Today I thought I’d share a cool find. I have always been intrigued by throwing axes, probably because when I think of an axe, I think of huge Paul Bunyan type double-bit (double bladed) throwing axes that run almost contradictory to every other design of throwing instrument I am accustomed to. Shuriken, spikes, throwing knives, Bowie’s, even tomahawks are usually all specially sized, shaped and balanced to optimize it’s performance as a throwing weapon. In stark contrast, your average axe, on the other hand, is designed for chopping down trees in short order. How did this indelicate lump of steel and wood become a throwing implement? For all of it’s grace (or lack thereof), you might as well be throwing a shovel. And yet double bit axe throwing has been a sport for decades. It is indeed a fascinating phenomenon.
However this post is about a different kind of throwing axe, one that has been specifically scaled and sculpted into a very specialized form of throwing weapon. It is the excellent Beil-Ax from veteran knife thrower and designer John Bailey.
Now this axe has the unique distinction of being designed to provide a 62% chance of sticking on the first throw, which is accomplished by designing the points of the axe so as to maximize the number of points that are presented to the target during any single rotation. This Axe boasts a 220° range of “stickable” angles. This is quite impressive. And since I’m still on the rant about “tactical” weaponry, I’ll go ahead and say this qualifies for the infamous “tactical” label, in the sense that it is a weapon specifically designed to perform a specific function very very well, under a specific set of circumstances. Is that vaguely specific enough for ya? Good. I still really have no idea what a constitutes a “tactical” weapon is, but “Tactical” weaponry supposedly pwns, and this axe pwns, I am labeling it “Tactical”. Period. Now back to the matter at hand…
Here is the upshot of this “tactical” (heh, heh, heh,…) design. In general your average single point throwing knife only has a small 30° window in which to stick the point. A six pointed throwing star achieves an 360° effective range because the points are so close together that their effective sticking angles overlap, so that the range of optimal sticking angles of one point ends as the range of optimal sticking angles of the next point begins.
Now the Beil-Ax, as you can see, has 5 points, that are each also designed with overlapping sticking angle ranges so that only the handle is the limiting factor, (no sharp points on the handle, see, lest you hurt your little paws). From a functional standpoint this means that it can stick in at 90°, like a knife, 180° with the handle down like a regular throwing axe, upside down, canted with the handle slightly inward, or any angle in between. This makes the Beil-Ax one of the the easiest weapons to throw and stick, barring a well-designed hira-shuriken.
Now to be fair, there are other numerous other throwing axes that provide the same sticking angle range as this axe, however none of them will provide the successful stick percentages of the Beil-Ax because they are based on traditional curved blade axes, which present such a large blade area to the target, that the energy of the impact can be distributed widely enough to prevent it from sticking. You’ll notice that, unlike your average throwing axe, the Beil-Ax relies on sharp points alone, instead of blades, so that all of the imparted energy of the throw is concentrated into one or two points of impact, which helps maximize penetration, ensuring a stick.
To be honest, I’m not particularly impressed by some of it’s aesthetic design elements, such as grooves in the handle or the cut out in the head. I would have preferred more simple utilitarian look. Straighter lines for the handle. Perhaps a black powder-coat option. (yeah…) But barring those functionally inconsequential points, the Beil-Ax does it’s job exceptionally well, exemplifying how I believe a modern throwing axe should be designed. No “8 point” or “Shuriken Style” marketing hype, no funky design gimmicks, just simple effective lines and points. If you ever decide to try your hand at axe throwing, I highly recommend this little axe.