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When you’re heading out into the woods, or you’re trying to do some foresting work, but you don’t have a huge budget, you’ll need an affordably axe. With most tools, you’ll have to trade quality for affordability, so it’s important to find the right brand.
If you’re looking for a great, affordable, and sturdy axe, then you’re going to want to reach for an Estwing. In this Estwing Sportsman Axe review, we’re going to cover how this axe is able to deliver such a powerful cut while maintaining a great price.
When you look at this tool, you may think that it’s too small to be an effective cutting tool. But you’ll be surprised to see how this axe is actually a versatile, portable, and affordable tool that makes a great addition to your workshop or backpack.
We’re going to look at what makes this axe affordable while still being a great cutting option. It’s lightweight, smartly designed, and compact, all while keeping a price point below $40, so let’s take apart how this tool is crafted.
A Quick Look
When you’re looking for a cheap axe, you want to make sure that it’s durable and comfortable. Most axes use a cheap wood for the handle, or a flimsy metal for the head, or they’re heavy, making them bad backpacking axes.
The Estwing Sportsman Axe works so well as a camping axe because it’s only 14 inches long and weighs less than 2 pounds. It has a large grip made of leather, and a single-piece stainless steel design, making it easy to mass produce an affordable blade.
Of course, if you compared this to a Gransfors Bruks or even a Hults Bruk, it doesn’t hold up. But compared to similarly priced options from other brands like Prandi or Fiskars, then this axe actually holds up really well.
The drawbacks of this axe are the same that you would see with any budget option. It can’t handle heavy chopping tasks, and won’t have that smooth swing that you get out of more premium options. But otherwise, the axe is a great value.
- Total Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Length with handle: 14 inches
- Handle: Stainless Steel with Leather Grip
- Steel: Stainless Steel
- Country of origin: USA
- Price: $32 – $45 (Check Current Price Here)
Estwing has been family owned and operated out of Rockford Illinois since 1923, producing durable, affordable tools. From their humble beginnings to their current status as a nationwide brand, this company makes great value products.
All of these tools are American made, and you’ll get affordability that rivals brands like Fiskars, Collins, or Husqvarna. They actually make a range of tools, including axes, hammers, screwdrivers, and other non-mechanical tools.
The brand’s biggest claim to fame is a specially patented shock resistant grip that let’s them create higher quality tools without bringing up the price. Most of their products are made of stainless steel with a grip added on for usability and comfort.
This axe doesn’t actually use this grip, instead relying on good ol’ leather. But even then, you still get the effective stainless steel, one-piece design complimented by a simple leather grip for maximum comfort and usability.
The head of the axe is where the magic happens. It’s what cuts the wood, transferring the energy from your swing into the wood, and you need the right balancing and material to make an effective tool. Even the slightest variation can completely change how you swing the axe.
This Sportsman Axe has a head that makes it powerful for cutting, and is designed for one-handed use. The single piece design works perfectly with the stainless steel material to ensure that this axe is delivering a forceful, balanced swing.
Stainless steel is the go-to for most axe heads, from the cheapest to the most luxurious choices. You can find it on ultra high-end options like the Gransfors Bruks American Felling Axe and on the affordable Estwing Tomahawk.
Most axes you see have a detached bit, whereas this axe has a one-piece design. So while we would normally discuss the weight and shape of the head, there is no real start or end point of this tool’s head, since it melds seamlessly into the handle.
This is a powerful way to maximize how effective the axe is while keeping costs down. So while a cheaper axe with a separate bit will produce hundreds of heads before fixing them onto the handle, this tool sees the manufacturer crafting the entire axe at once.
Estwing doesn’t mention whether the steel is forged, moulded, or tempered, but it’s likely that this axe is moulded, which helps make large amounts of durable, weather resistant steel axes.
The axe has a curved blade, which helps maximize the PSI coming out of your swing. While straight blades are great for a splitting axe, curved blades make a more versatile bushcraft axe, working in a variety of situations.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact weight and balancing of the axe head, since it isn’t a separate part of the tool. But you do see the standard broad bit with a narrowing cheek that then leads to a small curved blade.
This shape is pretty common in any axe, and is what lets you get that balance to guide your swing for a powerful strike. The one-piece design is vital for getting that balance while keeping the costs down, and is what separates this tool from the rest.
The handle is the main place where we interface with an axe. It needs to have a sleek, comfortable design that can withstand the striking power from each swing. You want a breathable handle that is both durable and flexible.
This axe takes a unique approach to handles. While most axes opt for a hickory handle or a composite handle like fiberglass, the Estwing Sportsman Axe is made of stainless steel with an added leather grip for comfort.
The most popular option for axe handles is hickory. It’s sturdy, durable, and flexible, making it perfect for being comfortable and absorbing shock. For more affordable options, we see fiberglass handles with rubber grips, also being comfortable and durable.
Stainless steel is not a very good material for building axe handles. It’s brittle, doesn’t absorb shock, and is heavy, making it tough to use for axe handles. The saving grace for this axe is the leather handle, making it comfortable, durable, and lightweight.
Because the handle has a thick leather grip, you can actually get a thinner stainless steel handle. This maximizes the structural integrity of the handle while keeping the weight and cost down. The only thing you have to worry about is the handle separating from the grip.
Most Estwing tools have a special shock absorbant grip that makes them such a competitive brand. It’s actually pretty interesting that this axe opts for traditional leather, though it’s a classic look and feel with a sleek design.
This hatchet is 14 inches long, which is closer to the short end for a hatchet. It’s designed purely for one-handed use, and the length and weight of the tool are ideal for maximizing the power behind each swing.
A one-handed survival axe needs to be lightweight and easy to carry. So while you can find excellent 19 inch hatchets, the 14 inch option is great, especially in this price range. It’s more of a multi-tool that works decently in a variety of situations.
While a 14 inch length can be ideal for making a versatile tool, it also keeps it from being effective in heavy duty situations. While you can chop a small tree with a 21 or even 19 inch hatchet, you’re not going to do much more than split small logs and cut branches off of trees. But you can use it like a knife, if needed.
What the Estwing Sportsman Axe Is Best For
The Estwing Sportsman Axe is a great axe to have for the road. It’s lightweight, affordable, and versatile with smaller tasks, but also a little flimsy and has limited chopping power. It’s ideal for recreational and outdoor use.
Of course, if you’re headed out into the bush, you need to be prepared. Having a reliable firestarter is a must when your out in the wild. My personal favorite is the Everstryke, a useful waterproof match. You can also check out the Everstryke Pro, a waterproof lighter, in this video here:
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Easy to use
- Versatile for lighter tasks
- Limited chopping power
How Does it Compare?
If you need a heavier axe, or you want something a little different, you’re going to need to look for something else. Fortunately, you have a wide variety of tools available that can satisfy any foresting need, whether you need a bigger axe or a higher quality hatchet.
If you’re looking for a similar price point but you want a larger or more durable axe, we have a few similar products. The Husqvarna Camping axe is also under $100, and is much larger, heavier, and made to withstand more chopping.
Estwing also has a Camper’s Axe, which is made with a similar one-piece design, but has their patented shock absorbant grip. It’s a slightly more powerful option from the same brand without raising the price too much.
If you want a premium hatchet, you want to look at the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. This small axe has a lot of the same specs as the Sportsman Axe, but has significantly more craftsmanship put in. It’s made by a single smith from start to finish, and only uses the highest quality materials.
Should You Get the Estwing Sportsman Axe?
If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable axe that you can easily take on backpacking and hunting trips, then the Estwing Sportsman Axe is for you. It’s a durable option for a price that’s hard to beat, and will get the job done.
If you’re a professional forester, or you want something heavy duty, then this axe isn’t for you. But as long as you make sure you’re sharpening your axe, this tool will be a reliable option to turn to for your next backpacking trip.