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The MKC Hellgate is a fantastic hatchet for deployment

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MKC Hellgate Hatchet

Boy, I love sharp things. I have a number of small scars from my youth to prove it. Something about a good knife just makes me happy, and axes, hatchets, and tomahawks make me ecstatic – and that is the case with the MKC Hellgate Hatchet. Designed to be a workingman’s tool, this micro-sized hatchet comes straight from one of the premier knife brands in North America. 

Who is MKC 

MKC stands for Montana Knife Company which is a small business run by Josh Smith, one of the best bladesmiths in North America. Smith has been making knives since he was a kid. He was the youngest journeyman bladesmith in the American Bladesmith Society and then became the youngest master bladesmith at the age of 19. 

Josh makes a variety of knives but Hellgate Hatchet is MKC’s first hatcher. It’s aimed as a practical tool for campers, hunters, hikers, workingmen and women, and, of course, for the American service member.

The long history of hatchets in the military

soldier uses hatchet Afghanistan
Sgt. Jonathan Defibaugh, team leader, assigned to 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company C., 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, uses his tactical hatchet to carve steps into a wall Jan. 31, during a foot-patrol in Arghandab District, Afghanistan. Defibaugh, a native of Amelia, VA, carved the steps to allow his squad to safely climb the wall in order to cross into another orchard and resume their foot-patrol, 2011. (Photo by Spc. Breanne Pye/1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Hatchets and tomahawks have a long tradition of official and unofficial service in various military forces, both as weapons and as tools.

In the modern era, they aren’t used as weapons, but they remain valuable tools. They can be used for breaching through doors, breaking locks, and more. A small axe is also handy for crash and rescue scenarios. In Afghanistan, we kept a small axe in the squad for various purposes: It helped clear fields of observation and fire, cut firewood for cold nights at a patrol base, and even cut through roots to improve defensive positions. Unlike a regular axe, it was light and could be wielded with one hand. 

The MKC Hellgate Hatchet would be an excellent tool for a military market. It’s super compact and lightweight, yet tough as nails. It’s just a hair over 10 inches long and weighs 14.9 ounces. It comes with a modular and modern Kydex sheath and G10 handle.

The Hellgate is made from 52100 ball-bearing steel. This steel is incredibly rugged, strong, and resists chipping and breaking, according to experts. Those are all important considerations for a tool designed for chopping and hacking. It’s a steel that also gets quite sharp and cuts nicely. However, it can rust, so make sure you keep it clean and take care of it. 

Related: Modern Knife Fighting – The Marine Corps Way

The MKC Hellgate Hatchet in action

The MKC Hellgate Hatchet has a handle that feels like that of a hammer. (Photo courtesy of author)

As someone who built barns as a teenager, I’m used to the feeling of a hammer, and that’s what the Hellgate’s G10 handle feels like. It also has a similar shape to a hammer’s handle and swings like a hammer. Instead of a blunt device, it’s sharp as hell, and it does a great job of slicing through tree limbs and splitting wood with ease. The blade is light and swings easily. It’s not an axe and won’t chop a big tree down, but you can rip and tear through light materials, cut through roots, and certainly turn logs into firewood. 

The Hellgate is a comfy chopper. Its handle provides a great grip and doesn’t rub or cause hot spots. It does a great job of resisting vibration and doesn’t cause pain in your wrist as you chop. It won’t slip from your grip, and even when my hands were covered in sweat, the blade didn’t shift or slide in my hands. 

Further, the blade head has a beard that you to tuck up under the blade for more precision cuts. You can use this as a rudimentary knife for precision cutting tasks and it’s also great for stripping limbs and smoothing them out. 

Related: The Bowie knife – A historical fighting knife

MKC Hellgate Hatchet sheath
The hatchet’s sheath is made of polymer and has an adjustable belt loop. (Photo courtesy of author)

The sheath included with the MKC Hellgate Hatchet is a modern polymer design. Your blade slides through the top of the sheath and is secured by a polymer pull-loop. The hatchet has a belt loop that makes it easy to mount and carry and the belt loop can be moved around and modified for comfier wear and easier fit. 

The MKC Hellgate Hatchet is a rock-solid hatchet that’s perfect for hard work and heavy use. It’s rugged but lightweight and durable. It can be an excellent deployment tool that could easily be packed away without wearing out the carrier. Although the first run of the hatchet reportedly sold out within minutes, MKC will likely produce more given the Hellgate’s huge success.

This multi-use tool is a premium-grade hatchet that’s likely to join the top of the crop. If you like the Hellgate, give Montana Knife Company a look; they make some fantastic stuff. 

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.