Thursday, October 10, 2013

REVIEW: Marble's Safety Axe No.5 -- Not Recommended

Blue Ridge Knives was nice enough to send us a Marble's Safety Axe No. 5 to try recently. My initial impression was favorable, since the overall quality, head profile and factory sharpness seemed very good for a hatchet in this price range.


Axe Blade Length: 4-1/2″ 
Cutting Edge: 2-3/8″ 
Steel: 1070 HC 
Rockwell Hardness: 50-55 
Handle material: Hickory 
Overall Length: 10-5/8″ 
Weight: 14.9 oz (as measured on a digital postal scale)
Street price: $40.00-$50.00 USD

Even though it's called a "Safety Axe," the Marbles No.5 is actually a very small hatchet:

The diminutive Safety Axe (left) next to a Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

What makes the Safety Axe unique is the built-in metal guard that folds out of the handle and functions as a protective sheath for the blade. The metal sheath has a piece of plastic inside to protect the bit when it's folded over the blade.

Profile comparison with a Gransfors Bruks Wildlife HatchetNote the Safety Axe's uniquely shaped eye, which Marble's claims holds the handle more securely in the head:


Eager to try the Safety Axe, I grabbed it and headed off to a favorite test location. The first three swings seemed very promising, as it cut deep into the wood for a small hatchet.

The fourth swing, however, turned into a nightmare. The head literally went flying up in the air, landing just inches behind me on the ground. Had it landed on me, it would have most likely meant a trip to the emergency room.

Thinking I might have just gotten a defective hatchet, I went online and did some research. I found that fellow blogger Woodtrekker had the same issue with the head coming loose when he reviewed a Marble's Safety Axe #9 back in October of 2010.

I also found that AG Russell was selling this same hatchet under the name "Pocket Safety Axe" for the rather outlandish price of $79.95. That's some serious coin for a mass produced hatchet that's made in Taiwan.


If Marbles fixes the head\handle issue, it could be a nice little backwoods hatchet. The stock cutting profile and sharpness is very good. The attached guard does make the handle a little less comfortable due to the hollowed space and metal liner, but the guard is a really handy feature. It can be used to attach the Safety Axe to your belt as well.

The head/handle junction issue is a real safety hazard. There is just too much potential for serious injury, so this axe is not recommended.

1 out of 5 Stars

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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 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 @ (without spaces)

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