Monday, May 2, 2011

Gransfors Bruks Hunters Axe Review

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
Cost: $170.00

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.


  1. Much depends on what you have been used to & what it is used for. This one looks much like the so called trade axe or tomahawk. I only ever carry a tomahawk, but it is not used for cutting firewood. I find the round poll works well for hammering in shelter pegs & trap stakes, but it is tending to flatten out the poll. This hunter's axe though appears to have a narrow rounded poll, which may tend to split stakes. A longer helve would improve it I think, but I would not choose a belt axe that requires a wedge to secure the head.

  2. This axe is essentially a butchering tool and priceless when hacking up moose or bear to pack out of the Maine woods. A squared poll will tear the meat and make a mess as you try to separate the skin. You wouldn't carry this axe into the woods for survival/camping any more than you would carry a broad axe.

  3. @Le Loup-I think it looks just like their hatchet, only larger. It certainly has that trade-axe look to it, although it pushes the limits on size with a 1.5lb head.

    I find that using a wedge to secure the head is a much more stable and reliable method than the alternative, and that is why I prefer it. That being said, both methods have advantages, it all comes down to what is important to the user.

  4. Maybe an axe is needed with larger animals, but I can easily skin a deer with a penknife, including splitting the pelvis at the bottom. My preference is a four to five inch blade, though.

  5. You can skin an animal with an axe, but it is really for breaking down the carcass into smaller pieces that you can carry out. Dragging out a 1200lb moose by hand is impossible and getting it to the road has challenges different than deer. Many times you have to cut through thick bone in order to leave behind unnecessary parts, an ordinary knife won't cut it (no pun intended). It takes an axe and my Case knife to break it down to small pieces that can be efficiently moved. On 3 occasions we had to pack out moose on our backs (farthest was 3 miles from the access road). One especially large bull took 5 heavy trips with 2 people. I wish they would breed a moose that would fall on a nice logging road, or better yet, the bed of my truck.

    I will say, a small Council axe with the poll smoothed over is much cheaper.