Hults Bruk – their parent company being Hultafors Group, which is the name that their axes are sold under in Europe – are legendary axe-makers. They’ve been making axes since the end of the 17th century – over 300 years of experience. We can enjoy the fruits of that experience and Sweden’s long and storied tradition of crafting high-quality tools for woodworking and forestry. In this case, the fruit is the Hults Bruk Kisa Medium Felling axe, which is what I’m going to review in this article. It’s a finely-crafted tool that will last you for a lifetime and then some. Read on to find out all about it!
Axe Head Weight: Advertised as 2 lbs, I suspect it’s a tiny bit lighter
Total Axe Weight: Just about 2.8 lbs.
Axe Length: Advertised as 26 inches, measured at 25.5 inches
Axe Head Material: Swedish steel, proprietary information – details not revealed
Handle Material: American Hickory handle
The Kisa has an axehead that is very similar in profile to the well-known design by Hults Bruk’s main competitor, the Gransfors Bruks Forest Axe. It is a classic design, honed and perfected by Swedish toolmakers for the specific needs of their clients. In this case, it’s chopping and cutting down small trees, as well as limbing already-felled trees.
The bit profile is perfect – thin enough at the edge to allow for good penetration power, and wide enough that splitting logs and rounds of wood isn’t a problem. Some similar axes, such as certain Wetterlings products, have wider profiles – good for splitting, but with reduced penetrative cutting power. If you’ll be doing a lot of cutting – whether chopping down small trees or limbing larger already-felled ones – the Kisa’s profile is a good one. You can also use it as a favorable standard to compare other axe profiles to, in case you’re considering other brands and models for purchase.
The handle on the Kisa has a consistently straight grain and none of the varnish that you’ll find on cheaper hardware store axes. It has a proper linseed oil finish that protects the wood and allows you to keep a good grip on it.
Advertised as being 26 inches long, I measured it at roughly 25.5 inches – to be expected, really, and nothing extraordinary. The end of the handle has a hole drilled into it, in case you want to thread a small rope through to create a loop that you can put your hand through for extra safety (to keep the axe from flying away if it slips out of your grip).
The palm swell (the widening at the very end of the handle) is not very shapely. That’s something that I would have liked to see a bit more “meat” on. Another thing that might or might not bother you is the fact that the handle flares out with a “shoulder” a bit before the axehead, then tapers back in a bit. You might notice that if you’re used to gripping your axes with your hand right up against the axehead.
But even with those two minor complaints, the Kisa’s handle is very good. Light, slim, but finely crafted from tough, straight-grained American hickory, which means it’ll last a very long time even with serious use. It’s perfectly balanced against the axehead, too, making the Kisa a joy to swing and use. A proper balance allows you to be more efficient with your swings, put more energy into them with less effort. That’s a good thing if you’re going to be doing a lot of work or working in difficult (hot and moist or freezing conditions), or if you’re just a bit out of shape, have a tricky back, and so on. In any case, the handling of the Kisa felt very easy and natural in my hands, and almost all my swings with it came out clean and accurate.
The Kisa came razor sharp straight out of the box – it sliced through paper with ease. So you don’t even need to sharpen the edge before using, as you do with many other axes. And after a day of use, it still cut through paper – you only needed to push with it a little bit. Very good bit on this axe, right out of the box.
A 15-inch diameter standing dead poplar tree was no match for the Kisa. It took longer to fell than it
might have with a heavier felling axe, but not once did the bit get stuck in the wood or fail to penetrate well. The axe was sharp straight out of the box and took a bite out of the tree with every swing. From beginning to end, felling, limbing, and bucking the poplar into 3 sections took about 4 hours, with a couple of breaks in between. For its weight and the cutting area of the edge, the Kisa did a great job.
The Hults Bruk Kisa is an excellent all-rounder axe. It’s size makes it perfect for most jobs you would be doing in the backcountry – whether that’s splitting small or medium-sized logs for a fire, chopping down or limbing a tree, as well as bucking or even roughly hewing it. It’s razor sharp and the steel and axehead quality is excellent – as we expect from axes made in Sweden. At around 2.8 pounds in total weight, the Kisa is at the higher end of how much I would be ready to carry around on a longer trip, but if you do take it, it’ll serve you faithfully and well.
Slow to dull, easy to handle and swing, with a sharp bite straight out of the box, the Hults Bruk Kisa is an axe that’ll serve you well for the rest of your life. And with care, it would serve your children, too. Definitely a good investment and less costly than the Gransfors Bruks axes, which Hults Bruk consistently equals in quality.
Thanks for reading!