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3/8/2015 2:15 PM
 

After a long wait of several weeks, I received my 2 Hawks Longhunter Tomahawk yesterday.  I did a little bit of comparison between it and my go-to axe for backcountry carry...my Wetterlings Les Stroud Bushman.  Additionally, I put it through a backyard test on some logs and tree branches I have available.

Hope this thread and photos help paint a good picture for other folks here on the HPG Forum that are thinking of getting one of these, or a similar hawk, for carry in the backcountry as a viable tool.  As always, any questions or comments are welcome...it's all about spreading the knowledge here!

So, here it is:

The Longhunter, next to my Wetterlings Les Stroud Bushman.



Upon initially picking it up out of the box, it felt so much lighter (duh...because it is) than the Les Stroud, but still felt very capable.  Definitely a size and weight that will essentially disappear if lashed onto a Ute or any other pack.

I bought the leather blade cover for it, but also made a Kydex head cover for it (bought one meant for a different company's hawk and modified it for mine).




Nice blade and head shape, with a functional hammer poll.  The bluing is a very durable, aesthetically pleasing finish, and it came hair-shaving sharp.  You can also see the difference in size between the two blade faces and the head profiles.  





All cutting test comparisons were performed two-handed with the Les Stroud, and one-handed with the Longhunter.  Starting with a pine log about 10" in diameter, I gave one good hit into the log with each, to see how well the Longhunter sunk in compared to the Les Stroud.  




The Les Stroud definitely bit in deeper, but that was expected.  The Longhunter bit, but not nearly as deeply.  Once again, I was one-handing the Longhunter.

It took me 15 two-handed whacks to get this far into the log with the Les Stroud, and twice that many with the Longhunter, one-handed.  So, it is certainly not as efficient as a dedicated chopper on big material, but it is nimble and I was not too fatigued getting this far into the log with the Longhunter.



Next was a test of how well the Longhunter could split wood.  I didn't use the Les Stroud from here on out in the test, because I already know that it does pretty well at splitting and processing plenty of wood for a camp.  This is another piece of pine, about 7" in diameter.



One really good whack with the Longhunter produced this.  Even after repeated tries, I never could get the log to split all the way through, so I resorted to batoning it with a stout stick on the hammer poll.



Batoning the top got it down into the log better, but still not a complete split.



So then, I began batoning the log along its length, which worked better.  After a bit of good batoning, I got clean through it.  This process took me about 5 solid minutes.





Splitting smaller wood was not a problem for the Longhunter.



I then chose a hardwood tree branch to test it on.  This is dry and dead, about 3" in diameter.  Pretty tough wood, too.  I was able to get through it in short order, and start processing it as I might for a woodstove or campfire.






I could get through thinner stuff with one whack to chop it.


I then chopped off another piece of the hardwood branch for a test of how long it would take me to get a good pile....enough kindling and small wood to begin a campfire.  This process took me only about 5 minutes to yield this pile, including splitting the bigger sticks.





After the whole test of the Longhunter, it was still plenty sharp enough to do a decent feather stick.



As a lightweight backcountry tool, I think the Longhunter is certainly capable and worthy of a place on the pack, especially if trying to go light and fast, or when space is an issue.  That said, it's clearly not as efficient as the Les Stroud or larger axe like my Gränsfors Bruks Scandanavian Forest Axe.  However, for the times when I don't need a bigger tool or do not want the extra weight, the Longhunter can always go along and handle most tasks I would need it for in a camp.

Sláinte!

Ken sends.



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3/8/2015 3:21 PM
 
Nice comparo Ken....about what I would have expected as well. One is an axe, one isn't. That said, style points have to go to the 'hawk. And if you ever ran across a rogue squad of Red Coats, it would be much handier.

What kydex rig did you use for the 'hawk? I'm liking the 'hawk for backpacking purposes.
 
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3/8/2015 3:41 PM
 

Thanks!  The Kydex sheath came from Endless Mountain Supply.  I bought one meant for a SOG model that had the same blade length as my 2 Hawks, and modified it with a Dremel and heat gun to fit mine.  Here's the link to the one I bought and modified: http://www.shop.endlessmountainsupply..., except mine came with the option of dual Malice clip attachment points.


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3/8/2015 4:42 PM
 

I also bought a spare fire-treated hickory handle for it from 2 Hawks...Devin does a nice job not only on the hawk heads, but also the handles.


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3/8/2015 4:56 PM
 
Nice bit of kit Ken, and another excellent write up.
 
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3/8/2015 4:58 PM
 

Many thanks!


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3/8/2015 5:16 PM
 
Ken, how much lighter is the 'hawk?
 
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3/8/2015 5:32 PM
 
El Mac wrote:
Ken, how much lighter is the 'hawk?

The Longhunter is significantly lighter....by about 1 1/2 lbs.  The Les Stroud weighs 2 lbs 10.1 oz.  The Longhunter weighs 17 oz.  

 That's a difference of 25.1 oz, or 1.57 lbs.


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3/8/2015 5:40 PM
 
As you know, that's huge...

It would all come down to what one is asking the tool to do and how often...
 
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3/8/2015 5:58 PM
 
El Mac wrote:
As you know, that's huge...

It would all come down to what one is asking the tool to do and how often...

Yep....both tools have their strengths.  The easy swing weight of the hawk allows plenty of snap, and while that means that your arm won't wear out quick, its lack of mass and beefiness won't power through things like a well made axe.  Plus the profile of the head isn't optimal for splitting (skulls, yes...wood, no).  Even though it isn't as efficient as the axe, it would be way better than the axe for dressing and skinning a deer or elk, especially if the head is removed and used like an Ulu.  Additionally, because the head is designed to come off, it can be brought down to mid-shaft and used as a drawknife, should the need arise.  Plus...and this is a Big Plus...tomahawks are just....bad-ass!  It allows me to channel my inner Chingatchgook or Hawkeye.  That can be important, no?  ;-)

All that said, the Les Stroud (and my GB SFA) will go through a lot of wood, both chopping and splitting, in pretty short order.  What you give up with the heavier carry weight, you get back with additional power delivered with each swing.

Both axes and hawks have their rightful place in my mind.  I intend to employ them in this manner:

The Gränsfors Bruks will ride in my truck, mostly for vehicle-based trips, but might go into the backcountry strapped to a pack or in a pulk if I know that I'll need to process a lot of wood.

The Les Stroud will remain the go-to for winter trips, or for trips where space and a bit of extra weight aren't a big concern, and also if I know I'll need to process a fair amount of wood.

The Longhunter will be the one that goes for most any trip, because I'll barely notice it on my back, and will be great to have if the need arises on said trip where I need to process enough wood for a fire or an emergency shelter.  It will also likely be the one I'll take on airplane trips to backcountry destinations, because there is such a small weight and space penalty.  

 


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3/8/2015 9:49 PM
 
Ken
When you get tired of it I'll buy it off you!

Seriously, nice review. I carry a mini-Gerber axe when out with the Boy Scouts. Less scary.

Dr. J

Dr Jay
 
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3/8/2015 10:17 PM
 

Thanks, brother!


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3/9/2015 5:46 PM
 
Beautiful craftsmanship on that! And your write up really delineates well what a tomahawk can and can't do.

At 11.1oz, the head weight is almost identical to my H&B forge. About perfect for a using tomahawk to my way of thinking. Heavier than that, and you should step up to a hatchet head instead.

What is the handle length? I've found that with a 19" cord wrapped handle, I can use a 'hawk two handed overhand. That makes splitting up to about 6" rounds doable. It's a little unpredictable though - when you get to the eye, it BLOWS those halves apart. On the other hand, 19" is longer than practical for one handed use and also makes carrying more problematic. I've got a couple spare handles and will most likely cut one down to the standard 15" length to see how I feel about that. And to be honest, the driving factor there is that Dale Fricke is making me one of his cross draw under the arm hawk holsters meant to hang on a Kit Bag. I tried that before and the part that didn't work was my holster design. A working under the arm holster might have me carrying a hawk on a more regular basis. In which case I'd probably quit carrying a fixed blade knife outside of hunting season. I use a hawk way more often than a knife on a normal trip because my cutting chores are periodic, but I'll drive tent stakes every night. And then if I need to construct emergency shelter, the hawk puts me way ahead.

As you can tell, I really want to have a hawk as part of my regular kit but haven't come up with a good way to weight justify it.

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3/9/2015 5:59 PM
 

Thanks, Ev!  I do really like it a lot.  It is, in fact, a 19" handle.  I bought a spare.  Devin Price offers them with a paracord wrap option, but I got mine slick.  I noticed that he drills holes through the handle to do the wrap.  I'm not sure if I care for holes drilled through at essentially mid-shaft on it...seems to me that would be the source point for early breakage.  So, I may do a wrap on mine my own way, which will give me some additional purchase.  Once I wrap the handle, I will give a new try at two-handed operations with it.  I didn't have a problem controlling the hawk with this 19" handle, and it's nice to have lots of room to choke up or down on it.  


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3/9/2015 6:40 PM
 
alpendrms wrote:
El Mac wrote:
Ken, how much lighter is the 'hawk?

The Longhunter is significantly lighter....by about 1 1/2 lbs. The Les Stroud weighs 2 lbs 10.1 oz. The Longhunter weighs 17 oz.

That's a difference of 25.1 oz, or 1.57 lbs.



I notice the Warbeast from 2Hawks fall right in the middle of that weight zone. That is the one Devin recommended to me as his personal favorite as well as one that will handle hunting and back packing chores quite nicely.
 
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3/9/2015 7:05 PM
 
El Mac - the problem with a heavier hawk is that it is the wrong way to spend weight to my way of thinking. If I'm going to add weight to a 17 ounce hawk, the first place I'm going to want to add it is by going with thicker cheeks so it splits better. Alpendrms' inability to split the 8" round wasn't head weight, it was the fact that a hawk is a thin blade with a fat eye. Thicker cheeks on a hawk isn't a hawk any longer, it is a hatchet. Then the next place I want to add weight is by stepping up to a 21" handle. Then if I still want to add weight, I'll go back to adding more weight to the head. There is still a sweet spot there for a very practical tool that nobody is making. It has a 19-21" fairly straight handle (but with some curve on the bottom like a hatchet - basically the handle off of a California framing hammer only a little longer) and a 12 - 16 ounce hatchet cheeked head but with a little more beard to it for slicing duties. Roughly 24 ounces all up. Or, put another way, a ~3/4 size version of the Les Stroud axe with a little more beard. Scot talked to Dan Winkler about a limited HPG run of such a tool at SHOT, but it's one more project and in Winkler's case a pretty expensive one.

Alpendrms - I put a circle of small furniture tacks around the very bottom of my handle. Make sure they're the small ones so you can still take the head off of the handle. Then use thinner cord than p-cord. I get mine from supply captain. It is the "vest cord" they have. Or you could use 2-3mm static accessory cord. Then do a classic cord wrap with the tightener cord that runs underneath it all to tighten at the end. The wrap starts at the bottom just above the tacks and climbs the handle. The whole thing is just (barely) thin enough to take the head off of the handle and affords enough purchase to be comfortable two handed swinging and other tasks.

ETA - now that I think about it, what I used myself was 2 or 3 mil accessory cord -- not the supply captain stuff.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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3/9/2015 7:21 PM
 
I would literally sell a kidney for a HPG Winkler collaboration. Please don't make me sell a kidney. Or do.
 
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3/9/2015 7:47 PM
 
evanhill wrote:
El Mac - the problem with a heavier hawk is that it is the wrong way to spend weight to my way of thinking. If I'm going to add weight to a 17 ounce hawk, the first place I'm going to want to add it is by going with thicker cheeks so it splits better. Alpendrms' inability to split the 8" round wasn't head weight, it was the fact that a hawk is a thin blade with a fat eye. Thicker cheeks on a hawk isn't a hawk any longer, it is a hatchet. Then the next place I want to add weight is by stepping up to a 21" handle. Then if I still want to add weight, I'll go back to adding more weight to the head. There is still a sweet spot there for a very practical tool that nobody is making. It has a 19-21" fairly straight handle (but with some curve on the bottom like a hatchet - basically the handle off of a California framing hammer only a little longer) and a 12 - 16 ounce hatchet cheeked head but with a little more beard to it for slicing duties. Roughly 24 ounces all up. Or, put another way, a ~3/4 size version of the Les Stroud axe with a little more beard. Scot talked to Dan Winkler about a limited HPG run of such a tool at SHOT, but it's one more project and in Winkler's case a pretty expensive one.

Alpendrms - I put a circle of small furniture tacks around the very bottom of my handle. Make sure they're the small ones so you can still take the head off of the handle. Then use thinner cord than p-cord. I get mine from supply captain. It is the "vest cord" they have. Or you could use 2-3mm static accessory cord. Then do a classic cord wrap with the tightener cord that runs underneath it all to tighten at the end. The wrap starts at the bottom just above the tacks and climbs the handle. The whole thing is just (barely) thin enough to take the head off of the handle and affords enough purchase to be comfortable two handed swinging and other tasks.

ETA - now that I think about it, what I used myself was 2 or 3 mil accessory cord -- not the supply captain stuff.

 

Evan - That sounds like a good method.  I will give that a try.

El Mac - Just to add a wee bit more info / insight for finding "the one" axe or tomahawk....even though 'hawks have the favor for style points, make no mistake..although it is not exactly to the specs Evan has described as his perfect backcountry axe, the Les Stroud Bushman is pretty danged close, and it is indeed a fine axe for carry into the backcountry.  It may be heavier than just about any 'hawk, but not too heavy.  Not to start another great controversial episode of axe versus tomahawk (which has been done ad nauseam on other forums), it sounds like you're wanting one handled-tool that can easily take care of everything from larger wood processing to finer tasks, in a decently light, but not weight-Nazi light, package.  That tool, I think, is an axe.  For the money, you really can't go wrong with the Les Stroud.  Okay, so there's that.  Now if you are willing to give up some woods task performance, a 'hawk like the Longhunter is about the heaviest I'd go...so on that I agree with Evan.  

I did have an H&B Forge 'hawk.  This one: http://www.hbforge.com/polled-axes/la....  I did like it a lot, but if you look at the specs of it, it's only 10.1 oz lighter than the Les Stroud Bushman, and doesn't perform as many woods tasks as the Bushman axe.  However, it was a very cool tomahawk and still could perform a good number of tasks decently, just not as well as an axe.  The same goes for the Longhunter.  I ended up giving the H&B Forge one to an old SF buddy of mine last fall.  Why?  I just felt like I needed to...his eyes lit right up like a kid on Christmas while handling it.  I had already bought the Bushman, and realized that they were so similar that I didn't need both of them, and would rather have a lighter hawk for lighter trips where I wouldn't need the extra power and the cheeks of an axe....so, that's why I ended up getting the Longhunter...to basically round out my handled-tool quiver, as it were.  Plus...I am of course a self-admitted gear whore!

You mention both backpacking and hunting chores with whichever tool you choose...does that mean you envision using that tool for processing an animal just as much as you'll use it for wood processing? If that is so, then maybe a 'hawk like the Warbeast is the right one.  Because I am certain a good 'hawk will be much more adroit in taking care of a big deer or elk than an axe would, just because of its design and agility.

Since you're looking more for a tool that falls mid-range....all pros and cons considered, you'll probably get the most use out of the Les Stroud, if you're only going to have one.  Now if you want to join me on Gear Whore Street....get that Warbeast.  But I'll bet you'll end up wanting something more for real wood processing on down the road.  

I hope this all makes sense, and didn't instead muddy the waters.


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3/10/2015 12:31 PM
 
I would like to see Alpndrms redo the testing with a true comparative swing. I feel like using double handed with the Stroud and one handed with the Hawk artificially skewed the results. There is no doubt in my mind that one is more efficient and one less efficient before you even take the tool into account. That being said my experience is that the Axe is going to be way more efficient for splitting due to profile. This was really brought home to me at the winter camping trip. I purposefully didn’t bring my jeep GB, and while I had my personal pack axe I left it on my pack. My goal was to spend time with Evan’s estwing ¾ length and Alpndrms Stroud. I started off with the Estwing as it was handy and I didn’t want to just grab the Stroud off Alpndrms pack. I was very quickly reminded of how nice cheeks were. The estwing has a relatively narrow head, and while it bit very deep it didn’t split worth a dang. I found myself expending lots of energy getting a single round to split and getting the axe out of the round if it didn’t. As soon as I switched to the Stroud life was very different. I was back to one swing for most rounds vs multiple with the estwing. I feel like the estwing would be great for limbing and even chopping down a tree or chopping through one when I was looking to sink deep and make wedges, but it is just too narrow for splitting and since it only is a wedge it doesn’t have the hawk eye to pop the rounds apart. That experience also has me reevaluating my enthusiasm for a Winkler. I want to try one, and suspect it would be good at chopping, but not splitting, which is my primary use for an axe.

I carry an axe because I know that I am going to either need to be splitting wood or might have to do to weather. In either case I want to work as little as possible. My solution to date is to get an ~1lb head and rehaft it on a 19” handle. My current pack axe is 28oz, which is 10oz heavier than the hawks Evan and Alpndrms carry, but 4oz of that is head weight, and the rest is in a thicker handle. I would still like to try a 12-13oz axe head on a 19” handle, but I feel a bit silly buying a 140 dollar axe knowing I am just going to yank the handle. I tried to get 2Hawks to make me one of his Trappers Hatchets with a 19” handle, but he wouldn’t. I didn’t see if he would sell me the head alone. My take is if I am going to carry the weight of a hawk I want to carry the extra weight of an axe. I still might try the trappers hatchet as I am suspicion that even with the shorter handle it might split better than a hawk on a longer handle.

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3/10/2015 1:04 PM
 

Scot....once I get the handle wrapped on the 2 Hawks, I'll go ya one better.  I'll do another chop test on a log where I will try one-handed with the Les Stroud, followed by one-handed with the Longhunter.  Then, I will do two-handed with the Les Stroud, and two-handed with the Longhunter.  I'll be able to use the Longhunter with both hands better once the handle is wrapped.  

I did the initial test with two hands on the Les Stroud and one hand on the 2 Hawks because that made the most sense to me for how I would use each tool 90% of the time.


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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneral2 Hawks Longhunter Test & Comparisons To Wetterlings Les Stroud Bushman2 Hawks Longhunter Test & Comparisons To Wetterlings Les Stroud Bushman