Twitchell Canyon Wildland Fire

American Made Choppers: The 9 Best Axes

By Matt Mullins  Last updated May 7, 2018

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 then you might 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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​Council Tool Wood-Craft Axe

This is a superb bushcraft axe with top notch fit and finish that easily competes with the pricy Swedish axes like Gransfors Bruks. 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.
​Last observed price range: ~ $130-135

24″ Handle
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19″ Handle
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Council Tool Boy's Axe

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″ 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. It’s one of my favorites and is extremely affordable, thus earning American Gear Guide’s Best Buy Award.
​Last price range observed: $36-40

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Velvicut Bad Axe Boys Axe Version (More Expensive)
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Council Tool Hudson Bay Axe

​Another handy sized 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. I prefer the 28″ handle for chopping with two hands.
​Last observed price range: $40-50

​28″ Handle
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18″ Handle (hatchet like)
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​24″ Velvicut Version (More Expensive)
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Council Tool Jersey Axe

​A classic full size axe for felling trees and splitting wood. The capable Jersey Axe has a 36″ handle and a 3.5 lb head.
​​Last observed price range: $65-73

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​Velvicut 4lb Premium Felling Axe (More Expensive)
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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: ~ $59

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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

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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 knotty and dirty chop jobs.
​Last observed price range: $58-70

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Velvicut Premium Saddle Axe Short Version (More Expensive)
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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.
​Last observed price: ~ $38

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Council Tool 6 and 8 lb Splitting Mauls

Here’s your classic sledge maul for the toughest wood splitting jobs. This maul can be had with either a 6 or 8 lb head and a 36″ handle.
Last observed price range: $33-50

6 lb Maul
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8 lb Maul 
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