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Monday, September 25, 2017

Husqvarna Carpenter's Axe Review

I want to make something clear in this review: I did not initially purchase this axe as a survival/bug out tool, but because I owned a property management company and needed a handy hand axe when I was working on landscaping. I tried out several, and ended up using this one long before I decided to use it as a prepper axe.

Also note that I ended up purchasing several for my employees' use, so I was able to do some comparative testing, especially with maintenance, on this product.

The Good
  • Sharp, tough, well balanced, with a heavy enough head that it makes it easier to do work with it, I have used and abused several of these and have yet to have one fail. 
  • I keep one next to my door for general use, and it sees a lot of loaning out with all the wear and tear that comes with that (especially to college-age neighbors), and has yet to show notable wear.
  • It is small enough to pack well, but large enough to be useful. 
  • It is actually less exhausting than lighter camp hatchets (specifcally, Estwing hand axes) when used for an extended period of time. 
  • I have yet to test one to destruction, despite repeated attempts (mostly due to the neglect of others). I did however find one after a year and a half in the elements that an employee had left out. I wiped the rust off with my t-shirt, and used it to split kindling.

The Bad
  • At around $60 when I bought it from a dealer, it is not a cheap tool. That said, I have used similarly priced Estwings, and have not found them to be as effective a tool for the price. 
  • The grip on the handle is suboptimal. I have found that if you are using it for an extended period of time, it becomes hard to hold onto because of sweat. To combat this, I braided paracord around the bottom half of the handle, and so long as I braided it tightly, I found this to be an acceptable solution. It's a hassle when I re-oil the handle, but if your palms are less sweaty than mine are that may not be needed. 
  • There is occasional surface rust if you leave it out in the elements, but I have not noticed that impairing the utility of the axe.
  • This is not the lightest axe out there (2.75 lbs), so if you have weight limits, this may not be the best choice for a bugout axe. 

 “Off Label” Uses
  • Makes a dandy throwing axe, even if it has a tendency to throw a little high if you are not used to it. 
  • I have used the back to hammer everything from nails to breaking a chunk of concrete apart. I am sure this is not good for it, but it has yet to break.
  • Prying with both the handle and the head has happened on many occasions. I am certain that this is not good for the handle to use it like that, but it has yet to break, so…
  • I have used it for cutting all sorts of stuff, from rope to opening my mail. The head holds an edge surprisingly well.
  • When moving logs around, I tend to slam the axe head into the log and use the axe as a handle, in order to lift it easily. (A useful trick when dealing with large logs: I recommend the flat end of a cut log when doing this,  so that the blade goes in between the fibers of the grain for best grip.)

You will find that, after a year or two with no maintenance, the handle will get a bit “stringy” and is more prone to splintering. I know that the internet holds all sorts of special recipes for the best possible care for your hand axe, but I found that a heavy coat of used cooking oil from my deep fryer, applied every three to six months of heavy use, or two years or so of sitting around, worked just fine.

I use a Lansky Puck for basic maintenance of the edge, with a bastard file I bought at home depot for getting out any really bad gouges. I have a policy of a quick brush up sharpening after a day of heavy use, or a week of light (camp) use. It takes a while for the blade to get dull, however, and notably outlasted the Fiskars Camp axe and the Estwings I also tried out.

I have coated the head of the axe that I use the most in an industrial spray enamel to mark it as mine, and have found that I no longer even get surface rust on it because of that. The edge has worn off, and I suspect that would be an issue if it got used less, but that would be easy to take care of with a sharpening.

My Rating
8 out of 10 if you are looking for a good all-around survival axe;  9/10 if you are not worried about weight. I absolutely recommend it, especially if you have the chance to go to a Husqvarna dealership and handle it beforehand. The only disadvantage is the weight (about double the weight of a camp axe), and that is really only an issue if you are backpacking.

The Fine Print

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