The Best Survival Axe: Your Ultimate Tool for Wilderness Thriving has been live since September 2011, we specialise in both expert prepper guides, and a daily curated feed of the best prepper content online.

When it comes to surviving in the wilderness, having the right tools can make all the difference. Among these essential tools is the survival axe. It’s a versatile and indispensable piece of gear that can be used for a wide range of tasks, from chopping wood to self-defense. This article will explore the top survival axes on the market, detailing their unique features and qualities, to help you choose the best one for your needs.

1. Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe



The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is a top choice for those who appreciate quality craftsmanship and traditional design. Hand-forged in Sweden, this axe features a hickory handle and a 2-pound head, making it perfect for felling small trees, chopping branches, and splitting firewood. Its compact size and lightweight design make it easy to carry and maneuver, while the razor-sharp blade ensures clean and efficient cuts.

Price: $189

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2. Fiskars X7 Hatchet



Known for its durability and cutting efficiency, the Fiskars X7 Hatchet is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on performance. Featuring a FiberComp™ handle and a forged steel blade, this axe is designed to withstand demanding conditions. The lightweight design and excellent balance make it perfect for backpackers and hikers, while the sharp blade allows for smooth cuts and efficient chopping.

Price: $35

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3. Schrade SCAXE2L Large Survival Axe



Built for heavy-duty tasks, the Schrade SCAXE2L Large Survival Axe is a great option for those who need a rugged and reliable tool. This axe features a 4.2-inch stainless steel blade and a glass-fiber-filled PA handle with TPR rubber grip, ensuring a secure grip and long-lasting durability. Additionally, the axe includes a built-in fire starter and a diamond sharpening stone, making it a truly versatile survival tool.

Price: $54

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4. Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe



The Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe combines the best of both worlds: a durable construction and a sleek design. Made in the USA, this axe features a one-piece steel construction, ensuring longevity and reliability. The leather grip not only provides a comfortable hold but also adds a touch of elegance to this versatile tool. Its 14-inch length and 4-inch cutting edge make it suitable for various tasks, including splitting logs and kindling.

Price: $60

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5. CRKT Woods Chogan T-Hawk

The CRKT Woods Chogan T-Hawk is an unconventional yet highly effective survival axe. Designed by Ryan Johnson, this tomahawk-style axe features a 4.21-inch 1055 carbon steel blade and a Tennessee hickory handle. The T-Hawk is lightweight and easy to handle, making it perfect for a variety of tasks such as chopping, hammering, and even digging. The hammerhead on the opposite side of the blade is an added bonus, offering even more versatility in a survival situation.

Check out this product on Amazon

Price: $70

Our Criteria

After reviewing a vast selection of survival axes with different sizes and features, we shortlisted the top 20 and received samples from leading manufacturers to add to our collection. Although any of the axes on this list would be a dependable choice for emergencies, we have further refined it to the top five picks that cater to different types of preppers in various environments.

It’s essential to note that axe information, especially weights, can be incorrect or deceptive on e-commerce websites. Some sellers only provide the weight of the axe head, rather than the entire axe. We have attempted to use precise information obtained directly from manufacturers or specialty retail websites that ensure accuracy.

Our focus was on more lightweight, portable axes that are large enough to undertake valuable felling work but small enough to carry on foot for a reasonable distance. Our final choices were based on a combination of the brand’s reputation and feedback from other reliable experts, along with our own firsthand experiences with these products and brands.

Axe Basics

Axes, including hatchets and tomahawks, are comprised of two fundamental simple machines: a wedge and a lever. They all have the same basic anatomy, which includes:

  • Head: The top of the axe that has a wedge-shaped weight and is responsible for chopping.
  • Eye: The large hole in the head that connects to the handle.
  • Blade: The edge of the axe head that does the chopping and is sometimes referred to as the “bit.”
  • Poll: The opposite part of the axe head from the blade.
  • Beard: The triangle-shaped extension of the blade that extends downwards.

Axe Considerations

Weight Distribution

The efficiency of an axe is enhanced when the majority of its weight is concentrated in the head. If the weight is evenly distributed between the handle and head, the axe becomes less forceful due to the laws of physics.

Hence, it’s essential to note that two axes with identical length, materials, and weight can have significantly different chopping capabilities. When comparing models, it’s crucial to consider their weight distribution.

Head Shape

The effectiveness of an axe in cutting various materials is influenced by its edge shape and thickness.

A flatter edge shape is suitable for chopping wood and other natural materials since more of the edge comes in contact with the object being chopped on each stroke. However, the same flat edge could become stuck more easily in a completely flat surface, such as a wall or door. Therefore, some axes used for demolition or by firefighters have half-moon shaped heads to prevent this issue.

However, the curved edge of such axes can be difficult to use when chopping rounded natural materials. Consequently, when selecting an axe, it’s crucial to consider the environment in which it will be used.

Head Thickness and Cutting vs. Splitting

An axe head with a wider shape, resembling a “fat” pyramid, utilizes its broad angle to generate force and split pieces forcefully. This is ideal for splitting pre-cut logs of firewood into smaller sections. The wide wedge shape exerts opposing pressure on the wood, causing it to separate, rather than cutting through the material.

On the other hand, a thinner axe head functions more like a knife and is better suited for cutting tasks such as felling trees or stripping logs.

We generally prefer the thinner, cutting-oriented axe heads, which are popular among bushcrafters for their versatility in performing various non-chopping camp chores. However, for most preppers, the performance and usage differences between the various head thicknesses and shapes listed in this guide are subtle, and it’s not necessary to become overly obsessed with them.

Poll Shape

There are two types of polls: hammer and spike. Although there’s a “pick” axe poll, we use “spike” and “pick” interchangeably in this guide because they serve the same purpose.

Hammer polls allow the axe to double as a hammer and are generally safer than spike polls. Despite folklore advising against using an axe poll as a hammer, lightweight striking is perfectly acceptable. It takes a lot of pounding on a hard surface to deform the eye of a high-quality axe, so go ahead and use it to hammer those tent stakes, and disregard any myths you may have read online.

The spike or pick poll increases the axe’s effectiveness as a demolition and breaching tool. That’s why you’ll find this feature on tomahawks and dedicated breaching axes. A spike poll is also useful for digging and can easily penetrate hard or rocky ground.

Handle Length

The performance of an axe is largely determined by the length of its handle due to the principles of leverage. Even a small difference in length can affect how well an axe chops. This poses a dilemma between the ease of portability and the effectiveness of chopping. Our recommendations strive to strike a balance between these two factors. However, if you were seeking a large, heavy-duty axe for use exclusively at home, a longer handle would be advantageous.

Types of Handles

A wooden axe handle is like the tires on a car in that it is a wear part that needs to be replaced with use. Hardware stores typically have a wide selection of wooden replacement handles for this reason. Fiberglass handles are also subject to breakage, although it usually takes significant abuse to cause this. 

Overstrike is a common cause of handle breakage for both wooden and synthetic handles, particularly among inexperienced users. Overstrike occurs when the head is swung too far out, causing the handle to strike the log beneath the head, rendering the tool unusable until repaired.

Wooden handles are a popular choice for their lightness, shock-absorbing qualities, and ease of replacement. However, they are susceptible to breaking or splintering. 

On the other hand, synthetic handles made mostly of fiberglass are lightweight, strong, and have good shock absorption, but they are challenging to repair or replace. 

Metal handles are the strongest and can double as pry bars, but they are very heavy and transmit shock directly to your wrists and arms.

Best axe for people who value quality craftsmanship and versatility: Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

Price: $189


  • Hand-forged in Sweden
  • Hickory handle
  • 1.5-pound head
  • 19 inches long
  • Compact and lightweight design


  • Quality craftsmanship and traditional design
  • Versatile for felling small trees, chopping branches, and splitting firewood
  • Compact size and lightweight design for easy carrying and maneuvering
  • Razor-sharp blade for clean and efficient cuts


  • Expensive compared to other options on the market
  • Not ideal for heavy-duty chopping or splitting of large logs

Who Should Buy This:

The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is ideal for those who value quality craftsmanship and traditional design in their outdoor tools. It is a versatile tool that can handle a variety of chopping tasks, making it a great option for those who need to fell small trees, chop branches, or split firewood. Its compact size and lightweight design make it easy to carry, making it a great option for hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts. However, it may not be the best option for those who require a heavy-duty axe for chopping or splitting large logs.

Brand and Product Reputation:

Gränsfors Bruk is a well-known brand that has been producing high-quality axes for over 100 years. They are known for their attention to detail and traditional craftsmanship, with each axe being hand-forged by skilled blacksmiths in Sweden. The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is no exception, and it has received high praise from users for its quality and performance. However, some users have noted that it may not be as durable as some other axes on the market, and that it may require more frequent sharpening. Overall, Gränsfors Bruk has a strong reputation for producing high-quality axes that are built to last.

Best axe for people who are on a budget: Fiskars X7 Hatchet

Price: $35


  • 14-inch FiberComp™ handle
  • Forged steel blade


  • Budget-friendly
  • Durable
  • Efficient
  • Lightweight
  • Balanced
  • Comes with a full lifetime warranty


  • Not suitable for heavy-duty tasks
  • May require sharpening after extended use

Who Should Buy This:

The Fiskars X7 Hatchet is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a budget-friendly option that still delivers great performance. Its lightweight and balanced design makes it perfect for casual backpackers and hikers who need to chop small logs or kindling. However, it may not be the best option for those who need an axe for heavy-duty tasks like felling large trees.

Brand and Product Reputation:

Fiskars is a well-known and respected brand in the outdoor and gardening community, with a reputation for producing high-quality and reliable tools. The Fiskars X7 Hatchet is no exception, with many customers praising its durability and efficiency. The lifetime warranty also speaks to the brand’s confidence in their product. Overall, Fiskars is a brand that can be trusted for quality tools at an affordable price point.

Best axe for tough tasks: Schrade SCAXE2L Large Survival Axe

Price: $54


  • 4.2-inch stainless steel blade
  • Glass-fiber-filled PA handle with TPR rubber grip
  • Built-in fire starter
  • Diamond sharpening stone inside handle


  • Heavy-duty design perfect for tough tasks
  • Stainless steel blade is durable and long-lasting
  • Glass-fiber-filled PA handle with TPR rubber grip provides a secure hold
  • Includes a built-in fire starter and diamond sharpening stone for added versatility


  • Heavy weight may not be suitable for those looking for a lightweight backpacking option
  • Not ideal for precision chopping or cutting due to its size and weight

Who Should Buy This:

The Schrade SCAXE2L Large Survival Axe is a great option for those who need a reliable and versatile survival tool that can handle heavy-duty tasks. It is well-suited for outdoor enthusiasts, campers, hunters, and survivalists who require a sturdy and durable axe to help them with their activities. The built-in fire starter and sharpening stone also make it an excellent choice for emergency situations.

Brand and Product Reputation:

Schrade has a reputation for producing high-quality knives and tools, and the SCAXE2L Large Survival Axe is no exception. The company is known for its attention to detail and use of durable materials, which is evident in the design of this axe. Users have praised the axe’s sturdiness, durability, and versatility, making it a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists.

Best axe for people who want to chop in style: Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe

Price: $65


  • 14 inches
  • 4 pounds
  • Solid American steel
  • Sturdy leather grip on handle


  • Made from a single piece of solid steel for durability
  • Leather grip provides comfortable and secure hold, as well as 70% shock reduction
  • Weighted 4-inch cutting edge for efficient chopping of logs and firewood
  • Sleek and elegant design, suitable as a collector’s piece
  • Made in the USA with the finest American steel


  • Heavier than other axes in its size range
  • Leather grip may require some maintenance over time to prevent wear and tear

Who Should Buy This:

The Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe is an excellent choice for those who value both style and functionality. It is perfect for anyone who wants a high-quality, durable axe that is also a collector’s item. Additionally, its comfortable grip and optimal weight make it ideal for casual use around the home or while camping.

Brand and Product Reputation:

Estwing is a well-respected brand in the world of tools and has been producing high-quality tools for over 90 years. The Estwing Special Edition Fireside Friend Axe is made in the USA from the finest American steel and is a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality and durability. It is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, which is a testament to the manufacturer’s confidence in the product.

Best axe for all-around multi-functional chopping, hammering and digging: CRKT Woods Chogan T-Hawk

Price: $70


  • 4.21-inch 1055 carbon steel blade
  • Hickory handle
  • 19.13 inches in length
  • Weighs 2.13 pounds


  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Multipurpose design for chopping, hammering, and digging
  • High-quality materials and craftsmanship


  • May not be suitable for heavy-duty tasks
  • May take some time to get used to the tomahawk-style design
  • Blade may need to be sharpened regularly

Who Should Buy This:

The CRKT Woods Chogan T-Hawk is a great choice for those looking for a versatile and portable survival axe. Its lightweight design and multipurpose functionality make it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, campers, hikers, and backpackers. The T-Hawk’s compact size and unique design also make it a popular choice for collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate unique and well-crafted tools.

Brand and Product Reputation:

CRKT (Columbia River Knife & Tool) has a reputation for producing high-quality and innovative knives and tools for over 25 years. The company prides itself on using the latest technology and materials to create products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The Woods Chogan T-Hawk is just one example of the company’s commitment to quality and innovation, with its unique design and attention to detail in the handcrafted construction. Overall, the CRKT brand has a strong reputation for producing reliable and high-performing outdoor tools.

Some more options if these aren’t quite right

Apart from the top contenders, there is a secondary group of axes that are also great and may fit your desired price or features. 

The Wood Tools Bushcraft Axe is a new option that is designed after the perpetually out-of-stock Ray Mears Gransfors Bruks axe, but is lighter and shorter. It is a labor of love from a boutique shop that is currently underpriced, according to our opinion. 

The Helko Rheinland Pack Axe is a beautiful, lightweight, and packable axe designed for carving and other bushcraft chores. 

The Helko Scout is great for cutting and splitting wood, but is less portable and not as suitable for fine bushcraft work. 

The Hultafors Classic Hunting Axe is a compact bushcraft axe that our European readers should consider, while the Hults Bruk Aneby is a good alternative to the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe (SFA). 

The Ray Mears Gransfors Bruks Wilderness Axe is a famous tool that was designed as a midpoint between Gransfors Bruks’ Scandinavian Forest Axe and their Small Forest Axe. 

The Helko Black Forest Woodworker is a traditional design that serves as a good general-purpose bushcraft and survival axe, while the Council Tool Wood Craft Pack Axe has features aimed at the bushcraft and survival crowd, including a hardened eyewall and poll for hammering. 

The Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay is the axemaker’s best Hudson Bay pattern offering, while the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe is a larger alternative to the Gransfors SFA and a major player in the premium axe scene. 

The Snow & Nealley Single Bit 2.25# is a budget wood chopper from a solid US axemaker and a good alternative to the Council Tool Boy’s Axe of the same size. 

Lastly, the Mueller Biber Classic Forest Axe is a traditional German axe from a boutique Austrian maker that is larger than the Helko Rheinland Pack Axe and offers impeccable quality at a good price.

Axe Safety

Axes can be dangerous, as the saying goes, “You can’t spell accident without axe”. It’s important to take necessary precautions to avoid any mishaps while using an axe. Here are some tips to ensure axe safety:

  1. Always use both hands while using an axe.
  2. Create a safe area that is free from hazards, rocks, and other people, where no one should be present while you’re swinging an axe.
  3. Position yourself in a way that you’re not in the way of the axe’s path if it misses the target.
  4. Swing in a manner that the axe’s edge won’t hit you if it bounces off the wood.
  5. Keep the axe sharp and learn the appropriate techniques to sharpen it.
  6. Always carry the axe with the blade facing downwards.
  7. Do not use the axe if the head is cold because it can lead to increased brittleness and chipping. If it’s winter, warm up the head by placing it near a fire or close to your body.
  8. It’s crucial to position your body appropriately while swinging the axe. Two safety rules are about this, and it’s a crucial factor where most people make mistakes.
  9. A shorter axe handle requires more care than a longer handle, as the axe’s head swings closer to your body and vital organs.
  10. When selecting an axe, consider your body’s height and arm length in relation to the axe’s length. A shorter axe may be safer for smaller individuals. It’s important to keep this in mind to ensure safety while using an axe.


Choosing the best survival axe comes down to your specific needs and preferences. Factors such as size, weight, durability, and intended use should be considered when making your decision. The axes mentioned in this article are all top contenders, each offering unique features and advantages. Ultimately, the best survival axe is the one that meets your requirements and feels most comfortable in your hands. Armed with the right axe, you’ll be well-equipped to face any challenge the wilderness throws your way.