Axe Scabbards and Sheaths for Every Type of Blade


Just as you would with any other sharp tool, carrying around or storing an axe safely means placing it inside a protective covering. Not only does this protect you from injuring yourself on the sharp edge of the axe, but it also protects the tool from getting damaged.


There are two options for safely storing an axe – a sheath or a scabbard. What’s the difference between the two? Check out our tips on buying sheaths or scabbards for your axe and some of the best axe sheaths and scabbards that you can buy today.

SHEATH NAME

SIZE

MATERIAL

RATING

Top pick

Fits edges up to 4 inches; 5.5 inches from edge to handle

Nylon

Fits edges up to 4 inches; 9 inches from edge to handle

Hard nylon plastic

Fits edges up to 3 inches; 4 inches from edge to handle

Cordura Nylon

Fits edges up to 4 inches; 6 inches from edge to handle

Canvas

Fits edges up to 5.375 inches; around 7 inches maximum from edge to handle

Top-grain steer hide leather

Fits edges up to 4 inches; measures around 6.5 inches from edge to handle

Full-grain leather

10 inches wide and 5.25 inches deep

Leather

Maximum width of 9.5 inches and a maximum blade length of 4.375 inches

Top-grain cowhide leather

What's the difference between an axe sheath and a scabbard?


Technically and etymologically, the terms ‘sheath’ and ‘scabbard’ are interchangeable as coverings meant to protect a blade. Although there has been no authoritative distinction between the two terms, the modern convention has most people defining a scabbard as a rigid container and a sheath as a more flexible or semi-rigid container.


The rigidity of a scabbard provides long-term protection against environmental elements while providing better mechanical support to the axe. The added bulk of a scabbard makes it less practical for maintaining mobility or for frequent tool use.


Sheaths for bladed tools have become much more favored lately. Typically made of leather, sheaths are lighter and easier to carry around. While they do not offer much by way of mechanical support, they provide ample protection for both the user and the tool. When used for an axe, a sheath provides interim protection between use and maintenance while providing ease of access.


To sum it up, an axe scabbard provides better protection but is heavier and bulkier, making it a better option for long-term storage. If you’re going to be moving around and using your axe frequently, then a sheath is a much more convenient and practical choice. Take note, however, that the two terms can still be used interchangeably depending on the retailer. It would be best to double-check the product specs when buying a protective container for your axe.


For a more nuanced discussion on the matter, check out this video by the Skallagrim YouTube channel which specializes in historical weapons and armor.

Tips for buying a sheath or scabbard


While there are a few axes that come with custom-made sheaths or scabbards, most of them do not. This leaves you with the responsibility of looking for a suitable container for your axe. Here are some factors to consider before making that purchase.

Double bit or single bit?

Does your axe come with two sharp edges or just one? Naturally, this plays a big role in the type of sheath or scabbard you need to buy. Double bit sheaths wrap over the entire axe head and typically have an opening at the top portion. They are larger and are naturally more expensive, especially if they are made from premium materials like top-grain leather. Since double-bit axes are less common than single-bit axes, there is also a smaller selection of double bit sheaths and scabbards.


Single bit sheaths and scabbards are much more common and have diverse designs. They can either open at the top or at the side and may even come with belt loops for better portability. Sheaths for single-bit axes are incredibly easy to find and are available across a wide price range.

Size and shape

Sheaths and scabbards are not one-size-fits-all. You will need to consider the compatibility of a sheath to your axe depending on the size of the axe head or the cutting edge. Some sheaths are designed to be more flexible with adjustable loops and belts, although these typically cover a smaller portion of the axe head.


If there’s no need for your sheath to be interchangeable between different axes, then we recommend getting a sheath that is most compatible with your axe’s measurements. A sheath with a snugger fit provides better long-term protection. If you’re planning to carry the sheathed axe attached to your belt, then a snug sheath will ensure that it does not move around as much.

Material

Axe sheaths are typically made from any of three materials – leather, nylon, or canvas. By far, leather is the most common option. Leather looks great on any axe, is fairly durable, and provides good weather protection. A nylon sheath is likely made of a thinner and lighter fabric but does not offer the same aesthetic and weather protection as leather. Canvas is the most inexpensive option but does not provide a lot of durability or protection.


Rigid axe scabbards are can be made from a wide option of materials but can be generally classified as either plastic or aluminum. Aluminum scabbards are meant for long-term storage and are simply not designed for any kind of transportation. Plastic scabbards (usually fiberglass-reinforced or PVC) are lightweight and durable enough to be used as storage while the axe is carried around, although not all of them come with convenient belt loops.

Belt loop

If you want to be able to access your axe quickly, then you need to get an axe sheath or scabbard that comes with a belt loop. Belt loops are particularly handy for when you need to do a lot of work with your axe on a campsite or around your yard. A well-designed belt loop should not get in the way even if it’s not being used, so there’s no reason to buy an axe sheath that does not have one.

The best axe scabbards & sheaths



If you own an Estwing camper’s axe or hatchet, then it just seems logical to buy an axe sheath from the same brand. This nylon axe sheath is designed for the Estwing E45 and E44 camper’s axe models but should fit just about any axe that has a 4-inch sharp edge.


The sheath’s clearance from the blade to the handle reaches a maximum of about 5.5 inches but can be adjusted for smaller axes. The material can feel stiff when the sheath is new but stretches out after a while. Slipping it on and off gets easier with time.

You’ll have to manage your expectations with the standard Estwing sheath, as it’s made from nothing more than standard nylon. Although amply durable, the sheath provides very little when it comes to protection from vibration and the elements. We recommend the sheath for quick transportation but not for long-term storage.


The saving grace of the Estwing nylon axe sheath is that it’s very inexpensive. Despite the seemingly thin nylon fabric, the sheath serves its purpose well enough to prevent you from getting injured or the edge from getting damaged. The sheath also comes with a convenient belt loop. It may not be stylish or high-end, but the Esting axe sheath gets the job done.

Material 

Nylon

Size

Fits edges up to 4 inches; 5.5 inches from edge to handle


Although listed as a sheath, this hard nylon axe containment from the SOG brand fits our definition of a scabbard. Made of molded hard nylon and with an intelligent design, this axe scabbard has elements that we would love to see in more of in other similar products.


Designed for the SOG Tactical Tomahawk Satin, the hard nylon scabbard has been molded especially for the tomahawk’s size and shape. This results in a friction fit mechanism that allows for quick storage and retrieval. Little dimples inside the scabbard ensure a snug fit, making sure that the tomahawk does not come loose even when the user is moving around.

One of the more innovative elements of this axe scabbard is the rotating belt mount. This doubles as both a way to keep the axe handle out of the way when not needed, as well as a control mechanism for the quick-release system. The belt mount attaches and detaches via two retaining tabs which are secure but can also be removed quickly.


All in all, the SOG hard nylon axe scabbard is one of the best we’ve seen in terms of design. The major drawback – which is common in rigid axe scabbards – is that it’s designed specifically for only one type of axe. This is probably an unavoidable compromise, given that the scabbard relies on a snug friction fit.

Material 

Hard nylon plastic

Size

Fits edges up to 4 inches; 9 inches from edge to handle


Designed for the Cold Steel Rifleman tomahawk, this is a compact axe sheath made of inexpensive Cordura nylon. In this case, it’s really inexpensive – the axe sheath costs less than $5. This is perfect for when you just need an axe sheath to use for your tomahawk on a quick trip, but we’re warning you right now that this sheath isn’t suitable for long-term or sustained use.


Although designed specifically for the Rifleman tomahawk, this sheath should fit any axe that has a 3-inch edge and measures about 4 inches from the sharp edge to the handle. It does NOT have an adjustable belt lock, so there’s very little that his axe sheath offers in terms of flexibility or adaptability. It would be best to take measurements of your axe to make sure that it will fit before buying this sheath.

While serviceable for a short period, the limitation of the Cold Steel axe sheath is that it relies too much on the stitches to hold it together. If the axe fits very snugly inside the sheath, the axe’s sharp edge and the inner stitches is a combination that simply does not work. More rivets holding the sheath together or a more generous clearance between the axe and the sheath would have solved this problem.


The Cold Steel nylon axe sheath may be far from top-notch when it comes to durability, but we find it hard to complain about a product that is so inexpensive. You do get what you pay for – in this case, an axe sheath that might last you a couple of weeks and nothing more.

Material 

Cordura Nylon

Size

Fits edges up to 3 inches; 4 inches from edge to handle


One’s instinct would be to think that canvas would be a poor material for an axe sheath, especially if it’s going to be used in rugged conditions. In this case, those instincts would be well-served. The canvas material certainly looks great, though, so it helps in making your axe look presentable.


Measuring 6 inches across, the Rothco canvas axe sheath should fit any axe that has a 4-inch sharp edge. The canvas material does not stretch quite as well as nylon, which means you’ll need to be very careful about making sure that it will fit your axe. It’s a little too small for Michigan-style axe heads, so we can really only recommend it for small hatchets.

The sheath comes with a handy belt loop and two metal brackets which can be mounted on the eyelets of a military-style tactical belt. While having multiple options is nice, the metal brackets can also be uncomfortable when the sheath is worn on a standard belt.


Another element of the design that seems to have been overlooked is that the hole for the axe handle seems too small for most axes, even compact hatchets. This can be adjusted by removing one grommet at the bottom part, but an easy-to-adjust provision would have been better.

Material 

Canvas

Size

Fits edges up to 4 inches; 6 inches from edge to handle

Leather axe sheaths


If you’re looking for a leather axe sheath, you will not be at a shortage of choices as there are a LOT of them out there. A sheath that is designed and measured specifically for your axe is still the best option. This isn’t always available, so here are our recommendations for the next best thing – leather axe sheaths that can adjust for different axe shapes and sizes.


A simple design made with premium material is always a winning combination. This is aptly demonstrated by this leather axe guard from Weaver Arborist, an adjustable sheath made of gorgeous top-grain leather.


This product from Weaver Arborist is really more of a guard than a sheath, as its purpose is to just cover an axe’s sharp edge. Although the design has limitations, the benefit is that the guard can be used for different axe sizes. An adjustable belt with pre-punctured holes holds the axe guard in place.

That said, the axe guard isn’t going to fit every single axe imaginable. The axe guard is huge and was designed to accommodate blade edges more than 5 inches long. If you own a hatchet, you might have to look for an axe guard or sheath that is also appropriately smaller.


A feature that this sheath is lacking is a belt loop. To be fair, though, it does not seem like there is any room on the axe sheath for a good belt loop – its footprint is just too small. It’s handy for keeping your axe safe during use, but we won’t recommend it for long term storage or for transportation.

Material 

Top-grain steer hide leather

Size

Fits edges up to 5.375 inches; around 7 inches maximum from edge to handle


For smaller axes and hatchets, we recommend this adjustable leather axe sheath from Hide & Drink as an alternative. Measuring around 6.5 inches from the sharp edge to the rear side of the handle, this sheath is made for axes with edges that are around 4 inches or smaller.


One thing we can say about the Hide & Drink axe sheath is that its leather material looks so much better than the axe guard from Weaver Arborist. The excellent craftsmanship that went into this product is apparent in its hand-stitched construction, full-grain leather material, and a beeswax treatment that helps with longevity. The result is an axe sheath that has a natural finish, is durable, and retains its shape even when exposed to moisture.

The adjustment strap of the Hide & Drink axe sheath is quite short and not as flexible, so you might want to double-check your axe’s measurements before buying this product. The benefit of that is that it fits the appropriate axe very snugly.


Again, the problem with an adjustable axe sheath is that it has no room for a belt loop. This isn’t as much of a problem in this case, as the assumption is that you will be using this leather sheath for a small axe or a hatchet. It’s excellent for edge protection but is not appropriate for long-term storage.

Material 

Full-grain leather

Size

Fits edges up to 4 inches; measures around 6.5 inches from edge to handle

Double bit axe sheaths


Double bit axes are a special breed, as they are essentially two axes in one. With both a sharp side and a blunt side, double bit axes are the Swiss Army knife of the axe world. Naturally, a special tool needs a special axe sheath. Check out some of our recommendations for axe sheaths that are specially designed for double bit axes.


A sheath for a double bit axe does not need to be complicated to be effective, and this axe sheath from Weaver Arborist is a perfect example. Basically a leather pocket with a hole for the axe handle, the axe sheath simply wraps around the axe head from below and snaps up at the top.


Made of strong and thick leather, the Weave Arborist axe sheath feels suitably rugged for double axe storage. The single-piece construction with lock stitches and rivets at the side gives it that extra bit of strength. You may have to apply some oil or leather conditioner to the sheath at first to soften it up, but this is typically a good sign when it comes to leather products.

The axe sheath does NOT have a belt loop. To be fair, the handle of a double bit axe is probably too long for it to be worn around your belt. A cut can be made on the back portion of the sheath to create a mechanism for hanging it around your shed.

Material 

Leather

Size

10 inches wide and 5.25 inches deep


The first thing we can say about the Helko Werk double bit axe sheath is that it looks amazing. The top-grain leather has been treated with oil to make it more supple and flexible while giving it a rich natural finish. The single piece of leather is stitched together at the sided and secured with rivets. A single dark brown buckle strap runs across the middle of the case to close it up. In terms of aesthetics, there’s nothing to complain about.


The shape of the sheath makes it a little less forgiving of the type of double bit axe it can accommodate. The tight taper at the bottom part is quite specific, so we suggest comparing the shape of your axe head to that of the sheath. The hole for the axe handle is more generous and should have no problems accommodating your axe.

All these quality benefits come at a price – the Helko Werk axe sheath is at least twice as expensive as the other double bit axe sheaths in the market. This is the kind of product that you choose when quality is a priority over price.

Material 

Top-grain cowhide leather

Size

Maximum width of 9.5 inches and a maximum blade length of 4.375 inches

Conclusion


One thing we know about axe users is that they are sticklers for taking care of their axes. Despite being a tool for rugged use, an axe needs to be sharpened and maintained regularly for it to be safe and ready to use at a moment’s notice.


Part of the standard of care for axes is placing it inside a good, well-fitting scabbard or sheath when not in use. Either choice is equally valid. Whether you go for a rigid or semi-rigid contained for your axe, what matters is that it of appropriate size and shape for your axe and your specific use case. 


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