Best Bushcraft Axes of 2021: Buying Guide

The only way our ancestors were able to survive attacks from wooly mammoths and Cthulhu was by inventing and using tools. It doesn’t matter whether you know where the North Star is or that the mitochondria is the power house of a cell if you’re stranded out in the wild. To survive the rough days and nights, you need an ax.

Bushcraft ax are a simple tool with a comfortable handle, made to improve the swinging motion when chopping and splitting logs. Whether you’re venturing into the large, open forest or chopping wood to prepare for the upcoming frigid months, a bushcraft ax can be your best friend. So if you’re searching for the best of the best, we’ve got you covered.

Ultimate Bushcraft Ax Buying Guide

Choosing the best bushcraft can be a bit challenging. It’s not about looking for the shiniest model with an intricately carved handle but rather knowing ax basics.

Ax Blade Metal

Ax blades are typically made of steel, but not every type of steel if built to last. The most widely used is carbon steel with varying carbon-content proportions, typically ranging from between 0.5% and .95%. A higher carbon-to-steel ratio typically makes for a less durable ax, but it ultimately depends on the hardness of the steel. Save yourself the headache of learning about different carbon steels by looking for a low to medium carbon steel ax head.

Handle Material

The material of the handle is also an important factor when ax shopping. Most axes use wooden handles, but some models have solid steel handles with a cushiony grip. Wooden handles made of oak or hickory are ideal for hardcore chopping – anything softer may end up cracking in your hands.

Ax Eye

The ax eye refers to the part of the ax where the handle meets the blade. This is the weakest point of the axe since the fastener can become loosened upon impact. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty ax, consider one that’s made entirely of one solid piece of steel – from the top of the blade to the bottom of the handle.

Single vs. Double-Edge Axes

Bushcraft axes can come with a single-edged or a double-edged blade. The benefit that a double-edge blade has is that each edge has a different sharpness to it where one side is for chopping thick tree trunks while the other is for splitting logs. Choosing one over the other is a matter of knowing whether you need the added versatility on a single axe or not.

Convex Blade Face

Pay close attention to the convex of the blade. An overly convex blade will not penetrate fully into the log, whereas a straight- or concave-faced ax blade will be difficult to release from the cut. Not every blade has the same convex design so you’ll need to pay extra attention when shopping for the right bushcraft ax.

Single-Hand vs. Two-Hand Axes

Generally speaking, the length of the ax’s handle determines whether it’s a one-hander or a two-hander unit. Single-hand axes have stubbier handles which make it easier to aim and hit accurately which each swing. A double-handed ax offers more leverage per swing, allowing it to fell trees and split thick logs in half. Choose the ax type that is better-suited to meet your needs.

Ax Alignment

The alignment of the ax refers to construction quality. There are two criteria used to judge an ax’s alignment. The first of which seeing whether the center of the ax’s edge is making contact with the ground when the ax’s blade and the tail-end of the handle are laid, so the ax is standing up horizontally. The second criterion is seeing whether the axe blade is perfectly centered when facing the tool from above. If the ax meets both of these requirements, then it’s perfectly aligned. Judging the alignment of an axe when shopping online can be a challenge, but we’ve done the research for you. The axes mentioned above are perfectly aligned.

Balance

The balance of the ax is crucial for perfect swings and accurate impacts. If the ax has balance issues, you have the potential to over-swing and quite possible, injure yourself in the process. Checking the ax’s balance is done by laying the throw of the ax flat on your palm. The throw is the bent part of the handle that juts forward slightly. While laying a bit of pressure on the tail-end of the handle with your other hand, the ax should lay perfectly horizontal to the ground.

Bushcraft Ax FAQs

How often do I need to sharpen the ax blade?

The frequency of sharpening an ax’s edge depends entirely on how often you use the tool. When the ax produces splinters rather than a clean-cut, it’s time to sharpen the blade. When the edges become noticeable dulled, you need to get the beveled properly honed. You can sharpen the ax blade with your very own user-friendly sharpening kit.

Do I need an ax sheath?

Ax sheaths, blade guards, belt slings, and protective oil are useful in extending the life of the ax. Since the purpose of an ax is to hit hard objects repeatedly, it’s only a matter of time before the blade wears out. Having several ax-protection accessories will help protect both the handle and the ax head from contaminants that could ruin their structural integrity.

What causes an ax to break?

The weakest point of an ax is the eye – the part where the blade connects to the handle. This has the highest risk of cracking after each impact. Pay close attention to the ax eye and retighten any loosened fasteners before using the ax.

Closing Remarks

Bushcraft axes are an essential tool to have for felling trees and splitting logs. They also make for great emergency tools if you ever get lost in the middle of a forest as it will provide you with all the cutting power you need to build makeshift structures. Finding the right ax isn’t all that difficult provided you follow the instructions we’ve provided for you in our brief guide.

We’ve spoken at length of how to find the right axe by putting extra emphasis on the tool’s durability. Essentially, the right ax to satiate your inner-lumberjack is one that has a low- to medium-carbon steel blade, is connected firmly to a hardwood or steel handle, and is perfectly balanced and aligned. Ensuring that the ax lasts a lifetime is a different story since you’ll need a wide range of ax-care products and protective casings to prevent damage to the blade’s edge and ax’s handle.

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