Not so long ago, we published in our Facebook and Vkontakte groups a small selection of new-fashioned tactical axes, or as they are called differently, tactical tomahawks, and asked our readers to share their thoughts on this. The avalanche of comments and a flurry of opinions extremely surprised. Someone thought it was just a “trend” and another joke, someone spoke out firmly “for” and described in detail the variations of application and benefits. The discussion covered all aspects of using an ax – from felling trees in the village to sabotage, storming bastions, and even swimming styles =)
We could not afford to just leave this topic, and decided to sort out in detail what it is – a tactical tomahawk, where did it come from and where does it apply? You will be surprised, but the tomahawk as a special tactical weapon exists in the armies of the world almost in the mid-50s.
Tomahawk – a weapon extremely unusual for pale fellows. Having a huge history, this type of cold arms and remains a highlight, supplied to the troops in small batches. But this unusual weapon today it is increasingly conquering the hearts of the military as a convenient and practical weapon for close combat. Why? Let’s turn to the story …
Tomahawk (tomahawk in English), or in other words, the “battle ax” is a melee weapon used by the Indians of North America.
The real Native American tomahawk did not look at all like the way we used to see them in Indian films. But he is not even “Indian.” In pre-Columbian America, the word “tomahawk” (tomahiken, tomehogan, tummakan, tomahak, toumahguak, and others) indicated a cudgel with a pointed stone tip, often also serving as a smoking pipe. So, during the war – a weapon, in the peace – a pipe of peace. And the very name of the hatchet “tomahawk” in general, in fact, is not Indian, but rather European. It comes from the English transliteration of the term of various East Algonquian languages. Originally, various war batons and clubs were called this way, later – small iron, bronze or brass hatchets on a straight handle. Used by the natives of America as a melee weapon and for throwing.
White man’s gift
Those that fell to the Indians from Europe were steel, a little modernized b
fenny boarding axes of the British marines.
The Indians turned iron tomahawk axes from a working tool into a formidable weapon. They were used in close combat, they learned to throw with amazing skill, while the Indians were taught to fight with a tomahawk by European settlers who owned the technique of using an ax during boarding combat. Native Americans turned out to be very diligent students, and soon the prepared Indian wars were hurling a tomahawk to a distance of 20 meters, while at the same time hitting the target. At the same time, the Indians appreciated the white man’s weapon, because in the close battle the tomahawk was more comfortable than a knife and a spear, because even a weak man could inflict a terrible wound, for example, by cutting off a limb. Plus, due to the handle-ax, not long and not short, it was easy to wield both in a dense crowd, and in one-on-one duels.
Tomahawks were used not only in war, but also in hunting — to finish off wounded animals.
The preferences of various forms of tomahawks by Indians of different tribes changed over time and were determined by the proposal of the producers. In the area of the Missouri River until the middle of the 19th century, very wide, but on a relatively short handle, “Missouri battle axes” were popular. Another type, in the form of a spear or a hammer, often with decorative twisted spikes at the base of the blade. This “spontonic (spontaneous) tomahawk” originated from a pole arms with a similar name, which were sergeants of the European armies.
To expand the market and increase the demand, European blacksmiths tried to please the tastes of the natives: jewelery blades and handles became more sophisticated and luxurious, more and more new original models were invented. For example, tomahawks were made for diplomatic purposes: with artistic engraving, inlaid with gold and silver. They were presented to Indian leaders as gifts that emphasize peaceful intentions. The blades were made first of simple iron, later of iron or brass with a steel insert of the cutting edge, of brass. On the butt (back side of the blade) did a sharp spike hammer. The most popular are tomahawks with a hollow handle and a butt with a chubuk for smoking tobacco.
The Indians themselves began to master blacksmithing skills only at the beginning of the 19th century, but chose not to bother with mining ore and smelting iron, and most often simply forged the “scrap iron” of Europeans. They polished the handles, encrusted them with various materials, cut out and burned out patterns, wrapped them with strips of leather or fabric, copper wire, painted them. And, of course, they attached various (often symbolic) ornaments: feathers, porcupine needles, pieces of fur, beads, hair, human scalps. Tomahawks became the symbol of power and status among the Indians by the middle of the 19th century. Dance ceremonial tomahawks had at the end of the handle various suspensions in the form of leather triangles with fringe embroidered with beads, bells, strips of cloth or fur. On the last round mirrors could be sewn on. Tomahawks so entered the spiritual culture of the North American Indians that even the pipes of the world, which were made of the sacred red stone of Minnesota, began to be made in the form of this battle ax. Gift and souvenir tomahawk tubes had handles trimmed with silver, where even the silver mouthpiece was closed with a cap on a chain.
Vietnamese Tomahawk Peter Lagrana
Tomahawk was used by European settlers: hunters, pioneers, and until the middle of the 19th century – by the military, along with a “belt ax” (“half cutter”) close to it. They were in service with the American forces during the War of Independence, the war of the North and South, the “Indian” wars.
For a long time they didn’t remember about this weapon, considering it lagging behind and not effective, however Peter LaGana (Peter LaGana), a true descendant of the Mohawk Indians, convinced the world to the contrary. A former marines fighter, he took part in World War II. After the war, he taught hand to hand combat. However, he taught, in addition to methods of fighting without weapons, also the work of a tomahawk. This information reached the higher authorities, with the result that in the winter of 1965 he was summoned to the Pentagon to demonstrate the potential of these weapons.
“Even the tomahawks themselves, even after fulfilling a huge historical role during more than one hundred fighting clashes between Indians and colonists, were used by American soldiers in significant quantities during the Vietnam War in the period from 1966-1975 and gained fame as an indispensable tool for a fighter and weapon.”
Despite the successful performance, the battle with the tomahawk was not included in the official training program of the US military. But Peter LaGana already caught fire with the idea of an army tomahawk and did not want to retreat. A few months later he made his own tomahawk, which has a special shape of the head, which significantly increases the combat capabilities of the weapon.
The blade of the tomahawk LaGana on the butt had the most pointed shape and could pierce a kevlar helmet or lightweight body armor (which, alas, was unavailable to the knife). And due to the high penetrating power, coupled with the weight, the tomahawk inflicted serious damage, even if the blow was struck from the elbow, without investing in the impact of body weight. Consequently, it could be used in narrow aisles and thickets, where the fighter simply had no place to swing.
Interestingly, five of the seven facets of the sharp part of the LaGana tomahawk were sharpened, so a tomahawk hit on any trajectory caused a wound to the enemy. But the most surprising in this ax was his balancing. Peter himself calmly threw any sharp object so that it stuck, but what could an unprepared fighter do?
Peter LaGana proposed tossing his tomahawk to unprepared people, mostly women and children. As a result, a total of 870 shots were made from a distance of 4.5 to 6 meters. After processing the data and making the calculations, the proportions and weight were found that ensured almost any person to successfully hit at such a distance even without special training.
Demonstration of Tomahawk Lagrana’s capabilities
The ax turned out so successful that the demand for it was hundreds of times higher than the offer. Therefore, LaGana opened its own company “American Tomahawk Company”, which on April 16, 1966 produced the first production model of a battle ax. Now LaGana offered the Tomahawk to the Marines, and on October 3, 1966, at the military base in Quantico, Virginia, he conducted the most realistic demonstration of the capabilities of the new tomahawk ever held in the US military.
The first test was to confront two marines, who were armed with rifles with bayonets. LaGana insisted that the protective sheath be removed from the bayonets. A minute later, he disarmed both attackers, although he received a cut in his right hand, but still continued the demonstration. Next, LaGana disarmed fighters with a machete, and in the third test easily defeated the attacker with a knife. The possibility of chopping properties of tomahawk on mannequins was demonstrated.
At the end of the tests, he showed how easy and effective it is to throw a tomahawk, including a moving enemy, for this purpose his best friend Kohn Novak fastened a wooden shield to his chest. Upon completion of the tests all eighteen Representatives of the Marine Corps, included in the commission, bought themselves tomahawks. But the response of the command of the US Marine Corps was as follows: “In order for the tomahawk to be put into service, it is necessary that it replace one or more elements from an individual set of marine equipment, so this weapon will not be accepted into service.”
However, thanks to the hassle of officers in the commission, the military was allowed to purchase tomahawks in private, and carry them as weapons. Of the more than 4,000 tomahawks made by the American Tomahawk Company before its closure in 1970, 3,820 pieces were bought by marines who participated in the Vietnam conflict. Due to this, the nickname “Vietnamese tomahawk” was assigned to the tomahawk LaGana.
Tomahawk in the modern army
Interestingly, the tomahawk considered as a weapon and the Soviet command, however, when conducting tests sapper shovel practically did not yield to the effectiveness of the battle ax, so it was decided to leave everything as is.
Tomahawks re-emerge only during the US operation “Just Cause” held in Panama. There, drug cartel gangs actively used in hand-to-hand clashes not only machetes, but also battle axes, from which more than forty soldiers were injured or killed. A light and maneuverable ax in dense thickets was more effective than a bayonet several times.
During the “Storm in the desert” fighters are faced with the difficulty of penetrating the premises, the doors have to break open with improvised means or blow up. Complaints fighters do not reach the command or command does not attach importance to them. Therefore, it was not uncommon for soldiers wearing huge red fire axes.
The true revival of the tomahawk is experiencing only after 2000, this time as a full-fledged element of the fighter’s equipment. A year later, the American Tomahawk company, headed by Andy Prisco (Andy Prisco), which, with the support of the already elderly Peter LaGana, begins mass production of the “Vietnamese tomahawk” – VTAC, begins to function again.
The popularity of this ax surpasses all imaginable levels and a true boom begins for this weapon. However, major changes have been made to the design of the modern tomahawk, and are available in two versions:
- tomahawks with handles consisting of a polymer that significantly reduces the weight of the ax, and the ax itself is made of tool steel;
- Tomahawks, having a one-piece construction, where the ax and the ax are cut out from a single sheet of metal.
The first version of the ax is more mobile, as it allows you to quickly and easily replace one blade with another, for example, with a different blade shape, and is also ideal in hand-to-hand combat as it is light, the second option provides high structural strength, and is more suitable for hard work on opening doors or breaking through barricades.
Since 2003 tomahawk VTAC along with a sledgehammer, nippers and a crowbar, it is included in the so-called Modular Entry Tool Set, which is included in the equipment of each special forces unit of the American army. In addition, VTAC tomahawks are included in the equipment of a number of infantry units and the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Also, the Tomahawk VTAC has been assigned the state inventory number NSN 4210-01-518-7244, that is, it is included in the list of equipment approved for acquisition by the US government services. Tomahawks of other manufacturers also find their consumers among military personnel and employees of various law enforcement agencies.
Perspectives of a Tomahawk as a Tactical Weapon
But what did the military find in such a tomahawk? Of course, first of all, its versatility. An ax can perform a wide range of works, and not only to demolish the head of the enemy. The tomahawk’s pointed spike on the butt opens up with ease like metal barrels, as well as cargo tires reinforced with steel bands. You can cut through the doors of houses, knock down locks, make holes in brick walls using a long spike to climb walls (rocks and trees) and simply use for household needs and as a survival tool, along with the same tactical knives or “multitools”.
Well, as a melee weapon, the tomahawk surpasses the usual bayonet at times, especially when it is impossible or undesirable to fire a rifle or pistol (where there are ammunition or fuel depots).
The most common modern tactical army tomahawks today weigh a little less than 500 g, the length of the handle is 14 cm, and the pointed spike about 8 cm long at the butt can be used as a chisel when planting doors.
Of course, a tomahawk is a weapon, suitable not for everyone and not for any occasion. But taking into account the need for high skill in working with such weapons, and the opportunities it gives, we can say for sure that the tomahawk is the choice of professionals only.
Next, we propose to watch several videos on the subject of the article
Tactical tomahawk, or army battle ax &# 8212; the choice of professionals?