Survival Gear Review: Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

Growing up we had a what we called a “kitchen axe” that was bigger than a hatchet, but smaller than a felling Gränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_compared_kitchen_axeaxe. It was used for everything from making shavings and small kindling for fire starting, to larger kindling, to splitting small rounds and quarters for fire. The kitchen axe lived just outside the kitchen door, but even found duties with meat prep and game butchering. In fact, the kitchen axe was an all-round indispensable tool that made its way onto camping trips as well.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and

Karambit Knife

Kitchen Axe

I hadn’t thought much about the kitchen axe until I needed just such a tool.  In my stable of axes and hatchetsGränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_perfect_grain_orientation from the short handled Gränsfors Bruk Hand Hatchet with a 9” handle, to my Gränsfors Bruk American Felling axe with a 35” handle. While the extremes in size are nice, what would also be an excellent option is something right down the middle. A axe that behaves as an axe while also behaving as a hatchet. Or perhaps a hatchet that does hatchet things but jumps up to two-handed axe chores when needed. It turn out that there is a class of chopping tools known as the small forest axe that runs double duty as both a small axe and large hatchet. And does both with finesse, skill and elegance.

Related: Review of the Gränsfors Bruks Outdoor Axe

The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is an ideal compromise when you need to carry your own tools or spaceGränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_sheath is a premium. With a 19” handle and a two pound head, the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe will swing two handedly to fell small trees and chop and split firewood, but you can also choke up on the handle and shave wood, carve softwoods, and prep kindling of any size.

Like many of my kind, bug out kit is always on my mind. So having a great dual-purpose chopping tool that picks up where my big knife leaves off lands near the top of my bug out list. Sure, it would be ideal to have the perfect tool for every job, in reality if you are carrying you own load, you want to maximize the utility, and minimize the quantity. So packing the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is an ideal choice.

Forged with Love

Gränsfors Bruk is known as one of if not the best axe maker in the world. Each tool is handmade by an expert Gränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_makers-mark_mbblacksmith with years of experience forging custom axes, hatchets, and other edged tools to the point where each Gränsfors Bruk axe and hatchet has it’s maker’s mark stamped into the head. And unlike those axe makers that leave the final sharpening to the end user, Gränsfors Bruk axes are shaving sharp from the factory with the understanding that anyone desiring to own the world’s best axe is certainly capable safely using a razor sharp chopping tool.

Being a smaller axe, the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is also a perfect size for those smaller in stature including kids mature enough to use such sharp swinging tools and women who are more comfortable with a tool of proportional size to muscles and swing radius.

The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe has  a gracefully curved handle of The Answer Water Bottle Filtration Solution 300x250perfectly oriented grain Hickory. Lesser axes have seem to care less of the direction of the wood grain orientation. Ideally the grain visible at the base of the axe handle should be parallel to the axe head. If you check out the inexpensive hardware store axes, you will see grain orientation in any of the cardinal directions. Routinely you can find axe handles showing grain orientation closer to perpendicular to axe head direction than to parallel to it. And even some a perfect 90 degree off the direction it should be. That’s 100% bad. Striking wood with that kind of low quality is just asking for a catastrophic failure.

Value Added

Compared to other axes, this Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is on the expensive side with a street price Gränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_choppingnorth of $130, but that’s actually on the lower end for Gränsfors Bruk in general. You could easily spend twice that on another GF axe, but spending half that amount will only get you a Gränsfors Bruk ceramic sharpening puck.

Related: Review of the Council Tool Apacalaxe

The generous palm swell knob on the far end of the handle is plenty to hang on to, but hardly noticeable when ignored. The shoulder of the handle just below the bit is streamlined but strong. And the lugs under the axe head cheeks add strength and orientation during the strike. Chopping cylinders and trees uses both the wedge to slice and the wedge to split all in the same move. The initial angled strike of the axe on the tree cuts into the wood while the triangle of the wedge forces the wood chip from the tree body sending it flying out of the way.

The blade cover is the classic bikini Gränsfors Bruk uses for most of its axes. It’s little more than a riveted Gränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_sheath_compassleather edge covering with a wrap-around snap strap that doubles as a belt carry loop. But this sized tool really pushes the limits of waist-carry.

Real Life

In the field the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe preforms like a champ. It hardly takes up any space and weighs little, but does all the work you throw at it. The minor weight the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe adds to your kit is more than made up by this tool’s talents. Wrapping your hands around the axe smooth linseed-dipped handle gives you feelings of superpower. Any bug out wood needing work can be handled by the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe even if the tree is only be nibbled away at by the medium size of this striking tool. Any smaller jobs are quick and painless. So much so that might wonder how the rest of the world gets along with axes too big or hatchets too small.

A true bug out kit has only one chance to do things right. The axe is a tool with thousands of years of Gränsfors_Bruk_Small_Forest_Axe_stampevolution, but one common mechanical purpose. So refining the size and shape of an axe to capitalize on the middle proportions necessary to stretch its capabilities deep into felling axe territory while retaining hatchet-like nimbleness is necessary in preparedness. So put the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe at the top of your shortlist of bug out chopping tools.

8 thoughts on “Survival Gear Review: Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe”

  1. I have a couple of each single bit and double bit axes as well as hatchets and all together they cost less than this ONE. not saying it is not a great ax with great metallurgy just I need other items.

    • I hear you. Price is definitely an object with this one. But quality axes take time to deliver their talents to their owners. Even the ten-spot Home Depot chopper will make it through one camping trip The real use, however, is downstream perhaps years. Some folks will make do with substandard kit. But others will keep on rocking when the professional aspects of the gear finally gets to show its stuff. Like pretty much everything, it is that final 10 percent where quality is found. But when it's found, it sure feels good.

      The old adage of "buy once, cry once" is definitely in play here. I have the sub-$50 solid steel Estwing in a similar length, and a Husqvarna axe about the same. But compared to the Granfors Bruk Small Forest Axe, the other s are like toys, or tools, or totally fine if you don't plan on using them much.

      In the end, we here at Survival Cache are just bringing quality gear to your attention. Of course YBOMMV (your bug out milage may vary).

  2. Doc, I have to agree with the poster above.
    Your obsession with super high end tools and equipment
    is both unaffordable and unrealistic for the average prepper.

    • Thanks for the read Unknown. Point taken.

      In most cases I've worked my way up to the expensive stuff so I have plenty of more affordable options around the house, in the bug out vehicle and all over the bug out location. Like the duct taped axe in the first picture, you can see that my spectrum of outdoor and survival tools runs deep. Got any special requests for gear (specific or general) to be reviewed?

      Stay tuned….

    • I agree. This tool is actually affordable for me but it appears unnecessary. Is there something special about this axe that makes it better than others? Improved metallurgy? Better handle? weight that is not available from other manufacturers? Different type of head to handle connection? I don't believe that price = value ( just look at handbags).
      If I'm going to spend $130 bucks on an axe when there appear to be similar options for $60 I would like to know what the difference is. I've been using an old axe that I got from my grandfather 40 years ago and Its probably something he got at a local hardware store in 1930. Its nothing special but it keeps on working.

      • Superior in almost every conceivable way. better metal, better smiths, better wood, better shaped handle, better fitted axe head, I really could go on. Its like comparing a Kian Rio, to a BMW M5

  3. I bought a Gransfors about 10 years ago and have to say it's not necessarily any better than any other axe, but it is taken much better care of. I don't forget and leave it out in the rain, I don't forget to sharpen it, I don't pry too hard with it, I don't swing too hard with it, I don't hit it with a framing hammer, I don't misplace it, I pull it out of my pack and dry it if needed, and most importantly it has been on every camping/pack trip I've been on as it's the most revered tool I own. I use to buy a new metal axe about once every two years because of the above laziness, and realized I might have doubled my savings just because I put an effort into taking care of it.


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