Best Survival Axes: Protect Yourself from the Elements While Roughing It
These survival axes should be essential gear for any dedicated outdoorsmen
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PUBLISHED ON October 19, 2019
When you’re stuck out in the wild after the sun goes down, a good survival axe can be the difference between life and death. You need a tool that can quickly and efficiently chop up kindling, allowing you to build a fire to stay warm as the mercury drops. The best survival axe is also suitable for throwing, hunting, digging, and a whole lot more. Here are some options to choose from for your next adventure into the wilderness.
- Best OverallHusqvarna 19” Splitting Survival AxeSummarySummary
The head is attached to the hickory shaft with both wooden and steel wedges. It has a small handle, making it ideal for one-handed use.ProsPros
A cleverly designed head minimizes resistance from both wind and wood, allowing you to tear through trees with little effort. It’s especially well-suited for chopping smaller pieces of wood into kindling.ConsCons
It requires a bit of sharpening out of the box. The head is on the heavy side, which may affect how you’re able to grip it.
- Best ValueEstwing Double Bit Survival AxeSummarySummary
This double-sided axe has a shock-resistant grip and comes with a heavy-duty sheath, making it both one of the most comfortable and convenient models available.ProsPros
The double-bit head is balanced well, making it easier to deliver precision strikes. This also makes it ideal for throwing, if the need arises.ConsCons
The cutting edge is small, so you will need to be accurate with your swings. The paint tends to peel off easily as well.
- Honorable MentionCRKT Woods Nobo Tomahawk Survival AxeSummarySummary
An old-school model made with purists in mind, this rugged axe boasts a Tennessee hickory handle and a hot-forged carbon blade. Its lifetime warranty protects against defects in materials or workmanship.ProsPros
This is a heavy-duty axe designed to chew through massive logs. It takes a large bite with each swing, allowing you to chop up all the kindling and firewood you need in no time at all.ConsCons
Its ability to take big bites also makes it unsuitable for more detailed work. The head tends to slip on the handle, especially when used vigorously.
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- Safety is of paramount importance. After all, having a survival axe won’t do you much good if you critically injure yourself with it. With that in mind, you should always use two hands. This makes it less likely that you’ll miss, while also keeping your other arm away from the strike zone.
- Set up a dedicated area where all the chopping will take place. Take the time to clear it of rocks and other debris, and be sure that no one wanders in the chopping area while you work.
- Make sure that all of your body parts are out of the axe’s path when you swing. That way, if you miss, you’ll hit dirt instead of a major artery. Likewise, make sure that you’re positioned so a blow that glances off the wood won’t strike you.
- Don’t use your axe when the head is cold, as this makes it more likely to chip or break. If you’re using it on a frigid night, heat up the head by placing it next to the fire or, failing that, next to your warm body before you use it.
Q: How do I sharpen my axe?
A: Keeping your axe as sharp as possible is critically important, as a sharp axe is safer and works better. You can use sharpening stones, a leather strop, or a machine to hone the blade. The important thing is to start with the fold and move out, rather than focusing entirely on the edge.
Q: How sharp should my axe be?
A: Your axe should be sharp enough to cut through heavy lumber with ease—but not razor-sharp. A razor-sharp edge will wear down extremely quickly, so aim for something a little less severe when doing your sharpening.
Q: How do you throw an axe?
A: Keep your dominant hand on the bottom of the handle, and grip it like a baseball bat. Use your other hand to hold the handle over the dominant hand, and keep the blade pointing straight in front of you. Then, swing the axe straight over the back of your head, releasing it as you then bring it forward.
Q: How do you replace an axe handle?
A: First of all, never try to fix a broken axe handle. If yours breaks, you’ll either have to replace the entire handle or buy a new axe. To remove the old handle, saw it off close to the head, and then soak it in water. Once it dries, it should be easy to hammer out. If that doesn’t work, try drilling out pieces until you can hammer the old handle through the eye. Then, to install the new handle, sand it down until it fits snugly, and then add your wedges to secure it.
Our top choice is the Husqvarna 19” Splitting Axe. The head design makes it incredibly easy to use, which can be a literal lifesaver when you absolutely must get a fire built quickly.
A less expensive option is the Estwing Double Bit Axe, which is extremely versatile, as its double-bit design makes it as suitable for throwing as it is for chopping.