I mean… technically you can throw any hatchet. But they won’t all stick in your target.
Most hatchets are not designed with throwing in mind – they are made for limbing, chopping, and splitting kindling. However, some hatchets will have characteristics that make them decent for throwing as well as other tasks.
A word of warning: Axe throwing can be very hard on your hatchet. You must be prepared for the possibility of broken handles and chipped edges even if your hatchet is well suited for throwing – more on this below.
What makes a hatchet good for throwing?
There are a few characteristics that can be found in normal hatchets that will make them better or worse for throwing.
1. Thin blades are best for throwing axes
A thin bit (blade) is key for a throwing axe. A thin blade will drive deeper into the target and improve the likelihood the axe will stay lodged in the target.
Many hatchets will have a wider, wedge-shaped blade design which can be better for common camp tasks like splitting firewood – but is too thick to properly stick in a target.
Fiskars hatchets are great on the campsite but are useless for throwing as they have very stout wedge-shaped heads. The 2nd and 5th hatchets in the image above are Fiskars.
Specialty throwing axes often have very narrow blades – designed specifically to help stick, rather than do real axe work.
2. Throwing axes should be sharp
The blade shape overall is probably more important overall – but sharpness should not be ignored. A sharp axe will cut through more wood and stick deeper in the target.
A dull axe is more likely to bounce off, even if the shape of the blade is well suited.
3. Straight handles are best for throwing axes
A straight(er) handle allows the thrower better aim and greater control of the spin when throwing an axe.
Many axes and hatchets have substantial curves in the handle, which can give you a wider range of motion when chopping. But the curve makes throwing awkward and can interfere with getting the spin right.
Most specialty throwing axes have perfectly straight handles, but standard hatchets will usually have a bit of a curve. A little curve is fine, but too much curve will be a problem.
The Husqvarna 13″ hatchet (left) is a very popular axe, but the handle is way too curved for throwing – compared to the excellent Council Tool Flying Fox (right).
4. Head weight
You can find “tactical” tomahawks and thin throwing axes that are full metal construction with very thin lightweight heads. These axes can be thrown fine, but they will be a crappy axe.
An axe needs the weight in the head to work properly. It amplifies the force of the swing.
And while these lightweight axe designs have very skinny blades that will stick – you want the weight of the axe head to stop the rotation of the handle from pulling the axe out of the target.
What hatchets can be thrown?
There are a couple of popular hatchets that are decent for throwing.
The Flying Fox is an awesome camp axe made to be thrown
The Council Tool Flying Fox is one of my favorite hatchets on the market today. I often find myself reaching for it – even over more expensive axes.
But more importantly for this article – it is specifically designed to also meet the requirements for competitive axe-throwing leagues.
It has a large thin blade, with a curve that naturally helps the top corner (toe) drive into the target. It has a straight 16″ handle – wonderfully thin right from the factory. Which makes it very easy to control.
Some WATL Throwing Hatchets can be used for other axe work
The World Axe Throwing League has a wide range of throwing axes, that are obviously good for throwing. But a lot of them are not good for actual axe work.
The “Competition Thrower” and “Kill Shot” are affordable throwers with a very functional head design. It’s a Yankee pattern head, with a straight handle reinforced right under the head.
The “Competition” has a wood handle, and the “Kill Shot” has a composite handle.
Estwing axes are durable throwing axes
I don’t think Estwing hatchets meet competitive standards, but I know they are used by some axe-throwing venues and are decent starter axes.
The heads are very well suited with a thin blade that still carries weight. And since the handles are full metal, you don’t have to worry about breaking your hatchet. It can withstand the abuse of being thrown.
The leather-wrapped version (sportsman) has a better, slimmer grip – but more sharp edges at the bottom of the handle. The 14″ camper has a rubber grip and is one I feel better about bouncing off the ground.
Note: Do not get the version often labeled 16″ camper – it’s actually 18″ and way too big for throwing. I don’t know why this error persists, but it’s almost always mislabelled as 16″.
What other hatchets can be thrown?
Here is a list of common hatchets and if they could be good for throwing.
|Adler Rhineland||Yes||Wide blade, straight handle|
|Adler Yankee||Yes||Straight blade, straight handle|
|Agdor||No||Thicker bit, handle too curved|
|Cold Steel Flying Fox||Yes||Designed for throwing|
|Estwing||Yes||Nice head design, durable|
|Fiskars||No||Stout wedge-shaped bit|
|Gedore||Yes||But not well balanced for it|
|Hultafors standard||No||Thicker bit, handle too curved|
|Husqvarna (wood)||No||Thicker bit, handle too curved|
|Husqvarna (comp)||No||Stout wedge-shaped bit|
|Lexivon||No||Stout wedge-shaped bit|
|Prandi||Yes||Wide thin blade, straight handle|
There are a bunch of cheap hatchets on amazon that have a “german-style” head. They will be decent for throwing, but the handles aren’t very strong – so they may not last. I
Will throwing a hatchet or axe damage it?
Axe throwing can be hard on an axe – especially when you are learning. So don’t throw an axe you aren’t willing to break.
A hatchet can take a lot of abuse when being thrown, as there are a lot of different kinds of impacts that don’t occur in regular axe use.
Even when thrown well the handle can smack off the target. But if it’s a poor throw, the axe can bounce away and be hit from any/all sides. Broken handles are common with wood and composite axes.
And blades can easily be chipped as the axes bounce to the ground.
But, at least with a wood-handled axe you can always just replace the handle.
If I missed something or you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I do my best to respond to everyone.
About the author:
I’m an amateur outdoorsman who loves axes – as a tool, the craft of restoring them, and the history. I got tired of only finding crap websites, so I set out to build a reliable one myself.
Jim B. – Owner, Creator