Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet VS Small Forest Axe

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When comparing the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet vs Small Forest Axe, their physical differences help them accomplish different tasks. Gransfors Bruks are a company that makes handcrafted axes and hatchets for very specific tasks.

The Small Forest Axe is harder to come by. Sometimes people have to wait on a 2-3 month waiting list. The Wildlife Hatchet is more readily available – you should not have any problems finding one.

When you finally get them, you realize they are both pretty small. This is a good thing, they are made to go camping and backpacking so them being lightweight and portable makes sense. These are really 2 different types of axes so pick the one that you will get the most use out of.

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet
Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

Wildlife Hatchet Specs

Total Weight: 1.3lbs 
Head Weight: 1lbs
Length with handle: 13.50 inch
Handle: American Hickory
Steel: Hand forged Swedish high carbon steel
Country of origin: Sweeden
Retal Price: $125 – $165  (Check the Current Price on Amazon)
Comes with Axe Book and a Leather Sheath.

Wildlife Hatchet Overview

  • Great at general bushcraft chores around the campsite
  • Easy to carve with and work on finer details
  • Good to use as a sharpening axe or a finishing axe
  • Lightweight and easy to carry on a belt
  • Comes sharp enough to shave with out of the box
  • Grippy head makes using this like a knife pretty natural
  • Linseed oil and beeswax coated handle
  • Easy to create shavings and kindling
  • Big blade surface area
  • Long lasting hatchet
  • See the full Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet review here
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe

Small Forest Axe Specs

Total Weight: 2lbs 
Head Weight: 1.5lbs
Length with handle: 19 inch
Handle: American Hickory
Steel: Hand forged Swedish high carbon steel
Country of origin: Sweeden
Retal Price: $199 – $225 (Check the Current Price on Amazon)
Comes with Axe Book and a Leather Sheath.

Small Forest Axe Overview

  • Just small and lightweight enough to be portable
  • Can be used single or double handed for power chops
  • Bites into the wood pretty deep with every swing
  • Comes just as sharp as the Wildlife Hatchet
  • Bigger, heavier head help cleave small branches easily
  • Comes with vegetable-tanned leather sheath
  • Cuts against the grain pretty well
  • Carving is still possible, but not ideal
  • High quality feels very solid everytime
  • See the full Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe review here

Comparing Heads

When you compare these 2 side by side, right away you notice the Small Forest Axe is considerably bigger. The head of the Wildlife Hatchet is smaller, but the face of the blade is almost the same length. As you start to come in closer to the handle, each axe head begins to take a different shape. This is really where the differences start to show themselves.

The poll of the axes also differ in size relative to their heads. You should keep this in mind if you think you’ll be dealing with a lot of camp stakes, might want to go for the Forest Axe for the bigger hammering surface.

All Gransfors Bruks Axes have the initials of the craftsman imprinted on the heads, next to a Swedish crown.

It is common to see the same initials on the same model axes and hatchets. Not always, but usually the same person crafts the same type of axe while they produce large quantities. In our case, a lot of the Small Forest Axes come with the initials AS, and many Wildlife Hatchets come with MM.

Chopping Power

There is a noticeable difference in how these 2 perform when chopping a log. Basically, the Small Forest Axe is a bit more powerful but the Hatchet is a bit more accurate. This is to be expected, and its mainly got to do with the handle length.

The longer the handle, the further away you can hold the axe – the more power behind your swings. Since the Small Forest Axe has a 19 inch length vs the Wildlife Hatchets 13.5 inch length – its the winner. The palm swell that is at the bottom of the handle really helps with the swings.

Of course, an Axe by definition is going to have more chopping power than a Hatchet, however people don’t buy hatchets for power. Compared to other hatchets, the Wildlife Hatchet is still pretty strong.

If you are the type to go for long trips that would require chopping firewood multiple times, then I’d say go with the Small Forest Axe. The Wildlife Hatchet will still be ok if you had to use it once, and would be much better at every other little thing around the campfire vs the Small Forest Axe.

Small Forest Axe Splitting Wood
Small Forest Axe Splitting Wood

Carving Ability

This is where the Wildlife Hatchet wins by far. The reason you will have a harder time with the Small Forest Axe is due to its handle mainly, and head secondarily.

Just holding the head of the axe in your palm – it is hard to find a good position to do any finer work. Choking up and really gripping the back is also not very doable because the handle is so long, it gets in the way.

The opposite is true with the Hatchet. The head fits perfectly in your hand, you have a  nice small head to work with and the handle isn’t long enough to bother you. The longer blade face of the Hatchet is great and feels precise when cutting with many different hand positions.

It really depends on what you are using your tools for. Gransfors Bruks makes a variety of axes and each of them are more suited for a certain task compared to the next. The head shape, width, length and curvature are all very much calculated to performing certain tasks better.

Bushcraft and Forestry Work

In this case I’d say both are pretty good choices. You want something that’s portable but still can deliver a good bite in the wood when needed. The Small Forest Axe is just small enough to make it on my list – any bigger and it would sort of be too big. The Wildlife Hatchet would be a go-to for any smaller campsite chores.

It would be a good idea to think about the season you’re in. If your trips are mostly in the Summer time, it would make more sense to go with a Wildlife Hatchet. Anything else go with the Small Forest Axe. This is a very general option, but it is something to think about.

When you come back from a trip, are you the type of person who thinks they brought too much stuff? Or the type to think what else could I have brought? If having some extra weight and space is no problem for you, a medium sized axe like the Small Forest Axe is probably the way to go.

Wildlife Hatchet Belt Holster
Wildlife Hatchet Belt Holster

Things to Consider

When considering which of these to get you might want to ask yourself – If you are going to be building fires, how big will it be and how many days will you need a fire? The more firewood you need the bigger the axe you bring should be. Especially if you are planning on building a shelter vs just a day trip.

A good recommendation is to start somewhere at the middle of the axe range and see how you like it. Between felling axes and hatchets is where you would find the Small Forest Axe. Its length is a perfect starter for you to use and see if you really need something bigger or smaller.

If you haven’t used either one but are familiar with axes/hatchets, I hope you now have enough info on making your decision. If you are not, I will recommend going to a hardware store and buying a cheap “boys axe” or camp axe and learn how to use it. Once you get the feel for it in your hand you can figure out what your circumstances will allow.

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