8 Best Hatchets | March 2017

Perfect for campers needing a lightweight, portable tool for creating firewood, or for first responders wanting a versatile tool to use in emergencies, these hatchets are compact, yet powerful. Our selection includes various models designed for different purposes, including applying roof shingles, brush clearing and even throwing. Skip to the best hatchet on Amazon.
8 Best Hatchets | March 2017

Overall Rank: 6
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 7
Best Inexpensive
Hatchets don't always have to be used as survival tools. This Thrower Supply Hatchet is testament to that exception, thanks to its recreation-style design that features an 18-inch length with an ultra-thin blade that makes it a decent choice for throwing competitions.
The multifunctional Ultimate Survival Technologies Parahatchet boasts a compact and lightweight design that makes it a convenient option when camping or hiking in the wilderness. In the event of an emergency, its paracord-wrapped handle provides 8 feet of extra rope.
The Schrade SCAXE5 Full Tang Tactical hatchet offers a powder-coated, stainless steel profile, giving it a sleek look that is reminiscent of a ninja's weapon. But the handle is only 6.4 inches long, which can make precision cutting or chopping rather difficult.
This Wetterlings Wilderness hatchet has been handcrafted in Sweden by a company with an operating history dating back to 1880. Its solid hickory wood handle and protective leather sheath ensure long-lasting use, while also delivering both elegance and beauty in its design.
  • compact enough to carry in backpack
  • hatchet is 13 inches long
  • it's on the pricey side
Brand Wetterlings
Model pending
Weight 1.8 pounds
With its rugged and versatile design, the Gerber Myth hatchet can be used in a variety of military, survival, industrial, and outdoor applications, like skinning, chopping, or clearing brush and small branches. However, it's not the most comfortable tool to hold.
  • small enough for a glove box
  • weighs just over 14 ounces
  • the included belt loop is pretty flimsy
Brand Unknown
Model 31-002698
Weight 1.1 pounds
Designed as a small, all-purpose solution, the Hults Bruk Tarnaby hatchet is a great option for basic functions, like making kindling during a camping trip or doing light clearing in your home garden. Its curved shaft is also made from US-sourced hickory.
  • hand-forged head made from swedish steel
  • very durable construction
  • comes with a leather protective sheath
Brand Hults Bruk
Model pending
Weight 2.5 pounds
Ideal for fast application of felt caps and roofing nails, the AJC Magnet Roofing Hatchet has a powerful, shielded neodymium magnet that is located right on its striking face, which helps to prevent injury and limits the frustration associated with keeping items in place.
  • sliding gauge for shingle install
  • built-in utility blade
  • hatchet also has a nail claw
Brand AJC Tool
Model 005-MH
Weight 1.8 pounds
Handmade by master smiths in Germany, the Helko Werk Rheinland is constructed from high-grade carbon steel with a traditional German wide-bit woodworker blade. Its handle is coated with boiled linseed oil and is individually selected for its superior strength and density.
  • hatchet is heat treated and oil-hardened
  • crown logo hammered into the blade head
  • high-grade american hickory wood handle
Brand Helko Werk
Model 11326
Weight 2.6 pounds

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: 03/22/2017 | Authorship Information