The 10 Best Hatchets

Updated February 01, 2018 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Hatchets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. A good ax can save your life in the wild. Whether you need it to chop up kindling, create sparks for a fire, or defend yourself against the hated redcoats, a quality hatchet is a must-have tool for any serious outdoorsy-type. The offerings below are durable and versatile, ensuring that you'll be able to survive in any conditions — or you can just use it for your "Last of the Mohicans" cosplay. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hatchet on Amazon.

10. Schrade SCAXE5 Tactical

If you want to feel like a ninja, the full-tang Schrade SCAXE5 Tactical boasts a sleek look that's perfect for assassinating a shogun. Or you could use it for chopping kindling, which it also excels at, but that's not nearly as fun.
  • built-in nail puller and pry bar
  • glass-filled nylon fiber handle
  • difficult to hold comfortably
Brand Schrade
Model SCAXE5
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. WatchFire Camper's

The WatchFire Camper's is 10 inches from handle to tip, making it perfect for stashing in your outdoor gear without taking up a ton of space. The skid-proof grip is easy on your hands, sparing those palms if you find yourself needing to use it for hours at a time.
  • great for backpackers
  • good budget option
  • not suitable for larger jobs
Brand WatchFire
Model 210921
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Gerber Freescape

If you want something to stash in your car in case of emergencies, look no further than the Gerber Freescape. The PTFE-coated blade helps reduce friction for cleaner chops, while the composite handle absorbs shocks and prevents fatigue.
  • easy-to-see green accents
  • lightweight and easy to use
  • edge dulls easily
Brand Gerber
Model 31-002536
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Estwing E24A Sportsman's

For a hand ax that looks as beautiful as it performs, nothing beats the Estwing E24A Sportsman's, which combines one piece of drop-forged steel with an eye-catching leather grip to offer outstanding balance, temper, and control.
  • blade is hand-sharpened
  • excellent for pounding tent stakes
  • hard to remove stickers on handle
Brand Estwing
Model E24A
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

6. Columbia River Chogan

The tomahawk-style Columbia River Chogan features an extra long grip that you can get both hands on, giving you added leverage for cutting up that tough pine. A hammer face on the carbon steel head lets you pound nails with ease, too, making this a great all-in-one tool.
  • easy to modify or replace handle
  • lacquered coating prevents splinters
  • needs sharpening out of box
Brand Columbia River Knife &
Model 2730
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. SOG Tactical Tomahawk

Ideal for service personnel, the SOG Tactical Tomahawk is a military-grade weapon that can be used for excavation, obstacle removal, and throwing. It's designed for stealth, featuring a 2.75-inch blade coated in a scratch-resistant black oxide that reduces reflectivity.
  • glass-reinforced nylon handle
  • rear spike on head
  • is a little top heavy
Brand SOG
Model F01TN-CP
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Helko Werk Rheinland

The Helko Werk Rheinland is constructed from high-grade carbon steel with a traditional German wide-bit woodworker blade. The handle looks as sharp as the head feels, but it will also soak up a darker stain if you prefer a tool with deeper colors.
  • generously-sized blade
  • includes bottle of ax-guard
  • embossed helko crown
Brand Helko Werk
Model 11326
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Husqvarna 13"

Hand-forged in Sweden, the Husqvarna 13" is fairly sharp right out of the box, but if you're willing to give it a little TLC, the steel can attain and hold an exceptional edge. This ax would make an excellent addition to your garden shed or tool cabinet.
  • good feel even when choked up
  • great value for price
  • wedge is flush with shaft
Brand Husqvarna
Model 13" Hatchet
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Estwing Special Edition

The Estwing Special Edition is made of one piece of steel, so you can be rough with it and not worry about having it break off in your hands. Speaking of which, your mitts will be well-protected from damage too, thanks to the shock-cushioning grip.
  • nylon sheath protects edge
  • great for camping trips
  • nice balance for smooth swinging
Brand Estwing
Model E44ASE
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Gransfors Bruk Wildlife

The Gransfors Bruk Wildlife has a long hickory handle that really lets you put some power behind your swings. It's great for felling trees, but the blade is practically sharp enough to shave with, making it one of the most versatile — and attractive — options you'll find.
  • durable construction
  • ships with an ax book
  • can survive rough weather
Brand Gransfors Bruks
Model 415
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

The Amazingly Handy Hatchet

Almost every culture from almost every era of known human history has devised some version of the hatchet. From the simple tools of stone age hunter-gatherers made from flint knapping to the early copper hatchets of the herders and planters of the Chalcolithic Period, to the tomahawk used by many Native American tribes to the throwing axe of the Nzappa Zap, a region from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the hatchet has always been close at hand.

There is an elegant simplicity to hatchet design, which is part of the reason for their ubiquity throughout human history. A hatchet borrows most of its design directly from an axe, but is not in fact considered merely a small axe. (Those are frequently called hand axes and are designed almost exclusively for splitting small pieces of wood or for limbing trees.) A hatchet features a blade on one end, and traditionally has a flat striking surface on the other. Hatchets are great for splitting wood into kindling, but are actually at their most useful when applied to more refined woodworking projects.

A properly sharpened hatchet can help a carpenter hew a piece of lumber into a more manageable form, such as in the cutting of a log into a board. A hatchet can also be used for more refined work, such as in making furniture; its flat rear surface allows for controlled tapping using a hammer or mallet.

A hatchet is a great tool for the outdoor enthusiast, as its small size and moderate weight won't add much burden to the hiker's pack, yet its versatility will add much in the way of capability around the campsite. A hatchet can be used for everything from clearing brush to driving in tent stakes to cutting wood for a fire. If need be, a hatchet's blade can even be used to create sparks to start a fire should your other means of flame generation fail.

Choosing And Using A Standard Hatchet

There are many hatchets available that feature the same basic elements: a short, sharp cutting surface, a flat, solid rear surface that can be used as a hammer or that can tolerate a hammer's blow, and a hearty wooden handle. If you're in the market for a basic hatchet, those elements are probably all you need. Surprisingly, perhaps, a decent wooden handled hatchet can actually cost well over one hundred dollars, so despite the ostensible simplicity of these tools, they are not cheap items.

With the rather large price tag, however, a consumer can also expect a tool that will last for years, if not for a lifetime. Many hatchets are handcrafted using the same techniques tried and tested for generations, and can be expected to be handed down in your family. Consider a hatchet made in one of the countries famous for fine craftsmanship, with Sweden and Germany both at the top of the list.

As for the materials to look for in a good hatchet, high carbon steel is a must, as it will take and keep an edge well. Hickory is a wood often chosen for hatchet and axe handles, and this solid hardwood is a fine choice. Hickory is durable and attractive and provides a good, balanced heft.

You should either make sure your hatchet comes with a protective leather cover, or else find or fabricate one yourself. When not in use, the hatchet's blade should be covered and protected. Also take the time to learn how to properly sharpen your hatchet, as using the right technique will greatly extend the life of the tool.

Use a pair of good files to sharpen the blade, starting with the coarser file to rasp off uneven areas, then using the finer file to achieve the edge. And remember that it's more important to have a uniform edge at a proper angle than a razor sharp hatchet blade, as the first few chops will take that razor's edge off anyway.

A Few Words On A Few Specialty Hatchets

If you want a hatchet that can go beyond merely splitting kindling and hewing or shaping smaller pieces of lumber, there are plenty of tools out there worth your consideration. While you might not need to master hatchet throwing, the activity is as popular as a hobby today as it was a martial skill for a medieval soldier. Throwing hatchets generally feature long handles and narrow, sharp blades. The balanced design allows for straight, accurate throws with maximum rotational control.

For the well prepared camper, hiker, or anyone who wants to be ready in any situation, some specialty hatchets were designed as survival tools. You can look for features including everything from built in fire starting tools (such as a magnesium rod tucked into a hatchet's handle) to a grip made of para cord that can be unwound and used as needed. Many of these hatchets are small and relatively cheap, and are probably not suitable if you're looking for a tool to help you make fires all winter long, but are nonetheless a fine choice for an item you're not necessarily planning to need.

Other hatchets are designed not for survival when you find yourself stranded in the woods but rather for everyday use by skilled professionals. A roofer's hatchet, for example, features a magnetized striking surface that can hold framing nails at the ready, and a claw for pulling nails back out if they're old, damaged, or just didn't sink in properly.

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Last updated on February 01, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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