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With most of its heft concentrated in the head, it is definitely a tool that chops above its weight class.
The rubberized handle fills your hand to create a lock-tight grip that won’t let go even when wet.
Opposite the blade, the back of the head features a crosshatched striking surface that can be used for all types of camp duties, from pounding tent stakes and straightening bent backpack stays to tenderizing meat.
When not in use, you can keep the blade sharp and safe inside its military-grade, mildew-resistant sheath, complete with loops that strap to your belt or pack. Estimated delivery dates - opens in a new window or tab include seller's handling time, origin ZIP Code, destination ZIP Code and time of acceptance and will depend on shipping service selected and receipt of cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. International Shipping - items may be subject to customs processing depending on the item's declared value. Your country's customs office can offer more details, or visit eBay's page on international trade. By clicking Confirm bid, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder. By clicking Confirm bid, you are committing to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder and have read and agree to the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. By clicking 1 Click Bid, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder.
Precision is not the hand hatchet’s main selling feature, but rather blunt force performance for bigger but still hand-sized woodwork. A flat-sided hand hatchet, or that with no head taper beyond the very edge of traditional steel stock, easily sticks into softer woods requiring constant rocking to remove them. Adding insult to the lack of injury to the wood is that many flat-sided hand hatchets are borne of lesser steel that has more in common with a refrigerator door or cheap hammer head than an outdoor knife. As I mentioned before, the short handle and razor sharp blade requires more attention than other choppers. My second screw up was when I was shaving bark and mini-stabs off a pair of hiking sticks needed for a river crossing. Using the Gransfors Bruks hand hatchet for big work, regardless of the grip, is an absolute pleasure compared to a survival knife when gross movements and significant force is needed.
The shortest of my hand hatchets is the Timberline Russ Kommer Bush Pilot Survival Hatchet. But the gorilla in the room is how the Gransfors Bruks Hand Hatchet compares to the Gerber Back Paxe.
In a chopping comparison, the GF Hand Hatchet makes much nicer and deliberate slices into the wood and can hold a sharper edge and for longer.
Other small Gransfors Bruks designs include a miniature Small Hatchet that would be at home in the kitchen well as the domestic campsite. The thing I find most odd about quality hand hatchets is that even a Gucci one like the Gransfors Bruks is not much over a hundred dollars, yet people drop a hundred dollars for a survival or bushcraft knife all day long in the big box sporting goods stores and then turn around and complain about the price of a high quality hatchet. Whether you spring for the Gransfors Bruks hand hatchet or not, right-angled blades of this size generally weigh somewhere between one and one-and-a-half pounds. Especially when it weighs in at less than a litre of water, like the 1.4lb Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet designed by Gerber.
And finger notches just below the head let you choke up securely on the axe for more precise control when feathering kindling or stripping bark. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. In fact a high quality and very sharp hand hatchet can easily step on the toes of the survival knife.
In fact, they perform much like nails where the wedge tip spreads the grain so the following mass can bury itself into the wood with maximum friction. Quality axe and hatchet steels have very particular characteristics and tempering that keep it both sharp and sharpenable.
Being so small and noticeably sharper off the production line than lesser brands, swinging such a blade can get dangerous.
Many smaller hatchets or those marketed to the survival crowd have prominent finger grooves. I’m quick to grab a hand hatchet to make kindling, de-limb branches, chop small firewood, apply some heavy scraping, and sharpen sticks for tent pegs and cooking implements.


The chisel-shaped blade on the Gerber is more like a splitting wedge than a precision chopper. The narrow blade is much more knife-like so it smoothly and precisely scrapes and grinds the wood at angles much shallower than the Gerber’s chisel tip. Wood requires attention, and while both steels will rust, the glass-reinforced plastic handle of the Gerber will resist the elements until cold or ultraviolet light demolishes the bonds between the oil-based molecules. Like a knife sheath, the bit covers vary widely from major coverage and heavy duty attachment to not much more than a blade bikini with a belt loop.
The craftsman at Gransfors Bruks took the head off their wildly successful Wildlife Hatchet and mounted it on a hickory handle four inches shorter.
And the Outdoor Axe that combines a full-length but smaller diameter hatchet handle with a tiny head. Further, and this is important, the Gransfors Bruks business strategy is not to make a fancier product, but to make the consumer more intelligent about the product. With a slim profile and full tang construction, the Survival Hatchet is just the right size for survival situations. There’s also a handy hole at the base of the handle to attach a lanyard for an extra measure of safety.
If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. Many hand hatchets are closer to knives than axes through their one-piece design with handgrip scales bolted, riveted, glued, or otherwise somehow stuck to the metal handle, and similar length cutting surfaces. Better chopping hand hatchets have slightly concave or convex heads that do not stick as easily in the grain, and actively throw wood chips away from the work site during the chopping. The short handle but full sized head can cause more than normal torque on the head causing the swing follow through to head off in an unintended direction. While the tactical-like depressions do help maintain grip and control especially when wet, the fixed finger positions significantly limit the number of comfortable holds and can make extended use rather painful. While the permanent finger placements feel fine upon initial inspection, after a few minutes of chopping your hands will be crying for mommy. But even more importantly is that the weight of axe head is mostly behind the leading edge of the handle. The Hickory handle on the GF Hand Hatchet might last a year or a century, but likely somewhere in between. And given that the Wildlife Hatchet was already on the short side for handaxes, those four inches were like dog inches and translate to the loss of almost a third of the handle length.
So to recap, arguably the finest axe maker in the world forges axes with a big head on a short handle, a small head on long handle, and small head on a short handle. The other side of the coin has the twenty dollar hatchets dumbing down the masses and hiding the value of knowledge. So for the heft-cost of a large can of beer, you can add an essential piece of equipment to your kit that will not only extend the life of your knife, but take your bushwork further and in more directions than your knife alone. However, the smaller the axe, the more skill needed to use it effectively and the more dangerous it is since the business end is closer to the user. The problem with many designs is that forging a properly tapered hatchet head is difficult if not impossible for many companies to do in-house. If you used one in the kitchen instead of a flat-sided slicing knife, your salad fixings would go flying all over the place rather than lazily falling over. I choked all the way up on the hatched head and started polishing the stick’s handle are to a mirror finish. Without gloves, the more finger grooves, the more blisters or hot spots.  Seriously, listen to the rants about the Gen4 Glocks with lightly defined finger posits in the grip. Before this turns into a review of the Gerber axe (that will come later) I’ll get back on topic. I reserve my belt-space for those items either essential to survival (think pistol), or too big for a pocket but used quite often (think fixed blade knife).
Since leverage, and thus cutting power, is a function of both head mass times swing speed, all of the above have merit and all of the above have significant limits. Every Gransfors Bruks hatchet comes with a heavily illustrated 36 page booklet informing the reader about the history and manufacture of quality axes. The result is that quality hand hatchets have an overall head thickness not much more than a knife blade.


But even then I still managed to break my skin twice during my first serious voyage with the Gransfors Bruks hand hatchet. It’s not like anyone is carrying their Glock hours on end in a grip tight enough to keep it from flying free during a fast arm swing. Normally I wouldn’t consider the knife tangent a bonus, but since the handle was devoid of substance anyway, the knife can only be a positive.  Gerber’s plastic handled axes and hatchets have an almost cult-like following.
Like a couple of Chihuahuas fighting, it might seem like a big deal at your ankles, but not from ten feet away.
What this means is that while the heads might be of similar mass, the GF Hand Hatchet rotates much more easily due to the reduced weight further from the rotational axis point compared to the gerber. Half the book is devoted to technique, sharpening and maintenance, and even throwing the axes. The hand hatchet will speed up game processing, shelter building, woodcraft, and firecraft.
The result of this simplistic design is that it produces a low mass head relative to the handle, and absolutely no significant inertia wedging as the head slams into the workpiece. Unfortunately a hand hatchet has comparatively little energy transfer to the impact point so splitting is definitely not the hand hatchet’s forte’ so you might be better off erring on the flatter side then the convex side.
The first cut was absolute stupidity on my part when I was chopping branches clearing a trail through downfall. As my work area on the stick grew smaller and smaller, the axe head became correspondingly larger and larger. Yet the fully mature finger guides in hand hatchets are like a gated community and unless your fingers fit and stay, you are not welcome there. But in its defense, the digit subdivisions installed on the handle will keep the hatchet more secure, especially with a weak or injured hand. Many purists dismissed the plastic as an unforgivable act against traditional lumberjack hardware, but again and again, the plastic proved itself worthy in trial after trial. Mostly this difference translates into less fatigue through less effort to keep the GF Hand Hatchet slicing though wrist and finger movements.
Forced through a gap between me and my belt, the tool stays put and handy without having to be separated from its sheath when moved from storage to action. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am also enamored with the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe that has a smallish head on a longish handle.
Want your own copy, here it is (click here)  And for those interested in something more general and substantial, here is a wonderful tome brought to you by the U.S. In fact, if you haven’t used a hand hatchet before, you likely don’t realize just how big a hole you have in your outdoor toolbox. Instead the blade slides neatly into the wood like a screwdriver wedging its parallel sides tightly against the wood grain.
The horseflies were starting to irritate me more than usual and when one sunk its proboscis into my calf, I whipped my hand around to swat it and the low-mass tiny axe nicked my flesh. Since the mass of the axe stayed the same, it was inevitable that I would loose control and slice my finger which is exactly what happened. But given the super-short handle length, you have bigger problems than just holding on to the chopping thing. And that is if you can generate enough speed to make the hatchet head cut more than just superficial wounding the branch. Like trying to pull a sliver out with lineman’s pliers, there is a point of diminishing return when using a hand hatchet over a knife. The worst part was the blood trickling down my leg was attracting more flies than Bill Bass’s Body Farm in Tennessee. But forgetting the hatchet was in my hand should be ample evidence that the Hand Hatchet can disappear during use.



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