Tuesday, December 6, 2011

REVIEW: The new Fiskars X7 Hatchet- budget Gransfors Bruks killer?

Now that I've had a couple of weeks to fiddle with Fiskar's new X7 Hatchet, I wanted to write a review on it. Fiskars touts the new X-series as having a number of improvements over the older versions of Fiskars axes and hatchets, such as:

  • Better Balance 
  • Improved Chopping Performance 
  • A Hardened Bit with a hardness of 55 RC (info lifted from a reseller of the new Gerber II series axes which are rebranded Fiskars X-Series axes and hatchets) 
  • Revised handle with rubberization to improve comfort and grip retention

The X7 also has a newer style plastic sheath. It seems much sturdier than the older plastic holders which fell apart after awhile. The newer plastic model appears to be a permanent sheath solution.


The new X7 (pictured left) sports a narrower bit, a larger handle with rubberization towards the end, and is 1/4 inch shorter in length.

Here are the specs I measured on new vs old:

Fiskars X7
Weight- 22.6 ounces (without plastic sheath)
Length- 14"
Head Weight- 1.28lbs

Country of origin- Made in Finland
Older Fiskars 14" Hatchet
Weight- 18.7 ounces (without plastic sheath)
Length- 14.25"
Head Weight- 1lb
Country of origin- Made in Finland

Note the shallower angle of the Scandi grind on the edge of the new X7. Also, the metal from the axe head flares out more to protect the plastic during splitting chores compared to the older model. (Please note, the brighter metal along the edge is not from chopping but from my sharpening job with sandpaper and leather strop)

Older Fiskars hatchet showing closeup of wider Scandi grind and shallower transition between metal hatchet head and plastic:

Side by side comparison (X7 on left, older model on right). Also note the larger hammer poll on the newer X7, which improves the balance and the ease of camp chores like pounding tent stakes, etc.

Side by side comparison of profile of the two (X7 is on the left). Aside from changes in the cutting edge angle and the increased head size and weight, I see no major changes here other than a slightly steeper angle on the head leading towards the cutting edge.


In testing the X7's performance, I wanted it to go head to head with one of the widely regarded standards in the field, the Wetterlings Wildlife Hatchet. I chose this hatchet over the lighter Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet because it is closer in size to the X7, including head weight (within 0.2 ounces of each other) and overall length. In fact, the X7 and Wetterlings are so closely matched that the Wetterlings sheath fit almost perfectly on the X7! I felt that if this hatchet could best the heavier Wetterlings, it was a given that it would easily trounce the lighter Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet.

For the review, I'm using a rebranded Wetterlings Wildlife Hatchet marketed under Husqvarna, as both hatchets are literally identical except for the markings. Both the Wetterlings and the X7 were sharpened to shaving sharp before testing to ensure that the results wouldn't be skewed by one having a dull blade, etc.

Here's a photo of the two side by side:

Now, on to the performance!

To measure performance, I conducted two tests, making feathersticks and chopping logs. I left out splitting because I don't think splitting performance is much changed from the older Fiskars to the new X7. The older model and The Wetterlings were about equal in my experience, so for testing purposes, we'll assume this is unchanged.

In making feathersticks, I really thought the Wetterlings would beat the X7, but to my suprise, the X7 carved a little easier.

Featherstick made with the X7:

Featherstick made with the Wetterlings:


I tested the X7 against the Wetterlings by chopping 25 times each into a piece of seasoned hardwood that I picked up from a local property owner. Don't ask me what this stuff is, but it's really heavy considering that it's mostly dry! Much heavier than the Douglas Fir and Pine that normally grows up here.

This is 25 chops into it with my trusty Wetterlings hatchet:

And 25 chops with the X7. I was amazed that this crazy Star Wars looking hatchet could chop so well. Huge wood chunks flew, almost like when I chop with my 19" Wetterlings bushcraft axe! The photo doesn't really do justice to what I saw in person, but it's the best photo I could get before the snow started falling (yes, snow in April!)

NOTE- To see the X7 go head-to-head with the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet, click HERE


My impression after using this hatchet is that it's simply phenomenal at any price. I haven't used the hatchet over a long period of time so I can't say for sure if Fiskars fixed the problem with the overly soft steel on the older ones, but so far it does seem that the steel is stronger. Edge retention was as good as the Wetterlings in testing, and I even chopped into some knots just to see if the X7's edge would chip or roll. The edge has stayed perfect and is still super sharp. If this changes I'll post an update to this review.

As far as shaping wood for bushcraft tasks was concerned, i.e. tent pegs, wooden implements, etc. the X7 slightly outperformed the Wetterlings as it did with making feathersticks. This was another surprise.

As for the feel of the X7, it is much more comfortable with the new shape and rubberized handle. Handle retention is also better than most hatchets I've used. The rubberized handle portion reduces shock in addition to adding grip, so I think Fiskars hit a home run with this change.

I'm so impressed with this hatchet that I'm going to give the Wetterlings a break for a spell and start carrying the X7 in the bush, as the greater performance for the same weight just can't be denied. I'll still hang onto and use my Wetterlings since I enjoy the traditional look and feel of it, but for now, the X7 looks to be my new woods companion in the backcountry.

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About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, a blog that features articles, news stories, outdoor tips and product reviews written from a bushcraft and wilderness survival perspective. Schwartz is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America. He has also written for the The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)


  1. Okay, I'm sold. The old X7 was bought by my Dad ... and was a piece of crap. It literally fell apart after 9-12 months of use. I *loved* the concept of the axe - and I was convinced that his bad X7 was likely a statistical anomaly. Still ...

    This improved version looks like it has significant re-engineering. I'll check it out again at my local outfitter (who I think is now carrying it).

    Thanks for running such extensive field-testing on it, Jason.

    1. Thanks for comment. The main thing I've heard about the old ones is the steel being a little flaky sometimes. I think sharpening them helps this because the harder steel is underneath due to the heat treating process they use. I use the heck out of my X7 and have also lent it to friends and family who also raved about it. Excellent hatchet for the money!

  2. Indeed, for the prices I'm seeing online and the level of performance quality I can see from your evals ... it probably has a higher bang-for-the-buck ratio than the Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet. Which I have and love to death. But like you, I love good value in good bargains ...

    1. Yes, the Wildlife Hatchet is a peach, but definitely out of some folks price range. The X7 performs better yet is very affordable. Made in Finland too.

  3. how do you keep the fiskars x7 hatchet sharp? could i use a small wet stone or a cheap leather belt?

  4. could i sharpen my fiskars x7 to razor sharp using a wet stone and a cheap leather belt?

  5. Anonymous, yes, you can sharpen it with those just as you would a knife. You can also put a mousepad on top of a counter and put some 220/400 grit sandpaper and then sharpen it that way (sharpen with a backwards motion like you would with using a leather strop).

    Hope this helps.

  6. yes it did. thank you very much.

    1. You're welcome and please sign up for my blog for updates. Going to be doing many more reviews, including Fiskars axes and other brands as well.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  7. I sharpen my x7 with a traditional sharpening steel from my kitchen and it works fantastic. I put down a silicone pot holder and then hold my steel strait up and down on top of it. I then carefully run the axe down the steel as if it were a knife. It gets extremely sharp with minimal effort. I then use a piece of cardboard on its edge to strop the blade by running the head across the cardboard backwards. Simple for those who don't have the greatest sharpening skill.

  8. Excellent excellent review. Thanks for daring to blaspheme against the holy church of gransfors wetterling. I have an old gerber camp axe, and while I haven't tortured it, it's given years of good service, and it's light and tough.

    1. Koolaid, thanks for the comment. I'm a big fan of Gransfors axes, but I think Fiskars also makes a great axe for very little money. Fiskars are a great way to get into axes without breaking the bank.

  9. I've wanted one of the really nice hatchets (ex. Wildlife), but I've also decided that when going into the back country I want quality with a small price tag.  This is absolutely the hatchet for me.  Every time I use it I'm reminded that I could almost take this hatchet exclusively into the woods.  Well, this and my Mora Force or just my Swiss Hunter pocket knife.  So sharp and just a pleasure to use.

  10. Thanks for the comment Ruby and glad the X7 is working out for you. As you said, it does an excellent job for a budget hatchet. Good choice on the Mora Force too, it's a great knife!

  11. Koolaid, thanks for the comment. I'm a big fan of Gransfors axes, but I think Fiskars also makes a great axe for very little money. Fiskars are a great way to get into axes without breaking the bank.