10 Best Axes of 2019 – Top Axe for Splitting Wood

A good axe can be worth its weight in gold. Use it to clear unwanted trees in your garden. Take it camping to help prepare kindling. Or leave it in the boot of your car to deal with fallen branches on remote roads.

But however you use it, you need to know it’s up to the job. That’s where we come in. Read on for our reviews of ten of the best axes out there today.

The Best Axe Reviews of 2019

1. Husqvarna 26" Wooden Multi-Purpose Axe

 

If you’re looking for a tool to cope with a range of challenges, this multi-purpose axe may be for you.

The look and feel are traditional. There’s a single, sharp blade made from Swedish steel that’s forged by hand. The handle is made of hickory. The two pieces are attached using two wedges, one of wood and the other of steel, to give a secure fit.

The handle is 26 inches long. That means you’ll generate plenty of power when you swing. It’s versatile enough to be used for felling trees or chopping firewood.

The blade comes with a leather cover for safe storage when not in use.

So far, so good. But we’ve heard of some bad experiences with that hand-forged blade. The story usually goes something like this: it works brilliantly, until the day it snaps.

Careful maintenance is key. If you buy this one, watch out for high temperatures – they can cause the handle to shrink. Dry the axe after use and grease it if you’re going to be storing it for long periods.

What We Like

  • Sharp blade
  • Handsome hickory handle
  • Long handle generates plenty of power on the swing

What We Don't Like

  • Requires maintenance to keep it performing at its best
  • The blade has been known to snap.

2. Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe (36") (Our Top Recommended)

 

If you’re tall, a long-handled axe can be a wise investment. You’ll be able to get maximum power with your swing, and won’t have to bend low as you work. So if you’re blessed with long limbs, consider this 36-inch axe from Fiskars.

The grip here is textured, so it won’t slip in your grasp as you swing. It also means you won’t have to hold on quite so hard, so won’t strain your hand.

The blade is all business, and it’s designed with splitting medium to large logs in mind. It has a beveled edge with a convex profile that helps prevent the blade from sticking in the wood. Get your swing right, and you’ll power through most logs in a single strike.

It’s a robust design, and it comes with an impressive lifetime warranty.

It’s not the lightest axe out there, weighing in at just under six pounds. The weight means a greater impact on your strike, but also calls for more physical exertion. If you’re not that tall, or a lighter build, opt for a different axe.

What We Like

  • Strong, well-designed blade splits logs cleanly
  • Textured, non-slip handle
  • Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Heavier than other axes
  • Not the best choice for shorter users.

3. Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe - 14" Wood Splitting Maul EFF4SE

 

If you’re looking for a shorter axe, the 14-inch Fireside Friend from Estwing should be on your shortlist.

The shorter handle means this is best used for splitting logs. It won’t be effective for tree felling.

The blade and handle are forged in a single piece, which makes it very strong. There’s a wound leather handle, which looks good and is comfortable to use. Estwing says it reduces the vibrations on impact by up to 70 percent. Beware though – it can get slippery if you get hot and sweaty.

Opposite the blade, there’s a flat surface. That will give you something to aim at if you need to hit it with a sledgehammer for knottier logs.

The blade is sharpened by hand, and it comes with a nylon sheath for safe storage. Don’t be tempted to use sticker removal products to get rid of any price tags, though. They’ll damage the smart black finish.

What We Like

  • Very sharp blade, with nylon sheath supplied for safety
  • Blade and tang are forged in a single piece for strength
  • Comfortable handle reduces vibrations by up to 70 percent

What We Don't Like

  • No good for tree felling
  • Handle can get slippery when wet

4. Cold Steel Trail Boss Axe, 27”

 

If your priority is versatility, the Trail Boss axe from Cold Steel is worth a look. Tested in the Australian Outback, it can be used to chop kindling, clear trails, build blinds and even fell trees. (Just don’t expect it to take down a fully-grown oak – it has its limits.)

It’s a good-looking thing, with a handle made from American hickory. But there’s no padding to help absorb shocks.

There’s a 4.5-inch cutting edge made from drop forged carbon steel. It doesn’t come pre-sharpened, so be prepared to do that yourself before you use it. And there’s no sheath to protect it – and you – when it’s not in use.

This is keenly priced – so if you’re prepared to spend some time sharpening, you’ll get a versatile axe for not much money.

What We Like

  • Effective for anything from splitting kindling to felling smaller trees
  • Handsome hickory handle
  • Keenly priced

What We Don't Like

  • No padding on the handle
  • No sheath
  • You’ll have to sharpen it before the first use.

5. Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe 25”

 

If you’re prepared to spend big bucks on a top-notch axe, Gransfors Bruks is the go-to brand.

So what do you get for your money?

This 25-inch axe weighs in at just 2.6 pounds and comes with a leather sheath to protect the blade.

The blade is curved, meaning that it will cut through even resinous woods cleanly. You can use this one for felling larger trees, or lopping branches off those that have fallen down.

The blade is made of steel, and each axe carries the initials of the Swedish blacksmith who forged it. It’s ground and honed by hand to give a razor-sharp edge. You won’t need to do any further sharpening when it arrives.

People who own these axes absolutely love them. You’ll hear them talking about them as if they were heirlooms instead of tools.

The only real downside here is the price. You’ll need deep pockets for this one.

What We Like

  • Ultra-sharp blade
  • Will bring down even larger trees
  • Comes with a top quality leather sheath to protect the blade

What We Don't Like

  • You could buy six of the Cold Steel axes for the price of one of these.

6. Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe, 17-Inch, 2 Pack

Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe

Image: Fiskars

The second axe from Fiskars to make our list, the X11 has a considerably shorter 17-inch handle. This makes it a good option for splitting logs for kindling.

It’s also possible to buy this one in multi-packs of either two or five axes. So if you need an axe for different locations, it’s worth considering.

Like the X27, this sports a non-slip textured grip. Fiskars says the power-to-weight ratio is such that you’ll get more power from your swing. We say it’s light enough to be easy to use, and it splits through most logs cleanly.

It’s well-balanced too, and you can use it either one- or two-handed. Just don’t expect to cut down trees – this is strictly a log splitting axe.

What We Like

  • Textured non-slip grip
  • Well-balanced
  • Can be used one-handed

What We Don't Like

  • Not the most versatile – this is for log splitting only.

7. Husqvarna A1400 23" Composite Multi-Purpose Axe

 

If you want an axe to use in a forest or on a construction site, Husqvarna’s A1400 could be for you.

The handle is made of composite fiberglass, so it’s really strong. You’ll be able to leave it outside in all weathers too.

There’s also a stainless-steel section just beneath the blade.  That will protect the handle from damage if your aim is a little less than perfect. It comes with a useful carrying-strap too.

The blade is drop-forged, and the shape is designed to work effectively on different applications.

Disadvantages? Well, you’ll need to sharpen it before the first use. The non-stick coating covers the blade and needs to be sharpened away to get a clean edge.

You’re likely to get some small chips in the composite blade too. Grind them out and the axe will continue to work fine. But don’t be tempted to leave them, or the problem will just get worse.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Fiberglass handle and the composite blade will cope with being left outside
  • The edge will cut deep – as long as you sharpen it first

What We Don't Like

  • You’ll need to sharpen the blade before first use
  • The composite blade is prone to chipping.

8. Gerber 17.5-Inch Freescape Hatchet [31-002536]

 

Another axe with a composite handle, the Freescape Hatchet from Gerber is perfect for splitting logs.

That composite handle means it’s strong as well as lightweight. And it’s durable too. If you need to chop wood in the pouring rain, it’s a good option.

The lighter handle also means chopping is less strenuous. There are fewer vibrations, and you won’t strain your hands.

The head is made of forged steel, and the non-stick blade reduces friction and gives you a clean cut. It bites deep too.

Any downsides? Well, the sheath it comes with is plastic and pretty flimsy. And you will get some dings in the metal from time to time. Grind them out, though, and your hatchet will be as good as new.

What We Like

  • Composite handle means it’s strong and durable
  • Non-stick coating gives a clean cut
  • Good, deep bite

What We Don't Like

  • The plastic sheath is a little flimsy
  • You’ll get some dings in the metal from time to time.

9. Helko Werk Germany Vario 2000 Universal Axe

 

This universal axe from Helko Werk is a triumph of international cooperation. The blade is made of German high-grade carbon steel, while the handle is made in Switzerland from American hickory.

The head weighs 2.75 pounds, and the whole axe weighs six pounds. You’ll need to be fairly strong to use it comfortably.

It works well for log splitting, where its sloping wedge head cuts through wood cleanly. And it will handle tree felling too, with a feel very much like a traditional felling axe.

The handle is 30 inches long and is finished with boiled linseed oil for an attractive look.

It comes with a full grain leather sheath to protect the blade. A bottle of Axe-Guard protective oil completes the package to make maintenance simple.

This is an expensive axe – second only to the Gransfors Bruks in terms of price. We’ve heard of some issues with the bit curving to one side, and splits in the handle. These seem to be isolated problems with quality assurance.

What We Like

  • Heavyweight, versatile axe
  • Good quality materials
  • Leather sheath and protective oil included in the package

What We Don't Like

  • Fairly pricey
  • Isolated issues with quality assurance – watch out for a curving bit or crack in the handle.

10. Tabor Tools J60A Chopping Axe

 

The J60A is a great option if you’re looking for a small axe to split kindling and chop up branches.

With a handle of just 12 inches, it’s the shortest axe on our list. So while you won’t get as much power as with longer-handled designs, it will give you plenty of control.

It will handle small or medium logs with ease. Stick it in the car boot when you’re off camping and it won’t take up a lot of space.

There’s no sheath with this one, but it does come with a rubber slip to protect the blade edge. It won’t make it weather-proof, but it does mean you can store and transport it safely.

The handle is made of fiberglass, so it’s strong and light. And it’s cushioned for comfortable use.

The steelhead has a protective non-stick coating, and the blade comes pre-sharpened. You may find, though, that you need to file it more to get it really sharp. If you’re planning to cut branches rather than split kindling, we’d say it’s essential.

There’s not as much depth to the leading edge as some axes either. That means it can be tricky to split logs in one strike, though you’ll get there with two or three.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and well-balanced
  • Comfortable grip
  • Handy size for storing in the car boot

What We Don't Like

  • Expect to do some additional sharpening before use
  • The leading edge of the blade is on the thin side.

Ready to get chopping?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of the top ten axes on the market today. Whether you need to chop firewood, clear a trail, or even fell a tree, there’s an option here to suit.

Our favorite has to be the Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe. Its quality and versatility can’t be beaten.

Whichever axe you choose, take care when you’re using it! And enjoy the satisfaction of chopping wood in your garden or the great outdoors.