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Thread: Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet Review

  1. #1
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    Mar 2010
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    Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet Review


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    I've owned the GB Wildlife Hatchet for a few months now, and it hasn't left my side when I've ventured into the Wisconsin woods. After putting some time in with it, here are my thoughts...



    There are pros and cons to every debate when it comes to the size of the edged tool that is used in the bush. The basic argument is that there is always a trade-off. When the size of your edged tool goes from one extreme to the other, weaknesses become strengths and strengths become weaknesses. Larger tools are better at heavier duty tasks, but obviously heavy and sometimes more difficult to carry or wield. Smaller tools are better at detail work and fine tasks, but often fail to accomplish heavier tasks with the ease of a larger tool.

    Therein lies the choice. It is a matter of preference for each of us, and our own needs, environments, skills, and a myriad of other factors will have weight in the choices we make when it comes to our tool selection.

    This is a small hatchet. It is not adequate for handling the wood splitting or shelter needs of a 3 month expedition, or the regular duties of your log cabin. A larger axe would be great for this, since you don't have to carry it. But when it comes to overnight and multi-day backpacking, this is a great tool for handling the fire and shelter demands of these trips.

    It is small, at under 14 inches, with a 1 lb head. An axe this size feels like nothing on your belt (yes, I wear it on my belt when I take it backpacking), has very minimal impact on the overall weight of your loadout and is advantageous in it's size for this reason.

    It is a one-handed use hatchet. The handle is not large enough to use with two hands. This makes it less effective when it comes to felling or chopping larger branches or tree trunks than a larger axe with a heavier head and longer handle. Hatchets like this are also very effective when it comes to carving. Things like making wood shavings for kindling, carving a spoon, notching branches, or other bushcraft tasks are easily done with a hatchet. Depending on the task, it can often be easier with a hatchet than a knife due to the distribution of weight at the head. Choking up on it like this can help with these tasks...



    Here is what I use this hatchet for...

    When I go backpacking, I generally make a fire at LEAST once per day. I recently ditched my Jetboil for small backpacking wood stove, so in addition to my fire once I set up my camp, I also will sometimes make a small fire to heat up some tea, boil water, or make some dehydrated meals throughout my hike. This is incredibly short work and easy to accomplish with a little practice and the right tools. Here is what I typically do...

    As I'm hiking, I keep my eyes peeled for good tinder. Collect it along the way and you won't have to waste so much time when you need to start a fire. Next I collect some deadwood that's about wrist sized or a little smaller. Then I section it with my Silky Folding Saw to get the right size for splitting with the hatchet. Then I split.

    My Silky Saw and my GB Hatchet can take this...

    Cut it like this...

    Chop and split...


    Until it all looks like this...

    And then you put it all together and it looks like this...


    GB's fit and finish is second to none in my opinion. You can see the craftsmanship in several ways. This is an image looking straight down the hatchet to see how well in line the head is with the handle... As you can tell, it's perfect.



    And as all GB axe heads are, this one is engraved with the axe makers initials-- MM. This stands for Mattias Mattson. They are proud of their work, and it shows.



    I would highly recommend this hatchet. It is a great tool for bushcraft, backpacking, or anything that requires an edge. Due to the finger clearance when the edge is flat down on a cutting surface, it actually does food prep as well or better than a lot of other wilderness knives that I have that aren't designed for this. Even though it's on the small side, if you are looking to keep weight down it's a great choice. A slightly larger axe, like the Small Forest axe, would be a better all around bush craft axe, but then again is the weight trade-off. I will most likely get one someday....

    At any rate, just quit listening to me ramble and buy the damn hatchet already.

    JGON

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Ozarks
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    Very nice J, could you amp it up a tad we just can't quite tell if you like it or not Merry Xmus

    Pat

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    10,000 Lakes
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    Nice review and pics....Thanks
    Dusty One

  4. #4
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    Apr 2010
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    croatia
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    Nice review. Made some really interesting reading

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    oregun
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    nice pics I gotta agree with as far as the SFA being a good all around axe. I have the Hunter model which is about the same except for the poll being flayed for big game skinning and the hickory handle stippled for the blood/ fluids while on duty. Yet I must say you cant beat a small hatchet like your wildlife in that its so easy and rarely an issue for taking on an outing where as sometimes we dont want the added size and weight of a 18" or so axe. My mini is so light and small its easy to forget, 12oz total! I asked Santa for the new GB Kubben which has the same head as your wildlife, but with a shorter adze handle. I guess I'll find out tomorrow morning what I think of it. Nice review!

  6. #6
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    Mar 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by psp7 View Post
    nice pics I gotta agree with as far as the SFA being a good all around axe. I have the Hunter model which is about the same except for the poll being flayed for big game skinning and the hickory handle stippled for the blood/ fluids while on duty. Yet I must say you cant beat a small hatchet like your wildlife in that its so easy and rarely an issue for taking on an outing where as sometimes we dont want the added size and weight of a 18" or so axe. My mini is so light and small its easy to forget, 12oz total! I asked Santa for the new GB Kubben which has the same head as your wildlife, but with a shorter adze handle. I guess I'll find out tomorrow morning what I think of it. Nice review!
    Sounds like it's time for you to put up a comparison review of all of your GB's!

    Thanks for looking everyone...

    JGON

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    CO
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    I really liked your review and I really love my WL hatchet. This thing slices paper and shaves my forearm hair better than most of the knives that I own and I own many very sharp knives. I have not had a chance to put it through it's paces in the woods yet but I will soon. The balance is awesome. I believe (but I could be wrong) that Mr. Mattson makes all of the Wildlife hatchets. I've yet to see one that didn't have the MM stamp. Fine implements, indeed. Thanks for your post and Merry Christmas.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Pacific Northwest
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    JGON, Thank you for taking the time to do such a great in-depth review. I have come to enjoy your many reviews and posts - they have a lot of useful content. Fyi I just got my Silky Saw in the mail and can't wait to put it to use!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Iowa
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    Great Review!

    I can't wait until you get one of the larger models mainly because the small forest or scandi is the ones i can't decide between

    Merry Christmas everyone

  10. #10
    Excellent review. I own several GB axes (mini, wildlife, carpenter's) as well as comparable models by Wetterling and the interesting Roselli hatchet and small forest axe (same head only different handle lengths)...plus a bunch of off brand and "antique" axes. Weight and intended uses are the deciding factors in selecting any camping axe. The combination of a good pruning saw or bucksaw along with small hatchet can provide all the equipment one needs to make a comfortable camp or even build a sturdy structure. Years ago a buddy and I hiked about 40 miles into a thickly forested area in northeastern Canada and our only cutting tools were a couple of small hatchets, a bucksaw, a hunting knife and four pocket knives (two each). Temps dipped below freezing every night. Our axes were inexpensive affairs re-profiled and razor sharp. We had a great time and with only the basics established a fine camp and built a small 8'x6' cabin. Five weeks later we hiked out with full beards and tons of good memories. I submit the hatchets and our bucksaw were the main cutting tools used.

  11. #11
    Nice review. I have the SFA, and the compromises are exactly what you mention. It works incredibly well for chopping, but I used it tonight to build a bow drill, and the whole time I was wishing it was the Wildlife or a good knife...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    This is a great review mate! While I don't have a Wildlife Hatchet, or an axe in the 14-15" range, I do have a 10" Wetterlings and a 19" GB SFA. Your description of the WH's role sounds spot on as far as what I would expect from an axe in between the two sizes I own. While I tend to prefer my 19" SFA for it's high versatility and two handed capabilities, my 10" Wetterlings can't be beat for finer tasks, portability and is more than adequate for the things you'd need to do on a backpacking trip. Obviously a 14" would be a bit less portable, much could still easily fit inside a pack or be strapped to your belt and I bet that extra 4" adds quite a bit more penetration whilst chopping!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    91
    Nice well written review!!!! I own a GB Hunter's Axe as well, and very impressed with the quality. Taken it with me for several hunts and even used it once to field dress a deer.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Ne
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    Awesome review and great pics, I have a couple of GBs axes. I have been thinking of getting the hatchet like yours for a couple of months now. Nex month I going to pull the trigger and get it.

    Thanks for taking the time and doing the review,

    Bryan

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Stoke Newington, London, UK.
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    Thumbs up

    Excellent review and photography!

    Which confirmed my belief that this hatchet is the natural choice to join my GB Mini... And inspired me to go for it.

    I have one inbound!

  16. #16
    Thanks for the review! Great pictures too.

    Since you said that you use this hatchet for splitting wood...would it make more sense to get the Gransfors Bruks Small Splittling Hatchet?

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