Do you frequently scout the wilderness? If you do, then owning a hatchet must have crossed your mind at least once! Knives and machetes are at one side but if you are going to venture in to the wild then a hatchet is a must.
A hatchet, an axe or a tomahawk has the same meaning with different designs serving the same purpose. A hatchet is a slightly shorter version of axe whereas tomahawks are comparatively slimmer. It is a useful tool for cutting, chopping and slicing wood to build shelters and firework.
Experts make good use of the flat side of the hatchet as a hammer, fire starter and hunting knife. It also protects you against the unseen danger of the wilderness as a combat weapon. It has been scientifically proven that at early age, humans who used such weapons had a better knack for hunting and surviving the wild. So, you can certainly be up in the game by buying the best survival axe or hatchet of your choice that fits your size and purpose.
Top Survival Axe/Hatchet Comparison Table
|Name of Products||Blade Quality||Head||Handle||Grip||Balance||Sheath|
|United Cutlery||Very High||Average||Very Strong||Strong||Excellent||Yes|
|Huqsverna||Average||Very Strong||Very Strong||Very Strong||Very Good||Yes|
|Estwing E24A||Average||Very Strong||Average||Very Strong||Very Good||Yes|
|SOG Tactical||Very High||Very Strong||Strong||Average||Excellent||Yes|
|Gerber Bear Grylls||Very High||Very Strong||Very Strong||Very Strong||Excellent||Yes|
- Blade Quality is rated from very low to very high
- Head is rated from very weak to very strong
- Handle is rated from very weak to very strong
- Grip is rated from very weak to very strong
- Balance is rated from bad to excellent
- Sheath Some products come with these features
Criteria to consider
To help you choose the right kind of hatchet for you, we have listed down six crucial characteristics of hatchets by which you can assess what type of hatchet you would like to buy.
The thickness and shape of the blade is very important. It is the main star of the axe so; you must check whether the blade is thick and sharp enough to tolerate heavy strike. The size of the blade can be convex or bowed and both can serve well in an axe but if it widens immediately from behind then it will be difficult to find a good penetrating point to bite, no matter how sharp the blade is. It is preferable that the blade is crafted from hard metal. Also make sure that the axe does not have a reputation of frequent sharpening since it can eat a lot of your time.
The head of the hatchet is where it is attached to the blade at one end whereas the handle is molded into the head in the other end. So, it is vital that the head is strong enough to bite into hard woods with finesse. The best heads are designed out of forged steel with a high carbon cutting edge. Some hatchets also use low carbon steel to give the blade access to more flex.
An axe made out of a single piece of metal is also sufficiently good but a stainless steel axe is certainly an inferior product. Additionally, select a hatchet which has a nice and smooth surface since any unnecessary abrasions or dings in the head will reduce its penetration efficiency.
A handle is also a crucial part of axe as it drives the focus of the axe and takes the most beating. An ideal hatchet will be around 10-14 inches. A longer handle enables greater swinging power to process wood faster with ease whereas a shorter one can wield with higher speed and precision.
Rugged hardwood handles are most common but rots over time. It can also lead to lose grip if it comes in touch with oil or lubricants. Take note of buying an axe with wooden handle where the grains are directed towards the blade as it can withstand severe force. If the wood grain is horizontal then it is more likely to break under pressure.
Metal handles are strong and durable but it will be quite heavy to lug around so, the most desirable material for handle is hollowed fiberglass as it is reasonably strong and light thus making the handle easy to carry around and durable.
Using a hatchet brings out physical exhaustion. In such condition, it is common to sweat and lose your grip. You may also come across rain or snowfall during your use of hatchet and the last thing you want is for your grip to become slippery and to injure yourself or anyone with this sharp object.
So, look into it that the tail of your axe is designed to comfortably fit in your hands. The best non-slip grip is provided by a rubber or wooden tail. Some hatchets even provide a special pattern to increase the grip so that you can hold on to it without slipping even in high humidity.
The balance of a hatchet depends on its head and handle. There must be a perfect ratio between the two to keep the axe at its peak performance. An imbalanced hatchet will increase your load of work and cause you to be quickly exhausted because the axe will not be capable of striking precisely.
However, a well balanced axe will make your job much speedier and enjoyable. It is always better to try out an axe with your hands practically to have a better understanding on what suits you the best.
Hatchets are sharp tools which need to be handled with care. Carelessness with hatchets can cause severe injury. That is why most hatchets come with a sheath for safety reasons. The sheath also adds years to the axe’s life by keeping it cushioned inside it.
Make sure to check whether the sheath is good enough to protect your blade and secure it safely. It must be designed in such a way that you can grip and carry it easily. Also, check to see that the sheath is not designed too clumsily that it takes a long time to take your hatchet out of it.
United Cutlery brings to you an ultra cool looking hatchet. It is black in colour and has a razor sharp blade of 8 inch with skulls engraved in it. The blade offers a wide up swept axe that can bite over huge chunk of wood with finesse. However, it is made of stainless steel whereas hard metal would certainly have been the better choice.
This Chinese made axe is praised for its excellent balance and comes handy for a good throw as it provides a perfect head to toe ratio. The head is reinforced into the solid partial fiberglass nylon handle with 3 separate bolts. On one hand, the blade has a sharp edge and on the other, the butt efficiently pierces into soft objects.
Hunters, campers and trekkers will love this lightweight baby for cutting and wielding with a firm grip as it will not exhaust you easily. It can also serve as a tactical weapon and breaching tool for overnight stay in the wilderness.
This product comes with a nylon belt sheath, which may not be a perfect fit for your axe but is sufficient to keep you safe from its sharp talons. Also, it comes with a provision to loop a parachord for securing it well. Do not miss out on this product as its multipurpose abilities with its sleek look will certainly win you over though the price may be a little steep for you.
Huqsverna is a Swedish multipurpose axe, a product of one of the oldest renowned company, Hults Bruks. It has a slim steel blade nicely forged into a wooden hickory handle with perfect grain orientation. The 26 inch curvy handle is light enough and provides a firm grip to use with both hands to exert maximum force while swinging.
The head of the axe is light and immaculately attached to the handle with both wooden and steel wedge to secure fastening. It is an excellent hatchet to chop trees, limbs, branch trimming, bush crafting and producing kindling.
However, the thinness of the blade and the wedging makes it difficult to power through heavy logs and barks as the blade tends to stick into the wood. To make the axe more durable it is wise to first sand down the handle and to scrape it near the head and finally oil it with a coating of bees wax to have a lifelong beautiful handle.
Some more tip! You may experience a dull blade if you purchase this product, so sharpen the blade properly before use. Once it is sharpened, it keeps its edge for a very long time. Also, the steel blade is very hard compared to other axes, so do not leave it outside in extremely cold weather as there is a chance that the frozen blade will crack while you strike.
With all said, this hatchet is a taker and it comes with a very attractive blade mask with soft leather. It is cheap compared to the brand it is coming from and the minor downsides can be easily overcome with a little caution and care.
Estwing is the renowned hatchet of USA for outdoors people from 1923. It has a very eye catching look in a polished glossy frame and steel colour. The head and the handle are carved in one piece of steel allowing it to be much thinner than a traditional axe. This in turn gives the hatchet an excellent edge that cuts quite deep.
The blade used for this axe is sharp and efficient but you must strictly keep it to slice through wood and kindling only. This lightweight well balanced axe is not made for heavy duty work. At best, the wood should be the diameter of your wrist and not an inch larger. However, its lightness saves you from hand strain and fatigue unlike traditional axes.
Moreover, the axe has a hammer on its back which you can use to pound the nails in your tent or for sporting events when you go for camping or any other adventures. The handle of Estwing is designed with leather washers over a steel shaft which is comfortable at touch and safe for use. It has a sanded leather grip that adds to its beauty but also cuts its life short.
What I mean to say is this product of Estwing is designed for long run but they have overlooked the fact that beneath the glossy grip handle, it is very dry which can cause the handle to rot as the handle absorbs water like sponge. To prevent the unthinkable, you can use a few 100 grit sandpaper and sand off the handle until the varnish completely comes off and it looks almost white.
Then apply Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil (easily available in Amazon) on the handle for a couple of days to bring back the fine grip and an antique brown varnish. This will keep intact your exclusive hatchet forever without the fear of damaging it.
The hatchet is a keeper and comes in a package with an attractive rugged nylon sheath with a head sheath made of decent quality leather with a pair of belt slots. This product is sought after by millions of survivalists, foresters and fishermen and you can own one of these products which is being made from generations now at very low price.
Tomahawks are innovative upgraded versions of axe. SOG Tomahawks gained its popularity in military during Vietnam wars. Now, it’s open for common men for its versatile use. It is the bulldog of axes that will guard you from enemies and be your companion at adverse conditions.
You can use it for breaching, excavation, removal of obstacle, cut, grind and chop into anything. It is hard to break even if you hit it over a truck hood, so you get my point!
This axe is made of 420 stainless steel with a no slip grip handle made of ballistic polymer. The head is mounted into the handle with tight bolts and a steel ferrule to shield it from splitting. It is extensively coated in a scratch-resistant, black oxide to chase away corrosion and insure maximum integrity.
The hawk face is chisel shaped that gives it the edge and power to chop into heavy gauge sheet mata and drill holes into cinder blocks whereas the blunt edge is used for hammering and heavy pounding. However, this chinese made hawk is not for slashing as its face does not have a down sweep.
The hawk’s handle and head strikes a perfect balance to conjure maximum swing with minimal strain. It has a light 15.75 inches handle which can get slippery at times so, it is better to stick some tape over it to heighten the friction and build a strong grip.
The futuristic features of this hawk have garnered many awards worldwide. It comes with a nylon sheath with a snap closure and belt loop for your safety and lifetime warranty. What more can you ask? It has everything that you need and that too in very cheap. Buy it and it will be worth every single penny!
This hatchet is a compact powerhouse. It is small weighing less than 1 litre of water, solid and serves its purpose well. The hatchet has a full tang and made with high carbon steel for maximum durability.
The blade sports a convex shape with 3.5 inch thickness and coated rugged PVD, which gives it extreme cutting edge to chop trees, skin and slice barks, build shelters and produce kindles for fireworks. Opposite the blade, it features a crosshatched striking base to crush, pound and smash, which comes in handy in making tents and tenderizing meats while staking out at night.
There are two more additional traits of this hatchet keeping in mind the adventures of survivalists. One is where the axe has a finger notch just below the head which lets you to hold it securely to keep control while feathering, kindling or stripping bark. Secondly, there is also a handy hole at the base of the polypropylene made handle to attach a lanyard for an extra measure of safety.
The handle is designed with a lock tight rubber grip to prevent it from slipping in wet or dry condition. To keep it secure and intact, it comes with a mildew resistant nylon sheath with belt loops. Learn how to open and lock it to avoid tugging and wearing.
You can use Bear’s “Priorities of Survival” Pocket Guide to help you know the mechanisms of the hatchet in case of a fix. It is by far the cheapest and most efficient axe for capable hands of hunters, campers, backpackers and bush crafters to survive in the wilderness.
This buying guide has a breakdown of every essential feature you will come across in your hatchet and which one will be the best for you. You will be sure to find more than one out of the five recommended hatchets which will suit your liking.
However, here is a tip for you. To get maximum result from your axe always use your axe at an angle to cut wood rather than head on. Also, keep an axe sharpener in your backpack when you venture out to sharpen the edge of your axe in need. If you want to know more about survival skills, check out our wilderness survival gear checklist and our 21 basic wilderness survival skills.