An axe can serve you as a lifetime investment only if you choose a high quality axe that is suited to your own specific needs. So, how do you choose a dependable and valuable axe from thousands of selections accessible in the market?
Generally, this can be a tiresome mental exercise without a supportive guide. Axes are an essential tool in the modern world in many different ways. For example, log burners are a very efficient and trendy way for heating the house nowadays.
If you need to utilize one of them, you will typically require to use an axe to cut this wood down into useable and appropriate sizes.
Other uses include forestry, camping, bushcraft, garden work and a host of other activities that require the use of a good quality axe.
However, with a wide range of axes out there, finding the best one is challenging, especially if it is your first time.
We broke our research into different categories including basic wood splitting capability, primary design of an axe, shock absorption, durability, axe head material overall value.
Related Article: Best American-made axes and hatchets
We consulted bloggers, experts, and consumer reviews to eventually bring you a comprehensive guide regarding the best axes in the market today and factors you will need to consider before purchasing one.
So, without further ado, allow me to take you through an ultimate guide of best axes to help you fully understand the necessary information you may need before shopping for an axe.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Who makes the best axes in the world?
- The Best: Gransfors Bruk Axes
- The Best of the Rest…
- Factors To Consider Before Buying an axe
- Top-rated, reliable axes
Who makes the best axes in the world?
Over 100 years, the United States of America was known and cherished for making the best axes in the world. And many households have axes where everyone in those specific families knew how to utilize an axe.
Between 1800 and 1960 – before chainsaws – axes were so many, and they had reached over 300 manufacturers.
However, those days are now gone, but axes still remain useful and essential in society, and we moved to New York, where they had started making axes known as the artisanal axe craze.
They were handmade, very trendy, and useful. Back in the 1990s, we were introduced to the best Swedish axes manufactured by master-craftsmen at the company known as Gransfors Bruk.
These axes were beautifully finished, made by hand, sharp as razors, and finely balanced. Today, Sweden’s axes are the best quality axes available worldwide with regards to durability and reliability, and the best axes to meet the customers needs and expectations.
Swedish axe makers produce superior quality, hand-forged axes with perfect balance and distinctive style that will last a lifetime.
Gransfors Bruk are widely regarded as the best axe brand in the world. Their hand-forged axes are made by highly experienced master craftsmen with a key focus on producing the finest quality products.
The reason they continue to produce such good axes is down to their quality mindset. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, far too many businesses focus too much effort on the numbers rather than the quality of their products.
After producing axes as cheaply as possible, like the vast majority of axe manufacturers at that time, Gransfors Bruk made the decision to put product quality at the forefront of their strategy.
Since 1988 the result of this is a reputation that can’t be bought. When people want the best axe – they buy a Gransfors Bruk axe.
The Best: Gransfors Bruk Axes
Where are Gransfors Bruk axes made?
Gransfors Bruk (Gransfors ‘works’) have been producing handcrafted axes for over 100 years in the Swedish village of Gränsfors in northern Hälsingland. Currently they have around 30 skilled craftsmen making the highest quality handmade axes available today.
Gransfors Bruk axes are shipped to over 30 countries around the world making it one of the worlds leading axe producers.
Are Gransfors Bruk axes worth the money?
Gransfors Bruk axes are extremely well made – and each one is made by hand with the finest materials. So, much like any hand made product, they tend to cost more than mass-produced low quality products.
The payoff for spending a bit more money on a Gransfors Bruk axe is the longevity.
Known in the axe world as ‘heirloom’ pieces, these are the kinds of axes that can last a lifetime with proper care and can be handed down to the next generation after decades of service.
Related article: Top 5 Best Mini Hatchets
Where’s the best place to buy a Gransfors Bruk axe?
You can only buy directly from Gransfors Bruk if you live in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France or Germany. The problem with getting hold of a Gransfors Bruk axe for a fair price in the US is a geographical one.
If you take a look at the Gransfors Bruk website you’ll find that their Small Forest Axe costs 131 Euros ($158). The same axe on Amazon for example… is $307! I know import duty is steep but jeez! That’s just shy of DOUBLE THE PRICE!
Fortunately Amazon doesn’t hold the monopoly on Gransfors Bruk axes in the United States just yet! They have retailers dotted around the US that can ship to your location at a much lower cost than the example above.
The link below takes you to the official Gransfors Bruk retailers section for US customers. Simply type in your location and you’ll have your closest suppliers of Gransfors Bruk axes and accessories:
But a couple of distributers to check out first would be:
Gransfors Bruk vs Hults Bruk
Hults Bruk axes are also manufactured in Sweden just north of a town called Norrkoping. They’ve been producing axes in the same forge since the late 1600’s making Hults Bruk the oldest axe producer in the world.
In 1992 they were sold to the Hultafors Group and have continued to produce some of the finest axes available.
Both companies offer similar quality and craftsmanship, and this becomes the argument against Gransfors Bruk axes. If Hults Bruk are probably, nearly, almost as good… why don’t I buy one of those and save some money?
I’m not writing this article to sway you one way or the other. My own opinion – and that of many other axe enthusiasts – is that Gransfors Bruk just can’t be beat when it comes to the finished product.
If you favour the pricing of Hults Bruk axes – which are more widely available in the US, then go for it! They are fine axes that will last a long time… just not THE BEST!
Gransfors Bruk Axes
Gransfors Bruk axes can of course be purchased on Amazon so if you want to check out more details and current price of each, click on the links below:
- Best Hatchet:Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet ~ $180
- Best Small axe:Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe ~ $240
- Best Felling axe:Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe ~ $250
- Best Splitting axe:Gransfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe ~ $230
The Best of the Rest…
Now, by no means are these two brands the only ones I would suggest buying an axe from. There are many other axe manufacturers out there that do produce quality products, but you wanted the best, right?
Here are my recommendations on some worthy contenders for the title of Best of the rest axe brands – in no particular order. The links below each section lists a range of each brand’s axes.
These will take you to Amazon if you want to check out the finer details and check the current price.
Related article: Do New Axes Need To Be Sharpened?
The previously mentioned Hults Bruk are owned by The Hultafors Group who produce axes under different but similar brands such as Hults Bruk, Hultafors and Husqvarna:
Hults Bruk are their premium axes – some of the finest axes around. They come with a hefty price tag but your paying for quality which is a rare thing nowadays. These axes will last a lifetime.
Hults Bruk Axes
- Best Hatchet:Hults Bruk Jonaker Hatchet ~ $150
- Best Medium axe:Hults Bruk Aneby, Stout Medium Sized Axe ~ $180
- Best Felling axe:Hults Bruk Kalix Felling Axe ~ $220
- Best Splitting axe:Hults Bruk Gran Splitting Axe ~ $110
Hultafors classic axes are also handmade in the same forge in Sweden and are of a similar quality to Hults Bruk axes. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what the difference is between the two. They both seem of really high quality and use the same materials for axe heads and handles.
The pricing is also very similar so I can only assume the branding is different to retain Hultafors market share since taking over Hults Bruk in 1992.
- Best Hatchet:Hultafors SV Hatchet ~ $130
- Best Felling axe:Hultafors Swedish Felling Axe ~ $230
- Best Splitting axe:Hultafors SV Splitting Axe ~ $140
Husqvarna is a well respected producer of hundreds of different outdoor products from lawn care to professional forestry equipment. Axes are simply one of their product lines so it’s probably unreasonable to assume 100% focus on producing the finest axes ever.
That said, they get good feedback from users who just want a reliable axe for their specific purposes. Husqvarna axes are more modern with some composite-handled axes in their product line and are a little cheaper than Hults Bruk or Hultafors axes.
- Best Hatchet: Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet ~ $50
- Best Medium axe: Husqvarna Composite Multi-Purpose Axe ~ $130
- Best Felling axe: Husqvarna 26″ Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe ~ $225
- Best Splitting axe: Husqvarna 28″ Splitting Axe w/Fiberglass Handle ~ $125
Related Article: Wood Splitting – The Best Axes And Accessories
Helko Werk axes have been produced in Germany for over 200 years. Their premium range of axes are beautifully crafted with a buffed and polished reflective finish which sets them apart from competitors, and their traditional range is comparable in quality and craftsmanship to the Swedish masters.
One of the common comments from users of Helko Werk axes is their ability to retain an edge, which is a valuable asset for an axe!
Helko Werk Axes
- Best Hatchet: 1844 Helko Werk Classic Pathfinder Hatchet ~ $130
- Best Small axe: 1844 Helko Werk Traditional Rheinland Pack Axe ~ $170
- Best Felling axe: 1844 Helko Werk Classic Forester ~ $190
- Best Splitting maul: 1844 Helko Werk Traditional Splitting Maul ~ $180
Proudly made in the USA since 1886, Council Tool have a good line of forged axes such as their original or Velvicut series. They certainly look the part and are finished to a decent quality.
I have to admit I haven’t actually used any Council Tool axes myself, and judging by customer reviews the quality can be hit or miss. But when it hits, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
Council Tool Axes
- Best Hatchet: Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay Hatchet ~ $115
- Best Small axe: Council Tool Wood-Craft Pack Axe ~ $150
- Best Felling axe: Council Tool Velvicut Premium American Felling Axe ~ $190
- Best Splitting maul: Council Tool 6 Lb Sledge-Eye Maul ~ $60
Originally Fiskars products were made in the village of Fiskars, Finland where their products were initially manufactured. Established in 1649 the factory moved in the early 1980s to the nearby village of Billnäs where they continue to produce their award-winning X-series axes.
The main design feature of a Fiskars axe is the orange and black handle, and an enclosed axe head within the handle material. They do look cool, that’s a given… and being essentially budget priced splitting axes they are SO worth the money.
Related Article: Fiskars Axes – Pioneer Or Pretender?
I personally have the little X7 hatchet which is a great little tool – I am surprised just how good it is for the low low price. Their X27 Super Splitting axe is pretty amazing as well.
- Best Hatchet: Fiskars X7 Hatchet ~ $35
- Best Small axe: Fiskars X10 Chopping Axe ~ $85
- Best Splitting axe: Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe ~ $80
Estwing are made in the USA and are known to produce some of the most hardy and reliable hand tools available. Founded in Rockford, Illinois in 1923 by Swedish immigrant Ernest O. Estwing, their axes are made from a single piece of hardened steel with a distinctive design.
The reliability of Estwing axes is a major factor in their popularity all over the world. Perhaps not the best looking as far as axes go and the single piece of steel leaves no room for any shock absorption. But hey, it’s made in the USA!
- Best Hatchet: Estwing 12″ Camping Hatchet ~ $50
- Best Small axe: Estwing Campers Axe 16″ ~ $85
- Best Splitting axe: Estwing 26″ Wood Splitting Tool ~ $80
Established by the Fahlefeld Bros. way back in 1781, Ochsenkopf proudly display ‘Germany’s oldest forge’ as a badge of honor. Their experience in forging cutting tools is second to none and the combination of C60 grade steel with high grade hickory shafts make an Ochsenkopf axe pretty much indestructible.
I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the design of some of their axes – lots of bright yellow and red, it gives me a headache.
But there’s no question about the capability and longevity of these axes… their competition axes on the other hand are just beautiful to behold, however they do come at a high cost!
- Best Hatchet: Ochsenkopf OX 644 H-1255 Hatchet ~ $95
- Best All-purpose axe: GEDORE OX 620 H-1257 Allpurpose Forest Axe ~ $110
- Best Splitting axe: GEDORE OX 635 H-3009 Splitting Hammer ~ $110
- Best Competition axe: Ochsenkopf Champion axe ~ $450
Renowned as a master of knives and cutting tools, Gerber is an American success story. Founded in 1939 and based in Portland, Oregon, USA, Gerber is an American brand whose products have become famous around the world thanks to quality craftsmanship and clever marketing – and celebrity endorsements!
You won’t find many classic felling or splitting axes in their repertoire, but as a provider of tactical, bushcraft and survival knives and hatchets they are top of the pile. For something lightweight, reliable and capable of intricate cutting jobs in the wild a Gerber hatchet is a must have!
- Best Mini Hatchet: Gerber Pack Hatchet Camping Axe ~ $35
- Best Combination axe/Knife: Gerber Gator Combo Axe ~ $40
- Best Tactical axe: Gerber Downrange Tomahawk ~ $190
Factors To Consider Before Buying an axe
This is the centerpiece and most essential part of an axe you should always consider. As a result, the blade should be easy to sharpen, superior quality steel, the capability of keeping a sharp edge, doesn’t chip easily, and supplied with a sharp edge direct from the manufacturer.
Swinging an axe can easily fatigue the user’s arms or hands, and it’s also tiresome work when striking the wood repeatedly. Thus, shock absorption is a primary factor in every axe grip to eventually absorb excess contacts letting the user’s hands stay fresh right on the next swing.
Further, remember to typically hold the axe with a grip which is sturdy but not tense; this is because tight grips often cause the user’s hands to cramp rapidly, and in this case, gloves can be a better option also.
Durability is incredibly essential when shopping for a new axe, the best quality axes will serve you for a lifetime. In addition, a good axe should be made with superior quality forged steel – a key factor in axe durability.
Comfort and balance
Particularly for individuals who operate with striking tools, comfort and balance are incredibly essential to ensure you will not waste energy when splitting wood, felling trees, and doing other related tasks.
Further, having good balance increases the accuracy of users’ swings and eliminates unnecessary fatigue. The below axes are made with comfortable handles and the best materials to reduce hand fatigue and shock.
We want to ensure that your own an axe is not too expensive or too cheap but a good axe for your cash. Of course, you don’t want an axe that will break your bank account but the affordable one that will meet your needs and expectations. With the below guide, be guaranteed that you are in the right place.
Top-rated, reliable axes
- Head material – Swedish axe steel
- Handle measurement – 2-2.5 lb
- Handle material – Hickory
- Misc – leather sheath
Have you been looking for one of the best outdoor axes? This Husqvarna will never disappoint you. This is a wooden axe, but you can also choose different sizes, such as 30 inches, 27 inches, and 26 inches.
It is delivered with a simple but long-lasting leather blade cover for stashing it between seasons. Generally, the layout of this tool is classic type. The head is attached to the handle with metal and wooden wedges for added durability.
Besides the excellent chopping capabilities, this axe can be used for effectively hammering small pegs and nails when deploying the camp tent. Additionally, the convenient wooden handle is combined with the outstanding balance to effortlessly allow the user to work for longer periods of time.
- Made for powerful cuts
- Very sharp compared to others related
- Sturdy and durable
- Easy and comfortable to use
- Lifetime warranty
- A small percentage of customers claim that their axes are shipped with a brittle bit
- Handle material – Hickory
- Head material – Swedish steel
- Handle measurement – 19 in
- Head mass – 2 lb
- Misc – leather sheath and ax book
This axe remains the best one among many axes out there. It is made with a 19 inch handle that give the user enough power to feel trees effectively but still provides accurate cuts. There really is no finer axe than the Small Forest axe from the mighty Gransfors Bruk!
Its blade allows the user to typically split and cut down large or small wood effortlessly. The hardened and razor-sharp blade is also enhanced with exceptional coating, which significantly reduces friction and reduces metal wear.
Related Article: Why are Gransfors Bruk so expensive?
In addition, this axe is portable and lightweight that someone can utilize with one hand or two, making it highly versatile. Overall the power-to-mass ratio and perfect balance increase the swing speed, which multiplies force. This axe is also delivered with a sturdy and long-lasting sheath and with a lifetime warranty.
- The versatile design is powerful yet lightweight
- Delivered with amazing quality leather sheath and ‘ax’ book
- Backed by a 20-year active warranty
- Collar guard to protect the handle from over-striking
- Made from the most durable materials available
- Handle measurement – 23.5 in
- Head material – high-carbon and durable steel
- Misc – long-lasting blade cover with carry handle
- Head mass – 2.3 lb
- Handle material – FiberComp
The distinct Fiskars orange and black design looks amazing… and makes this axe simple to spot so the user won’t lose it in the woods. Plus, the X-series of axes come in a whole range of different sizes and applications for all types of axe jobs.
Fiskars axes offer an outstanding cash value and the cutting edge is highly effective for its price tag.
This axe is designed to chop deeper with each swing due to the unique blade profile design. The FiberComp handle is hollow but balanced well… and damn near indestructible!
The X15 is lightweight, simple to carry around but weighty enough to make its way through the toughest wood.
This is an ideal multifunctional tool made from good quality materials. Overall, it comes with an exceptional design that attracts your attention and is surprisingly good for what is essentially a budget chopping axe.
- Features unique blade profile
- Surprisingly effective
- The insert-molded head and FiberComp handle provides unparalleled durability
- Comfortable to use
- Softer axe head steel requires sharpening more often
- Misc – Quality leather sheath
- Head material – C50 durable carbon steel
- Handle length – 31 in
- Handle mass – 3.5 lb
- Handle material – Hickory
Handmade in Germany, the Forester is a highly capable, full-size general purpose axe. Its 3.5 lb head provides enough heft and power for most cutting and felling work. Big enough to take down medium and large trees without over-encumbering the average user.
The head is hung with a dual wedge system with a hardwood and steel ring wedge for maximum head security. This axe is delivered with superior–quality and a vegetable-tanned durable leather sheath to guarantee it serves you for the long haul.
The head is also buffed and polished to a highly reflective finish that reduces cutting friction and improves rust resistance – it also looks amazing! And it offers an ideal balance between functionality and comfort.
The finishing on this axe is among the best I’ve seen, beautifully balanced, shaped perfectly and swings like demon!
- Comprises leather sheath & lubricating oil
- High-grade stainless steel
- Shock absorbing layout reduces hand/arm fatigue
- Curved ergonomic handle
- Looks amazing!
- Expensive compared to similar axes
- Handle material – stacked leather
- Head material – 1055 carbon steel
- Handle length – 14 in
- Overall mass – 1.7 lb
- Misc – Nylon sheath
For outdoor campers and enthusiasts, the Estwing Sportsman’s axe is among the most durable all-steel axes around. The steel has passed through exceptional heat treatment to enhance its durability and hardness.
Made in the USA, Estwing are renowned for their indestructible cutting tools, and this axe is one of the all-time best sellers on Amazon. The all-steel makeup of this axe ensures durability but loses the shock absorption qualities of a wooden handled axe.
The stacked leather grip goes a long way to reduce shock but will never be as pliable as natural wood. Still, its an amazingly effective small axe that just keeps selling and gets rave reviews from the large majority of happy customers.
If you’re looking for an indestructible hatchet that can deal with anything, the Estwing could be just what you’ve been looking for!
- Delivered with protective and durable nylon sheath
- Hand sharpened and polished blade
- Shock absorbing and non-slip leather grip
- Appropriate for splitting firewood and chopping wood
- Solid and sturdy build
- A bit cumbersome to use for long periods
- Some users claim that this axe’s edge is not sharp enough on delivery
The appetite for Swedish made axes has exploded in the last 20 years or so due to the craftsmanship and level of expertise that goes into making them. There are other brands out there that come close, but there really is no better axe than a Gransfors Bruk axe!
The best axes in the world are undoubtedly manufactured in Sweden. But the best axe is really the one that suits the users needs perfectly. You don’t necessarily need to buy a Gransfors Bruk Forest axe to split logs for firewood.
You certainly don’t need to spend $300 on a classic wilderness hatchet if you want to chop down a small tree in your garden.
The axes above are among the best in their field, but are by no means the only options out there for you. These are 5 of the best axes that MAY suit your own needs and I hope this article has given you some helpful information in your hunt for your next axe!