When it comes to good bushcraft hatchets, my favorite of all is the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. The size, weight and head profile are perfect for all my bushcraft needs. I can do anything from building a shelter to intricate carving. I have used mine for a hundred tasks and it is still just as good as the day I bought it. This is definitely an all-purpose bushcraft tool.
I think the one thing that stands out to me is the overall quality and timeless craftsmanship that goes into each one of these hatchets. Each one is hand forged and stamped by the craftsman that made it, giving it a personal appeal. I was impressed at the website and how much pride they put into their products.
There is only one close competitor, the equally high quality Wetterlings Large Hunting Axe. Let’s face it, the Swedes have it together when it comes to quality steel and forging practices. The Wetterlings axe is made with the same time honored pride and tradition as the Gransfors. They don’t make them any better than these two and you can’t go wrong with either. They will last a lifetime if you take care of them.
However, I choose the Gransfors over the Wetterlings for a couple of reasons. The first is the handle. The Gransfors has a little longer handle and it has a slight curve that somehow makes it more comfortable to use. The second is that the profile on the Gransfors is thinner, allowing for more precision work such as making a bow or carving. Last, the Gransfors is more well-balanced, and when you spend a lot of time using a hatchet, believe me, that little detail makes a big difference.
For most bushcraft purposes such as chopping poles for a shelter, building campsite accessories, intricate work tillering a primitive bow or simply making kindling and feather sticks, this is the only tool you will need. The blade comes razor sharp and is easy to re-sharpen and is forged from their secret grade steel. The handle is hickory and tougher than nails and after three years of constant use, is as good as the day it was made. At about $115.00, it is pricey but you definitely get what you pay for. Although there are a lot of companies making small axes these days, you just won’t get the same quality as a company that has been making axes since the 19th century. All Gransfors Bruks does is make axes, and they are all works of art in my opinion.
I’m sure mine will be around long after I’m gone and that’s a beautiful thing.
Photo credit: Rich Wright