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.