Gränsfors or Hultafors?

I occasionally see people on forums wondering whether Gränsfors or Hultafors Classic axes are better, but the replies are always “I heard this, my uncle said that”, and never “I have both, here is a picture”.

Anyway, I have (more than one of) both, here is a picture. Gränsfors is a little better. However, the heads on the Hultafors Classics are just as good. The areas where Hultafors Classic is a bit worse are handle finish and the quality of the leather protector, where they are only slightly deficient to Gränsfors. If you have a touch of the hipster about you as I do, you might also be pleased that Hultafors doesn’t seem to do celebrity endorsements as Gränsfors does (likewise Wetterlings). Hultafors Classics should cost less than the equivalent Gränsfors, although Gränsfors has US distribution. Gransfors also has a wider range. Neither are as good as Hans Karlsson or John Neeman (which cost more than twice as much!), but both will last forever.

On that basis, I think Gränsfors is a little better but Hultafors is the better buy. Gränsfors handles are finished more nicely and they come a bit sharper, but use makes them equal as the handles wear and pick up dirt, and as you re-sharpen them. So might as well go with Hultafors Classic if they make the type of axe you need, and if the seller you find has them at about 10% less or more.

Edit, a while later: A little while after I wrote this, Hultafors started officially distributing their stuff in the US under the name “Hults Bruk”. Those have the exact same heads as the Hultafors Classic equivalents (although there are a few new models), the handles are a little different, and they jacked up the prices to Gransfors/Wetterlings levels. So if you like saving money or dislike being pandered to, find Hultafors Classic stuff from overseas. I mean, at this end of the market you’re going to be pandered to, but you might as well try and minimize it.

Hultafors Carpenter Axe, with a straight bevel face, and Gransfors Small Forest Axe, a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none deal.