This is an exciting day, my friends. As my quest to find the best budget hatchet continues, I’ve arrived at what just might be the best deal on a hatchet under $50.
Believe me when I tell you that I’ve bought and destroyed a lot of cheap-o hatchets over the years. The NedFoss 13” Hatched has impressed me more than most, and for a super affordable piece of equipment, it has a lot of things working in its favor. This is a hatchet that definitely does not suck.
First Impressions: NedFoss 13” Hatchet
What a handsome little axe this is!
A lot of cheap hatchets simply look cheap, and the NedFoss 13” Hatchet is not one of them. It has the look of a much higher-end hatchet than its $45 price tag would suggest, and the edge is sharp enough to cut paper right out of the box. That is definitely not something I expected.
The head appears to be hand forged, and is fitted nicely into the beech wood handle with no gaps or wiggle room that I can see. The handle is very nicely contoured, fits my hand perfectly, and is easy to grip and swing.
Measurements & Specs
True to name, the NedFoss 13” Hatchet measures (drum roll please…) 13 inches from eye to knob. The head sports a 3.34-inch cutting edge and weighs 16.6 ounces. The hatchet’s total weight is 26.9 ounces, which is pretty light for a hatchet this size, making it a great candidate for hiking and backpacking.
Axe Head & Steel
The head of the NedFoss 13” Hatchet is listed as a Viking type head, which I take to mean that it has a significantly curved beard leading down to the heel of the cutting edge. It has quite a wide taper to it, which makes it a really effective splitter. You don’t have to work very hard to split wood ranging from kindling right up to mid-sized firewood.
The steel used to make the head is either AISI 1045 Carbon Steel (according to the NedFoss website) or AISI 1055 Carbon Steel (according to the Amazon listing). Maybe they’ve changed it, or maybe somebody made a typo somewhere. In any case, I’m not precisely sure which type of steel the hatchet I have is made out of.
That being said, there isn’t a world of difference between 1045 and 1055 steel. They’re both very similar grades of medium carbon steel, and pretty common choices for axe and hatchet heads.
More importantly than the precise steel grade is the fact that the head of the NedFoss hatchet has been heat-treated to increase density and hardness. That makes it a very tough little splitter. It stays sharp through quite a bit of use, and with zero rolling along the edge. I’ve noticed a couple of small chips that have appeared over time, but they’re minimal and easy to file away when sharpening the hatchet.
The steel appears to be of uniform hardness throughout. I can’t say with complete certainty, but I take that to mean that the head is all one piece, as opposed to a separate bit that is forge-welded to the blade.
Handle Wood & Contour
I really like the fit and feel of the NedFoss hatchet handle. It has a beautifully contoured shape to it, with a curvature that fits my hand perfectly and allows easy use while absorbing shock quite well. You can chop effectively with either a one-handed or two-handed grip.
The wood is beech, which is a pretty common hatchet handle material. Beechwood is a step down from hickory, which is about the best wood you can get for axes and hatchets, but it’s still good hard stuff. The wood has nice tight grain to it, and shows no signs of cracking after a lot of use.
The NedFoss 13” hatchet comes with its handle totally unfinished, which I like because it gives you the option to finish and care for your handle however you like. I like to simply wipe mine down with linseed oil periodically to keep the wood from drying out, but you could also apply beeswax or any other finish you choose.
Extras & Features
You get a couple of extras with this hatchet, which is part of the reason why I consider it to be such a great value for a budget hatchet. First off, you get a leather sheath to protect the blade. It’s not what I would call a super high-end sheath, but it’s not bad. It’s made of rugged, full grain leather, and has rivets and snaps that look to be made out of brass.
The hatchet also comes with a sharpening puck, which is great. Buying a puck separately would easily run you $10 or more, and the one that came with my hatchet is every bit as good as the Lansky pucks that most folks use.
My hatchet came with a dual grit NedFoss sharpening puck (the blue one), which has 400 fine grit and 250 course grit. NedFoss also makes a red puck and a gray puck, which each have different grit levels, and I gather that they have kind of thrown in with the hatchets at random, so you never quite know which one might be included.
Final Thoughts on the NedFoss 13” Hatchet
Look, the NedFoss 13” Hatchet is what it is.
It’s a really good budget-friendly hatchet that pretty much clobbers most of its competition within its price range. It won’t hold up against truly high-end German or Scandinavian hatchets, nor should anyone realistically expect it to.
Considering the price point, I don’t have anything bad to say about this hatchet. It’s a great camping or hiking axe that does any backcountry task you might want a hatchet to do. It’s a great splitter and chopper that has a keen cutting edge, stays sharp through repeated use, and is easy to re-sharpen when the time comes.
Can you fell a tree with it? If you really had to, sure. This hatchet is better suited to lighter-duty work, but it’s a tough little guy. Take care of it, and you can easily expect to get many years of service out of it. Oil the handle as needed, and clean and oil the head too (it’s carbon steel, thus not corrosion resistant).
I’m not saying it’s the best hatchet money can buy. There are some great ones in the $150 to $200 range that will basically outlive your grandchildren. But not everybody wants to drop that kind of cheddar on a hatchet, and I get that.
So if you’re looking for the best hatchet $50 can buy, you might have found it right here.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.