Monday, December 27, 2010

Ray Mears Designs and Releases the Wilderness Axe

As may of you know, Ray Mears has recently released an axe that he has designed himself. It is to be called the Wilderness Axe.

It is manufactured by Gransfors Bruks. The manufacturing process is not clear. The website states that it is hand forged, but according to the Gransfors Bruks website, so are all of their axes. I am not sure if what is meant by hand forged here is a guy with a hammer and forge making it in the really old school way, but it is possible seeing how the axe retails for $147 (discounted), with the forging process being given as a reason.

The axe has a 2 lb head and is 23.6 inches long. In weight and size it is almost identical to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest axe, with the handle being 1.5 inches shorter. The head appears to have a thicker eye than the Scandinavian Forest axe. Perhaps this feature is designed to facilitate splitting, but in my experience, combined with the thin blade, will not provide any improved performance in that respect. Perhaps there were other reasons behind the wider eye.

It appears to be a good tool, although I see absolutely no need for it. It strikes me as just another attempt by a famous person to make some money by putting their name on a product. If you read the interview that goes along with the axe, you would think that there are no axes out there which would cover the role of this one, when in fact, the Scandinavian Forest axe, and its equivalent by Wetterlings and Hult Bruks are practically identical. It is described as a heavier alternative to the Small Forest axe, without any mention of the more similar Scandinavian Forest axe. This strikes me as a bit disingenuous.

If this was supposed to be a radical improvement in axes, resulting from many years of experimentation, I am sure something more innovative could have been created. The golden age of axe manufacturing produced many high performance designs, many of which would leave this one in the dust. I am not sure why this custom made axe is just a sightly retouched Scandinavian Forest axe. I would be interested to see if it offers any performance advantages what so ever. Personally I doubt it, considering how it is almost indistinguishable from its competitors on the market today.

Please keep in mind that this is just a personal opinion. I have not tested and reviewed the product.