The Hudson Bay Axe is a great utility axe to have in your collection. It’s a really versatile axe, great for limbing and felling small trees and some light wood splitting.
In this article, you will find some background information on the Hudson Bay Axe and some of the most popular Hudson Bay Axes compared. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!
Hudson Bay Axe history
If you are reading this article you are probably intended to buy a Hudson Bay axe and you want to know more about it. Well, let’s start with some history because the Hudson Bay Axe has a nice story to tell.
The name Hudson Bay comes from French Sir Henry Hudson, who explored the Hudson Bay area in the 17th century. The bay was named after Sir Hendry Hudson, who started trading with the natives for beaver pelts. This model axe was also traded with the natives by the earlier settlers of the Hudson Bay region, hence the name Hudson Bay Axe.
Many axe makers have made the Hudson Bay axe model over the years. The first models had a round eye in the head, in tradition with the Mediterranean axe models. Later this changed to the oval eye that the model has today.
What we are looking for
A typical Hudson Bay axe has a handle length between 22 inches and 28 inches, a head weight of around 2 pounds, and of course a long edge. As always we want high-grade steel, 5160 alloy, Swedish Carbon steel that is hardened to 57 Rockwell C. Hickory handles with a fine straight grain and a leather sheath to protect the head.
Council Tools and Snow & Nealley also made some Hudson Bay Hatchet models, with a handle length between 14 and 17 inches. These are great for making kindlings or small limbing.
Council tool Hudson Bay Axe
Council Tool has been making axes since 1886 and has a high quality and great design. With the Velvicut line, they also have some great premium axes available. Council Tool has three Hudson Bay models available all with a different handle length.
The most popular model from Council Tool is the 19 inch Hudson Bay Camp axe. A little smaller than the traditional Hudson Bay axe, but perfect for hiking expeditions, hunting, or camping. This model is small enough to pack and carry but with the 2-pound head big enough to get the job done. Because of the shorter handle, you might need to get used to the heavier handle, because it’s a bit top-heavy.
The 24-inch model of the Council Tool Hudson Bay Axe is a real in-between version. The head has the same weight as the shorter 19-inch model, but some may find the handle too short for two hands and too long for one. But on the other hand, it’s perfectly balanced, so just give it a few swings to get used to it.
The last in line is the 28-inch model. This one is a lot cheaper, but there is also a big difference. the 19 and 24-inch models are from the premium Velvicut lines. They have a grade-A hickory handle, more time is spent on hardening, finishing, and sharping of the axe. This 28-inch Hudson Bay Axe is steel a good axe, but you may need to sharpen the edge a bit more when you receive it. The 28-inch Hudson Bay Camp axe is great for light splitting, chopping and use around a campsite.
Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe
Snow & Nealley have one true Hudson Bay Axe, but also a smaller Penobscot Bay Axe. This smaller axe is a Hudson Bay head fitted on an 18-inch handle. Snow & Nealley is not really a big name in the axe industry, but this American tool makes fine axes for a good price. They use American steel and hickory for the handle.
The axes may need a little work when you receive them. The edge is not razor sharp, but that can be fixed in 20 min with a sharpening stone. Also, the handle may need some TLC when you get it. You receive the handle varnished, so you might want to sand it down and finish it with oil.
Wetterlings Hudson Bay Axe
Wetterlings is one of the premium axe makers from Sweden. They make really great axes and one of the oldest forges in the world that last for life. If you buy a Wetterling you can give it to your grandson as a real family piece. Also, a nice detail, all Hudson Bay Axes from Wetterlings are forged by Rikard Jasson. A skilled blacksmith at the Wetterlings forge in Sweden. It has little details that make it a great family piece.
The head of the Hudson Bay Axe from Wetterlings is made from Swedish Carbon steel and hardened to 57 Rockwell C making it one of the hardest Hudson Bay heads on the market. The head has a really sharp edge which is great. A trip from Wetterlings, if you are using the Hudson Bay Axe during very cold days and with extremely hard wood, then head the head up in a firepit. This is a technique used in the old days by real axe men.
With a head weight of 2.5 pounds and a handle length of around 23 inches, it might feel a little off balance, but that is something you can get used to. On the other hand, the extra weight will give you much more force with each swing.
Wetterlings are taken over by Granfors Bruks, so there are not many Wetterlings in stock left.
Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
With Wetterlings taken over by Gransfors Bruks, we have to take a look at their Hudson Bay Axe. The Small Forest Axe is a premium axe with a 19-inch long handle and a 2-pound head. A great and practical axe for making kindlings, chopping small wood, and cutting limb wood.
A Gransfors Bruks axe comes with a lifetime no questions asked warranty. With a razor-sharp edge and a nice leather sheath is it an axe ready to pack. Like the Wetterlings, you buy a Gransfors Bruks for life and you can give it to your grandson and it will still be a great axe. Yes, they are expensive but well worth it.
- Length with handle: 19 inch, Comes original Gransfors "Axe-book"
- Weight: 2 lbs
- Sheath in vegetable tanned leather
- Perfect for splitting small sticks or cutting limbwood
- The Small Forest Axe is excellent for felling trees and limbing
With a Hudson Bay Axe, you can’t really go wrong. It’s one of the oldest axe models in the world and still a popular one due its versatility. Use it around the house or take one of the smaller ones with you on a hiking or camping trip.