with screws(aluminum barrels connecting the screws). At worse you would break the screws and have or have to make some new micarta, paracord wrap would fix it in the field. I just don't think they have the power or weight to cause harm to themselves, or others(when compared to a longer hawk).
    I don't think these examples are long enough to be considered hawks. I'd say that 9.5" overall length is as short as a hawk can get(depends on head weight) and still have any power. I say that based on RMJ and Winkler hawks never getting any shorter.
    I own some knives from TOPS, but many of their designs are too specific in their use/intended uses.

    In general, a 1/4" thick, full tang hawk that is 13" or longer(overall length) will be pretty powerful. Some have more lightening holes than others, some have edges more for breaching, others are more for wood chopping. This is where you have to decide what you want a hawk to do. Fighting hawks can have a knife edge, but may not breach well, or take more damage to the edge. A good breacher may not chop wood very well, or need modification to do so.
    Some hawks can do it all, pretty well, but you don't need a full tang hawk to do all that either. A good wooden handle can last for years and be an excellent all round, if not a great fighting hawk. Wood handles can break, but if you're not in the military, you may prefer one. In the woods, a new handle can be made with just your hawk head, used like a knife.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by foxx View Post
    The max mini axe looks to be a full tang design, I doubt you would break that handle. I have several full tang hawks, like the Ontario RD Hawk, and it's micarta is just held on with screws(aluminum barrels connecting the screws). At worse you would break the screws and have or have to make some new micarta, paracord wrap would fix it in the field. I just don't think they have the power or weight to cause harm to themselves, or others(when compared to a longer hawk).
    I don't think these examples are long enough to be considered hawks. I'd say that 9.5" overall length is as short as a hawk can get(depends on head weight) and still have any power. I say that based on RMJ and Winkler hawks never getting any shorter.
    I own some knives from TOPS, but many of their designs are too specific in their use/intended uses.

    In general, a 1/4" thick, full tang hawk that is 13" or longer(overall length) will be pretty powerful. Some have more lightening holes than others, some have edges more for breaching, others are more for wood chopping. This is where you have to decide what you want a hawk to do. Fighting hawks can have a knife edge, but may not breach well, or take more damage to the edge. A good breacher may not chop wood very well, or need modification to do so.
    Some hawks can do it all, pretty well, but you don't need a full tang hawk to do all that either. A good wooden handle can last for years and be an excellent all round, if not a great fighting hawk. Wood handles can break, but if you're not in the military, you may prefer one. In the woods, a new handle can be made with just your hawk head, used like a knife.
    That last bit would be why I want a traditional oen as well. But out of the TOPS designs which would you like most for pure fighting/urban utility?

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    Maybe the Fireman's Backup Axe? The Haket looks like it has a long enough handle, but I worry about breaking or shearing the bolt/handle holes. Without holding any of them, I can only guess on their weight/mass distribution, but the lengths all turn me off.
    The axe/tomahawk/hatchet picture thread, you posted about the Seax there, go lool at the last two posts. I've never held that compact axe, but it looks like it has a real handle.
    I like small knives, but to have any power, they need a full size handle, IMO. Similarly, a hawk needs a certain length, and some mass at the head. A light weight, but longer hawk, can still be useful, but shorten one up too much, and you may as well have a knife, ulu, or similar.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by foxx View Post
    Maybe the Fireman's Backup Axe? The Haket looks like it has a long enough handle, but I worry about breaking or shearing the bolt/handle holes. Without holding any of them, I can only guess on their weight/mass distribution, but the lengths all turn me off.
    The axe/tomahawk/hatchet picture thread, you posted about the Seax there, go lool at the last two posts. I've never held that compact axe, but it looks like it has a real handle.
    I like small knives, but to have any power, they need a full size handle, IMO. Similarly, a hawk needs a certain length, and some mass at the head. A light weight, but longer hawk, can still be useful, but shorten one up too much, and you may as well have a knife, ulu, or similar.
    Maybe I can find someone to use a similar head design as the mini axe with a wood handle. I was thinking of even taking off the micarta and having a longer handle made. i've also seen some of the oddly shaped combat hawks here so maybe one of those.

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    There is nothing wrong with a fighting hawk with a wooden haft. There are better choices, but full tang, IMO, is not one of them. That much steel will just slow you down. More mass means more inertia. Recovery from a strike being potentially ultimately important in a fight, you want as little mass as you can manage without sacrificing durability or power. That means taking it out of the handle, because mass in the head is what gives it the power. You will also want a decent trailing mass to aid in tracking and direction change.

    From the tops line, I would choose the IDT, if the weight distribution is alright. I suspect that it's not, but I don't know enough about the chrome moly tube they're using. It's also a little short at 15", but I like the head shape. Next up would be the ECO Hawk and make a handle yourself, out of wood or something else if you've got the skills or connections to do it

    To fight, I wouldn't go shorter than 18", 24" optimally for me. Your preference may be different. If you go with a wood handle, I'd recommend starting at about 30" and working your way down in 2" increments (hand placement, not cutting) until you're comfortable. Remember, you can always cut off excess lenght, but you can't add to it.


    By odd shaped, are you referring to the Winkler/Sayoc RnD hawk? If you've got the scratch, go for it. If you don't like it they seem to hold value very well.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by scouter27 View Post
    There is nothing wrong with a fighting hawk with a wooden haft. There are better choices, but full tang, IMO, is not one of them. That much steel will just slow you down. More mass means more inertia. Recovery from a strike being potentially ultimately important in a fight, you want as little mass as you can manage without sacrificing durability or power. That means taking it out of the handle, because mass in the head is what gives it the power. You will also want a decent trailing mass to aid in tracking and direction change.

    From the tops line, I would choose the IDT, if the weight distribution is alright. I suspect that it's not, but I don't know enough about the chrome moly tube they're using. It's also a little short at 15", but I like the head shape. Next up would be the ECO Hawk and make a handle yourself, out of wood or something else if you've got the skills or connections to do it

    To fight, I wouldn't go shorter than 18", 24" optimally for me. Your preference may be different. If you go with a wood handle, I'd recommend starting at about 30" and working your way down in 2" increments (hand placement, not cutting) until you're comfortable. Remember, you can always cut off excess lenght, but you can't add to it.


    By odd shaped, are you referring to the Winkler/Sayoc RnD hawk? If you've got the scratch, go for it. If you don't like it they seem to hold value very well.
    Honestly they were a lot more than I was expecting. I was looking at fort turner hawks for utility but what's a good wood shafted combat hawk?

  9. #9
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    My Ranger Renegade has a very heavy head, on a 16" hickory haft, and it's hard to control, IMO. I can choke up on it, but it's still massive. My Winkler Sayoc is full tang, 13" long, and about 24oz. The Winkler is stout, but it's weight is very easy to control, the mass is in the head.
    Those TOPS, and some like the Ontario RD Hawk aren't tapered in the tang, nor do they have lightening holes. So, you end up with weight in the wrong places, the RD Hawk is lighter than the Renagade, I can control it better in mid swing. It's just not very good for chopping wood, it's for breaching.
    JK Knives has some great looking full tang hawks, that have enough lightening holes to put more weight in the head.

    There's no way to make any absolute statements about tomahawks, it's really down to how well each one is made, and for who, and what.

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    I can make at least a few absolute statements. A lighter hawk will always be faster in the hand than a heavier one. That's physics. It may not balance as well, but that's a function of design and more subjective. Another is that trailing mass will make the hawk track better. Again, that's physics.

    Some people may be more comfortable with a full tang hawk. I haven't found it to be necessary for general use or combatives.

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    I guess I should have clarified that statement about "absolutes". I was speaking in terms of weight, what's heavy for one person is light to another, there is no absolute best weight for everyone.
    Wooden handles can break, that is fact. Full tang hawks would be very difficult to break. For combat, I can see how I'd rather have a full tang hawk, then again I'm not facing off in a tomahawk fight either.
    I have broke a wooden hafted Tomahawk, and yet to break a full tang, so..

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    Heavy is relative, sure. But, no matter who you are lighter is quicker.

    What were you doing when you break it though? I've broken my fair share, but all were while throwing the hawk.

    Have you done any sparing with hawks?

    My current go to hawks are not full tang, but they do have an aluminum strike plate contained within the composite handle. They are expensive, but still much less than a Winkler and less than most RMJ models last I checked. I can't envision a task aside from mechanical breaching where a full tang hawk would be a better solution. The full tang will always be heavier. My 24" weighs under 30 ounces. I believe about 26, but I could be mistaken.

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    Yes I was throwing a Cold Steel hawk, when I broke the handle. I know that during a fight, not a throw, it woud be hard to break a wooden haft. I've beat the hell out of my Renegade handle, I've missed my target and landed a full force swing onto a fence post. There was hardly any evidence of the impact. If I had been in a fight, at that moment, it would not have been broken, so I would keep on fighting.
    I have done very little sparing so far, I have two plastic hawks, one more traditional and one is the Winkler Sayoc. I practice with real hawks against some swinging posts, and other targets.
    If I had to pick a tomahawk to go fight with, I would also want some reach, a 18" or maybe longer hawk would be nice. To have something that is fast in hand, with a trailing mass(spike for me) and a wooden haft would be excellent. I like traditional hawks, their power and reach feels correct, for most hawk tasks.
    If I had to pick one to back up my guns, (modern warfare) I'd take my Winkler Sayoc in a heartbeat. It's smaller, has a rapid deployment, so I can wear it on achest rig but still get to it fast. This is not the same fighting weapon as a longer hawk, these are CQC weapons. They are there to help you get back to a gun, thus their smaller size. It weights 24oz, and is head heavy, that weight is heavy enough to have momentum, but still pretty fast, IMO. Sure, lighter is faster, but a certain amount of weight is necessary to cause damage. Like hammers, we all have a specific weight that feels right for the job. It just depends on what your target is, and the desired effect.

    The Winkler is lighter than your 24", and it's full tang. The full tang tactical hawks that John, from JK Knives, has been making are thinner and lighter than the Winkler's. So, I'll say again, that when it comes to weight, there is a vast range. Some full tang hawks are very light, some are very heavy, and the same is true for the traditional hawks. This is what I was trying to express by saying there aren't absolutes, when it comes to weight of each type of hawk. Yes, lighter is faster, and lots of full tang hawks are too heavy for their size(s). My GG&G BAttlehawk is 44oz, and only 13" long. It is a good strength trainer, makes the Winkler feel very fast. Yet, my SOG Fasthawk is very light, 19oz, I think. But, it's too light, doesn't feel like it has the punch of the Winkler, but that's just me.

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    The OP has contacted Dana about getting a Hawk made

  15. #15
    I've talked to the trick team about one of the compact hawks, I'm surprised how much full tang hawks really go for. Really I'll have 250 so my options are: Trad hawk and cqc hawk, knife and trad hawk, or knife and cqc hawk. or just a nice cqc hawk. I feel like buying just a nice cqc would still leave me without a real woods hawk for actual non combat uses.

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    Please let us know what you think about what ever you get. Pics would be great as well. Glad to see you not getting the TOPS axe(s). I own a few of their knives, and they are made well. I just think their hawks are way too small, for the most part.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by foxx View Post
    Please let us know what you think about what ever you get. Pics would be great as well. Glad to see you not getting the TOPS axe(s). I own a few of their knives, and they are made well. I just think their hawks are way too small, for the most part.
    I was looking at the compact axes but they're only 12" Do you think that's too small?

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    I don't think that there is one correct answer, it's one you'll have to find for yourself. If I were you, I'd go to Home Depot and handle some hammers and hatchets. Pay attention to their lengths and weights. I think you can get a feel for each one's level of power.
    IMO, most compact hawks have given up some length for portability. Like the JK's Cassam hawk or the Winkler Sayoc, are the perfect length to wear, on the chest rig, or even hang from a belt. They are also for CQC, up close and personal fighting, and maybe for concealment. Their weights may vary, but so do hammers of the same lenghts.
    The Winkler Sayoc weights 24oz, and it's weight is in the head and upper handle, but Dan also makes a shorter version, 9.5" in length.
    So, go find a 24oz hammer, and you'll be in the ballpark, of the Sayoc. Then ask Bladetricks what his Compact axe weighs. Seems to me that his description says it all, "compact and portable". He has chosen to give up length and power for portability, as all these "short" hawks. Imagine carrying this concealed under your arm, under a jacket, that's what I see, a small "multi-tool/weapon/prybar" that you can carry anywhere, if legal to do so in your AO.
    It's a cool looking design, but I've not held it, so find out it's weight and balance point, and go from there.
    If you want a fighting hawk, that you can conceal carry, you will be giving up length, but 12" or 13" is not too short. It's mass distribution and head weight will be important factors as to if it feels "alive" in hand or not. If it's a nice cutting edge, and it does damage, well it may be a pretty good hawk. If I owned one, I'd want to carry it concealed or in a small backpack, briefcase, etc.. as opposed to in my backpacking gear, chopping wood requires more length or at least more head weight.

  19. #19
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    Foxx's info in this thread is fantastic. My JK Urban Hawk is 12", 23oz, 1/4", O1 steel, Oak handle with the weight in the head and upper handle and the shoulder rig is great for portability. It will definitely do anything a Hawk can do, but it's not my go to camping Hawk. I use traditional Hawks with handle lengths from 18" to 34".

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    I have met someone who has the Tops 14.25" Outfitters Axe. He loves it & has beat the living daylights out of it & also throws it on occasion. No issues & holds a wicked edge. He said the hole in head does make it have a weird noise when hitting the wood solidly though.

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