Best Pulaski Axes – All-American Firefighting & Forestry Tools

Pulaski axes are versatile and heavy-duty tools used in wildland firefighting, forestry, and even gardening. Invented by a Forest Service ranger after battling and surviving a devastating wildfire, Pulaski axes (also called Pulaski tools) were created to help save the lives of forest rangers and firefighters by helping them in their work.

With an axehead consisting of an axe bit on one side and an adze on the other, Pulaski axes can be used to chop down trees one moment, and churn up earth and dig up or cut through roots the next. If you can’t construct a firebreak fast enough because your axe bit is dull after striking roots and the ground too many times, you might lose your home – or your life. This article will take a look at the best Pulaski axes you can get, with a short review of each.

If you don’t have time to read this whole article, here it is in a nutshell: If you’re looking for a solid Pulaski axe that’ll serve you well for a long time, I recommend the Council Tool Pulaski axe:

Council Tool Pulaski Axe, Single Bit, Hickory, 36 in, Red
  • Mpn: 38PE136
  • Country of manufacture: United States
  • Manufacturer: Council Tool

The Council Tool Pulaski is a heavy-duty tool made for serious work, including wildland firefighting. It’s made in America and is of excellent quality. The Barebones Living Pulaski is smaller, with a sleeker design and a metal pommel on the end of the handle. Might not want to use this to fight fires, but still a good axe with an interesting innovation.

If you do want to know more, read on!

1. Council Tool Pulaski Axe

Council Tool Pulaski axe regular
  • Red enamel
  • 36 inches
  • 4-1/2 inch cutting edge
  • 3-3/4 pound axehead
  • 5.5 pounds total weight
  • Made in USA
  • High quality American steel and materials

The classic red-enamel Pulaski axe made in the USA by the legendary, American company Council Tool. It’s a large and serious tool that packs a great punch, allowing you to chop down trees using its four-and-a-half inch cutting edge and punch through and pull out roots using its adze. Since it’s made in the USA, using high-quality US steel and materials, you know that it’ll serve you well and won’t fail you in hard conditions. Highly recommended as a serious working tool.

  • Pulaski Guard Sheath
  • Steer hide leather
  • Riveted for extra durability
  • 8 holes in strap to adjust for different length/size Pulaski axe heads

This steer hide leather sheath for Pulaski axes is a good accessory to pair with your Council Tool Pulaski axe, which doesn’t come with one. It’s riveted for extra durability and a strap connecting the two sides has 8 holes to adjust for Pulaski axeheads of different lengths and sizes.

Council Tool Pulaski Axe, Single Bit, Hickory, 36 in, Red
  • Mpn: 38PE136
  • Country of manufacture: United States
  • Manufacturer: Council Tool

2. Council Tool Pulaski FSS (Federal Supply Service)

Council Tool Pulaski FSS
  • Black enamel
  • Sheath
  • Same specs as regular one otherwise

The Council Tool FSS Pulaski axe is almost the same as the red-enamel version. But it is created to Federal Supply Service standards, because Council Tool supplies federal services – such as the US Forest Service – with many tools. The axehead is covered in black enamel, and it comes with a sheath. But it’s the same high-quality build and materials from Council Tool’s Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina factory.

Pulaski Axe, 3-3/4 lb, Hickory, 34-1/2 in L
  • Mpn: 38PE136FSS
  • Country of manufacture: United States
  • Manufacturer: Council Tool

3. Barebones Living Pulaski Carbon Steel Axe

barebones-pulaski-axe
  • Sheath
  • 21 inch handle
  • 3 pound axehead
  • Beech handle
  • Steel pommel at handle base
  • Removable hexnut for rehandling with ease, hex key included
  • 1055 carbon steel
  • 1/3 inch steel core than runs through the handle – from base to eye
  • 5.5 lb total weight

The Barebones Living carbon steel Pulaski is a different kind of axe than the Council Tool version. The Barebones Pulaski has a sleeker design and is smaller, too – both lighter and with a shorter handle than the Council Tool Pulaski. It has a beech handle and a steel core running through to a metal pommell on the end of the handle.

This might seem unnecessary, but the pommel provides a nifty feature – you’re able to use it to bash something on the ground (or into the ground, like a stake). This is something that you couldn’t do with a wooden-handled axe without destroying it in short order. The eye of the axe also has a removable hexnut for rehandling the axe with ease, even if you do break the original beech handle.

It comes with a wonderful sheath, and is made of 1055 carbon steel, which means you’ll need to take care of it to prevent rusting or spotting. Not a bad axe at all, but the axehead might be a bit light for your needs, if you’re looking to do serious work with it.

Barebones Living - Pulaski Axe | 1055 High Carbon Steel Split Blade
  • Mattock Blade | Utilizes a single head combining an axe blade for chopping wood and an adze on the other side for digging up roots or scraping bark from trees.
  • High Carbon Steel | 3 lb. hand-sharpened 1055 high carbon steel head
  • Beech Wood Handle | Durable 21 in. beech wood handle strengthened with a full steel core, so the weight of the axe head is balanced for a smooth chop with every swing

Pulaski Axe History Video

This video by the National Interagency Fire Center (one of the federal facilities which oversees wildland firefighting efforts in the western states) has a typical kind of government humor (they “interview” a Pulaski axe). But it’s actually a great little mini-documentary about the Pulaski axe and the history and traditions of wildland firefighting. The best thing is the genuine footage of firefighters using the axe in action. It’s a valuable piece of firefighting history and the Pulaski features prominently.

The axe bears the name of Ed Pulaski, who led 45 men to shelter down a mine shaft during the catastrophe known as the Big Burn in 1910. An area of forest the size of Connecticut burned, and Pulaski invented the tool that bears his name because he saw the need for better firefighting tools. It’s an amazing story, and you can read more about it on this US Forest Service page.

Conclusion

If you’ll want to be using your Pulaski axe for serious work, especially if you plan to be using it “in the field” during wildfires, the Council Tool Pulaski axe (the regular or the FFS Pulaski) should be your choice, no questions asked. It’s the classic Pulaski made in the USA, and it’ll serve you well  – plus your handle will be much easier to replace with a standard factory handle that you can get from Council Tool).

However, if you’re looking for something smaller and innovative, meant for less intensive use, the Barebones Living Pulaski is a great choice too. If you’ve got experience with these or any other types of Pulaski axes, leave a comment below – this is a great tool with an honorable history and I’d love to hear your memories and or knowledge about it. Thanks for reading!

Last update on 2022-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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Michael Culligan

I am a lumber worker who performs logging services for the forestry industry. I have spent years honing my skills and experience to become a well-rounded axeman. I'm exited to share my knowledge of axes and lumber tools with everyone to help.