Best Axes

Updated January 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
Fiskars 36-Inch X27 Super Splitting Axe
36-Inch X27 Super Splitting Axe
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Long Handle
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A solid option with extra handle length that works well for taller users.


Handle design helps maintain a firm grip. A longer handle and heavier head weight give it more power per strike.


May be too heavy and long for smaller users.

Best Bang for the Buck
SOG Lightweight Compact Camping Axe
Lightweight Compact Camping Axe
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Great for Outdoor Trips
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This versatile outdoor throwing ax will come in handy on camping trips and backpacking journeys.


This lightweight axe is a hatchet and a hammer axe in 1. The glass-reinforced nylon protects the blade and the textured handle is comfortable and easy to hold.


Some buyers complained about rust.

Estwing 26-Inch E45A Camper's Axe
26-Inch E45A Camper's Axe
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Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

Good balance and design make this an excellent choice for beginners.


Holds a decent edge, even after heavy use. Sharpens well. Short enough length for smaller users.


Needs sharpening upon arrival. Blade chips easily.

Gerber 23.5-Inch Axe
23.5-Inch Axe
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Most Compact
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A small, portable option that works well for the occasional user.


Its small size and solid build make it lightweight yet effective. Sharpens well and cuts with precision.


Needs frequent sharpening, and blade has been known to chip.

Helko Hand-Crafted Wood-Splitting Axe
Hand-Crafted Wood-Splitting Axe
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Best for Woodcutters
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A handmade axe with a rugged German woodcutter head and an American hickory handle.


The mid-weight carbon steel head and 28-inch handle are made for strong and steady swings, perfect for splitting wood. The handle was finished with linseed oil for strength and comfort.


The handle was awkward for some to grip.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best axes

When you mention an axe, many people conjure an image of a lumberjack with a long-handled tool slung over their shoulder. Since most people are at least passingly familiar with what an axe looks like, you would think that choosing the best axe would be simple. However, when you start thinking about length, head style, handle material, and so on, the task becomes a bit more daunting.

Luckily, we're here to help. We provide you with details about what makes a high-quality tool and which tool is best suited to which task. If you're ready to buy, we've also shared some of our favorite models.

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Many parts of an axe share names with the human body. There's the head, of course, and the sides are the cheeks. The top and bottom of the bit are the toe and heel. The point where the handle comes out is the eye, and the part closest to the handle is the beard.

Choosing the right type of axe

For centuries, folks have been using long-handled axes to chop firewood and shorter axes for trimming branches and cutting kindling. Mention an axe, and most people probably think of this general-purpose tool. However, there are numerous different axe types:

  • Hatchets (also called camping axes)

  • Woodworker's axes

  • Splitting axes and mauls

  • Tree-felling axes

  • Survival axes

  • Hudson Bay axes (also called 3/4 axes)

  • Broad axes

In this article, we focus on general-purpose axes, but if you're looking for something specialized, there is a wide variety of solutions available.

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Expert Tip
Consider placing a pool noodle over the blade for storage and securing it with a rubber band or tape.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Axe heads

There are two features to scrutinize when choosing an axe: the head and the handle. First, we’ll take a look at the head.

Manufacturers like to say how sharp their axe blade is (the cutting part is actually called a "bit"), and how well it keeps an edge. However, the actual profile of the head is at least as important, if not more so.

  • A thin blade is great for cutting, but it could get stuck when you're trying to split a log – especially if it's green (freshly cut).

  • A wide-angle blade isn't as sharp, but it forces the fibers of wood apart for more efficient splitting.

Tree-felling axes have thinner blades. Dedicated splitting axes have thick blades (much like a splitting wedge). Similarly, the back is often designed to be hit with a sledgehammer if it does get stuck.

Most general-purpose axe heads strike a happy medium, but if you do a lot of one particular type of work, it's worth finding an axe head that suits you.

Some axe heads have PTFE coatings, which are claimed to make cutting easier. However, we were unable to find any appreciable difference when compared to standard axe heads.

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Expert Tip
If you don’t have a formal sheath, make one out of folded heavy-duty cardboard and duct tape. Use a rubber band to secure it to the head.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Axe handles

There are two considerations for the axe handle: length and material.

Handle length

A hatchet is probably the shortest axe. Designed for one-handed use, hatchets tend to be only 10 or 11 inches long. At the other end of the scale, there are axe handles that are 38 inches long. You’ll find many axes with handle lengths in between these two extremes, as well.

A long handle gives you more chopping or splitting power because you get more leverage. However, longer is not always better.

  • Sometimes you want something small and light to cut kindling, take camping, and so on.

  • If you often work with undergrowth, you probably don't have room to swing a long handle.

  • If you're less than average height, a long handle will be uncomfortable and inefficient.

Think about what you need your axe for. Many people end up with both a small hand axe and a general-purpose axe with a longer handle.

Handle material

  • Hickory: Traditional axe handles are made of hickory. The material is strong, not too heavy, and has a degree of flex. If you take care of a hickory-handle axe, it can last for years. If the handle is neglected or abused, however, it could split or otherwise deteriorate.

  • Fiberglass and composites: Fiberglass was the first modern axe handle material to become popular. It's comparatively light, strong, and unaffected by dampness. A number of other composites have improved on these benefits. They can be incredibly durable.

  • Steel: Steel handles, forged as part of the axe head, are extremely strong and offer immense durability. Because chopping with a steel handle can transmit unpleasant vibrations, some manufacturers fit the tool with rubber or leather grips to absorb the shock.

What an axe handle is made of has very little impact on the price, so it's largely a question of personal preference. For some, there's nothing like the feel and response of hickory. Others prefer the durability of fiberglass, composites, or steel.

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Expert tip
Store axes on lower shelves or racks to avoid them from falling and causing injuries.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Other considerations

  • You could argue that weight and balance are other issues to consider when choosing an axe.
  • Head weight can be a benefit when splitting logs (it imparts more force), but the technique also has a lot to do with it. You need something you can swing comfortably; this may or may not be the heaviest head.
  • As for balance, we found that the majority of axe manufacturers do a good job with this. As long as the handle length is right, a user can shift his grip a little and soon get the feel of the tool.


Any time you use a sharp, heavy tool like an axe, safety should be one of your top concerns. Wear solid shoes, preferably work boots or even steel-toed boots, and remain aware of your surroundings.

Always use a chopping block when splitting wood. Normal ground is unstable and unsafe, and it absorbs impact, making you work harder than you need to. Furthermore, you could chip your axe head if you were to hit a hidden stone.

Kids often like to help out, but keep them a safe distance away when you're chopping or splitting wood. They can join in when it's time to stack the logs. Keep pets away as well.

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Splitting logs takes practice. Swing slow and easy; don't force it. Let the momentum of the axe head do the work. Concentrate on where you want the axe to hit.


Q. Is it possible to repair a damaged axe handle?

A. Traditional hickory/hardwood axe handles can be bound with cord and sealed with wood glue. Several websites offer instructions on how to do this. However, it takes time and patience, and there is always going to be a weakness. With new hickory handles available for just a few dollars, is a repair worth the effort? That’s up to you. But with modern handles, it may be easier to replace than to repair.

Expert Tip
Store axes in a space that is not too warm or too dry. Temperature and humidity can affect the long-term quality of wooden handles.
BestReviews Home Improvement and DIY Expert

Q. Does an axe need any special care?

A. Often, a quick wipe after use is enough. If the axe is dirty, warm water and dish detergent do a good job. If you've been cutting sappy wood, you might need some white spirit or paint thinner. Give the head a light coat of oil to keep rust away, and store your axe somewhere dry.

Q. Is a wedge or log grenade easier for splitting than using an axe?

A. These alternatives can be very successful in twisted or knotty wood and with large trunks, but they aren't designed for general splitting – an axe is much faster. On the whole, an axe is a far more versatile tool. After all, you can't cut down a tree with a wedge!

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