There are some small and big differences depending on which organization’s rules you are following when it comes to legal competition matches.
You may be able to use some hatchets in a NATF based event that would disqualify you for a WATL based event.
There is nothing worse than getting all set up and ready to begin your competition only to realize that you can’t use this axe, or that hatchet.
You don’t want to be the person that brings their own axe to a venue, only to get rejected by annoyed staff. It’s best to do your homework, and find out what’s acceptable to bring before hand.
Axe Throwing Competition Blade Requirements
For the Standard Axe (Hatchet)
WATL Hatchet Requirements
- Axe head weight must be UP TO 2 Lbs MAX.
- Handle can be made out of wood, steel or plastic.
- Length must be AT LEAST 12 inches in the eye of the blade.
- 4.75 Inch MAX blade length.
NATF Hatchet Requirements
- Axe head weight must be between 1.25 and 1.75 Lbs
- Axe handle MUST be made of wood.
- Length must be AT LEAST 13 inches in the eye of the blade.
- 4 Inch MAX blade length.
** – Indicates our top picks
If You Are Throwing In The World Axe Throwing League
or are at an event using the WATL rules – you might be able to get away with a totally different style of hatchet. The one mentioned above would meet both requirements, and would be a good choice for any thrower.
However, the WATL allows you to use a more robust type of axe, with a handle made of almost any material. This lets you play around with the tactical tomahawks, and other similar more modern style axes to come out recently. Searching around on the internet, or even going to some hardware stores might be a good idea to get the feel of what is out there.
**Newly Released WATL Official Axe:
- Length: 15″
- Head Weight: 1.75 lbs
- Total Weight: 2.1 lbs
- Handle: Hickory
- Price: ($25-34) See Current Price Here
The WATL have just now released their new official axe. A low price for a nice standard throwing hatchet.
A good example of a WATL compliant hatchet would be this Oak Curve 2lbs Hatchet with a carbon fibre and rubber shock resistant handle.
- Length: 14″
- Head Weight: ~1.6 lbs
- Total Weight: 2 lbs
- Handle: Carbon Steel / Rubber Grip
- Price: ($32-42) See Current Price Here
These are the axes that WATL first started using in most of their affiliate locations, although they have switched to a standardized wooden hatchet. Still, this Oak Curve axe is a great throwing axe, as it’s a heavy hitter with a strong handle, not prone to easily breaking.
These axes last much longer than a wooden hatchet, and would be great when you first start learning how to throw axes competitively.
They have a nice solid feel to them, with a rubber grip on the handle. The 2 pound overall weight really gets your rotation soaring into the target, head over hilt. The 14” length handle is most ideal for WATL locations, as you stand closer to the target, and this type of axe will get you a perfect rotation with very little effort.
The best thing about this one is even though its simply made, this thing lasts me a while. Even when throwing like a crazy person.. yet to be replaced.
A fun alternative to the WATL style hatchet, since they offer more lenient rules that allows a variety of different axe styles, would be this Voodoo Hawk Mini
- Length: 12.5″
- Head Weight: 1.1 lb
- Total Weight: 1.5 lb
- Handle: Glass Reinforced Nylon
- Price:($22-42) See Current Price Here
If You Are Throwing In The National Axe Throwing Federation
A lighter overall axe, with a smaller blade head length is what the National Axe Throwing Federation is looking for. They specify that the handle can only be made of wood, so they are going for a more authentic style of the sport, using traditional style hatchets.
A great axe that complies with NATF specifications, is this nice looking Snow & Neally Outdoorsman’s Belt Axe. It is one of our favorite throwing axes for sale now:
- Length: 14.5″
- Head Weight: 1.25 lbs
- Total Weight: 1.9 lbs
- Handle: Grade A American Hickory
- Price:($60-92) See Current Price Here
It fits the NATF specs perfectly, with a 1.25lbs steel head and a 14.5” overall length hickory wood handle. It is as close to the standard axes used by most of the National Axe Throwing Federation affiliates as you’re going to get.
These types of axes are perfect to throw from the required 15 feet distance, and they get a solid rotation with enough driving force behind a light or heavy toss.
The steel heads also maintain a sharp edge, crucial for keeping on top of your axe throwing game! Also, this specific axe complies with WATL requirements, and just about any other non-affiliated axe throwing venue around the world.
These generic axes do take quite the beating when you first start learning how to throw an axe. They are strong and well made, but just like anything, they do break with constant abuse. It is best to pick up a back up axe for when you’re first learning, as mistakes do happen.
Having said that, when you get experienced and start hitting consistent bullseyes, one of these generic axes could last you months and years, provided you don’t chuck it into the cement! Check it out here.
**The OG Throwing Axe: Shopro Axe Throwing League Hatchet
- Length: 14″
- Head Weight: 1.1 lbs
- Total Weight: 1.5 lbs
- Handle: Hickory
- Price:($35-45) See Current Price Here
This is one of the most best throwing axes in the business.
While they may get damaged here and there in a beginner’s hand, a more seasoned axe thrower can make a Shopro Axe last for years. The 1.1 lbs steel axe head & 14″ handle are the perfect weight and size for axe throwing leagues. The Genuine Hickory handle is an ideal wood to use for the hard abuse of axe throwing. This is in my opinion the best throwing axe for beginners.
Urban Axe Throwing took off with this standard “Shopro” Scout Axe. This is the most used throwing axe within the sport, being used as the base axe model of BATL & NATF for several years. Only recently, BATL/NATF stop supplying these axes, making them sought over for those who prefer the style of the Shopro Axe.
The iconic yellow gripped handle is a feature that set this axe out from the rest. Now the only place to find this is on Amazon here or in an axe thrower’s closest collecting dust. If you miss the Shopro Yellow Handle Axe, make sure to get a couple while supplies last!
A very good replacement for the Shopro that also complies with the NATF specifications would be this Husqvarna 13″ Hatchet.
- Length: 13″
- Head Weight: 1.32 lbs
- Total Weight: 2.2 lbs
- Handle: Hickory
- Price:($39-51) See Current Price Here
It complies with the NATF specifications, as it has a 1.32lbs axe head, and a 13” handle. It is on the shorter and lighter side of the NATF requirements. NATF affiliates use a basic 14” hatchet, and this is the preferred length for axe throwers.
A shorter handle, such as this Husqvarna hatchet, means you have a short rotation, and need to get closer to the target when throwing. The lighter axe head, also means you need more force when throwing, opposed to a lighter toss some people are fond of throwing. If this suits your throwing style, you should check out this quality forged Husqvarna axe.
For Big Axes (Felling Axe)
NATF Big Axe Requirements
- Axe head MUST weigh between 2.25 and 2.75 Lbs
- Handle can only be made of wood.
- Handle length must be AT LEAST 25 Inches
- The face must be 4 5/8 Inch MAX
As you can see, the Big Axe has similar requirements compared to the hatchets, but just extended to serve a longer, heavier felling axe. This does limit you quite a bit looking at different hardware stores in your area.
Most felling or big axes are not designed with these rules in mind, so a lot of them are either too heavy, too long ect. A detailed Amazon search for a good throwing axe that meets all these specifications would get you something like this Helko Felling Axe(see details)
- Length: 28″
- Head Weight: 2.25 lbs
- Total Weight: 3.75
- Handle: Grade A American Hickory
- Price($ 130-155) See Current Price Here
WATL Big Axe Requirements
Surprisingly, the WATL does not have any specific requirements when it comes to Felling Axes (Big Axes). If we look at what they allow for hatchets, and transfer that over to a Big Axe, the above Bison Axe would still serve you very well. It can be difficult to suggest a recommendation – everyone’s preferences will be different!
Someone with longer arms and a shorter torso would feel way more comfortable throwing an axe one way, where as someone with shorter limbs and a long torso would be throwing it completely differently.
The best thing to do would be to practice with heavy/light and short/long axes and see how you feel. More often than not you will find that a throwing style that you thought was awkward and felt horrible is actually something you need to implement and get better at to be able to hit the bulls eye more consistently.
In a competition, especially the playoffs – having accuracy with the big axe can make all the difference. Make sure you really pick a good axe you feel comfortable with and practice, practice practice!
The competitive world of axe throwing has grown into a full fledge sport, and it all hinges on one main tool, the hatchet, or axe.
It can be tough picking out a good throwing axe for a competition, especially if you are not sure what to look for. Looking online there are so many different options, a beginner would get overwhelmed.
If you’ve been to one of the many axe throwing bars around the world, there’s a good chance they apply either the National Axe Throwing Federation rule set or the World Axe Throwing League rules.
They have their own specifications – and we’ve given you some great options to chose from to comply with their rules below.
Depending on which affiliation you are looking to join, this will help you determine what is the best competition axe to use for the specific throwing event or competition you find yourself competing in.
Axe Throwing events and competitions are all based on these rules, and they have somewhat strict specifications when it comes to which axes they allow you to use. First lets look at what is and isn’t allowed for each hatchet throwing league affiliate, then we can go through good candidates that meet competition requirements.
Also make sure your big axe is properly maintained and sharp, prior to throwing that match winning throw!
Tips for Beginners
If you are a beginner or new to throwing axes and want to get your very own – Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
First of all, the type and style of hatchet or axe you end up getting is totally up to you. Make sure it is within the organizations specifications and you are all set. As stated earlier, it is most important to get the feel of it, and see what works best for your throwing mechanics. There are a few things that we feel like every beginner should know when it comes to axes:
Don’t try to be too fancy.
Getting a cool looking axe like one of these viking axes is probably what you are thinking about right now (I know I was), but it really only needs to be able to stick into the wood well. Some do that better than others. Most of the crazy ones out there come too dull to use right away.
Chances are, you’re going to break a few axes before you get the hang of hatchet throwing. Don’t fret, that happens to every axe thrower and is a fun growing pain of the sport. Best to buy a cheaper axe to start, as you’re going to need to buy multiple of them in case the first one breaks.
Get your accessories.
There are lots of throwing axe accessories you can get that will make your life easier. Some of these accessories are a sharpening stone to sharpen your blade, a sheath and even a belt sander to keep your blade in tip top shape. Getting a good tool to sharpen our axe is paramount in having your axe perform well while throwing. Read more about these accessories by checking out the link above.
Don’t go for the most expensive item.
Usually, if something is expensive it means it’s better. This is not always true when it comes to throwing axes and hatchets. Since it takes a certain type of axe to be a good thrower, other more expensive features that are great for felling trees, or doing other activities are wasted on our purposes.
A good throwing hatchet should only cost you around $30-$60 or so. $120 for a great one, but any more than that, and you run the risk of breaking an expensive axe. No need to be buying a Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe for your throwing..Best to save the professional throwing axe purchase for when you’re a seasoned axe thrower!
Ideal Specs – Pro Tip:
if your axe is constantly landing head first (but not blade first) you are over rotating it and must move forward if permitted. This means if you throw the same way but with a lighter axe, it might work out better for you.
If your axe handle keeps hitting the target you are under rotating it, meaning you are too close and need to move further back. Meaning a heavier overall axe might get that rotation going faster and have the blade stick in your axe throwing target more often. You might also need a shorter handle if you keep under rotating.
Some Of The Worst Axes for Throwing
Without outing any major companies, here is my general recommendation when axe shopping, and what to avoid.
I’ve had to learn this the hard way – but it really pays to simply take a look at the reviews, not so much the ‘star ratings’. Many companies try to get sneaky and up vote their own products on Amazon and other retailers. Although their gear can appear great at first glance the comments and reviews sometimes tell a different story.
When real people buy Axes, or anything for that matter and feel like they got ripped off, or the quality of the item is less than advertised they will make themselves heard. I always stay away from anything with just a handful of bad reviews, as a rule of thumb.
Of course this can be avoided by always getting a name brand that produces nothing but high quality, but you will be paying much more. In short – keep a lookout for negative COMMENTS and REVIEWS and don’t think twice about avoiding those.
Besides this, I would say you have to get the right axe for the job. There are so many different axes out there all meant for a specific reason. If you’ll be camping for a few days, it makes sense for you to get a bushcraft axe. If you want to power through thick logs you should get a Lumberjack axe. There are even special combat Fighting Axes designed for just that.
Some Of The Best Axes for Throwing
Now, I know earlier I mentioned not going for the most expensive axes but if you are someone who can afford it, Gransfors Bruks axes would be my choice for that top competition level purchase. I know some might disagree, but if you’ve got the money.. why not?
It’s price point is justified when you are consistently landing bullseyes, and want to step up your axe game in quality and appearance, without the fear of breaking your beloved league axe.
Go out and get yourself one of the best competition throwing axes and start throwing as soon as you can! The best beginner axe in the world isn’t going to help you unless you start today.
Pick one of these top competition throwing axes, keep it maintained by sharpening it and sheathing it up and you’ll have a winner for years to come.
ClutchAxes' Top 5 Axes of the Month:
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