In the world of axes, one variation on this age-old design really stands apart from the rest of the pack – and that’s the crash axes.
Almost always hatchet sized, these axes are very rarely used to chop firewood or on a jobsite but are instead carried by emergency responders, police officers, and elite members of military units around the world.
To say that these are very technically minded axes would be the understatement of the century.
Half tool, half weapon, and 100% useful when the chips are down and you really need a tool you can rely on, finding the best crash axe on the market today becomes a whole lot easier when you focus on the details we touch on below.
What to Consider Before Buying a New Crash Axe
The best crash axes are going to be able to handle would splitting and shopping duties if they have to, but they can also handle a whole host of other tasks as well – particularly when it comes to tactical or survival situations.
If you’re investing in this kind of tool you’ll need to know that it isn’t going to let you down, and that’s why you want to focus on these key elements.
Strength of Materials
These tools are pressed into action in emergency situations more often than not and you need to know that the construction materials your crash axe is made out of are up to the task at hand. The steel or titanium these axes are made out of are usually far superior – and a lot lighter – than what you’ll find in traditional axes or hatchets.
Crash axes are going to look very “high-speed, low drag” and that’s because they are. The overall design of these axes usually implement tactical tools and accessories (like spiked ends opposite the axe blade on some axes, for example) which is why they are half tool and half weapon the time.
If you’re going to be depending on this to do double duty make sure that it features the tactical elements you want to rely on should you need them in an emergency.
Balance in the Hand
Balance is a big piece of the puzzle with any crash axe. It should be lightweight enough to comfortably swing with either hand, balanced well enough to be swung with both hands in a pinch, and should be highly accurate to deliver blows dependably time and time again.
Ability to Hold an Edge
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that your crash axe is capable of not only taking an edge but also holding that edge even when it gets put through its paces. A lot of low quality steels will deflect and roll when they get a lot of use, but that shouldn’t ever be a problem with a crash axe that’s been well-made.
Top 10 Crash Axes
1. Off Grid Tools Survival Axe Ultimate Outdoor Multitool-Hatchet
Designed from top to bottom to be the ultimate outdoor multitool, you get more than a dozen different tools in one compact hatchet form factor when you snap up this crash axe.
Not only does this unit include a hatchet blade with a razor sharp edge, but it also has a hammer, a nail claw, a built-in prybar and nail puller, a removable and replaceable six-inch saw blade, numerous hex wrenches, a bottle opener, and so much more.
It also is made out of high quality steel without the heaviness of traditional hatchets, weighing in at just 1.6 pounds.
- Very lightweight and compact, measuring in at 11.5 inches long and weighing just 1.6 pounds.
- More than a dozen different tools in one form factor.
- Comfortable in the hand thanks to ergonomically designed no slip grip.
- A little bit on the smaller side of things if you want to use it around the campsite.
This product is best for outdoors people that want to cut down on their gear without cutting corners.
2. USAF WWII Replica Crash Survival Axe
Essentially a modern reimagining of the traditional US Air Force World War II crash axe given to members of this branch of the military when they were headed overseas.
The blade itself is made out of high carbon steel to not only take a razor sharp edge but hold it as well, and the handle has been completely covered in a textured rubber material to guarantee perfect grip even when it gets soaking wet.
Lightweight, accurate, and easy to use it’s a no-frills option that gets the job done.
- Tried and true design that’s just as good today as it was almost 80 years ago.
- Minimalist piece of equipment for those that aren’t looking for frills.
- Super lightweight and incredibly sharp.
- Isn’t quite as “feature-rich” as some of the other crash axes available on the market today.
This product is best for purists that aren’t looking for anything extra out of their hatchet than what this crash axe has to offer.
3. Gemtor D42 Crash Axe
Almost identical to the World War II crash axe we just highlighted above, this features the exact same design elements, the exact same adherence to minimalism, and features the same high carbon steel throughout.
The only thing really different about this crash axe than the one given to US Air Force pilots and other members of that branch of the military back in the 1940s is the fact that it features a steel handle that has been insulated against electricity. It can protect shocks good for up to 20,000 V.
The balance on this crash axe is also top-tier.
- Another great minimalist option for those that don’t need a lot extra from their crash axe.
- Lightweight hatchet design is perfectly balanced for repeatable and accurate swings and strikes.
- Available in standard blade or serrated blade configurations.
- The 15 inch long handle feels a little bit too long for the size of this axe head.
This product is best for backpackers and car campers that want to keep a lightweight, minimalist hatchet on hand for light duty work.
4. Off Grid Tools IF IF 232 One Size Fixed Blade Crash Axe
Firefighters carry crash axes on their person all the time (often on top of the traditional firemen axe that some of them will carry into duty as well), this crash axe is one of the few options on the market today that meets all four categories necessary for a fire department forcible entry tool.
Featuring high quality construction materials throughout, the entire unit is made out of a single piece of forged steel and is 100% made in the USA. You get a axe, a hammer, a nail pull, a prybar, a gas cut off wrench, and a grapple hook all in one ridiculously compact form factor.
- High quality enough to be used by fire departments throughout the United States.
- Includes proprietary features you won’t find on other crash axes.
- Lifetime warranty guarantees you’ll never have to buy another crash axe again.
- Situationally useful and not ideal for those that want a crash axe to keep around a campsite.
This product is best for emergency responders as well as those that want to keep a crash axe in their vehicle or bugout gear
5. Tops Knives IDT Individual Demolition Tool Crash Axe
This crash axe was originally designed to help USAF pilots escape from a downed aircraft, and today it is used by members of SWAT, fire, emergency, and police departments as well as elite military units in the United States and around the rest of the world.
The whole axe weighs less than a single pound, is made entirely out of 3/8 inch 1095 tempered carbon steel, and has been sharpened to a razors edge and will keep that edge with very little maintenance and upkeep necessary.
Opposite the axe blade is a tanto knifepoint style head that can be used in self-defense, dramatically improving its usability and versatility in tactical situations.
- Made out of incredibly high quality carbon steel to hold a razors edge.
- Protected with black traction coating directly on the handle for improved grip.
- Knife blade style head opposite the hatchet makes this a tactical weapon.
- A little too lightweight for general use compared to other crash axes available.
This product is best for those that want to keep a crash axe on hand as a self defense tool.
6. Off Grid Tools OGT-SA100 Survival Axe
Almost identical to the very first crash axe we highlighted above, this actually adds a couple of other tools and features to the table – including a hardened steel glass breaker, seatbelt cutter, and an improved claw.
It has more than 30 different individual features and tools to help you make the most out of this crash axe, making it a true multi tool solution for those that want to camp, bug out, or defend themselves in an emergency situation.
- More than 30 different tools make this a very flexible option.
- Hardened 1055 carbon steel is razor sharp and very durable.
- Compact and lightweight design is easy to swing.
- Not as comfortable to grip as some of the other options, especially over longer stretches of time.
This product is best for those that want their crash axe to handle everything from camp chores to the zombie apocalypse.
7. SOG Camp Axe
SOG has been making tools for elite police and military units for decades now, and the camp axe that they have to offer is one of the best utilitarian style crash hatchets money can buy.
Simple, straightforward, and elegant in its design it is made out of a single piece of high carbon steel that has been hardened and reinforced. A rubberized grip and handle runs the full length of the tang for extra support and stability, and everything remains lightweight and compact – measuring in at just 11.5 inches and weighing only 16 ounces.
- Tactical Tomahawk style design allows for heavy duty cutting and shopping.
- Oversized hammer surface area provides better brute force application.
- Fiberglass reinforced nylon handle has plenty of grip and durability.
- There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with this crash axe.
This product is best for backpackers, adventurers, and weekend warriors that want a lightweight but high quality camp axe to keep on hand.
8. HX Outdoors Mercenarys Tactical Engineer Axes
About as tactical a crash axe as you’re going to find, this is way more weapon than tool – though it does heavy duty as a hatchet as well.
Made out of high quality high carbon steel, a resident synthetic handle, and featuring a proprietary blade design that features three different razor edges for maximum cutting and chopping capabilities this is a lightweight, easy swinging tactical hatchet for sure.
- It makes no bones about the fact that it is weapon first, tool second for those looking for self-defense.
- Super lightweight yet reinforced in all the right places to add strength and durability.
- Easy to wield with ambidextrous grip and ergonomic design.
- Not the most flexible or versatile of crash axe options out there.
This product is best for those that are going to depend on their crash axe as a self-defense tool more than anything else.
9. 14 in 1 Stainless Steel Multitool
Not a whole lot bigger than your traditional pair of pliers, this is way more multi tool than crash axe but it does feature a useful hatchet head for light work around the campsite.
You get 14 different tools in a compact form factor, many of them quite useful when you find yourself outdoors. Opposite the hatchet blade you’ll find a useful hammer, both heads can be separated to reveal pliers and wire cutters, and there are blades, bottle openers, and more tucked into the handle itself.
- Saves you from having to carry around a separate multi tool by keeping everything in one place.
- Made out of heavy duty stainless steel construction materials with black oxidation for improved durability.
- Lightweight and easy to carry, and even easier to use with either hand.
- Not so much a axe as much as a multi tool that also has a axe function.
This product is best for anyone that might occasionally need a hatchet or axe but really needs a multi tool more often than not.
10. Ontario Wyvern Crash Axe
Measuring in at 19 inches long haul, this is one of the longer crash axes you’ll find as well as one of the more minimalist options we’ve highlighted.
A 5 inch cutting head is made out of 5160 carbon steel, and a black linen micarta handle offers a lot of extra grip that isn’t going to let you down when your hands get sweaty or the axe gets wet. The entire unit has a full and extended tang, a chisel and, and a handful of other tools at the opposite end of the handle from the axe head that can prove useful in an emergency.
- Simple, straightforward, and elegantly designed.
- Features some of the highest quality metal of any crash axe that really holds a sharp edge.
- Handle is ergonomically designed and super comfortable, even when soaking wet.
- Paddle style shape on this hatchet is a little bit less functional than some of the other options out there.
This product is best for folks that are looking for a little extra length, little extra leverage, and a little extra swing power out of their crash axe.