Best Survival and Bushcraft Axe Guide
There are many preppers and bushcrafters who will tell you they prefer their axe to their survival knife..
This may very well be true - as an axe can do many bushcraft and survival skill tasks - far more than a knife can.
Although a Survival Axe would also make a good alternative weapon in the UK, it's primary use is in a preppers survival kit and Bug Out Bag and the survival axe is definitely up on any UK preppers list and therefore must be taken seriously as an essential bit of survival kit.
Considering the type of work that is expected from a survival axe, it is definitely necessary to spend a bit of money and buy quality gear, avoiding the cheaper products if at all possible.
But how do you choose the best survival and bushcraft axe?
Firstly, you will need to decide the type of axe required as there's a choice between a general duty axe that is capable of most tasks like felling, chopping and splitting - then there's a bigger, more tougher axe that are more capable of splitting and felling the larger logs (sometimes called a Maul Axe).
* If your a taller person, I would go for an axe with as longer shaft handle as possible - you will find these much easier to handle - a large handled axe can become a bit much for the shorter person to throw around...
What Type Of Axe Is Best?
An axe is an axe, and no matter what type you have, they are a very essential tool to have with you.
However, they do vary in size and shape, with quite a few sizes to choose from, and as well as that, a small axe even becomes a hatchet when it goes below small axe size..!
The hatchet - with less shaft length, generally smaller and lighter weight, is designed for the more smaller bushcraft jobs, although these hatchets are tough and can still be used for splitting and chopping, it would be a bit more harder work with one of these compared to a splitting axe.
The general shape is very much the same, along with the shape of the head and blade - the only difference is the handle length which will mean a lighter weight - there is no definitive handle length where the smaller hatchet becomes an axe.
From a preppers perspective, an axe AND a hatchet are preferred, but this may not be feasible in a bug out or survival situation and my personal choice would be something in between a forest axe, which has a handle length or around 18" (although this will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
To see my hatchet buyers guide chart please click here - Hatchet buyers guide
Here are a few main points you should consider when choosing an axe or hatchet -
- Will fit into a survival rucksack
- Includes a leather safety carry hood
- Wood, fibreglass or metal shaft and handle
- Good size chopping head - 3 1/4"
- The edge holds its sharpness
- Will cut through a 6" diameter timber with ease
- Easy to handle and precise when preparing kindling wood
- Extremely comfortable handle
Some manufacturers will produce a whole range of axe's, from hatchet size up to very heavy duty splitting axe's, like the current Gransfor axe range shown in the previous photo.
They may also offer many different types of axe and specialise on wooden shafts.
Within the bushcraft and survival fraternity you will find a tendency to go for the more traditional wooden handled axe's. I am not certain if there really is a difference in quality between a traditional and modern axe, in fact some of the modern fibreglass shafts are very good and offer better shock protection.
The only main difference that I can think of is the fact that with a traditional axe you can replace the wooden shaft , like in olden times?
Examples of quality Bushcraft axes
The Helko Werk axe [shown above] are certainly something to consider when buying an axe. Made in Germany, with high grade carbon steel, which is die drop forged by hand, heat treated and oil-hardened to give a hardness value of between 53-56 HRC [Rockwell].
The perfect amount to give full strength but allowing for shock flexibility when splitting wood.
They are good axes, I should know, I have the Black Forest Axe [shown above] and it's never let me down.
Alternative 'modern' Axes:
Of course theres a whole range of of axes more then capable of doing the job. They can actually work out considerably cheaper than the professional 'bushcraft' axes.
The quality may well be lower but providing you don't abuse them and try to kill them by doing tasks they are clearly not designed for, they'll work fine while you build your kit up to a higher level.
Link to see the range of different axes:
I hope this article has been of use to you.
An axe is one of the most important tools for bushcraft and survival.
Steve Hart - UK Preppers Guide