Date Published: 2022-10-05

An Axe For Survival

An Axe For Survival

By Adelia Ladson

When you’re packing a bug-out bag or survival gear, a good, solid axe is an absolute necessity. There are tasks that you’ll encounter that need an axe to accomplish, especially, cutting firewood and building a shelter, if necessary. If you’re bugging out, you never know if you’ll need to break through a barrier or break into something to survive. In a dicey situation, an axe isn’t a bad self-defense weapon either.

What To Look For In An Axe

A good survival axe needs to have a solid base that’s why I prefer a tough TPU, ABS or fiberglass handle. Wood is traditional but sometimes it just won’t stand-up to the elements. Also, the handle needs to be attached to the blade with heavy-duty screws or pins so that there’s no danger of the blade coming loose when in use. The handle needs to have a comfortable, no-slip grip and, of course, the blade needs to be beefy enough to get the job done. The blade itself should be at least 3” in length and made of stainless steel, which is a more rust-resistant steel. Although, you can find a carbon steel blade that has an anti-rust coating like titanium or black oxide. Another thing to look for is a sheath. The axe or hatchet should come with a sheath to protect the head and blade and be able to attach to a belt or straps on a bag.

My Suggestions

I have chosen a few survival axes that are top-performers on the market, based on customer reviews of their performance. None of them are going to be the overall length of a traditional axe, so, they will be easy to carry in or attached to your survival gear.

Ridge Runner Tactical Hammer And Axe

The Ridge Runner Tactical Hammer And Axe is an exceptional multi-function tool and that's why it goes at the top of my list. Yes, it's a very capable axe with its 7" keenly sharp blade, but the other side of the head offers a textured hammer head that's very capable, as well. The black-coated, stainless steel axe head also features a variety of hex wrench slots including 8, 10, 14, 179, 19 and 22 mm. The 18" overall multi-function survival axe has a tough and durable TPU handle that has a grip wrapped in another survival tool - paracord. The cord-wrapping extends into a wrist lanyard. To protect the blade when not in use, a nylon blade sheath comes with the survival axe.

Extreme Take Apart Camp Axe

When it's limited space that you have in your bug-out bag, the Extreme Take Apart Camp Axe won't take up much space. Understanding that space is limited, this survival axe breaks-down into three pieces and stores neatly in its nylon carrying pouch. The axe, when stored in the pouch, is only a little under 8" in length, and it's 13 1/4" overall when screwed together. The axe head is heavy-duty, rough-forged steel and the break-down handle is two threaded steel pieces with rubberized grips.

USMC Field Axe

At just 11 1/4" overall, the USMC Field Axe is the shortest survival axe on the list, and the TPU belt sheath makes it convenient to carry at your side without obstructing your movements. The axe is officially licensed by the Marine Corps, so it's guaranteed to perform like a beast. The razor-edged axe head is 3 1/2 mm thick with a penetrating edge on one side and a blade edge on the other side. The two-toned, black and silver stainless steel head has a tomahawk style profile. It's supported by an ABS handle, wrapped in black paracord to provide a comfortable, slip-free grip that extends into a wrist lanyard. Just like the survival axe above, the USMC Field Axe won't take-up much room in your bug-out bag if you don't want to carry it on your belt.

M48 Tactical Tomahawk Axe

Ready for battle whether you're building a shelter or fighting off an assailant, the M48 Tactical Tomahawk Axe is a survival axe that's going to get it done. It also has a tomahawk profile with a penetrating spike on one side and an almost 4" upswept axe blade on the other side. The axe head is precision cast stainless steel with weight-reducing thru-holes and a black, non-reflective finish. The lightweight survival axe has a nylon-reinforced, fiberglass handle that supports the head securely with the three bolts.

Black Legion Camping Hatchet

The Black Legion Camping Hatchet is a good, solid traditional style survival axe. It gives you an extra-thick, 4" blade that will chop through anything. The axe head is practically indestructible carbon steel with a black finish, and it also has a hammer side. The head is supported by an equally tough fiberglass handle with a rubberized, ridged grip. Built for hard use, the survival axe is 14" in overall length.

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How To Sharpen A Survival Axe

Keeping your survival axe razor-sharp or making sure that it is razor-sharp before you really need it for survival is a necessity. Here are the steps to take to keep it in top condition before and while you use it for survival tasks: grinding, honing and stropping.

Grinding: To repair normal wear and tear and to replace the original sharpness to an axe, you grind it on a sharpening stone. You can find a few specific axe sharpening stones or “pucks” with a coarse grit. However, I suggest the higher-quality Arkansas Tri-Hone Sharpening System, which comes with an oil lubricant and a coarse grit silicon carbide stone. Take the axe and move the axe head slowly back and forth so that the sharpening bevel is evenly ground back to its original shape. Be aware that even a straight-edged bevel needs to be slightly convex because if the bevel is too straight the edge can break.

Honing: The next thing that you need to do is to hone the very tip of the edge of the axe blade because it becomes thin and bent with use. You'll see a slight burr on the edge that can be removed by the medium and fine grit faces of the 100-percent natural Arkansas Tri-Hone Sharpening System. Use a circular motion and turn the axe frequently. This will remove the burr as you work from the side of the axe head towards the cutting edge.

Stropping: Once you're finished honing the blade, use a leather strop like the Kriegar Extra-Wide Double-Sided Hanging Strop to really make the edge razor-sharp. Just a few strokes will do it. Start with the coarser suede side of the strop and run each stroke away from the cutting edge. Then, finish up by repeating the process on the smooth leather side.

Other Maintenance

Here are just a couple of more things that you need to do to assure that your survival axe will perform effectively and efficiently when you need it. Make sure that you clean the blade after using it, especially, if you’re chopping something that will leave a residue on the blade. In fact, this is the rule for any bladed tool. Since all steel has the possibility of rusting, after cleaning the blade, make sure to dry it and store it in a dry place. If you’re storing the axe for any length of time, the axe head should be first oiled to help prevent rust.

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