Ice pick

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A standard ice pick

An ice pick is a tool used to break up, pick at, or chip at ice. In shape it resembles a scratch awl for wood. Before modern refrigerators, ice picks were a ubiquitous household tool used for separating and shaping the blocks of ice used in iceboxes. Their role as a household item sharply declined during the late 1920s and early 1930s.[1]

Use as weapon[edit]

Because of its availability and ability to puncture the skin easily, the ice pick has sometimes been used as a weapon. Most notoriously, New York's organized crime groups known as Murder Incorporated made extensive use of the ice pick as a weapon during the 1930s and 1940s.[2][3] The most feared hitman of his day, Abe Reles, used the ice pick as his weapon of choice, usually stabbing his victims in the ear.[4][5]

According to New York City police, ice picks are still used today as street weapons.[1]

Leon Trotsky is sometimes incorrectly said to have been killed with an ice pick. He was actually killed with an ice axe, a mountaineering tool.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b Ruderman, Wendy (31 August 2012). "Ice Picks Are Still Used as Weapons". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  2. ^ Elmaleh, Edmund (2009). The Canary Sang But Couldn't Fly: The Fatal Fall of Abe Reles, the Mobster Who Shattered Murder, Inc.'s Code of Silence. New York, London: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 9781402761133.
  3. ^ Hanna, David (1974). Icepicks & Coffins: The Killers of Murder, Inc. Leisure Books.
  4. ^ Green, David B. (12 November 2014). "This Day in Jewish History / Repentant Killer Canary Dies From Hotel Window Fall". Haaretz. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  5. ^ Krajicek, David J. (25 March 2008). "Justice Story: Canary who could not fly". New York Daily News. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  6. ^ Borger, Julian; Tuckman, Jo (13 September 2017). "Bloodstained ice axe used to kill Trotsky emerges after decades in the shadows". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 30 November 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  7. ^ Lanchin, Mike (28 August 2012). "The ice pick assassination". BBC News. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.

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