In this review I’m going to take look at the Hudson Bay Camp Axe from one of the most well-known axe manufacturers that make their axes in the USA – Council Tool. It’s a lightweight axe that is great for camping and hiking trips. It packs a punch, but with an 18-inch handle and with a head weight of just 2 pounds, is easy to carry around. Check the Council Tool Hudson Bay 18-inch axe out here on Amazon if you’re interested. Otherwise, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Axe Head Weight: 2 lb
Axe Length: Advertised as 18 inches, measured at 17 inches
Axe Head Material: Carbon US 1060 steel, HRC 48-55 on the Rockwell scale
Handle Material: American Hickory
First things first – Council Tool doesn’t really market its products directly to individual customers. Instead, they usually sell in bulk to larger and smaller stores. The Hudson Bay Camp axe is also a mid-range axe in terms of price. These two things mean that it doesn’t come razor sharp straight out of the box, like a Gransfors Bruks or Hults Bruk axe would.
That said, it took only ten or so minutes for me to get it to where I wanted to be in terms of sharpness. I was really impressed with its performance and the quality of the steel. The head is well-shaped, with fairly thin cheeks that allow you to really drive it into whatever piece of wood you’re using it on. I split some 6-inch poplar logs with it and it worked a charm.
The head is a Hudson Bay-style head with a large bit, giving you lots of cutting surface. Early American and French frontiersmen and traders used these types of axes for everyday tasks in their hard, on-the-go lives, so you know it’s a tried and tested design. It is hydraulically seated onto the handle, and secured with the traditional wooden wedge as well as a round steel wedge. The round steel wedge pushes the wood out towards the metal of the axe head, fastening the two together even more firmly. In my use of the axe, the head never felt or came loose, so I’d say they’ve done a great job with the fastening.
The handle is a curved one of the “fawnfoot” type – nothing major, and it looks nice. Professional axe users and enthusiasts often say that straight-handled axes are best for serious chopping, but you’re not going to be chopping down great big maple trees with this Hudson Bay Camp axe, and during my testing of it I experienced no discomfort or loss of efficiency while splitting small logs with it. On the contrary – the curved handle felt like a nice touch together with the hefty head, and performed well in my hands. If you have very big hands the handle might feel a bit cramped for your taste, but that would be only if you’re gripping it with both hands. In the end, this is meant to be used mainly as a one-handed camp axe that you can wrap both hands around for extra control and force. The grain on the handle that I received was nice and straight, so no complaints there, and American hickory is a fine, durable, long-lasting wood for a handle – so all is right there, too.
The Council Tool Hudson Bay Camp axe is a smaller axe that is mid-range in price. Council Tool are one of the few manufacturers left that make their axes in the United States, and it’s a company with a long history of making good, solid tools. They have great customer service, too. That alone, I think, makes it worth the extra bucks you’d pay over a cheaper Mexican or Chinese axe. If you have any problems with your axe that aren’t your fault, Council Tool will do the right thing by their customer (you).
It’s not a perfect axe straight out of the box, but with just a bit of work, you’ll have a trusty camp axe that’ll serve you well for the rest of your life if you take care of it. So two thumbs up from me for the Council Tool Hudson Bay Camp axe (again, this is the 18-inch model – they also put the same head on a 28-inch handle, if you’re interested in a longer handle).
Let me know in tue the comments below what you think of this axe, if you own one! Thanks for reading!