Battle Axe At first the ordinary hatchet or axe of civil life was used as a weapon, but special varieties were soon developed for fighting. War axes were of all sizes from light weapons, to heavy pole axes requiring the use of both arms. The Indian axes are generally lighter than the European and often have the handle made of a flat plate of steel with pieces of wood riveted to each side. Occasionally they have a dagger concealed in the handle; and, sometimes, a sharp-edged hook projects from one side. Combinations of axes and pistols were fairly common in India; in these the barrel of the pistol is often the handle of the axe.