Thursday, December 23, 2010

Razor-Back Camp Axe Review

This is yet another axe manufacturer whose products I wanted to test. I found that the price far exceeds the quality.

Union Tools
Axe Head Weight: 1.25 lb
Axe Length: 14 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown carbon steel
Handle Material: Hickory
Cost: $18.00 (can be found for anywhere between $15 and $30)

The first thing I want to note here is that Union Tools, the manufacturer of this hatchet is actually a huge conglomerate of different manufacturers, which includes, Ames True Temper, Jackson Tools, Razor-Back, Garant, and others. Each division seems to manufacture its own products, so the quality will not always be comparable, even though all the products are made under the Union Tools umbrella.

As with all the other hatchets, I will compare this one to the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet. Here you can see the Razor-Back Camp Axe next to the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet.

The handle is the same length as the Wildlife Hatchet, around 14 inches. The one I bought had good grain and seemed to be of good quality even though it was covered by a very thick coat of polish.

The head was not properly aligned with the head on the example I have. As you can see, the head stands a bit to the left of the handle. This is an unfortunate reality when it comes to low cost axes.

The head itself is very poorly designed in my opinion. It has a very thick cutting edge, which significantly decreases it’s chopping ability. In fact, it was so thick that I had trouble getting it to stick in the oak for the pictures. The head then continues to be fairly narrow, until it reaches the eye. At that point it expands significantly, creating a huge eye. I don’t see any reason for such a design, and it significantly hinders the chopping ability of the hatchet.

Splitting is not too bad. While some force is required to push the large eye through the wood, the fact that it is so wide, and the edge is so thick, splits most wood quite well. The head is attached to the handle using a wooden wedge and a circular metal pin. The top of the handle seemed to have been damaged and splintered at some point, but the head did not become loose during testing.

The hatchet does not have a sheath, but rather comes with a rubber cover for the edge. It is very likely to end up at the bottom of your pack.

Overall, I can not think of any reason why anyone would spend $30, $15 or even $10 for this hatchet. It gets significantly out performed by the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet, which is a quarter of a pound lighter than the Razor-Back Camp Axe. There are many other much better low cost options out there on the market.

As far as I know, the manufacturer produces additional bushcraft appropriate axes: The Boy’s Axe (2.25 lb head, 28 inches in length), The Dayton Single Bit Axe (3.5 lb head, 36 inches in length), The Double Bit Axe (3.5 lb head, 36 inches in length) and the S.B. Michigan Axe (3.5 lb head, 36 inches in length).