Obscure Object of Desire: Hultafors Bushcraft Axe

hultafors

Hultafors has been handcrafting axe heads in Sweden since 1697.

As I have mentioned before, I spend my working life guiding fishermen in the Smoky Mountains.  While an axe is not a part of my everyday fishing kit, I carry one when camping in the backcountry, in my drift boat (to break up driftwood and build a quick fire at lunch), and in my Jeep when offroading.

Nothing beats a specialty axe (felling, splitting, racing) for their intended purposes. General purpose axes do a solid job at most camp tasks, but are too large for pack use and are awkward at fine tasks. A hatchet excels at splitting kindling, and can break up most firewood up to about arm thickness.

The Hultafors Bushcraft Axe falls in the grey area between a hatchet and a 3/4 axe. It has a 1lb head, and and overall length of 15″. The additional length provides more leverage, and coupled with the kind of performance you can only achieve with a hand-forged head, will throw large chips and rapidly chew through most wood you would consider for a campfire or campsite construction project.

The 15″ length is much more manageable for single handed tasks. It also is the perfect size for lashing to the side of a backpack, or stowing in a boat compartment.

The “obscure” part comes in the fact that Hultafors axes are completely unavailable in the States. I have read and heard two possible explanations for this. The first is that the lawyers at Hultafors don’t like some provision of US Liability law. The other, and more logical sounding to me comes from a gentleman at Bushcraft Canada (the major North American distributor for Hultafors)  who says it is his understanding that the company is producing axes at maximum capacity. If they were to expand to America, they would be unable to meet demand in existing markets. Either way, they are contractually barred from shipping to the US.

Availability problems aside, I am determined to get one. I can go the eBay route (there are several listings from the UK). The other plan is a bit more cloak-and-dagger. I have a friend in Toronto who is willing to act as intermediary. At this point, I am looking at ordering the axe for her, and then getting her to ship it to me in Tennessee. [Ed: be sure not to lie on your Form 4473.] As far as we can tell, there is nothing barring the importation of an axe. Bushcraft can ship other axes to US addresses – even Hultafors knives; Hultafors axes are verboten.

I know that there are other good axes out there. I can probably even find a hybrid size if I keep digging. But I want the perfect woodsman’s tool to complement the Kephart knife I am making. The “forbidden fruit” aspect is inescapable. I want a Hultafors Bushcraft Axe. Stay tuned, it will be mine.

comments

  1. Aharon says:

    I hope you find one. I was starting to get my hopes up in the first-half of this review that I could easily order one but then you hit me with the bad news.

  2. Matt in FL says:

    “Nice axe. What is it?”

    “You can’t have one.”

    1. Aharon says:

      On second thought I am very much opposed to Sweden’s social and political policies so I should walk my talk. I am boycotting Swedish products.

      1. jwm says:

        I cannot boycott Swedish Mora knives. They are as big an addiction as Mosin-Nagants. Sweden is a socialist state but apparently their people are happy with it.

        1. Colin says:

          Gotta love the Moras

        2. Aharon says:

          Some of their people are happy with it. I’ll bet Australian born Julian Assange wishes he never visited Sweden and slept with two Swedish women who new each other.

  3. jwm says:

    I have a Fiskers axe and hatchet. For the weekend warrior they do a good job.

    1. Aharon says:

      Thanks jwm. I’ll check them out.

    2. Stinkeye says:

      Yeah, the Fiskars axes are actually quite nice (especially considering the affordable price and easy availability), but they do lack that old-school flair. A classic hand-forged head on a well-sculpted hickory handle beats the heck out of the orange plastic and chunky head design of the Fiskars line in a beauty contest.

      But you can’t argue with results. I can get my Fiskars hatchet to shaving sharpness, and it’ll make kindling with the best of ’em, for a quarter of the price of something like a Gransfors. Just wish it came with a proper sheath. The plastic hanger it comes with is an indicator that this is designed as a “homeowner” axe, to be hung up on the wall of the shed when not in use, as opposed to a camping axe.

  4. Colin says:

    Just get a Gransfors Bruks

    1. jwm says:

      This is my jealous face.

    2. Aharon says:

      Which model did you get? I’ve read good things about those axes even if made in anti-freedom socialist Sweden.

      Yesterday, I was looking at them on this site:
      http://www.boundarywaterscatalog.com/browse.cfm/2,316.html

      1. Aharon says:

        Just re-read your comment. You didn’t write that you got one. You wrote to get one.

  5. Mike says:

    Great article…I went to the Hultafors website http://www.workwearcanada.com/products/detail.cfm?product=789 and it has a statement on the home page saying they ship to the USA and Europe. Haven’t tried to order one yet.

    1. I called Bushcraft Canada the other day and the gentleman said that they ship Canadian axes, other brands of Swedish axes, and even Hultafors knives to the USA. Just not Hultafors axes.

      1. Aharon says:

        A Canadian firm will ship axes to Europe but not America…

        1. They will ship axes imported from Europe back to Europe but not to America… (*facepalm)

        2. Jay says:

          ” They will ship axes imported from Europe back to Europe but not to America… (*facepalm) ”

          I think it’s just a question of them not being able to meet the demand that would come from opening up to the American market.If you REALLY want one i can be of some assistance to you hehehehehe

  6. Took the plunge and ordered one last night from an EBay listing in the UK. Should be here in 2 weeks.

  7. My axe arrived! First impression…it is really burley. I love the Swedish royal proof mark stamped into the head. It is superbly balanced and the couple of swipes I have taken against the firewood pile were effortlessly sent chips flying.

  8. Frank James says:

    While it does not have the “I can’t get it so I want it” appeal, the Gransfors Bruk line of hatchets and axes are wonderful tools and can be bought in the U.S.
    http://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/#

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Obscure Object of Desire: Hultafors Bushcraft Axe

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