6 Best Survival Axes in 2018 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Survival Axe

The axe has been used for centuries to fell trees. In fact, whole civilizations have been built with the help of the axe. Therefore, if you have any amount of wood cutting to perform, you can always count on the axe.

The problem is when you have to venture deep into the woods, it is not practical to carry such a big cutting tool.

They are heavy and not easy to carry around. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple. You can get a survival axe! This tool is specially designed to be lightweight and can easily fit in a small to medium-size backpack.

Indeed, the survival axe is a very practical tool for anyone who wants to fell small trees or cut fire logs. It is a smaller cutting tool than a traditional axe, more comfortable to work with and accomplishes the exact same task with greater ease and comfort.

If you are planning a wilderness adventure or need a lightweight cutting tool that packs a punch, you should consider the survival axe.

6 Best Survival Axe Reviews

Here is our hands-on review of some of 6 of the best survival axes for the money.

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Product Name

Handle

Material

Weight

Rating

Current Price

Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

1. Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

Wood

Steel

1.3 lbs

4.5

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

2. Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

Glass-filled Nylon

Steel

1.625 lbs

4.3

SOG Tactical Tomahawk F01TN-CP – Hard Cased Black Axe

3. SOG Tactical Tomahawk F01TN-CP – Hard Cased Black Axe

Glass-reinforced nylon

Stainless Steel

1.5 lbs

4.5

Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet

4. Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet

Leather

Steel

0.9 lb

4.5

Fiskars X7 Hatchet 14 Inch

5. Fiskars X7 Hatchet 14 Inch

FiberComp

Steel

1.38 lbs

4.6

CS90TA-BRK Trail Boss

6. CS90TA-BRK Trail Boss

American Hickory Wood

1055 Carbon Steel

2.7 lbs

4.2

1. Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
  • Handle: Wood
  • Blade material: Steel
  • Full length: 13.5-inches
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs

The Gransfors Bruk is one of the most traditional and typical looking survival axe on the market. It is referred to as a hatchet because of its small 13.5-inches size.

But, do not be deceived by this plain looking hatchet. Despite its modest look, this unit is regarded by many as being one of the best axe for survival on the market.

It is a premium survival axe that has been hand-mounted in Sweden. The build construction is second to none. Furthermore, it has been rigorously tested to make sure that the user gets the best survival axe for the money.

It can be used to lop small to medium-size branches with great ease and the axe is comfortable to use, even if used for a long period.

The blade edge is large and sharpened in a way to make cutting easier. This axe can be used for cutting both hardwood and softwood with ease.

Relative to the blade size, the handle is long to deliver more chopping power. The handle curves also aid in streamlining the power and making this survival axe an overall more efficient tool.

Additionally, the manufacturer ships this hatchet with a tanned leather sheath for protection when the axe is not in use.

All in all, for those looking for a premium survival axe that can be used in all sorts of occasions, from camping, logging to scouting, the Gransfors Bruk is highly recommended.

Pros:

  • Small and portable
  • The handle is comfortable with excellent chopping force
  • Knob hole for easy storage
  • A tanned leather sheath is included
  • “Axe Book” manual provided with purchase

Cons:

  • Old-fashioned hatchet lacks modern features

2. Gerber Gator Combo Axe II

Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)

Gerber Gator Combo Axe II
  • Handle: Glass-filled Nylon
  • Blade material: Steel
  • Full length: 15.6-inches
  • Weight: 1.625 lbs

This Gerber Gator is a second release of the popular Gerber Gator Axe I model. It has a few enhancements compared to the previous model, and overall, it still a very robust and easy to use survival axe.

The handle of the Gerber is made from high-quality nylon and feel very solid in the hand. It has the traditional Gator grips, that provides the user with comfort and prevent hand sweating when used for a long period. Since the handle is made from a glass-filled nylon material, it is also lightweight and renders this axe quite portable.

Additionally, the glass-filled nylon handle also serves a double purpose. It hides a blade saw that can easily be pulled from the handle and used to cut branches with ease. It is a coarse blade, so it can cut through material quite fast. As we can see, there is a lot of good things going on for the handle of this survival axe.

As for the head, it is made from forged steel which adds some good weight to the axe. It will also be highly durable and not get chipped that often.

Pros:

  • The handle is comfortable and has a nice anti-slip grip
  • Can cut through wood with great ease
  • Handle hides a coarse saw
  • Delivered with a nylon sheath
  • Knob hole at bottom of the handle

Cons:

  • Tall survival axe. May be difficult to tuck in a small backpack
  • A little heavy

3. SOG Tactical Tomahawk F01TN-CP – Hard Cased Black Axe

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

SOG Tactical Tomahawk F01TN-CP – Hard Cased Black Axe
  • Handle: Glass-reinforced nylon
  • Blade material: Stainless steel
  • Full length: 15.75-inches
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

The SOG tactical survival axe is a design that has been inspired by an old Vietnamese axe that was once popularly used amongst the military. It has a pickaxe back that can be used as a defensive weapon. While today there is no real need for such a weapon, the SOG is still an extremely versatile survival axe that is useful in situations like camping, wilderness exploration, and outings.

 That handle in the survival acts is where the attraction is all at. It is a glass reinforced nylon handle with anti-slip grooves. Furthermore, the handle is very soft to the touch and extremely comfortable when used. It is securely bolted to the head and the user can perform individual adjustments easily if need be.

Additionally, we find that the overall length of 15.75-inches is ideal for a survival axe. It is long enough to deliver a lot of chopping power but not too long so as to be difficult to handle. To sweeten the deal, we also find that 1.5 lbs weight is excellent as the user does not need to exert a lot of force to cut tough wood.

As for the blade, the stainless-steel edges allow it to cut through trees with ease. It does not require frequent sharpening, as chipping is rare in stainless steel, as long as the axe is handled properly.

Pros:

  • Excellent size to weight ratio
  • Pickaxe back for more versatility
  • Stainless steel blade cuts wood easily
  • Handle is comfortable

Cons:

  • The handle can become a little slippery in wet conditions

4. Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet
  • Handle: Leather
  • Blade material: Steel
  • Full length: 14-inches
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs

While the Estwing Sportsman 14” is not the biggest survival axe in the world, it is certainly one of the best-looking models we know of. This axe is very small but built like a tank and has exceptional maneuverability. It also has a great attention to detail, which is often rare in survival axes.

Further, it is hand-made and hand-sharpened in the USA. The entire body of this tool consists of a forged high-grade steel with leather handles bonded to the steel. It offers an excellent grip that is anti-slip and comfortable to hold.

But what we really like about the Estwing Sportsman is that it is very lightweight. At only 0.9 lbs, this survival axe weighs almost nothing. You can easily carry this tool for long distances without it getting in the way.

Granted, the small cutting blade of 3-1/4-inches is not much to look at. But if you need something that is highly portable and only needs to cut firewood from small logs, twigs and branches, the Estwing Sportsman 14” is one of the best survival axes for the money.

Pros:

  • Ultra-light at 0.9 lbs and highly portable
  • Entire body made of high-grade steel
  • Premium leather handle

Cons:

  • Small axe that can only be used to cut small logs

5. Fiskars X7 Hatchet 14 Inch

Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)

Fiskars X7 Hatchet 14 Inch
  • Handle: FiberComp
  • Blade material: Steel
  • Full length: 14-inches
  • Weight: 1.38 lbs

The Fiskars X7 has been inspired by baseball to make its swing more powerful and efficient. Indeed, despite its small 14-inches size, this survival axe definitely packs a punch.

The handle is made entirely of FiberComb, which is a nylon-based material that is virtually indestructible and stronger than steel. Additionally, this survival axe is lightweight and portable. Its small size means that you can easily take this axe in a small backpack.

The blade is made from a high-grade steel such that it will not chip and require minimal sharpening to get a clean cut. Moreover, it is coated with a low friction material so it will bite better in wood. This makes this survival axe safer to use.

The only problem is that the straight form of the handle and short size of the axe is not the best suited when cutting big logs for an extended period. However, for lightweight and casual log cutting this model from Fiskars is one of the best survival axes for the money. You will absolutely not regret it.

Pros:

  • Handle is solidly affixed to the blade
  • Excellent power-to-weight ratio
  • Low-friction blade is safer to cut logs
  • Blade edge is sharp and uses proprietary sharpening techniques

Cons:

  • May not be the most comfortable axe for big cutting projects

6. CS90TA-BRK Trail Boss

Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)

CS90TA-BRK Trail Boss
  • Handle: American Hickory Wood
  • Blade material: 1055 Carbon Steel
  • Full length: 27-inches
  • Weight: 2.7 lbs

The CS90TA-BRK trail boss is a classical survival axe that does not sacrifice size for performance. Indeed, it is a full 27-inches axe that can cut through any type of log, big or small with great ease.

This is a big survival axe that requires a certain muscle power to use. It is also not made to be a portable unit, as it is just too long for that. But where this axe excels is cutting tough logs with one or two strikes. It simply has no competition in terms of raw chopping power.

To cope with such power, the blade is made from 1055 carbon steel which is a tough metal that can easily be sharpened. This is a big bonus as the generous blade edge of 4-1/2-inches make it chop more material in one swing, thus it is more prone to chipping that other survival axes.

Moreover, the handle in this survival axe is made from American Hickory which is known to be a not only a very comfortable wood to the touch but also very strong.

All in all, if you only care about raw cutting power and not portability, the CS90TA-BRK Trail Boss is an excellent survival axe that will serve you well.

Pros:

  • Big survival axe for heavy duty log cutting
  • Large blade edge of 4-1/2-inches
  • Blade made from quality forged 1055 carbon steel
  • American Hickory handle has an optimal shape for swinging

Cons:

  • Heavy axe. Not very portable

Survival Axe Parts

Survival Axe Parts

As with any tool, the survival axe is composed of vital parts that give it its specific characteristic. Here is an overview of each of those parts:

#1. Blade

Also called the head, the blade is usually made of a strong metal like steel. It is the part that gives the axe weight and does the cutting. The shape of the blade varies from model to model, however, most survival axes have basically the same streamlined blade shape, give or take.

#2. Cutting Edge

The cutting-edge sits at the lower end of the blade and it is the part that comes into contact with the material. It is important to maintain the cutting edge as often as possible. A sharp edge will cut with greater ease and protect the blade from dents and chip in the long run.

#3. Handle

Possibly the most important part of the survival axe, the handle is the part that gives the user leverage when cutting. It is composed of other sub-parts like the handle throat, grip, back, and belly. Each plays a part in providing the user with an optimal cutting and handling experience.

#4. Poll

Also known as the butt, the poll is the back of the blade. Some models of survival axes have a pickaxe at the poll for versatility. Others are simply flat just like a traditional axe.

#5. Axe Eye

The eye of the axe is what holds the blade tightly fitted to the handle. There are several ways an eye can be fitted to a blade, but the most common is sawing a small lug at the top of the handle and hammering a wooden jig to tighten the handle to the blade.

#6. Heel and Toe of Bit

The heel and toe of bit is the lower and upper side of the cutting edge of the blade, respectively. Those specific parts can be used for penetrating the wood with greater ease.

What is the Survival Axe Used For?

What is the Survival Axe Used For

We think that the survival axe extends to more than simply cutting firewood. There are some very crafty things you can do with this survival tool. Here are a few of them:

#1. Ice Cutting

During the winter, the survival axe can be used to cut through thick ice. It will protect your hands and the ergonomic form factor of the axe means that you can clear a lot of ice without fatigue.

#2. Defense Weapon

It can be used as a full-on defense weapon against wild animals. The survival axe does more than simply cutting wood.

#3. Starting a Fire

The heel and toe are usually very sharp. So, you can use the heel or toe bit to cut thin shavings of wood to start a fire.

#4. Cut a Splint

In case of injuries like a broken arm or leg, a survival axe can be used to cut a wood splint.

#5. Dressing and Skinning Animals

The sharp edge can easily cut through animal skin and flesh. It can be used instead of a knife to provide sustenance.

#6. Light Reflector

Since the blade is made from metal, many times shiny, it can be used to reflect sunlight. This can be a lifesaving situation in case of an emergency.

How to Buy a Survival Axe

How to Buy a Survival Axe

Before purchasing a survival axe, there are some important aspects to consider:

#1. Handle Length

Arguably, the handle is the most important part of the survival axe. It is the part that you hold and does most of the work with. So, choose a model that has a handle that is ergonomic and adapted to the size of your hand.

If the handle is made out of wood, a light sanded one will have a more solid and comfortable grip that a polished and varnished model. Look for axes that have a comfortable rubber grip that prevents slipping. Those can be used in wet conditions without the risk of the axe leaving the hand after every swing.

Additionally, your height is important to consider. The taller you are, the longer the handle should be to help avoid back pain and accidental swing hits.

#2. Blade

To prevent chipping, dents or cracks from developing, ensure that the blade is made from a solid metal material like steel or stronger. Moreover, the way the blade is affixed to the handle is a good consideration.

Most manufacturers use the eye layout, where the handle is stuffed into the bottom of the blade. Others, like Fiskars, are known to make a unilateral handle that envelopes the blade tightly. It is simply a question of preference on what you choose as both types are proven and durable.

#3. End Knob

Pay particular attention to the end knob, which is the bottom part of the handle. Specifically, take notice if it is slanted. This slant is important as it blocks the axe from escaping your hand in case of a slip. Additionally, the knob should have a knob hole so you can easily store the axe.

#4. Weight

The weight of the survival axe plays a deciding factor. Most of the time, the lighter the axe the more portable and maneuverable it is. However, your choice should not be limited to such a simple conclusion.

Weight is important in an axe. The more weight it has, the easier it can cut through wood since it has more chopping force. You will need to choose an axe based on both its portability factor, as well as the amount of wood you have to cut.

#5. Brand

Despite being a very simple tool, there is a lot of effort and know-how that goes on in the making of a quality survival axe. Not everyone knows how to get it just right. Choose a branded model from a quality and reputable manufacturer.

You will find that not only do they cut better, they also last much longer. Additionally, many reputable axe brands sometimes offer a lifetime warranty on their products. This is not something you want to miss out on.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, purchasing survival axes online is not very hard when you know what to look for. Each model is fine-tuned for a specific need. In general, all those axes are highly effective in cutting lumber quickly and easily.

Furthermore, they can serve as intimidating defense weapons when need be. They can literally save your life and anyone roaming the wilderness for an extended period of time should not be without them!

In case you have still not found the best survival axe for your need, we recommend you go through this review one more time. Stay safe!