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The​ ​Survival​ ​Axe​ ​–​ ​The​ ​Piece​ ​of​ ​Gear​ ​You
May​ ​Have​ ​Overlooked

A​​ ​survival​ ​axe​​ ​is​ ​often​ ​much​ ​more​ ​efficient​ ​than​ ​a​ ​knife​ ​in​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​situation.​ ​They​ ​allow​ ​you​ ​to
gather​ ​and​ ​split​ ​firewood​ ​more​ ​efficiently,​ ​can​ ​speed​ ​up​ ​the​ ​processing​ ​of​ ​game​ ​and​ ​they’re​ ​also
useful​ ​in​ ​the​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​shelters.
When​ ​you​ ​bring​ ​an​ ​axe​ ​with​ ​you,​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​hammer,​ ​a​ ​weapon,​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​knife,​ ​a​ ​way​ ​to​ ​prepare
game,​ ​and​ ​more​ ​all​ ​rolled​ ​into​ ​one.​ ​As​ ​people​ ​concerned​ ​with​ ​preparedness​ ​and​ ​survivalism,​ ​it
makes​ ​sense​ ​consider​ ​adding​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​axe​ ​to​ ​our​ ​bug​ ​out​ ​bag​ ​list​.

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Survival​ ​Axes​ ​–​ ​The​ ​Three​ ​Basic​ ​Types
Axe
The​ ​traditional​ ​axe​ ​is​ ​the​ ​largest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​three.​ ​An​ ​axe’s​ ​handle​ ​is​ ​normally​ ​two​ ​to​ ​three​ ​feet​ ​long​ ​and
the​ ​head​ ​is​ ​the​ ​heaviest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​three.​ ​Axes​ ​are​ ​best​ ​for​ ​chopping​ ​large​ ​trees​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​the​ ​leverage
you​ ​gain​ ​from​ ​their​ ​longer​ ​handle​ ​and​ ​larger​ ​head.​ ​This​ ​gives​ ​them​ ​much​ ​more​ ​cutting​ ​power​ ​than​ ​a
hatchet​ ​or​ ​tomahawk.
Hatchet
The​ ​handles​ ​of​ ​hatchets​ ​are​ ​usually​ ​10​ ​to​ ​13​ ​inches​ ​long​ ​with​ ​a​ ​head​ ​between​ ​1​ ​and​ ​2​ ​lbs.​ ​Hatchets
are​ ​traditionally​ ​used​ ​for​ ​outdoor​ ​activities​ ​and​ ​camping.​ ​They​ ​have​ ​shorter​ ​handles​ ​and​ ​lighter
heads​ ​compared​ ​to​ ​a​ ​normal​ ​axe,​ ​this​ ​means​ ​that​ ​they​ ​cannot​ ​chop​ ​as​ ​efficiently​ ​but​ ​they’re​ ​much
easier​ ​to​ ​pack​ ​around​ ​than​ ​their​ ​larger​ ​cousins.
Tomahawk
The​ ​tomahawk​ ​is​ ​roughly​ ​the​ ​same​ ​size​ ​as​ ​a​ ​hatchet,​ ​but​ ​typically​ ​has​ ​the​ ​lightest​ ​head​ ​and​ ​smallest
cutting​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​the​ ​three.​ ​Unlike​ ​the​ ​hatchet,​ ​the​ ​traditional​ ​tomahawk​ ​is​ ​designed​ ​primarily​ ​as​ ​a
weapon​ ​and​ ​a​ ​tool​ ​second.​ ​The​ ​size​ ​and​ ​shape​ ​of​ ​the​ ​head​ ​makes​ ​it​ ​more​ ​suited​ ​to​ ​fighting​ ​than​ ​it
does​ ​chopping.​ ​This​ ​doesn’t​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​tomahawks​ ​cannot​ ​be​ ​used​ ​for​ ​cutting​ ​or​ ​chopping,​ ​it​ ​simply
means​ ​that​ ​they​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​as​ ​efficient​ ​as​ ​most​ ​hatchets​ ​or​ ​axes.

What​ ​to​ ​Look​ ​for​ ​in​ ​a​ ​Survival​ ​Axe
The​ ​Head
Much​ ​of​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​each​ ​axe​ ​different​ ​is​ ​the​ ​head.​ ​The​ ​shape​ ​of​ ​the​ ​blade​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​determine
what​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​is​ ​designed​ ​for​ ​and​ ​what​ ​tasks​ ​it​ ​is​ ​best​ ​suited​ ​for.

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Axe​ ​heads​ ​with​ ​long​ ​flat​ ​heads​ ​and​ ​curved​ ​blades​ ​are​ ​made​ ​for​ ​cutting.
Axes​ ​that​ ​have​ ​a​ ​flat​ ​blade​ ​are​ ​better​ ​at​ ​carving​ ​than​ ​those​ ​with​ ​a​ ​curved​ ​blade​ ​but​ ​they​ ​aren’t​ ​as
good​ ​at​ ​chopping.
An​ ​axe​ ​head​ ​that​ ​is​ ​shorter​ ​and​ ​thicker​ ​will​ ​split​ ​wood​ ​better​ ​than​ ​one​ ​that​ ​is​ ​long​ ​and​ ​flat,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​will
have​ ​a​ ​harder​ ​time​ ​cutting​ ​than​ ​an​ ​axe​ ​that​ ​has​ ​a​ ​long​ ​thin​ ​head.
I​ ​think​ ​that​ ​you​ ​and​ ​I​ ​would​ ​be​ ​best​ ​served​ ​by​ ​an​ ​axe​ ​or​ ​hatchet​ ​that​ ​has​ ​a​ ​curved​ ​cutting​ ​edge.
They’re​ ​stronger​ ​than​ ​a​ ​blade​ ​with​ ​a​ ​flat​ ​cutting​ ​edge​ ​and​ ​enhance​ ​the​ ​chopping​ ​power​ ​produced.
The​ ​Handle
Axe​ ​handles​ ​these​ ​days​ ​are​ ​normally​ ​made​ ​of​ ​metal,​ ​wood​ ​or​ ​synthetic​ ​materials.
Metal​ ​handled​ ​axes​ ​are​ ​obviously​ ​the​ ​strongest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​three.​ ​An​ ​axe​ ​with​ ​this​ ​type​ ​of​ ​handle​ ​is​ ​best
suited​ ​for​ ​heavy​ ​work​ ​like​ ​demolition​ ​and​ ​rescue​ ​work.​ ​You​ ​won’t​ ​normally​ ​want​ ​a​ ​metal​ ​handled​ ​axe
in​ ​a​ ​bug​ ​out​ ​bag,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​could​ ​see​ ​it​ ​being​ ​useful​ ​in​ ​an​ ​urban​ ​environment​ ​for​ ​use​ ​as​ ​a​ ​prybar.
Wooden​ ​handles​ ​are​ ​very​ ​good​ ​all​ ​around​ ​and​ ​offer​ ​a​ ​good​ ​strength​ ​to​ ​weight​ ​ratio.​ ​When​ ​selecting
a​ ​wooden​ ​handled​ ​axe​ ​you​ ​should​ ​try​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​that​ ​the​ ​grain​ ​of​ ​the​ ​wood​ ​travels​ ​from​ ​the​ ​read
of​ ​the​ ​handle​ ​to​ ​the​ ​front​ ​(parallel​ ​to​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​head).​ ​A​ ​handle​ ​with​ ​the​ ​grain​ ​going​ ​from​ ​left​ ​to​ ​right​ ​will
not​ ​be​ ​as​ ​strong.
Synthetic​ ​handles​ ​are​ ​popular​ ​in​ ​modern​ ​axes.​ ​They’re​ ​light​ ​and​ ​can​ ​be​ ​stronger​ ​than​ ​some​ ​wooden
handles.
In​ ​my​ ​opinion,​ ​wooden​ ​handles​ ​are​ ​the​ ​way​ ​to​ ​go​ ​since​ ​they​ ​can​ ​usually​ ​be​ ​replaced​ ​with​ ​relative
ease​ ​if​ ​they​ ​happen​ ​to​ ​break.
Overall​ ​Feel
The​ ​overall​ ​feel​ ​of​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​should​ ​be​ ​good​ ​when​ ​it’s​ ​in​ ​hand.​ ​The​ ​weight​ ​should​ ​be​ ​centered​ ​just
below​ ​the​ ​head​ ​of​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​to​ ​aid​ ​in​ ​chopping​ ​and​ ​carving.​ ​The​ ​handle​ ​should​ ​be​ ​comfortable​ ​and​ ​not
feel​ ​slick.​ ​Ideally,​ ​there​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a​ ​swell​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​handle​ ​to​ ​help​ ​prevent​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​from
accidentally​ ​slipping​ ​out​ ​of​ ​your​ ​hands.
This​ ​really​ ​comes​ ​down​ ​to​ ​personal​ ​preference.​ ​You​ ​may​ ​prefer​ ​a​ ​rougher​ ​handle​ ​to​ ​prevent​ ​it​ ​from
slipping,​ ​while​ ​others​ ​prefer​ ​a​ ​smoother​ ​handle​ ​that​ ​feels​ ​more​ ​comfortable​ ​to​ ​them.

The​ ​Different​ ​Uses​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Survival​ ​Axe
A​ ​good​ ​axe​ ​will​ ​fill​ ​many​ ​roles​ ​in​ ​your​ ​survival​ ​kit.
Chopping
Chopping​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​obvious​ ​uses​ ​for​ ​an​ ​axe.​ ​You​ ​should​ ​try​ ​to​ ​strike​ ​the​ ​wood​ ​at​ ​a
45-degree​ ​angle​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​most​ ​effective​ ​in​ ​your​ ​cuts.​ ​A​ ​full​ ​sized​ ​axe​ ​will​ ​allow​ ​you​ ​to​ ​tackle​ ​larger

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trees.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​hatchet​ ​or​ ​tomahawk​ ​you’ll​ ​be​ ​best​ ​served​ ​by​ ​going​ ​after​ ​smaller​ ​dead​ ​standing
trees.
Limbing​ ​is​ ​the​ ​act​ ​of​ ​removing​ ​the​ ​limbs​ ​from​ ​a​ ​fallen​ ​tree.​ ​Tomahawks​ ​and​ ​hatchets​ ​are​ ​great​ ​at
limbing​ ​larger​ ​trees​ ​that​ ​have​ ​already​ ​fallen.​ ​Start​ ​at​ ​the​ ​base​ ​of​ ​tree​ ​working​ ​toward​ ​the​ ​top,​ ​striking
the​ ​limbs​ ​parallel​ ​to​ ​the​ ​trunk.
The​ ​US​ ​Forestry​ ​Service​ ​has​ ​a​ ​great​ ​guide​​ ​covering​ ​everything​ ​you​ ​could​ ​want​ ​to​ ​know​ ​about
cutting​ ​with​ ​axes.

Splitting
Axes​ ​with​ ​a​ ​short​ ​blade​ ​that​ ​are​ ​more​ ​wedge-like​ ​will​ ​split​ ​wood​ ​better​ ​than​ ​those​ ​that​ ​have​ ​a​ ​longer
blade.​ ​Splitting​ ​will​ ​make​ ​getting​ ​a​ ​fire​ ​going​ ​much​ ​easier.
Firemaking
This​ ​video​ ​by​ ​IA​ ​Woodsman​ ​does​ ​a​ ​great​ ​job​ ​of​ ​demonstrating​ ​one​ ​way​ ​to​ ​process​ ​wood​ ​and​ ​get​ ​a
fire​ ​going​ ​using​ ​a​ ​hatchet​ ​and​ ​ferrocerium​ ​rod.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​a​ ​ton​ ​of​ ​different​ ​methods​ ​for​ ​fire​ ​making
out​ ​there​ ​but​ ​this​ ​video​ ​gives​ ​a​ ​great​ ​overview​ ​of​ ​the​ ​basic​ ​concept.
Defense
Any​ ​axe​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​capable​ ​of​ ​creating​ ​devastating​ ​wounds​ ​if​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​use​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a​ ​weapon.​ ​A
firearm​ ​should​ ​be​ ​your​ ​primary​ ​means​ ​of​ ​defense​ ​unless​ ​you​ ​live​ ​in​ ​a​ ​country​ ​that​ ​doesn’t​ ​allow​ ​you
to​ ​own​ ​one.
If​ ​defense​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​roles​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​fill​ ​with​ ​your​ ​axe,​ ​then​ ​a​ ​tomahawk​ ​will​ ​slightly​ ​edge​ ​out
other​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​axes.
Prying
Prying​ ​isn’t​ ​something​ ​that​ ​most​ ​survival​ ​axes​ ​are​ ​designed​ ​for,​ ​but​ ​that​ ​doesn’t​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​you​ ​may
not​ ​want​ ​to​ ​use​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a​ ​prying​ ​device.​ ​For​ ​urban​ ​environments,​ ​this​ ​will​ ​probably​ ​be​ ​more​ ​of​ ​an
advantage​ ​than​ ​in​ ​rural​ ​environments.
Choosing​ ​an​ ​axe​ ​with​ ​a​ ​metal​ ​handle​ ​will​ ​make​ ​it​ ​so​ ​you’re​ ​less​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​damage​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​if​ ​prying​ ​is
something​ ​you​ ​intend​ ​to​ ​use​ ​it​ ​for.
If​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​use​ ​your​ ​axe​ ​as​ ​a​ ​rescue​ ​tool​ ​in​ ​case​ ​of​ ​an​ ​emergency,​ ​like​ ​a​ ​flood​,​ ​then​ ​prioritizing​ ​its
prying​ ​abilities​ ​makes​ ​sense.

Choosing​ ​a​ ​Survival​ ​Axe​ ​That’s​ ​Right​ ​for​ ​You

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Everything​ ​really​ ​comes​ ​down​ ​to​ ​selecting​ ​the​ ​axe​ ​that​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​work​ ​best​ ​for​ ​you​ ​in​ ​your​ ​particular
situation.​ ​You​ ​have​ ​to​ ​weigh​ ​the​ ​pros​ ​and​ ​cons​ ​of​ ​each​ ​and​ ​decide​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​the​ ​most​ ​sense​ ​for
you.
Axe
A​ ​full-size​ ​axe​ ​gives​ ​you​ ​the​ ​most​ ​chopping​ ​power​ ​that​ ​you’re​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​get​ ​in​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​situation.​ ​If
you​ ​plan​ ​on​ ​processing​ ​thick​ ​trees​ ​at​ ​some​ ​point​ ​then​ ​you​ ​may​ ​want​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​a​ ​full​ ​sized​ ​axe.
In​ ​an​ ​urban​ ​environment,​ ​selecting​ ​a​ ​multi-use​ ​full-size​ ​axe​ ​could​ ​be​ ​a​ ​good​ ​idea.​ ​Having​ ​a​ ​large
prybar​ ​and​ ​rescue​ ​tool​ ​as​ ​an​ ​integral​ ​part​ ​of​ ​your​ ​axe​ ​could​ ​actually​ ​save​ ​you​ ​some​ ​weight​ ​in​ ​the
long​ ​run​ ​if​ ​you​ ​were​ ​thinking​ ​about​ ​added​ ​all​ ​of​ ​them​ ​to​ ​your​ ​bug​ ​out​ ​bag.
A​ ​full-size​ ​axe​ ​has​ ​two​ ​distinct​ ​disadvantages​ ​when​ ​used​ ​in​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​situation.​ ​They​ ​weigh​ ​more
and​ ​take​ ​up​ ​more​ ​space,​ ​and​ ​they’re​ ​not​ ​really​ ​suited​ ​to​ ​finer​ ​work​ ​that​ ​you​ ​would​ ​normally​ ​associate
with​ ​fire​ ​building​ ​and​ ​carving​ ​tasks.
Hatchet
If​ ​you’re​ ​worried​ ​about​ ​size​ ​and​ ​weight,​ ​and​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​planning​ ​on​ ​chopping​ ​down​ ​full-size​ ​trees,
then​ ​the​ ​hatchet​ ​probably​ ​fits​ ​what​ ​you’re​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​in​ ​an​ ​axe.
Hatchets​ ​are​ ​uniquely​ ​suited​ ​to​ ​chopping​ ​small​ ​dead​ ​standing​ ​trees,​ ​limbing​ ​trees​ ​and​ ​preparing​ ​a
fire.​ ​They​ ​also​ ​make​ ​splitting​ ​wood​ ​much​ ​easier​ ​than​ ​if​ ​you​ ​were​ ​stuck​ ​batoning​ ​with​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​knife.
The​ ​main​ ​disadvantage​ ​is​ ​that​ ​you​ ​cannot​ ​easily​ ​chop​ ​down​ ​large​ ​trees​ ​or​ ​process​ ​large​ ​logs​ ​for​ ​a
fire.
If​ ​you’re​ ​building​ ​a​ ​bug​ ​out​ ​bag​ ​for​ ​a​ ​wooded​ ​environment​ ​then​ ​I​ ​would​ ​strongly​ ​consider​ ​the​ ​hatchet
as​ ​your​ ​axe​ ​of​ ​choice.
Tomahawk
The​ ​tomahawk​ ​has​ ​the​ ​same​ ​size​ ​and​ ​weight​ ​advantages​ ​that​ ​the​ ​hatchet​ ​possesses.
Many​ ​tomahawks​ ​have​ ​straight​ ​cutting​ ​edges​ ​which​ ​allow​ ​them​ ​to​ ​carve​ ​easier​ ​than​ ​rounded​ ​blades.
The​ ​traditional​ ​hammer​ ​or​ ​spiked​ ​end​ ​opposite​ ​of​ ​the​ ​blade​ ​makes​ ​them​ ​a​ ​fearsome​ ​weapon​ ​and
sometimes​ ​give​ ​them​ ​added​ ​utility​ ​over​ ​an​ ​axe​ ​or​ ​hatchet.
The​ ​disadvantages​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hatchet​ ​are​ ​magnified​ ​in​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​tomahawk​ ​blade​ ​designs.
In​ ​my​ ​mind,​ ​a​ ​tomahawk​ ​really​ ​shines​ ​in​ ​an​ ​urban​ ​environment.​ ​The​ ​added​ ​utility​ ​of​ ​a​ ​spike​ ​for
prying​ ​open​ ​doors​ ​or​ ​other​ ​objects​ ​immediately​ ​stands​ ​out​ ​to​ ​me.

Axe​ ​Maintenance
Keeping​ ​your​ ​survival​ ​axe​ ​well​ ​maintained​ ​will​ ​make​ ​it​ ​last​ ​much​ ​longer.​ ​Make​ ​sure​ ​it’s​ ​dry​ ​and​ ​oiled
before​ ​putting​ ​it​ ​away​ ​to​ ​prevent​ ​rusting​ ​and​ ​always​ ​keep​ ​your​ ​blade​ ​sharp​ ​if​ ​at​ ​all​ ​possible.​ ​In

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survival​ ​situations,​ ​maintenance​ ​of​ ​tools​ ​may​ ​seem​ ​like​ ​an​ ​afterthought,​ ​but​ ​these​ ​tools​ ​may​ ​be​ ​all
that​ ​are​ ​keeping​ ​you​ ​alive.​ ​Treat​ ​them​ ​accordingly.
Schrade​ ​has​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​good​ ​video​​ ​showing​ ​how​ ​to​ ​use​ ​an​ ​axe​ ​stone​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​the​ ​cutting​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​the
blade​ ​nice​ ​and​ ​sharp.

Conclusion
Hatchets​ ​and​ ​tomahawks​ ​will​ ​probably​ ​provide​ ​you​ ​the​ ​most​ ​versatility​ ​in​ ​a​ ​survival​ ​situation.​ ​We
prefer​ ​the​ ​Gransfors​ ​Bruks​ ​Wildlife​ ​Hatchet​,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​the​ ​end,​ ​your​ ​individual​ ​needs​ ​will​ ​drive​ ​the
survival​ ​axe​ ​that​ ​you​ ​end​ ​up​ ​buying.
If​ ​you’re​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​discovering​ ​40​ ​great​ ​prepping​ ​tips​,​ ​check​ ​out​ ​this​ ​article.
Please​ ​leave​ ​a​ ​comment​ ​if​ ​you​ ​found​ ​this​ ​helpful​ ​and​ ​check​ ​out​ ​our​ ​other​ ​preparedness​​ ​articles.

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