Outdoor enthusiasts are always on the hunt for quality equipment and supplies. Of course, this also includes looking for the best tactical hatchet to suit your needs. However, there are a number of wonderful options out there, and there are a number of important points to consider before making any choices.
Realistic expectations and research will ensure that you make an informed decision. Remember that this is the kind of tool that needs to withstand a fair amount of punishment and it needs to last for a reasonable amount of time. The last thing you want is your axe letting you down halfway through your camping trip!
Why you need a hatchet
One of the first questions that people ask is why they need a tactical hatchet. There are so many other tools out there that it can make some wonder if an axe is really necessary. Different tools are used to perform different tasks and your regular axe is great for chopping wood and wood is essential for keeping that campfire going. Fires are not just for cooking. They are also for keeping warm, providing light, and they are great for social interaction.
Unfortunately, regular axes are also quite heavy which is never a good idea when you have several miles to cover on foot. Hatchets are scaled own axes, and you can use them with one hand alone. They are tough, compact, and lighter than a regular axe, and they will make your outdoor lifestyle that much easier. Apart from chopping wood, hatchets also offer various other benefits that will add to your outdoor experience. Here’s our review of the best camping hatchet to give you more options.
There are a number of fantastic uses for a survival hatchet, the most obvious being wood chopping. However, it goes beyond simply splitting wood. You can also chop smaller branches that are perfect for getting your fire started. You can also chop down a tree, although this might not always be permitted or advisable.
Remember, when you cut wood for a fire, it’s always best to look for the driest wood you can find. Not only is dry wood easier to chop, but it also burns faster. Damp or wet wood can be used on a fire that’s already burning strong.
If you buy a hatchet with a hammer, you can use the hammer to secure tent pegs and perform other tasks. Just make sure you place the sheath on the blade so that you don’t accidentally cut your face in the process!
You can also use your hatchet to chop up any game that you need to clean and prepare for lunch or dinner. It’s excellent for tough jobs like separating the limbs from the body and removing the head.
Many people enjoy throwing axes as a kind of recreation. If you choose to do so, make sure that you follow all the right safety rules and don’t leave any room for error!
What to look for?
Shopping for a tactical axe can be overwhelming at first. There are so many choices out there that it’s easy to become a bit confused. It’s important to note that not all hatchets are made equal. Different types and makes offer different advantages and disadvantages.
- A cheap one might save you money in the short-term, but it is bound to be dull out the box and difficult to sharpen, among other things.
- If you’re not a fan of vibration when chopping or hammering, you should look for one with a wooden handle since they absorb more of the shock. Wooden hatchets can also be repaired if they become loose although some might argue that replacement is safer than repairs.
- If you want to get the most out of it, look for one with a well-defined hammer on the opposite side to the blade.
- Be prepared to pay a fair amount in order to ensure that you’re getting a quality steel blade. These blades are heavy-duty and really durable too.
- If you are particularly worried about rust, you can look for a stainless steel blade but, when it comes to hatchets, this is not really a necessity. Hatchet blades are thick and tough so a bit of surface rust will wear off with use.
- A good quality sheath is also a must for safety reasons when carrying and when using the hammer feature.
Essential safety tips
Proper use of any survival axe means that you need to follow the correct safety guidelines.
- When it comes to chopping larger or thicker pieces of wood, remember that the longer types of axes are safer. This is because they are more likely to strike the ground rather than your leg or foot.
- Sharpness is key! Never use a dull blade! Not only can it lead to injury but you’ll use much more energy to get the job done.
- When chopping with a hatchet, always make sure that you kneel so that you don’t hit your leg by accident.
- Never hold the wood that you’re chopping or splitting! Let it rest on a suitable surface and chop!
- Make sure that you are not surrounded by anyone when chopping. They must always keep a significant distance in all directions.
- Don’t store your hatchet by just slamming the blade into a block of wood. This presents a tripping hazard, and you should store it out of sight and away from children. The best way to store your hatchet is by hanging it up and making sure that the sheath is firmly in place.
- Always keep a first aid kit handy and let somebody know when you are getting ready to chop some wood.
Tactical hatchet quick reviews
Sog Specialty Knives F01TN-CP Tactical Tomahawk
This versatile tool retails for about $30 which makes it one of the cheaper options on the market at the moment. The manufacturer recommends it for a wide variety of uses, including excavation, extraction, and obstacle removal.
The nylon handle is glass-reinforced, and the stainless steel axe head measures 2.75 inches. The handle is made from durable ballistic polymer, and the carry sheath is nylon. The total length of this axe is 15.75 inches, and it weighs about 24 ounces. This product comes with a lifetime warranty which is an added incentive for buyers.
It’s important to note that this is not a full tang axe head, and there have been some complaints regarding the blade coming loose and the handle breaking. That said, considering the price, this is not a bad option for those who are starting out and don’t have a small fortune to spend.
If you interested you can check its price on Amazon.
Schrade SCAXE5 Full Tang Tactical Hatchet
These hatchets retail for just over $50. This makes them slightly more expensive, but still realistically affordable for outdoor enthusiasts. The high carbon stainless steel axe head is powder coated and the handle is made from glass filled nylon fiber.
The handle length is 6.4 inches which is always an important factor to consider when buying any hatchet. The axe head is full tang and includes a spike, nail pull, and pry bar. This makes it a really handy tool to have around at home and when you’re out camping. According to users, the grip is really comfortable when using the axe and even better when using the spike end. The screws and lanyard hole create a bit of a hot spot. To solve this, you can choose to buff them out using a nail file or something similar.
The blade arrives perfectly sharp, and the spike angle is great for getting the job done. Caution is advised when using all hatchets and this one, in particular, requires that you adhere to safety guidelines.
Like this amazing product? Then you can purchase it on Amazon.
MTech USA MT-AXE8 Camping
At just $16, this is one of the cheapest hatchets you’ll find.
As per the manufacturer, it is recommended for outdoor use and camping. The design is compact with a 6 7/8 inch axe head made from 440 stainless steel. The superior grip of this axe is thanks to the cord-wrapped handle. Not to mention the fact that the cord can be removed if you need rope, but you don’t have any on you at the time.
The black nylon sheath is included for safety and to prevent damage. The overall length is 15 inches, and the design includes a 2 ½ inch spike. This product is praised for its lightweight and sleek design. While the paracord handle offers great grip, it does tend to slip up and down which can be uncomfortable and it compromises control. Another downside of this handle is that it’s not a great shock absorber which means that you might not want to use it for intense jobs or for several hours without a break.
If you interested you can check its price here.
Kershaw 1073X Siege Tomahawk Knife
This product sells for about $50, and it is known for its versatility. The handle consists of riveted glass-filled nylon with a black-oxide coating. The length of the blade is 4 inches, and the overall length is 16 inches.
This product includes several types of blades/tools which signify the tool is able to perform a wide variety of functions. The blade is a full tang which is great news since this means that it won’t simply come loose after a few uses.
Features that are most enjoyed include the size, the price, the weight, and the fact that it arrives perfectly sharpened and ready for use. Buyers are advised to always be careful whenever opening the packaging of any sharp object. In some cases, the object could fall out of the packaging while you’re opening it and this can result in injury.
It’s also good to note that the pry bar is straight, and there is no curve in this tool. Many will agree that a pry bar with a curve or bend at the end is far more useful since it offers more leverage.
If you interested you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.
Gerber Myth Hatchet
This hatchet is very reasonably priced at about $35, and it is known for its rugged design. It can be used in a number of outdoor situations including hunting, tactical, survival, and more.
Like all the other products in this line, this hatchet has been field tested to ensure top quality and customer satisfaction. This well-balanced hatchet also comes with a molded protective sheath for safe storage and transport. It’s also important to note that the blade is full tang, the total length is 8.5 inches, and the blade length is 3.5 inches. This hatchet weighs 14.6 ounces which is great if you’re trying to keep your pack as light as possible.
A word of caution: while some buyers have received a perfectly sharp blade, others note that theirs arrived dull and needed sharpening before first use. Otherwise, the handle and design are both applauded by users as well as the great quality of the product. It’s important to note that this particular product is better suited for game processing rather than wood chopping. This hatchet will work for chopping kindling, but you might not find it as useful when it comes to larger pieces of wood. For processing game, it’s an excellent tool.
If you interested you can buy it on Amazon.
Gerber Downrange Tomahawk
This is one of the higher end hatchets on the market, and it usually retails for over $200.
The axe’s head has an integrated prying handle and the design also includes a hammerhead. Other features include a desert tan G-10 handle, 420HC steel body, and black KG gun cote. Also included is a Molle compatible sheath.
This axe has a good weight to it. While you might not want to weigh your pack down, you do want a bit of weight when you’re chopping wood. The weight of the axe helps penetrate and split the wood and the metal parts are also really which is always a great advantage for any axe. See our piece on the best tactical tomahawks for pros and beginners to help you.
Upon delivery, some buyers have noticed that the blade comes incredibly dull. Apart from this, once sharpened, this is the kind of hatchet that will get the job done fast! Of course, another potential downside is the price. It is one of the more expensive options, but this can be worthwhile if you spend a great deal of time outdoors.
Like this great product? Then you can check its price here.
Schrade Axe with Fire Starter and Rubber Handle, Small
Reasonably priced at just under $40, this hatchet offers users plenty of bang for their buck.
The ergonomic rubber handle offers great grip and superior comfort. Even more, there is a fire starter built into the handle for added convenience and value for money. On the back of the axe head you will notice a hammering or striking surface which is great for securing those tent pegs and for other uses.
The protective sheath is included with each purchase, and the product is definitely durable due to the titanium nitride coating. This is one of the smaller designs of hatchets on the market and it’s great for campers, hunters, and anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Its compact design means that you can carry it around easily, and it won’t get in your way or weigh you down.
The handle measure 5.2 inches which is certainly a plus if you want to carry this axe on your belt while hiking. The one downside of this product is the fact that the handle is not completely solid. The fact that it is hollow makes it somewhat prone to breaking if used excessively. It’s also not ideal in cold conditions since this makes the handle even more brittle and fragile.
Like this great product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.
Muela-Hg-S, 11-Inch Ft Polymer Handle Tactical Hatchet
Slightly more expensive, at $90, this hatchet’s blade measures 6 inches, and it’s good to note that it is a full tang blade. The handle is polymer and the blade material includes 440 chrome-vanadium-molybdenum alloy martensitic steel. According to the manufacturer, the hardness of this blade measures between 54 and 58 degrees (Rockwell Scale).
These hatchets are handcrafted in Spain, and they are great for regular use. Also included is a leather sheath for safe storage and transportation. This product is good for those who spend a fair amount of time outdoors and are looking for a hatchet that won’t need replacing too soon.
Regardless of the type of hatchet or axe you choose, it’s also good to have a backup plan just in case! Keep a knife and other tools on hand in the event that your axe does not live up to your expectations. Here are the choicest fixed blade knives that are excellent for your trip. That said, testing your axe before you venture out into the wild is always a good idea! This way, if you’re not happy with the way it feels or works, you can always return it and look for another one instead.
Like this product? Then you can check its price on Amazon.
12 Survivors Hand Axe Kit, Black
The blade of this axe is made from stainless steel, and it has an attractive black finish. The rubber grip ensures great comfort and the design includes a pry bar. This design is a bit of a combination of old and new styles. It’s a lightweight alternative to traditional hatchets, and the rubber handle helps prevent your hand from slipping even in damp or wet conditions.
The pry bar can also be used for chipping or chiseling if needed. According to users, the axe is lightweight, sharp, and the compact design is fantastic. It’s important to note that this axe might not be the best option when it comes to chopping hard wood.
However, for making kindling and chopping smaller pieces of wood as well as other camping uses, this hatchet will never cease to surprise you! Just like any product is meant to be used. When using a tool within its scope, you will get that much more out of it. If you try to push the tool beyond its limits, it can result in irreparable damage.
Like this product? Then you can check its price here.
Proper care and maintenance will ensure that you get so much more out of any hatchet.
For instance, there are a number of ways to keep the blade sharp, but sharpening is not the only maintenance activity when it comes to a hatchet.
- You can use a special sharpening stone with two sides – one fine and one course. You should apply a small amount of oil to the stone before you begin and rub it against both sides of the blade in a circular motion up and down.
- Re-profile the blade and remove nicks with a grinder but take care not to get the blade too hot. Take breaks in between to let it cool down. Some prefer hand files for this very reason. When using the stone, use the coarse side first and then the fine side.
- Refine the edge even more by stropping the blade on a leather belt. Test the blade on your forearm. If it can cut the hair off your arm, it’s sufficiently sharp. Take care, though, this can be dangerous if you aren’t careful! If you are worried about injury, test your axe blade on a piece of paper instead.
- Keep your axe protected by applying a small amount of beeswax or WD40 to all the metal areas. If you have one with a wooden handle, use linseed oil to keep the wood from becoming brittle. Rub off any excess oil.
Here’s some useful tips on how to sharpen an axe to help you.
No matter what kind of hatchet or axe you choose, it’s essential that you always store it correctly. When not in use, keep the sheath firmly in place and store out of reach of children. When carrying it around, you should also make sure that the sheath is on and that it is secured to your pack or belt in such a way that it cannot cause injury.
Smaller jobs may be better suited for smaller tools. Hatchets are great for chopping large pieces of wood, but a survival knife would be best when cutting smaller pieces of wood to get the fire started.
To give you more options, see our piece on the kinds of bushcraft tools needed for survival – check it out.