|Welt tapers with the bit.|
|Note the bit geometry similarities.|
To tie it all together we're going to look at the Walk by Faith Tomahawk today, and compare it to the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet. I think it's more effective to do comparative reviews like this because more people can relate and mentally associate what I am talking about with their own experiences. I have chosen the Wildlife hatchet because it is ounce for ounce, the most similar to the Walk By Faith tomahawk, and tomahawks in general, and you will see the geometry is very similar as well.
Now, Walk by Faith gets $150 for their tomahawks. So we're talking about good steel, hand forged, sharpened, finished, hung, with an amazing sheath for essentially the same money. Regardless of my opinion of the production market price for Council or GB, it is the market price and so for a full step up in every check box, Walk by Faith is offering an excellent value by the market's standards. Let's get into the pics.
|Check the fit of the handle to the head - flawless.|
|Smeared with goobers from some testing but a very neatly made hawk.|
The Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet weighs a total of 1lb, 5oz. The Walk by Faith Tomahawk weighs 1lb, 9oz and finally the Cold Steel Pipe Hawk weighs 1lb, 11oz. When I look carefully at the WBF and the Wildlife hatchet, I can't help but wonder where those 4 ounces are exactly. There might be a couple ounces difference in the handle, but in the end, there just isn't much weight difference between the two. The biggest similarity in all GB axes is how tomahawk-like the bits are. They are concave or flat in the cheeks with a flat centerline and somewhat abrupt (for an axe) transition into the eye. This is the primary reason I don't really see GB tools as "true" axes in the sense of the American Poll axe. It is not to say they are unworthy though, it is to say they are a tool that evolved for specific uses from the American Poll Axe. They are their own sort of axe. It's because of these similarities in price and design that I think there is a noteworthy comparison to be made. They do very much the same work.
|Note that the WBF in the center is very neat and tidy in design. Very angular and precise.|
|Cutting edge length is also similar.|
But, these tools are not the same. You can see in the pictures that the Walk by Faith hawk is very neat, angular and geometric in design. The bit ends very abruptly at the eye which indicates the cutting and chopping function of traditional tomahawks. The Cold Steel Pipe Hawk has a more gentle sweep from the cheeks into the eye almost identical to the Wildlife Hatchet. In splitting, this transition becomes apparent when the piece being split reaches it. The tool can bind or stop, and often the wood tends to glance away from the tool, pushing it out of the split. None of these are especially good splitting tools in the context of a top-down splitting technique. However, the relatively wide bit and long stick lend them to what you could call flat splitting or lever splitting where you strike the piece in a horizontal orientation rather than vertical.
While the GB is roughly the same weight, that weight is somehow much more compact and with a true poll the balance falls much closer to the center than a tomahawk. This isn't a positive or a negative in my view - they are just different. Tomahawks are bit heavy and historically had no poll at all, lending the design to throwing and simplistic construction. I admit that the balance difference is noticeable and takes some getting used to, but I feel either is perfectly useful.
These three tools all offer a nicely dropped heel which I find very useful for carving - making tool handles or utensils or traps. However, I especially like the Wildlife Hatchet for these kinds of tasks. It feels 100% right in the hand in both balance and ergonomics. An axe handle is a very well made thing with its swell and oval or egg shaped cross section, and in my view is a benefit over slip-fit tomahawk handles. Though they are tear-drop in cross section, they are very slim and by design cannot offer any swell. The hatchet is just more secure in the hand whether it is keeping the tool in hand, or controlling it against twisting. However, I think it's fair to say that we're not talking about an insurmountable problem when it comes to tomahawk handles. They work just fine, and no one ever said you couldn't hang a tomahawk exactly the same way you would hang an axe in order to enjoy a more hand fitting handle.
To wrap this thing up, the bottom line is that while exploring the many similarities of two tools with different names, I can't ignore the differences that define them. In the end, one tool can't be declared better than another because functional differences are just that - differences - not benefits or weaknesses. At the same time, tomahawks and the Swedish outdoors axes work well in similar environments, accomplishing very similar tasks. With any luck, seeing them side-by-side will help you decide which will work best for you if you are on the hunt for one. Thanks for reading!