For my “timed cut on an 8-inch log” I dropped…

For my “timed cut on an 8-inch log” I dropped this mature red alder from our stand of timber and picked a spot near the upper end that was roughly the right size. Having a little leveler ground would have helped but moving that log without bucking it was not an option.

Brian Griffin had his shot at convincing you that a big knife beats an axe for survival use in the May issue of Tactical Knives [Blade Vs. Axe pg. 64]. Now, it’s my turn. I’m almost embarrassed to even have to argue this point, as I know virtually every classic camping and woodcraft manual of the last 150 years is on my side. In the past, about the only argument that was ever open for discussion was what size and/or pattern of axe to carry. It has only been in very recent times that oversize “survival” and “camp” knives have even been considered for backcountry use.

Define Large Knife?
Just to define what I mean by a “large knife,” I’m going to limit that to blades between 8 and 12 inches. Brian’s 10-inch Caldwell M1-9 fits that category very well. I will also agree that a machete may be preferable to an axe for tropic jungle use but I have found anything under 14 inches in blade length is inadequate for that role.

To make this counter argument interesting, the axe I chose for my illustration was a very basic 2-1/4-pound, 28-inch handle, Council “Boys Axe” or what some also refer to as a “3/4 axe.” I’ve been using this standard pattern of chopper since I was a kid. It was the issue axe of the U.S. Forest Service timber cruising crew I worked on summers during college and with both the forestry and wood engineering crews of the timber company I was later employed by. I currently own several different makes of the pattern and it remains my favorite axe for my backcountry pickup tool kit and campfire cooking chores.

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  • We could not agree with you more. There are some things that a big knife just cannot do as well as a good axe. FYI. We still make a boy’s axe for the USFS.