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October 22, 2012 Comments (0) Blades & Tools, Reviews

Fiskars X7 Hatchet Review

The last time I acquired a Fiskars full size ax was in a trade several years ago (for $5 and a hat!) and I have not regretted it since. As well used as that ax was, when I gave it a little TLC on the edge it was chopping better than any I had ever seen. I have used that ax to split quite a bit of wood in the intervening five years and it’s still going strong. Good trade.

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Last winter we had a tree limb fall across the drive way at the house after a particularly blustery storm. Early morning, snow everywhere, we pressed the chainsaw into service to buck the tree limb up but all the smaller branches had to come off first. My wife and I used the hatchets and the ax we had handy for the job while our offspring lugged logs out of the way. I was using my Fiskars full size ax and she a hatchet. I remember thinking if I could somehow cross the weather proofing and toughness of the Fiskars with the smaller size of the hatchet it would be the perfect tool for the job. Small and light enough to get into the tough spaces, yet long enough to do real work too. A real ‘user’ that is meant to be used. About an hour later we had wood for the rest of the winter and were safely inside.

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When I heard a campers sized hatchet model was coming out from Fiskars my ears perked up. I was interested to give it a try. For around camp I like a hatchet of hawk for general fire prep, so a light weight model from a proven line would be just right. As a tool for the homestead it already had a place in my mind.

The first thing I noticed about the X7 was the new blade protector with the pivot lock that keeps the edge safe and secure, but with the flip of a thumb allows the sheath to drop away and leave the ax ready to go. This just was fun to use and encouraged a sense of disengaging a safety on the unit much like on a firearm. Soon it became second nature to replace or remove the cover and I feel this would encourage safe ax handling practices. (Editor’s Note: this is a great cover! The old style blade cover worked, but I soon replaced it with a custom leather one from JRE. I think the new locking style is a nice upgrade and very usable. I like the molded in sfaty icons on the sheath too.)

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On the scale the X7 weighs in at 1.65 pounds or so. Not a terribly heavy piece of kit. The head alone makes up 1.28 pounds of that (!). The handle is hollow, flat black and made with Fiskars’s Fiber Comp handle material process. This synthetic handle material drastically lightens weight without sacrificing the strength of the piece. The accents on the handle are bright orange and well placed for visual location of the tool if it was in leaf litter or covered in mud. The ax head itself is coated in a flat gray nonstick coating. This makes it easier to release the hatchet from wood when stuck in after a strike. The ax head is joined to the handle by the Permabond process which actually molds the handle around the head. This creates a nearly indestructible joining of the head to the handle. Believe it. I have bashed my old ax around quite a bit as a yard and camp tool. I experienced no ‘head loosening’ of any kind with my old ax and I don’t foresee any ever coming up with the X7. If it ever did the Lifetime Warranty from Fiskars is second to none and would take care of it.

The whole ax is about14 inches long with a cutting surface of about 2.5 inches. The pommel end of the handle also has a lanyard hole but will most often be used to hang the tool from a nail when it’s not in use. This is plenty for the ax’s medium to light use design profile. My tests showed it swung fast and bit deep. All the weight is by design, in the head so all the power concentrates there as well. I had no trouble processing kindling or splitting off pieces from a larger log. I also used it to chop a 6 inch around downed cedar in half. That might have taken more than ten minutes but it never felt like I was asking too much of the X7.

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The whole unit stowed easily in my pack and was not a useless addition resulting in ‘gear creep’. We have all had the ‘this would be great to take along!’ factor that has us adding new pieces of kit to the pack for the trail. Suddenly your lugging a heavy pack and don’t have room for something. Then it hits you; your level of gear has surpassed the usefulness of said gear in the average situation: Gear Creep. The X7 is not going to do that. It carries its weight while reducing the overall load.

Additionally for me the straight across edge of the ax head seemed to be easier for making accurate shaves and strikes to de-limb a branch or tree. On many axes the cutting edge curves somewhat but not the Fiskars. It is straight across. There is a slight downward angling of the head to aid in the chop or split. I expected to possibly have issues with splitting as the shock of the blade’s bite is what helps the wood to break apart clean. Not so! The Fiskars axes all have a good head shape and mounting angle for that. Its design encourages the wood to ‘move aside’ when the strike happens.

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The handles dual composition of ‘gripping’ surface rubber and a nicely hooked pommel end really worked ergonomic wise. The handles were comfortable and didn’t raise any hot spots or blisters with use without gloves.

I found this tool filled a niche I did not realize I had. The X7 would be a great ax to have around. Throw it in the truck just in case. Use it on the trail or campsite. Its light enough it would also work well in a Bug Out Bag or any other emergency where you needed a hatchet along and did not want to worry about ‘babying’ it. The X7 retails for around $30.00 and is a good investment.

Editor’s Note: I have an older Fiskars 14 inch hatchet that I’ve owned for probably 10 years now. It’s taken a beating over that time and help up wonderfully. The new X series is an update of the already proven Fiskars ax line and brings some tweaks that improve upon prior performance. If you’ve got an old Fiskars its probably still going strong and doesn’t replaced, but if you need a new one, or are only considering a Fiskars now then the X series is the way to go.

www2.fiskars.com

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