The 11 Best Double Bit Axes [2020 Buyer’s Guide]

Double bit axes may not be as commonly used as hatchets or splitting mauls, but they remain as popular choices for professional lumberjacks. And why not? They are capable of cutting wood both against and along the grain and some are even used in axe throwing competitions.


Choosing a high-quality double bit axe requires a more discerning eye. To help you with this choice, here is a buyer’s guide and a list of the best double bit axes for several different applications.

The advantages of a double bit axe

The unique element of a double bit axe is the presence of two blades on its head making the double bit axe quite adaptable. There is a variety of double bit axes available with different handle lengths, materials and suitability to different applications. In just about any instance, however, a double bit axe should offer a few common advantages.

Versatile uses

A double bit axe is essentially two axes in one, making it a useful all-around tool in a camp, farm, garden or around the house. Each side of the axe head serves a different purpose. One of the blades is kept sharper, allowing it to make deep cuts across the grain. The other blade is dull, making it an effective blunt tool for cutting along the grain. It is this unique flexibility that has made double bit axes a valuable tool for professional lumberjacks.

Extra heft

The presence of two blades on the axe head makes it a little heftier than the usual splitting or felling axe. While its portability suffers as a result, it also makes tasks such as splitting wood or felling trees a little easier and more satisfying. This isn’t always the case, though, as there are double bit axes built with the dimensions of a hatchet. 

Excellent for axe throwing

The double bit axe’s heavy head makes it great for axe throwing. The more symmetrical axe head provides good balance, and the extra heft translates to added power when the axe is thrown.


Throwing a double bit axe, however, requires a bit more skill and strength to get it to stick to the target accurately. For this reason, there aren’t many axe throwing competitions that allow the use of double bit axes.


Keep in mind that the presence of two edges on a double bit axe demands the practice of more stringent safety rules. The usual safety measures apply – make sure to have the sheath on when carrying the axe, have sufficient room around you while you work and always put away the axe properly when not in use. 

Tips for choosing a double bit axe

A double bit axe is the workhorse of the axe industry. It’s versatile and reliable – but only when it is used properly. It is key to make sure that the tool fits the application. Before you buy a double bit axe, these are the factors you need to consider.

Length of handle

Just like most other axes, double bit axes come with long or full-sized axe handles (about 31 to 36 inches) or shorter boy’s axe handles (around 28 to 30 inches). Longer handles are appropriate for cutting timber or wood but may suffer from a drop in accuracy, especially if you aren’t particularly tall. Axes with shorter handles are more useful for general house or yard work. A shorter axe is also more appropriate for average-sized people.

Handle material

There are two options for the material of an axe handle – wood or synthetic. Wood is a classic and traditional choice. Wood handles look great, offer a good heft that improves handling, and can be easily replaced. If you’re still a beginner, then you can’t go wrong with the classic axe with a wood handle.


Synthetic materials include fiberglass, carbon steel, or a rubber composite. These materials offer good durability while remaining fairly lightweight. They can also offer added benefits such as shock absorption. Axes with synthetic handles have become more common now, although wooden axe handles are still preferred by purists.

Overall weight

While going for a heavier axe may seem like the more “macho” option, a lighter axe may be an equally wise decision. Heavier axes provide more power, allowing them to cut through wood easier. However, a heavier axe also suffers from a drop in accuracy. If you do not have the strength to swing around an axe that weighs more than 5 pounds, then using one can prove to be both inefficient and dangerous.

Axe head

More than anything else, you need to take a careful look at the axe head. While a handle can be easily replaced, the head is pretty much the essence of an axe. The best option would be to look for an axe with a head made of high-quality carbon steel. This means going for an axe made by a brand and avoiding cheap knockoffs which might offer recycled steel axe heads.


The shape of the axe head must also be chosen depending on the application. Narrower heads are more suitable for cutting across the grain, while broader heads cut along the grain easier. The heads of double bit axes typically fall somewhere in between, making them appropriate for either use cases.

The 11 best double bit axes

For firewood splitting and tree felling

TOP PICK:


The Traditional Hinterland double bit axe from 1844 Helko Werk Germany is one of the best-looking double bit axes we have ever seen. From the dark gray of the carbon steel axe head to the rich brown of the linseed-treated hickory wood handle, this double bit axe is what we imagine the blacksmiths of the Middle Ages produced from their humble forges.


Fortunately, this double bit axe is one of the rare cases where it works as good as it looks. The carbon steel axe head was made by professional blacksmiths using drop hammer forging with an open die, giving it superior mechanical strength. The polished cutting surface reduces friction when cutting across the grain, making it a lot easier to cut across the grain.

The hickory wood handle seems to have been treated with the same level of care as the axe head. It has been smoothed at 150-grit and treated with linseed oil to give it a smooth and blister-free finish. This can make grip somewhat problematic, so we still recommend using a good pair of working gloves.


Aside from the standard leather sheath, we also like how every Helko Werk axe comes with an axe-guard solution to protect the axe head against corrosion during storage. The excellent quality and useful value-adding accessories go a long way towards justifying this axe’s somewhat high price tag.

Weight

4.75 pounds

Handle length

34.5 inches

Handle material

Hickory wood

Best for

Tree felling and firewood splitting


For those who are a little old-fashioned, the AMES Double Bit Axe is the perfect representation of the traditional axe elements you may be looking for. It features a classic hickory wood handle that measures 36 inches, the AMES Double Bit Axe has enough weight and swinging power for heavy duty cutting and chopping. This is the axe for making short work of firewood or for clearing small trees around a campsite.


The handle is one of the best parts of this double bit axe. The choice of hickory wood was probably a no-brainer, as it provides good vibration absorption, durability, and a nice finish. The handle is contoured just right to provide a good grip, although a pair of high-quality working gloves would not hurt.

The axe head feels appropriately heavy for intense chopping and cutting work and is big enough to withstand several cycles of sharpening. The quality of the iron isn’t the best, though – it can get dull and chip off easier than some of the other axes you might have tried before. If you’re going to use this axe frequently, then it would be wise to invest in a good sharpening stone.

Weight

5 pounds

Handle length

36 inches

Handle material

Hickory wood

Best for

Splitting firewood and felling trees


This double bit axe from Roughneck logging is another entry in our list of long and heavy axes. This one is similarly suitable for heavy-duty work such as splitting firewood or felling trees with its hefty axe head and big swinging power. What makes the Roughneck Logging Double Bit Axe quite unique is that it comes with a synthetic handle made with fiberglass and a rubber grip.


While more traditional lumberjacks may prefer wooden handles, synthetic handles also have their merits. They typically fare better than wood when it comes to durability, vibration absorption, and resistance to moisture. They are also a lot lighter, which goes a long way for an axe as long as this one.

Based on feedback, you can expect the integrated rubber grip to fall apart long before the axe itself starts to deteriorate. If you intend to use this axe for a long time, then a good pair of working gloves should be an essential accessory. When the handle gets damaged, as it inevitably will, there’s pretty much no way for it to be repaired or replaced – an unfortunate characteristic of synthetic axe handles.

Weight

3.5 pounds

Handle length

15.5 inches

Handle material

Fiberglass and rubber

Best for

Splitting firewood and felling trees


The Marbles Double Bit Axe can be summed up in three words — long, strong, and heavy. This axe is the perfect tool for cutting down trees and splitting firewood. Its combination of a long handle and a heavy axe head is unmatched, making it one of the most powerful tools in this list.


For its price, the Marbles double bit axe delivers extremely well in terms of performance. The hickory wood handle is high-quality and stands up well to any punishment you can dish out. Even if it does fall apart, there’s always the option of crafting a replacement handle and retaining the original axe head.

The downside of getting such a large and heavy double bit axe is that it also requires a great deal of strength to yield. This probably won’t be a problem for the pros or those who have been working with axes for a long time. However, we do not recommend this for those who aren’t highly experienced with axes.

Weight

6.4 pounds

Handle length

36 inches

Handle material

Hickory wood

Best for

Tree felling and splitting firewood


The Council Tool Double Bit Axe comes with a Michigan-style shape and a fiberglass handle that keeps it lightweight, yet still powerful. It also comes in yellow — perfect for improving its visibility when being used around the camp or stored in your shed.


As you would expect from an axe with such a long handle, the Council Tool double bit axe works great for wood splitting. Although there’s a tradeoff in terms of accuracy, the swinging power of this double bit axe is second to none. The fiberglass handle aids greatly in this with its superior durability and vibration absorption. Enveloping the fiberglass core is an injection molded jacket that improves grip and makes the handle even more weather-proof and long-lasting.

The Michigan pattern of the axe head gives it a slightly longer and thinner profile, making it uniquely suited to cutting across the wood grain. Made of forged steel, the axe head feels hefty and hard enough for some heavy-duty work. The axe head comes pre-sharpened by hand and should be ready to use out of the box.

Weight

3.50 pounds

Handle length

36 inches

Handle material

Fiberglass

Best for

Firewood splitting and axe throwing

Best double-bit axes for all-around use

BEST VALUE:


When it comes to power-to-size ratio, this double bit axe from Estwing packs quite a punch. Small and light, the Estwing Double Bit Axe is perfect as an all-around valuable tool if you’re going on a camping trip. This axe also features one of the more modern designs we’ve seen from the products available today.


The handle made of a patented material is crucial to this axe’s uniqueness, giving it an excellent combination of strength and vibration absorption. The handle also comes with a comfortable anti-slip grip. It also comes with a heavy-duty nylon sheath for safe handling and storage.

The Estwing Double Bit Axe is easy to yield with its short handle and a light axe head. The lack of heft makes it a little more appropriate for preparing kindling rather than felling trees, although the latter is still possible with some effort. The axe head is balanced enough for axe throwing but you may find its lack of weight translates to a lack of power.


As one of the more user-friendly double bit axes, it’s no surprise that the Estwing is also one of the most popular. This is a handy tool to have around the house or at camp, even if you already have larger and heftier options.

Weight

2.54 pounds

Handle length

17 inches

Handle material

Patented synthetic material

Best for

All-around camp work and for cutting kindling


The Vaughan Sub-Zero double bit axe is set apart by the manufacturer’s claims that it was “computer-designed” for better balance. Although they don’t go into detail on how that process works, it results in an axe that functions well while reducing fatigue on both the axe’s materials and the lumberjack.


One thing we can say for sure about the Vaughan Sub-Zero is that it looks great. With a white hickory handle and a blue axe head, this is one double bit axe which will easily stand out amongst a background of greenery. If you’re working in a forested area, then this is the ideal axe for visibility.

In terms of performance, we find the Vaughan Sub-Zero to be middling. Though there are no complaints when it comes to the quality and comfort of the hickory handle, the quality of the axe head is far from the best. The forged axe handle is strong because of the forging process but lacks symmetry, making its balance suffer by consequence. This makes swinging the axe somewhat difficult, although it’s perfectly serviceable for light chopping work for firewood or kindling. The result is a somewhat disappointing performance from a brand as well-known as Vaughan.

Weight

3.50 pounds

Handle length

36 inches

Handle material

White hickory wood

Best for

All-around use

Best double-bit axes for axe throwing


The hatchet-style double saddle axe from Council Tool is perfect for those who want the versatility of a double bit axe in a form factor that is easy to carry around. The 15.5-inch hickory wood handle makes this double bit axe very easy to yield, especially if you need to do quick work around the camp or in your yard. The axe also comes with leather sheaths that cover both edges and are held together by a central buckle.


Aside from being a useful tool for cutting kindling, there is one other field where this double bit axe will excel – axe throwing. The Council Tool axe is the perfect length and weight for controlled but powerful throwing, thanks in no small part to the 5160 steel axe head.

If there’s a part of this axe that stands out, it would definitely be the head. It has a compact design, looks really good, and has bevels that reduce friction when chopping down. The use of drop forged and heat treated 5160 steel makes it one of the tougher axe heads and makes chopping across wood grain a lot easier.

Weight

3.7 pounds

Handle length

15.5 inches

Handle material

Hickory wood

Best for

Axe throwing


Despite the intimidating length, this double bit axe from Condor Tool & Knife is what we would consider as a good beginner axe. It’s not expensive, comes with a high-quality hickory wood handle, and has a relatively light axe head. The lightweight build might limit its practical uses, although it doesn’t do too badly in chopping firewood. The balanced axe head, however, makes for excellent axe throwing.


This double bit axe was built well enough for general, all-around use. It’s good for cutting kindling and chopping firewood, although the latter can be a challenge given how light the axe head is.

The biggest complaint with this double bit axe is that it’s handle feels a little too long considering the weight of the axe head. This makes yielding the axe a bit difficult, especially if you’re only cutting kindling or small pieces of wood. Although the Condor Tool & Knife double bit axe is far from the best in terms of build quality, it’s good enough to get light chopping work done and is user-friendly enough for casual use.

Weight

1.75 pounds

Handle length

24 inches

Handle material

Hickory wood

Best for

Axe throwing


Here’s an axe with a bit more flair. If you want to live your fantasies of being a Viking warrior while you do work around the yard, then this is the perfect axe for you. The uniquely tapered axe head made of super-strong chromium steel was made according to the style of the ancient Vikings and Nordics. A uniquely short and well-balanced axe, this double bit axe would also be great for axe throwing.


The Mapsyst Viking Axe isn’t just all about looks. The axe head was forged and grinded by a professional blacksmith, this fully functional axe is sharp and strong enough for most kinds of chopping and cutting work. The handle is a little too short for chopping large chunks of firewood or felling trees, so you’re better off using it to prepare kindling.

The makers of this axe have opted to keep things simple by not treating the ash tree wood handle. Although this gives it a more rustic and genuinely old-fashioned feel, this also means this axe’s handle is even more prone to the effects of moisture and temperature variations. If the conditions are particularly challenging, we suggest using an axe that’s a bit hardier.

Weight

1.25 pounds

Handle length

15 inches

Handle material

Ash tree wood

Best for

Axe throwing


The Michigan-style axe from Truper keeps things simple and reliable with a heat-treated axe head and a long hickory wood handle. The extra length and heavy axe head give this axe great swinging power which should be able to handle chopping firewood. However, this double bit axe has built up quite a reputation as a throwing axe and is often found in trendy axe throwing bars.


That said, the Truper’s reputation as a throwing axe doesn’t continue with it’s chopping ability. From its appearance, the Truper axe looks like it ticks all the boxes of what a high-quality axe should have. It has a hefty heat-treated axe head and a hickory wood handle with the proper grain orientation and a contour that is comfortable and provides a good grip. Truper even manufactures replacement handles for this double bit axe, so you can simply order from them should the axe fall apart.

However, the durability of the Truper double bit axe seems to be below par when used for heavy-duty chopping work. The axe head dulls faster than most other axes and even the handle can feel irregular after sustained use. Despite these limitations, the Truper double bit axe is well-balanced and looks good enough to be used for axe throwing.

Weight

3.5 pounds

Handle length

36 inches

Handle material

Hickory wood

Best for

Axe throwing

Double bit axe handles

As with any other axe, a critical part of a double bit axe is the handle. While wood handles are the classic option and have stood the test of time, there are also several very good reasons for why fiberglass axe handles have come into fashion. There’s also a third, much rarer option – steel axe handles. What are the merits of each type of axe handle?

Wood

Wood has traditionally been the material of choice for axe handles and remains very popular among professional lumberjacks and axe enthusiasts. The most common type of wood used in axes is hickory, but there are many more out there – oak, birch, pine, and maple, just to mention a few.


Wood has a good capacity for vibration absorption, can withstand temperature extremes, and can be replaced should they fall apart. They are also a lot cheaper than the other alternatives.


The biggest drawback to using a wooden axe handle is that it requires a lot of TLC if you want it to last. Wood is very sensitive to the environment and can degrade quickly if regularly exposed to humidity. If you do a lot of dirty work, then you’ll need to wipe your axe handle clean and oil it frequently to prevent long-lasting damage. Of the three options, wood is the easiest to break.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is certainly the second most popular option next to wood. Compared to wood, fiberglass is clearly superior in terms of toughness, strength to weight ratio, and impact absorption. They are also able to withstand the elements better – fiberglass does not suffer damage when exposed to moisture, oils, industrial chemicals, or exceptionally high temperatures.


The only drawback to fiberglass handles is that they are irreplaceable. This means that an axe with a broken fiberglass handle can no longer be repaired. This makes fiberglass axe handles more appropriate for tough or challenging work, but not for sustained or frequent use. 

Steel

In terms of durability, steel trumps both wood and fiberglass. However, there’s a reason why it’s a very rare choice for an axe handle material – it offers no vibration absorption capabilities. This means that each strike made by an axe with a steel handle transmits all of the vibrations to the person swinging the axe. Over the long run, this can result in joint pains among an assortment of other physical problems.


Some steel axe handles account for this in their design by integrating grips made of more malleable material, thereby providing some measure of shock absorption. However, there is no way shock absorption grips are on par with the vibration protection that wood or fiberglass handles offer.


The biggest upside of steel handles is that they are almost indestructible. If you want an axe that can last forever and needs minimal maintenance, then a steel axe handle is worth considering.

All things considered, each type of axe handle has something to offer. As with most things, the optimal choice involves a compromise between several factors. In this case, you’ll have to prioritize between weight, comfort, and durability.

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