Painting of Rogers' Rangers
Painting of Rogers’ Rangers, “To Range the Woods”, New York,1760 by Army Artist Team XXII. A hatchet or tomahawk was part of the required equipment of Rogers’ Rangers. Credit: US Army Center of Military History.

Axes have served as a tool and weapon throughout history, from the dawn of tool-making through today. The hand axe or tomahawk is a diverse instrument with multiple applications from general utility to tactical. It’s a true multi-mission tool that has seen a renewed popularity. The Tomahawk has served as an effective field tool and weapon for more than 300 years.

Tomahawk is a derivation of the Native American Powhatan (West Virginia Algonquin) word “tamahaac.” The earliest English reference to the word comes from the early 17th century English explorer John Smith, founder of Jamestown, who indicated that it could mean axe or “war club.” Over time, the term came to denote metal trade axes rather than other forms. The metal trade tomahawk heads were originally based on a Royal Navy boarding axe.

CRKT Jenny Wren Compact Tomahawk

The Jenny Wren Compact is a new ultra-light spike tomahawk from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT®). Designed by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical, it gets its name from the scores of Carolina wrens, a small bird with an upright tail that’s colloquially known as a jenny wren, that may be spotted around the RMJ Tactical shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ryan Johnson has been designing and making custom tactical tomahawks since 2001. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga, he holds two degrees in Mechanical Engineering and has been a bladesmith since the age of 12. By applying 21st century engineering and metallurgy to centuries-old tool and weapon concepts, he redefined the role of tomahawks in both military and law enforcement applications. RMJ Tactical tomahawks are regarded as some of the finest ever made.

The CRKT Jenny Wren Compact was developed to meet the requirements of a fixed blade knife in weight while retaining advantages of a tomahawk. It’s based on the RMJ Tactical Mini Jenny Spike Tomahawk, which was the smallest tomahawk in the RMJ Tactical lineup. No tool is any good if you don’t have it with you when you need it. Size and weight do matter.

The 10.063-inch (255.6 mm) tall Jenny Wren Compact is a very versatile outdoor tool that does a good job for bushcrafting and is also suitable for close quarters combat and light breaching applications. Weighing in at just 1.125 pounds (510 g), it’s a lightweight and compact field tool that’s easily carried. It has a wicked and psychologically intimidating profile that makes a viable and brutally effective weapon in situations when carrying a firearm for personal defense is not an option.

CRKT Jenny Wren Compact Tomahawk Head
Jenny Wren Compact has multiple-edged head for extreme cutting utility

The head on the Jenny Wren Compact features multiple sharp edges. The primary cutting head, the top line of the head, the bottom of the beard and the spike are all sharpened for maximum utility. The top of the blade features a slight curvature that assists in prying by acting as a rocker for leverage.

All of the edges can be used for cutting, scraping, fire starting and other tasks requiring a sharp edge. The sample Jenny Wren Compact that I received for evaluation came quite sharp out of the box. It can be used for practically anything that a compact edged tool may be used for. It might not be the best tool for a particular job, but it will work if need be.

The bearded blade of the Jenny Wren Compact maximizes the cutting edge while keeping the overall weight down. It also facilitates more precise control of the blade when needed by allowing the haft/handle be gripped behind the head. You can choke up on the head and use it as a knife. Jimping on the spine of the Jenny Wren Compact adds to the control ability of the blade for fine or detailed work.

In a bearded axe, or Skeggöx (from Old Norse Skegg, beard, + öx, axe), the cutting edge extends below the width of the butt. Used as both a tool and a weapon, bearded axes date back to at least the sixth century. They’re most commonly associated with Viking-age Scandinavia.

The main edge on the Jenny Wren Compact measures 2.585 inches (65.66mm). The head, from the forward edge to the end of the spike, is 5.75 inches (146.05 mm). The spike is 1.75 inches (44.45 mm) long. Blade thickness is 0.246-inch (6.25 mm).

The spike is designed to be long enough to penetrate a variety of objects for breaching, such as car locks, doors, windows and can be used to defeat padlock hasps or punching holes in tires, to name a few examples. It’s capable of penetrating a Kevlar® helmet. Outdoor applications of the spike  include digging, and dragging logs.

CRKT Jenny Wren Compact Tomahawk Handle
Jenny Wren Compact features full tang construction for strength and tough glass reinforced nylon handle scales.

The Jenny Wren Compact features full tang construction for maximum strength. It ensures that there will never be a head-handle separation.

Hot forged SK-5 carbon steel (57-58 HRC) is used in its construction. SK-5 carbon steel is a Japanese that’s similar to American 1080 carbon steel. It’s a good, tough steel. It has good edge holding ability and is easily sharpened in the field. It’s an ideal steel for axes. The Jenny Wren Compact has a matte-black powder-coat finish for resistance to rust and corrosion.

The handle scales on the Jenny Wren Compact are made of tough, olive drab glass reinforced nylon. They’re permanently mounted with metal grommets for durability. The grommets also serve as lanyard holes. The scales feature aggressive molded texturing that, along with jimping on the tang in all the right places and the flared butt of the handle, provide a very secure grip, even with wet or bloody hands..

The Jenny Wren Compact is comfortable in the hand, well-balanced and fast handling.

CRKT Jenny Wren Compact Tomahawk Sheath
Jenny Wren Compact comes with MOLLE/PALS compatible  glass reinforced nylon sheath with buckle strap.

The Jenny Wren Compact comes with a black precision-fit molded bottom-eject friction-fit sheath made of glass reinforced nylon. The sheath is belt and MOLLE / PALS compatible and features a ballistic nylon strap / belt loop with side-release buckle for gear compatibility. The tomahawk snaps securely into the sheath and is rattle free. The buckle strap provides additional securely. It’s an excellent, well designed sheath.

Final Thoughts

The Jenny Wren Compact is an excellent personal-size multi-purpose light-duty forcible entry/exit and rescue tool, as well as a great all-around survival tool. It’s just the ticket for inclusion in an active-shooter response kit, bug-out bag, or just to keep at hand for emergencies. It’s also great for backpackers, where weight is always a consideration.

Although its ultra-compact size and light weight make it easily carried and fast in the hand, you do sacrifice on chopping and leverage capability compared to a larger and heavier tomahawk / axe. It’s simple physics. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s a trade off. That being said, the Jenny Wren Compact is surprisingly capable for its size due to its excellent design and construction.

The workmanship on the sample provided to me was excellent and exhibited a great attention to detail.

The CRKT Jenny Wren Compact has a MSRP of $135.00. It’s made in Taiwan and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. It’s definitely one bad axe (with “bad” meaning awesome).


Manufacturer: Columbia River Knife and Tool
Model: Jenny Wren Compact
Designer: Ryan Johnson
Style: Spike Tomahawk w/Sheath
Overall Head Length: 5.75 inches (146.05 mm).
Overall Height: 10.063″ (255.6 mm)
Forward Cutting Edge Length: 2.585″ (65.66 mm)
Blade Material: SK-5 Carbon Steel (57-58 HRC)
Blade Thickness: 0.246″ (6.25 mm)
Blade Finish: Black Powder Coat
Handle Material: Olive Drab Glass Reinforced Nylon
Weight: 1.125 lb. (510 g)
Sheath Material: Black Glass Reinforced Nylon
Sheath Weight: 3.5 oz (99.22 g)
MOLLE Compatible: Yes
Lanyard Hole: Yes
Use: Tactical, Rescue, Outdoor
Origin: Made in Taiwan
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Suggested Retail: $135.00

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


By Eugene Nielsen

Eugene Nielsen provides intelligence and security consulting services. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California. His byline has appeared in numerous national and international journals and magazines.

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