Types of machete

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As with most other tools, selecting the right axe for the job you are doing can be the difference between working hard to do a dangerous task or applying less effort in a safer manner.  Axes come in numerous sizes and shapes with a variety of different heads.  Let’s take a look at the major types and their uses.

The most popular types of axes

Axe type Typical size Purpose
Hatchets
Fiskars x7 - black
12-14 inches An easy to carry axe that can be used to process kindling and chopping small branches
Felling Axe
Husqvarna axe
23-26 inches To chop down trees. It has a much thinner axe head than a splitting axe
Splitting Maul/Axe
Fiskars x27
36 inches To split wood. The axe head has a much wider wedge and is much heavier than a felling axe
Tomahawk
SOG F06P-N tomahawk
12-20 inches For throwing, combat and less so for general camp use
The Double Bit Axe
Estwing Double Bit Axe
17-36 inches One end is sharper than the other. One end is used for felling, the other for splitting.
Viking/Dane Axe
Cold Steel Viking - Dane axe
The size of a Viking! And no, I’m not kidding, the Viking/Dane axe was meant to be the same size as the user To wreak as much havoc as possible
Battle Axe
Cold Steel Battle Axe
30 inches Was designed to be used one handed, the other arm was used to carry a shield
Tactical axe
gerber-downrange-tomahawk
15-20 inches Multi-functional axes
Zombie apocalypse axe
Master Cutlery MTech Survival Axe
12-20 inches To slay zombies

Find out more about the history of the axe:

Hatchets

Hatches are small axes designed to be used with one hand while the other holds the wood in place.  They are useful for making rough cuts in relatively small logs.  In other words, they do a good job cutting up branches for firewood but are way undersized for cutting down large trees.  They have axe heads which weigh about a pound and the handle is about a foot long.  Hatchets can be used to cut across the grain or along the grain, but if you have to cut through more than a couple of inches, look for another axe.  The best value hatchet you can purchase is the Fiskars X7.  The hatchet is great for a bug out bag and hikers and campers that don’t want to carry much weight.  It gives you the benefit of being able to chop wood easier than using a big knife or machete, but doesn’t weigh all that much.

fiskars x7

Felling Axe

If you really do need to cut down a tree and don’t have access to a chain saw, the felling axe is the one you should use.  The felling axe can also be referred to as any type of camp axe.  They are used for chopping down trees and branches.  There are two distinguishing features about this type of axe.  The handle of the axe is about two feet long and the head weighs about two pounds.  The blade is thin, flat and sharp.  The felling axe is swung sideways at the tree and is designed to cut through the grain, not with the grain like a maul.  My choice for a felling axe is the Husqvarna axe.  Because of the longer handle it makes chopping wood much easier than a hatchet, the issue with having it in your bug out bag or taking it while hiking is the weight.

Husqvarna axe

Splitting Maul

Most of us don’t chop down trees, but splitting firewood is a chore many do.  The splitting maul is the axe of choice for that job.  The head of a splitting maul is thick and heavy.  It can weigh as much as twelve pounds but must are know where near this weight.  The splitting maul is swung down at the log in the direction of the grain.  The weight helps force it through the wood and the thickness of the axe head keeps it from getting stuck.  The edge doesn’t even have to be sharp.  It’s a brute force tool.  Check out my review of the Fiskars X27 Super splitting axe.  I consider it to be the best splitting axe.

fiskars x27 splitting axe

Tomahawks

Everyone knows what the purpose of tomahawks are.  Check out this page to see what the best tomahawk is.  What many don’t realize is that tomahawks aren’t the best for camp.  They can be used to some degree, but the axe head is too light for chopping into wood.  They should be used for tactical purposes or fun.

SOG Fasthawk

Specialty Axes

While most people consider axes to be tools used in the yard or to deal with firewood, there are others who consider them crafting tools.  While there are many different sizes and shapes of specialty axes used for such things as building log cabins or creating wood sculptures, these axes are characterized by being adapted to very specific uses.  For instance a Carpenter’s Axe.

Husqvarna carpenters axe

The Double Bit Axe

We all picture Paul Bunyan carrying an axe that had two heads.  Today, few such axes are used for real work, but they are used for a sport such as axe throwing.  Players hold the axe behind their heads with both hands and as they bring it over their heads, release it towards a target, hoping the ax will hit and stick into the target.  One of the blades is usually sharp for cutting against the grain (chopping branches or trees) and the other isn’t as sharp and is better suited to splitting wood along the grain (like a splitting axe).

http://www.estwing.com/ao_leather_black_eagle_double_bit_axe.php

Estwing Double Bit Axe

Viking/Dane Axe

Designed to be used with both hands.  No shield necessary when you’re swinging this axe around.  Overall length of 52 inches, it’s huge! http://www.coldsteel.com/viking-axe.html

Cold Steel Viking - Dane axe

Battle Axe

Designed to be used with one arm so that the other arm had was used to hold a shield.  It needed to be light, but also inflict as much damage as possible, hence the massive axe head edge.  This is commonly referred to as a bearded axe.  Overall length, 30 inches.  The massive curve on the bottom side of the axe head is because it was used to hook the enemies shield and to pull on the shield to put them off balance.

Cold Steel Battle Axe

Tactical Axe

If you live in an urban environment, you won’t need to process much wood but a tactical hatchet could save your life.  It can still process wood, not as effectively as a traditional hatchet but it will have other features that might be suited to your purposes.

gerber-downrange-tomahawk

Zombie apocalypse axe

Ok, ok, there’s not really a category like this, I just thought I’d put it in for fun.  I’ve gone over awesome looking axes here.

Master Cutlery MTech Survival Axe

Before deciding on an axe to purchase, decide what you will use it for and let your use guide your choice.

 

 

 

Survival, Then and Now.

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Survival, Then and Now.

What do you think has changed  in the last 300 years regarding our survival needs? Anything? Whether it be long term wilderness living as it was for the New World settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries or whether it be a lost in the bush survival situation, I don’t see as though anything has changed. Our requirements are still the same, sensible tools, good survival provisions and primitive survival skills. Yet here we are in 2016, and people are obsessed with using dryer lint. stubby so called “bushcraft knives”, camo clothing, ferrocerium rods, pop-up nylon tents, RAT packs and freeze dried foods, special hiking boots, fuel stoves, battery operated equipment and no skills to speak of except invented ones like “battening”, making Vaseline cotton balls and other “homemade” fire starters and inventing new ways to lay a fire so they can take photos of it for their favourite forum!

300 years ago the main tools you needed to survive were the gun, the axe, the knife and flint and steel for making fire. You could even survive without the flint and steel if you had to because you could use the lock on your flintlock gun to make fire. You needed skills such as trap making and the knowledge of trapping. You packed only the essential equipment and provisions, and if you made mistakes in packing too much useless gear, then you ditched it along the track and learnt a hard lesson. Generally you asked experienced people for their advice, some ignored that advice to their own peril, and others profited by it. Today many so called survivalists and preppers also seek advice on internet forums, or at least they appear to. Most though have already made up their minds, and really all they want to do is share on the forum what they have chosen and carry. Giving correctional advice to these people is usually a waste of time, and in some cases you will be answered with rudeness and ridicule. Most of us, who have been there and done that, had a lot of experience in long term wilderness living simply ignore this and perhaps go to the persons profile and click the “Ignore” button. After all, we don’t have to put up with abuse, and the less people that survive after tshtf the better for us, less hunting and foraging competition.

For those of you that are serious about survival, and genuinely think that a shtf situation could arise in the future, here is my advice, take it or leave it: Think about your needs, think about the tasks you will be faced with if you have to survive in a wilderness situation. Choose you tools carefully. You will need a tool or tools for hunting, you will need an axe for cutting wood for shelter construction and trap making, you will need blades for skinning and butchering, camp chores and trap making, and perhaps a spare just in case. You need a hunting knife with a blade long enough to be used in self defence. You do NOT need a tool for skinning and butchering that was designed to cut wood, and you don’t want to have to cut saplings down with a knife! Each tool should have a specific purpose, don’t skimp on tools to save weight, you need the right tool for the specific job in hand.

Think sustainable, if you purchase something that is going to break, wear out or run out and you are unable to repair it, then it is just extra weight in your pack you don’t need, and it is going to compromise your safety. Carrying good sustainable gear may mean that you are carrying extra weight, and may mean that you will have to travel slower and take more breaks, but long term it will pay off.

Learn the skills you will need now. Having a good pair of hiking boots may help you initially, but what happens if they break or wear out? Do you know how to make a moccasin pattern? Do you know how to make moccasins? Do you know how to tan an animal skin to make leather? If you make a pair of moccasins now, then you will not only have learnt the skill, but you will have the moccasins and the pattern for another pair. This is the way you need to think. A modern firearm is great providing it remains functional, but what if it ceases to work? Can you fix it? How much weight in ammunition can you afford to carry? How much ammo do you use on an average hunting trip? You may shun primitive hunting tools such as the traditional bow, the crossbow and the muzzle-loading gun or rifle, but these tools have certain advantages over the modern firearm for long term wilderness living. By all means if you are travelling in company have someone carry a modern firearm, but make sure it is not the only hunting tool you are taking with you.

Keith.



Schrade SCAXE2L Survival 15.7-Inch Hatchet review

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It doesn’t matter if you are looking for an hatchet that you can carry on the job or just to keep for home emergencies, Schrade has great models all at good prices. Even if it is just for the camping bag, the large survival hatchet is way too good to be true. Sometimes a good survival knife is just not enough to do the job, unless that is all you have. So, why not plan ahead and make your life that much easier?

My experience with the hatchet

Schrade Scaxe2l

I decided to purchase the SCAXE2L.  It is nearly 16 inches long and it is considered a large handled axe so it can be used with one or both hands.

Schrade SCAXE2L

When I first picked up the SCAXE2L, I was pretty impressed with the attention to detail and the quality that Schrade really put into the design and engineering of this hatchet. Yeah, it is no Gransfors Bruks, Wetterlings, or even a Benchmade, but then it also doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to purchase it either.

The titanium coated Stainless steel head and the glass reinforced handle that comes with the rubberized grip are sharp looking and stout. Even the XL Ferro rod and the nylon sheath aren’t that bad looking either.

Once I had managed to wield if for a few minutes, it felt like it might be a bit on the heavy side for those who plan to use it with one hand for a long time without choking up on the handle. Although, it is sized perfectly for those who want to use two hands when you need to have more control and power.

The only issue that I came across was related to the height of the grip. With two hands on the handle, the top hand will most likely give you a finger or more above the top of the grip. If you choke way up on the handle for single hand operations, you may land above the grip. If you are wearing gloves, then this isn’t an issue, but if Schrade would have put more grip coating at least 3 inches further on the handle, it would have been absolutely perfect.

Schrade SCAXE2l up close

The SCAXE2L was sharp right out of the box, this is one of the things that I love about the Schrade products. They are always sharp and ready to go. I just get bothered when I purchase survival equipment, it normally has to be sharpened before I can even try it out.

Just thought I’d include this youtube video because it’s pretty cool.

Alternatives hatchets

At this price point you should consider the Husqvarna Hatchet which is more of a traditional type hatchet.

Price

This is a mid-priced, fairly valued product.  It can be bought at a good price from Amazon.  It is more expensive than the Fiskars x7 though, so that’s the another option you’ll want to look at.

Pros:

  • Sharpened out of the box
  • Long handle
  • Stainless steel head
  • Comes with sharpening disc

Cons:

  • Not enough grip coating on the handle for two hands.

I really enjoyed being able to put the SCAXE2L to the test. It was a great performer.  In many people’s eyes it could be considered the best camping hatchet because it has multiple functionality because of the fire starter.  It isn’t the best cutting hatchet but it’s still really good.  The SCAXE2L is a very versatile hatchet and it is tough enough to get the job done even under some of the most extreme survival conditions. The stainless steel axe head and glass reinforced handle are rust resistant and are virtual indestructible, so it was built to last.  It can be purchased here.

Schrade SCAXE2L
Written by: Survivor Steve
4.5 / 5 stars

What is Apocalyptic Survival?

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What is Apocalyptic Survival?

There are many terms used for serious survival, apocalyptic, SHTF,TEOTWAWKI, in my book all mean the same thing; something big has gone down that seriously changes the way we live and the way we look at things around us (I do not include a nuclear strike in our vicinity that most people could not survive). It could be an invasion from another country; it could be an Alien invasion. It could mean that the grid is down from a terrorist strike. What it is not is a normal temporary black out. It is not a chemical truck turning over in your neighbourhood. So let’s get this straight, a real serious survival situation is not for hobby survivalists. A hobby survivalist can go bush for a weekend or even a weeks camp-out and they will probably be okay providing no natural disasters occur or the camp is attacked by feral humans.

Now I must say that there is nothing wrong with being a hobby prepper, providing you stay within the limits of your expertise, you should be fine. Enjoy yourself. I do not mean this to sound demeaning, but facts are facts. If someone’s main fire making tools are a ferrocerium rod, some bic lighters and a box of matches, then they are not thinking long term. They are only prepared for a short term survival situation. Anyone who carries only one knife and that knife is used for multiple bushcraft tasks is not thinking long term survival. Now a lot of these people will defend their choices of gear, and that is fine. I see no point in arguing the point. But the fact is that in a major survival situation, these people will not survive.

If you are a serious prepper/survivalist you will be using flint, steel and tinderbox as your main fire lighting tool, and you will have learnt at least one other primitive method of fire lighting as a back-up. Your main knife will be for skinning, butchering and defence, and your choice of blade will reflect this. You will have at least one other blade which will be for camp chores and general usage. You will also be carrying a belt axe/hatchet or tomahawk for the heavier cutting chores and for defence, and you will know how to use these tools to their best advantage.

My hunting knife.
My legging knife.
My friction blade clasp knife.
The serious survivalist will have some form of hunting tool suited to long term wilderness living, be it a traditional bow or a firearm. If it is a firearm then you need to think very carefully before making your choice. You know what sort of game you may encounter, and you know that you may also have to depend on this tool for defence. Do not compromise other important survival needs in your pack by carrying too much weight in ammunition. I choose to carry flintlock guns. A flintlock gun has many advantages over a modern firearm and some advantages over the use of a bow. But having said that I am still very much in favour of carrying a bow, both the bow and the flintlock gun are long term sustainable tools for wilderness living. They may have a disadvantage in a fire fight compared to a modern firearm, but I firmly believe that both are better than a modern firearm regarding their versatility and long term sustainability.
.62 caliber flintlock fusil.
.32 caliber flintlock rifle.
.70 caliber flintlock pistol.
Knowing how to make and use traps is important, their use on a trap line will save on ammunition, and they are working for you day and night. Learning primitive skills is very important; they will help keep long term, as will primitive equipment. Modern equipment will eventually run out or break down, and the hobby prepper who only carries modern gear will gradually find themselves living a Stone Age lifestyle. Those people who invest in pre 19thcentury equipment will not likely ever have to drop below that level of comfort, be it 18th century or 12th century because again, it is sustainable.
A quick word about so called 24 and 72 hour survival packs. As a get home pack I think these are a good idea, but as a survival pack to take bush, I personally would not advise it. None of us can predict how long we may have to survive in any given situation. Limiting your pack to mere hours instead of a lifetime in my opinion is pointless. Use your main survival pack all the time, whether it is just for a weekend camp or longer. This will make sure you are well prepared and it will make you more familiar with your gear.


Here below is a list of skills our group members learn and practice; also there is a list of benefits of using a flintlock muzzle-loading firearm. If you are serious about being able to survive in the future should anything major happen to affect our quality of living, then I urge you to be honest with yourself and evaluate the skills you have and the equipment you carry.

New England Colonial Living History Group 1680-1760.

This is a list of basic skills in which we expect an 18thcentury woodsman or woods-woman to have some experience with in our group. There is no time limit set, learn in your own time & if we can help just ask.
Keith.

·      Flint & steel fire lighting

·      Wet weather fire lighting

·      Fire-bow fire lighting

·      Flintlock fire lighting

·      Flintlock use, service & repair

·      Marksmanship with either gun or bow.

·      Field dressing & butchering game

·      Blade sharpening

·      Tomahawk throwing

·      Making rawhide

·      Brain tanning

·      Primitive shelter construction

·      How to stay warm in winter with only one blanket

·      Cordage manufacture

·      Moccasin construction and repair

·      Sewing

·      Axe and tomahawk helve making

·      Fishing

·      Hunting

·      Evasion

·      Tracking

·      Reading sign

·      Woods lore

·      Navigation

·      Primitive trap construction & trapping

·      Open fire cooking

·      Fireplace construction

·      Clothing manufacture

·      Drying meat & other foods

·      Knowledge of plant tinders & preparation

·      Knowledge of native foods & preparation

·      Knowledge of native plants in the area and their uses for other than tinder and food.

·      Scouting/Ranging.

·      Basic first aid.

·      Finding and treating water.

General leather work.


Advantages of a Flintlock Muzzle-loader.

1)   Ammo is less expensive than a modern equivalent caliber firearm.

2)  The smoothbore is very versatile, being able to digest round ball, bird shot, & buckshot, or any combination of two of these (can also use minies).

3)  The fusil is lighter to carry than a modern equivalent sized gun.

4)  You can vary the load if needs be.

5)  The smoothbore will digest other projectiles besides lead.

6)  Lead can be retrieved from downed game & remoulded with a simple mould & lead ladle. This means that you can carry less lead, & more of the lighter gunpowder.

7)  You can make your own gunpowder.

8)  You can use the lock to make fire without the need for gunpowder.

9)  You can use gunpowder for gunpowder tinder fire lighting if needs be.

10)        IF the lock should malfunction (these are very robust & it is not likely) you can easily repair it if you are carrying a few spare springs & a few simple tools.

11) If you do not have any spare parts & the lock malfunctions, you can easily convert it to a tinderlock or matchlock & continue using it.

12)        You do not need a reloader, brass shells, caps, or primers. The latter have been known to break down in damp conditions or if they are stored for too long.

13)         Wadding for ball or shot is available from natural plant materials or homemade leather or rawhide.

14)       Less chance of being affected by future ammunition control legislation.

15)        Gunpowder is easily obtainable providing you have a muzzle-loader registered in your name regardless of caliber (NSW)

16)        A .32 caliber flintlock rifle is more powerful than a .22 rimfire, less expensive to feed, more accurate over a greater distance, able to take small & medium sized game, & other than not being able to use shot (unless it is smoothbore), it has all the attributes of the other flintlocks.

17)        Damage from a .62 caliber-.75 caliber pistol or long arm is in the extreme. Wounded prey is unlikely to escape.

18)         By using buck & ball you are unlikely to miss your target. This load is capable of taking out more than one target.

19)        There is less kick-back to a muzzle-loading gun.

20)       Antique Flintlock muzzle-loading guns do not require a license, registration, or a permit to purchase in NSW Australia.

Here is a list of the equipment that I carry. As in everything, equipment is a personal choice based on experience.

Equipment List.

.62 cal/20 gauge flintlock fusil. 42 inch barrel.

.70 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistol.

Gun tools and spare lock parts.

Shot pouch and contents.

Leather drawstring pouch of .60 caliber ball (in knapsack).

Powder horn.

Ball mould and swan shot mould.

3 Gunpowder wallets

Lead ladle.

Butcher/Hunting knife.

Legging knife.

Clasp knife.

Tomahawk.

Fire bag.

Tinderbox.

Belt pouch.

Fishing tackle in brass container.

Two brass snares.

Roll of brass snare wire.

Knapsack.

Scrip.

Market Wallet.

Tin Cup.

Kettle.

Water filter bags (cotton & linen bags).

Medical Kit.

Housewife.

Piece of soap and a broken ivory comb.

Dried foods in bags.

Wooden spoon.

Compass.

Whet stone.

Small metal file.

Oilcloth.

One blanket (Monmouth cap, spare wool waistcoat and wool shirt rolled inside blanket).

Two glass saddle flasks.

Length of hemp rope.

Bottle of rum.

What’s the best splitting maul?

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So, someone you know chopped down a large tree and blessed you with a stack of logs for your fireplace.  The only problem is that they are a foot in diameter and weigh, well at least seem to weigh, a ton.  You need to split those huge logs into halves or quarters, so you head off to buy an splitting axe, and when you see all the different styles, you are stumped.  What type of axe should you buy, and what is the best brand?

What is a splitting maul?

You know you want to split the giant logs so the axe marked “splitting maul” catches your eye?  Is it what you need?  Yes.  A splitting axe is the same as a splitting maul.  A splitting maul is used for splitting logs along the grain (the inside of the tree) where as a camp axe or felling axe is used to cut against the grain (cutting into the bark).

Splitting mauls are heavier and have longer handles than a traditional axe. The head of a splitting maul is wedge-shaped but some companies have experimented with other shapes.  A normal axe has a wedge shape as well, but not anywhere near as wide as a splitting axe.  Splitting mauls are swung downward at a log, not across like when trying to fell a tree.  They do not need to be sharp.

Which splitting maul should I buy?

There are a variety of mauls available in the $40-$60 price range and some that are closer to $200. Most of the big brands like Gransfors, Wetterlings and Husqvarna splitting mauls cost over $100. The Fiskars X27 is far cheaper than that.

Shouldn’t I just buy the cheapest maul?

Many people claim that a maul shouldn’t be sharp which means you can buy the cheapest maul because the quality of steel doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t have to be sharp.  All you’re doing is swinging a big piece of metal right?  This is a myth.  A maul should be sharp, but not have a fine edge.  It should have a convex edge, which means it should be a bit rounder.  It doesn’t need to be razor blade sharp, but it still has to be sharp, especially if you’ve got stringy wood you’re splitting. If you spend $30 on a no-name splitting maul you will be disappointed.

 

The 3 best splitting axes

Axe Notes Price Rating
Fiskars X27 Super Splitting AxeFiskars X27 in woodCheck Today’s Price Haft is virtually unbreakable which is really important when is comes to a splitting axe. It also comes at a great price. It performs just as well as high end splitting axes but is much cheaper. You can’t go wrong buying this splitting axe.
Made in Finland
$$

4.9
Wetterling Splitting AxeWetterlings splitting maulCheck Today’s Price Great splitting axe but I prefer the Fiskars X27 because the haft (handle) is fiberglass. Wood is more likely to fail. $$$ 4.8
Leveraxe Splitting AxeLeveraxe splitting axeCheck Today’s Price Great marketing for such a unique product. It works well, but a traditional splitting maul works better. $$$ 4


 

1. Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe

Fiskars x27

This splitting axe is made by the very reputable Fiskars.  It is made in Finland.  It’s 36 inches which might be a bit too long for some.  They also have the X25 splitting axe (click on the option that says “28-Inch axe”) which is 28 inches long.  The longer the handle, the harder it is to control and many just prefer the shorter 28 inch X25.

 

Fiskars x27 up close

The sheath
Fiskars x27 splitting wood

Splitting wood
Fiskars x27 axe head

Close up of the axe head

The blade stays sharp for a long time, and the axe comes with a lifetime warranty.   The steel and edge geometry are great but the reason this is my favorite is because the handle is made from FiberComp which is much lighter than wood but stronger than steel.  The handle is also shock absorbing.  This means that it’s easier on the body to swing because you want a light but strong handle and you want all the weight in the axe head.  How strong is the handle?

How does if perform?

Those who buy it love it just like I do.  Check out my full review hereCheck today’s price.

 

2. S.A. Wetterling Axe 29K Large Splitting Maul with Hickory Handle

Wetterlings splitting maulOn the high end, is the S.A. Wetterling Axe Splitting Maul.  It is made in Sweden and a blade cover made from brown leather is included.  The length is 29 inches.  The cutting edge of the blade is highly angled.  The bit is ridged. The poll (back end of the blade) is tempered and can be used with a splitting wedge to deal with gnarled wood.  Many users claim it never gets stuck in logs.  This is a high end model.  It’s much more expensive than Fiskars.  Check today’s pricehttp://www.wetterlings.com

 

3. Leveraxe Splitting Axe, Vipukirves 36-inch

Leveraxe splitting axe

Another high end maul (as in, very expensive) is the Leveraxe Splitting Axe, Vipukirves 36 inch.  It features a more modern design with a black handle and red blade.  The back of the axe head has a hook that functions as a brake, keeping the axe on the top of the wood you are trying to split and not allowing it to do into the ground, or into your leg.  The Finnish manufacturers claim that their unique design allows you to safely strike closer to the edge of the log than the center, making it easier to split the logs with less force.

 

http://www.leveraxe.com/en/

 

The right splitting maul for you depends on how much you want to spend and whether you prefer a traditional or modern profile.  You won’t go wrong with any of these choices.

The coolest axes for a zombie apocalypse

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You’re a man of style and if there’s a zombie apocalypse you still want to look like a complete bad ass by owning a cool axe.  There’s lots of guys out there who just don’t like a traditional looking camp hatchet.  No shame in that.  There are some awesome looking axes out there at the moment that are pretty good quality.  They’re not going to be as good as your Gransfors or Wetterlings but they do the job.

Below I’ll go over the most awesome looking axes that you can buy.  I’m not going to go over axes that look great but are crap, I’ll only go over those that look great and are functional.

Master Cutlery MTech Survival Axe

Master Cutlery MTech Survival AxeThis is my favorite zombie destroyer axe.  The bearded axe edge just give it that intimidation factor.

Schrade SCAXE5 Full Tang Tactical Hatchet

Schrade SCAXE5

 

 

Yes4all Outdoor Camping Hunting Survival Steel Axe

Yes4all camping hatchet

SOG Voodoo Hawk

SOG voodoo hawk

 

 

Cold Steel Trench Hawk Axe

Cold Steel Trench Hawk Axe

Officially Licensed USMC Elite Tactical Bruiser Survival Tomahawk Axe

usmc-elite-tactical-bruiser-survival-axe

 

United Cutlery UC2836 M48 Ranger Hawk Axe with Compass

united-cutlery-uc2836-m48

If you find any more axes that look like they belong in the apocalypse, let me know via the contact form.

The Best Swedish Axe Manufacturers

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It’s no secret that the Scandinavians make the best axes.  They’ve been making them since before the Viking age.  When you live in a temperate climate where you’re surrounded by forest, you’ll need to be able to effectively process wood.  Out of the Scandinavians, the Swedish are renowned for being the best axe manufacturers.

Gransfors Bruks AB

Gransfors has been producing axes sine 1902.  In 1985 the company went bankrupt and it was purchased by Gabriel Brandy, who is still the CEO to this day.  Gransfors are world renowned for producing the best axes, they are hand forged, incredibly good quality and also aesthetically pleasing.

gransfors

Other products they are associated with: Black King line of axes, Woolpower thermal undergarments and Sweedepro line of protective clothing.

S.A. Wetterlings

Sven Axel Wetterling started producing axes in 1880 under the famous Wetterlings brand.  A short time later, he was joined by his brother, Otto.  Otto has actually studied industrial axe manufacturing techniques in the USA.  When Otto passed in 1915, the company was sold to Magnus Liljeblad.

Wetterlings Wildlife hatchet in wood

Gabriel Brandy, the owner of Gransfors Bruks purchased Wetterlings in 2008.  From all reports the factories run independently, but who really knows.  Wetterlings manufactures drop forged as well as hand forged axes.  I’ve reviewed the Wetterlings Wildnerness hatchet here.

Husqvarna

Believe it or not, Husqvarna was actually founded as a weapons manufacturer in 1689.  Husqvarna is famous for producing chain saws and gardening equipment.  It has only been producing axes in the last decade or so.  It’s really important to note that Husqvarna don’t actually produce their own axes.  They have other Swedish axe manufacturers produce the axes.

Husqvarna-Hatchet-close-up

Courtesy of http://simonsdiscoveries.com

That’s why there could be some slight variety in quality.  The reason that Husqvarna make such high quality axes is because they do use Swedish axe manufacturers and just stamp the axes themselves.  The Husqvarna axes are great quality and are much cheaper than their competitors.  Check out my review of the Husqvarna hatchet.

Hults Bruk

Out of all the Swedish axe manufactures, Hults Bruk is the biggest.  The company was founded by James Reenstierna Jr. back in 1697 for the sole purpose of producing nails for ship building.  Way back in 1732 the company began to refine its own iron.  A lot of water passed under the bridge but by 1970, the company was almost exclusively producing axes.

The most important moment in recent history was in 1988 when the Hultafors Group purchased Hults Bruk.  Hultafors also own Tors Hammare AB.  This has caused a lot of confusion because many people refer to the company as Hultafors and others refer to it as Hults Bruk.  To further the confusion, on the axes produced there is both the Hultafors etching as well as the traditional “HB” Hults Bruk stamp.

 

Tactical axe

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The tactical axe/hatchet differs from the survival axe or the tactical tomahawk.  Below I’ll go over what I consider to be the best tactical axes..  These products are not designed for predominantly bushcraft, they’re not designed as a hatchet is.  They won’t have a heavy axe head, they need to be light so they can be used where time is of the essence.  They can chop wood, but not as effectively as a camp axe can.  They can be wielded as a weapon far more effectively than your traditional hatchet.  Even though they can be thrown like a tomahawk, they’re not as effective at being thrown as a tomahawk because they have dual purposes.  A tactical hatchet is designed for special purpose situations.

Officially Licensed USMC Elite Tactical Bruiser Survival Tomahawk Axe

 

 

It’s 15 inches overall and is an effective tool.  The big knock I have on it is that blade is made of stainless steel, it just doesn’t have the cutting edge of high carbon steel.  It does include a fishing kit, compass and lanyard.  4.6/5.  I’m really happy with the grip, it’s perfect for a combat situation.

usmc-elite-tactical-bruiser-survival-axe

usmc-elite-tactical-bruiser-survival-axe-e

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk

gerber-downrange-tomahawk

 

This is a three-in-one tool.  It’s an axe, a hammer and a pry bar.  It’s made out of 420HC steel body with Cerakote® that will not bend or break.  This thing is virtually unbreakable.  The axe head is made in the USA.  The grip is made of G-10 composite scales.  The MOLLE compatible sheath attaches to pretty much anything you need it to, including body armor.

 

United Cutlery UC2836 M48 Ranger Hawk Axe with Compass

At 15 1/2 inches, it’s a decent length.  The axe head is made of precision cast 2Cr13 stainless steel.  The handle is nylon reinforced with 30-Percent fiberglass.

4.4/5

 

 

united-cutlery-uc2836-m48   

Schrade SCAXE5 Full Tang Tactical Hatchet

Schrade SCAXE5The spike is intended to puncture, it’s just not long enough to dig in enough to really get the job done.  It’s a mini pry bar as well which can come in fairly handy.  All in all, it’s a really good tool, I just would have preferred a longer spike for piercing more effectively.

Purify Water Using Chemical Treatments

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Water purification tablets are a great back up form of water treatment. They are excellent Bug Out Bags and survival kits because they are light weight and inexpensive. Water purification tablets are also great to store in your vehicle or your bug out location to disinfect water on demand.  If the water supply I am drawing from is extremely shady I combine both a filter and the tablets to ensure my safety. Also, be aware that water purification tablets have a shelf life. Check the expiration dates on your tablets and replace any that are expired.

Water purification can come in tablet or droplet form. The tablet form is better because it is a lighter weight that droplets and easy to use when in a stressful situation.

Two water born pathogens that commonly found in untreated water- Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

Cryptosporidium is a genus of apicomplexan protozoans that can cause gastrointestinal illness with diarrhea in humans. According to the CDC it is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. In a disaster situation where government maintained services are effected, it is highly likely that this protozoa parasite will find its way into our water supply.

Giardia attached to the wall of the small intestines. Giardia is also an infectious protozoa and it is a big deal in emergency preparedness because it can have such a dramatic effect on your health. The symptoms of Giardia, may begin to appear 2 days after infection, include violent diarrhea, excess gas, stomach or abdominal cramps, upset stomach, and nausea. 

The typical infection within an individual can be slight, resolve without treatment in about 2–6 weeks, although sometimes longer and sometimes the infection is more severe requiring immediate medical attention. 

There are three main types of water purification tablets on the market (Chlorine (NaDCC), Iodine and Chlorine Dioxide) . Not all are equal as each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Choose the purification tablet that works the best with your situation and location.



Chlorine Dioxide Tablets (Potable Aqua, Katadyn and Aquamira Brands). Even though the word “chlorine” is in the name, chlorine dioxide is neither iodine nor chlorine. It uses a highly active form of oxygen to purify water so it leaves absolutely zero taste. As a nice bonus the action of chlorine dioxide causes a lot of sediment to drop out of suspension (fall to the bottom) leaving the container of water more clear and further improving flavor. Chlorine dioxide tablets are a good choice for those allergic to iodine, with thyroid problems, or on lithium. Always follow product usage instructions.

Chlorine NaDCC Tablets (Potable Aqua, Oasis Plus, Aquatabsand Rothco’s Military “Chlor-Floc“ Brands). NaDCC, also known as sodium dichloroisocyanurate or sodium troclosene, is a form of chlorine used for disinfection. NaDCC tablets are different and improved over the older chlorine based (halazone) tablets. When added to water, NaDCC releases hydrochloric acid which reacts through oxidization with microorganisms and kills them. Many tablets advertise no chlorine after taste. Unopened NaDCC tablets have a shelf life of 3-5 years, if opened they should be discarded after 3 months. Always follow product usage instructions. 

Iodine Tablets (Potable Aqua,Coleman, and Coghlans brands). Iodine Tablets use iodine to purify contaminated water. Most iodine purification tablets tend to leave a funny taste to the water and some discoloration, however vitamin C or ascorbic acid can be added after the treatment time to improve the taste and remove the color. This often comes in the form of two bottles with two separate tablets. Iodine water treatment has been proven to be somewhat effective against Giardia and not effective against Crytosporidium.  Always follow product usage instructions. 
[Source:www.swordofsurvival.com]

Field Reload Kit With Brass Shotgun Ammo

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“Urban Man: Here is another great video from a friend of mine.”
Warning: For educational purposes only. Use these techniques at your own risk.

Tools/Equipment:

1. Brass shot shells (size for weapon system being used, 12 gauge, etc.)
2. Shot
3. Pyrodex Rifle and shotgun powder (or preferred brand)
4. 209 shotgun primers
5. Large pistol primers
6. Wadding material
7. Over shot card material
8. Lighter and glue stick
9. Primer crimp tool or “C” clamp setup with deep well socket
10. Primer removal tool
11. Powder tamper tool
12. Powder and shot measuring tool
13. Container for brass shells
14. Container to store kit
15. 15/64 inch drill bit
16. 23/64 inch drill bit
17. Wad and over shot cutter tool
18. Drill
19. Flat piece metal stock
20. Rubber hammer or similar 
21. Flat piece of wood stock

Converting brass shell to accept the 209 primer:

1. First use the 15/64 drill bit and drill out the primer hole.
2. Using a 23/64 drill bit, drill a slight recess in the primer hole deep enough to allow the primer rim to seat flush with the bottom of the shell. See photo above.
3. Seat the 209 primer like you would a regular 12 gauge shell when reloading.

Note: Shotgun firing these types of reloads need to be cleaned more often than factory loaded ammo.

Reload 209 Shotgun Primers Using Field Expedient Methods

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Warning: For educational purposes only. Use these techniques at your own risk.
Tools used for field expedient reloading
Items needed to reload 209 primer
Removing 209 primer components
209 primer assembly

“Urban Man” My survival buddy sent me another post in a series of reloading shotgun ammo. This video shows how to reload the primer as well when you have no primer replacements.”


Suggested tools used:

1. Antique hand primer crimp tool
2. Wood dowel for powder, wad and shot compressing
3. Primer removal tool with socket base (5/8 inch socket)
4. Rubber hammer
5. Wad cutter tool (for what ever size shell you are loading)
6. Flat punch that fits inside primer cup to flatten out dimple
7. Flat piece of metal stock
8. Flat piece of wood
9. Strike anywhere matches
10. Powder and shot measuring cups
11. Wad material (paper, plastic, wool, etc)
12. Over shot card material (cardboard, playing cards, etc)
13. 5.5 mm socket (used to remove primer cup)
14. Pin or finishing nail used to pound out primer cup.
15. Lighter or similar flame source
16. Glue stick
17. Rifle and shotgun powder with container (I used Pyrodex RS)
18. Bird shot with container (I used #7 1/2 in the video) 


Note: Do not allow the ammo to get wet. Do not jar the ammo around by throwing into an ammo can or something of that nature. Protect the ammo until it is needed. It is best to shoot this ammo from a single shot or double barrel shotgun rather than a pump action. A pump action can be used if you load and fire one round at a time rather than using the pump action.

One drawback from reloading spent primers is the chance that the match head powder or what ever other ignition source was used may not ignite and you get a dude fire.

In the event the primer does not ignite, wait about 60 seconds with the end of the barrel pointed on target in the event there is a cook off. A cook off is when the powder could be smoldering but has not yet ignited. If it ignites and the end of the barrel is pointed toward someone, there may be a chance of an accidental shooting.

Always inspect the shells for damage and cracks. Do not reuse or shoot damaged ammo. Use safety glasses when loading your ammo and keep open flames away from your powder. 

Fielding Expedient Ammo Reloading

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“Urban Man~ Here is an interesting lesson from a survival buddy of mine.”

Caution: This lesson is for educational purposes only. Gun powder is dangerous. Firing damaged or incorrectly loaded ammo is dangerous as well.

There may be a time in ones life when it may become necessary to have to reload ammo in the field, especially in a wilderness survival situation or the collapse of society. 

We are comfortable in knowing that at the moment we have access to ready made store bought ammo. But, what if that luxury was some how taken away? What if there were no stores left or available to purchase our ammo?

In such as situation, ammo can still be available if one knew how to obtain what was needed to reload their own. Spent ammo shells, especially shotgun shells can be found laying around all over the desert. Primers can be reconditioned and reloaded. Black powder can be homemade. Lead shot can be made from scrape lead.

You really do not need fancy reloading equipment in order to reload ammo in an emergency or self reliant situation.

Learn now to start saving your spent ammo hulls and shells. Set them aside to be reloaded at a later date when the time is needed.

Here are the steps that were covered in the video to reload a 12 gauge shell: (if this is the first time a plastic shotgun shell is being used, cut the top crimp fingers off the shell where the crimp line meets the star crimp.)

1. Remove primer
2. Install a new primer
3. Measure powder and add to shell
4. Using dowel rod, gently compress the powder in the shell
5. Add correct amount of wading (plastic, paper, animal hair, leather, etc.)
6. Using dowel rod again, gently compress the wad into the shell
7. Add correct amount of shot. (insure that there is enough room at the opening of the shell to add the over-shot card)
8. Add over-shot card and compress gently with dowel rod
9. Add glue over top of shot card ensuring that the inside walls of the shell receive glue as well
10. Immediately add another shot card over the top of the first one and apply gentle pressure to allow glue to spread out

Note: Do not allow the ammo to get wet. Do not jar the ammo around by throwing into an ammo can or something of that nature. Protect the ammo until it is needed. It is best to shoot this ammo from a single shot or double barrel shotgun rather than a pump action. A pump action can be used if you load and fire one round at a time rather than using the pump action.

Always inspect the shells for damage and cracks. Do not reuse or shoot damaged ammo. Use safety glasses when loading your ammo and keep open flames away from your powder. 

Four Axes That Every Prepper Should Own

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This post was originally published in Surviving Prepper Written by Marc When the SHTF and there is no electricity or fuel, hand tools and the knowledge of how to use them, will be incredibly important. When you escape to the woods the almighty axe is the go-to tool. Axes can be used to fell a tree, build a shelter, chop firewood, and even defend yourself if needed. There are many different types of axes. Some have very specific purposes, while […]

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The 3 Best Axes Money Can Buy

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The 3 Best Axes Money Can Buy

Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe. Image source: woodtrekker

The problem in compiling a list of the very best axes on the market today is that it’s literally impossible to list every single one.

For the homesteader, farmer and outdoorsman, an axe is a vital piece of equipment, one that is made by countless manufacturers. Just like tractors, knives, firearms, chainsaws and tools, everyone has an opinion. Someone may like Council tool, another like the axe that was custom built by a blacksmith.

I’m apologizing up front; I don’t know your friend Bill who has made knives and axes for decades in his shop. But I have spent quite a bit of time using an axe in felling, splitting and hunting/camping tasks that I think I can list the ones I think are “the best axes.”

Before I begin, I’ll write a quick note. I am not including hatchets or tomahawks or any other “belt axe.” If you have spent any amount of time in the outdoors you probably have come to learn by now how useless a small one-hand axe is for larger tasks. In truth, there is nothing a hatchet can do, that a larger axe can’t do better.

1. Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe

Not all that long ago, Snow and Nealley produced all of their products in the US with strong hickory handles and forged heads. Around 2003, S&N shut down most of their company in Bangor, Maine, and limped along with a skeletal staff importing axe heads from China and using wood axe handles from Tennessee. I have one of their axes from this time, and to be fair it is not a bad axe at all. I use it primarily for camping tasks and hunting. In 2012, the company switched ownership to an Amish family who moved the company to Smyrna, Maine. They also switched to 100 percent American materials. Their new products are quality. In fact, they hearken back to Snow and Nealley’s earlier days.

This Crazy New Device Can Start A Fire Even In The Worst Conditions

Their Hudson Bay axe comes with a 22-24 inch hickory wood handle, and a drop forged steel head. The axe head has a narrow bit for lighter tasks and a flat poll for hammering jobs such as driving tent pegs and similar jobs. This small axe fits perfectly on a pack, does not weigh much more than a hatchet, and can be used for all sorts of wilderness tasks.

Price: $75

2. Council Tool Velvicut Line

Council Tool Velvicut Line. Image source: woodandmetal.com

Council Tool Velvicut Line. Image source: woodandmetal.com

Council Tool is by far one of the largest axe manufacturers in the States. One hundred percent American made, Council Tool does not build junk. One aspect that makes Council such a popular brand is they don’t sell overpriced products. In fact, most of their axes sell for around the $50-60 mark.

Council’s Velvicut Line is a step above their standard axes, which are a step above just about everyone else’s axes. There are three axes which come in their Velvicut line. The first is the Velvicut Bad Axe Boys Axe, a medium-sized axe. The next is the Velvicut Felling Axe for felling trees, and they offer a Velvicut Hudson Bay Axe that is just a tad shorter than the axe offered by Snow and Nealley.

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If you want an axe that your grandchildren will use, consider Council’s Velvicut.

Price $130-$190

3. Gränsfors Bruk, any model

Gränsfors Bruk

Gränsfors Bruk Viking axe

Made in Sweden, Gransfors is an axe company that does not merely build a good axe; they build beautiful pieces of rock solid family heirlooms in the making. They produce forest axes for most outdoor activities, as well as splitting and felling axes for heavier use.

Every single axe I have ever owned or used from them is nearly indestructible. You can also buy an “ancient Axe” from Gransfors, such as a Battle-ready tomahawk like the Native-Americans used, or a Viking axe. However, Gransfors is known primarily for their tool axes. Typically their axes cost more than almost every other axe on the market. You can pay $60 for a decent Council Tool axe, but you will most likely spend around $200 for a Gransfors. They are worth the extra coinage, as they hold an edge and have the quality that makes other axes red with envy.

Cost: Depends on the model, but plan at least $150-$300 

Do you agree or disagree with this list? What axes would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

There’s A Trick To Navigating Federal And State Gun Regulations. Read More Here.

Goats, Axes & Fire!

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Goats, Axes & Fire Ohhh My!

GoatsThis week on the 7 P’s Of Survival Show we will have Chris Gustafson on the show and will be talking all about the life of a Michigan Outdoorsman. We plan to talk about using goats for all things self reliance, collecting fire tinder material and what works best, his two businesses, some axe junkie recommendations for the everyday woodsman and we will talk a little bit about what in my opinion is the best barter/trading page on Social Media “Bushcraft Outdoors/BUY SELL TRADE!!!!!.” Chris runs the Gustafson Hobby Farm HERE, Michigan Wild Fire HERE and is one of the few remaining practicing packgoating in Michigan.

GoatsA lot of people look at goats as annoying animals that are not worth their trouble on the homestead. Chris turns that notion on its head and uses those same goats to clean several trails in Northern Michigan that so many couldn’t get out and enjoy without their help.

His goats are used for trail cleanup as pack goats that pack out all the garbage those who don’t know what leave no trace truly means. Aside from this great use goats can provide entertainment (they are quite funny to watch and listen to at times), milk, cheese, leather, soap, landscaping assistance, security, companionship and wool fiber. We will explore several of the benefits of having a goat on the homestead during the show and hopefully hear a few of your stories.

10-13-15 11745381_1Once we tackle the age old question of to add goats or not to add goat we will move on to fire craft and the Michigan Wildfire Kit. Chris puts out one of the most well rounded tinder kits with some beautifully hand crafted ferro rods. We will talk tinder, fire starting mediums and the best place to procure those items in the wild. We may even venture into the wild world of Chaga and a few other wild medicinal that can be easily procured and used while out in the woods. Speaking of procurement we will talk about axes in this segment and what we both recommend for taking into the woods for the beginner woodsman.
Rounding out the show we will talk buying/selling/trading and bartering for gear. Over the last two years or so I have been part of the Facebook group Bushcraft Outdoors/BUY SELL TRADE!!!!! HERE and have had countless great dealings and trades for excellent kit items. We will talk about safe trading practices, what is often available and how working on this trading skill now could be one of the best skills you could acquire for a society of olden days.
This should be a fun show and we hope to her from you during the show!
7P’s Survival Blog: HERE

Listen to this broadcast “Goats, Axes & Fire” in player below!

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