Friday, October 7, 2016
I fear I have another dirty secret that I've been hiding. Like the Bowie knife, I had somehow lived to moderate age without owning a proper tomahawk, despite declaring myself a lover of all things frontier based. Well, this year I fixed that problem! Ladies and gentlemen, behold the Colombia River Knives and Tools Kangee Tomahawk!
I admit, I was browsing around for a proper tomahawk for a long time, but none ever quite matched what I was looking for. Having handled a reasonable number of blades, I can often get an idea of how something is going to perform based on looks alone. I had been looking at Cold Steel products for a good while, but none of them had the design I desired. That's not to say they are bad models, not at all. Some of them have great blades, but had a spike or poll that just didn't sit right with me.
Nor did many of the tactical tomahawks jump out at me. I admit, some did look very practical and would certainly serve very well, but it takes a lot to get me to grab something selling itself as "tactical." Remember the tactical lever action 30-30? I can still hear the screams. I wanted something of wood and steel. I primarily wanted something that could process wood. Something for felling trees, splitting wood, things of that nature. I like something that can chop through wood for field work right off the bat. After all, if it can cut through wood, it can cut through flesh and bone! So I didn't need something advertising itself strictly as a combat weapon.
Then one day in the mail I found a little cluster of outdoors adds, and as I flipped through the pages my eyes settled upon something that immediately arrested my attention. That would be the Kangee and its brother, the Chogan, sporting a blade with a longer beard and a grand hammer poll. Something about the design of these two instantly captured my interest. I could tell at a glance that these were much beefier and ruggedly built. The shape of the design captivated me, featuring both exquisite blades and extremely functional and well designed backs.
Upon further investigation I only found myself wanting both of these more and more. Initially I wanted the Chonga, as I thought a hammer would be more useful than the spike. But after looking around at other articles and other tips about tomahawks, I found that the rounded side of the head can function quite well as hammer, and that the spike can be used to dig up roots for cordage in a survival situation. The spike also lends itself well to urban combat. I've heard that the enemies out East have developed a real appreciation for our soldiers sporting such weapons.
So at last I settled on purchasing the Kangee and a leather sheathe that could hook onto my belt. In total it cost over 60$, about twice what a Cold Steel spike hawk would cost, but I think that it was worth it.
Out of the box this thing is recognizable as a beast. Designed more for heavy chopping rather than combatic slashes like lighter hawks, the Kanee has some serious weight to throw around. It almost feels like a more elegant hammer. The haft is narrow at the bottom and tapers up toward the head, giving it a decent feel. It is very comfortable in hand. The steel is listed as 1055 carbon, but I'm not sure I buy it. 1055 is a somewhat soft steel, but upon trying to sharpen this, it proved remarkably hard in comparison. In fact, at first the metal was flaky. Trying to work on it with a carbide sharpener resulted in little flakes chipping off the edge, not fine grains like one usually gets with steel. In fact, it was a son of a gun putting a decent edge on this. I can only surmise it was given a unique treatment, as it almost feels like it was cast in a mold. The surface is marbled and uneven. It actually reminds me of a dutch oven pot.
However, that isn't to say the metal is bad. Not at all. I'm unsure what treatment it was given, but I wager it will resist rusting with a vengeance. After a lot of diligence, a strop, a puck sharpener and a carbide sharpener, I finally put an edge on it that stuck. I'm not sure if this is common, or if this was just a fluke. Seeing as how nobody else complained about this that I saw, I think this was merely a one off. Don't let this deter you from getting your own. Anyway, aside from the finicky metal, I have nothing but praise for the head. The blade has brilliant geometry and is almost over-engineered. It's solid like nothing else I've ever seen. The blade is about two and a half inches tall, giving it a decent curve and enough surface area to chew some respectable chunks out of wood or anything else one might be hacking away at.
The spike initially baffled me. From the photos I saw it looked as if it boasted a chisel design, a concept I hadn't seen before. Upon actually getting it though I found that this wasn't the case, but wasn't disappointed. The geometry of this spike is brilliant. It is designed in such a way that it is phenomenally sharp but will resist blunting or bending like magic. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it could puncture sheet metal or car bodies with ease and not loose its point. If you're one of those people that wants to be able to survive the apocalypse by breaking windows, puncturing tires, cracking skulls, busting locks or other such shenanigans, this thing will do all of that and more.
This thing boasts both exceptional geometry and heavy duty workhorse steal. This head isn't going to break anytime soon. The haft is simple but handsome hickory, and the sheathe, which is sold separately oddly enough, is beautiful and functional. However, the sheathe mounts so that if you mount it on your right hip, like I wanted to, the spike will be facing forward and the edge facing back. Maybe I'm just late to the game, but this seems kind of backwards. When I pull this thing out I want the blade up front, not have to flip it around. This might be because the spike necessitates the spike portion of the sheathe to swivel, and it would be difficult to move in and out otherwise. That or you have to mount it on your left side.
A pleasant thing I discovered right away however is that in contrast to sheathe knives with absolutely require sheathes, a hawk doesn't need to have one. You can stick it in your belt, sash or sweatshirt tied around your waist, and it can sit there nice and snug. One still has to be careful about their elbows with this, but it is definitely doable.
For mine I drilled a lanyard hole in the bottom with a loop of paracord and tied around six feet of the same just beneath the head. This was to help keep the head sliding down the haft during strenuous use and to offer a snug grip for more precision-based work. Also in the field I can unwind that six feet and put it to good use. Yay!
But how did it actually perform in the field? Sadly due to a lack of trees, transport, time, and FAR too many wintesses who are blade-shy, I haven't been able to give it a thorough testing. However, when most people weren't looking I managed to take a few whacks at some deadwood up in the mountains, and found that it bit deep. I have little doubt that it could chew through a five-inch thick tree in a few minutes if I take my time. The big eye makes wood splitting much trickier, unlike a hatchet or axe, but I suspect that it could still get the job done. I hope to give it a proper testing in the following months with a change of scenery. I actually find myself carrying this thing around the house as casually as a cellphone. It's just fun to have!
Overall, I frigging love the Kangee. There is no part of me that regrets this purchase. It is ruggedly built, wonderfully functional, handsome, and is an excellent breeding between frontier charm and modern efficiency. If you happen to be interested in a good looking and practical hawk, I highly recommend the Kangee. It costs a bit more than the Cold Steel variations, but it has the quality to justify it. And in case you're wondering, no, I'm not getting paid to pimp this out. I mean, I wish I was. I could use the money. But I just really this thing is great.
You can get your own right here on Amazon!