Estwing Leather Sportsman's Axe
Well-built little hatchet.
- bulletproof construction
- perceived longevity
- handle finish
- price (bought in Australia)
OK, so first off I must say that this review is from Australia, so pricing and types of wood encountered are very different to a USA-based review.
Firstly, as it is fully imported from the US the little Estwing here sells for just over AUD$100.
The second thing to bear in mind is a thing called the janka hardness scale, an international scale that determines the hardness of any timber globally. Interestingly the number one spot is held by a native Australian timber. All indigenous Australian timber is very hard and is not straight grained, so using anything less than a 3kg splitting maul is pretty pointless.
I spend most of my time with a +70cc chainsaw in my hand felling and bucking said trees and I wanted a small hatchet that could hammer in felling wedges, mark timber, and debark timber.
Having used Estwing hammers over the years the Sportman's axe seemed like a good pick.
It arrived promptly and first off a trip to my workshop to remove the nasty and v slippery varnish that Estwing apply to the handle. This was fairly easy to sand off with some 400grit and then several coats of beeswax were rubbed in which afforded a better grip and looked better too. While I had the 400grit out I went over the whole hatchet as all the edges were mildy sharp. The edges of the haft and the edges of the rectangular poll all had very abrupt and slightly sharp edges that responded well to being given a rub with mild grit paper.
I took to the edge and mildy reprofiled it, which didn't take too long, and then I had a very strong, sharp, and comfortable hatchet.
In the bush it performs its intended function easily. I never have to worry about overstrike or any strength issue. I don't feel any handle shock when hitting it into very hard timber. The hammer poll is great and can be used either with the little head cover off or on as the cover has a hole to expose the poll when it is in place. I don't have to be precious with it at the end of the day and a light sand with another small piece of 400grit removes sap and grime and brings the edge back perfectly. Occasionally I hit the edge with a ceramic rod and that pretty much sums up the day-to-day care of this little hatchet
So there you have it. Zero buyer's remorse. Well made, robust little hatchet that I consider fit for purpose.
Did I have to spend an hour all up working on it when it first arrived? Yes. Is that a deal breaker? Of course not. No manufacturer is going to be able to set up a tool for every single eventuality. The use I make of it in the Australian bush is in no way similar to the use it would get in the US or Europe.
I have set it up for my personal preferences and needs and am extremely happy with the result.
If some lowlife stole it or if I lost it would I buy another one? Yep, in a heartbeat.
Grew up in a timber yard. Been around axes, chainsaws, and sharp things my whole life.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: AU$108
I used to only take a saw along on my outdoor adventures, but recently I've added a small hatchet to my backcountry tool kit. I was gifted with the Estwing Sportsman's Axe, a medium-sized hatchet constructed from a single piece of forged steel. This axe has a nice balance and weight to it, although it would be easier to trek around if it weighed a few ounces less, but it seems to get the job done.
I've put together a short video review of this handy little axe. Please check it out.
- One-piece forged steel construction
- Comfortable leather grip handle
- Nice balance
- A tad heavy
- A bit pricey
Here is my video review of the Estwing Sportsman's Axe:
If the video will not play, please check out the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkcLteHFE2o
Source: received it as a personal gift
Great tool for processing logs at camp. Sharp, well made in the USA, takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Can tackle much larger jobs that other small backpacking hatchets would not be able to.
- Splits logs very well
- Easy to sharpen
- Comfortable handle
- Made by hand in USA
- A little too heavy for ultralight/solo backpacking
This is a very solid hatchet for splitting wood at camp. I've used this hatchet on over 20 nights of backpacking or canoeing. The hatchet has mainly been used to quarter/half logs that are 4-12 inches in diameter and 1-2 feet in length.
The weight/design of the hatchet allows you to easily split 4 inch logs with a single stroke, and it can split much larger logs with a little more effort. It works much more efficiently than any other hatchet I've used on trips (small Gerber/Fiskars).
The hatchet is all metal with a coated leather handle. The hatchet also comes with a sheath (made in Taiwan) that does its job and has never come undone by accident. It is very well made and should last a LONG time. The steel will lose the edge after a couple days at camp, but it is easy to sharpen and will take a nice sharp edge.
It's probably too heavy for ultralighters or solo campers, but for canoe camping or larger groups it is worth its weight in gold, or wood rather :) Pair it with a folding saw and if you're able to find a large down tree you will have wood all trip long.
Not to mention it's made in the USA and was on an episode of How It's Made. You know if it's on that show it has to be good.
You can find it for under $30 dollars if you shop around.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $28
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Current Retail: $49.99-$55.95
Historic Range: $44.99-$55.95
Reviewers Paid: $28.00
Solid American Steel / Hand Sharpened Edge / Genuine Leather Grip / Black Nylon Sheath Included
|Edge||2.75 in / 70 mm||3.25 in / 83 mm|
|Length||12.5 in / 318 mm||13.5 in / 343 mm|
Made in the U.S.A.