Having proper form is essential when you’re splitting wood – but having the right splitting axe is what makes the real difference. An axe that’s shaped wrong, blunted, or bent isn’t just bad for the job; it’s actively dangerous. To resolve this, we decided to take a look at the various axes on the market and see which of them is best for splitting wood.
[amazon box=”B004M3BAQE,B00BNQR4SG,B00KQB1QXI,B00OKS5058,B01M02MMCH” template=”table”]
How We Chose Our Ratings
Several metrics went into our final decision.
First, we narrowed our search to the splitting axe – any axes not meant for splitting wood were taken off our list, regardless of their other qualities. After some debate, we decided that some hatchets were sufficiently axe-like to qualify for this list.
Next, we looked at the material and overall durability. Every axe needs sharpening now and then, but we gave extra points to axes that are tougher and keep their cutting edge.
Finally, we considered other features like the style and quality of the grip and any other functions the axe may have. We didn’t value these as highly as the axe’s effectiveness at splitting wood, but all else being equal, it’s better to have more features on one tool.
We did not consider price aside from asking ourselves whether it seemed appropriate for the axe in question. For balance, however, we decided to include one budget axe (which we defined as being the best choice at a low price, even if it’s inferior to more-expensive options). All quoted prices are from Amazon at the time this list was created – as always, these are subject to change at the whims of retailers.
Top 5 Splitting Axes + Best Budget Axe
Here are the best choices for a splitting axe.
[amazon link=”B004M3BAQE” title=”#1: Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe 36 Inch, 378841-1002″ /]
No, we don’t know what those numbers at the end are for – and honestly, we don’t care. This is an outstanding axe for splitting logs, especially if you need to get through a lot of them in a short period. Fiskars’ splitting axe is available in several sizes appropriate for different jobs, but we favor the extended 36-inch version over the other models. You can always grip an axe higher if you want a shorter handle, but you can’t easily lengthen them.
Several factors help this axe stand apart from the competition. Most noticeable is the small head on the end, which concentrates power to give a better splitting stroke. It also has a particularly good balance of power-to-weight, which multiplies the power of your strokes when you swing the axe correctly.
Less noticeable at the start is the convex bevel of the blade. In practical terms, this means its shape makes it easy to pull the axe out of the wood if you don’t split it all the way through, and it’s hard to overstate how important that is.
The handle uses FiberComp, a composite material that places fiberglass into a thermoset polymer matrix. To those of us who aren’t interested in the chemistry, the important part is that it’s immune to rust, easily absorbs shocks, doesn’t slip, doesn’t get brittle unless it’s incredibly cold outside, and is pretty comfortable to hold. Overall, it’s an excellent grip for an axe to have.
Together, all of these factors make the Fiskars x27 our #1 choice. The smaller models share this spot for different needs (shorter users, small logs, etc.).
[amazon link=”B00BNQR4SG” title=”#2: Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – 14″ Camping Hatchet With Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather Grip – E24A” /]
Our second choice is a much smaller option. This is a good splitting axe when you’re doing things one-handed, and while it’s not an excellent choice for big logs, it’s perfectly fine when you want to cut something smaller.
The most notable part of this axe is its single-piece construction. Most splitting axes have a strong head set into a handle. That works well enough, but the mere fact that there are two parts (with a joint enduring the impacts) means axe heads can loosen over time. This axe neatly avoids that by having a one-piece forging process so there are no joints or other weak spots.
Of course, steel isn’t very easy to grip when your palms are getting sweaty, so Estwing added a leather grip to make this more comfortable to hold on to. Lacquering ensures the handle will last, though we still wouldn’t leave this axe outside during winter. This product comes with a ballistic nylon sheath to protect the cutting edge.
More extended versions of this axe are available, going as 26 inches if you want something with a bit more heft. At that length, however, we’d recommend getting our #1 choice instead – Estwing offers a good product at any length, but the Fiskars is better overall.
[amazon link=”B00KQB1QXI” title=”#3: Gerber 23.5-Inch Axe 31-002651″ /]
This is a great mid-size axe. It’s not as small as the #2, nor is it as big as the #1 – although it does come in different sizes if you like the overall design. Nothing about this axe’s shaping and design is particularly unusual. Instead, the real value comes from the materials used.
The blade of the axe is coated in Teflon to minimize friction and encourage smoother, cleaner cuts. Meanwhile, the majority of the blade is uses forged steel, which is durable enough to withstand a significant number of swings. The handle is covered in a composite shock-absorbing material to reduce strain and maximize your efficiency.
Together, these make for a lightweight but powerful choice when you need to chop wood in the wilderness. The main thing to be aware of is the Teflon coating on the blade. If that gets scraped off (through poor storage, etc.), you’ll lose one of the most valuable parts of this axe.
It’s still a good choice overall, but it needs a little more care than our first two choices. For that reason, we ultimately settled on the #3 spot for this axe.
[amazon link=”B00OKS5058″ title=”#4: Husqvarna S2800 27″ Composite Splitting Axe” /]
This is another mid-sized splitting axe. Husqvarna has several more axes in this size range, but many of them have wooden shafts, and we didn’t like those as much as the composites.
The head is distinctly more massive than the rest of this axe and with good reason. This design concentrates as much power as possible into the head, giving the best possible cut on each stroke. Meanwhile, the carefully-designed shape encourages a proper split in the wood and ensures it will be easy to get your axe back out.
Unlike most of the other options on this list, the Husqvarna S2800 is more than just a splitting axe. It also has a hammer function on the back of the axe blade, making it the ideal choice if you expect to use wedges or other tools to split your wood.
The manufacturer offers a similarly-sized multi-purpose axe (the A2400), but that design isn’t quite as good for splitting wood. They have the same length, so make sure you’re ordering the correct product if this is the axe you decide to buy.
[amazon link=”B01M02MMCH” title=”#5: CIMA Tactical Tomahawk Tactical Survival Hunting Camping Axe, Nylon Glass Fiber Handle/Nylon Sheath” /]
We’d like to apologize for the length of some of these product names – we didn’t pick them, but we need to use them in their entirety to help you match the products.
That aside, this is a lightweight, affordable axe suitable for both splitting wood and applying to other uses during camping trips. The head of the axe uses 20mm thick steel, vacuum treated with titanium to prevent rust. Multiple easy-to-tighten screws help to keep the handle in place and reduce issues with the blade coming loose.
The back side of this axe isn’t there to make it look more intimidating – it functions as an attack hammer suitable for breaking materials like stone, bricks, or glass. This could be important if you need to get out of your car during an emergency, so don’t underestimate its value.
The handle uses nylon glass fiber, which is a durable material. It’s not the most durable material we’ve seen on an axe handle, but it’s a good choice in this price range.
Overall, we don’t like this choice as much as our #2 pick (which is a distinctly better hatchet), but CIMA’s multipurpose option here is an excellent choice at a low price.
[amazon link=”B00BLTELKE” title=”Best Budget Axe: Ludell 1211 Fiberglass” /]
This camp axe isn’t as good as any of our top 5 options, but it is significantly more affordable. This particular product is most appropriate for casual camping and home use, with a relatively lightweight head. Some people like to use it for splitting tree roots rather than logs, and to an extent, we agree.
The blade is solid and coated to help prevent sticking, while the handle uses a standard fiberglass material to provide a comfortable grip. Two sections of black rubber make this camp axe easier to use. One part is located at the bottom of the handle for full-power swings, while a second section is located just under the head of the blade for detail work. It’s a nice touch on a low-cost product.
To be clear, the savings on this product are not worth it if you plan to chop a lot of logs. When a small increase in price can get you a significantly better product, it’s worth investing. If you’re just looking for the most affordable option, though, this is the best you’re going to get.
We recommend the axes in the order they were presented. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when deciding which axe to get.
First, consider your height. Fiskars’ X27 is a fantastic splitting axe, but it’s not a good choice for shorter-than-average users. You might be better off with their X17 or even the hatchet-style X11. There’s no substitute for experience when you’re swinging an axe, so consider going to a local store and testing products of different lengths to see which is the most comfortable to swing.
Next, consider how often you plan to use your axe. Some people want to go split logs every weekend, while others only want to cut wood a few times a year. A small group of people just want an axe for one job and plan to hang it up somewhere afterward. If you’re not planning to use the axe very often, you can get by with a smaller, more-affordable product.
After that, consider the sort of wood you want to split. In general, bigger axes are necessary for bigger logs. If you only need to cut branches, roots, and small logs, a hatchet is fine. If you need to chop up the most massive logs and stumps, you’ll need a larger axe to get the most efficiency out of each swing. We can’t predict what your exact needs will be – all we can do is advise you to get an axe whose size matches the job.
Finally, think about how you plan to store the axe once you have it. Some products (like the Fiskars line) use materials that are suitable for different temperatures – you can store them in an unheated garage. Other axes (especially those made of wood) should be kept inside at a reasonably constant temperature when not in use. This will reduce the chance of the material weakening due to weather.
As always, safety comes first. Remember to wear eye protection and ensure your axe is sharp when you’re splitting wood. Don’t take unnecessary risks – if you aren’t sure what condition your axe is in, bring it to an expert before you use it.