Council Tools ApocalAxe
By Dan “Doc” Holiday
Hatchet, hammer, gutter, skinner, and bottle opener. The Council Tools ApocalAxe is built to perform an ambitious list of tasks for the hunter, hiker, or camper.
The ApocalAxe is drop-forged high carbon steel, 15 inches long, and weighs 2.0 pounds. Head and handle are one solid piece, with a polymer molded grip at the handle end. The knuckle-guard grip behind the blade is not covered. The axe blade has a slight curve and has a total cutting length just short of six inches. The head is topped with a gut hook and backed with a hammer head. As mentioned, the head is cut out behind the blade, with a contoured finger grip on the heft to allow for fine cutting work. The bottom of the handle is pierced for a lanyard, and features a built-in bottle opener.
The tool has a solid, reassuring weight. It is predictably head-heavy, but, given the short overall length and low overall weight, balance did not pose any problems. I did find that the tool was occasionally tricky to remove from the sheath: the axe is lifted through the snap-close top of the sheath, and the rim of the polymer coating on the handle would catch on the bottom edge of the sheath.
The ApocalAxe worked well as a basic hatchet, cutting branches and splitting kindling well with the factory edge. The hammer back handled a few roofing nails and both aluminum and plastic tent stakes easily. The polymer grip, however, is only contoured for the axe-side, so using the hammer on an extended basis (and one struggles to imagine why one would) would probably be uncomfortable eventually.
I did not have a chance to test the gut hook in the field, but I did pull it through a couple of pieces of 1/16 inch thick cowhide leather. It needed an initial knick with a sharper blade, but I was able to pull the hook and open a cut. I think a little time spent sharpening the hook would probably be needed before relying on it as a primary tool in the field.As mentioned, I did not actually skin an animal. I did spend some time whittling furring strips and other close cutting with the axe blade, holding by the knuckle guard. My control was not a fine as I would like, and I found myself bumping my forearm into the handle frequently. The top of the blade is rounded, and, as I found myself using the very top of the axe blade for fine cutting, I thought a more squared off end might serve better – but also thought that it may limit its use as a skinner. I found a ¼ inch thick piece of cowhide, and used the axe edge/knuckle guard grip to split it to get an idea of what it may feel like skinning. Awkward as my simulation was, the axe performed fairly well.
Of course, all of that hard work deserved a reward – and the bottle opener popped open a Yuengling Porter just fine…
The ApocalAxe comes with an accompanying twenty page booklet. It gives some background about Council Tools and its founder, John Pickett Council, as well as a whirlwind tour of the history of axes from the Paleolithic to the present. More importantly, it gives thorough instructions for sharpening, storage, and care of the tool.
For me, the tool would not eliminate the need for a good pocket knife, but a good hatchet/hammer combination, at only two pounds, is probably worth it in the backpack , and it is easy enough to take along for a base camp. The solid construction tells me that, if cared for according to instructions, it is a tool I would have for a long time. However, the ApocalAxe lists for $134.45 on Council Tool’s website: for my own use, too much more than other tools which it would not completely replace.
Find the Monkey on Facebook!