Friday, December 17, 2010

Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe Review

As promised, now that I have a Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, to which to compare, I’ll try to put out some mid size axe reviews. The first axe on the list is the Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe.

Axe Head Weight: Advertised as 1.87 lb (measured as 2 lb)
Axe Length: Advertised as 26 inches (measured as 25 inches)
Axe Head Material: Unknown Swedish steel
Handle Material: American hickory
Cost: $64.00

There is a lot of confusion surrounding this axe, and that is why I made it my first mid size axe review. The confusion is a direct result of the information provided by the manufacturer.

This axe is part of the new series of axes produced by Husqvarna. Its model number is 502 64 00-01. It is advertised by Husqvarna and several distributors as having a head weight of 1.87 lb. You will find the same axe however at other distributers being advertised as having a head weight of 3 lb. The reason for the discrepancy is the fact that the axe head in no way weighs 1.87 lb. I have no idea where Husqvarna got that number, but the axe is clearly heavier.

I have calculated its head weight to be 2 lb. The way I calculated that is by measuring the weight of a handle for this model axe, and then subtracting that weight from the total weight of the axe. Here I will be comparing the Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, which has a head weight of 1.66 lb. The Husqvarna axe is clearly the havier fo the two.

This is also clear to see when the two axes are compared. Here you can see the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe next to the Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe.

The head of the Husqvarna Axe is clearly much thicker than that of the Gransfors Bruks. Interestingly, even though the head is thicker, Husqvarna has managed to give it a very thin cutting edge, comparable to that of the Gransfors Bruks. The head becomes thicker in a gradual and continuous way, while keeping the eye the same size as on the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. This gives excellent chopping as well as splitting characteristics to the head. The attachment method to the handle is a wooden wedge with a round pin. In all other respects, the heads of the two axes are nearly identical.

The balance of the axe, an important consideration when if comes to large axes, is fairly good. The bit is somewhat heavier than the poll, so you can see it dipping down more than it does on the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, but it is still fairly well balanced. The head and the handle are perfectly balanced.

The handles of the two axes are the same length, 25 inches. The grain orientation is very good, and the handle has a great feel to it. It is nearly identical to that of the Gransfors Bruks.

The testing of the axes revealed the Husqvarna to be an exceptional tool. The fact that Husqvarna has managed to add another half a pound to the axe head without making the cutting edge and grind any thicker than it is on the Grnsfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, makes for a great chopper. As you can see in the picture, the Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe outperformed the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. That is clearly a result of the extra weight. Here you can see the results after 25 swings with each axe.

The Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe also makes for a good splitter because of the thicker head. That being said, with axes this size, 99% of all splitting tasks that you are likely to do in the bush will be accomplished well by either axe. The difference shows when it comes to thick logs, which you will rarely have to process in the bush.

Carving is possible, and the axe bites into the wood well at shallow angles, but the long handle combined with the heavy head, makes it less than ideal for the task.

The sheath on the axe is of good quality, but clearly not specifically designed for this axe. It seems to be too large, and is hard to get tight. It appears to be an old model Wetterlings sheath, lending fuel to the speculation that the heads are being manufactured by Wetterlings. Another connection may be the fact that the bottom part of the eye has some bunching up of the metal, characteristic of the Wetterlings axes. This of course is just speculation.

The Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe is a great tool. In terms of quality, it is indistinguishable from any Gransfors Bruks axe. For $64 it is a bargain. It is also however, at the very limit of what I would consider carrying on my back for an extended period of time. The 2.5 lb head makes for a heavy axe.

As far as I know, the manufacturer produces additional bushcraft appropriate axes: The Husqvarna Hatchet (1.25lb head; 13 inches in length).