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GB Small Forest Axe a mistake?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by BoulderTroll, May 30, 2019.

  1. BoulderTroll

    BoulderTroll Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Sorry for the overly dramatic thread title, I just couldn't figure out how to make it shorter and give the right impression:

    I recently bought my first axe, the GB Small Forest Axe ("SFA"), and now I think I made a mistake. I'd done a lot of researching and review reading prior to deciding. What I really decided, was that I wanted to get both the Wildlife Hatchet and the Scandi Forest Axe. The SFA felt like too much of a compromise. But even still, since I only wanted to buy one, I went with it.

    I was (and still am) extremely impressed with the craftsmanship. It's a gorgeous axe. Even though I haven't used it yet, I can already tell that for true chopping, the Scandi would have been far superior. And my primary use for an axe will be for camping trips, at least half of which are on my motorcycle. The SFA will fit diagonally in one of my side panniers, but just barely, and takes up a lot of space. If I'd gone with the Wildlife Hatchet, it would fit easily flat in either of my side cases or my top case, which is nice for locking purposes. My primary use would be firewood prep, and tent stake hammering, either of which the hatchet would have done just as well, if not better than the SFA at. So again, the SFA might be a phenomenal "only one" axe, but for me it feels like it will be too much of a compromise.

    I'd love to hear other's thoughts on it. And I haven't listed the SFA for sale yet, primarily because it's so nice, I feel like I might regret it later.
    DavidBevis likes this.
  2. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I have both the Small Forest Axe and the Wildlife Hatchet ... and I like both ... but can say the Small Forest Axe does perform much like a bigger axe than it's size ... and I have even used the Wildlife Hatchet to skin out and field dress an Elk ...

    I have kind of gotten away from carrying the axes and using a nice choppers for all but long camping trips ... an Agawa Canyon Boreal 21 folding saw and a good chopper I can process wood faster and easier than with any axes ... and is much lighter and less bulky ...

    now I like to take an axe if it's a long camping trip because I will process larger wood and more of it.

    And an Estwing Small axe may not be as beautiful and definately does not come with the edge a GB does ... but they are tough and cause take alot and are alot less expensive.
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
    BoulderTroll likes this.
  3. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    The SFA is pushing the limits on optimum handle length for a hatchet and most users can't handle it with out using two hands. Nothing wrong with a two handed grip on a hatchet I guess other than it is very inefficient.
    For your purposes I think you would be better served with a scout sized hatchet, I would recommend a vintage one over the Wildlife.
  4. BoulderTroll

    BoulderTroll Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Thanks for the insight, JJ_Colt. I like hearing from folks who own them, and especially from someone who owns both, as a comparison. I wouldn't be against carrying a large chopper instead of a small axe, but I've come up with a couple reasons why I might prefer the axe. First is the impression. Whether right or wrong (mostly wrong, in my opinion), an axe or hatchet is far less "offensive" to people than a large fixed blade knife. I think people still primarily view axes as tools, and knives as weapons. So for travel, which is a lot of what I will use mine for, I think it would scare less people. It's honestly unfortunate that this is even a consideration, but in truth, it is.

    Secondly, I carry a small hammer with me on motorcycle trips, specifically for tent stake pounding. I do a lot of rides out west, where the ground is often hard and rocky. My most commonly used stakes are titanium "nails", so a rock or something really doesn't work to pound them in, and a hammer is needed. With a GB axe or hatchet, it would replace the hammer far easier than a big knife would, and yet still be multi-purpose, unlike the hammer.
    DavidBevis and JJ_Colt45 like this.
  5. BoulderTroll

    BoulderTroll Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Thanks Garry, I appreciate it. I'm sort of leaning the hatchet direction as well. You're not the first to suggest vintage, over on another forum I visit, people rave about vintage axes over modern production ones. I'll give it some serious consideration.
    DavidBevis, Fmont and garry3 like this.
  6. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I can understand the thinking in your post and if you are in an area where people would see a large chopper as offensive then in that case an axe may be the way to go ...

    in that case it would just come down to what size would suit you best ... if you carry a good folding saw a good hatchet would make a nice pair ...

    if you don't like the folding saw there certainly isn't anything wrong with using an axe ... a good one can make a very useful tool as you already know from your posts.

    I will admit I don't know nearly as much about vintage axes as some on here ... but I'm sure they can lead you to the right fit.

    IMHO as long as you get time out to enjoy what tools you choose don't matter to much if they perform and you enjoy using them :thumbsup:
    DavidBevis, garry3 and BoulderTroll like this.
  7. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    The poll of most axes is not actually a hammer, they're only good for pounding on plastic or wood tent stakes.
    I'd recommend a $20 Vaughan & Bushnell half hatchet.
    With it's actual hammer poll you won't need to carry a hammer.
    No it's not a fancy botiq axe but the steel is good and the price is right.
  8. ithinkverydeeply

    ithinkverydeeply Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    If you want something a little more in the vein of vintage American axes for that camping and stake hammering purposes, I like the True-Temper Tommy Axe. They always looked cool to me, they have a hardened poll, and even have a nail puller in case you put up a sign for others to find camp.
    Readily available, and relatively inexpensive examples can be found.
    You can get em’ with original octagon’d handles too!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2019
  9. BoulderTroll

    BoulderTroll Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Thanks for the info on this, that's something I didn't know! I knew from reading GB's site and their little book that comes with the axe, that the poll was not to be used for pounding steel wedges, but I didn't know that would also apply to smaller metal items, like tent stakes. If I understand you correctly, it's because they don't harden the poll for that type of use? If that's the case, my question would be, what sort of damage would be expected from pounding a Ti tent stake, are you thinking like a catastrophic failure, or more superficial damage to the face of the poll?
    DavidBevis likes this.
  10. BoulderTroll

    BoulderTroll Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2009

    Thanks for the observations. I'm going to look into this as well. This is why I love forums like this. I posted a question this afternoon and within the space of a few hours, I've already been given some great suggestions, input, and food for thought. I appreciate it, Gents.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2019
  11. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Pretty much just lots of dings, dents ,and gouges.
    Pounding larger things would eventually result in mushrooming, and in that case you've got something to drag and catch when splitting kindling.

    Probably not a huge deal, but for what they cost do you really want to abuse it like that ?
    DavidBevis and BoulderTroll like this.
  12. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    If you click that link you'll see one with a red painted head Available right now for $39.99 and free shipping.
    I'd jump on it right away if I didn't already spend more than I needed to this week on tools.
    BoulderTroll likes this.
  13. jdk1


    Apr 21, 2010
    Don't forget Fiskars hatchets for cheap, tough, and effective.
    Astrogator and BoulderTroll like this.
  14. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006

    Link has been removed.
    Deal spotting is prohibited in the forum rules.
  15. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    I forgot, my mistake.
  16. Fmont

    Fmont Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    You could definitely look for a hatchet or rigger's hatchet, the other good option might be looking for a house axe. If you can't find one readily, pick up a nice vintage 2.5-3 lb Dayton and put it on a curvy 19 inch haft.
    BoulderTroll likes this.
  17. BoulderTroll

    BoulderTroll Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    The downside of that particular vintage idea is that my current axe that is too large, has a 19" haft and sub-2lb weight. I'm needing a true hatchet, with a haft in the 14-15" maximum range, and a head at around 1.5 lbs or less.
    DavidBevis likes this.
  18. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    Besides the Tommy a Plumb national is another option along those lines. No nail puller on the national but it is probably my favorite all around camp hatchet.
  19. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    A vintage claw hatchet puts the most utility in a small package. That would be my suggestion.
  20. shortwinger

    shortwinger Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    Also take a look at some of the larger tomahawks. I have several and have the GFB SFA and use them camping all the time. The Hawks especially fit nicely in saddle bags because they are not fixed heads and break down easily.

    I have the 2hawks Longhunter and the Warbeast and like them both but if I were on a longer camping trip the Longhunter is a bit small for lots of wood processing. I think I would go with their Voyager model, it has more weight, larger head, and a large hardened hammer pole.

    The hawks are taylor made for the saddle, weather it's on a horse or a bike. They take up virtually no space even if you take a replacement handle or two. The 2hawks models I have are made with great steel that holds a working edge for a long time. Several companies make real usable hawks that would work for you with a little research. A good foldable saw makes the trip more enjoyable and is also easily packable.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
    BoulderTroll and A17 like this.

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