Manufacturer: Snow & Nealley
Axe Head Weight: 1.75 lb
Axe Length: 24 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown carbon steel
Handle Material: Hickory
The Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe is a mid size axe, at a mid range price. It is large enough to do some serious work, but at the same time is small enough to be easily carried in a backpack. In terms of size, it falls right between the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe and the Scandinavian Forest Axe.
In this review, I will try to compare the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe to both the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe and the Scandinavian Forest Axe. Below you can see the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe next to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe.
Here you can see it next to the Small Forest Axe as well.
The Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe has an excellent handle. It comes in at 24 inches, an inch shorter than the Scandinavian Forest axe, and 4 inches longer than the Small Forest Axe. It has a great shape, and is very comfortable. It is one of the best handle designs I have seen. The grain of the one I got was good, although not perfect, and it did contain some hard wood.
The head of the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe has positive and negative aspects. In the picture below, you can see it next to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe. You will notice how smooth the transition is between the bit and the eye. This is exactly what I like to see in an axe head. This axe gets it exactly right. It does not have the abrupt transition and concavity that you see in the Gransfors Bruks. This creates less impediments for the wood, improving splitting performance. On the other hand, the bit itself is much thicker than I like. It is not horrible, and is clearly a design characteristic, bit the thicker bit impedes the chopping performance. (There was paint on the top portion of the head, which I sanded off)
The head is attached to the handle with a metal wedge, and it held securely during testing. The bit is longer than that of the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe.
The balance of the axe is fairly good. The bit is heavier than the poll, so you see it leaning down a bit, but overall, it is not bad. This is important as it increases control of the axe during a swing.
The axe comes with a beautiful leather sheath, although it seems to be a bit too small for the head.
The axe needed some sharpening when it arrived. I sharpened it, but did not change the grind prior to testing.
When it came to chopping, the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe was significantly outperformed by the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe.
In fact, it was also outperformed by the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe, and axe with a lighter head ans shorter handle. This is clearly a result of the thicker bit.
Like I mentioned before, the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe shines when it comes to splitting. The thick bit, combined with good head geometry, makes it an excellent splitter.
Performance characteristics aside however, I had some serious issues with this axe. It is one of the most poorly finished axes that I have ever seen. The head of the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe had a series of defects, which while not significantly impeding to the performance, show a very low (non existent) level of quality control.
To begin with, the eye is not aligned. It is aligned on the top section of the head, but on the bottom, it is closer to one wall than the other. This results in the head being at a slight angle to the handle. This is not an issue with the hanging process, but rather the head has been improperly made.
On top of that, the head looks as if though a tractor has passed over it. It is skewed in every possible direction. It more closely resembles a trapezoid than a rectangle.
Unfortunately, these are defects that can not be fixed with filing or grinding. They are also not something that a reasonable person can miss during the inspection process. Clearly, there is no quality control being utilized here. The axe is still technically usable, and it did not effect the testing in a significant way, but these are issues that should not exist with a $65 axe. I e-mailed Snow & Nealley, but I have not received a response from them.
The truth is that if you grind down the cutting edge and re-profile it, this axe can be an excellent tool. The lack of quality control however worries me a lot, and prevents me from recommending this manufacturer to any one else.
As far as I know, the manufacturer produces additional bushcraft appropriate axes: The Young Camper’s Belt Axe (1.25 lb head; 15 inches in length), The Penobscot Bay Kindling Axe (1.75 lb head; 18 inches in length), The “Our Best” 28' Axe (2.25lb head; 28 inches in length), The “Our Best” 30' Axe (3.5lb head; 30 inches in length) and The “Our Best” Double Bit Axe (3.25 lb head; 36 inches in length).