I bought my first Fiskars splitting axe a few years ago. They have a good reputation as one of the best splitting axes on the market. But it’s frustrating trying to figure out which to get. There are so many options, many of them looking almost identical.
Well, now I own them all and have hands-on time with each axe.
There are 8 different Fiskars splitting axes:
|Model||Length||Head Weight||Log Size|
|36” Super Splitter||36″||4lb||12-36″|
|28” Splitting Axe||28″||2.5lb||8-12″|
What is the best Fiskars splitting axe?
There is no splitting axe that will be best for everyone or every scenario. But, usually when someone asks for “the best”, they mean the most powerful.
The X27 is the best Fiskars splitting axe for pure splitting power. The 4lb head can split logs (24”+) and the 36″ length will maximize the swing force while reducing the chance of injury. Plus, the over-mold grip reduces vibration and fatigue. However, it can be less efficient in some scenarios.
The Fiskars X27 is what I recommend for most people, but I have a lot more info on this axe and others below.
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Fiskars X27 vs IsoCore Maul
The IsoCore maul can be a good partner to a splitting axe, but it shouldn’t be your primary splitting tool. The Maul is bigger and heavier for the toughest logs, but splitting axes like the X27 are can handle most jobs and be used for longer periods. The IsoCore Mauls are too heavy for extended use.
There are some interesting differences besides weight, that can determine when and how you might use the maul. I have an article comparing the Fiskars splitting axes vs mauls here.
Big Splitting axes
|Model||Length||Head Weight*||Log Size|
|36” Super Splitter||36”||4lb||12-36”|
The Fiskars X27 sets the standard
The X27 is by far the most popular Fiskars splitting axe.
It’s the largest Fiskars splitting axe, and can deliver quite a wallop. This axe is designed for the homestead, cottage, farm, etc., and can tackle the biggest rounds, but it still light enough to swing for a long time.
The head is long, with 2 inches of standard blade shape before the cheeks flare out. This allows it to penetrate before forcing the wood apart. But even when it doesn’t split on the first strike, the wedge-shaped bit pops out pretty easily.
Something that often surprises people is that the biggest axes are also the safest. The 36” length guarantees a bad swing won’t ricochet and come back to hit your leg or foot (unless you are like 7’ tall).
I really think this is the best splitting axe for most people. The price is pretty consistent between retailers so it doesn’t really matter where you get it.
The X27 vs Black 36” Super Splitter
Yes, there is another 36” Fiskars splitting axe, and yes it’s basically the same.
The black 36” super splitter is identical to the X27 in length, weight, head, and capability. The only difference is the thin orange rubber over-mold grip on the X27. The black axe has a molded textured grip which is harder on the hands with extended use.
I would pay the extra couple bucks for the X27.
The over-mold softens the impact vibration. FiberComp handles have low vibration in general, but the over-mold grip really helps the hands. The small price difference is paid off pretty quickly after a few big swings.
The over-mold is also better to handle in cold or wet weather. The composite handle material can feel cold to the touch at lower temperatures, the over-mold helps with that.
Fiskars X25 is versatile and powerful
The Fiskars X25 has the same large 4lb head as the X27, but it has a shorter overall length of 28.5” (compared to 36”). The shorter length lowers the maximum potential force but makes it a more efficient, mobile, and accurate axe.
You will get more power out of the longer 36” axe, and sometimes you need it. However, it’s only the largest, most stubborn logs that benefit, and that extra power often isn’t needed.
I did some head-to-head testing with some fresh-cut rounds between 20-24 inches. The X27 & X25 were almost matched stroke-for-stroke. Out of 10 there were 3 rounds the X27 fully split in fewer strokes.
Why I often prefer the X25 to the X27
The shorter length is much handier when working around a woodpile. You can keep moving and adjusting pieces of wood while you go. The X25 is easier to control and offers a broader range of motion. I wish it was a tad longer, maybe 30-31”. But I would rather take an axe a couple of inches too short than 5-6 inches too long.
Another benefit of a shorter axe is that they are faster to swing and easier to swing longer. Even though the head is the same weight, it takes less time and effort to get back in position for another swing.
The 7” shorter handle of the X25 increases accuracy when swinging at a smaller target. The closer the wood the easier it is to hit. It doesn’t feel as much like overkill hitting a smaller log with a smaller axe.
Warning: the X25 is a more dangerous than the X27.
The X27 is a safer axe because it’s basically impossible to get hit by the blade because of the 36″ handle. But the 28″ length of the X25 means if it passes through the log, it can swing back and hit you in the shin. Which is bad.
You need to be more conscious of your form and technique when working with axes this length. Especially if you are tall, you need to bend your knees to keep the blade from arching back towards you.
You want to bring the blade down on the log, not swing in a big arch.
For the record I’m 6’1”, and it’s not a big issue if you know what you are doing. But there is a risk if it’s used carelessly.
The X25 is usually my go-to splitter – But I still tend to recommend the X27. I can start smaller and go bigger if I want because I own both (plus the maul).
X25 vs Black 28” Fiskars splitting axe
The X25 and Black 28” Splitting axes are NOT the same.
The X25 has a large 4lb head like the X27. The Black 28” Splitting Axe has a medium size 2.5lb head meant for smaller logs or smaller users. It actually matches the X21 which is a medium-size axe not available in North America.
Medium Splitting axes
|Model||Length||Head Weight*||Log Size|
|28” Splitting Axe||28”||2.5lb||8-16”|
Fiskars X21 and Black 28” Splitting Axe
The X21 and Black 28″ splitting axe are identical, other than the lack of over-mold grip.
The X21 is not available in North America, but the black 28” Splitting Axe is.
My theory is, the X21 is not sold because the medium size head is underpowered for the large trees in North America. They want to steer people towards the bigger axes that make more sense as a dedicated splitter.
A primary splitter for small to medium wood
If you have wood that doesn’t get over 12” in diameter this could be a better option than the big axes.
You will be able to swing this light axe even longer without tiring out from the big overkill swings of the X27. The medium size head is best suited for 8-12” rounds. It can maybe push up to 16” – you just won’t get one hit splits.
Like the X25, you need to be careful with the X21, and use proper technique. The lighter head and shorter handle can ricochet and cause injury.
The axe should be brought straight down on the wood not be swung in a big arc.
Even when it’s 10-12” wood I tend to go with the X25, as it offers more one-hit splits, and power to get through knotty wood.
The 28″ axes are great youth axes
It’s a more manageable weight and length that can still be useful. The splitting head is efficient and won’t get stuck even – with underpowered swings.
Fiskars X17 offers compact power
The X17 has the same size head as the X21 and 28” Splitting axe just on a shorter 23.5” handle.
I have been impressed it can still handle 12” logs quite easily and seems to be on par with the longer models. However, I would not use this as either a dedicated splitter or a youth axe.
The X17 is too small for a dedicated splitter. You want all the power you can get, and even while this works, it won’t have the same force potential as a 28”+ handle.
As for a youth axe, I think it’s just too dangerous. Proper technique is too important to safely use this size axe to give to a young amateur.
The X17 is ideal for a vehicle splitting axe
The X17 splitting axe is great as a vehicle axe. It easily fits in a trunk, trailer, or RV for camping and on the back of an ATV for taking around the property. It’s too big for pre-cut firewood, but is great for breaking up larger logs. See the X17 on amazon.
However, I almost always go for its chopping counterpart.
The X15 may be a better choice than the X17
Unless you really ONLY need a splitting axe I would consider the chopping version of this axe the X15. The X15’s wedge pattern head can still split up to 12” logs and will be much more useful if needed for other tasks (like clearing fallen trees or branches).
I tested these two side-by-side because I was curious, and on approx. 12”x12” rounds the X17 averaged 1-2 swings splits, while the X15 took 2-4.
The X15 is my go-to for a “big” compact axe. In fact one lives in the trunk of our vehicle year-round.
The 23″ Fiskars axes are too big for a pack
The medium size axe head (and resulting handle width) make this axe too big and heavy for a pack or man-portable role. If that’s what you need see the small axes below.
Small Splitting axes
|Model||Length||Head Weight*||Log Size|
Fiskars X11 is great for the woodpile
The X11 should be a kindling contender for anyone that uses a woodpile. It’s my go-to for smaller splitting on the property. It’s the smallest Fiskars splitting axe (just under 17.5” long), but that also makes it big enough to use two-handed.
This is perfect for the woodpile because you don’t need to switch between an axe and a hatchet. You can break down a wider range of smaller logs (maybe 7-8″) and already split wood.
The size and weight of the 1.75lb head takes more experience to handle for making small tinder. The larger head can be clumsy for detailed work, and It can blow right through them with the potential for injury.
It’s not hard, it just takes practice and understanding to use it safely.
The 14″ X7 hatchet doesn’t have a splitting head, but is much more nimble for small kindling and camp craft if you are only working with small logs and pre-cut firewood (See X7 on amazon).
Fiskars Norden N12
The N12 is part of the Norden series and is the only splitting axe I don’t own (yet).
The Norden axes have a hybrid handle. The lower two-thirds are wood, while the top third is the Fiskars FiberComp to secure the head. This gives that traditional feel in hand plus the strength to withstand overstrikes. They also come with a slim/compact recycled leather sheath for packing light.
N12 vs X11 (Why I choose the X11)
The N12 has the same 1.75lb splitting head as the X11, but a longer 19” hybrid wood handle so it’s easier to use two-handed. The N12 also comes with a slim recycled leather sheath, instead of the standard plastic carrier.
This size axe (19”-21”) is my favorite, they are just fun. Compact but surprisingly efficient. The difference between 19” and 17.5” may not seem that big, but in-hand, it makes quite a big difference in balance and power.
It’s the largest axe size that can still reasonably be carried on a pack, as a companion to a light saw. But like the X11 it could also work well as a light axe for the woodpile.
I’m not convinced by the hybrid handle for long-term durability. I haven’t seen or heard of any issues yet (they’re only a couple of years old). The main reason I don’t own an N12 is the price.
It’s about $100(US), whereas my X11 was under $60. For me, it’s hard to justify spending that much on another Fiskars axe. But if you are looking for a hatchet that’s a little different, this could be a good choice. (See the N12 on Amazon)
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 just a guy who likes axes – as a tool, the craft of restoring them, and the history. I got tired of only finding crappy websites, so I set out to build a better one myself.
Jim Bell. – Owner, Creator