"Rough Around the Edges" equivalent to a Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe at half the price
For the past several years, Swedish chainsaw maker Husqvarna has been offering rebadged versions of Wetterlings and Hults Bruks axes and hatchets at greatly reduced prices. For the savvy axe buyer, this can represent an excellent opportunity to pick up expensive name brand Swedish axes at steep discounts. The latest offering from Husqvarna, called the Forest Axe, continues this tradition, in that it is essentially a rebadged Swedish Hultafors HY 20 Felling Axe.
Head Weight: 2 lbs
Steel type: Hand forged Swedish high carbon steel (composition unknown)
Overall length: 26"
Handle type: American Hickory
Country of Origin: Made in Sweden by Hults Bruks\Hultafors
Weight with sheath: 43.4 ounces (as measured on a digital postal scale)
Weight without sheath: 42.4 ounces (as measured on a digital postal scale)
Retail Price: $65.88
The Forest Axe features a hand forged, high carbon Swedish steel head which weighs in at 2 lbs. The handle is 26" long and made from American Hickory. A simple, yet functional leather sheath covers the bit to keep it protected.
Another positive is the quality of the steel. It's hard, yet easy to sharpen and holds an edge, very similar to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. In fact, during my chopping tests against the Gransfors (I usually chop several more times than what's shown in my test photographs) I could detect no difference in edge-holding between the two. The edge also never chipped or rolled during 6 months of hard use, another indication of the excellent quality of the steel on this axe.
The leather sheath was also a surprise. Initially, my impression of it was rather lackluster, knowing the high quality of Wetterlings and Gransfors sheaths. Not only has it been durable, but I actually learned to appreciate having a sheath without a strap, as you can leave it on when hammering tent stakes or tapping logs without having to worry about damaging it.
One other thing to note is that, as of right now, this is the only way to buy a Hults Bruks axe in the US, since Hults doesn't sell directly to the US (hopefully, this will change soon!).
In the subtitle of this review, I made the claim that the Forest Axe is a "rough around the edges" equivalent to a Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe, and I stand by that. For half the price of the Gransfors, you get a high quality, hand-forged, traditional Swedish axe that outchops the Gransfors, performs fine carving tasks just as well, and is nearly as balanced. Husqvarna seems to change manufacturers rather frequently, so if were you, I would grab one of these axes before they switch makers again.
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About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He 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, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as 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)