How to Choose the Best Hatchet

Which Hatchet is the Best for you?

The hatchet is essentially a short axe and has been around for thousands of years. In fact, the word hatchet is taken form the French word hache, a word of Germanic origin meaning axe. The hatchet has a half-length or shorter handle than an axe, making it easy to use with one hand.

Besides the obvious uses of cutting small pieces or wood or branches, making kindling and hammering, the axe is very useful for cleaning and dressing game animals or domestic stock. Butchering requires cutting through bone and cartilage and a sharp hatchet is perfect for that task.

The hatchet may be the ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to axes. It falls usually in the 12-18” handle range, perfect for one handed use, with a 1-1.5 pound head. The handle is often shaped for a better grip and in some cases hatches are made of a one-piece metal handle/head combo such as those from the Estwing Company.

The small size makes it perfect for camping and storing in a vehicle, but even this lightweight axe can be put to bigger jobs with a sharp edge and some patience. It’s a must have for your axe collection and indispensable around the campsite. Here is info to help you choose the best hatchet.


Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

 Gransfors Bruks Wildlife HatchetLocated in the Swedish village of Gränsfors, the Gransfors Bruks Forge has been making axes for over 100 years and their reputation is worldwide. 

All the axes produced by Gränsfors Bruk are hand forged and they are so proud of the workmanship of their smiths that each axe head is marked with the identity of the man who made. The heads are minimally finished, just on the cutting edge so evidence of the quality forging is seen on the axe.

In addition to this handbuilt tradition, Gransfors also has made a commitment to the environment and only uses environmentally friendly materials in the production of their axes such as foregoing paint and epoxy adhesives on their handles and using no harsh chemicals when tanning leather for their sheaths. 

Gransfors is well-renowned for their quality axes and their Wildlife Hatchet is no exception. The Hickory handled hatchet is13.5 inches long, perfect for one handed use and carries a one pound head with a 3 inch cutting edge. It’s handy and easy to carry at 1.3 pounds, great for backpacking and trekking. Unlike most utility hatchets, the Gransfors has an extended beard on the edge which is great for protecting you hand while choked up on the handle for carving, shaving or other close work.

The handle is 13.5 inches long and made from Hickory, pre-drilled for a lanyard and embossed with the GB logo mid-span. It includes a Swedish made tanned leather sheath that will protect you and the blade during transport. A smart feature on this sheath is that it leaves the axe poll exposed while the edge is covered. This allows the hatchet to be used for driving tent stakes or striking without having to remove the sheath.

We love everything from Gransfors Bruks, their hand forged axe heads, stamped with the initials of the forger, the narrow head and extended beard, the minimal finish on the Swedish steel, the simple, effective and beautiful Hickory handle, and the all around performance. The Wildlife Hatchet is no exception. If you need one hatchet to last a lifetime, this is it.


Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet review

Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Hatchet

Estwing is a well-known axe and tool manufacturer located in the Chicago area. They have been manufacturing tools since 1923 andEstwing E24A Sportsman's Hatchet if you are a carpenter or tradesman, you have probably owned and appreciated an Estwing hammer. Their American made hatchets are also great and maybe the best value for the price in this group.

The Estwing E24A Sportsman’s Hatchet is a very popular hatchet for a number of reasons. First, the one-piece forged steel design means you will never have to replace the handle under normal circumstances. The full-tang 14 inch steel handle is wrapped with stacked leather washers and polished, resulting in a firm and comfortable grip.

TEstwing E24A Sheathhe hatchet is just under one pound and the narrow head has a 3.25 inch cutting edge. The cutting edge holds its sharpness well and only requires minimal dressing during normal use.

The lightweight design makes this a great camp axe and the included leather sheath makes transport and handling safe.

The leather sheath that is included is nicely tooled and of a high quality with belt slot and utilizes an open poll which is preferred for safe hammering tasks without removing the sheath.

Although it lacks the traditional Hickory handle,  this quality Estwing hatchet is practically indestructible and a great bargain and for most people, will last a lifetime.

The hatchet is just under one pound and the narrow head has a 3.25 inch cutting edge. The cutting edge holds its sharpness well and only requires minimal dressing during normal use.


Estwing E24A Sportsman's Hatchet Review

Fiskars  X7 14-Inch Hatchet

 Fiskars X7 14-Inch HatchetFiskars is a Finnish company with over 350 years of tool making history. It’s hard to argue with a heritage like. Although an old company, Fiskars prides themselves on innovation and have developed what they consider a cutting edge axe. The X7 uses advanced blade geometry, a wedge shaped head, and a special low friction coating. The lightness of this axe contributes to a faster swing speed and deeper cutting.

All X-Series axes feature a smart design that distributes the majority of the weight to the axe head while keeping the stronger-than-steel FiberComp handle lightweight. This perfected weight distribution provides an optimal power-to-weight ratio that increases swing speed to multiply power, much like an aluminum baseball bat. X-Series axes give you more power at impact to help you get more done with every swing.

The X7 maximizes power to weight ratio by using a lightweight FiberComp handle which leaves most of the weight in the head and at the point of impact. this 14 inch composite handle has a rubberized coating for added grip and is excellent in wet weather or in conditions that would be detrimental to a wooden handle. Traditionalists may be suspect of the comp handle but they have proven durable under normal use, even in over-strike situations. The comp handle has shock absorbing qualities and a Permahead design that is over-molded to the head to eliminating the possibility of head separation.

However, the joint where the handle wraps the head can get wood splinters jammed in it and cause cracking if not cleared. This is serious consideration especially if you are doing deeper cuts where the wood can get wedged in this space.

The 20 oz head is  drop forged stainless with a double-hardened bit with a  Rockwell hardness of 45-50 on the 2-3/4 inch edge. Fiskars bevel convex blade geometry claims to add more power and wood dispersion for cleaner, one-strike splits. This proprietary edge bevel creates a durable cutting edge that stays sharp. If you regrind this edge, to a thinner bevel, you may not retain the same edge durability.

If one can get over traditionalist attitudes and see this Fiskars hatchet for what it is; a lightweight axe with excellent performance and price from a trusted company, it will be a serious contender for for capable hatchet for most folks.


 Fiskars X7 Hatchet Review






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