"Chainswords and axes! Rend them limb from limb!"
- — Mithros, Bloodslayer Lord
A chainaxe is a brutal hand-to-hand chain weapon crafted in the form of a great one or two-handed axe which incorporates a powered chainsaw edge. The biting action of the whirling row of monomolecular teeth means these weapons can hack through both flesh and armour with ease.
"You fool! Do you truly believe that crude axe can best the finest weapons of the Hollows?"
- — Blade-Master Sanatha, moments before his decapitation
During the time of the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium, the chainaxe was a standard close combat weapon used by the Legion Assault Squads of the Legiones Astartes, finding special favour amongst the Legionaries of the World Eaters Legion. The XIIth Legion's preference for close quarters fighting and dealing death face-to-face was demonstrated by the preponderance of close combat weaponry habitually carried by its rank and file.
The dedicated assault units of the Legion added to their profusion of bloody killing tools a weapon that dated back to the techno-barbarian tribes of Terra, the broad-bladed chainaxe. With the rediscovery of the Primarch Angron as the XIIth Legion's rightful master, the World Eaters' predilections for hand-to-hand bloodletting reached even greater heights than before, and the chainaxe was further refined under Angron's direction.
Such was the reputation it gained, particularly given its effectiveness against brutish xenos such as the Orks, that its use spread to several of the other Astartes Legions. In truth, this inelegant weapon could be seen as an abstract symbol of the World Eaters themselves: brutal and savage, remorseless and unsubtle, a tool with but one purpose -- to kill.
After the Traitor Legions fell to the corruption of Chaos during the Horus Heresy, the chainaxe became synonymous as the preferred weapon of the Khornate Berserkers who began to rise in every Legion, as the axe was the sacred weapon of Khorne himself. Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, and it often flows easiest when his followers make use of the endless multitude of melee weapons found throughout the galaxy.
After the Heresy, the chainaxe found less use amongst the Loyalist Space Marine Chapters, perhaps because of its increasing association as a weapon preferred by devotees of the Blood God. However, the Astartes of some assault-oriented Loyalist Chapters like the Flesh Tearers have still been known to make use of the chainaxe on occasion.
Notable Chainaxe Patterns
- Castir Pattern Chain Greataxe - Huge in size and weight, only unnaturally strong or fanatical heretics commonly brandish this weapon. Most feature a double-sided chassis housing two independently mounted chain assemblies, designed to be swung in wide swathes. Such is the power of this fearsome weapon that little can stand against it, and enemies fall apart like kindling when struck.
- Charatran Pattern chainaxe - An ancient pattern of chainaxe utilised by the Legiones Astartes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, many of the Iron Hands Legion Terminator Squads utilised this pattern for close assault and "Zone Mortalis" engagements.
- Deimos Pattern Mark II Legion Chainaxe - The most common variant of the chainaxe utilised by the worshippers of Khorne is the ancient Deimos Pattern Mark II Legion chainaxe, a much more powerful pattern of chainaxe originally forged for the Assault Squads of the Space Marine Legions. The weapon draws upon the additional mechanical support provided by an Astartes' power armour to drive the chainaxe's bulk at greater speeds.
- Khornate Chainaxe - A Khornate chainaxe is a pattern of chainaxe that has been ritually dedicated to the Blood God, and is larger, heavier and more potent than its standard counterpart. It can cut through even the most heavy of armour plating with ease, and is a particularly favorite weapon of Khornate Berserkers.
- “Puritan's Wrath” Chainaxe - Made only from the finest materials the Calixis Sector has to offer, the broad-headed chainaxe commonly known as the Puritan's Wrath is a true sight to behold on the battlefield. Carried into the thickest of fighting by those militant priests of the Adeptus Ministorum, the Puritan's Wrath proudly displays the symbol of the Ecclesiarchy across its broad face whilst streams of purity seals and devotional litanies stream down its surface and around its long handle. The Puritan's Wraith may look like an ordinary chainaxe, but many tales tell of the blade's uncanny ability to fell Heretics in a single blow, and of its supernatural ability to destroy the most blasphemous of creatures: the Daemons of Chaos.
- Reaver Pattern Chainaxe - An ancient pattern chainaxe known to be utilised by the brutal World Eaters Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Gorechild - Gorechild is a massive chainaxe that was once wielded with its twin Gorefather by Angron, the primarch of the World Eaters Legion during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Its chainblade teeth come from the jaws of the Mica-dragons of the Death World Luther McIntyre IX, its haft was forged from adamantium and its head is a full three spans across. Originally dual-wielded in combat by Angron with its twin Gorefather, it is now used as only a single weapon by Khârn the Betrayer, the Champion of Khorne amongst the World Eaters.
- Gorefather - Gorefather is the massive chainaxe that was the twin of Gorechild and was dual-wielded by Angron during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. Almost nothing is known about this weapon, including whether it was an identical copy of Gorechild or whether it differed in its manufacture. Its current whereabouts are also unknown.
- Brazentooth - Brazentooth was the massive two-handed chainaxe that the Primarch Angron used before taking up Gorefather and Gorechild. Brazentooth was so large only a primarch could wield it with any result. Brazentooth was later presented by Angron to Lorgar of the Word Bearers to cement the alliance between their two Legions at the time of the Horus Heresy. Brazentooth was apparently destroyed or lost in the vacuum of space after the destruction of the Word Bearers' warship the Furious Abyss in the early days of the Heresy.
- Reaper - This enormous, two-handed chainaxe is traditionally carried by the company master of the Carcharodons' 3rd Company. Previously wielded by the slain Company Master Akia, it is now wielded by Akia's successor, Bail Sharr. This weapon was bloodied in countless engagements and was first used by Captain Sharr during the Red Tithe of Zartak, where he wielded it to great effect against the Night Lords of the Chaos Lord Amon Cull.
Like Orks themselves, Ork melee weapons are large, extremely durable, and very dangerous. They can range from simple lengths of bare metal or sections of deck plating, to highly complex but highly unpredictable mechanisms that only an Ork would dare use. No matter their form, each can multiply an Ork's already high degree of lethality to even greater levels:
- Big Choppa - "Choppa" is the term applied to a multitude of basic Ork close-combat weapons. The mark of a real connoisseur of brutality even amongst Ork warriors, Big Choppas are enormous, crude chainaxes with jagged metal teeth. They are chosen more for sheer weight than subtlety. A Big Choppa is a two-handed close combat weapon, and when wielded in an overhead swing they will turn most opponents into ruined masses of bloody meat and broken bones should it connect. Big Choppas can also take the form of massive meat cleavers, oversized weighted pipes, or many other large kinds of crude but effective implements of death.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 162
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pg. 37
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 32
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 49
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 22, 48, 84
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 64
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 75
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 89
- Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema (RPG), pp. 102-103
- Gorkamorka: Da Roolz (2nd Edition), pg. 53
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem, pp. 115, 118
- Index Astartes I, "Blood Frenzy - The Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter," by Matthew Sprange and Gav Thorpe, pg. 49
- Index Astartes III, "Chosen of Khorne - The World Eaters Space Marine Legion," by Graham McNeill, pg. 37
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 116
- Only War: Shield of Humanity (RPG), pg. 128
- Rogue Trader: The Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pg. 69
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pg. 89
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 61, 75
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 203
- Battle for the Abyss (Novel) by Ben Counter, pg. 266
- Butcher's Nails (Audio Drama) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Weakness of Others (Novella) by Laurie Goulding
- Chosen of Khorne (Audio Drama) by Anthony Reynolds
- Carcharadons: Red Tithe (Novel) by Robbie MacNiven, Ch. 1