If you are a backyard axe throwing enthusiast, someone who wants to take their axe throwing game to the axe range, or aspire to enter an axe throwing competition, this throwing axe buying guide is for you.
I did a mountain of research targeted at finding the best throwing axes of 2023 and how to choose the right one.
The 13 throwing axes below hit the target by gaining a reputation for being the top throwers.
Be sure to scope out the buying guide too, so you don’t miss the mark with your throwing axe choice.
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- TOP 13 Best Throwing Axes & Tomahawks of 2023
- WATL Butcher Throwing Axe
- Estwing Campers Axe
- Cold Steel Throwing Axe Gang Hatchet
- World Axe Throwing League Competition Axe
- Prandi German Style Hatchet
- Husqvarna Wooden Hatchet
- Council Tool Sport Utility Flying Fox
- Estwing Sportsmans Axe
- Stubai Multi Use Hatchet
- SOG Tomahawk Throwing Axe
- Vaughan SH2 Carpenters Half Hatchet
- Bladed Tomahawk Throwing Axe
- Brufer 203651-3 Hatchet Axe
- Factors to Think About Before Buying a Throwing Axe
- Throwing Axe FAQs
TOP 13 Best Throwing Axes & Tomahawks of 2023
WATL Butcher Throwing Axe
This heavier axe is great for intermediate to advanced axe throwers. The handle is nice and long, at 17 inches, but it can be trimmed.
This axe flies nice and straight and the ultra-thin blade easily sinks into any target.
- 17 inch handle.
- 25 lb weight.
- 4 inch flat blade.
- It may be too heavy for beginners or one arm throwing.
Estwing Campers Axe
The Estwing Campers axe is one of the most popular throwing axes for backyard enthusiasts, or to use at the axe range.
It’s got great balance and is an excellent throwing performer.
This throwing axe is all forged from one piece of steel, and the 15 inch handle length is perfect.
It handles the abuse of being thrown like a champ because the handle and axe head is more durable than some others.
- Made in the USA.
- Forged from one piece of steel.
- 15 inch handle length.
- Durable axe head and handle.
- Very reasonable price considering the high quality.
- The edge should be sharpened to be a bit thinner.
Cold Steel Throwing Axe Gang Hatchet
The Cold Steel Throwing Axe is probably one of the most popular throwing axes out there for home and casual use.
This throwing axe is well balanced and feels great to throw.
They are razor-sharp and the head is not too thick, so they stick easily, something thicker axe heads won’t do.
Plus, the steel holds an edge after repeated throwing so you won’t need to constantly sharpen it.
- 4 inch primary edge.
- Well balanced.
- Cheap price – a great deal.
- The handle is a bit long, most throwers trim 2 to 4 inches off this 20 inch handle.
World Axe Throwing League Competition Axe
This competition level throwing axe is WATL compliant and built strong. It’s a few bucks more than the cheap starter throwing axes, but it’s worth the extra price.
The junction where the handle inserts to the head is nice and thick.
The blade is very sharp and sticks like a dream into just about any target.
They made the handle on this throwing hatchet long, 16 inches. That’s so you can trim it to your ideal length, but it can also be used just as it is.
- Thin sharp blade.
- WATL compliant weight and length.
- Thick junction means the handle is less fragile.
- 16 inch handle, trimmable.
- Total axe weight of 2.22 lbs makes it challenging for one hand throws.
Prandi German Style Hatchet
This sought after throwing axe will quickly become one of your favorites. Its straight handle makes it easier to release, and it sticks like a dream, even if the axe is under-rotated during the throw.
It is made in Italy, from American hickory wood, and it is tough enough to stand up to repeat throwing. It is a highly recommended throwing axe.
- Just over 14 inch handle.
- Made in Italy.
- Carbon steel axe head.
- 4 inch blade.
- Meets WATL specs.
- A little pricy.
Husqvarna Wooden Hatchet
This Husqvarna hand-forged axe is loved by axe throwers for its rouged good looks and consistent performance. It’s made in Sweden, but the price is reasonable considering.
The steel is hard, which means it keeps a nice sharp edge, but is prone to chipping if abused and used for hardwood.
It sticks like a dream in a throwing target and the weight and heft in your hand just feels right.
- Sharp and keeps an edge.
- Short but nice 13 inch length – turns quickly.
- Includes handsome leather cover.
- Good weight, nice balance.
- Would not us for chopping trees or on hardwood.
Council Tool Sport Utility Flying Fox
The Council “Flying Fox” hatchet really lives up to its name. It’s fun to throw and most can use it for one-handed throws because it’s not too heavy.
It fits completion standards and is one of the few axes with a hardened poll. The poll, also sometimes called the butt, is the blunt end of the axe head and it can be used to drive nails and such.
This is a great throwing hatchet and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
- Made in the USA, in North Carolina.
- Lightweight, 1 lb, 11 oz.
- Hardened bit and poll.
- 16 inch handle.
- Some may find the head too light compared to the relatively long handle. It’s a preference, really.
Estwing Sportsmans Axe
This little throwing hatchet axe is perfect for target practice out in the backyard. It’s a one piece, full tang steel axe forged right here in the USA.
It’s very light, and a bit shorter than competition minimum, but it’s a blast to throw. It is ideal for one-handed throwing.
If you have been disappointed by handles that break, give this little guy a chance to win you over.
- 12 inch handle.
- Made in the USA.
- Full tang, less likely to break the handle.
- Length is a bit short, but I find it nice for throwing personally.
Stubai Multi Use Hatchet
This smaller Stubai throwing hatchet is one of the lightest hatchets on this list. It’s easy to throw with one hand and is properly balanced to spin well.
It has a 14 inch handle but since it weighs just under a pound at 0.90 pound, it is too light for competition, but it sure is fun to chuck at a tree or target in the yard.
- Very light weight.
- Made in Austria.
- 14 inch handle.
- Well balanced, a joy to throw.
- Too light for competition throwing.
SOG Tomahawk Throwing Axe
The SOG throwing axes are immensely popular because they are cheap, and fun to throw. They also have a skull crusher tip in addition to the blade, which can also stick to your target, depending on how the axe lands.
The SOG tomahawk is light, making it a breeze to throw. It is strong, feels good in your hands, and inspires confidence.
- Weighs 1 lb 3 oz.
- 5 inch throwing length.
- Both blade and skull crusher edge are sharpened to stick.
- Handle screws tend to loosen, retighten before throwing.
Vaughan SH2 Carpenters Half Hatchet
This lightweight small axe hatchet is a fun one to throw.
It’s not heavy, just 22 oz, and it’s short, at 13 inches. It is very durable and holds up to the demands of axe throwing.
It is a quality axe for a very fair price, and on top of all that, it’s made in the USA.
- Forged from high carbon steel.
- Made in the USA.
- Great value for the quality.
- 13 inch handle length.
- 1 lb 7 oz weight.
- Needs some sharpening before use.
Bladed Tomahawk Throwing Axe
This Bladed Tomahawk is made ready to throw. It’s tough, well-built, and inexpensive. It holds up under the rigors of being thrown and it’s made to last.
It’s made in the USA at a price that’s hard to beat.
It is well balanced and fun to throw. The handle is slightly tapered, so it feels good in the hand and has a nice release.
It is sharp right out o the box and I challenge you to find another axe with this quality at this low price.
- Made in the USA.
- Forged 4140 steel axe head keeps a sharp edge longer.
- Replacement handle readily available.
- VERY affordable.
- The blade tip is a bit wide.
Brufer 203651-3 Hatchet Axe
The Brufer axe is well balanced and great for throwing. It is durable and high quality, with a nice thin blade that sticks easily.
The handle is sturdy and this axe puts up with the abuse of axe throwing.
It’s a great small hand axe that feels good to hold and throw, you won’t be disappointed.
- The handle is just over 14 inches.
- Nice wide 4 inch blade.
- Lightweight, 21 inches.
- Made from softer steel which requires more frequent sharpening.
Factors to Think About Before Buying a Throwing Axe
First Things First: Throwing Axes is HARD on the Axe
Something every seasoned axe thrower knows is axe throwing is akin to axe abuse. It just is. When you miss, and the handle ends up pounding the target instead of the axe head sinking in and that places major stress and can even break the handle.
Eventually, most axe handles will fail under the abuse. A seasoned axe thrower is used to this and knows where to find replacement handles and expects the handle to break eventually.
I only say this because many who are new to the sport are disappointed when this happens, but if you are prepared you won’t face this disappointment.
Axe Blade Thickness
The best axes, hatchets, and tomahawks for throwing have thin blades.
A thin blade is more fragile, so if you use it to chop a tree, especially hardwood, or a tree with knots, you are asking for a chipped or broken blade.
However, a thin blade is IDEAL for a throwing axe because it sinks into the target like a lightsaber through Luke Skywalker’s wrist.
In some cases, it’s nice to have an axe that holds its own for chopping and throwing. In this case, it’s OK to get an axe with a thicker blade and file and hone it to your specs. The Bladed Tomahawk Throwing Axe has a thicker blade, but can be honed thinner, and makes a good, cheap multi-purpose throwing axe.
On the other hand, the WATL Butcher.
Has a super thin blade and cheek and is great for throwing, but not so great for chopping wood.
What Length Should a Throwing Axe be?
I personally like a short handle. If you want to know what the competition specs are for a standard throwing axe, here goes:
The WATL handle minimum and maximum handle length for a standard throwing axe is 12 inches to 19 inches.
IATF standards are stricter, stating the length must be a minimum of 13” long and cannot exceed a maximum of 17” long.
Over rotation and under rotation of your throwing hatchet.
Having said that, be aware that a longer handle slows down the spin and can cause under rotation, while a shorter one is easier to over rotate. But at what length that happens is different for each thrower so you need to experiment.
What I recommend is getting an axe with a long handle and trimming it bit by bit, while testing it after each trim to see if you have reached the right length yet.
The long handle length and how easy it is to trim makes the Cold Steel Gang Hatchet so popular.
What Axes are Used for Throwing?
Throwing axes are distinct from other axes in several ways.
Lighter Axe Head
WATL standards for the max weight is 3 lbs for the entire axe.
IATF max weight is for just the axe head and states the axe head must weigh between 1.25 and 1.75 pounds.
Many everyday axes weigh more than this and are not great for throwing.
Axes can be thrown using one or two hands, and if you like to throw one-handed, you can easily see that a lighter axe will be easier to use.
The handle of a throwing axe is technically closer to the length of a hatchet. A throwing axe can be anywhere from 12 to 19 inches. Many normal axes have longer handles and are not good for throwing.
There are also plenty of hatchets that have handles shorter than 12 inches that are not ideal for throwing.
You need to try a few lengths out to see what works best for you.
As I said before, throwing axes have thinner blades. Tomahawks, like the SOG Tomahawk Throwing Axe also are known for having a thinner blade, making them a popular throwing implement.
While thin axe blades are great for sinking into a throwing target, they suck at actually chopping wood, so be aware of that when you purchase and use your axe.
If you want an axe that does it all, the Estwing Camper’s Axe is great for throwing and also makes an excellent camping axe, although many folks find it performs better if you hone the blade a bit thinner than the stock edge it comes with.
Wood Handles vs Metal
Many axe throwers like wood handles, specifically American hickory. Wood handles do get beat up and broken when you throw, but they are replaceable.
Metal handles may last longer, but with everything, there is a tradeoff. Metal handles are hard on the axe head itself, and some are not replaceable so if you break it, you need to buy a new axe.
Throwing Axe FAQs
How popular is axe throwing?
The budding sport of axe throwing is gaining popularity in bars, backyards, and axe throwing ranges around the world.
Is axe throwing dangerous?
Axe ranges and axe throwing instructors are trained in safety procedures and mishaps are rare but they do occasionally happen.
Most axe ranges make you sign a waiver before you throw for this reason.
Dislodging an axe improperly, or having an axe rebound and fly back at you are two possible hazards.
What is the distance for axe throwing?
According to WATL, the ideal length for axe throwing is 12 feet. But if you are a backyard thrower you can change it up how you see fit.
I have seen people throw up to 40 feet, but this distance is harder on the axe and makes a break more likely, especially if you fail the throw.
How heavy is the axe in axe throwing?
Ideally, a throwing axe should be under 3 lbs. The weight should be prominently in the head of the axe because a top-heavy axe is easier to throw. The weight distribution of a top-heavy axe causes it to rotate more readily.
Technically a standard size throwing axe is closer to the size of a hatchet, under 3 lbs, with a handle between 12 and 19 inches.
What is the best gift for an axe thrower?
The best gift for an axe thrower is always another axe! Folks that love axe throwing know that you can always use another axe.
Another great gift for an axe thrower is an axe sharpening stone to sharpen up in between throwing sessions.
An axe target is always a welcome gift too. They may also appreciate help building a proper axe target in the backyard and there are plenty of DIY YouTube videos for that!
What is the best wood for axe throwing?
Pine is a favorite when it comes to axe throwing targets.
Pine holds up well to repeated throwing and is soft enough to stick the axe into easily. It’s also less expensive compared to others.
Where can I learn more about the sport of axe throwing?
If you are new to the sport of axe throwing, there are two major axe throwing leagues.
I aimed to find the best, and believe that this year’s lineup of the best throwing axes of 2023 includes the perfect axe for you.
If you are interested in old-fashioned weapons like throwing axes, you might also want to take a look at the best tactical crossbows we have reviewed.
But if you simply love tactical gear, check out this guide to the best tactical gear makers.
Until next time,
I will see YOU in the field (or on the range)!