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Few would argue about the value of a good fixed blade knife should you find yourself lost in the wilderness. For that matter, a good knife is a must have tool for any emergency situation. However, a knife isn’t the only edged tool that could help you pull through troubled times. There are times when the task at hand requires something a bit bigger than a knife, and this is when the axe, or its smaller sibling, the hatchet, comes into play.

I doubt anyone could ever discover when man made his first knife, but being a resourceful animal, it wasn’t long after that he invented the hatchet. He found he could increase his chopping ability by attaching the blade to a shaft and the hatchet has been a useful tool ever since. Early man probably had no concept of the theories of leverage, but it worked and that is all he cared about. Apparently the value of the axe, or hatchet, is still recognized today, since just about every major knife company produces at least one model. TOPS Knives is no exception and has several models in their current product line. Recently, they began production of a new model named the HAKET.

Designed by Allen Jenson, the Hawk And Knife Emergency Tool (HAKET) has carried the usefulness of the hatchet to the extreme. Most hatchets have a fixed head with a single bit, or cutting edge. The butt, or poll, of the head may be used as a hammer, but that about ends the versatility of the standard hatchet. The HAKET incorporates a removable head that is similar in concept to the spiked tomahawk. The head is 1095 carbon steel with a small hatchet blade on one end, and a knife blade on the opposite end.
It is available with a choice of either an Outfitter’s Head or a Tactical Head—the only difference in the two would be the shape of the main cutting edge. The shaft, or handle, of the hatchet is a chrome-molly alloy with a slot for inserting the head and a heavy-duty bolt to hold everything together. The hollow handle is 14.5 inches long and is cord-wrapped at one end to provide a comfortable and secure grip. The HAKET is supplied with a two-part leather sheath and a TOPS Alligator Alley tool.

Field Test

I value versatility as much as the next man, and if you want to keep me entertained for a few hours just hand me a multi-tool. However, when I first saw the HAKET, I wondered if the added features would diminish the quality of the original tool. After all, the first job of a hatchet is to chop, and if it can’t take hard use it isn’t worth carrying the extra weight. The sample was supplied with the Tactical Head, which has a tri-beveled edge of a steeper grind when compared to the single bevel of the Outfitter’s Head. In theory, the Outfitter’s head should work better for chopping wood, while the Tactical Head should be designed for harder uses such as a breaching tool. However, both heads are only 3/16 inches thick, and I wouldn’t imagine a major difference in the two when it came to chopping small saplings. Also, with the heads being hardened steel, I was more concerned with the strength of the slotted handle and bolt. Using this new tool to clear the woods around my rifle range proved that the HAKET could hold up better than I could.

The novelty wore off after attacking several 3- to 4-inch poplar and oak trees, but I found my worries about the handle to be unfounded. This hatchet cuts well for its size and I could see no wear in the area of the bolt and slot. Before I continue, allow me the chance to make something perfectly clear. Unlike early man, I understand the concept of leverage. I’m sure I could bury the head of the HAKET into the side of a large oak, and then use enough leverage on the end of the handle to deform the slot holding the head. If you use a little common sense, this hatchet will hold as well as any on the market. One well thought-out feature is that the hole to accommodate the bolt is threaded to match the threads of the bolt, which means the pounding of the head will not deform the threads.

I felt obligated to try the hatchet on dimensional lumber such as 2×4’s and 2×6’s and had the same results as I did with the trees. For its small size, the tool can chop. The knife blade end of the head would put any spike tomahawk to shame. Penetration on wood was excellent, and at times substantial force was required to withdraw the blade. Either end of the head would make a formidable weapon.

Versatility

Once I found out the HAKET was an outstanding hatchet, it was time to study why the head was made removable. Yes, this gives you the choice of the two types, but you can also remove the head and use it without the handle.

If you remember, the package comes with a two-part sheath. Cover the main edge with its sheath, and you can use the knife blade as a traditional knife. This blade has a 2.75-inch edge and is useful for any chore requiring a standard knife. There is also a large finger groove in the choil of the blade, and a groove section of the spine for a thumb purchase to improve the grip. Granted, the handle of a standard hunting knife may be more comfortable while skinning and butchering a deer. But after a few minutes of use, I didn’t feel handicapped by using this transformed knife. It did require additional cleaning of the sheath to remove the blood, but in an emergency that would be a small price to pay for the usefulness of having a knife. Cover the blade with its portion of the sheath, and the hatchet head is useful as a chisel. If you need more force, slide the blade into the end of the handle and the hawk portion becomes a rather large chisel.

TOPS ships every HAKET with one of their Alligator Alley tools. The Alligator Alley is a small tool with a “harpoon” style blade on one end and a pry bar on the opposite end. Additional features would be the wire-cutting slot along the spine and Kydex sheath. Alone this is a useful little neck knife but one thing to note is that this tool will fit into the end of the handle for the HAKET. Once these two are combined you have a short gig, spear, or harpoon. A long shaft could be fashioned from a sapling and inserted to the opposite end of the handle to create an even longer tool or weapon. While I never had a chance to smear my face with mud and stalk large game with this new spear, I did enjoy a bit of target practice. After a little practice, two things became apparent. This combination makes a rather nice spear. Second, I need more practice.

No Gimmick

After a month of playing with the HAKET I was able to make several conclusions. At first, the HAKET may come across as a gimmick, but that is far from the truth. I consider it a well thought out tool that proved better than my expectations. It is well made and would be useful as an emergency tool as designed, or as an everyday tool anytime you’re in the woods. Each of its features is well thought out and useful. Remove the head and the whole package can be stored away in your emergency bag until it is needed.

The concept of preparing for a natural disaster, wilderness survival or self-defense all have a common thread. That would be the “pre” in the word “prepare.” This means you are getting ready to face these situations before they occur. If the versatility of the Haket appeals to you, purchase one, and learn to use all of its features before your life depends on it.

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