This article answers the question what are the Forged in Fire episodes with axes?

Forged in Fire is an entertaining and educational show on the history channel where four competitors build fully functionality weapons.

If you’ve seen the cooking show “chopped” imagine the show with blacksmiths forging weapons instead of chefs making food.

While the show has featured maces, spears, spiked shields and a variety of weapons, it tends to favor knives and swords. However, there have been several episodes where competitors forge axes. Here is a list of Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes.

While I don’t discuss who wins a round or episode, there are spoilers if you don’t want to know what the finale weapon or challenge will be!

One of the competitors finds a crack on their blade and improvises by quickly creating an axe using a lawnmower blade with a wrought iron handle. It is very creative.

The axe bit is not straight, it has a lot of superfluous ornamentation on it. It looks heavy and difficult to wield.

The improvised result isn’t pretty but it does mark the first axe in Forged in Fire.

Axes in the episode: one smith improvised a hatchet in rounds 1 and 2

Season 1, Episode 3: “Viking”

The finale weapon is a two handed single bit viking battle axe.

It was an opportunity to see a modern version of a very powerful and iconic weapon. The results were okay.

One competitor had a more finished-looking axe. The laminate steel on the head showed blacksmithing skill. However, there were some questionable design decisions. The head was smaller and the smith burned the handle, which I don’t like. The handle was also round and leather wrap on the lower end of a handle prevents the hand from traveling down the haft during a proper swing.

Viking Battle Axe

The other competitor had a more rough axe. The design of head was excellent and the size and weight of it seemed appropriate. I like the forge scale left on the head. The handle was not rounded and seemed more wieldable for the judges. However, the lack of fit and finish and the lack of alignment of the bit with the handle took a lot away from the appeal of the axe.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Viking Battle Axe

Season 2, Episode 10: “Tabar”

The Final weapon for this episode is a Tabar: a double bit battle axe with origins in Persia, Armenia and India.

The axe features a metal haft and spear-like spike at the end.

Both smiths came back for the finale round with an excellent looking Tabar. I’ve never wielded a weapon like these and would be interested to see how the metal haft feels.

The craftsmanship of both axes is excellent. I do prefer the Damascus, symmetrical Tabar over the asymmetrical Tabar from a design and aesthetic perspective. However, the spike on the asymmetrical Tabar is much more pleasing.

Smiths should realize that round handle never works well for striking weapon or tool that needs to be indexed.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Tabar

Season 3, Episode 15: “The Haladie”

At the time this episode was released Forged in Fire didn’t have a hatchet as the round one challenge. The four smiths make hatchets with integral handles for round one.

One hatchet is forged with an absurd curved handle. But that smith did a good job of correcting that in round 2 to make an interesting and functional hatchet.

Another smith had a unique twist metal handle, but I really disliked how the handle was attached to the very back of the head. This design ruins any balance the hatchet would have otherwise had.

The finale did not last very long so a lot of the show is the first two rounds where 3 complete hatchets are forged, handled and tested.

Axes in the episode: hatchets in rounds 1 and 2

Season 4, Episode 11: “Master and Apprentice”

The Nzappa zap is an axe from the Congo. It is the finale weapon for episode 11 of season 4. It is an interesting axe I’d never seen nor heard of before watching this episode. It looks like a billy club with an axe affixed to it.

I really dislike the idea that was implemented by one of the Master and Apprentice teams where the blade comes to a valley. This intentional divot doesn’t seem to impact the performance in the tests, and one of the judges said it worked well, but it seems like a bad idea.

All in all the lighter, better heat treated blade won.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Nzappa zap

Season 4, Episode 23: “Viking Edition”

In this special “Viking Edition” of Forged in Fire the finale weapon is a pair of viking war axes.

Having an axe with a straight bit from heel to toe isn’t ideal for a throwing axe. There might be specialty axes that have a straight edge, but a curve blade is optimal for any use to which I’ve put an axe. 

I really like the axes the first smith put together. The low layer Damascus and a long beard for each axe is beautiful. But the straight bit, while looking awesome, didn’t perform as well. The judge noted that a curve allows the edge to bite in more than a straight edge. The edge also rolled a little.

I didn’t actually like the aesthetics of the other set of axes as much. They performed better and ultimately that is more important. I don’t see the point of a leather wrap where the axe is gripped. I’d rather grip the handle directly.

It’s great to see two talented smiths bring their A game in the finals and it is too bad only one bladesmith can win.

A favorite part of this episode is the strength test when the axes are thrown.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon pair of Viking War Axes

Season 5, Episode 11: “The German Halberd” 

Is a halberd (halbert) an axe? It has an axe head on it so I’m counting it.

One axe head design has an inward curve, which I would think would be lousy for chopping. In fact in the testing essentially only the tips cuts in and the rest is positioned where it can’t cut.

Historically there are inward curved designs and I wonder if these were more for ornamentation rather than function. Perhaps they excel more for slashing or puncturing armor.

The other smith had a very nice handle and a sharp well designed head that is is both functional and beautiful.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon German Halberd

Season 5, Episode 14: “The Horseman’s Axe”

Robert the Bruce slaying Sir Henry de Bohun with a Horseman’s Axe

The finale weapon is the horseman’s axe. An all steel axe with a spike opposite the bit and a handle.

I think an all metal axe will send more shock and vibration down the haft into the hand of whomever is wielding it, but for a combat weapon, the added durability might make it worth it.

On the first day of the Battle of Bannockburn on 23rd of June 1314 Robert the Bruce killed English Knight Henry De Bohun with a blow to the head from his horseman’s axe.

Both smiths presented excellent axes. The narrow haft of the first smith seemed questionable. As always rounded handles are a bad idea.

The other axe is heavier but performs well and has a comfortable handle with an overall balanced feel. Light, strong and balanced are ideal. Strong and balanced are the next best thing.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Horseman’s Axe

Season 5, Episode 33: “Tournament Round 3”

The knightly poleaxe is the finale weapon. This is a pole type weapon featuring a spear, hammer and an axe head.

I don’t like the look of the langets that are squared off and go so far down the handle but that is pure aesthetic preference on my part.

I liked the version that was revealed when Wil Willis tells them what they’ll be making. I wasn’t a huge fan of either interpretation by either of the smiths.

 I don’t like burned handles and it seems like there was extra ornamentation of both. I do admire the first smiths commitment to using traditional methods. He did end up having to weld the spike/spear back onto his poleaxe however.

 I’d be interested in seeing a knightly poleaxe with a head forged out of a single piece of steel.

 Axes in the episode: finale weapon Knightly Poleaxe

Season 5, Episode 38: “The Bardiche”

Two Historical Bardiche Axes

This is a brutal looking pole type axe. The axes have a huge 19-22″ blade.

The axes have several interesting design points including, a perforated bit to lighten the axe and that the beard of the axe is affixed to the haft of the weapon.

One smith had a more rough and ready approach with what looks like a more authentic way of attaching the blade to the handle. However, the blade and the eye of the axe are two separate pieces that are bolted/mig welded together rather than being forged out of a single piece of steel. This Bardiche was very heavy.

The other took more time to drill the holes in a design, with multiple hole sizes, polish the blade and do some fit and finish work. It has a more mechanical, industrial looking way of connecting the haft. I must say I like the unibody design better from a structural perspective as well as the aesthetic. Doug Marcaida seemed to really like the regular handle swells up and down the axe. Perhaps a battle axe is wielded differently (Doug keeps his hands fixed), but I would want to be able to slide my hand down the haft as I swing.

When Ben Abbot tests it for strength he does use the hand slide technique and he does complain about the swells. So I agree with Ben. The handle is also burned, which does look interesting but I dislike it.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Bardiche

Season 5, Episode 39: “The Pipe Tomahawks”

This is one of my favorite Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes. The finale weapon of this episode is a pair of Pipe Tomahawks. This episode inspired me to go watch “The Last of Mohicans.”

Not only do they forge throwing axes, but they forge tomahawk axes that can be used to smoke.

They do smoke test them before the more conventional weapon testing begins.

Both axes exemplify craftsmanship. I really like the pair made from farrier’s rasps. It’s fun to see David Baker throw the ‘hawks–does he ever miss?

Axes in the episode: finale weapon pair of Pipe Tomahawks

Season 6, Episode 22: “The Lochaber Axe” 

Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes include “The Lochaber Axe”–an iconic Scottish pole axe with a hook. The haft is six feet long. It has a simple, utilitarian look and I like the example Lochaber Axe in the show.

The example also looked to consistent of four different metal pieces plus the pole. I would like to see if it would be possible to do more of it as one piece. Generally, I believe the fewer pieces the stronger a weapon will be.

Like how the Lochaber also has a spear tip at the toe or end of the axe so it can actually be used for thrusting in addition to slashes and chops.

One of the smith’s axe looked like it had 4-5 or more separate shims which seems janky. A friction fit might have been a better choice. However, the axe did not suffer any failure in the testing.

I like the octagonal handle the other smith put on his Lochaber. Seems like it would index well while still allow the axe to be wielded two handled and allow the top hand to slide down the haft. The fitment also seemed to be solid and shim free.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Lochaber Axe

Season 6, Episode 28: “Blackbeard’s Cutlass”

Axes in Forged in Fire are rarely seen in the first 2 rounds of competition. But in this episode axes are seen in the first round when the competitors are tasked with making Pirate’s boarding axes.

Maybe when you’re boarding a ship and going up against sailors wielding swords you need the lugs on the axe that go down to protect the haft. I realize the langets are authentic but they seem unnecessary weight on a property hung axe.

I like the look of the British Boarding axe better than the buccaneer version shown in forged in fire. The screenshot above is from the film Master and Commander, which look to be authentic recreations.

Historical examples of the British Boarding axe can be found at:

Axes in the episode: Pirate’s Boarding axe in rounds 1 and 2

Season 7, Episode 13: “Frankish Throwing Axes”

This is yet another one of the great Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes. The finale weapon is a pair of Frankish throwing axes. These axes have a long bit, an s-curved top and handles that curve away from the poll.

One of the smiths made beautiful axe heads, the curve of the handles is also excellent from an aesthetic perspective. The hickory handles were charred which I don’t like but they still look excellent and the dark handles provide a stark contrast to the bright heads. The leather overstrike guard is a nice touch. The fully polished headed and the decorative grinds are also outstanding.

The other smith, while I appreciate he did not burn the handles, did not nail the aesthetics nor in my opinion the design. The width of the axe heads from the top to bottom seems too narrow. The edge seems angled too low relative to the handle as well. As Ben Abbot pointed out, the palmswell is not ideal for a throwing axe.

However, both axes performed well in all the tests.

As with other episodes like “The Pipe Tomahawks” and “Viking” the strength test is throwing the axes, which I enjoy. Although Ben is my favorite judge, I do think David Baker throws a better axe!

This was a great episode because the weapons of both smiths performed well and it came down to some of the finer details and design considerations.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Frankish Throwing Axes

Season 7, Episode 22: “Zulu War Axe”

Read more about this Zulu War Axe episode.

Axes in the episode: finale weapon Zulu War Axe 

Are there more Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes?

Lots of respect to all of these bladesmiths who can turn out a finished weapon in a matter of hours, or in the case of the more complex and larger finale weapons, less than a week.

I enjoy seeing axes on the show and there have been over a bakers dozen over the past seven seasons (with the potential for more as season seven is still underway). Also check out my complete guide to Forged in Fire Episodes with Axes.

Did I miss any Forged in Fire episodes with axes? Let me know in the comments below.