7 Best Felling Axes in 2023 – Top Picks & Reviews
Felling trees is serious business. It takes a lot of strength and endurance to swing that axe into a solid tree over and over again. But the axe needs to be just as strong to endure that abuse through not just one tree, but many trees over many years.
Ordinary axes might be great for chopping firewood, but felling trees is another matter. A standard axe will likely be destroyed by the time you’ve felled just a few, which is why you need a true felling axe if you plan to bring down more than just a tree or two.
A well-made felling axe is more than just a tool; it’s a work of art. These axes are some of the strongest, most durable tools there are, and the right one will likely be around for longer than you. Through our testing, we’ve found seven such felling axes that we’re going to share with you in the following reviews.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Husqvarna A2400 Composite Axe||
|Best Value||Snow and Nealley 26 Single Bit Axe||
|Premium Choice||1844 Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester||
|Gransfors Bruks 434-2 American Felling Axe||
|Hults Bruk Kalix Felling Axe||
The 7 Best Felling Axes – Reviews 2023
1. Husqvarna A2400 Composite Axe – Best Overall
If you’ve ever brought down a tree before, you’ve likely heard of Husqvarna. Though, to be fair, you might not associate them with axes. Husqvarna is well-known for making high-quality chainsaws. That said, their axes are top-notch tools that can be relied on to survive years of continued abuse.
The Husqvarna A2400 axe features a drop-forged blade with geometry that’s designed to work well in multiple applications. Although the handle isn’t contoured, it’s made from a fiber-reinforced composite, providing incredible durability. In fact, it’s so durable that Husqvarna warranties this axe for life; a great addition at this price.
Thanks to the composite shaft, this axe has some of the best weight distribution we’ve seen. It’s 27 inches long overall, but thanks to its excellent balance, it feels like you’re swinging with more leverage than when using a much longer axe. In the end, this was our favorite felling axe overall, and the lifetime warranty ensures that it will be around to help you bring down many trees over many years.
2. Snow and Nealley 26 Single Bit Axe – Best Value
It’s true that most high-quality felling axes are prohibitively expensive. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to get a great tool though. There are exceptions to every rule. In this case, we think this Snow and Neally single bit axe is the exception to the rule and certainly one of the best felling axes for the money.
The first thing we have to mention is that this is a beautiful tool. As far as appearances go, this axe is right on par with products that cost twice as much. The grain in the handle is all oriented properly and the finish of the head and handle both are smooth and look amazing. Like many similar axes, this one features a hickory handle, but it’s finished with lacquer rather than oil. Luckily, the lacquer is well applied.
We found that this axe provides plenty of power behind each swing. It’s got a 3.5-pound head and an overall length of 30 inches. It could be a bit longer, but we still got great leverage and were able to take down sizable trees without too much effort. However, we did have to sharpen the blade first as it arrived dull.
3. 1844 Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester – Premium Choice
One of the most important factors when choosing a felling axe is build quality, and the quality of the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester is second to none. As soon as you touch it, you can feel the quality of the craftsmanship. Granted, you’re going to pay a lot for that quality.
This axe features a 3.5-pound head that offers enough weight and cutting power to bring down large trees without sapping you of energy. The head is mounted to the handle with a dual-wedge system, employing both a hardwood wedge and a steel ring wedge, ensuring maximum strength and durability. After all, this is where all of the impact will be felt.
The head is crafted from C50 high-carbon steel and is entirely hand forged by top-tier trained blacksmiths.
Moving on to the handle, this axe features a grade-A American hickory handle. It’s hand-finished; sanded down to 150-grit and treated with boiled linseed oil. This smooth finish reduces the likelihood of blisters with regular use. It’s not as well-balanced as some axes we’ve tested, but the overall build quality and durability are as good as it gets.
4. Gransfors Bruks 434-2 American Felling Axe
If you’re looking for a beast of a tool that’s built for the Paul Bunyon’s of the world, then you’ve found it in the Gransfors Bruks 434-2 American felling axe. This tool is a mammoth, weighing in at 4.8 pounds total. That might not seem that heavy, but it’s a good 25% heavier than many of the other felling axes we were testing it against. That equates to a lot more power behind each swing, though you’ll likely tire out much quicker as well.
One great advantage of this axe over others we’ve tried is the extra-long 35-inch handle. This provides increased leverage, giving you more power behind each swing. Thankfully, this axe is very well balanced, so even though it’s going to use more energy thanks to the added weight and length, it makes great use of the extra leverage.
The head of this axe stays sharp through many swings, so you won’t have to sharpen it too often. We weren’t thrilled with the feel of the handle when it arrived though. It’s pretty rough and might even give you splinters. With such an expensive axe, we didn’t expect to sand the handle before use.
5. Hults Bruk Kalix Felling Axe
The Hults Bruk Kalix felling axe is a very nice tool, though it could use better quality assurance before being shipped out. Overall, the build quality is pretty decent, featuring a head made of solid Swedish steel and a handle that’s crafted from American hickory. It’s well-built, though it’s best for felling small to mid-sized trees. We’d leave the large trees to something with slightly better build quality.
That doesn’t mean this is a poorly constructed axe by any means. It weighs 3.6 pounds overall and has a 28-inch handle. The head is clear lacquered, and the shaft is treated with linseed oil for a beautiful appearance and a good feel in your hands.
But the head isn’t mounted as securely as we’d like. It’s actually a little loose. It didn’t seem to get any looser during use, but a loose head doesn’t instill confidence. The blade was also dull when it arrived, which meant we had to take the time to sharpen it. That’s not a big deal, but generally speaking, we expect a tool like this to be ready to perform when it arrives.
6. Council Tool Velvicut American Felling Axe
Council Tool makes high-quality tools in the USA. We’ve used several of their axes previously and never been disappointed, but the Velvicut American felling axe isn’t one that impressed us much. Several flaws held it back, like poor finishing on the axe head and a rough handle. We had to return the first one due to the poor finish on the head and several different colors of wood in the handle. The second one was much better, but we had a bad taste from the first specimen.
Even the second one had a rough handle that needed some sanding. But we love the extended length; this handle is a full 36 inches of American hickory. It’s also coated with linseed oil to protect it. Similarly, the head is oil-coated as well, enhancing its appearance while protecting it from corrosion.
The head is durable and features a tempered edge for maximum strength. Better yet, the head is guaranteed to last a lifetime. It’s a beautiful tool overall and definitely provides ample power with the extended handle, but the inconsistent quality means that we can’t recommend it over other axes that seem more consistently well-built.
7. GEDORE OX 20 H-1257 Universal Forestry Axe
The GEDORE OX universal forestry axe didn’t live up to our expectations. To be fair, it’s one of the lower-priced tools on this list, though there were still cheaper tools we tested that offered superior performance. For the quality it delivers, we actually think the GEDORE OX is overpriced since other axes offered much better quality for less.
After testing, the best thing we have to say about this axe is that it’s well balanced and feels good to swing. The 28-inch handle is a little short for our taste, though that’s a matter of preference. However, the poor grain alignment on the handle is a quality concern as it makes the handle weaker and more prone to breaking.
Worse, the blade is quite soft. It has trouble taking an edge and even tends to roll over on hard impacts. Usually, a leather blade cover is included, but this sheath isn’t real leather, so it’s not durable enough to hold up against the blade. Overall, we feel that we overpaid for this axe, considering its poor quality. We recommend that you learn from our mistake and skip this tool in favor of something with better build quality.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Felling Axe
If you’ve been cutting down trees by hand for years, then you probably already know exactly what you’re looking for in a felling axe. But without hands-on experience, choosing a felling axe can be more difficult than you might think at first.
If you’re still unsure of which axe to choose, don’t worry. We’ve narrowed down the most important features that you should be considering and we’ll discuss them all in this buyer’s guide so that you feel confident about making the right choice.
Important Features of a Felling Axe
If you compare several of these axes on appearance alone, you’ll likely have a difficult time determining any major differences. But there are a few important aspects to consider that can make a big difference in how your axe performs or how long it holds up.
Take all of these features into consideration before deciding on which axe to buy. If you choose an axe based on these traits, you’re likely to get a tool that’s perfect for your needs.
Few traits will have such a major impact on how your axe feels to swing as its overall length. A longer axe is going to give you more leverage, but it can also be a bit harder to control. With a shorter axe, you’ll have more control but less power. This can make it more difficult to get through thick trees.
If you’re going to be felling medium to large-sized trees, then opt for a longer handle to get better leverage. But if you’re only cutting small to mid-sized trees, you might benefit from the extra control you’ll get from a shorter axe.
On the long side of the spectrum, you might choose an axe with an overall length of 36 inches. If you’re looking for more control, you might choose something that’s just 28-30 inches long overall.
Weight of the Head
Overall length is just one part of the leverage equation. A heavier head means more swinging power, but once again, it’s going to be harder to control. We tested felling axes with heads ranging from two pounds to more than four pounds. While a few pounds weight difference might not sound like much, it feels like a lot more when you start swinging.
Of course, the weight of the head has to be proportional to the weight and length of the handle if you want control and power together. An axe that’s not well-balanced will be much harder to control. This isn’t something you can just read off a spec sheet, though. Balance has to do with the weight and length of the head and shaft together, so you need to swing the axe to truly know how it’s balanced.
These axes feature heads made from steel. However, the type of steel used and the way it’s forged differ between brands and models. This leads to noticeable differences in durability. Some axes that aren’t as durable are liable to break from a heavy impact. More likely, the edge will roll over. Either way, it’s going to put a real damper on your work and stop you in your tracks. We recommend looking for a durable head that will hold up for years of regular use.
Most felling axes are made with a hardwood handle like hickory. These can be replaced if necessary, though they’re built to last for a long time. However, wood is susceptible to many issues, including inconsistencies and grain flaws. Composite handles represent an alternative that offers incredible durability and can even help reduce the shock that your arms feel with each impact.
Ready on Arrival?
When we purchase a tool, we generally expect it to be ready to work when it arrives. But that wasn’t the case with several felling axes we tested. Some of these arrived with rough handles and dull blades. This meant sanding the handles down and often refinishing them with oil. If the blade was dull, we had to take the time to sharpen it first. These aren’t going to take hours of your time, but they’re still extra steps you have to take before the axe is ready to work.
Does the Blade Stay Sharp?
No matter what, you’ll need to sharpen your axe blade regularly. It’s just part of the process. But some blades stay sharp longer than others, which means they require less-frequent sharpening. Naturally, we prefer any tool that requires less maintenance, so if you can find a blade that stays sharp through many cuts, it will save you time in the long run.
Axes are one of the oldest tools that we still use today. Once, you had to visit the local blacksmith to have your axe custom made, but today, these valuable tools are much easier to acquire. Even if they haven’t changed too much in the looks or functionality department, durability and quality have certainly improved. Any of the axes from our reviews will provide you with a robust, capable tool, but there are three that we recommend above the rest.
Our top choice is the Husqvarna A2400 composite axe. It features a drop-forged head and a fiber-reinforced composite shaft with excellent weight distribution for improved leverage. Best of all, it’s reasonably priced and warrantied for life.
Priced even more affordably, the Snow and Neally single bit axe is our pick for best value. It’s got an overall length of 30 inches with a 3.5-pound head crafted from high carbon steel for incredible durability and improved swinging power.
And for a premium felling axe you can hand down to your children, we suggest the 1844 Helko Werk Germany Classic Forester. This axe features a hand forged C50 high carbon steel head with dual-wedge hanging and a 150-grit sanded hickory handle.
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