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Once considered a staple event in lumberjack competitions starting in the 1940s, recreational and competitive axe throwing has become a booming trend in America and Canada in the last 20 years or so. If you live in a medium-sized or larger American city, chances are good you’ve got at least a couple axe throwing businesses — usually featuring beer and sometimes food. Many places even host league competitions that resemble bowling leagues with team names, matching jerseys, and pitchers of beer, except the sounds of bowling balls rolling down the alleys and knocking over pins is replaced with the cacophonous thuds of axes slamming into heavy wooden targets. It’s like darts, but less subtle.
Many sources credit the modern axe throwing craze to Matt Wilson, a bartender who started hosting axe throwing among his friends in his Toronto backyard in 2006. What started on a whim to kill boredom one night eventually grew until Wilson founded the Backyard Axe Throwing League, or BATL. In 2011, he opened his first indoor axe throwing facility and things just grew from there. Fast forward a decade, and you can find axe throwing facilities, bars, and competitions in most places in North America.
To that end, the good folks at Task & Purpose invited me to unleash my inner Jason Momoa and review the SOG Throwing Hawks. These throwing axes roll in at an MSRP of $60.95 from Amazon, and a quick look at this style of axes for sale — lightweight, all-metal throwing axes sold in packs of three — finds a price range of $35 to $65, putting SOG in the upper reaches in terms of cost.
Based on my time with the SOG Throwing Hawks, it’s well worth the extra few dollars. Compared with the more traditional throwing axes, such as those used in league axe-throwing competitions, these lighter versions are comparably priced, if not slightly less. By comparison, the traditional wooden-handled throwing axes designed for competition and manufactured by Cold Steel can range from $24 upwards to $60 for a single tomahawk.
SOG is known for producing high-quality knives that are well-designed and visually appealing. They are the Apple of edged weapons, and the SOG Throwing Hawks are no exception.
The SOG Throwing Hawks arrived in a clear plastic package. On the front side, the three SOG Throwing Hawks were laid out overlapping each other so all three were visible and the SOG logo was prominent to the left of the axes. On the back of the package was the durable black ballistic nylon sheath, which is designed to hold all three axes at once. The back of the package also included a diagram of the axes along with some technical specs about them.
After cutting open the hard, sealed plastic, I had the SOG Throwing Hawks in hand. One of the first observations was how light the axes were. At 7.9 ounces each, these are very light and balanced. Constructed of a single piece of black stainless steel, each tomahawk is 10.75 inches long with a 1.75-inch blade and full tang construction (meaning the axes are made of a single piece of metal from blade to handle). The metal used to create the SOG Throwing Hawks is 3Cr13MoV steel with a hard-cased black finish. The SOG logo is emblazoned on the upper portion of the handle and the lower handle is wrapped in black paracord for a better grip.
How we tested the SOG Throwing Hawk
The SOG Throwing Hawks are not marketed as a tactical axe, a survival axe, or a multi-purpose save-your-ass-in-the-event-of-a-zombie-apocalypse axe — they are made for throwing, plain and simple. There is really only one true way to test throwing axes and that is to throw them and throw them and throw them.
I contacted my friend Ched Chase, the owner of Chuck It Axes in Fort Myers, Florida. Ched and his wife founded Chuck It Axes in 2019. What makes their business a little different is they are a mobile axe throwing facility, not a brick and mortar location. They build fully enclosed throwing areas made of metal piping and ballistic nylon netting with two side-by-side targets. This allows them to set up and throw axes safely in parking lots, festivals, or in the backyard of a private residence.
On the night I met with Ched to test the SOG Throwing Hawks, he was set up outside the Crazy Dingo Brewery. I showed him the tomahawks and we compared them to his standard Cold Steel axes; the SOG Throwing Hawks were noticeably smaller and lighter.
Our first few throws were not pretty. Neither of us could get the SOG Throwing Hawks to land on the targets. They hit the targets just fine, but the goal, as you probably figured out by now, is for the axe blade to bury itself into the target like my glorious Celtic ancestors buried axe blades into the skulls of their enemies.
After a few throws, we figured out what we were doing wrong: Being much lighter and smaller tomahawks than the standard competition-style throwing axes, the SOG Throwing Hawks require a little more finesse. Instead of hurling the axe at the target with controlled velocity, the SOG Throwing Hawks require more of a precision throw. More flick of the wrist than brute strength. Think more darts and less bowling.
Once we solved that mystery, it was smooth throwing. The SOG Throwing Hawks sail nicely through the air and the blade catches the target without trouble.
There were a couple of concerns. The paracord handles, while comfortable and good-looking, tend to move in action, and I found myself readjusting them every couple throws. A little digging into SOG’s own literature on Amazon revealed they specifically chose “balance-neutral paracord” to allow users to easily replace and/or customize the handles.
Another concern is the blades tend to bounce back a little farther than their heavier counterparts. This threat can be easily mitigated by stepping back a couple of feet before throwing and by throwing with less intensity than Conan the Barbarian.
After a few dozen throws, I offered Ched the SOG Throwing Hawks for his clients to use, if they wished. The feedback was mixed. Richard, an axe-throwing enthusiast who has previously both competed in axe throwing and managed an axe-throwing location in Miami, enjoyed the SOG Throwing Hawks, describing the difference between the SOG Throwing Hawks and competition axes as more of an apples and oranges difference than a better or worse one.
A couple of surprising fans of the SOG Throwing Hawks were my seven-year-old son and another child his age. Both, embarrassingly, landed successful hits with the SOG Throwing Hawks with notably fewer throws than Ched, Richard, or I needed. They both handled the SOG Throwing Hawks significantly easier than the larger axes normally used.
What we like about the SOG Throwing Hawk
The SOG Throwing Hawk is visually like the iPhone of throwing axes. They have a sleek, beautiful appearance, are light and perfectly balanced, and have the high design quality you would expect from a SOG product. The compact size makes them very portable and easy to transport, especially when using the three-hatchet nylon sheath they come with.
The SOG Throwing Hawks also functioned well during testing, burying themselves into targets effectively once you’ve grown comfortable with their weight and form factor. While I lacked the time to test the theory, I speculate the smaller, lighter SOG Throwing Hawks would cause less wear and tear on your targets over time than their larger, heavier cousins.
The paracord handles are both durable and easily replaced. Those of you who are skilled artisans with the beloved paracord could do some very creative things, including customized colors.
What we don’t like about the SOG Throwing Hawk
The blade is a little on the small side at 1.75 inches. Something closer to a three-inch blade would be better, allowing the axe to bury into the target more effectively and give the axe more of an adult-sized appearance.
The size and weight of the SOG Throwing Hawks make them easily handled by small children. As with any edged weapon or tool, it is incumbent on the owner to ensure they are stored and maintained safely – and out of reach of children.
Perhaps the solution is for SOG to upsize their throwing hawks into something more aligned with the regulation axes typically used in sport and competition axe throwing. Maintain the same well-crafted design, but slightly larger and heavier.
The SOG Throwing Hawks are a work of art. They are impeccably designed and engineered for quality performance. Their size and weight make them excellent for portability and storage but limit their use in traditional axe throwing: the SOG Throwing Axes are perfect for backyard or camping axe-throwing, but they do not meet the design requirements for competition axe throwing under either WATL (World Axe Throwing League) or IATF (International Axe Throwing Federation).
I had one observation about the SOG Throwing Hawks which has absolutely nothing to do with their functionality as lethal airborne blades, but everything to do with their eloquent design. Without mincing words I can say unequivocally the SOG Throwing Hawks are visually stunning. They are beautifully designed. They are also very thin and very light.
What am I getting at? Plaques and awards, of course.
The SOG Throwing Hawk is the perfect accoutrement for that badass retirement plaque or promotion award. Honors graduate from your agency’s SWAT school? Why not mount a laser-etched SOG Throwing Hawk onto a highly lacquered and polished block of wood? NCO of the Year, Soldier of the Year, first professional MMA fight…the opportunities are endless.
FAQs about the SOG Throwing Hawk
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q. How much is the SOG Throwing Hawk?
A. A three-pack of SOG Throwing Hawks is available from Amazon for $60.95.
Q. Can the SOG Throwing Hawk be used in axe throwing competitions?
A. No. Both primary governing bodies for competition axe throwing, WATL and IATF, have specific specifications for axes used in competitions with which SOG Throwing Hawks do not comply.
Q. Are the SOG Throwing Hawks covered under warranty?
A. Yes and no. All SOG products are guaranteed against defects in workmanship and materials for the life of the original purchaser. This guarantee is voided (as determined by SOG) by misuse, abuse, improper maintenance, or alterations of the product and does not cover any normal wear or tear that might occur. Click here for additional information.
Q. Could I use the SOG Throwing Hawks in the event of the zombie apocalypse?
A. Very unlikely unless the zombies rapidly civilized, embraced recreation and capitalism, and opened a chain of competition axe throwing facilities.
Got questions? Comment below & talk with T&P’s editors
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Paul O’Leary is an Army veteran and tactical nerd. He’s served multiple tours in Atropia and other theaters and once ate a Norwegian reindeer MRE. He fancies himself a connoisseur of good bourbon, wine, and cigars. He also writes for Duffel Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @pauljoleary.