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Best Survival Axe

Last Updated: January 21, 2020
Terry Daine
Product Review by Terry Daine

Axes are one of the most useful, multifunctional tools that a survivalist should possess.

There are several factors to consider when deciding on the best survival axe for you. Choosing the wrong axe could be detrimental to your survival. Axes can have many different uses, from chopping wood, to hunting, to killing zombies, so it’s crucial that you aren’t left with a low-quality axe.

If you are new to the world of survival axes, you will come across the words’ hatchet’ and ‘tomahawk’ quite often. Hatchets and Tomahawks are a shorter style of axe, which is why they’re an ideal choice for survival. I’ll use these words interchangeably with ‘axe’ throughout the reviews, but it’s worth bearing this in mind when researching survival axes.

We’ve taken a look at five of the best survival axes on the market to narrow down your decision. Hopefully you find our in-depth reviews helpful, and you can use our handy buyer’s guide to get the most out of your survival axe.

Our Reviews

1

IUNIO Camping Axe

The versatility of this axe from IUNIO is what makes it so great for survival.

With an adjustable length, it works well for both compact environments and for times when you have space to swing.

At full length, the handle is 16″, and you can adjust the axe length through its straightforward assembly. This feature means it would work well, no matter the environment.

It works as a survival multi-tool, with plenty of different uses. It can be used to split small logs, break glass, build shelters, and even start fires. It also comes with a compass and an emergency whistle, amongst other survival equipment, making it a useful axe to have on hand to save space. The axe comes with built-in tubes to store items such as first aid kits and fishing gear, which makes it an efficient and space-saving tool to have.

Designed from high-carbon steel and aluminum alloy, it is a durable axe that could withstand harsh conditions and tough terrain. However, some customers have found that the overall quality of the axe isn’t great, with the head coming loose after more intense chopping.

Pros

  • Multi-tool features make it great for any survival situation
  • Adjustable length for different environments
  • Built-in tubular engineering
  • Comes with additional survival gear, such as compass and whistle

Cons

  • Doesn't perform the best with heavy-duty chopping
  • Quality is not the highest
2

Estwing Camper's Axe E45ASE

A popular choice among campers, this axe is built from high-quality solid steel, and hand sharpened and polished for a sleek finish. The axes go through a drop forging and tempering process during construction, making them durable against harsh conditions and all environments.

It is also a comfortable axe to hold, including Shock Reduction Grip. The nylon vinyl design of the grip creates less strain on the wrist and hand, and reduces impact vibration by 70%. It is also very lightweight, weighing only 7oz, making it great for carrying with you in a survival situation.

The axe head design makes it ideal for chopping logs or trees, to cleanly cutting firewood and kindling. It is a versatile and high-performance blade, so you can rest assured that it would get the job done in almost any survival scenario.

If you are looking for a truly heavy-duty axe, however, the lightweight feel of Estwing’s may mean it doesn’t perform the best when it comes to chopping tough materials. For the best survival axe, you need to choose one that gives you a balance of power and comfort, and this option may be a little too comfortable to get optimal results.

Pros

  • Built from high-quality solid steel
  • Shock Reduction Grip to prevent vibration
  • Lightweight for convenience
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Not heavy enough to chop heavy-duty materials consistently well
3

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

As a trusted manufacturer of survival axes, Gransfors Bruks’ axe gives you the reliability you need during an emergency. This trusted name does mean the price tag is higher than other axes on the market, but the high quality of this axe can’t be denied.

The blade is particularly sharp compared to other axes, with some customers claiming it is sharp enough to shave with it. It really does seem razor-sharp, which means you know your chop will be clean and easy with this axe.

The wooden handle is relatively long, at 13.5 inches, which gives the axe more power behind its chop. However, this means it is not the most compact axe despite technically being a ‘hatchet.’ It is quite a bit heavier than some of the other axes on our list, at 1.3lbs, but this is due to its strong chopping power and heavy-duty design. This is worth thinking about if you are going to struggle to handle the extra weight.

In addition to its high-performance, the hatchet also comes with a vegetable-tanned, leather sheath for protection. It is generally very aesthetically pleasing and looks as high-quality as it performs.

Pros

  • Razor-sharp blade
  • Long handle for a powerful swing
  • Leather sheath for protection
  • Trusted manufacturer with 20 years warranty

Cons

  • Not budget-friendly
  • Not the most lightweight axe and the size could be inconvenient
4

Off Grid Tools Survival Axe

This survival hatchet comes with many functions and is more than just a typical axe.

Off Grid Tools claim that this axe comes with 31 different features, and while we won’t list all of them, one of the most significant features is the built-in saw inside the axe head.

The 6-inch replaceable saw blade is useful for survival, and will make your life easier if you need to start a fire or build a shelter. As it is replaceable, you don’t have to worry about it needing constant maintenance, and it can be changed with most saws that you could find at your local hardware store.

Another feature of this axe is its size. It remains big enough to perform well, while also being compact enough to carry easily without it causing an issue. It has a lightweight feel, weighing only 1.49 pounds, so you won’t have to worry about it weighing you down too much.

Despite its relatively small size, the hatchet also features extras such as a can opener, a bottle opener, glass breaker, and a pry bar, to name a few. However, some of the additional features can seem unnecessary, such as a box cutter and a wire twist. It is worth considering what features are most important to you, and whether you feel like the excess features would cause you more problems instead of assistance.

Pros

  • 6-inch replaceable saw blade
  • Lightweight and compact while still high performing
  • Comes with useful extras

Cons

  • Some of the features are not essential to survival
5

SOG Tactical Tomahawk

With many survival axes on the market, it can be hard to find one that is sturdy and reliable while still be affordable. The SOG Tactical Tomahawk is built to last, with the axe head made from sharp 420 stainless steel, and the handle made from sturdy fiberglass nylon. This gives the handle a better grip, and the axe is also protected with a nylon sheath for safety.

Although it is made from tough material, the axe is fairly slim in design, and is around 16 inches long. This length means it is meant to swing fast and hard, and the stainless-steel blade means it is ideal for all kinds of chopping and hacking scenarios.

A standout feature of this tomahawk is the ratio between its size and just how powerful it is. It is lightweight at only 19oz, which is unusual for a truly heavy-duty axe.

In addition to its sharp axe head, the head also has a flat edge, which is ideal for hammering. It can then be flipped over to work as a spike, suitable for piercing or digging. This makes it one of the most versatile tools on our list.

Although the handle is built from durable material, some customers have complained that it is difficult to grip the tail of the axe. This means that your hands are more prone to slipping if you sweat or if it is humid.

Pros

  • Sharp 420 stainless steel axe head
  • Slim and lightweight design combined with powerful performance
  • Flat edge and spike poll

Cons

  • Grip isn't the most secure

Weight Distribution

To get the most out of a survival axe, the weight of it needs to be distributed correctly. The head of the axe needs to carry most of the weight to produce a more effective chop.

Whether you are looking at a hatchet or a large axe, the balance will feel different for everyone depending on your height and strength as well. A good way to test the balance of the axe is to feel it in both hands, swing it, and get used to the size of it. This is a lot harder if you purchase an axe online, however, so be mindful of this, as what may be unbalanced for one person could be just fine for you.

The choice between a traditional axe or a smaller design comes down to your personal preference, and the amount of space available to you. If you have a car or a tent, then an axe, instead of a hatchet, could be worth looking at too.

Axe Head

The edge of the axe head is vital to its overall performance. Different materials will require a different shape to handle them, so it is worth considering this when deciding which axe to buy.

In the wilderness, it’s possible that you’ll need to chop wood or chop through natural materials. For this, a flatter edge works best, as it puts more of the edge against the material with each stroke.

However, a flat edge is more likely to get stuck in a completely flat surface, such as a wall, so to tackle these materials you should look at a head that’s crescent or curved shaped.

Thickness and Sharpness

The thickness of the head also determines the force of the chop. A wider axe head can split materials with great force, by forcing the material apart using pressure, rather than slicing into it.

In contrast, a thin axe head is similar to a knife in the way it cuts material, and works well for carving tasks. Arguably, this style of axe head is more versatile, as it can do more than just cut materials apart. However, when it comes to survival, you may find a more heavy-duty, wide axe head makes you feel safer.

The differences between the head thicknesses are not always distinct, and while it may not be the most crucial aspect of a survival axe to think about, it is worth knowing if you are struggling to decide on a purchase.

The Poll – Hammer or Spike?

If you flip the axe around, you can use the ‘poll’ as another tool, making it a multifunctional piece of survival gear.

The poll means the axe can double as a hammer or a spike. Hammer polls are deemed to be safer than spike polls, due to their shape, and they would work well in wilderness situations. You could set up a tent or shelter using the hammer poll, meaning you could also save space by not carrying these two tools separately.

A spike poll means you could use the axe for tasks such as digging, and particularly with tough or rocky terrain. It is worth considering which poll shape you would prefer to have on hand in a survival situation.

Handle Length and a Sturdy Grip

The handle is an essential part of the axe that shouldn’t be overlooked. It is especially important to focus on the length of the handle, as a difference in this can create an entirely different chop.

However, it is a good idea to bear in mind how portable your axe will be. Although a longer handle usually means a more heavy-duty axe, this is not the most convenient option for survival. The best idea would be to find the right balance between a portable axe that can still provide high-quality chops.

As well the handle being an appropriate length, the tail of the axe needs to give you a secure grip. If it slips from your hands at the wrong time, it can cause an incredibly dangerous situation.

The tail is designed with non-slip material, such as rubber or wood. It should be able to withstand humid conditions. Some axes are even specially designed to increase the grip and comfort, by using patterns in the tail to help with this.

A Multi-Purpose Tool

As surviving is the primary purpose when you’re in an emergency, you’ll want as many tools as you can get to increase your chances of staying alive. Some axes offer more than just the ability to chop.

Multi-purpose axes can often contain additional items in the handle, such as a knife, a small saw, or a fire starter. An axe with these features would save you space in your survival backpack, and also save you time having to look for these items when you need them most.

Recap

We believe there is something for everyone on our list, but my choice for the best survival axe would be the Estwing Camper’s Axe E45ASE.

It provides a great combination of a powerful swing, with a comfortable and sleek design, all without breaking the bank when it comes to price.

It is not an easy choice to decide on the best axe for survival. However, with the help of our product reviews, we hope you can find the right one to protect you no matter what the environment.

We hope you enjoyed our review, and you’ll now have a better insight into what is the best survival axe.

Please leave any feedback in the comment section below, and get in touch with us if you have any ideas for future topics. We’d love to hear from you!

Good Luck and Happy Survival Prepping!

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