It’s funny, just last week I was thinking about writing a review for this axe, and I was planning on touting it as one of the best budget axes; then… it broke.
I’ll admit, I mainly use this axe for chopping mesquite wood, which is a very hard wood, and I use it almost every day; but that shouldn’t matter. Nobody is selling axes with a disclaimer that reads: “This axe is only for chopping soft wood infrequently.”
What’s more, Cold Steel makes a point of marketing their tools as being tough. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen adverts – or at least other reviews – where they’ve straight up called their tools “virtually indestructible.” So when I decided to purchase the Trail Boss, I was expecting this thing to last a long, long time.
However, the Trail Boss’ supposed toughness is not the main reason I bought this axe. The main reason I bought this axe is because it’s an exact replica of a Gransfors Bruks at a fraction of the price. For those of you who don’t know, Gransfors Bruks is a Swedish axe manufacturer that arguably makes the best axes in the world.
When I say the Trail Boss is an exact replica, what I’m really say is the handle, head shape, and overall design is identical. Obviously, at only $30, compared to an axe that costs around $200, the quality of the steel is not going to be as good, and it certainly isn’t going to be hand-forged, but the head is not the part that broke; the handle is.
This was surprising to me since the handle is not only identical to a Gransfors Bruks in design, but it’s “genuine hickory” just like the real thing. As you can see from the pictures, it basically shattered right where the head is secured. The handle also has a concerning amount of small splits running through it. I’m just thankful the head didn’t fly off and hit somebody – or me, for that matter.
Honestly though, I wasn’t pissed when the axe broke; I was sad. I really, really liked this axe a lot. It had a great feel, a sharp edge, and it was perfectly balanced. I could chop wood for hours with this thing. I liked the Trail Boss so much, part of me still wants to recommend it, but I don’t think I can do that in good conscience knowing that mine basically fell apart after less than one year of regular use.
I plan on replacing the axe with one of Fiskars’ similarly priced axes – perhaps the X15 or the X27 – so expect a review on one of those next year. I have a Fiskars shovel that came with a lifetime warranty, and is claimed to be “the best shovel in the world.” I have to admit, it’s a pretty damn good shovel that’s taken a lot of abuse, so I’m inclined to believe their axes may be of similar quality and ruggedness.