Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe Review in 2020

One of the amazing things about the world these days is that small artisan companies like Gransfors Bruks will put Best Survival Axeconsiderable effort into a unique handmade axe with an excruciatingly limited user base and an extraordinary high price.  But in the big picture the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is an excellent compliment to the traditional bug out kit as well as all those kits we build for adventure and recreation.  By blurring the line between survival knife and hatchet, the speciality tool that Gransfors Bruks named the Outdoor Axe has further refined the most commonly used space in the cutting industry knowns as survival.

Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe Review

The Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is not for surgery or first aid, but will easily gut an animal from squirrel to elk. It will carve as well as any two-inch knife, and chop as well as any one pound blade.  Maybe I exaggerate a little, but if you have nothing to compare it with then you already have the best option in your hand. Right?

  • Head weight is 1 lb. 2.5 inch Face. 14.75 inch Handle.
  • Full grain-leather sheath included
  • Comes with The Axe Book
Check Price on
Amazon.com

Chew Your Food

As a chopper, the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe takes small bites, but its low weight and long handle make for longer Best Survival Axehacking sessions compared to heavier heads. So it is never a question about “if” but rather one of “when?” And for subtler tasks such as carving, slicing and shaving, the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe melts into your hand when you choke up on the handle forming a wonderful Ulu-like knife with a great finger purchase.

The design of the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is often viewed as a contradiction which leads to both its higher price and its lower acceptance due, in my opinion, to a misunderstanding of how to use it effectively.  As an Outdoor Axe, this tool is designed mostly for processing wood. And smaller sized wood at that. Felling trees is the job of the big boys, but when the tree is on  the ground, the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe comes into play.  Not that you couldn’t fell a tree with this axe, but that would be like skinning a dinosaur with a neck knife. Sure, you could do it, but you might starve to death in the process. Well, I guess that depends on the size of the dinosaur…or the tree.

Also Read: Survival Choppers, Understanding Axe Types

The other aspect of concern is the precision necessary to wield this type of iron with the dexterity necessary for a razor-sharp fast-moving small head to efficiently do the violence it was hired to do.  You cannot simply just whack away with reckless abandon lest the small head will quickly slice off course like a bad golf swing.  Instead the bit must be placed like a scalpel with the belief and conviction that every ounce of effort will finds its way into the cut.  In essence it is like every other professional-grade piece of outdoor equipment.  It will perform to astounding heights when operated skillfully by a talented user.

Oddly, performance downhill skis came to mind when I finally found the sweet spot of this axe.  There was a narrow window in which the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe will operate at its best. And when it does there’s no better feeling in the world.  Well, maybe I exaggerate again, but like performance downhill skis slicing that perfect carve through the hardpack, this axe give back as much as you put into it and then some.  But only if you use it on it’s terms.  A side note here: you can tell a lot about someone’s skill by the tools they use.  While good tools won’t spontaneously generate mastery, criticizing good tools does nothing but reinforce the limits of skill.

Ironwood Masterpiece

The Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is a piece of art.  The 14” hickory handle was milled with excellent (but not Best SHTF Axeperfect) grain orientation and branch depth.  The head was hand forged by a real Swede complete with the prominent initials of the axesmith lovingly smashed into the axe’s tiny cheek; the smith Tomas Andersson in this case.  But the coup de grâce of this sculpture is the polished ~inch long metal collar protecting the handle just under the head. The steel collar is designed to take the hit instead of the small diameter hickory handle. With the shaft length two inches over a foot and a oval neck thickness of ⅞” by 1 5/16” inches, it is possible to swing the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe fast enough and hard enough to generate the forces necessary inflict significantly chopping damage to the workpiece means it can also injury itself when things go sideways. Literally.

Also Read: Trucker’s Friend Review

The palm-sized axe head also tucks neatly in a fist making it a fabulous and pleasant-to-use tool for precise small scale work.  By wrapping one’s thumb and index finger around the cheek just south of the cutting edge, the Outdoor Axe can be wielded rapidly and with both gross and fine motor movements with less concern for the same motions with a large knife.  The direction of the handle, whether towards or away from your body, can alter the balance of use adding another quality dimension over a standard blade.  Rounding out the trailing end of the handle is a mild swell containing a lanyard hole.

A Helping Hand

It should be no surprise that this versatile axe is at home in bushcraft and in domestic survival chores because it was Best Survival Axeconceived and designed with the help of Lars Fält, a noted outdoorsman, survival teacher, author, and gentleman by anyone’s standards. Although Fält wears a the clothes of a mere mortal, he really is the Norse god of survival having put himself in more uncomfortable situations than a humvee full of SEALs.  But back on topic, the Outdoor Axe, like any specialty-use tool, is only worth its 1.2 pound weight and retail price if the user has or wants to gain the skills necessary to safely operate it, and has the jobs that a fellow such as the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is qualified.

  • Head weight is 1 lb. 2.5 inch Face. 14.75 inch Handle.
  • Full grain-leather sheath included
  • Comes with The Axe Book
Check Price on
Amazon.com

Also Read: A Baker’s Dozen SHTF Blades

A side note about Lars Fält:  He has three suggestions for attaining the right survival attitude.  I’ll let you look up the first two on your own, but the third deals with breaking big tasks into smaller ones or risk being overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation you now find yourself in.  The transfer of this bit of survival wisdom to the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is that many think a big axe is the solution because it does big things.  Big familiar things.  However, even though a small axe does smaller tasks, those little day-to-day survival jobs keep time moving forward with the blood still pumping.  You can only cut down so many trees before you have to do something besides burn them.

Size vs. Length

In the field, the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe chops better than expected due to the long handle. It is worth using on Top Survival Blogtrees up to six inches in diameter, but go back to the shed for a larger axe if your two hands cannot reach around the trunk. But again, that is not this tool’s forte. Instead, this axe shines when the workpiece is in the meat freezer, not walking around the ranch. A few quick strokes and the trunk is delimbed. A few more swings and the kindling and small firewood stacks up. The handle is even long enough to get a two-handed grip for those jobs that require forceful but precise chopping, or when isometric push-pull rotating strokes are needed to accelerate the axe head in a confined space.

But Wait! There’s More

The shaving-sharp axe bits that Gransfors Bruks is known for was not forgotten here. When the knife-like edge is Best Bug Out Bag Axecombined with a small head, the Outdoor Axe quickly morphs into a kitchen tool. It slices, dices, chops, and cuts. Whether tomatoes or meat, this axe fits right in to the culinary toolset. Just keep the wooden handle away from flame.

Also Read: Crovel Elite Review

When working wood with the Outdoor Axe, one of the big things you will notice is accuracy with which you can precisely score the wood with little concern for a larger meatier head continuing on without your permission.  When making small items like snare posts, tent pegs, marshmallow sticks, even just prettying up the campsite, you will quickly feel a level of power much more than a survival knife, and much more controlled that a full sized hatchet let alone an axe.  And if you have responsible children around the campfire, this Outdoor Axe makes an excellent tool to both introduce and enhance axe skills.  The small diameter handle fits in a kid’s hand like a full-sized hickory shaft does in an adult’s.

From a carry standpoint, the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is much like an old-world tomahawk. Not the tactical ones of today, but a forged (and I use that term loosely) head consisting of little more than a bit or blade followed by an attachment hole through which a study stick has been wedged.  Although the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe has a fairly flat poll (butt or hammerhead-looking face) this axe, like a traditional tomahawk, is designed to engage the world in only one direction.

INCH Bag Best Survival Axe

Using the poll like a hammer-unless designed as such like with splitting axes-will damage the head possibly to the point of breaking it along the thin edges to the left and right of the eye (handle hole). On the other hand, the smoothness of the poll’s edges would make this a decent skinning tool where the animal cape is pried away from the muscle by short punchy strokes once the axe’s poll is sliding around inside the critter.

Also Read: 10 Non-Power Tools You Need For Survival

Rounding out the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is the minimalist leather blade cover.  While most Gransfors Bruks Survival Axeaxes have this same type of sheath, one of its features really does work well with this axe.  The single strap and snap design of the sheath also doubles as a belt carry option. By slipping the strap through your belt and snapping the in axe, you can comfortably wear and deploy the axe with similar effort to a sheath knife.  And unlike many other blade bikinis, this one stays put having been sized perfectly for the head that will wear it.  Other speciality axes with a survivalist pedigree have been known to wear an afterthought for a sheath such as the Wetterlings Bushman Axe designed by Les Stroud.  A great axe, but the loose fit on the blade cover is a sacrilege for tools at this level.

Hype to Hip

The Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe is one of those controversial tools about which it is easy to form a quick opinion. Survival AxeFew people I’ve met remain neutral about it.  Some, like me, love it.  Others find the Outdoor Axe a perfect storm of misaligned features.  Too big for this, too small for that. And way too expensive regardless.  While I certainly understand and appreciate opposing opinions, I do have to admit that the wilderness is a much more interesting place to wander with this axe than without it.  The family tree of modern gear is a filled with dead branches as well long lives with many offspring.  But it is also filled with relationships that most folks thought would never survive.  The Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe just might be one of those marriages between functions that goes from hype to hip in one generation. At least that’s where I’m placing my $175 dollar bet.

  • Head weight is 1 lb. 2.5 inch Face. 14.75 inch Handle.
  • Full grain-leather sheath included
  • Comes with The Axe Book
Check Price on
Amazon.com

All Photos By Doc Montana



Doc Montana
Written by Doc Montana

Doc honed his survival skills through professional courses, training, and plenty of real-world situations, both intentional and not. Doc lives to mountaineer, rock climb, trail run, hunt, race mountain bikes, ski, hunt, and fish. Doc Montana holds PhD’s in both Science Education and Computer Science and currently teaches at a University in the northern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of Doc's articles.

13 thoughts on “Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe Review in 2020”

  1. Granfors Bruks are quality axes but you can also get comparable quality by purchasing older American axes like Collins, Kelly, Mann, Sager Chemical, Warren and older Craftsman. A couple of these names are still in business but not sure about current quality. The older axes were usually very good quality and taken care of will last for decades. These axes can usually be purchased on e-bay for $25- $50 for the head or $75-$100+ for the complete axe. I personnally like to purchase a head in good shape and put on my own handle.

    Reply
    • None of the classic American manufacturers made anything similar to this axe: some made small carpenter’s axes and hatchet axes, but nothing like this axe.

      Reply
  2. I have dissed many a expensive knife blade as "not that much better or a difference make in performance" but a good axe will make hard work much easier. and that does not change my stance on a $300 dollar pocket knife!

    Reply
    • In my experience, the $200 price point give or take $50 put an excellent medium sized knife in your hand. Much below that and significant shortcomings will be apparent. Not deal killers, but obvious places where the knife could be better. And much above the price threshold, and you are paying for a few percent better steel, attention to minor details, brand name, sheath options, and more hands-on work during construction.

      With hand forged axes, the chance of a error during manufacture is much greater since the overall tolerance shrinks along with the workpiece. Small axe heads show deviations from perfection much more overtly than big heads. So if it takes three attempts to get one right, the the cost of labor and materials goes up quickly. And such is the case with the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe and Mini Hatchet which are produced using huge mechanical hammers during the forging process. Kind of like painting a picture using the butt of a shotgun as the brush and the recoil as the stroke.

      In the end, quality matters and there is a minimum cost for quality. Otherwise we'd all be driving Yogos, right?

      Reply
      • I agree about quality but for me a big impact of what is worth the price is what it save me in "labor". A good axe will do the job twice as fast and its a tiresome job. A good knife can make things easier or cleaner, but its usually not as much labor compared to axe work.

        Reply
        • yeah. using small axes, in many instances where you can let the axe do most of the work for you, saves a ton of time and energy compared to a knife. Comparing apples to apples. For some reason people buck at paying $191.00 for a hand-forged, very high quality axe hand hung on a primo American hickory handle, yet often owned multiple knives which cost them $200 or more, sometimes considerably more even, if you talk to them about their knife collection separately far enough that they let their guard down and wanna tell you some knives they owned. Please. $200 is not too much to pay for any very high quality hand-forged axe hung properly on a proper handle which has been tempered properly and already has a really good edge profile on it and has been sharpened good, much less has a mirror shine and honed like a Hults Bruk for instance. A good quality axe for $200 is a good deal no matter the size. If it’s a monster feller and it on the same level, another hundred bucks or so is still in that very reasonable range.

          Reply
  3. I have one and absolutely love it. It has a phenominal balance between utility as a fighting axe and a field work axe. The bit about chopping a tree at the beginning? Seriously? Is that in knife reviews? If someone reading these doesnt know what the purpose of various blades are then they should stick to buying samurai swords feom BudK. Otherwise, the author should keep it real. How about a part about it's lack of usefulness as a car jack? Duh.

    Reply
  4. Doc, you have a poet's soul, I salute you! Unfortunately, my budget tells me to stick with my 26-inch Estwing camping Axe, it's a good chopper, not a good log splitter, though batoning helps a lot. I don't think I could break the handle even if I tried, and I seldom need to split logs or even find even-cut-off logs in the woods/mountains anyway! For lighter weight work, I carry a neck knife (skinning/food prep. mostly) and a 12-inch Ka-Bar Kurki machete for delimbing, making kindling, etc., though maybe I could use the Estwing for those tasks if pressed! I can carry a short Buck saw for making pretty/precise cuts but I have seldom found the need! Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading Roger.

      I too have a 26 inch Estwing. Been in my truck for a decade. Also got the 16 inch version as well. The Estwing is a beater axe, but while the handle won't easily break, it does bend because its so thin. No so much of an issue with the 16er because of the shorter lever arm, but I've bent the crap out of my 26er when push came to pry. It also sticks in the wood like there's no tomorrow. I really hate that and avoid using it except for emergencies and to loan out to others (sure I got an axe you can borrow. Here ya go. Have fun.) Works great as a hammer as well since there is no eye to crack.

      Another difference between the small Outdoor Axe and a machete or knife is the distribution of the mass. The axe has 80% or more of its weight on the far end, while the other bladed tools distribute their weight throughout the their length. For the same weight, the axe chops much more efficiently and effectively. If slashing your way through brush, then the long cutting surface is more important, but when processing wood, the more concentrated the force the better. Plus, you can really choke up on the Outdoor Axe and make precision cuts that are very hard to do with longer blades.

      In the end, it is just another piece of outdoor/survival gear to consider. Stay tuned for more Gransfors Bruks reviews. I have a particular fondness for them.

      Reply
    • Hey Roger, Estwing also makes a log splitter called a fireside friend and I use it daily in the winter to feed my stove. It is a short handle splitter and works great. I have owned Estwings for years and years and the only one I have had to replace is at the bottom of Lake Roosevelt. They do not float! Stay prepared my friends.

      Reply
  5. I buy old ax and hatchet heads and replace the handles I have 3 sets of post hole diggers for cheap that way.

    this looks like fine tool I like the tomahawk style bit / heel this is the working portion when fine trimming.
    it is a bit pricey but that is everything these days.

    Reply
  6. I grew up in the Alaska bush, later in the high country of the Colorado Rockies an then again till now in Alaska. The HudsonBay Ax was the go to tool for trapping, camping, hunting, woodworking, cabin building and of course kindling and splitting. I have several till and use them often. One other that I have found to be quite useful as a camp tool, trekking, and hunting is the Snow & Nealley Penobscot Bay Kindling ax. Not only excellent in the field but also a perfect size for cabin builds.

    Reply

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