Small axes typically have short handles often below 20 inches in length, and light axe heads weighing anywhere from 1.5 to 2lbs. Tomahawks, camping axes, and hatchets, often fall under this category because most of them fit this description, even though there are slight technical differences in their designs.
One advantage that small axes have is that they are easily portable since they come in bug out bag friendly sizes. Such axes are also versatile, and users find them easy to operate with one or two hands. You can use them for pretty much anything, but you’ll have to be more critical with your selection if you want a small axe that you can use for specific tasks.
If you’re having trouble determining the kind of axe you should purchase, our detailed guide will help break things down for you. We’ve done the research and selected some of the best small axes in the market.
How to Buy a Small Axe
Let’s look at some of the things that you need to keep in mind when making your selection.
The Purpose of the Axe
As we mentioned earlier, small axes are versatile. However, some of the axes are better suited for certain jobs. Campers often prefer hatchets and camping axes because they’re great all-round alternatives. You can use them to chop down small trees, split firewood, carve, and clear bushes, among other activities.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that you’ll only be able to split or chop trees and wood with small diameters. Most hatchets can’t handle anything with a diameter that’s more than two inches in size. But there are small axes that can chop trees that have a 4-inch diameter. If you choose a hatchet for such a task, you’ll tire yourself out because you’ll need to use too much energy to get the job done.
You should also avoid tomahawks if you’re planning to chop trees and split wood. They’re made of light materials, which makes them great throwing axes. Even though they’re not ideal multipurpose tools, some people still use them for self-defense and as alternative hunting tools.
If you’re looking for something that can handle high impact tasks, make sure that it’s made of quality and durable materials. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a broken handle or a chipped blade.
The Handle and Grip
If you’ve asked for axe recommendations before, then you must have heard that axes with short handles can be dangerous. Most of these axes have shorter handles, and that is why you need to be keen on your selection. Opt for small axes with slightly longer handles if you’re still learning how to use an axe. However, if you’re more experienced, you can select the axe handle that has worked or works best for you.
You should also go for handle designs that provide you with a better grip. Some small axes have curved handles, while others have rubber and slip-resistant materials, to provide you with additional control. The more control you’ll have over the axe, the safer you’ll be when handling it.
The Quality of the Axe
To get a durable axe, you should look at the quality and the hardness of the steel used. Other factors that determine the quality of an axe include how well it holds the edge, the strength of its handle, and its grain orientation.
Cheap axes often have a roughly ground cutting edges that require a lot of grinding or filing to reshape or hone them. But you can still get quality affordable axes from high-end manufacturers, so you shouldn’t conclude that all budget axes are of poor quality.
If possible, invest in a hand-forged axe with a grain that runs straight through the length of the axe. Such axes last longer since they’re stronger, and they can also handle all kinds of tasks.
10 Best Small Axes of 2019
1. Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
Made in Sweden, this Wildlife Hatchet comes highly recommended for several reasons. It’s ideal for scouting and camping because of its versatility. It has a solid oil-finished handle that’s long enough to provide the axe with enough power for felling trees. You can use it to split small logs for campfires, chop off reasonably sized branches, and carve stakes, among other tasks.
It’s an heirloom-quality axe, with an ergonomic handle that you can comfortably use for extended periods. The axe head consists of durable steel that won’t chip easily. Its head geometry is also one of the features that makes it a great multipurpose tool.
Your purchase will include the Gransfors Bruks Axe Book. The book is quite informative and covers topics like making a fire, axe throwing, limbing a log, firewood, and caring for an axe. You’ll also get more information about the company, and other axes that they offer.
- Durable leather sheath.
- Perfectly straight wood grain.
- You might have to sharpen the blade depending on your needs.
This product is best for people who want a small axe with plenty of chopping power.
2. CRKT Woods Chogan Axe
This axe stands out because Ryan Johnson, of RMJ tactical, designed it. He applies modern engineering to centuries-old weapon theory, to come up with highly utilitarian axes. As a result, this axe is wilderness-ready and user-friendly.
For incredible strength and durability, the axe head was hot forged with 1055 steel. The head is also removable for convenience and portability. It features a hammerhead finish, which will come in handy when you’ll need to pound in nails and tent stakes. The axe can also make deep cuts thanks to its flat ground primary and secondary edge bevels.
It will feel comfortable in your hands, and your swings will be steady since it’s well-balanced. You’ll also be able to chop as much wood as you need without tiring yourself out. The handle is designed to combat fatigue, especially since its shape provides an ergonomic grip. It also has a lacquer coating for added durability.
Your purchase will also include a Limited Lifetime Warranty. The warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship.
- Strong Tennessee hickory handle.
- Offers some shock resistance.
- Precise blade curve.
- Doesn’t come with a protective cover.
This product is best for people who want an axe with a hammerhead for outdoor utility.
3. Husqvarna 13" Wooden Hatchet
This small Husqvarna axe is reliable because it’s hand-forged with Swedish steel and has a securely fastened head. It also features an American hickory handle with near perfect grain orientation. Users also like that it’s easy to sharpen, and it has excellent edge retention.
You can use it as a trail axe, and it will also come in handy for general camp chores. Although it has the finest materials, the manufacturer advises users to maintain it properly so that it can last longer. Some of the maintenance tips provided include greasing it for rust prevention, wiping away dirt and moisture before putting on the cover, and storing it in cold conditions so that the handle doesn’t shrink.
- Head is attached with a wooden and a steel wedge.
- Has a protective leather cover.
- It has an excellent grip.
- Some users reported a few quality control issues.
This product is best for people who want an axe for some light tasks, and a variety of carving and bushcraft uses.
4. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet
Gerber Bear Grylls offers a durable full tang axe with a high carbon steel construction for durability. It has a double-duty head that features a crosshatched striking surface. As such, you can use it to tenderize meat, pound stakes, and even straighten bent backpack stays.
The sturdy hatchet can chop above its weight class, limb saplings, split logs, turn out stacks of firewood, and help users improvise a quick shelter. You’ll also be able to use the axe for tasks that require precise control. The finger notch below the head makes it convenient for activities like stripping bark and feathering kindling.
The axe handle is rubberized for exceptional grip. It’s also ergonomic, making the axe comfortable and easy to secure. The base of the handle also has a hole that you can attach a lanyard for added safety.
- Comes with the brand’s ‘Priorities of Survival’ pocket guide.
- Military-grade, mildew-resistant sheath.
- The sheath has loops that conveniently strap to the user’s belt or backpack.
- Some users feel that it’s not heavy enough to provide the chopping power they need.
This product is best for people who a small axe with an anti-slip grip that will come in handy in both dry and wet conditions.
5. Estwing Sportsman's 14" Camping Axe
This Estwing axe is said to be one of the longest-lasting striking tools. It’s durable since it’s forged in one piece and it stands out because of its hand-polished head and neck. The axe is strong and its handle has genuine leather grips. The grips are also lacquered for durability. You’ll find that it has a long-lasting finish.
Its tempered cutting edge contributes to its efficiency. It’s part of why the axe is an excellent fit for campers and outdoorsmen. The brand takes pride in the fact that it’s also well-balanced.
- Sanded grips.
- Forged in the USA.
- Durable and comfortable finish.
- The leather grip absorbs water.
This product is best for people who want a small axe that can withstand hard use.
6. Hults Bruk Almike Small All Purpose Hatchet
The Hults Bruk Almike will meet most of your needs, whether you’re looking for a wilderness survival axe, a camping axe, or an all-purpose tool for your garden or backyard. Although It’s useful for several tasks, it's especially handy for backcountry jobs, making kindling, and light clearing because of its classic turpentine pattern axe head.
- Solid American hickory handle.
- Comes razor-sharp.
- Some users were not impressed with the finish.
This product is best for people who want a fine Swedish hatchet for all occasions.
7. Fiskars 378501-1002 X7 Hatchet
This Fiskars axe has traits that make it somewhat similar to an aluminum baseball bat. It has a great power-to-weight ratio and it’s perfectly balanced, such that an increase in swing speed will multiply its cutting power. You’ll get more done since you’ll be able to cut deeper with each swing. The axe blade also has a low-friction coating that helps prevent the head from getting stuck while chopping.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Great blade geometry.
- Clean cuts.
- Might require frequent sharpening.
This product is best for people who want axes that provide more power on impact. It’s also a good fit for people who prefer small axes with inseparable insert-molded heads.
8. Coleman Camp Axe
This axe has a durable drop-forged steel head with a very sharp edge. It’s a favorite among campers since it can handle a variety of tasks. The axe can also double as a hammer because of its flat edge. There’s also a notch cut into its head, which is very useful for pulling out nails or tent stakes. Some users also use the notch to hang the axe.
- Forged steel handle.
- Non-slip grip.
- Has an ergonomic feel.
- Not a good choice for heavy tasks.
This product is best for people who want a small affordable axe that they can use in wooded terrain, at the campsite, or their backyard.
9. Kershaw Camp Axe
For reliable durability, Kershaw drop-forged this axe in a single piece. It’s sturdy because the metal’s grain structure was aligned and stretched as it was drop-forged. You’ll have a secure grip when using it because the Kershaw axe has a non-slip krayton handle.
- Comes with a protective sheath.
- Solid construction.
- The carbon steel blade sharpens nicely.
- Most people replace the plastic sheath because they don’t like it.
This product is best for people who want a small camping axe that’s a compromise between a chopping and a splitting axe.
10. Snow & Nealley SNOW11-BRK Penobscot Bay Kindling Axe
This Snow & Nealley axe is larger than most hatchets but smaller than a full-sized felling axe. It will need some sharpening but you’ll notice that it retains its sharpness for some time. The axe was also assembled with care and precision since its head and handle are well-fitted.
- Easy to sharpen.
- Forged steel head.
- Made in the USA.
- Users have contradicting opinions about its grain orientation.
This product is best for people who want a well-forged axe that they can use to split wood into small kindling pieces.
The Best Small Axe
Our selection consists of small axes that appeal to campers, preppers, bushcraft lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts. That’s why you’ll find that there’s at least one type of axe that will capture your attention.
However, we recommend the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet as the best small axe because it’s capable of meeting different people’s needs. The axe is durable, versatile, and offers a lot of chopping power for its size. It’s also well-crafted and comes with a handy Axe book that has excellent tips.