How to throw a tomahawk or knife

Andrew at GY6vids demonstrates how to throw knives and tomahawks just in time for us to head to Wal-Mart, buy an Axe, and spend the 4th of July living out our Mel-Gibson-in-the-Patriot fantasies. He explains the basics clearly and also throws in some extra tips such as how to setup an ideal knife target for training.

What many of you don’t know is that our own Phil White is actually a former competition knife thrower.  Maybe we will convince him to get in front of the camera one day and show us his skills.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Zugunder

    Pff, casuals.

  • Mystick

    You can’t teach it… it has to be learned. Through experience.

    • Giolli Joker

      Yep, I’ve tried with hatchets and it doesn’t take much to become pretty good at sticking them reliably in the target.
      Knives took me much more time.
      Probably if I was trying again I would have to restart from 0.

      • You have to practice often as well. It can be a perishable skill. Hawks are easier to throw than knives. It also depends on the knifes balance.

        • Zebra Dun

          The SOG tomahawk I got for the grandkids to play with doesn’t throw as good as the old hatchet I have that has US stamped on it.
          Then again I don’t plan on throwing a perfectly good weapon for my enemy to catch and shove down my throat.
          Throwing knives and hatchets looks good on Hollywood movies and may work for some but not me. It’s just a game of big darts.

          • The small or larger size is a good starter hawk to learn with but it will break. Not a question of if it will but when.

          • Grindstone50k

            I got a Cold Steel Norse hawk that throws pretty good. The head is very broad, giving it more surface area to hit. Also works great for cutting up overgrowth. You know, actually using an ax for what it was intended.

  • Martin M

    Throwing your weapon away is exactly what your enemy wants you to do. Seriously, this sort of foolishness is best left to Hollywood and children.

    • Giolli Joker

      Well, it depends on how many weapons of that kind you have.
      Franks were known for carrying three or more hatchets (franciscas) and throwing them in battle before getting in close range combat.

      • There ya go. You’ve been reading about it:-)

      • Tassiebush

        I’ve always thought it’s cool the way the Franks and Saxon names and their iconic weapons were linked. I read an interesting idea that perhaps the franciscas were thrown horizontally at the legs (below shields) to break up enemy formations. No idea if it’s backed up by any accounts though.

        • Chuck

          The Bayeaux Tapestry shows them – and a mace – thrown high, likely more of a “rainbow” trajectory that would land seemingly from nowhere on top of a random victim; the kind of unpleasant surprise that may or may not injure someone but would certainly break the concentration of everyone who sees it. A dangerously distractive nuisance, mostly.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah I remember those images. Bayeuax tapestry is a great source! Nothing like dodging maces and axes to distract you. I guess an axe in motion would be like a flying mace at worst and like a direct axe blow at best.

    • BattleshipGrey

      Obviously if it’s your last weapon, don’t rid yourself of it.

    • And myself as well as thousands of others who compete or just have fun with it.

    • Tassiebush

      I think I’ll try to get my children into throwing knives or axes. That’d be awesome!

  • USMC03Vet

    I can do that.

    Hold my beer….

  • Zebra Dun

    Never throw your only weapon at your enemy, if you miss or only wound him he will be pissed off and have your weapon to kill you with.

    • Jon

      I was just thinking the same!

    • Throw then draw and fire. Maybe the bullet and hawk will get there at the same time:-)

      • Zebra Dun

        Draw and fire first, don’t throw at all.
        If you have a gun why throw a tomahawk? ;^D

        • Because it’s a fun hobby. Not everything is primarily meant for combat. It’s still a good skill to have.
          Of course if I have a gun I use that first. It’s no longer play time when that happens.

    • M40

      Exactly… you may as well practice throwing your loaded sidearm at an assailant. It would be just as inane as throwing them an edged weapon. The only weapon that should ever be thrown is a grenade… and even those can come back at you unless you have a pretty good grasp of the fuse duration.

  • Zebra Dun

    Does anyone recall Ed Ames the Cherokee actor who threw the Tomahawks that time on the Tonight show with Johnny Carson?

  • An overall good throwing knife. Zeil knives run about $29. cheaper copies are 3 for $50 on Amazon. It’s just plain fun and satisfying when you first start sticking the blade!

    • Tassiebush

      What are the fundamentals of a decent thrower? Not easily breaking was mentioned but was there anything else? I get the impression that a lot of knives are suitable.

      • To start you really want one with good even balance. The balance point should be about mid way. If it’s a little blade heavy that’s ok.A lot of knives can be thrown but some you see him throw in the video are from a lot of practice. That hunting knife would not be an easy one since it’s butt heavy. A great knife to start with is the Zeil I posted above.
        A good stainless blade holds up well and doesn’t tend to break. Make sure the target is placed so that the wood grain is vertical. If you try to throw a knife into a cross grain it tends not to stick very well. If you use cardboard like he did in the video it does help you to see how the blade is hitting. Then you learn to move up a half step or back a half step. I hope that helps some.

        • Tassiebush

          Thanks Phil I really appreciate all the pointers.I should get a chance to try in next few days. Have them off and kids home for local school holidays 🙂

    • iksnilol

      Does the blade bend on those? I know that’s what happened last time when I experimented with knife throwing (didn’t use a throwing knife though).

      Also, I did a no-spin throw (had to brag a bit). I did it cause I didn’t want to bother with the whole “accounting for distance by varying amount of spins” and whatnot.

      • Sometimes even throwing knives bend. The cheaper the blade the more likely it is to bend or break. I was throwing a cheap hatchet(hawk) I bought at Wal-Mart. It had good balance and stuck deep. Then about the 100 thrown the fiberglass handle broke and that was that.
        Anyway a decent throwing knife shouldn’t bend. The Zeil comes in small and large. I like larger ones but some prefer small blades. It just depends on what you are comfortable with and if you tend to throw hard or medium speed.

        • iksnilol

          I am fully aware that even good knives can bend. No problem bending them back in position. I am just worried about buying throwing knives that bend “too fast”. I want something that will last a while. I hope that isn’t too unreasonable in todays world 😛

          Regarding throwing, I am not sure, I use no spin throwing. That’s as specific as I can get.

  • The blade throw and the handle throw. The handle throw normally doesn’t spin as much.

  • chuck

    The best knives for teaching/learning that I’ve ever used were cut from 3/16 mild steel plate, basically shaped like the average throw-knife, and about 10-inches long. They have enough mass (are heavy enough) they don’t tend to “plane” (float) in the air or a side wind, and to stick easily into the target; they don’t need to hold an edge (you don’t want are sharp edge for throwing!); if it hits a rock you can take the “ding” out with th file in your pocket in just a couple minutes; if you bend the tip you can hammer it flat without chipping or breaking it off; and instead of springing back after a failed throw like a tempered blade it tends to just fall down (MAJOR safety issue!).

  • Rob Pierce

    They say that Benjamin Martin was a fierce warrior with the tomahawk in the revolutionary war

  • The way not to throw:-)