Fiskars has a great range of axes and hatchet – but that can make it really difficult to choose the right one. I’ve got years of experience with these hatchets and I’ll break down the roles I think they are best for.
Here is a breakdown of the model sizes, and specs:
|Black 14″||1lb Chop||13.9″||1.4lbs|
There are a few hatchets above that have almost identical specs, and the differences are in the axe lines.
Different styles of Fiskars Hatchet:
Fiskars likes to make things confusing, so there are four lines of Fiskars hatchets:
1. The X-series (orange grips)
2. Black hatchets
3. Norden N-series
4. Gerber Freescape branded
Fortunately, the heads are identical between equal sized hatchets, so the only thing that changes are the handles and the sheaths.
Fiskars X-series Hatchet Features
The orange grip of the X-series is a thin rubber overmold which helps dampen vibration in your hand when using the axe, and provides a better grip in cold or wet weather. The X-series now comes with a slim light-weight sheath designed with pack attachments.
The only exception is the 9 inch X5, which has a smooth composite handle.
The Gerber Freescape series is identical to the X-series, except they are green instead of orange.
Black Fiskars Hatchet Features
The black Fiskars handles have textured ridges molded into the composite grip, and come with a larger older-style sheath, better suited to hanging on the wall. Otherwise performance is identical.
Fiskars Norden N-Series
Norden hatchets have a hybrid wood handle, and come with a very slim and light recycled leather sheath.
I have not felt the need to buy one of these axes, since they offer identical performance but cost at least twice as much, and are heavier than the classic models.
The 14″ X7 is the Standard
I’m going to focus on the X7, but the info applies to the black 14″, and N7 as well.
The X7 has a well-earned reputation as an incredibly high-value tool. It is the “standard” hatchet length, with a versatile head design that makes it great for fireplace kindling, camping, basic bushcraft, and work around the property.
Fiskars X7 performance
The head is a 1lb stout wedge shape that makes it decent at both splitting and chopping greenwood up to about 4-5″ wide.
When chopping, the wedge clears big chunks easily, and gets through branches fairly quickly.
Splitting, the X7 will work on your average firewood pieces just fine, or equivalent small logs.
The cutting edge is only 2.5″ long so it’s not meant for broad clearing of brush or trail clearing. But, the 14-inch handle is the perfect length for accurate and strong one-handed swings, and the flared hook at the end of the handle really locks your hand in place.
While the hatchet is “full” length, the composite handle makes it one of the lightest hatchets on the market and gives it a great “whippy” feeling, because all the weight is in the head (where it should be).
The stout wedge shape means it’s not as easy for fine carving and shaping tasks, but fine for rough shaping, notches, and basic bushcraft stuff. Plus the slim neck is comfortable to choke up on.
Compare 14″ models on Amazon:
The X5 is for Your Pack
This is my favorite hand hatchet for backpacking, day trips, or emergency bags (and I own much more expensive options).
The X5 uses the same 1lb wedge head as the X7, but it has a compact 9-inch handle that makes it easy to stow away and incredibly light for a hatchet with a full-weight head.
I bought a leather mask for mine, to make its footprint in my pack even smaller and it actually makes the axe lighter still (slightly).
I love this axe – but if the size isn’t an issue the 14″ X7 will perform better and actually only weighs 0.2 lbs more.
Performance of the Fiskars X5:
Despite the short handle, the wedge-shaped head makes it almost as good at chopping or splitting as the X7. Although you do lose a bit of power, and the leverage a longer handle can provide when splitting. Sometimes it helps to twist wood apart if it doesn’t split on the first strike, and you can’t do that as easily with the X5.
The flared hook has been reduced to allow you to “half-hold” grip at the end of the handle – which works well to save your knuckles when splitting, and lets your squeeze out a little more power.
It’s not the most comfortable to “half-hold” for extended use without gloves – the edge of the hollow handle will dig into your palm. But it’s fine, and comfortable when held normally. And in emergencies… who cares.
Like the X7 – the X5 is not great for fine carving, but it does normal hatchets tasks really well for the size.
Compare 9″ models on Amazon:
The X10 is better for bushcraft or trail work
Note: This also covers the N10, and Gerber 17.5 (and in some regions a black Fiskars, but they are not everywhere).
The X10 is designed to be better at chopping, climbing, and shaping wood. It has a longer, wider, and narrower blade shape than any of the other Fiskars hatchets.
Compared to the X7, the X10 has an extra half pound of weight in the head, an extra half inch of cutting edge, and a 17″ handle that is long enough to use two-handed. So it’s a great option if you need to clear branches, fell small trees, or are planning on larger bushcraft tasks.
The X10 may be a tad big to ONLY use for your standard hatchet tasks like kindling, and I think it’s too big for a pack unless you are deliberately planning on doing axe work. But if you want something that also offers more power and capability – it can do it all.
Splitting with the X10
Even though the head is heavier, the thin blade can be a little stickier in larger pieces. But it will handle kindling and normal hatchet-splitting tasks just fine.
But if you want a true splitter, see the X11 or N12.
Compare 17″ Models on Amazon
The X11 is a dedicated splitting hatchet
The X11 is a large no-nonsense hatchet when you know you only plan on splitting wood. It will split larger wood than any of the others and deliver more one-hit splits.
The X11 has a heavier specialized head with flared cheeks that help fling the wood apart when splitting. The 17″ handle allows it to be used one-handed or two, so you can put some real power behind it for larger pieces of wood.
Because of the heavy head, and long handle it’s actually a little clumsy to use one-handed for the smallest pieces of kindling or tinder. I hold it mid-handle for these small jobs, or more often switch to something like a knife for the tinder.
I think it’s a great option for the woodpile where it can save you from having to switch between multiple axes (within reason). Or it could be a good option for car camping, where really all you need to do is split firewood.
Car camping or RVing with the X11
This could make a great campsite splitter for a car or RV. It should handle the pre-cut firewood with ease.
It might be a little harder to use than the X7 for making very small tinder, but that can always be done with a knife easily.
Fiskars X11 vs N12
The Norden N12 uses the same splitting head as the X11, but the wood handle is longer by 2″. This gives it an edge for power and leverage when splitting.
I like the size of the N12 – it might not seem that much longer, but you can handle it much better with two hands. So It would be a good option if you need a packable, yet powerful splitting hatchet – say for winter camping. However, for me – the price makes the X11 a winner of the N12.
Compare Splitting Hatchets on Amazon
Fiskars has a nice line-up of hatchets, and hopefully, you can see how each specialized model can be used and can pick the right one for your needs.
If I missed something or you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I do my best to respond to everyone.
About the author:
I’m an amateur outdoorsman who loves axes – as a tool, the craft of restoring them, and the history. I got tired of only finding crap websites, so I set out to build a reliable one myself.
Jim B. – Owner, Creator