10 Best Hatchets | April 2017

10 Best Hatchets
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 30 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Perfect for campers needing a lightweight, portable tool for creating firewood, or for service personnel wanting a versatile instrument to keep on hand in case of emergencies, these hatchets are compact, yet powerful. Our selection includes various models designed for different purposes, including nail pulling and hammering, brush clearing, and even throwing. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hatchet on Amazon.
10
The Coleman 2000003368 Hand Axe is a basic budget option that should serve well the needs of the recreational weekend camper. The ergonomic nonslip handle feels comfortable even after strenuous use, though the blade is difficult to sharpen.
  • head is notched for nail-pulling
  • does not include sheath
  • metal rusts easily
Brand Coleman
Model pending
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
9
The multifunctional Ultimate Survival Technologies Parahatchet boasts a compact and lightweight design that makes it a convenient choice for camping or hiking in the wilderness. In the event of an emergency, its para cord-wrapped handle provides eight feet of extra rope.
  • integrated rope cutter
  • includes a magnesium fire starter
  • blade sheath tears easily
Brand UST
Model 20-02227-08
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
8
The tomahawk-style Columbia River 2730 Woods Chogan features an extra long handle 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.
  • made of tennessee hickory
  • backed by limited lifetime warranty
  • handle weathers fast
Brand Columbia River Knife &
Model 2730
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
7
The full tang Schrade SCAXE5 Tactical 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.
  • built-in nail pull and pry bar
  • glass-filled nylon fiber handle
  • blade may need frequent sharpening
Brand Schrade
Model SCAXE5
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
6
With its rugged and versatile design, the Gerber Myth can be used in a variety of military, survival, industrial, and outdoor applications, such as skinning and filleting big game after a hunt. However, it's not the most comfortable tool to hold.
  • small enough for a glove box
  • weighs just over 14 ounces
  • included belt loop is pretty flimsy
Brand Gerber
Model 31-002698
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
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
  • not a full tang blade
Brand SOG Specialty Knives &
Model F01TN-CP
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
4
Hand-forged in Sweden, the New Husqvarna 576926401 is an all-purpose model that can fulfill basic tasks like making kindling during a camping trip or doing light clearing in your garden. Its curved shaft is made from tough hickory and is securely attached to the head.
  • includes a leather sheath
  • good value for price
  • a little on the heavy side
Brand Husqvarna
Model 13" Hatchet
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
3
Carve up an endless supply of wood with the Gerber Freescape, a premium offering from a respected industry name. The PTFE-coated blade helps reduce friction for cleaner chops, while the composite handle helps absorb shocks and prevent fatigue.
  • good for pounding tent stakes
  • lightweight and easy to use
  • best choice for backpacking trips
Brand Gerber
Model 31-002536
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
2
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.
  • made with us-sourced hickory
  • includes bottle of axe-guard
  • embossed helko crown
Brand Helko Werk
Model 11326
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
1
For a hand axe that looks as beautiful as it performs, nothing beats the Estwing E24A 14-Inch 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
  • also available in black
  • manufactured in the usa
Brand Estwing
Model E24A
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

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 April 04, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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