In this post I’ll take a look at one of the less widely used Gransfors Bruks axes-the Hunters Axe. According to the manufacturer, the tool was designed specifically to help hunters skin large animals by using the rounded poll to hit and separate the hide from the body.
Manufacturer: Gransfors Bruks AB
Axe Head Weight: 1.5 lb
Axe Length: 19 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown Swedish steel
Handle Material: Hickory
This is a very expensive axe, even more so because it is what I would consider a specialized tool. In this post I will compare it to the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe, and their length and weight specifications are about the same.
The handle of the Hunters Axe a little shorter than that of the Small Forest Axe. It also has a completely different shape. While the Small Forest Axe has a handle which looks like a shrunken down felling axe handle, the Hunters Axe appears to have an enlarged Wildlife Hatchet handle. The Hunters Axe handle also has grooved handle, which it intended to help with the grip when the axe is covered in blood. I find that the rest of the time this makes the handle less comfortable to use as it abrades the hand. The grain of the handle is good, as expected from an axe with this price tag, but there is some heart wood, which may be an issue for some people.
The head of the Gransfors Bruks Hunters Axe is very similar to that of the Small Forest Axe. The bit is thin and penetrates well into wood. It similarly suffers from the problem of having a head which expands too abruptly between the bit and the eye.
The eye the Hunters Axe is a bit smaller and more rounded than that of the Small Forest Axe. The design appears to be there to accommodate the hatchet-like handle used on the Hunters Axe.
The balance of the axe is fairly good, and comparable to that of the Small Forest Axe. The bit is sightly heavier than the poll, but overall, the balance is good.
The other significant difference between the two axes is the Hunters’ Axe rounded poll. It is well polished and any sharp corners or flat surfaces have been removed. I don’t know how much of an advantage this provides when skinning a large animal, in particular when compared to an axe with a non rounded poll, but it certainly does not help with any other task to which you may put the axe. Forget about using it to hammer in tent stakes. You are as likely to hit it with a bar of soap, as you are with that rounded poll.
I think that reflects my overall impression of the Gransfors Bruks Hunters Axe. It appears to be a specialized tool for which I could not find good use during regular camp use. The rounded poll was a big down side, as you can no longer use the poll to hammer in tent stakes, crush nuts, etc. The handle was made more uncomfortable my the grooves, and the reduced length, combined with the hatchet like design made it uncomfortable to use with two hands. In the end I found myself using it as a large hatchet. I’m sure that all of these characteristics would be very useful to someone who skins a lot of elk, and this may be the perfect axe for that person, but in my opinion all of the design alterations made it a lot less usable as a general bushcraft axe.