The axe is unique in that no other battleaxe resembles its design and shape. It is composed of a long wooden handle and a single-edged, heavy iron blade. It is also noticeably longer than most battleaxes; in fact, it is the longest weapon in the game, from top to bottom.
Ahtar is one of the two characters who carry this weapon, the other being the Imperial Headsman in Helgen during "Unbound." Ahtar can either be found roaming the streets of Solitude, in the Castle Dour Dungeon or in Jala's House.
It can be obtained in a number of ways:
- Gain Ahtar as a follower and simply take the axe from his inventory. To recruit him as a follower, either complete a bandit execution quest for him, or drop a piece of clothing/armor and let him keep it.
- Pickpocket the axe from Ahtar, regardless of whether he is a follower or not. This cannot be done without the Misdirection perk from the Pickpocket tree unless he is pickpocketed while sleeping.
- Kill Ahtar and loot the axe from his corpse. If the Dragonborn sided with the Stormcloaks during the Skyrim Civil War questline, he may or may not show up during the quest "Battle for Solitude," during which he can be killed without receiving a bounty in Haafingar.
- Attack Ahtar, and use the Disarm shout to make the weapon fall out of his hands. Pickup the axe and place it in any nearby container. Sheath any weapons currently drawn, surrender to the guards and pay the bounty. Retrieve the axe once released. To remove the stolen tag, either sell the Headsman's Axe to a fence and buy it back, or place it in a container and have a follower collect it.
- If Ahtar is killed when Solitude is first entered during Roggvir's execution, he will not have the Headsman's Axe. The fix for this is to wait until Ahtar brings out the axe, then kill him and he will have the axe.
- The same type of axe is used in the Dragonborn's failed execution; however, it cannot be retrieved from Helgen.
- In the base game, prior to downloading any official patches, the Headsman's Axe, despite being a two-handed weapon, was classified as a one-handed weapon and benefited from the one-handed skill, related perks, and any enchantments, a trait it shared with the Ebony Blade.
- The Headsman's Axe is the longest weapon in Skyrim, from blade tip to base. This makes it especially useful for hitting powerful enemies while keeping them at a distance, but also poses a risk for any innocents or Followers in the Dragonborn's vicinity.
- The Headman's Axe design may be taken from the 16th and 17th centuries Eastern Europe weapon called "Bardiche."
- Dialogue with Melaran suggests that the axe is actually the kinder option for Solitude prisoners to die from, given Sybille Stentor's "curious" condition.