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Integral Pack Axe p.1 (pic heavy)

ren52157 Nov 7, 2009

  1. ren52157

    ren52157 Little member

    This one is new to me and I thought I’d share some observations on the performance of this little axe from the forge at Neilson’s Mountain Hollow.

    Here are the specifications on this little pack-axe from J.’s webpage:

    This small, light Pack-axe is forged from 5160 steel down to a 1/4" thickness with a tapered edge, integral handle and an etched/forged finish. The handle scales are Lace wood secured with stainless steel handle bolts. The head is roughly 3" from edge to back with a 1 3/4" cutting edge. The overall length of this piece is 8 1/4".

    The first thing you notice about this axe is the size. It’s small for a hand axe, only 8.25 inches long. I’ve shown it here for comparison with two of J.’s other popular knives, a B.U.H.K. Jr. (top) and B.U.H.K. (bottom). The size is reminiscent of small carpenter’s axes or woodworkers tool common before the advent power hand tools. Just right for slipping into a pack or kit bag for the field.

    The fit and finish are first rate, typical of J.’s other offerings. I’m partial to the forged flats and found that there was no practical disadvantage to the “rough” finish on the bit in common use. In fact, the forged flats do a nice job of hiding the inevitable scratches and blemishes inherent to a well-used hand tool.

    Beyond the good looks, the most pleasant surprise was the exquisite balance in such a small axe. Note the lay of the axe. A horizontal plane (in this case a stone bench) intersects the handle end and the bit edge not quite one-half the distance from the lower bit edge. Nice. The axe balances horizontally on a single finger with no rotation suggesting a nicely balanced head, fore to aft. The result is an axe that swings straight with little side-to-side rotation of the bit, enabling highly efficient transfer of energy from axe to object. In use, this minimizes glancing blows and unwanted “wrist busting” rotation of the axe head.

    But how does it cut? Better than I had expected! I couldn’t resist putting it to work on a scrappy locust tree approximately 2.5 inches in diameter. The bit sent wood chips flying with predictable certainty and made quick work of this unwanted thorny tree. This tree is about as large as I’d care to tackle with the small axe but I experienced no hand fatigue in the process. This tool floats easily between the thumb and forefinger allowing the tools weight to deliver most of the force, minimizing hand fatigue. It’s about all you would need to prepare poles for an emergency shelter, bivouac or just a roaring fire.

    I fashioned a crude baton out of a branch of cherry wood and went to work splitting a particularly tough and thoroughly dried piece of cherry firewood. Gentle batoning along the grain started the split easily and working the bit down the length provided ample force to easily wedge flats off the log. The integral bit and handle ensured sufficient strength to accommodate rough use and inevitable twisting of the axe in the log without damaging the tool.

    (end part one)
  2. ren52157

    ren52157 Little member

    Integral Pack Axe p. 2 (pic heavy)

    After some relatively heavy use the axe still retained sufficient sharpness to easily fashion tent stakes by choking up on the axe and using the bit for carving (I didn’t do this on my knee, just had to lay stick and axe down to take the photo.). No need to pull out another knife. I could have easily gone on to cut fuzz sticks and fashion all the necessary tinder for a fire but felt I’d already convinced myself of the utility of this handy tool.

    After use, the axe still retained sufficient edge to shave hair with little difficulty. I’ve no doubt that this little pack axe paired with either of the B.U.H.K.s pictured above would handle most medium to large game field chores as well. I’d not hesitate to bring these tools (knife and integral pack axe) on an elk hunt and feel perfectly prepared to dress and quarter the largest bull elk. Many will argue in favor of larger tools for such activity but when packing cutting tools, I’m a strong proponent of the philosophy that smaller and lighter is better as long as the tool is up to the job. The design and build quality of this axe allows you to get away with carrying less weight, and not give up a thing in capability. The less you have to carry, the further you’re likely to hike into prime hunting territory!

    I like this tool a lot and its’ high level of performance was a pleasant surprise. It has already earned a permanent spot in my field kit. If you’re serious about lightweight, rugged field cutlery give the “integral pack axe” a try. I think you will be as pleased as I am.

  3. Mr.LaBella

    Mr.LaBella ←The № 1 Devil→ Administrator

    :labella: :cheers: Please go on ahead upstairs and properly introduce yourself! I merged the two threads, we do not have any picture limits here on JerzeeDevil, like other forums. One thread is fine by us!

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