Some of you may not be familiar with Helko, but they are a well known German axe manufacturer. Their axes have been very hard to get here in the US, but it appears that the company has now opened a US branch, so their products will become much more available. One of the products that caught my eye was the Hinterland Hatchet from their Traditional line of axes. I’ve been using it for about a month now, and wasted to do a brief review for you.
Axe Head Weight: 1.25 lb
Axe Length: 15 inches
Axe Head Material: German C45 carbon steel
Handle Material: Hickory
The first thing that came to mind when I first saw the hatchet was that it is virtually identical in size and weight to the newer Husqvarna Hatchet. With a 15 inch handle and a 1.25 lb head it has a very similar feel. For the sake of consistency however, here I will look at it next to the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet.
The head is well attached to the handle using a wooden wedge and a metal pin. You do not have much protrusion of the handle above the eye, which these days is used as a method to secure the head stays on, but I did not experience any issues with regards to the head coming loose.
The geometry of the head is excellent. The profile is narrow, allowing the hatchet to bite well, and the cheeks are slightly concave, continuing smoothly to the eye. The bit is very well profiled, at least for my preferences. It is slightly thicker than that on the WIldlife Hatchet, but not by much. It did not come shaving sharp, but it certainly did not need any work with a file or a course stone. Some minor sharpening with a ceramic stone got it shaving sharp.
Since this is Helko’s traditional line, the head has not been ground and polished. What I really like about Helko is that they are honest about the production process of their axes. Unlike companies like Gransfors Bruks and Wetterlings, who claim that their axes are hand made, even though they are clearly open dye drop forged, Helko outright states that they are drop forged. That doesn’t make for an inferior axe, it just makes for a more honest company.
The grain on the handle was perfectly oriented, and it was comfortable to hold. It had a nice linseed oil finish on it. Those with small hands might find it a bit large, but it was fine for me.
The leather sheath was functional, although it is not my preferred style. It definitely needs to be oiled.
Overall, I am very happy with the hatchet. It is well designed, it is good quality and it performs well.
Now, earlier I mentioned that the Helko Traditional Hinterland Hatchet is very similar to the Husqvarna hatchets. In my opinion the fit and finish on the Helko hatchet is much better, and it required much less work to get a good edge on it. That being said, a Husqvarna hatchet currently runs for about $43. That is about half the price of the Helko hatchet. Something to think about.
That being said, Helko has several different lines of axes. Much like other manufacturers like Gransfors Bruks and Wetterlings, their “traditional” lines of axes are actually a fairly recent creation. Gransfors Bruks introduced their “traditional” looking axes with which we are familiar today in the 1990s, with Wetterlings following soon. Helko actually has earlier lines of axes that don’t have the “traditional” look, which come at a much lower cost. I believe they are worth a look, and I’ll try to get my hands on one to check the quality for you guys.
The hatchet was provided to me by Helko North America free of cost for testing purposes.