Okay, Hults Bruk and Hultafors, what the hell is the difference?
Hults Bruk was bought by The Hultafors group in 1992 and manufactures axes for both brands. The Hults Bruk brand is sold in the US, while Hultafors is international. 8 identical premium axes are sold by both brands under different names. However, the standard axe lines vary a lot.
Standard axes exist under both Hultafors and Hults Bruk lines, but the US Hults Bruk standard axes transitioned to the Agdor brand in 2021.
This article focuses more on the different axe lines – I have another article that compares the hands-on differences between premium and standard axes in more detail.
Hults Bruk & Hultafors premium axes
The Hults Bruk and Hultafors premium axe lines are identical in every way (except name).
What makes it complicated is the axes have unique names under each brand (despite being identical). So you might see reviews and videos using different names to talk about the same axe.
The premium lines are primarily light felling axes and hatchets. They use the versatile Swedish turpentine pattern head that is suited to both mid-size chopping and detailed work. The shape of the head allows the user to choke up on the handle for fine control and they are very popular with bushcraft enthusiasts.
The thin blade profile is nimble and can chop deep, but has a shorter cutting edge than typical American and European designs. Even the larger models are only meant for mid-size trees.
Hults Bruk and Hultafors Premium axe names and specs
Note: The previous line of Hultafors axes was branded Hultafors Classic. This was a somewhat recent change, and some “Classic” products are still on the market.
Hults Bruk and Hultafors have different standard axes
Hultafors and Hults Bruk offer a standard line of more affordable axes. This sets them apart from the other high-end Swedish axe maker (Gransfors Bruks).
The standard axes still use high-quality steel and hickory but spend less time on hand finishing to reduce the cost. They use simpler, more wedge-shaped American Yankee pattern heads. They are quick hand-ground for an edge that is usable but not super sharp and have fatter handles.
The best thing about the standard line is that they have much larger axes (up to 4lbs). This pattern is a good “universal” design that’s well suited as a work axe.
Hultafors axes are more affordable (cheaper than the US models) but don’t come with extras like a sheath. They might take a little tuning to perfect but in my opinion, are one of the best value axes on the market.
Hultafors offers an impressive line-up of (at least) axe 14 models, while the Hults Bruk line was limited to 7.
As of July 2021, Hults Bruk has transitioned its standard axe line to the iconic Agdor brand (more on the Agdor axes below). You can still find Hults Bruk standard axes (sometimes on sale), but they won’t last long.
Hults Bruk vs Hultafors Standard axe comparison
|Bjork||Splitting Axe RA||3.5lb||30″|
|Gran||Splitting Axe SV||2lb||20″|
|–||5lb Splitting Axe||5lb||30″|
|–||SY 21-0,8 SV|
|–||SY 21-0,8 RA|
Note: The full offering of Hultsfors standard axes is a little unclear. The standard axes don’t have names (just product codes), so retailers often improvise names. I’ve also seen models for sale that are not listed on the official Hultafors website.
Agdor axes extend the standard line
Agdor is a classic Hults Bruk brand. It started showing up in North America in the ’50s and continued to compete with the declining North American axe makers ever since.
The Agdor axe line offers a range of good quality axes with heavier heads than the premium line. This makes them better suited as a general work axe for larger North American trees. They have American pattern heads that are capable of both felling and splitting.
Agdor axes internationally (everywhere except the US)
Agdor has been around internationally for years and is basically an extension of the standard axe line. If you look closely, the whole Hultafors standard axe lines are actually co-branded Agdor. It’s printed on the head, but nobody (not even Hultafors) refers to them like that.
They have the same level of finish overall but can be distinguished by the painted blue head.
The difference is they focus on unique non-yankee heads (Montreal and Tasmanians patterns), which are associated more with Canada and Australia. This line seems to constantly be shifting, but they have a mix of axes ranging from 2.5 – 5lbs.
Update: I am starting to see more and more Agdor models show up in Canada, many with Yankee heads. I think they might be starting to phase out the standard Hultafors line and “replacing” them with blue Agdors all together (like in the US).
A 3.5lb and 5lb Montreal pattern also exists, as well as a 4.5lb Tasmanian pattern. Although It wouldn’t surprise me if US models start showing up in other places as well.
Agdor axes in the USA
In the US, the Agdor line has fully replaced the old standard axe line and offers 7 axes.
A popular Adgor axe is the 28”, 2.5lb Montreal pattern boys axe. It’s been available for years and is a great versatile all-around work axe. Surprisingly in the last couple of years, it has also gained a lot of attention as a big throwing axe.
What makes the US Agdor axes unique is they come with an American-made leather sheath. They are handcrafted by Axe and Awl Leatherworks in Waynesville, N.C. Otherwise, they still have a “standard” level of finish.
A nice touch (that I love) for the larger axes is that they use 28″-32” handles, and didn’t just slap on a 36” handle like most companies. 32″ is so much handier than the big old 36″.
US Agdor models vs existing standard axes
|Standard Equivalent||Agdor (US)||Type||Head||Handle|
|The Tarnaby||Yankee 15||Hatchet||1lb||15″|
|The Gran||Splitting 20||Small splitter||2lb||20″|
|HY10-0,9 SV||Yankee 26||Small felling||2lb||26″|
|HY 10-1,2 SV||Yankee 28||Felling Axe||2.75lb||28″|
|–||Montreal 28||Felling Axe||2.5lb||28”|
|HY 10-1,5 SV||Yankee 32||Felling Axe||3.5lb||32″|
|–||Montreal 32||Felling axe||3.5lb||32″|
More axes made by Hults Bruk
The Arvika 5-Star
This is a brand of one. A big 4.5 lb axe, inspired by racing axes. This axe is intentionally designed to be modified by the end-user. This is a great axe for big North American timber.
Husqvarna Axes (maybe not any more)
UPDATE: As of 2022, it seems Husqvarna has been moving at least some of its axe production out of Sweden. I have seen an example of a splitter with a tag that claimed “Made in Italy” (likely Prandi) – and a commenter from Finland says his came with a “Made in Germany” tag. Any mention of “Made in Sweden” has also been removed from the Husqvarna website.
While I can’t confirm if this impacts all models or all regions, it is something to be aware of – but they still do specify “Hand Forged”, so hopefully the quality is still there.
Husqvarna is another Swedish tool company, that had contracted Hults Bruk to manufacture their wood-handled axes. They have gathered quite a reputation as being a great axe for the money.
While they look similar to the more expensive Swedish axes, some cost-cutting has certainly happened. The leather sheaths (while a great inclusion for the price) are small and not welted. The handles are fat and blades are very roughly sharpened – my forest axe came with a 2” flat spot in the middle of the bit that needed sharpening.
The nice thing is the corners that are cut are things the owner can tune themselves. It’s easy to sharpen a blade, thin, or paint a handle. They do not come painted, I did that a few years ago.
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