The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of an axe is a fallacy. Every woodsman should carry a hatchet and when purchasing one you need to be as selective.
When it comes to cleaving carcasses, splitting the pelvis a big game, splitting kindling, blazing thick bucked trees, making and pounding tent stakes and trapping stakes or just keeping a big fire going the knife never was made that will compare with a good hatchet.
Why Do You Need a Bushcraft Axe?
If you want to get into bushcrafting, camping or survival training, having the right equipment and tools will make you self-sufficient outdoors and make it a safer experience. Below are the basic skills you can master with a Bushcraft Axe:
There are a lot of different axe skills to master, such as:
- Felling Limbing
- Chopping wood
- Splitting wood
- Dressing game
- Cutting ice
What are the types of Bushcraft Axes?
Once you know what you want to do with the axe, you can choose the appropriate type.
1. General Duty Axes:
If you are a beginner, we would suggest you choose a “general duty” axe which has rounded bits thus making them suitable for a variety of activities. The company ‘Gransfors Bruk’ are known for their such axes.
2. Cutting Axes:
Such axes are characterized with thin but heavy heads which can bring maximum impact to a concentrated area.
3. Splitting Axes:
These have wide and heavy bits that can split wood apart well.
A subcategory of axes, they have short handles and light bits. They are unsuitable for heavy tasks and can require a lot of force for splitting and felling.
5 Best Bushcraft Axe in 2020 Reviews
#1 Husqvarna Wooden Carpenter’s Axe
The Husqvarna 19″ Wooden Carpenter’s Axe is a very popular and widely used axe, most of them good. This features a thin blade with a long and straight cutting edge.
This provides stability and control for wood carpentry. All Husqvarna axes are made in Sweden and have made a name as a reputable hatchet maker.
This 19-inch carpenter’s axe is of top-notch quality. Its handle grain feels smooth with an orientation that’s perfect for giving the head maximum strength.
The handle is smooth as is aligned with the head for maximum strength. Weighing 1.87 lbs, the head is made using high carbon steel and is mounted on the handle without a gap.
If you have a good grip, you can use this one-handed but it also is used with both hands for a full swing. Since the handle is made of wood, it can shrink in warmth or humidity so it’s better to store it in a cool area of your home.
The connecting wedge is made of wood and steel making it solid. The axe comes with a leather sheath which will help maintain the head of the axe and prevent dents.
- Made in Sweden by Husqvarna- a renowned company.
- Premium materials and sturdy construction
- Good value for money.
- Great for carving, hewing, kindling and felling small trees or plants.
- Cannot be used for hammering as the axe’s head will not be able to handle it
#2 Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
For those who prefer a traditional, no-frills efficient axe for buchrafting needs, the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet will meet their needs spectacularly.
The Wildlife hatchet features a 13.5-inch handle made from hickory wood, 1-pound head, and a 3-inch long blade. The blade is thin and sharp making it great for kindling, wood chopping, and processing.
Being lightweight, it can be easily carried in your backpack or hung on your belt. Given the high-quality materials used and the 20-year old warranty, we can be confident about the longevity of the hatchet.
American Hickory has been used on its handle with one direction for the grain. It is further coated with linseed oil and beeswax which make for a solid grip on the handle.
This axe is completely handmade and this result is some flaws as reported by some customers
- High-quality axe with proven longevity.
- Versatility in usage and can work as a knife, hammer, felling or finishing axe and more.
- a bit pricey
# 3 Hults Bruk Kisa
Hults Bruk has been making axes since the 17th century and enjoys a reputation of being extraordinary axe makers. The Kisa features a traditional Huls Brook design with the rounded face, abruptly finished grind to the blade and ears to the head.
Built in Sweden, the head of the axe is handcrafted and struck multiple times in the making process to create a durable axe. These axes use the pull and loop blade guards which are widely liked by the Bushcraft community. The blade comes with a mirror edge and is about 6 and ½ inches wide.
The head weighs 2 pounds which is a heavy but good weight for a 26-inch long axe. The handle is made of solid hardwood and has a great grain orientation.
It is finished with linseed oil that adds a sheen to the wood and increases durability and grip. Many companies today go for sapwood but we have a slight preference for hardwood. The head is mirror polished and is similar to the Gransfors Bruks Forest Axe.
The bit is thin at the edge to provide good penetration in wood and has a good width so that splitting logs isn’t a problem. The end of the handle has a hole which allows you to attach a rope through it. You can loop it around your hand for extra grip.
The axe has a narrow width at the end of the handle and this ‘palm swell’ is not as shapely as we would have hoped. Overall, the Hults Bruk Kisa is a wonderful all-purpose axe as its length and weight can handle must jobs easily such as splitting logs, climbing a tree, bucking and more.
It comes with a bite right out of the box and remains that way for some time. As it is made in Sweden, we can expect good-quality and durability from it.
It is heavy though and you wouldn’t want to lug it around for a long trip. Its head alone weighs 1.75 lbs with a 26-inch handle that’s treated with linseed oil.
- Made of quality Swedish steel and a handle that’s from American hickory.
- Comes with at a reasonable price.
- Designed for several different applications.
- The handle’s length is appropriate for a hard outdoor job.
- It’s durable for serious cutting tasks.
- Aesthetically old looking.
#4 Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet [31-002070]
The blade is made of 3Cr13MoV forged steel, a kind of stainless steel and is 5 inches long. The steel portion is covered with the dark grey PVD coating that adds to the durability and reduces the chances of surface scratches. The hatchet is 9.4 inches in length and weighs 20.8oz.
The blade has been tested for chopping branches and trees, skinning bark, and usual bushcraft tasks which it performs reasonably well. This is a full-tang hatchet which means that there are no welds or joints as the blade, head, and handle are in one piece.
The hatchet comes in a rigid but light nylon sheath. There are many small loops on its back to provide carry options. This hatchet serves the purpose well as it is multi-functional, lightweight and can perform many small campsite tasks.
The 9.5-inch shaft length hatched comes razor sharp right out of the box and we’ve found it easy to wield The best feature of this hatchet is its rubber articulated handle with finger notches rising up to the head of the axe which greatly reduces the chances of losing control of the axe and injuring fingers. The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is just small enough to also function as a knife and its finger cutouts can help you choke up the axe.
- Portable and lightweight.
- Full-tang one-piece design.
- Less striking power than bigger axes.
#5 Estwing Sportsman’s Ax
This Estwing hatchets are a true classic, having been in circulation since the 1920s with only minor adjustments and can last for a long time with proper care. It is not a particularly large axe with a handle of length 12-inches and the blade another two-inches.
This size makes it almost a hatchet axe that makes it useful for many scenarios. The handle is made out of stacked leather which is really comfortable and gives a nice grip. The stacked leather refers to rings to cut leather down the handle and is coated with laminate.
The axe comes with a carved leather sheath which is sturdy but the only gripe some reviewers have is that it is made in Taiwan while the axe is made in the USA. The cutting edge is around 3 ½ inches and is pretty sharp right out of the box.
The edge is thin and sharp which makes it ideal for splitting wood. The blade is made of forged steel and has been forged from one-piece of steel.
Customers have used this axe for basic camping activities, outdoor work, and home improvement projects. Because of its low price point, this axe is great for someone on a budget, or as a first-hatchet for an aspiring bushcrafter.
All in all, this axe is balanced and well-made that will cover your basics and a little more just short of processing very thick wood. If you need a multi-purpose tool that can work with light wood and perform nimble tasks, this axe merits a place in your top picks.
- Made in the USA.
- One-piece construction.
- Great value for money.
- Limited shock absorbency.
How Should You Decide Which Bushcraft Axe Is Right For You?
If you’ve made it this far, the natural next question is how do you know which Bushcraft Axe is right for you? Here are some typical factors to consider before buying a bushcraft axe:
The size of the axe is important first to determine if it is portable secondly to be sure it meets your cutting or chopping needs.
Lighter models with a short length can help a bushcrafter perform basic campsite tasks that require dexterity. Being lightweight, these kinds for axes will not tire your arms out while allowing speed.
Heavier and larger models will make hard tasks like chopping wood or splitting logs easier, not allowing the bushcrafter to exert a lot. These axes are not portable and can’t be hung on your tool belt but.
Long handles are great for when you want to heavy-duty bushcrafting work like clearing out trees from your encampment.
For lighter work like carving or cleaning our bushes, a long handle will only be a hindrance and probably not give you precise results.
Also if you carry your axe in your backpack or your belt, handles with 13 inches and lesser would be preferable. For a traditional, hardcore axe, we would suggest picking up something from to 15- 20-inch handle.
Type of Wood:
If you plan on using the axe for tasks that require some force like chopping wood, you would require hardwood- which is found in American forests. The most popular axes are made in Sweden where ironically the wood used is softer.
I genuinely hope this guide helped you choose the right bushcraft Axe/Hatchet that is both effective and affordable, if you are looking for the best bushcraft knives check out this guide.
Choosing an axe for your survival skills can be really complicated and tedious that is why I took the time to research and write this comprehensive guide to help you through the process of bushcrafting, if you have any questions feel free to contact me.