Viking Axe and Indian Tomahawk

I know I’ll get some comments about a title of “Viking Axe and Indian Tomahawk”. Why am I not calling them Native Americans? Maybe the Vikings should be called Native Scandinavians? Come on, people!! There is no such thing as a “safe place” on this web site. But I will promise to be respectful to everyone and teach a little history today.

Viking Axe

If you watch the Vikings tv show on the History Channel, you see a lot of battles where the Viking warriors use axes in battle while wearing little to no armor. They fight against Englishmen wearing heavy armor, who depend on shield and sword. The Vikings had genetics in their favor, and were visibly taller and broader. Most Viking warriors were also farmers who built up their strength by working hard to grow food and raise animals in the harsh Scandinavian countryside. They were tough, determined people. Every year they came together and raided foreign lands for wealth, slaves and other goods for trade. Combat was a way of life. Taught to boys at a young age by their fathers, including the girls if they showed interest.

Viking Axe vs. Indian Tomahawk - Viking Bearded AxeThe axe was an everyday tool. Used for building, firewood, and most importantly ship building. The typical axe carried into battle was a version of the bearded axe (pictured to the right from Gransfors Bruk). Pointed at the top and blunt at the bottom. The blunt part was useful for hooking shields or legs in battle. A common tactic was to hook an enemy’s legs and drop them to the ground. While they were trying to get up, it was easy to deliver a killing blow. Most of the enemies that Vikings encountered in battle were not used to fighting against axes.

There are several organizations that teach Viking fighting styles:

Indian Tomahawk

One major difference between the Viking axe and the Indian tomahawk stems from the fact that there were no blacksmiths in North America before European contact. So the tomahawks that were used by the Indians were made of stone, wood, and bone. Metal tomahawks didn’t appear until boarding axes used by sailors were offered in trade to Native Amerians.

A boarding party would always include a complement of axe carriers to support the main body of marines and sailors armed with musket and cutlass. As the axes were generally stored in racks near each gun they were also handy for defence against enemy boarders, being quickly available to the gun crews to cut grappling lines or defend themselves. From: BoardingAxe.com

Viking Axe vs. Indian Tomahawk - Boarding AxeThe image to the right is a standard boarding axe design. Which is very much like the typical tomahawk axe head. The Indians modified them to fit their fighting styles, often wrapping the handles with leather and decorating them with carved designs, but the axe heads changed very little. The indian tomahawk had a small blade (called a bit) on the front, usually measuring four inches or less. The back of the head (poll) was shaped into a spike. Some ceremonial tomahawk polls were shaped into a pipe.

Like the Vikings, the Indians were strong, hard working people. They spent a lot of time hunting and battling between tribes.

There are a few organizations that teach Indian fighting styles:

Viking Axe vs. Indian Tomahawk Conclusion

A lot of preppers have an axe of some sort attached to their bug out bags. I think a nice felling axe is a good addition for its practical uses. But if you plan to fight with an axe, the tomahawk is the go-to right now. There are some really nice ones available on Amazon. With some serious training, an individual could be proficient and quite lethal.

But I don’t think enough people look at the Viking axe seriously. Though it is a little larger and heavier, it has a long brutal history. Plus with a larger bit it is easier to use for chopping wood, which is a chore that never seems to be finished.



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  1. Survival Gear Geek | Gränsfors Bearded Axe - Viking Axe - Survival Gear Geek - October 2, 2017

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