Cutting with the Type L Fighting Axe

We've had a bunch of requests to do some cutting videos, so this is attempt number one. Our Type L Fighting Axe seemed like a good place to start. Based on several extant examples from the Viking period, this is a high prestige, dedicated fighting axe, not a combination weapon and tool like our Nordland Axe.  

Type L Fighting Axe
Though smaller than our Danish Axe or Danish Type L War Axe, the Fighting Axe is not to be underestimated. With an overall length of approximately 26" and a cutting edge of about 6", it has fearsome cutting potential. Its cutting ability is a result of the thin blade profile, about 3/16", with a differentially hardened carbon steel edge. Most people who have only ever handled axes made for chopping or splitting wood find the light weight and agile balance of this axe to be eye-opening. It is not a heavy tool for crushing armor or chopping down trees.  Instead, it is a specialized weapon for hewing lightly armored foes. At just under 1.5 pounds, it is fast and deadly.  
Arms and Armor Type L Fighting Axe
Arms and Armor Type L Fighting Axe
Typical of Type L axes, this example features a point or horn that is formed by the top forward angle of the blade.  This has two functions. First, it allows for fast and devastating thrusts during combat. Second, the protruding point creates an edge geometry that gives most cuts a drawing action, rather like cutting with a saber, messer, or katana. As you can see in the below video, this axe cuts so readily that I was momentarily over-balanced a couple of times after hewing the tatami mat because it produced far less resistance that I was expecting.  
Cutting with Type L Fighting Axe
For some great information on Viking axes and their use, featuring some of our work, check out Hurstwic. 


Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.

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