You never know when you’re going to need a survival axe. Having one at your disposal will have you well equipped to handle certain emergency and survival situations, regardless of whether you’re outdoors or in an urban setting. That’s why you should always include it on your survival gear checklist.
Even though a lot of people compare the axes to survival knives, they are much more versatile and can efficiently handle heavier tasks. You can use a survival axe for self-defense, digging, skinning animals, cutting wood splints in case of injuries, tree-felling, crafting shelter, and starting fires, among other uses.
We’ve done the research and narrowed down some of the best survival axes in the market. This guide will also educate you on what you need to keep in mind when buying a survival axe.
How to Buy the Best Survival Axe
To help you get a survival axe that fits you best, we’ve highlighted some of the factors that you need to consider when making your selection.
You’ll need a survival axe that you can easily carry around. That’s why you should consider the weight of the axe. A heavy one will tire you out, particularly in situations where you’ll be handling a lot of woodwork. The worst thing you could do is settle for an axe that won’t be of much use to you when you need it the most. You’ll also have a hard time carrying it with you, especially if you’ll be walking for long distances.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should settle for the lightest axe available. A heavy axe can easily generate the momentum you need to cut down wood, while a light axe won’t have the same chopping force that you’ll need for heavy-duty work. The best survival axe should have a weight that makes it both portable and capable of providing you with sufficient chopping power.
The survival axe you choose should have a good grip. You’ll be safer with an axe that you can easily control. The axe should not waver whenever you swing it. Instead, it should feel like an extension of your hand.
Some axes have handles made of rubber or slip-resistant materials to provide you with an excellent grip. A survival axe can also have a swelling at the end of the handle to prevent it from slipping. Overall, you should go for the option that feels more comfortable to you.
When using the axe, your hands might get sweaty at some point. There’s also a possibility that you might need to use it when it’s raining or snowing. As a result, its handle might become slippery. You could opt to wear or carry waterproof gloves that will enhance your grip in such scenarios.
The weight distribution between the handle and the head will also affect your ability to use the axe. If the axe lacks a good design structure, its overall performance will be poor. You’ll deal with more impact, and it might even break while you’re using it. Such axes will also tire you out faster because of the excess energy required in each swing.
An ideal survival axe should have most of the weight in its head. If it’s well-balanced, your axe will swing properly, give you more control, and provide you with better chopping power.
Survival axes have three types of handles. You should consider each handle’s strengths and weaknesses before making your decision.
Wooden handles portray a more traditional look. They are easy to replace, offer excellent strength to weight ratio, and are great shock absorbers. Strong wood handles have grains that run vertically down the length of the handles. Handles with grains running from left to right are not of the best quality.
Most modern survival axes have synthetic handles. They’re often comfortable, and some of them even have non-slip rubberized grips. Although they are stronger and lighter than wood handles, they aren’t easily replaceable. However, that’s something you can overlook if you’re after an axe that offers the best compromise in terms of weight and strength.
Axes with metal handles are the strongest since they can also be used for demolition work. They are an excellent choice for people who want something durable, but they don’t have the best shock absorption. These types of handles are best suited for urban environments since the axes can also double as pry bars.
You should also consider the length of the axe handle. Axes with long handles are the safest alternatives. However, you don’t want a handle that’s too long because it will inconvenience you. Shorter handles equate to excellent precision, but they won’t provide enough power for bigger tasks. Settle for an axe with a mid-sized handle because it will still be portable, and it will also offer you the precision and power you need for various tasks. The axe handle should also be ergonomic, with a size that comfortably fits your hands.
Just like the handles, axe blades are made from different materials. Some materials are more reliable because they are stronger and durable. Blades made from steel and other strong metals, don’t chip, dent, or crack easily. The best blade materials are also corrosion and wear-resistant.
The thickness and sharpness of the blade also matters. A blunt axe will give you a hard time because it will either keep bouncing back or require too much effort to penetrate the wood. Such an axe will tire you out and waste your time and energy during an emergency. Axes with thin blades are also tiring because you’ll still need a lot of effort to pull them out.
The best survival axe should allow you to penetrate as deep as you need to, and require the least amount of effort to disengage it.
Workmanship and Design
A quality survival axe will serve you well, and won’t let you down at the worst possible time. You want a survival axe that’s not too fragile. The handle shouldn’t loosen up easily, nor should it have a blade that chips whenever you’re handling heavy tasks. You should examine how the parts are attached to each other, and consider the overall quality of the materials used to make the axe.
Try not to overlook the design of the axe as well. Some axes have unilateral handles that are made to envelop the blades. Others have handles that are stuffed into the bottom of the blades. However, axes with both designs are said to be durable. It all depends on your needs and preferences. Before making your selection, you should always check out the available designs and settle for the one that you feel will suit you best.
10 Best Survival Axes of 2019
1. Estwing Sportsman's Axe
The Estwing Sportsman's Axe is one of the most durable survival axes in the market. The manufacturer paid a lot of attention to every detail and forged it to satisfy even the most experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Its head and neck are hand-polished, and it comes with a heavy-duty ballistic sheath to protect the cutting edge.
- Has a hand sanded and lacquered leather grip.
- Made in the USA with the finest American steel.
- Forged in one piece for longevity.
- Needs to be sharpened.
This product is best for people who want a versatile survival axe that can chop, split firewood, and start a fire, among other uses.
2. Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe
This axe has a traditional look. It’s made from fine grain steel and hand-worked for exceptional performance. Some claim that its a hybrid combination of an axe and a tomahawk. You can trust that it’s going to serve you well because of its well-balanced design. The axe also comes with a genuine leather blade guard for added safety.
- Reasonable weight for portability.
- Its bit is heavier than the poll, providing users with better control.
- Excellent for splitting wood.
- It has a poor finish.
- Not the ideal option for beginners.
This product is best for more experienced axe users who love traditional designs and can handle wooden axes that don’t offer much grip.
3. SOG Camp Axe
SOG offers an all-weather survival axe that consists of satin-polished stainless steel. You’ll have an easy time using it because its textured GRN handle will provide you with a good grip. The axe is surprisingly tough, despite its lightweight build. Its broad hammer head also makes it reliable for activities that require a lot of force.
- Comes with a glass-reinforced nylon sheath.
- The manufacturer considers replacement and repairs for properly maintained axes.
- It can handle high impact tasks.
- Should be carried cautiously because the sheath tends to slide off.
This product is best for people who want a survival axe that they can also use as a hammer. The axe can pound tent stakes, and it’s also great for precision cutting, among other things.
4. Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
This axe comes with a flexible and robust hickory handle. The design is user-friendly, and it has a great balance, which contributes to its performance. It’s a traditional axe with a perfect grind and a durable high carbon steel head. The metal portion is well-polished, and its blade is so sharp that you could even use it to shave if you wanted to.
- It has a vegetable-tanned leather sheath.
- The steel is made from recycled scrap metal.
- Comes with a 20-year guarantee.
- Some users reported a few quality control issues.
This product is best for outdoor enthusiasts who want a survival axe that’s big enough to chop large trunks, yet small enough to do relatively small tasks.
5. Husqvarna S2800 27" Composite Splitting Axe
This Husqvarna axe is yet another quality survival axe with a hammer head function. You’ll find it easy to split logs because its optimized head and light shaft provide users with concentrated cutting power. It’s useful for a wide range of applications since it has a drop-forged blade and excellent weight distribution.
- Fiber-reinforced PA shafts.
- Comfortable fiber-glass handle.
- The design has great ergonomic details.
- Some users received defective axes.
- The blade isn’t suited for heavy tasks.
This product is best for people who want an affordable quality axe for simple cutting tasks.
6. Cold Steel Trail Boss 27-inch Axe
This axe is worth purchasing because it has undergone extensive field tests. It has a European style head and a durable straight-grained handle. The axe is also easy to maneuver, even though its design is more suitable for experienced users.
- Great choice for harsh environments.
- Ergonomic handle.
- Has excellent edge retention.
- You’ll need to make a few modifications before you start using it.
This product is best for people who’ll need to clear roads and trails, chop down medium-sized trees, or build blinds.
7. Gerber Gator Combo Axe II
This Gerber Gator survival axe comes with a coarse blade handsaw. The axe handle features Gerber’s Gator texture for maximum grip and better control. The handle is also designed to house the handsaw magnetically, for added convenience and easy storage.
- Two survival tools in one unit.
- Forged steel head for edge retention.
- Incredible striking force.
- Not ideal for chopping down anything with a diameter that’s larger than three inches.
This product is best for people who want survival tools with a grip they can rely on even in wet and muddy conditions.
8. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Black Forest Woodworker Axe
This German axe features the brand’s famous Rheinland pattern axe head. It has a 150 grit smooth sanded handle and a linseed oil finish. The axe also comes with a bottle of Axe Guard protective oil. You should try it out if you value quality workmanship.
- Grade A American hickory handle.
- The head is hand forged using a drop hammer.
- High-grade carbon steel with 53-56 Rockwell Hardness.
- The cutting edge might need a lot of honing.
This product is best for tall users who want a survival axe with the perfect handle length. It’s also an excellent choice for experienced people looking for a quintessential tool.
9. Schrade SCAXE2L Survival Axe
Schrade offers a survival axe that you can rely on for all outdoor adventures. The axe features a hammer pommel, and it also comes with an extra-large ferro rod. Its ergonomic black rubber grip and cold-resistant handle also makes it secure and easy to use.
- 3Cr13 Titanium coated blade.
- Has a lanyard for added portability.
- Sharp, reliable blade.
- Not the ideal axe for urban survival.
This product is best for people who want a survival axe for woodland and outdoor settings. It’s an excellent choice for bushcraft, hiking, and camping.
10. Coleman Camp Axe
This axe can handle multiple tasks thanks to its heavy-duty drop-forged steel head. You can use it on wooden terrain, campsites, and your backyard as well. It has a flat edge that can drive tent stakes into the ground, and a notch in its head that can also pull out the stakes. You’ll find that it’s also durable and well-built.
- Strong steel handle.
- Ergonomic non-slip grip.
- Has a pulling notch on its head.
- It doesn’t come with a sheath.
This product is best for people who want an axe they can use for light tasks and for beheading and preparing game meat. It’s also a good choice for users who want to prepare for any camping contingency.
The Best Survival Axe
The best survival axe for you might not necessarily be a good fit for the next person. That’s why this guide consists of different kinds of axes. We wanted to ensure that everyone can get an axe that will meet their needs.
We recommend the Estwing Sportsman's Axe because its design, versatility, and overall quality make it an excellent choice for all survival and outdoor enthusiasts. However, you can check out the other axes in our review if you’re looking for something that’s more in line with your personal preferences.