BattleTech: Mech Overview: Hatchetman

Howdy social generals, and welcome back to Mech Overview. This week we are taking a look at the iconic Steiner medium mech. No, not the Bushwhacker. No, not the Griffin either. Unfortunately also not the Uziel. I’d kill someone for an Uziel in plastic though. It’s Hatchetman time.

Hatchetman. Credit: Rockfish
Hatchetman. Credit: Rockfish

Depending on who you are, the Hatchetman is either one of the more famous 3025 medium mechs or one of the most infamous, with very little in between. In my opinion it looks rad as hell, and the hilarious mech sized axe that it carries is iconic for better or worse. As the main notable trait of this mech is that hatchet, with nearly every variant carrying one, I feel we should start with a brief discussion on how hatchets work in BattleTech.

Hatchets can only be used if you haven’t fired any weapons in the arm carrying them during a turn, and are, obviously, melee weapons. You need to be right up on someone to use them. In addition, they roll on the standard to-hit chart as if they were a gun, instead of on the punch table. You can choose to roll on the punch table for a higher chance to hit the head, but you take a significant to hit penalty and it is pretty hard to do in practice. The damage a hatchet inflicts is based on the weight of the mech carrying one, and therein lies the main problem with the Hatchetman: It only weighs 45 tons, so that axe only deals 9 points of damage. Most of the properly good melee mechs can hit for 20+ damage with their melee attacks, and most of the Hatchetman variants just have bad damage with the axe. They also tend to have guns in the same arm as the hatchet, which means you have to sacrifice DPS to get a swing in.

Melee mechs in general are pretty weak in BattleTech before advanced technology creeps in during the Civil War and Jihad. The lack of lightweight materials leads to them not having enough speed or armor, and TSM is more or less required for a good, functioning melee mech. They do exist, however, and I haven’t ever taken a truly comprehensive look at all the myriad Hatchetmans, so let’s see.

Brief word about plurals in BattleTech: As far as I am aware, the correct way to pluralize things is to add an -s to the name of the mech, even if it would be more intuitive not to. So they are not Riflemen, they are Riflemans, as they are a group of mechs with the proper name Rifleman, not a group of riflemen. The same goes for Hatchetmans, Axmans, ect ect. I hate this with all of my soul, but it does make sense if you think about it.


These mechs have all been reviewed based on a standard F through S scale, which you can find described on our landing page here (along with all of our other ‘mech reviews, the name of the box you can buy to get any of the mechs we have covered, and our general methodology).


We can see the issues with the Hatchetman bubbling up even from this very early stage. Coming in at 854 BV, the base model Hatchetman is a 45 ton medium mech that moves 4/6/4, which is painfully slow for its weight and focus as a melee mech. For weapons, we have the 9 damage hatchet that comes standard on most Hatchetmans, two medium lasers, one of which is time sharing an arm with the hatchet, and an AC/10 in one of the side torsos. There are three major problems with the 3F.

First, it has very slow speed for its role. 4/6/4 is just way too slow to get up close and personal to engage with its hatchet. None of the guns here are particularly long range either, so the Hatchetman can struggle to engage things at all. 4/6/4 is acceptable on a heavy or assault mech that is bristling with long-range guns, but on a 45 ton melee mech it is laughable.

Second, it has paper thin armor, with 14 points on the torsos and only 6 on the head, putting it in the exclusive shitclub of mechs that die to 10-point headshots. This is also unacceptably bad on a mech designed for point blank engagements, and it combos with the slow speed to make one of the most brittle mechs in the game. You can’t take a hit and you also can’t dodge a hit.

Third, it has two tons of AC/10 ammo in the center torso. This is extra fun when you consider how terrible your armor is. The Hatchetman 3F has a striking tendency to just die instantly the moment something with even the vaguest level of firepower aims at it, and unlike other poorly armored 45-tonners, it isn’t remotely fast enough to avoid incoming fire.

This all combines to make possibly one of the worst mechs in the game. The base model Hatchetman is fragile, short ranged, slow, and broadly pathetic. Considering you can get genuinely awesome light mechs for 850-odd BV, this is terrible beyond belief. Avoid the base model Hatchetman at all costs.

Rating: F; one of the worst mechs in the game, and genuine contender for inclusion in a BattleTech Blunderdome.


Advanced technology has arrived and it actually made the mech substantially worse. Yes, this is worse than an F. For 1012 BV, a higher price, you get a 4/6/4 45-tonner with a 9-point hatchet, a UAC/10, and a single ER medium laser. The two guns on this are linked to a targeting computer, which is potentially a nice upgrade. The problem is that to fit in the jaw-dropping firepower that you get from two mediocre but accurate guns, they fucked the entire mech up worse than I could imagine.

For the first sin, the engine has been replaced with an XL engine. This means that your slow, poorly-armored medium mech now dies from any one of three torsos being disabled, not just one!

For the second sin, the armor coverage has been reduced on the upper body! You have one less point of armor on each arm and two less on each side torso, which, remember, have XL engine crits in them now. You do get one more point of CT armor and two more points of head armor, but this is just, its so bad.

I cannot convey with words how terrible this is. For 150 more BV, you get substantially less durability in exchange for a mild increase in damage output. On one of the most fragile mechs in the game, which has a fucking axe on it that it is supposed to get point blank next to someone to chop at them. Yes sir, I want a machine that is fragile beyond imagination that encourages pilots to close to point blank range with their slow-ass max speed. I think that the designer who pushed this through procurement was actively treasonous. Hans the Defiance Industries Mech Engineer must have gotten bribed with a truckload of exotic chocolates and solid gold beer steins by someone, probably the Word of Blake, to pack as much expensive technology into as fragile a mech as possible so that in their inevitable star-cleansing Jihad they would have easy targets to blow up and salvage targeting computers off of. I refuse to believe that an honest person could have made this squalid abomination and thought, “Yes, this is an improvement”.

Fuck Hans, I bet he was a Katherine supporter too. I bet he plays Eldar.

Rating: F-; I find the chief engineer guilty of anti-Lyran behavior and sentence him to be shot.


The DD is so much better it isn’t funny. For 1112 BV, you get a 5/8/5 45-tonner with a reasonably thick armor load, which carries a RAC/2 and an ER medium laser. It still has a hatchet and a targeting computer, so it is nice and accurate. It still suffers from the sin of having an XL engine, but this fixes the majority of the issues with the 5D. You have a weapon capable of long-range fire, you have higher speed, you have more armor, and you have a reasonable price tag. This isn’t a tier-one mech by any means, but it is functional and fine for the price. I prefer something like a Legionnaire or Blitzkrieg in this sort of role, as they are faster, but the double D is perfectly fine and playable.

Rating: C-; sort of ok but overpriced honestly.


I have no idea how to feel about this mech. The 5DT is definitely less bad than the 3F and 5D, but we still have a wide range of issues. For primary weapons, we have a snub PPC with a capacitor, letting it hit for 15 damage every other turn. It also carries four ER medium lasers and four ER small lasers for some fucking reason. The mech still has a hatchet and targeting computer, and it adds TSM to the equation. This can boost the hatchet up to 18 damage, which is a respectable amount. The mech is 4/6/4 without TSM, then boosted to 5/8/4 with the TSM active. It also has pretty nice armor; better than normal for a Hatchetman.

This all sounds fine — but the mech costs 1788 BV, a pretty hefty price tag, and it is under-sinked. The mech can only sink 20 heat but will consistently be building a few more heat than that every turn unless it chooses to drop some of its firepower to stay at that golden heat value for TSM. The 5 Double Tornado also has no way to stay heat neutral at a run; it will always either build or lose 1 point of heat. This is really bad for a TSM mech, and means that it has to pick between moving full speed and maintaining that perfect heat value to use TSM. It gets pretty bad use out of TSM as a result.

I dislike this mech; it has good traits, but they are all combined in such a way to be really expensive and vaguely bad. It isn’t nearly as terrible as the first two, but it is still easily a D-tier mech. In conclusion, I think Hans survived his execution and has continued to sabotage Hatchetman production.

Rating: D-; expensive and suboptimal in every way.


For 1039 BV, we have a vaguely mediocre medium mech. We have reasonably thick armor, but are still 4/6/4 with an XL engine. The weapons here also aren’t great, carrying three medium pulse lasers, one of which is sharing an arm with the hatchet, and an LB-10X autocannon with only one ton of reloads, meaning it can’t make use of both cluster and solid shot. The killer, though, is that this mech only has 10 single heat sinks, so it overheats firing all three medium pulse lasers alone, and overheats quite a bit with a running alpha. So we have some very short-ranged backup weapons, slow speed, a melee weapon wasting tonnage without TSM to boost it, a pretty bad autocannon as the only gun with any range, and not enough heat capacity to actually fire effectively. Hans has infested every level of the factory building these damn things. This is a waste of medium pulse lasers, has the main advantage of an LBX nullified, and is way too short-ranged for how slow it is. This is still a bad mech, if slightly less bad than the first two we looked at.

Rating: F; pathetic.


For 1070 BV you get one of the dumbest mechs in the game (positive connotation). The 5K is canonically the result of the very Japanese Draconis Combine capturing a ton of Hatchetmans. Unfortunately, their samurai thought that axes were fake and for losers, so they refused to drive the thing because it would make them look like lame barbarians instead of cool space samurai. So the Draconis Combine military spent billions of dollars/yen/whatever they have in future space Japan, as well as nearly fifty years of research, to build a mech sized katana to replace the axe with. The fact that it took fifty fucking years to make a really big katana and put it in the hands of a dumb robot is hilarious to a degree that I have trouble putting into words. The fact that a mech-sized sword is a substantially worse weapon than the hatchet it was designed to replace is even funnier. Their soldiers were picky eaters and cost the government decades of wasted resources to make a shittier version of a weapon for them to use.

The mech itself is pretty bad. You get a 4/6/4 45-tonner with an XL engine, two medium pulse lasers, an MRM-30 without any guidance so it is +1 to hit, and an ER medium laser. One of the pulse lasers also shares an arm with the sword, which only does 6 damage instead of 9 in exchange for a -2 to hit instead of a -1 to hit. This is a bad trade. The MRM-30 is hilarious, but it needs to be on a faster mech and also to have Apollo FCS, and the weapons are overall crap. You do at least have a lot more armor than a 5D, but this is still terrible. Hans defected and started ruining an entire other nation’s procurement arm with his godawful fucking Hatchetman designs. I need to kitbash a model for one of these really badly; I’d gladly use the samurai shitbox at every possible chance. I have a Sword of Light army that is entirely made of vaguely terrible Kuritan mechs doing their best. I have a powerful urge to drop three Panthers and a Hatchetman 5K down as a shitbird lance so that I can appropriately honor the Dragon. The idea of a samurai in a terrible mech leading three other samurai in even worse mechs is the reason I play this game.

Rating: D-; honors the dragon but is really worse than the vast majority of other medium mechs.

Hansen’s Rough Riders Hatchetman. Credit: Jack Hunter


Looks like Hans was playing both sides during the Civil War, actually, not just sabotaging the Lyrans, but the Fedrats too. For 1611 BV. you get a 5/8/5 45-tonner with okay armor, a hatchet, ECM, a RAC/5, three ER medium lasers, and an XL engine. Like, this is fine, but as RAC/5 caddies go this is underwhelming. It has a lot of expensive backup guns and is just less good than something like the Legionnaire which is faster, just as well-armored, and entirely built around the RAC/5. It isn’t terrible by any means but it also isn’t great. Just feels like a waste of perfectly good weapons.

Rating: D; worse than a Legionnaire, which is made by the same nation. Even themed forces don’t have a reason to use this.


This is a slight variation on the 5S that fixes most of the issues. We go up to 1174 BV and swap the XL engine for a light engine, add double heat sinks, and double the ammo for the LBX. The only cost is that we trade medium pulse lasers for ER medium lasers, which is a fair trade and makes this a pretty solid medium mech actually. ER mediums have enough range to skirmish with and the LBX is always adequate. For the price you could do better, but you could also do a hell of a lot worse.

Rating: C; perfectly average and usable.


I really like this one. For 1274 BV, you have the same armor as the 5S with much better weapons. You still have the XL engine and 4/6/4 speed, but you still have three medium pulse lasers, the hatchet, and you upgrade to a significant amount of double heat sinks. The main good part is that you trade the LBX for a heavy PPC. This gives you a long range weapon that deals 15 damage, and that is awesome. This mech has a much clearer role than the others: It is decent up close and can threaten a mildly damaging axe hit, but the main purpose of this mech is to sit in your battle line and blast away with that heavy PPC, using the pulse and axe as a get off me tool when something gets within the minimum range of the PPC. This is actually really good; 1274 BV is a reasonable amount to pay for a single headchopper, you have jump jets to help you get into a good position, and you have decent short-range fallback guns. Solid, playable mech.

Rating: B; the best one so far.


The 7D is an odd duck. For 1296 BV, you get a 5/8/0 45-tonner with four ER medium lasers, a targeting computer, and the hatchet. 7D is exactly heat-neutral when firing all of those lasers, and it has some really interesting traits. For instance: it has an armored standard engine and an armored compact gyroscope, meaning you have to crit each engine slot or gyroscope slot two times before they are destroyed, which makes the 7D incredibly resistant to center torso crits. This is really nice and makes the mech frustrating as all hell to put down. Most of the time you will be forced to deal its entire CT health bar to kill it and it will not die early from any crits that you land. The damage output is kinda low for the price, but this is a pretty okay medium mech. Great durability, middling damage with a targeting computer, and okay speed.

Rating: C+


For 1243 BV, you get a 5/8/5 45-tonner with the hatchet, two ER medium lasers, and an MML-9. I love MMLs and this is a reasonable caddy for one, but it is a touch expensive. Nothing wrong with it, but there isn’t a lot to say about it either. You can load up with one ton of LRMs, one ton of SRMs, and one ton of inferno missiles though, which is really nice flexibility to have. Mech fine.

Rating: C


God, this is a weird one. For 1521 BV, you get a 5/8/5 45-tonner with good armor and some wild equipment. The right arm carries a medium X-pulse laser and six medium lasers, and the left arm carries the hatchet. This is a lot of gun, but it can actually more or less sink all the heat from them, only gaining heat from movement. The big bonus is that both arms are equipped with AES, which gives all the weapons in that arm a -1 to hit bonus. This is pretty good for the lasers and helps out with the axe, and at 5/8/5 it is fast enough that it can sometimes get close enough to use those short-range weapons. This is a mech very much specialized around point-blank ranged combat, and it is pretty damn good at it. It will have games where it absolutely rips and games where it gets shot before it can get close enough to do anything, but that is a perfectly acceptable trade off in my opinion.

I wish there were more mechs with AES and X-pulse. It’s a really good and cool combo.

Rating: C


The 8S is an updated 3F without the crippling issues. It costs 1479 BV and carries decent armor, moves 5/8/5, and has two Clan ER medium lasers, a Clan LB-10X with 2 tons of ammo, and an AES for the hatchet. This is pretty decent; it has okay mid-to-long range skirmishing power with the lasers and autocannon, and is just fine. Nothing exceptional, but a relatively cheap add-on to a Clan force.

Rating: C

Hatchetman. Credit: Jack Hunter

HCT-3F (Austin)

The first named character Hatchetman, this costs 971 BV and the only differences between it and the standard 3F are that the AC-10 is upgraded to an LB-10X prototype with two tons of ammo and all three medium lasers have been moved to the left arm to avoid interfering with the axe. This is a significant improvement on the 3F, but it is still a 3F, and is therefore incredibly, unreasonably bad.

Rating: F; still terrible even with the new gun. Needs armor or speed badly.

HCT-5S (Austin)

This is a 6S with all of the lasers in the left arm instead of spread across the mech. That is literally the only difference; they cost the same BV. In practice this means that you get to use the extra medium laser when you want to chop-chop with your axe, so this is one of the only true strictly-better mechs in all of BattleTech. It is quite a bit better with that small change.

Rating: C+; nice upgrade.


The Hatchetman certainly is one of the medium mechs of all time. It is nothing special; even the axe gimmick was stolen and done better by a number of other mechs. The Axman and Nightsky are considerably better mechs, with the Nightsky in particular having the same role and weight class while doing 10 damage with its axe and being better in literally every way that matters. Poor Hatchetman is a victim of being an iconic mech in early BattleTech. For a long time it was the only mech in the game with a hatchet, and it had a niche as a weirdly-punchy medium dorkus. Over time other melee mechs appeared and the game changed around it, and it wasn’t special anymore. Every variant was still tied to the hatchet as it slowly became a noose around the mech’s neck, sapping away tonnage and not really adding anything of value. It lost its identity and its role, but there are still a few usable and/or funny variants if, like me, you love the model and want to use it no matter how bad it is. I need to go model one with a katana and back banner now.

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