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Splitting a pile of logs for firewood is tough on the body. To make matters worse, using the wrong tool for the job will double the challenge and introduce safety concerns. The best splitting axe should offer comfort and performance at the right price.

We highly recommend the Fiskars X27 Splitting Axe. It’s a powerful tool for breaking up big, twisted rounds that most axes struggle with. Combine its power with ergonomic comfort, durability, and a lifetime warranty to get the ultimate splitting axe.

No tool is perfect, though. The X27 won’t appeal to everyone, so we created a list of our top picks. There’s a tool for every user in this guide, regardless of size, experience level, or budget.

Editor's Pick
Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe

The Fiskars X27 is a solidly built axe that'll take a lot of punishment and its long 36" handle offers massive leverage.

Best Hatchet
Estwing Fireside Friend 14” Axe

Not everyone wants a high-powered axe. The Estwing Fireside Friend 14" is a great choice for smaller splitting jobs and camping.

Premium Choice
Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

The Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe is a premium hand-forged tool that's a beast at chopping firewood.

Top 11 splitting axes for 2023

1. Fiskars X27 Splitting Axe

The Fiskars X27 is a solidly built axe that’ll take a lot of punishment without breaking. At 36″ in length, the contoured FiberComp handle is durable and offers massive leverage. When you combine an axe of this size with a sharp blade, it delivers enormous splitting power. This tool can effectively smash through large logs and stubborn knotted wood.

The X27 offers an impressive balance of value for money and performance. It’ll do a similar job to a high-end Swedish axe at a much lower price. It may not have the same stylish looks as a classic wooden-handled Hults Bruk, but if you can look past that, you’ll be impressed.

Our review link for the X27 splitting axe is here.

The Fiskars X27 axe is a durable tool designed to take a lot of punishment without breaking. Its contoured FiberComp handle is 36″ long, offering massive leverage in each swing.

When combined with an aggressive blade profile, the axe provides exceptional splitting power, smashing through large logs and stubborn knotted wood with a single strike.

Fiskars X27 offers an impressive balance of price and performance. It can perform a similar job to premium hand-crafted axes at a much lower price. If you can look past the aesthetic differences, you’ll be impressed with what the Fiskars X27 brings to the table.

Field testing note: Shorter people may find the X27’s long handle a challenge to wield, and it is overkill for everyday wood splitting. Consider the shorter Fiskars X25 if you’re in this camp.

  • Well suited to tall users.
  • Long handle delivers immense power.
  • Excellent value for money.
  • Hollow handle reduces vibration and increases comfort.
  • Doesn’t have the power of a maul.
  • Can be difficult to wield, especially for shorter people.
  • Traditionalists may not like its design and appearance.

2. Estwing Fireside Friend 14” Axe

Not everyone needs or wants to swing a large, high-powered axe. If you want a well-built axe to take care of easier splitting jobs, then the Estwing Fireside Friend 14″ is a great choice.

This compact tool has a 64-ounce head, much smaller than most other options on this list. But it delivers impressive power for its size. It is portable and super-easy to deliver accurate blows. Use it to split small or medium logs at home or camping.

The Fireside Friend is forged in one piece, so expect it to last a long time. With no wooden handle, forget about time-consuming maintenance and handle replacement. A robust poll on the back of the axe head helps hammer objects like stakes and poles.

  • Comfortable leather grip.
  • Portable, compact tool for travel.
  • Durable one-piece forged steel design.
  • Heavy head for a small axe can result in fatigue.
  • Unsuitable for bigger splitting jobs.

3. Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

The Gränsfors Large Splitting Axe is a premium hand-forged tool that’s a beast at chopping firewood. A highly skilled master axe smith crafts each one in the Swedish village of Gränsfors.

Two handle lengths are available when buying this axe, 27.5″ or 31.5″. A handy feature that provides a more tailored axe to suit the individual’s height and size preference.

The axe head has a sharp concave bit, but the wide cheeks do most of the work. They force wood apart with surprising efficiency.

Use this axe to easily break apart smaller birch, willow, and other wood with a straight grain. We found large, knotted logs could also be split with this Gränsfors. We recommend keeping a maul on standby for bigger jobs.

  • Thick heads and wide flaring cheeks for maximum splitting power.
  • Premium leather sheath included.
  • Durable hickory handle that has been pre-oiled.
  • Axe forger's initials are inscribed on each axe head.
  • Head made with 56-57 HRC carbon steel.
  • Costs more than most other popular splitting axes.
  • Not always easy to find in stores.

4. Hultafors Splitting Axe KLY RA

The Hultafors KLY RA is a no-nonsense splitting axe that turns its back on the innovative features found on modern axes. Manufactured by a Swedish company that’s been in business for over 130 years, Hultafors is a Swedish company that makes excellent tools.

The KLY RA splitting axe has a simple design, but it’s highly effective. Its hickory handle is super-strong and gives off minimal vibration, even on teeth-rattling seasoned elm that’s as hard as rock.

The axe’s hand-forged head is made from Swedish steel. Its convex blade profile and straight 30″ handle make easy work of challenging rounds. The blade is sharp and ready to use straight out of the box.

  • Made from hand-forged Swedish axe steel.
  • Blasted and clear-lacquered ironwork.
  • Lifetime warranty provides peace of mind.
  • Affordable for a hand-wrought tool.
  • Struggles with the toughest, gnarly rounds of wood.
  • Not always easy to find them in store.

5. Hults Bruk Sarek Wood Splitting Axe

The Sarek Splitting Axe is a premium, hand-crafted tool that craves the opportunity to drive into logs. Although it’s a beast in the field, this tool also looks cute enough to hang on the mantel.

For splitting, few axes compare. This tool is 30″ in length with a 3.5lb head that has perfect balance. Combine that with an American hickory handle, and you’ve got an excellent splitting weapon.

The Swedish design has a straight blade and small cheeks that cut deep into wood. It’s a high-end option for those that want something more than just a tool that splits. It is a no-nonsense axe that looks and feels amazing in hand.

If you’re balking at the price, remember that these axe heads are forged at Hults Bruk. This company has been operating since 1697, so they have a little experience in axe making. Their blades are razor-sharp, thanks to a blackened, polished hand-finished process. Few competitor brands offer this level of finesse.

  • An impressive-looking tool to add to the collection.
  • Constructed with high-quality Swedish axe steel.
  • Holds a sharp edge after repeated sharpening.
  • Comes with a premium leather sheath.
  • Wooden handle requires care and maintenance.
  • Relatively expensive.

6. Estwing Camper’s Axe 26”

The Estwing Camper’s Axe is a one-piece tool made from drop-forged steel, so it’s tough as nails. Anyone looking for a tough, affordable axe should consider investing in one. We reviewed the Camper’s Axe in depth here.

The Camper’s Axe is the best option on this list for versatility. Use it for splitting wood, chopping kindling, or felling small trees using horizontal swings.

At 26″ in length, the Estwing handle provides impressive leverage. A well-directed swing delivers huge power for a camping axe.

The 26″ Camper’s Axe is portable and easily fits into small spaces in transit. It also handles extreme heat better than wood axes.

Field testing note: Small hatchets are better for making small, accurate swings. Carvers, hobbyist whittlers, and carpenters will do better with other options.

  • Super strong and durable.
  • Easy to sharpen edge that’s hard to chip.
  • A versatile tool for chopping and splitting.
  • Hard poll for hammering.
  • Made in the United States by a reputable company.
  • Not for bigger splitting jobs.
  • Blade tends to stick in wood.
  • Choke hold is a challenge.
  • Dark blue is hard to spot outdoors.

7. Husqvarna Large Wood Splitting Axe

The Husqvarna Large Wood Splitting Axe is thirty inches long and is made for the toughest rounds. Its 3.3-pound, hand-crafted head delivers explosive impact on each swing.

Husqvarna is committed to innovation and customer satisfaction. Since starting in 1689, it has become one of the top axe manufacturers on the market.

  • Easy to swing accurately.
  • Quality drop-forged head.
  • American hickory handle.
  • Comes with a leather sheath.
  • Not long enough to effectively split big, tough logs.

8. Husqvarna Splitting Axe S2800

The Husqvarna Splitting Axe S2800 is a similar style of axe to the Fiskars X27, although not as long, at 27″. Like many axes with hollow composite handles, it carries most of its weight in the head. This feature makes swinging easier and reduces vibration – a handy benefit on long jobs where hand and wrist fatigue can cause discomfort. 

The Husqvarna makes easy work of softwoods and can also split hefty hardwoods with the proper technique. An aggressive flare combined with a non-stick coating helps reduce friction and allows for a cut deep into the log. This innovative layer reduces sticking if the head doesn’t split the round with one swing.

We like the S2800 for its rugged design, which can take a lot of rough treatment. Whether swinging into gnarled wood or committing the sin of overstrike, this axe won’t break.

  • Strong hollow fiberglass handle that reduces vibration.
  • Minimal binding thanks to a specially coated head.
  • Ergonomic handle with a flared knob to minimize slippage.
  • Overstrike guard reduces the chance of breakage.
  • Bright color scheme is easy to spot in long grass.
  • Handle isn’t as grippy as we’d like it to be.
  • Shorter handle means less power for the big jobs.

9. Fiskars Norden Splitting Axe N12

Fiskars is a Finnish manufacturer known for its X-Series range, which includes some exceptional splitters. If you prefer the aesthetics and feel of a wood handle, then the Norden N12 is worth considering.

The N12 is 19″ long, so it’s not a primary splitter for dealing with bog logs. Instead, use it for chopping kindling and small to medium size rounds. 

The Norden N12 is compact enough to slip into a pack or the back of a truck. However, there’s enough length to allow two-handed swinging when extra power is needed.

Field testing note: The sheath has no belt loop, so attaching it to the side of a pack or a belt is tricky.

  • Precision-ground cutting edge stays sharp.
  • PTFE-coated blade allows for deep cutting.
  • Suitable for 2-handed use.
  • Virtually unbreakable Fibercomp overstrike protection.
  • Reddot Award winner in 2019.
  • No belt loop on the sheath.
  • Too short to be a primary splitter.

10. Helko Werk Classic Splitting Axe

The Helko Werk Classic Scandinavian Splitting Axe is a reliable tool that will take a lot of punishment. Its straight handle and 5.5-pound head are ideal for breaking up large rounds and knotted crotch wood that other axes won’t cut through.

The Helko Classic is the ideal tool for those facing a cold winter. It may only be 31″ long, but this axe is all quality. We loved the look of the buffed and polished carbon steel head that offers reduces friction and corrosion. And few will complain about the sleek handle crafted from Grade-A American hickory.

  • A simple but highly effective tool.
  • Head made using premium grade C50 high carbon steel.
  • Constructed by a reputable German company.
  • Comes with full grain leather sheath.
  • May be too heavy for some users.
  • Relatively expensive.

11. Council Tool 2.5 lbs. Boy’s Axe

The Council Tool Boy’s Axe is an American-made tool that has a loyal customer base of users. It is a mid-priced option for anyone that doesn’t need a high-end axe to split logs.

We love the feel of the Council Tool’s handle, which is slim and nicely balanced. Delivering accurate swings and hitting the hairline cracks is easier with a thinner grip. It is also possible to wind up an impactful swing with this axe.   

The blade’s edge doesn’t have the hand-polished finesse of a top-end axe. But with a quick belt sanding session, it’s ready to get to work. We noticed the bit held its edge well, and the tapered blade geometry is good for splitting of cutting.

The Council Tool’s large poll has impressive balance and can be used to drive plastic felling wedges. You can potentially use it as a feller’s axe if needed.

  • Made in the United States.
  • Slim, comfortable haft.
  • Corrosion-resistant head coated with boiled linseed oil.
  • Affordable tool that ticks all the boxes.
  • More handle vibration compared to composite axes.
  • Not a specialist splitter.

Summary table

Here’s a roundup of the top 6 splitting axes on this list.

Editor's Pick
Fiskars X27 Splitting Axe

Fiskars X27 Splitting Axe

  • Length: 36"
  • Head weight: 4.0lb
  • Total weight: 6.3lb
Check Price
Best Hatchet
Estwing Fireside Friend 14” Axe

Estwing Fireside Friend 14” Axe

  • Length: 14"
  • Head Weight: 4.0lb
  • Total Weight: 4.18lb
Check Price
Premium Choice
Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

  • Length: 27.5” or 31.5”
  • Head Weight: 4.4lb
  • Total Weight: 5.0lb or 5.5lb
Check Price
Hultafors Splitting Axe KLY RA

Hultafors Splitting Axe KLY RA

  • Length: 30.0"
  • Head Weight: 3.3lb
  • Total Weight: 4.6lb
Check Price
Hults Bruk Sarek Wood Splitting Axe

Hults Bruk Sarek Wood Splitting Axe

  • Length: 30”   
  • Head Weight: 3.5lb
  • Total Weight: 4.5lb


Check Price
Estwing Camper’s Axe 26”

Estwing Camper’s Axe 26”

  • Length: 26”
  • Head Weight: N/A
  • Total Weight: 3.44lb
Check Price

What to consider when buying a splitting axe

Type of work

Before making a purchase, consider the condition and size of wood you’ll be splitting. Large sections of crotch and knotted, twisted wood requires a big axe with plenty of power. Small to medium-sized logs, softwood varieties, and straight wood is much easier to work with, so smaller axes will work fine.

Amount of firewood

Do you only need to chop small amounts of firewood for a few cold nights through winter? A lower-priced, basic axe should be all that’s required. A smaller axe may take a few extra swings to get the job done, but it will be okay with a small number of logs.

Variety of jobs

A purpose-built splitting axe is essential for anyone working with a lot of firewood. If you use the tool for other jobs like pruning off branches or felling saplings, a multi-purpose option like the Estwing Camper’s Axe will provide better value for money.

Handle material

Axe handles are constructed from one of three materials, each with its strengths and weaknesses. When buying an axe, you can choose from steel, wood, or fiberglass.

Steel: Some axe makers forge an axe from one piece of steel. The axe head and handle don’t have to be attached, meaning the tool is virtually unbreakable. Steel isn’t ideal for absorbing shock and isn’t comfortable in hand. Rubber grips help absorb vibration and increase comfort for the user.

Wood: Wooded handles feel comfortable in hand and look impressive. Wood varieties like hickory are light and have outstanding shock-absorbing qualities. They also flex on impact, which increases power. Look for handles with a tight grain running in the same direction as the blade.

Fiberglass: Fiberglass handles have increased in popularity over the last ten years. They are tough, light, and absorb shock exceptionally well. Some will argue the look and feel of composite materials don’t match wood, but that comes down to personal preference.

Axe length

Axe length plays a critical role in the tool’s leverage. All other things being equal, a longer handle will deliver more power. The longest splitting axes, like the Fiskars X27, will measure around 36″. This size allows the user to chop through big, tough logs.

Longer handles have their drawbacks. They are harder to deliver accurate swings, and smaller people may find them cumbersome. Bigger axes also cost more and are less portable.

Head weight

A heavier head takes advantage of gravity, providing a more powerful swing. While the axe bit makes the initial cut in the wood’s surface, the heavy cheeks force through and break apart logs.

Heavier splitting axe heads range from 5-6 pounds, while lighter ones may only be 3-4 pounds. The difference in weight is noticeable. A user will tire quicker, and accuracy may be sacrificed when using a heavy axe head.

Price range

Axe prices vary wildly, depending on factors like quality of materials, brand, size, workmanship, and features. While entry-level budget hatchets may be as little as $20, hand-crafted axes often reach $300 or more. Remember to factor in blade sharpening costs if you don’t know how to do it yourself.

How we tested the best axes

Searching for the best splitting axe is no easy feat. There are thousands of axes on the market, so our tiny team couldn’t possibly test them all. Here’s how we approached the task.

  1. Research: To create our initial shortlist, we start by reaching out to our friends on forums and social media. Groups like Axe Junkies and Youtube video reviews provide a wealth of advice and opinion from experienced axe users. We combine that knowledge with Alex Johansen’s experience to get a useful list of contenders.
  2. Data collection: We measure, weigh, analyze, and observe each tool, allowing for some valid comparisons between axes.    
  3. Field testing: We then buy each axe through some rigorous tests. Each tool has to split a softwood, hardwood, big and small logs, kindling, and some nasty crotch. Each axe was judged on power, weight, durability, and price.
  4. Limitations: No two rounds of wood are the same, so making comparisons is hard. Also, the first swing of the day will likely have more oomph than the last. This disparity makes comparing splitting power between axes a little tricky.

Commonly asked questions

What is the best length for a splitting axe?

A 36″ splitting axe will deliver maximum power. Still, some will find this length laborious to swing, and it may be overkill for simple jobs. Axes measuring 25-30″ are easier to make accurate swings, and you’ll also delay the onset of fatigue.

What maintenance do splitting axes require?

The level of maintenance will depend on the materials used to make the axe. A composite or forged steel axe will require periodic edge sharpening, but their handles won’t need any work. Wood axes will require occasional handle oiling; you may also need to replace handles, depending on the tool’s quality and uses. 

Do I need a maul or splitting axe?

Mauls are typically heavier than splitting axes. They offer a lot of power, making them useful for tough wood. Some people are happy swinging a maul all day, but most will find prolonged use is hard work. We recommend using a splitting axe as the primary tool and keeping a maul on standby for difficult wood rounds.

Are heavier axes better for wood splitting?

Heavier axe heads deliver greater power, but they’re harder to swing. For many jobs, the extra weight won’t be needed.

A quick recap

Editor's Pick
Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe

The Fiskars X27 is a solidly built axe that'll take a lot of punishment and its long 36" handle offers massive leverage.

Best Hatchet
Estwing Fireside Friend 14” Axe

Not everyone wants a high-powered axe. The Estwing Fireside Friend 14" is a great choice for smaller splitting jobs and camping.

Premium Choice
Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe

The Gränsfors Bruk Large Splitting Axe is a premium hand-forged tool that's a beast at chopping firewood.


Splitting wood for the fire is hard work, but the right tool will make life easier. We have provided a selection of the best splitting axes readily available to buy in hardware stores or online.

The best way to determine which splitting axe is right for you is to consider your needs, try different models, and choose the one that feels right in your hands.

With the right splitting axe in your arsenal, you’ll be able to split wood efficiently and effectively, regardless of the wood’s condition.

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