Estwing Sportsman’s Axe Review – How Good Is It?

The Estwing Sportsman's axe is a tried and true rugged tool that has been manufactured in the USA since 1923. The axe is one from solid piece of forged steel that is practically bulletproof. Many campers love the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe and trust it in their toolkit.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary. The Estwing Sportman’s axe is durable, corrosion resistant, sharp and relatively good weight. We give this hatchet high marks for its durable design, sharp edge, and great value. If you’re looking for a great camping, backpacking, prepping, or survival axe, we recommend you checkout the Estwing Sportsman's Axe.

We based our review of the Estwing Sports axe on the product’s effectiveness, durability, warranty and overall value. We aim to be honest and accurate in our reviews to help our readers come to the best purchasing decision for their needs..

Estwing Sportsman's Axe Review

estwing sportsmans axe

Effectiveness

Sharp blade and good weight. Great at cutting, chopping, and splitting small to medium sized woods.

 

Durability

Single piece of forged high carbon steel. Nearly indestructible design.

 

Warranty

Manufacturer Warranty covers failure in normal use.

 

Overall Value

Very versatile and high quality axe. Great for anyone who needs a camping, backpacking, or survival axe.

Pros

  • Decently sharp out the box (pick up an axe sharpener to keep your blade in top-notch condition)
  • Nearly indestructible
  • Leather handle gives a good grip
  • Great balance makes chopping movements feel natural
  • Great value. Polished version can be picked up for under $35 at the time of writing (subject to change).

Cons

  • Heavier than other hatchets at 1.9 lbs
  • Varnished leather handle could use some DIY modification to improve its functionality

The Estwing Sportsman's axe is 14” long and has been manufactured in the USA since 1923 from one solid piece of high carbon forged steel that makes this axe nearly indestructible. The axe weighs 1.9 lbs, which isn’t too bad when you consider it’s essentially a chunk of indestructible steel. The Estwing Sportsman’s axe is light enough to take with you on a backpacking or camping trip. If 1.9lbs is too heavy for your pack, check out our reviews of the best backpacking hatchets for reviews of some hatchets that weigh less than 1.4 lbs.

The weight of the Estwing is very nicely balanced throughout the axe. Movements such as chopping for making kindling or clearing branches feel very natural like an extension of the arm. Swinging the axe isn’t too tiring, but the vibrations of the strike transferred through the steel into your arm will likely be the reason that you tire out. We wrote about a DIY improvement to dampen the vibrations that we covered later in the review.

estwing sportsmans axe head

The axe head of the Estwing Sportsman's axe is made from forged carbon steel to strike a balance between hardness and malleability for great durability. The solid steel design means there’s no need for an eye to secure the axe head to the handle. The result is a thin but durable forged steel axe head with a small angled convex shape. The thin angle of the axe head leaves some power desired for splitting larger and thicker logs where a wide axe head is necessary for effective splitting. The blade edge of the Estwing Sportman's axe is thicker than typical axe heads. The wide edge is great for popping apart small and medium-sized logs into kindling. We’re not quite sure why the Estwing has a wider blade edge, but it works.

We field tested the Estwing Sportsman's axe and give it high marks for its performance. The edge of the Estwing Sportsman’s axe was fairly sharp out the box. There was no significant dulling of the edge after chopping through many logs and vines on trees. Even the best axes dull however, which is why we recommend you pick up an axe sharpener to keep your axe cutting like new.

The hatchet’s wide edge popped apart small and medium sized logs into kindling with ease. Within minutes, we had a pile of kindling ready for a fire. The axe struggled a bit with splitting larger 6”+ logs. The thin head angle caused the hatchet to get stuck in the wood. If you need to split larger logs, you shouldn’t count on a hand axe anyways. You’ll need a splitting maul, splitting axe or splitting wedges and sledgehammer to get the job done right.

estwing sportsmans axe

The handle of the Estwing Sportman's axe is varnished leather wrappings that cover the solid forged metal core. The varnished leather wrappings make a great handle that partially absorbs the shock of axe strikes. The handle doesn’t fully dampen vibrations though. The forged steel doesn’t help reduce shock like a hickory or composite axe handle. The leather wrappings do a decent job of preventing hand and wrist paint, but it could be better. If you find yourself wanting a similar axe with no vibrations or hand stress whatsoever, consider the Fiskars X7 hatchet instead.

One thing we didn’t like about the leather wrappings is the varnished finish. If you want a more comfortable handle for your Estwing Sportsman’s axe with a better grip and reduced vibrations, we recommend doing some DIY modification to the handle. Be aware that this will likely void the warranty on your axe handle, but not the axe itself. At the recommendation of another Estwing axe owner, we took fine grit sandpaper to the handle and sanded off the varnish finish. We then took a clean cloth and used it to apply neatsfoot oil (can also used boiled linseed oil) to the handle over the course of three days. This serves to lubricate the leather and prevent dry rot while giving a better grip than the varnish coating.

estwing sportsmans axe in log

After three days of occasionally applying neatsfood oil, we had an oiled leather wrap handle that is superior to the varnish finish. The oiled leather absorbs shock better and provides a better grip on the axe, especially when wet. If you find the Estwing Sportsman’s axe handle is a bit uncomfortable or cause too much pain in the hands and wrists, try this trick and let us know what you think.

Also included with the Estwing Sportsman’s axe is a nylon axe mask. The nylon mask goes over the axe head and has snap rivets that secure the mask over the axe head. The nylon mask acts as a sheath and protects the axe head from dirt and damage such as nicks or scrapes. The mask also makes carrying the axe easier since the blade is not exposed to damage other gear. We liked the nylon mask and think it’s aa addition that makes this package a great value.

mask for estwing sportsmans axe

In short, the Estwing Sportsman’s axe is a great tool that can take on many jobs and make your camping experience easier. If want an almost indestructible camping axe that’s made in the USA with a lifetime warranty, we’d recommend you check out the Estwing Sportsman's axe. There’s a reason they’ve been manufactured for coming up on 100 years. These axes are dependable and offer great utility to every camper and backpacker.

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Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14' Camping Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather Grip - E24A
1,423 Reviews
Estwing Sportsman's Axe - 14" Camping Hatchet with Forged Steel Construction & Genuine Leather Grip - E24A
  • FORGED IN ONE PIECE - The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
  • OUTDOOR VERSITILITY - Perfect for chopping logs, small trees & branches or splitting firewood & kindling
  • HEAVY DUTY SHEATH - Includes ballistic nylon sheath to protect hand sharpened cutting edge
  • GENUINE LEATHER GRIP - Hand sanded and lacquered for a durable yet comfortable finish
  • MADE IN THE USA - Our tools are proudly crafted in Rockford, IL using the finest American steel

2 COMMENTS

  1. Just out of curiosity, why neem seed oil instead of boiled linseed oil? A can’t find anything online about using neem oil for treating leather, only medicinal uses.

    Thanks,
    Ken

    • Hey Ken!

      Thanks for writing, I missed over that part of the article!

      I actually used neatsfoot oil, not neem seed. I must’ve accidentally wrote it that way since I was writing about refinishing axe handles before.

      Boiled linseed oil would work just as good! Absolute nothing wrong with it. Like I said, I use it regularly on my axes and the stuff works wonders.

      Regards,
      Pierce

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