Twitchell Canyon Wildland Fire

American Made Choppers: Ten Best Axes

By Matt Mullins  updated January 8, 2021

As a Hotshot Firefighter I used and abused Council Tool axes and pulaskis issued to Forest Service Firefighters. I personally own two Council Tool axes and a pulaski. These USA made axes stand up to the hardest use and easily take a sharp edge with nothing more than a 12″ bastard file. I like sharpening and finishing my axes, but if you’re not up to the task or OCD then you may prefer the pricier Velvicut line of Council Tool which has more refined finishing, sharpening, and polishing. Don’t read into the couch warrior reviews online; I know these axes will take whatever abuse you 21st century sissies can dish up.

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I know how hard it is to find honest recommendations on American made gear. That’s why I started American Gear Guide which other sites are now copying. I take my recommendations seriously and only recommend the best of the best. Of course this is my subjective opinion but I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed. Here are a few reasons to trust me:

  • I make independent recommendations based on personal experience (not paid to endorse a product).
  • I’ve hunted, fished, gathered, and gardened since childhood. I fill my freezer with meat via bow, rod, and rifle.
  • As an avid outdoorsman that reviews gear for a living, I also actually own and use all American made gear.
  • My background includes 10 yrs working with the US Forest Service as a Hotshot Firefighter (Pulaski & Medic), Helitack Fire Fighter (Sawyer & Medic), Engine & Fire Module Fire Fighter (Sawyer), Ranger, Wildlife Crew-Leader, and FIA Forest Ecologist.
  • I’ve been certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
  • I’ve backpacked extensively throughout the USA and 34 countries including in the Middle East, Central & South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. See About page for more.
  • I attend industry trade shows like Outdoor Retailer to stay informed on the latest innovative gear.
  • I value continuous learning and self improvement, so I welcome your criticism. If you think I missed anything then please leave some helpful suggestions.

Best USA Made Axes at a Glance

  1. Wood-Craft Axe by Council Tool: Best Overall Bushcraft Axe
  2. Hudson Bay Sport Utility Axe: Best Value Bushcraft Axe
  3. Jersey Pattern Sport Utility Axe: Best Overall Felling Axe
  4. Velvicut Hudson Bay Belt Hatchet: Best Overall Hatchet
  5. Flying Fox Woodsman Hatchet: Best Value Hatchet & Throwing Axe

Top Recommended Axes for 2021

Best Bushcraft Axe

​Council Tool Wood-Craft Axe

This is a superb bushcraft axe with top notch fit and finish that easily competes with the premium Swedish axes like Gransfors Bruk. It comes with a beautifully finished 2 lb 5160 steel head and a premium American Hickory handle. If you’re OCD and looking for a flawless American made general purpose forest axe then this is the one for you. Council Tool’s Wood-Craft Axe earns our Editor’s Choice for its excellence. I prefer the 24″ handle version but some will prefer the shorter 19″ handle.
Last observed price range: ~ $160

 

More Info/Current Pricing at Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Best Budget Bushcraft Axe

Council Tool Hudson Bay Axe

Another handy sized camp axe with a classic 2 lb hudson bay style head. I like this style a lot and find it makes a fantastic budget bushcraft axe. Though shorter versions exists, I prefer the 28″ handle for chopping with two hands. The newer “Sport Utility” model has a better fit and finish than they used to have; especially using a wood wedge to tighten the head rather than the ridiculous aluminum single bit wedge that I quickly replaced on the older version.
Last observed price range: ~ $55 – 75

 

More Info/Current Pricing from Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

 

Best Felling Axe

Council Tool Jersey Axe
Sport Utility

A classic full size axe for felling trees and splitting wood. The capable Jersey Pattern Axe has a 36″ handle and a 3.5 lb head. If you want just one axe to handle your bigger axe felling chores then the Jersey Axe would serve you well.
Last observed price range: ~ $50

 

More Info/Current Pricing at AgriSupply.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Council Tool Boy's Axe
Sport Utility Version

This is an excellent axe, and it’s the one that accompanied my Stihl 046 chainsaw as a Sawyer. The Boy’s Axe has a capable 2.25 lb axe head, a 24″ or 28″ American Hickory handle, and a good size poll for driving wedges. It’s small enough to perform as a great forest axe yet it can fell trees and chop wood all day… even if it is a lil’ shorter than usual for those tasks.
Last price range observed: ~ $44-60

 

More Info/Current Pricing from Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Council Tool Pulaski

The pulaski is the bread and butter of wildland fire tools. I used Council Tool pulaskis extensively while firefighting. I have one for personal use, which makes the perfect all around gardening, truck digger-outering, road-blocking tree-chopping tool.
Last observed price range: ~ $57-107 (depending on version)

 

More Info/Current Pricing at Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Best Hatchet

Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay Belt Hatchet

The Velvicut Hudson Bay Belt Hatchet is a top of the line hatchet with exceptional fit and finish. It comes with a 1.25 lb 5160 steel head and a 14″ premium grain American Hickory handle.
Last observed price: $117-130

 

More Info/Current Pricing at Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Best Hatchet on a Budget

Council Tool Flying Fox Woodsman Hatchet/Throwing Axe

This sweet little hatchet excels in both axe throwing and camp chores like splitting kindling and driving stakes. With its 16″ hickory handle and 1 lb 11 oz head this axe meets the specifications for competitive axe throwing organizations.
Last observed price range: ~ $38-65

 

More Info/Current Pricing at Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Council Tool Double Bit Classic Michigan Axe

The Double Bit Michigan is a very cool axe with a 3.5 lb head and a 36″ handle. The double bit allows you to sharpen one side thinner and finer while the thicker side is reserved for the knotty and dirty chop jobs.
Last observed price range: ~ $83-100

 

More Info/Current Pricing at Amazon.com

Estwing Campers Hatchet

Estwing makes robust single piece steel axes. The Forest Service issued me an Estwing hatchet for Forest Inventory and Analysis surveys; they’re good, burly, nearly indestructible hatchets though a little heavy for long distance backpacking. The stacked leather handle is lacquered and could use some sanding and oiling if you’re a lacquer hater.
Last observed price range: ~ $38 – 60 (depending on version)

 

More Info/Current Pricing at Amazon.com

More Info/Current Pricing at Forestry-Suppliers.com

Council Tool 8 lb Splitting Maul

Here’s your classic sledge maul for the toughest wood splitting jobs. This maul comes with an 8 lb head and a 36″ handle. A few notes on this particular maul, the lacquer on the handle comes a little thick so if you don’t like lacquer you can remove it by spending a rewarding 10 minutes with sand paper then just rub over it with a cloth soaked in mineral oil, or boiled linseed oil, or Ballistol, whatever you prefer… Furthermore the head can use 10 minutes with a bastard file to sharpen her up. Not difficult, just rewarding to make her your own.
Last observed price range: ~ $65


8 lb Maul 
More Info/Current Pricing from Amazon.com

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