My experiences with Gransfors Bruk axes and hatches started five years ago. While I’ve had a couple of them, I’ll definitely be keeping the Small Hatchet which I’ve nicknamed the Mighty Mini!
In 2009 I decided to pull the trigger and buy my first Gransfors Bruk axe, the Small Hatchet. Why choose this model as the first one? Well, I’ve already had the mid-size Roselli hatchet so I thought that something smaller would be good choice. Let me walk you through what you can do with the Mighty Mini. First of all, I must say that this hatchet is the first really portable and FULLY usable miniature axe I’ve ever played with. It’s certainly not a toy! As you can see above, I was able to carry it attached to my small 16L backpack with a MOLLE system via a leather sheath and small piece of paracord. The paracord just positions and fixes the handle and there is no need to tie it or untie it. It’s just a snug-fit double loop. I did this so I could carry it everywhere with me on any backpack and it’s easy to access the hatchet without the need of opening the pack.
Let’s look at the size. I said it was small, very small. It’s about 27cm long (11″) long and quite lightweight (300g). Picture above is the Small Hatchet compared to a G-Shock Mudman and Atwood pry-minitool for reference. This of course is a one-handed axe. Thanks to the handle ergonomics, I can work with it all-day long without any problems or issues. The grip is very safe and feels perfectly balanced, which can be attributed to the overall smallness of size.
The edge and profile of the head is thinner than in most axes, but it’s been specifically designed that way which makes it special. When you swing it, it just ‘slices’ deeply into the wood! It’s not what you would get with your typical axe. The weight is concentrated just behind the cutting edge. That, combined with RAZOR SHARPNESS, makes each & every hit amazingly effective. Take a look at the branch in the photos above. It took me just seconds to crop right through it. Also, take into consideration that this was done without any support under the limb and that it was hanging free above the ground. I have to say that the Small Hatchet has great performance for the size.
After some cutting and chopping, I used my Mighty Mini to prepare some feather sticks just to check the edge. As expected, there was no problem at all. The edge was still scary sharp and ready for the job. I always carry my pocketknife with me anyway for a job like this, but this was a good way to check the sharpness and overall quality of the working edge on the hatchet.
Now for a final task – splitting wood. I wanted to know if it was possible to split hardwood with such a small hatchet. It was! I used the Small Hatchet to split some seasoned hardwood quite effectively. It took an average of two to three hits per piece, but sometimes it would split with one strong hit. Overall, it could be used for this job, but it definitely requires some accuracy and experience in working with an axe. You need to be careful, as your hand (or knuckles specifically) are close to the log you split. Also, be accurate! Otherwise it’ll be easy to ruin the belly of the haft. I wouldn’t recommend using the Small Hatchet as a splitter for any beginners. Again, always exercise caution when swinging and working with a sharp object. My Roselli is surely more effective splitter, but it’s also twice as long and at least three times the weight. For a short trip, I’d take just my Mighty Mini with me. However, for a longer stay at camp or a bigger trip you’d need (or rather you’d prefer) something bigger.
Overall, for me and my needs the Gransfors Bruk Small Hatchet is simply a perfect ‘always carry with me’ hatchet. When you want to travel light, it’s a great choice! It also works nicely as a backup. However, there are some disadvantages you need to be aware of. For one, it’s not an axe for heavy duty jobs. It’s designed for small camp jobs like building an improvised shelter, preparing firewood, sharpening sticks etc. It’s surely good enough for an experienced person, someone who’s been there, done that. Some owners have said that it’s good also for cutting, but I still prefer a knife for that task. Since I always carry a knife (or two) with me in the wilderness, I’d rather use that for cutting anyway.
If you’re looking for a good ‘carry hatchet’ for a short trip or weekend bushcraft fun, you should consider the Small Hatchet from Gransfors Bruk. You won’t be disappointed! Above are just couple of additional photos that I took during my 2009 trip to the wild Beskid Niski Mountains, which are in southern Poland. I used my Gransfors A LOT during that time for just above everything – preparing firewood, some cutting, and initial carving of my Kuksa (cup).
Above are some photos taken in 2010 from another Summer trip to the Mountains with my family and friends. My daughter was just 5 at that time. Oh man, time goes by so fast!
And finally, here is a new photo from this year. My “Mighty Mini” is still with me and going strong! And yes, my 2.5 year old son really likes my toys. The Mini will definitely belong to him one day.
Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by tribe member Piotr Ma. The Gransfors Bruk Small Hatchet is the lightest of all the axes from Gransfors Bruk. The Small Hatchet was developed by Lennart Pettersson (LP), axe smith, knife smith and keen angler, who was looking to create a very light axe that still retained that axe feel. The slightly rounded poll functions like a ‘priest’ (used to hit fish over the head). If you’re interested in purchasing or learning more about Gransfors Bruks in the US, you can contact Grand Forest Inc.