February 13, 2015

Hardcore Hammers Ultimate Survivalist Hatchet - Review

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A while back I reveled in reviewed the Hardcore Hammers Naturalist Hatchet. I loved it for it's....everything. Late last year, they sent along their newest hatchet, the Ultimate Survivalist for me to try out. And try out I did. Over and over and over. This new version polishes up some of the functionality of the older one and adds a few things. It also has a head that is nearly indestructible and holds an edge for a long time, which is really what you want if you're out in the middle of nowhere relying on your tools.

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First, the toughness of this thing is just outstanding. The head is made of 4140 ordinance steel, the same stuff gun barrels are made of. The guys at Hardcore Hammers showed me a video of one of these hatchets chopping through framing nails without a whole lot of effort. They did tell me that it's probably not the best usage for keeping the edge, but it does indeed show what the tool is capable of in a pinch. And as far as the edge goes, it does last quite a long time. I've been working away with the hatchet (on wood, not nails) intermittently for a couple months and while it has a lost a bit of its razor edge, it's still plenty sharp and well above the threshold of when I'd think to sharpen it.

The handle is hickory and has a nice comfortable curve to it. It's beefier than the Naturalist handle, which took a little getting used to, but after having used it for a while, I don't think twice about it.

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The underside of the cutting edge has a notch that can be used for pulling nails or tent stakes. It's a nice touch and the design gives a lot of leverage, like the side pullers on a framing hammer.

Also the butt of the head (that's what it's actually called) has the striking face of the original Hardcore Hammer. This is with the milled inner face and the protruding smooth outer ring. The whole thing sticks out of the hatchet too, so it's like a real hammer head and not just some slightly adjusted hatchet head.

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With these features the tool is much more polished than the stripped down Naturalist. Gone is the rustic "Last of the Mohicans" vibe (which I actually really like). But "look and feel" only get you so far and if I was ever in a position where I had to actually rely on a hatchet (and not just have one for pecking away at the kindling pile), the survivalist model is the clear winner.

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The Ultimate Survivalist costs $135, and comes with a leather blade cover. The price may seem a bit shocking at first, but it's actually a pretty good value for a tool like this that's made in the USA. Gransfors Bruk hatchets can go for twice that. I've handled some of those, but have never really used them. Sure, they're really nice and that company makes what are seen as measuring sticks of hatchets, froes, and axes, but this Hardcore Hammers hatchet is pretty damn slick too.

So if you're just looking for a tool to help with feeding the wood stove, this might be more hatchet than you need (although you won't have to sharpen it as much). But if you have a picture of Bear Grylls in your wallet or a Creek Stewart screensaver on your computer, this is a tool worth some serious consideration.

At Hardcore Hammers

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at February 13, 2015 6:21 AM
Recent Comments

Bear Grylls? That's funny - he spends his nights in a comfy hotel while shooting his footage. If you want a real survivalist, you want "SurvivorMan' Les Stroud. He spends a week out in survival situations and films the entire time....by himself.


Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2015 4:19 PM
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