A hatchet or axe is a must-have for all serious bushcrafters.
It’s capable of doing lots of things, especially the jobs that bushcraft knives can’t handle.
Bushcraft axes and hatchets are used for various tasks like chopping wood, felling trees, cutting notches to build structures, digging, butchering large game, and hammering posts and stakes among others. More on bushcraft axe skills here.
If you think a heavy-duty knife can do an axe or hatchet’s job, we suggest you think again. There’s no tool that’s designed more adequately for chopping wood than a hatchet or an axe. In a pinch, you’ll definitely be able to do a couple of axe-worthy jobs with a knife, but it certainly won’t be easy and that’s a guarantee.
As you can see, an axe or hatchet is definitely an important part of any bushcraft gear. However, there are lots of axes and hatches available for purchase online. That means choosing the right one will be confusing, most especially if you don’t know what to look for. Don’t worry as we’ve done all the hard work for you just like a quality axe would on your next camping trip!
- 1 Husqvarna Wooden Carpenter’s Axe
- 2 Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
- 3 Gransfors Bruks Hand Hatchet
- 4 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe
- 5 Hults Bruk Torneo Compact Felling Axe
- 6 Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
- 7 Which One is Best for You?
Below, you won’t just find a list of the best bushcraft axes and hatches, but you’ll also find tips on how to choose the best one depending on your specific needs and preferences.
Husqvarna Wooden Carpenter’s Axe
First up is the Husqvarna 19″ Wooden Carpenter’s Axe which features a thin blade to provide stability and control when used for cutting. Its cutting edge is straight and long. As its name suggests, it’s specifically made for wood carpentry.
Like all Husqvarna axes, this 19-inch carpenter’s axe is made by Hultafors. The company was acquired decades ago by a reputable Swedish axe and hatchet maker, Hults Bruk. This means this 19-incher is among the best forges in Sweden. That’s definitely something that you can notice from this product’s quality. Its handle grain feels smooth with an orientation that’s perfect for giving the head maximum strength.
If you look at the head’s alignment with the handle, you’ll notice that it’s dead on perfect. The head is well mounted without the tiniest gap. The head weighs 1.87 lbs and it’s built using high carbon axe steel. It’s attached to the handle using a wedge made of both wood and steel, giving both parts of the axe a solid connection. The edge, of course, comes sharpened but you can sharpen it even more. It only took us a maximum of 5 minutes to get the sharpness we were looking for.
What It’s Best For
You only need to use a single hand when you use the axe for limbing, carving, and making kindling. If you need extra power to hew lumber, you’ll be able to hold the handle comfortably using both of your hands.
Provided it’s well-maintained, this wooden carpenter’s axe will last a fairly long time. As the handle is made of wood, it can shrink so it’s best if you don’t store your new axe in a warm or humid area of your home.
As for the axe’s head, it can be covered using the leather sheath that’s included in the package. This will help maintain the head’s edge in good working condition. It’s also great at preventing dents or any other damages.
Even though it’s an incredible bushcraft axe, it comes with an affordable tag. If you’re on a budget but you want a premium axe, we suggest you consider this 19-inch Husqvarna Carpenters Axe.
Tip: Before you put in the cover, make sure any moisture or dirt is removed so you can extend the axe’s lifespan. You can also do a bit of greasing to ensure it doesn’t rust.
- Made by a reputable Swedish axe manufacturer
- Oozes of quality from its premium materials and tough construction
- If you have a good grip, you can use the axe single-handedly
- Offers good value for your money
- It’s a great addition to your bushcraft gear, but it shouldn’t be used as a hammer as it will break the axe’s head
- Designed with a long straight cutting edge and thin blade to allow for stability and control when cutting
- Best suited for carpentry and other wood work
- Recess in the head so that the hand gets as close as possible to the cutting edge for maximum control
- Includes a leather edge cover
- Head is attached to a hickory shaft using both a wooden and a Steel Wedge to secure fastening
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
If you want a hatchet that’s perfect for cutting and splitting but is also capable of turning into a tool that carries out two-handed axe chores, then one of your best options is the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. A double duty bushcraft tool that acts as a large hatchet and a small hatchet, this Gransfors Bruks axe does the job of two tools with elegance, skill, and finesse.
See how this axe performs when sized up to the wildlife hatchet.
Or, see how it performs vs the outdoor axe.
Read our full review of this axe here.
If you’re anything like us, then you always have a bug out kit on your mind. Having a chopping tool that’s dual-purpose and picks up where your bushcraft knife leaves off is certainly on top of any bug out list. Although it’s ideal to possess the perfect tools for specific jobs or tasks, the reality is you can only carry a limited load. You’d want one that maximizes utility and minimizes quantity, which this small forest axe excels at.
The product is made by one of the best axe makers in the world, Gransfors Bruks. It’s handmade by an experienced blacksmith. Unlike most hatchets and axes, it comes ready to perform its many tasks. It doesn’t require final sharpening as it’s already sharpened from the factory with the help of an expert who has an understanding of what end users want as a chopping tool.
As it’s a smaller axe, the product is in the perfect size for kids who are mature enough as well as women who want a tool that’s proportional to their size and swing radius.
This small forest axe is given a handle that’s gracefully and purposely curved. It’s also perfectly oriented with the wood’s grain. A lesser axe won’t care much about a wood grain’s orientation but not this one. This means you won’t be striking wood with a low-quality axe as that’s just asking for a terrible accident or catastrophic failure.
As for its price, it’s on the more expensive side but it’s actually on the lower price range when it comes to Gransfors Bruks axes. We can confidently say that the axe is worth your every penny as it’s packed with incredible features.
What It’s Best For
With its 2-lb head and 19-inch solid wood handle, you can swing the axe using both of your hands to split firewood, chop, or fell small trees. But, you’d also be able to carve softwoods, prep kindling regardless of the size, and shave wood using the same tool.
- Comes with handmade workmanship
- An incredible intermediate/medium weight axe that can be used by almost everyone
- Handy for rough carving and wood processing
- Has a fine-grained handle made of hickory
- Some people find the price off-putting
- Can be hard to avail as it’s almost always sold out
- Length with handle: 19 inch, Comes original Gransfors "Axe-book"
- Weight: 2 lbs
- Sheath in vegetable tanned leather
- Perfect for splitting small sticks or cutting limbwood
- The Small Forest Axe is excellent for felling trees and limbing
Gransfors Bruks Hand Hatchet
Another product of Gransfors Bruks, this hand hatchet is given the same attention to detail as all the other fine tools of the Swedish manufacturer. This little guy is like a mini version of the American Felling Axe. It comes with a hickory handle that feels smooth to the touch. It’s attached using a wedge made of wood instead of epoxy.
The package will arrive on your doorstep complete with a sheath that’s made of vegetable tanned leather which gives plenty of protection whenever the hatchet is not in use. The leather sheath covers the blade completely and snaps in place. It allows you to transport the tool securely in your bag without tearing its fabric. You can also run part of the leather sheath over a belt so it hangs on your waist comfortably.
Of course, there’s the head which is hand forged and given the initials of the skilled blacksmith who made it. The head has a traditional look which means it has a nice rustic appeal instead of being polished. With regards to its size, it’s light enough that you can carry it around with you but heavy enough that you can carry out its mechanical purpose.
What It’s Best For
At just over one pound, this hatchet’s head is light for serious jobs, but it’s heavy enough that it can handle almost all campsite tasks. We’ve used it in limbing fallen trees and making feather sticks as it’s nimble enough that it can get the work done right. You can also use it when chopping up a couple of branches that are up to four inches in diameter. Of course, you can use it to cut through larger branches but it’d take more work. Still, it’s the one hatchet that stands up to abuse and it easily works for any outdoor activity.
Because the axe was given an expert’s attention as well as a tough steelhead from Sweden, it guarantees quality and consistency all throughout the hatchet’s construction. If you simply need a quality hatchet for cutting firewood, shaping branches, or building shelter, then this one’s for you. Hack away with this hatchet’s sharp edge!
- It’s one of the rare hatchets that can be comfortably hung on belts
- Has a leather sheath to protect it from damage during transport and storage
- Hand-forged in Sweden using durable steel
- Includes a sheath made of vegetable tanned leather
- Can be used in felling small trees or massive branches, but may take lots of energy on your part
- The handle may be too short for some people
Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe
A product from a manufacturer that’s in the industry since 1844, the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe is handmade in Wuppertal, Germany. It’s constructed from high-grade carbon steel that has a C50 classification. As for its handle, it’s crafted in Switzerland using Grade A American hickory. If you think that the Swiss people are only great at managing money, think again as this pack axe’s handle has impressive workmanship.
The product’s total weight is just 2 lbs. In the package, you will find a premium leather sheath that’s vegetable-tanned to help protect the head’s sharpness. It is an incredible axe for cutting different wood types. It’s even from a brand that’s worth investing in.
Some might think that this axe is on the pricey side but its expert handcrafting and carbon steel construction both provide unparalleled quality. If you want another justification for this pack axe’s pricing, we can give you one! Its handle, when you look closely, comes with the right density for strength and durability. As it’s an American hickory wood, it boasts of a fine grain.
What impressed us the most with the axe is its head’s geometry. It has a narrow profile, which allows the axe to bite well. Its slightly concave cheeks also continue smoothly to the axe’s eye. Although it doesn’t come very sharp, a quick sharpening using any course stone or file will already provide you with the ideal sharpness.
Just like almost all Helko gear, the Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe’s head hasn’t been polished and ground. As for the handle, the grain is perfectly oriented. It’s comfortable for holding and it has been finished using boiled linseed oil.
What It’s Best For
This is truly among the best axes available today for chopping or splitting wood. You can have it delivered to your home within a few days and you already have a high-quality product that’s capable of delivering a flawless performance for years. Its price sits comfortably in the range that’s common for premium cutting tools. If you want an axe that does a great job at general purpose work like carving, cutting, and felling, then this is a good product to shortlist.
- One of the best-looking axes around
- Built using C50 carbon steel
- Comes with a solid wood handle
- Features a quality build
- Comes in just the right weight for woodland trips
- The package is unique as it also comes with a 1 oz. bottle of Axe-Guard protective oil
- The axe’s edge may need a bit of work to make it razor sharp but it’s quick and it will stay there for quite a long time
- Handmade in Wuppertal, Germany
- German C50 high grade carbon steel, 53-56 HRC
- Switzerland made handle, Grade A American hickory
- Includes vegetable tanned leather sheath
- Head Weight: 1.5 lb / Length: 19 in. / Total Weight: 2 lb
Hults Bruk Torneo Compact Felling Axe
An axe that’s made using premium quality Swedish steel, the Hults Bruk Torneo Compact Felling Axe has been struck multiple times in order to enhance its durability and hardness to the point that it can easily carry out any job including tree felling.
As it’s a large axe, larger than most of the products we’ve featured, it’s for serious outdoor jobs. Its head alone weighs 1.75 lbs with a 26-inch handle that’s treated with linseed oil.
Let’s focus on the handle for a second. When you take a close look at its grain orientation, you’ll notice that everything is perfectly aligned and it’s very tight. This is because it’s made of solid American hickory and crafted by only the best. As you may already know, it’s important for an axe’s handle to be strong as it will be subjected to hard swings.
The handle or haft is also curved, which feels great when you’re going for heavy felling and chopping. Although it’s a heavy axe in comparison to all other axes, it allows you to deliver more power. With this bushcraft gear, the farther you are from the axe’s point of impact, the stronger the blast or blow is. It’s definitely for some hard cutting and chopping.
What It’s Best For
If you are only doing light work, then you should leave this beast of an axe inside your home as you should pick a smaller hatchet. Just like most Hults Bruk tools, this compact felling axe isn’t the cheapest but it’s also not the most expensive. If you ask us if it’s worth your time and money, then we’d say definitely! It comes with a limited guarantee from the manufacturer, it has an oil-hardened axe head, and it’s perfect for cutting work and wood splitting. It even comes with a leather sheath for safe storage and transport!
As it’s a heavy piece, it’s not the best tool for waist-carrying. But, only a few can beat it for limbing and felling trees!
- Made of quality Swedish steel and a handle that’s from American hickory
- Comes with a reasonable price
- Designed for several different applications
- Boasts of an heirloom quality
- The handle is treated with linseed oil and has a tight grain
- The handle’s length is appropriate for hard outdoor jobs
- It’s durable for serious cutting tasks
- If aesthetics is a big deal to you, then it’s not a good option as it’s not the most beautiful felling axe.
- Overall Weight: 2.86 pounds
- Handle Length: 26 inches
- Head: Solid Swedish steel
- Handle: Solid American Hickory
Estwing Sportsman’s Axe
The last product on our list is the Estwing 14-inch Sportsman’s Axe. The manufacturer, Estwing, is popular for producing unique, durable axes and tools with the 14″ Camping Hatchet as one of the most loved and adored by users. It has garnered a long list of positive reviews from users who were all satisfied with its quality.
If you’re a tradesman or carpenter, then you’ve probably been looking forward to owning this Estwing axe. If you ask us which of the products from the list offers great value, it’s definitely this one as it’s the lowest in price but it works as good as high-end bushcraft axes and hatchets.
The Sportsman Axe of Estwing is popular for lots of reasons. Among them is its one-piece forged steel construction that allows you to eliminate the need for handle replacements under normal circumstances. It comes with a steel handle that’s wrapped using stacked leather, which gives you a comfortable yet strong grip of the axe.
Despite having an all-steel construction with a leather grip, it only weighs under a pound. Its narrow head comes with a cutting edge that measures 3.25 inches. It has made its way to our list despite its uniqueness because its sharpness holds surprisingly well. It requires minimal dressing. As for its cheeks, they’re quite thin. All in all, it’s a lightweight camp axe that’s incredibly comfortable to use and transport.
It’s also a great camping axe/hatchet as it comes with a leather sheath that has a belt slot. Even though it lacks a hickory handle, the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is one that we can really say is of great quality. It has an excellent cutting ability and it’s practically indestructible. We liked it a lot and we’re pretty sure you’ll love it, too.
What It’s Best For
The only thing we’ve seen to be off-putting with this axe is its steel handle. The shock from striking or wood splitting will be transferred into your hand, but we’ve found that it’s not excessive. It’s best if you only use it for a short period of time. If you need it to work for hours, then the issue can be easily fixed with the addition of a leather handle wrap. As for its strength, you won’t have any problem in that department with this axe as it’s strong enough even for serious cutting jobs.
- It’s a quality product made in the US
- Forged with an American steel haft and head
- Comes with a strong ballistic nylon sheath
- Has a stunning genuine leather grip
- The cutting-edge is sharpened by hand
- As it’s very strong, you need your eyes protected when you use it
- FORGED IN ONE PIECE - The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
- OUTDOOR VERSITILITY - Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood & kindling
- HEAVY DUTY SHEATH - Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge
- GENUINE LEATHER GRIP - Hand sanded and lacquered for a durable yet comfortable finish
- MADE IN THE USA - Our tools are proudly crafted in Rockford, IL using the finest American steel
Which One is Best for You?
When choosing the perfect axe or hatchet, there are lots of things that you need to take into consideration like the following:
If what you need is a small axe that can dangle from a belt or for camping purposes, it’s easy to determine the right tool as you simply need one that’s lightweight that you can carry anywhere. But, you may need something that’s bigger like a felling axe. If so, then you need to determine if you’re capable of handling a heavy tool that’s specifically designed for some serious work. Be honest when assessing your strength and body type.
Grab your axe by its head to see if the toe of the handle fits comfortably in your armpit. If it does, then you’ve got an axe of the right size which is safe for you to use.
The size of your chosen axe’s handle can make a difference to the power it generates. A longer handle provides more strength and power so it’s better for big tasks where precision is NOT essential. A smaller handle may have less power but it’s the one that will give you more control of the axe.
Each axe is made to perform a certain range of functions. If used within its range, an axe will work efficiently. It will also perform its tasks quickly without any unnecessary energy expenditure on your part; however, if it’s used outside of its ideal functions, you’d still be able to accomplish a task but the energy it requires from you will increase exponentially.
To give you an example, an axe that has a 20-inch handle and 1.5 lb head will work effectively at chopping down a tree with a diameter of 4 inches. If you try using the same axe to chop down a tree that’s 8 inches in diameter, you’ll see how the task quickly becomes a nightmare using the same bushcraft tool.
- Hatchet – A hatchet is a type of axe that’s used with one hand. It has a handle that’s 9 to 14 inches long and its head’s weight can be anywhere between 1 to 1.5 lbs. Although it’s small, it’s capable of performing a lot of tasks. It’s the best tool to use when you’re splitting small firewood or carving. It’s not, however, recommended to use for chopping down anything that has a diameter of over two inches. Of course, nobody will stop you use it to fell larger trees but remember that it will require lots of energy from you. A good choice in this category is the Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet and the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe Camping Hatchet.
- Small Axe – A small axe can be used with either one hand or both of your hands. It has a handle that’s 18 to 20 inches long and a head weight that’s anywhere between 1.5 to 2 lbs. This type is regarded by bushcrafters as the most versatile axe as it can be used for carving and also chopping and splitting. It’s a good bushcraft tool to use if you will be cutting trees with a diameter of 4 inches. It can also be pressed in bringing down large trees. Your good choices include the Husqvarna 576926501 19″ Wooden Carpenter’s Axe, the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe 19 Inch, 420, and the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe.
- Felling Axe – This one’s the axe that you can picture lumber jacks hang on their shoulders. It has a handle that’s 24 to 30 inches long and a head weight of 2 to 4 lbs. It’s designed to bring down massive trees. Your best choice for this type of axe is the Hults Bruk Torneo Compact Felling Axe.
If you will be camping or trekking, you’re most likely in need of a good bushcraft tool for skinning critters and chopping firewood. For these tasks, you only need a pocket-sized axe or a hatchet. It’s portable and lightweight. Keep in mind that hatchets are better for fishing expeditions and survival purposes as they are stronger and they have more resistance while still retaining a weight that’s easy to carry around.
A felling axe is great for longer outdoor trips in the wilderness as you’ll be cutting down trees or logs and gather firewood for an entire winter. To ensure that your axe doesn’t fail you, you need to choose an item that’s of premium quality so it doesn’t damage or break too easily.
The profile of your axe’s head is the deciding factor on whether your axe is good at splitting or cutting.
For cutting wood, a thinner profile is best as its power will go through the point of contact or where the edge of the axe meets the wood. Because the edge is thin, all the force is directed into it.
As for a splitting axe, it has a much wider profile or a wedge shape as it allows the wood to quickly split into two pieces. A splitting axe forces a log or wood into two different directions.
Tip: If you’re cutting, go across the grain. For splitting, it’s best if you go through the wood’s grain to make the process easier. You’ll also be more productive and have a better split quality.
When it comes to an axe’s handle, you only have two options: wood and metal.
Here’s everything you need to know about both of them:
- Wood – A wooden handle is simple yet effective. It’s a great shock absorber and it can easily be replaced when the need arises. It also gives the axe a traditional look, which lots of people like. You will be able to check a wooden handle’s quality with the wood’s grain. It should be running vertically down a handle’s length. Also, it’s crucial for a handle to be made of solid wood. Most products we featured above have an American hickory handle as the material is exceptionally heavy, shock resistant, and strong.
- Metal – As for metal handles, they’re only great for smaller axes like hatchets and pocket-sized axes. They’re strong and durable; however, they’re not great at absorbing shock. You have to be careful when choosing an all-metal axe/hatchet as cheaper units are hollow, and they’re not for heavy work.
- Never use axes or hatchets if their heads aren’t securely fastened to their handles. If your axe’s handle is cracked, get a replacement or have it repaired as using a damaged axe will only worsen its condition
- Don’t strike an axe’s butt/end with a hammer
- Keep an axe’s cutting edge razor sharp and rust-free
- If you think your axe will slip from your hand when you perspire, it’s crucial that you wrap the handle using electrical tape
An axe is an excellent tool and it’s a crucial part of any bushcraft gear. As you may have realized, axe selection depends entirely on your needs and preferences. The right axe will do most of the work for you. With the tips we’ve listed above, we’re certain that you’re already decided on a particular axe.
Regardless of what you choose, you wouldn’t go wrong with any of the products we listed above as they’ve all been given the best workmanship and materials to give you the best experience.