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The axe you see pictured above has been getting a lot of press lately. As far as I can tell, the whole story started when the fun-stuff site ThinkGeek featured the axe as the M48 Range Hawk Axe, which they suggest is designed specifically for “quiet zombie killing.” Then numerous other sites picked it up, partly because of ThinkGeek’s catchy sales pitch and partly because it’s just a pretty cool-looking axe. I have zero problem with a little zombie geekery, but I couldn’t help but think: who actually makes this thing, and what’s it really designed to do?

A little digging later, I discovered that the axe is made by United Cutlery, a company out of Moultrie, GA, that makes a number of specialty knives and swords, mostly targeted at the collectible arena — stuff like movie replicas, fantasy swords, and so on, plus a few military-style offerings as well. The axe pictured above is one of a number of “M48” axees, tomahawks, and knives United Cutlery offers for sale both direct through their website and via dealers around the world. The major difference between the various axe models seems to be the color of the handle: the “tactical” is black, the “survival” is either orange or yellow, and the “ranger” (pictured) is olive drab. Actually, the model pictured is a tomahawk, though United does offer an axe version (read: long handle).

The M48’s features include a spiked head, which doubles as a “defense weapon” and a breaching tool, and a paracord-wrapped handle. The blade is anodized stainless, and the handle is 30% fiberglass-reinforced nylon — pretty much like a good nylon hammer. You also get a snap-button closure nylon belt sheath (in case you wanted to, um, carry this around with you) and a little inexpensive compass that looks almost exactly like the one I bought for my dad from the Boy Scout store catalog when I was a kid.

Pricing from United direct runs $75 plus (unknown) shipping, and ThinkGeek originally sold it for $60, though they’ve apparently sold out. Google found it for as low as $35, though most places are showing it either out of stock or “delayed by manufacturer.”

So, fun aside, what would you actually do with this? Truthfully, I suspect it’s more of a collector’s item. Unless you’re Gimli, I suspect there are better ways for you to defend yourself, and the head strikes me as pretty impractical for cutting down small trees and such — the kind of tasks for which you might actually need a small axe. I used to carry one in the back-seat storage in my 4×4 Grand Cherokee, mostly because one time I got a trailer stuck against a small tree and it would have come in really handy. I still have the axe, and I haven’t used it since.

It would look pretty cool in a glass “break in case of zombie attack” case on the wall, though.

The M48 Tactical Tomahawk [United Cutlery]
Street Pricing [Google]


16 Responses to What Do You Really Do With A Zombie Axe?

  1. Adam says:

    I’d imagine 85% or more of these get admired the first day, then are set aside to collect dust for eternity.

    The other 15% will probably be put to use like the broom handle in that video clip of the star wars kid.

  2. Zac says:

    It’s United Cutlery, so you use them and then immediately break them


  3. Gil says:

    Zac’s 100% correct. Another fine piece of feces from United Cutlery.

    • Jerry says:

      Yep! United Cutlery is not well known for high quality products. They sell mostly to amateur collectors. The collectors that buy such things not because of quality but so they can show their friends what a great treasure they have. I suppose you could call those folks ‘amateur collectors.’ Otherwise, they would just be “suckers who bought junk.”

  4. jesse says:

    This tool appears to be just a wannabee tactical tomahawk.

    Nice video clip from Modern Marvels on tactical tomahawks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZIO-6zYo3g .

  5. Dave says:

    I have an old (circa 1920s we think) firemans axe like that somewhere. No fancy holes in the head, though. Found by my dad in a scrap yard somewhere around London in the 60s. I can’t remember ever using it (apart from the time when I was about 11 and put a hole in the back door. Blamed my brother – got away with it…

  6. craig says:

    spike tomahawks seem to be making a resurgence. i’ve made them for people out of hammer poll half-hatchets. there is a tutorial out in the wild for modding an estwing campers axe.

    i’ve never quite understood the utility of the design but a lot of people buy into it. i personally have never taken down one the undead with an axe of any sort. i’m old school i guess, i use a twelve gauge.

    the head attachment on this on is a failure waiting to happen unless an awful lot of glue was used. even the hart woody didn’t last long with rough treatment.

  7. TMIB_SEATTLE says:

    I got a SOG tactical tomahawk as a gift last year. Midway has them on sale right now for $28.99: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/210224/sog-tactical-tomahawk-2-3-4-blade-15-3-4-overall-length-fiberglass-handle-black

    It’s a decent hatchet for splitting small kindling into firestarters, and throws really well when you want to goof around and have fun.

    I know some folks that keep them in their vehicle as escape tools.

  8. AKJohn says:

    Looks Cool – But practical? I think I would hurt myself with that thing. I picture myself trying to pull it out of a piece of wood and having the pointy end hit me in the forehead!

    • Chris says:

      The “crash axe” in the cockpit of a lot of airplanes looks very similar in design to this — axe blade on one end, pointy spike on the other — and there has been at least one pilot who severely hurt himself trying to use it to break out a jammed side window in the cockpit. He did pretty much what you feared: swung the blade against the window to break it, window didn’t break, spike bounced back and hit him in the head.


  9. Tetsubo says:

    I recently bought a Cold Steel Trench Axe. I rather like it. But I haven’t given it the hard-use test.

  10. Toolfreak says:

    Most of these “tomahawks” are’t built as well as the garden tools from China at the local hardware store. A shovel or a rake would probably be more reliable for taking down a zombie.

    Besides, a tomahawk is very short range – not what you want when facing flesh-eating zombies who are after your brains. There is not enough weight to these things to decapitate something.

    What you want is either a real battle axe, or a glaive. The longer handle or weight of the blade makes them ideal decapitation weapons, and lets you engage a zombie without putting yourself in range for a bite.

  11. 99octane says:

    As edged weapons go, in case of zombie invasion I believe few things beat the katana. It’s light, can be used one or two handed, is long enough to strike at a distance but short enough to be useful indoors, and was specifically designed to cut flesh. A hand-and-half sword would do almost as well, but would be heavier and more cumbersome, and difficult or impossible to use in cramped space. A halberd or naginata would do well in open spaces, though.

  12. Gary says:

    Nah. I don’t need this for a zombie attack. I just have to be faster than you.

  13. TZH says:

    I’ve actually used my M48 tomahawk for more than 2 years as an all-around garden tool but I deliberately gave it a lot of heavy chopping vs a variety of wood just like those guy did on YouTube.

    Its still in great shape and the handle is not coming loose in any way. The edge is still acceptably sharp even after going through firewood and the occasional abuse against an accidental bang on a rock in our garden. The spike is great because I can go through cinder blocks or doors just for the heck of it. For the money I’m very happy with this thing.

    As a weapon I see it as a fantastic zombie killer, far better than a machete or even a sword. The only advantage a sword has is range, but to decapitate you need a lot more skill than you think to swing it the correct way.

    Axes need a good overhead swing to do the deed. Its only downfall is the short range. Its a weapon of stealth or last resort, but it can sure get the job done.

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