Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet Review: Sharp Versatility
What compact and lightweight survival tool can chop a tree, feather a stick, skin a log and even slice up your dinner in camp? If you said the new Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet, you get to pass “Go” and collect $200.
We’ll what else can this cool, packable tool do?
Let’s Dig In and Get Started…
The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is a compact, light weight, and pretty innovative tool that comes with a ballistic nylon belt sheath and the Bear Grylls Pocket Survival Guide.
Full Tang Tough
The hallmark of this hatchet is that it’s full tang… which means the hatchet blade, head and handle are all one piece. So there’s no welds or joints to break.
The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is made from 3Cr13MoV stainless steel that is a full .25 inches (or 6.35 millimeters) thick…which is thicker than most of my toughest survival knives… so even though this hatchet looks sleek, compact and streamlined… it’s pretty stout and rugged…yet it weighs less than a pound and a half (or 590 grams)… So, ultimately, it packs a punch, but won’t slow you down.
Beware!!! Super Sharp!
My hatchet arrived about razor sharp… and was actually sharper than my Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Knife out of the box.
To test the sharpness, I used an old school technique of holding the hatchet perpendicular to the ground and with a ball point pen handle angled at around 60 degrees. Now old timers use their thumbnail instead of a pen… but I didn’t want to do this with this axe.
So… in general, a knife is pretty sharp if it doesn’t slip down the pen at a 60 degree angle… And the more you increase the slope before the blades slides off… the sharper the knife.
With this hatchet, we got up to nearly 75 degrees! So be careful… this is one sharp tool.
To get an edge this sharp… Gerber honed each side of the edge to around 17 degrees (plus or minus…) which equals an included angle of around 35 degrees… Included angle is the total angle when you add both sides of the edge together.
So a 35 degree included angle is around 10-20 degrees less than a typical hatchet grind… which are often between 50-60 degrees…. or 25 to 35 degrees on each side.
But to get an edge this sharp, Gerber decided to go with around a 34 degree included angle (that’s about 17 degrees on each side of the edge)… This is 10-20 degrees less than a typical hatchet grind.
A larger included angle will stand up to more hard use, but is more difficult to hone to a razor sharp edge.
So the upside is that you get a very sharp survival hatchet edge that can be used for just about every camp… or survival cutting and chopping task…
The downside is that the edge could rollover a bit with hard use.
Very Useful Edge
Now the edge is about 3.5 inches in length and is suitable for limbing and chopping trees, skinning bark, shelter building and general bushcraft.
In my testing I went out and chopped a small tree. The survival hatchet did pretty good considering its small size and low weight.
Special Finger Cutouts
The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is made even more versatile due to the innovative finger cutouts that are found where the head and handle come together. These cutouts make it possible to choke up on the axe and almost use it like a knife.
Well, I actually did use it like a knife and found that this hatchet does a good job slicing vegetables, fruit and meat…
And because of the design, weight, balance and the ergonomics of the finger cutouts… it made stripping bark and feathering kindling easy.
Honestly, this hatchet was so versatile, it would do well as a back-up knife in a pinch.
On the back of the head you’ll see a narrow, cross-hatched striking surface that is suitable for breaking, smashing and crushing things… The hatchet does a great job hammering stuff like improvised tent pegs… by just turning it sideways and banging away.
100% of the steel on this hatchet is covered with the pretty rugged, gray, PVD coating that’s found on most of the other Bear Grylls knives and tools.
Very Grippy, Comfortable Handle
The full tang handle is over-molded with a very comfortable rubberized grip similar to what we have in the rest of the gear in this line.
I’ve found this hatched to be a joy to hold and use. And it stays in my hand pretty good even when wet.
Toward the butt end of the handle the grip flairs. This helps keep the tool in my hand when in use, especially when swinging it hard when notching or chopping a tree.
Using this hatchet to chop a small tree was not as easy as using an axe but it sure beat using my Ultimate PRO Survival Knife.
What About The Butt?
Okay… on the butt end of the handle we have a sizable hole for adding a lanyard… AND the tang is exposed. SO you could break stuff- like nuts- with this pommel… but I’m not sure why you would want to considering the hammer on the back of the hatchet head.
The Sheath is made out of a thick reinforced nylon. The hatchet fits snug and is held inside with a velcro closure flap.
On the back there is a hand carry loop on top and two belt loops that keep the knife from flopping around on your belt.
One Last Thing…
As with every other tool in the Bear Grylls line, the Survival Hatchet ships with the waterproof, Bear Grylls Priorities of Survival Pocket Guide.
This guide is printed on a soft plastic film so it totally waterproof. I sunk it in water for a day just to make sure.
But most importantly, Bear’s guide is THE BEST pocket survival guide that I have seen to date (at least until we come out with our Ultimate Survival Tips – Pocket Guide)… because it tells and SHOWs you the basics of how to stay alive in the wilderness and get rescued.
It’s free, and can be taken for granted, but this little guide is a gem and can help you know what to do to stay alive when the chips are down.
So we rate the Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet at 4.5 out of 5 Stars for being a VERY light weight, yet stout and durable hatchet with a form factor that makes it easy to carry on your belt and throw in any pack.
We like its full tang design and innovations like the finger notches just below the head that make it easy to use this tool like a knife, especially since my hatchet arrived razor sharp and ready for just about any slicing task.
We took off half a star because… although the edge is very sharp due to it’s narrow blade angle, there is the potential that this blade could fold over a bit with hard use.
So Who Is This Tool For?
The Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is a great tool for its intended use AS a survival hatchet because it’s easy to keep on your belt, or in your pack at all times.
It’s perfect for Scouts, Bug Out Bags and emergency kits, camping, hunting, hiking, backpacking, canoe camping or as a capable compact hatchet to keep in your vehicle or around the house.
AND at an average online street price well under $40 US… at the time of this review… the Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet is worth a serious look for anyone who needs a tough, compact and lightweight hatchet.
For a compact, light weight hatchet with a bit more chopping power and firesteel built into the handle base, check out the Schrade Survival Hatchet… for a larger, yet packable chopping tool with a compact saw stored in the handle, check out the Gerber Gator Combo Axe or the SOG Backcountry Axe – and for an interesting digging and chopping tool… Check out the Cold Steel Special Forces Survival Shovel.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this review of the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet!