That a specialized tool like a tomahawk can also be versatile is an apparent contradiction in terms. The tomahawk, or axe, is a highly specialized tool in itself and that is its strength: it does only one thing and does it best. Moreover, it offers little room for variables to the original design and often the search for novelty at all costs is counterproductive. Recently, a prestigious American company whose symbol is an arachnid (we won't tell anything more) launched on the market an axe designed by a super expert in the field, which displeased many fans of the brand due to a series of defects that emerged during use.
CRKT also decided to draw on the knowledge of an expert, Ryan Johnson of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here he runs his business, which consists in designing and manufacturing knives under the brand name RMJ Tactical, but above all survival axes, combat axes and even modern replicas of the war hammer, one of the deadliest weapons in history. RMJ Tactical's products are made with extreme care and selected materials, but they are expensive: the RMJ version of the axe we are presenting to you, the Jenny Wren Spike, is $465 (about 390 euros) compared to the $135 (about 113 euros) of the industrially produced version.
CRKT Jenny Wren Compact
The tomahawk proposed by CRKT is named after the bird, and Ryan decided to call it this way because the silhouette of its head reminded him of a little bird lying on the ground, with its long tail upturned. The name “compact” alludes to the fact that, compared to the RMJ model, the CRKT tool has a slightly shorter handle.
The axe is made from a single piece of SK-5 carbon steel, an alloy equivalent to 1085 steel, particularly suitable for medium-large knives and cutting tools. The first peculiarity that immediately catches the eye is the particular shape of the head, featuring a spike on the back; the second peculiarity, certainly more unusual, is the sharpening of the upper side of the head which is in fact transformed into a secondary cutting edge. Going down towards the handle it is possible to observe how straight it is and on both sides there are some asymmetrical gripping grooves. The handle end widens in a bell-shape form. A pair of glass-reinforced nylon scales is fixed with three rivets covering about four fifths of the handle. All in all the handle is well made, and thanks to the asymmetrical bell-shaped end, it suggests the correct grip. Even with our eyes closed we know exactly where the cutting edge is, and since there are three cutting edges on this tool – plus a spike – this is reassuring. Although the handle has been shortened in comparison to the custom model, the Jenny Wren Compact is more hefty and less top-heavy than it might seem, due to the great steel thickness, a good 0.25”/6.35 mm, which stops the scale needle at 1.12 lb/510 g. However, it remains a very handy and fast-to-use tool. Finish of the metal parts is a very resistant black semi-opaque powder coating.
Handle with care...
But let's go back to one of the distinctive features of the Jenny Wren Compact, namely the particular shape and function of the head: it has three different cutting edges; in addition to the main one, we find a secondary cutting edge along the whole upper side of the head up to the tip of the spike and finally a third cutting edge on its lower side. Surely this is a feature that suggests some caution to the user, since we find a blade where it usually is not supposed to be, and this involves a different way of using the tool, which acquires a lot in terms of versatility. Thanks to the additional edge on the head, it is possible to use the axe as a chisel, striking the base of the handle with a wood to obtain very precise cuts. As we mentioned at the beginning, the profusion of sharp edges on the head requires a certain amount of attention during use and carrying. This is why the Jenny Wren Compact comes with a glass reinforced nylon sheath that completely wraps around the head, weighing a round 3.5 oz/100 g and MOLLE compatible. To further increase the sheath safety level, there is a nylon loop with quick release buckle that securely locks the whole thing. To release the head from the sheath, simply unhook the loop and give it a good yank. By far the fastest and safest system.
From a practical point of view, although the lever arm is relatively short, the axe is very effective for medium intensity work, such as pruning a branch, sharpening stakes or carve large diameter branches. It is clearly not designed to cut down a redwood. In the end, it is an interesting object and certainly more versatile than a more conventional mini axe, but it also requires more attention and familiarity in use. Retail price is not low at all, but compared to other similar products offered by US companies, it should be considered affordable.
CRKT Jenny Wren Compact tomahawk specs
|Jenny Wren Compact
|2.59”/ 65.6 mm
|1.12 lb/510 grams w/out sheath
|Glass reinforced nylon, MOLLE compatible
|0.22 lb/100 g