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The Best Axes in the World for Every Need

By March 10, 2021No Comments
The Best Axes in the World for Every Need

Axes are one of the oldest tools known to mankind, with ancient antler axes discovered that date back to as early as 6000 B.C. Used for warfare, carpentry, and as instruments of survival, these tools have been perfected over thousands of years of use. The axes we have today are a testament to millenniums of technological progression.

Compiled in this buyer’s guide are some of the best axes in the world that are available today, from sharp-edged camping hatchets to thick log-splitting mauls. You’ll find an axe for every situation here, including a wide range of bushcraft and survival axes that often slip under the radar. Plus, below, you’ll find answers to the most common questions you might have when looking for your perfect axe, all to help you find the tool that’s right for you. And before we go on, let me just mention that if you’re looking for some of the best tomahawks in the world, we’ve covered those here.

What is the best axe for chopping wood?

If you’re splitting logs and larger branches, you’ll want to get yourself an all-rounder splitting axe like the Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe, which sits somewhere between a sharp felling axe and a thick log maul. This excellent splitting axe has a long handle for increased swinging momentum and wider cheeks with a duller edge than a felling axe, making it the best axe for splitting wood in two. It also has a flat back that can be hit with a sledgehammer to drive the blade through thicker logs. Unlike a maul or felling axe, these log-splitters are made as all-rounders, and as such, they’re great for a variety of situations.

How to sharpen an axe?

Sharpening an axe is an easy job with the help of a good whetstone or file. First things first, you’ll want to figure whether you need to do coarse sharpening or fine sharpening. For chips, nicks, and other minor damage spots on the blade, you’ll need a coarse-edged sharpener like a coarse whetstone or coarse file. Otherwise, for simple maintenance and keeping the blade-edge sharp, you’ll need a fine file or a leather strop.

Once you’ve got the right tool for the job, fix the axe handle in a vice or hold the head tightly between your knees, with the blade facing away from your body. Then, using your sharpening tool, be it whetstone, file, or strop, slowly work out the imperfections along each bevel-edge of the blade. Always finish off with a strop or fine file to keep your axe extra sharp, and consider using rust-proofing oils to protect it from the elements in the long run.

Different blades have differently shaped bevels, with some being curved and some being flat, so always take care to follow your specific axe-head’s contours. You can learn more about how to sharpen an axe in texts such as the Gransfors Axe book, which comes included with the Gransfors Bruks line of products on this list.

What is the best axe for camping?

The best camping axe on this list is undoubtedly the SOG Camp Axe, a sleek 11.5” hatchet specifically designed for pitching tents, preparing firewood, and cutting sticks to size. Durability is key with a camping axe as if it breaks mid-trip you’re left stranded, and the bolted construction of the SOG’s axe head makes it extremely unlikely to break, so it’s a perfect choice in this regard. It’s also small enough to take trekking and a great size for fire making, making it the best backpacking axe on offer too.

What is the best bushcraft axe?

If you want the best bushcraft axe on offer, then take a look at the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe. This hickory-handled delight is a great mid-length size at 14.75”, making it smaller than a splitting axe but bigger than a hatchet, and therefore ideal for mixed-usage as a bush axe and wood axe. It’s big enough for felling young trees while compact enough to be used for stripping branches and precision projects like carpentry work, making it a fantastic tool for the outdoor survivalist.

What is the best all-around axe?

The Gransfors Bruks Forest Axe is widely respected as the best-made axe in America. It’s the perfect all-rounder at 19” in length, capable of felling trees, splitting small logs, and stripping branches for campfires. The steel is sharp enough to shave with, and its hickory wood handle is as sturdy as they come. The Gransfors Bruks maker’s mark attests to the quality of this excellent all-rounder, which, with the right care, will last you years and years to come.

How to split wood with an axe?

The basics of splitting are simple once you’ve acquired the right axe. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, place your dominant hand at the top of the axe shaft and your other hand at the base, then raise the axe above your head, and let it drop! Don’t put too much power into your swing, or you’ll mess up your aim. While swinging, slide your dominant hand to the base of the handle, and bend your knees to bolster the kinetic energy at your disposal. For a good cleave, hit the midway point on the cut side of the log and use a splitting wedge or sledgehammer to finish off should your axe fail to break the log in one hit.

1. Husqvarna Multi-Purpose Axe

Available in a wide range of sizes, the Husqvarna multi-purpose axe is a simple but comprehensive option that fulfills many of the individual niches of the rest of the Husqvarna range in one simple tool. This axe is a traditional single-bit axe ideal for tree felling and wood chopping, and other miscellaneous small jobs. It also comes with a leather blade cover, ideal for keeping the axe clean and preventing accidents while it’s not in use.

Key Features

  • Multi-purpose splitting axe
  • Leather blade cover
  • Hickory wood handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade
  • 26” Length

2. SOG Camp Axe

This camping axe from Studies and Observations Group is a great tool for fire-making and bushcraft, with an ultra-sharp steel blade for chopping sticks and small logs and a hammer surface on the reverse for nailing tent stakes into the earth. This axe also comes with a nylon blade cover to make carrying it from place to place simple, and its overall length of just 11.5” makes this a great small axe for lighter jobs.

Key Features

  • Camping and bushcraft axe
  • Nylon blade cover
  • Nylon handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 11.5“ Length

3. Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe

With a nice mid-range 14.75” length, the Gransfors Bruks outdoor axe is a great bushcraft tool for wood chopping and survival tasks. The classic Gransfors “Axe Book” is also included, making this a great axe for first-time users who want to learn about sharpening and chopping techniques. A full-grain leather blade cover also comes included with the package.

Key Features

  • Wood chopping and survival axe
  • Full-grain leather blade cover
  • Hickory wood handle
  • Includes “The Axe Book”

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 14.75“ Length

4. TOPS Grandpa’s Ax

This handheld chopping axe from TOPS Knives is a modern take on the classic wood hatchet. A contoured micarta canvas handle provides excellent grip while working, and the brown leather blade cover keeps the axe clean and rust-free all year round. This axe was designed by the father of the president of TOPS, and as such, there are years of expertise poured into its sharp curves.

Key Features

  • Small chopping axe
  • Brown leather blade cover
  • Micarta canvas handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 11“ Length

5. Gerber Gear Pack Hatchet

The Gerber Gear pack hatchet is a great little hand axe with a variety of nifty features, including a lanyard hole for easy carrying and finger grooves to allow for fine-tuned chopping and slicing. This is a small axe at just 9.46” in length, total, and as such, it’s best suited for more intricate jobs or chopping smaller logs.

Key Features

  • Camping axe
  • Nylon blade cover
  • Lanyard hole
  • Finger grooves

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 9.46“ Length

6. Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe

Fiskar’s X27 wood splitting axe is an extra-long weapon of mass (wooden) destruction, at a bumper 36” in length. This is the best log splitting axe to throw all of your power into while splitting larger blocks for firewood and carpentry projects, with a textured grip to allow for supreme precision and a fibreglass handle that throws all the weight of the tool directly into its head. If you’re looking for a good all-rounder lumber axe, this is your best bet.

Key Features

  • Wood splitting axe
  • Textured grip
  • Fibreglass handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 36“ Length

7. Brant & Cochran Allagash Cruiser

Forged in the fiery depths of South Portland, the Brant & Cochran Allagash Cruiser is a large camp axe with a beautiful 28” hickory wood handle and a tempered steel blade. This is an axe with a strong heritage, crafted to the original specifications set out by Maine’s Emerson & Stevens in the early 1900s. Each one comes imprinted with a maker’s mark and year of manufacture on its head. A Maine-made leather blade cover is also included, making for a real homegrown piece of artisan equipment.

Key Features

  • Camp axe
  • USA-made
  • Tempered edge
  • Hickory wood handle

Specifications

  • Carbon steel blade 
  • 28“ Length

8. Iunio Survival Axe

If you’re looking for the best survival axe, or even just something that packs in everything you could need into one handy tool, then the iunio camping hatchet is the one for you. With various hidden features, including a compass, emergency whistle, and even a fish scaling knife, this is an axe that can do more than chop wood. An adjustable aluminum handle only serves to increase its versatility further, and a bottle opener and safety hammer make this a great camping axe aside from its survival-focused features.

Key Features

  • Survival and camping axe
  • Camo handle wrap
  • Compass, whistle, and fish scaler
  • Adjustable aluminum handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 16.93“ Length

9. Husqvarna S2800 Composite Axe

This wood-splitting axe from Husqvarna is a variation of their multi-purpose axe seen further up this list. The main difference with this edition is a fiberglass handle rather than a traditional hickory wood handle and a slightly longer length of 27” to allow for more powerful swings. This axe is available in 5 sizes, and so if you’re after a smaller camping hatchet, you’ll find that here too.

Key Features

  • Log splitting axe
  • Five sizes available
  • Fiberglass handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 27“ Length

10. Off Grid Tools Multitool Axe

This multitool looks like something from Mad Max, and so you won’t be surprised to find that it’s the perfect weapon for demolishing the odd car or two. This double-bladed axe includes a cutting edge, a hammer, and a pry bar all within one sturdy construction, at the core of which is a 19” fiberglass handle designed to make the tool both light and powerful in equal measure. This is the axe for the wielder who needs every tool at once!

Key Features

  • Multitool axe
  • Axe, Hammer, Pry bar functions
  • Fiberglass handle

Specifications

  • Carbon steel blade 
  • 19.2“ Length

11. Council Tool Felling Axe

Council Tool is renowned for its high-quality wood axe collection, and their Velvicut tree felling axe is no exception to their high standards. American-made and American-grade, this axe combines local hickory wood with a USA-forged steel alloy blade for a truly supreme wood cutting tool. A traditional softwood head wedge ensures a long life for the blade, and a leather sheath also comes included.

Key Features

  • Tree felling axe
  • Tempered edge
  • Softwood head wedge
  • American hickory wood handle

Specifications

  • USA-made steel alloy blade 
  • 32“ Length

12. TABOR TOOLS Chopping Axe

This accomplished chopping axe from Tabor Tools uses an anti-slip grip to allow for extra strength while swinging its full 24” length into a block of wood. Ideal as a bushcraft axe or splitting axe, this product is a great mid-length option all-rounder for those shopping on a budget. Plus, you get a rubber blade cover included in the package.

Key Features

  • Camping axe
  • Rubber blade cover
  • Anti-slip grip
  • Fiberglass handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 24 “Length

13. Hults Bruk Tibro Carpenter Axe

A carpentry axe that cuts right to the quick, the Hults Bruk Tibro is as simple as they come, with an American hickory wood handle, a Swedish-forged steel blade, and a rustic leather blade cover included. At 20” in length, it’s a modest chopping axe, ideal for small jobs and carpentry tasks. At a reasonable price point and with a high-quality build, this is a great little axe for the price you’re paying.

Key Features

  • Carpentry axe
  • Rustic leather blade cover
  • American hickory wood handle

Specifications

  • Swedish steel blade 
  • 20“ Length

14. Estwing Sportsman’s Axe

The Estwing Sportsman’s axe is one of the smaller log chopping axes at a modest 14” in length, headed by an American steel blade. The handle here is a little different from most, as it’s finished with a lacquered leather that’s sanded down until smooth. This makes its construction extremely strong, though it may have less grip than some other axes, an issue easily remedied by a homemade leather or canvas grip.

Key Features

  • Camping hatchet
  • USA-made
  • Nylon blade cover
  • Leather sanded handle

Specifications

  • Forged steel blade 
  • 14“ Length

15. Gransfors Bruks Forest Axe

The forest axe from Gransfors Bruks is a variation of their camping axe, this time slightly longer at 19” in length. You’ll once again receive the Gransfors “Axe-book” with your purchase, a great companion text for any budding woodsman, along with a genuine leather blade cover to keep your tool sharp. This is one of Gransfors Bruks’ most widely renowned axes and is known for its long-life when used for tree felling, limbing, and splitting small logs.

Key Features

  • Camping and splitting axe
  • Leather blade cover
  • Gransfors “Axe-book” included
  • Hickory wood handle

Specifications

  • Steel blade 
  • 19“ Length