If you think this camp axe from Snow and Nealley looks a lot like a tomahawk, you’re right. The Hudson Bay axe pattern was hot stuff as trade goods throughout the Great Lakes during the days of the Fur Trade, and versions of this versatile pattern migrated west faster than the pioneers.
The Hudson’s Bay Camp Axe made by Snow and Nealley is a very advanced form of this old design with a flat poll good for hammering tent stakes and a head of high carbon steel better than anything sold at the old trading posts. In style, it’s still the same thing with a weight of only a pound and three-quarters at the axe head, compared to three-and-a-half pounds for a standard single bit. With a hickory handle only 24 inches long, it’s big enough for major camp work but light enough to portage, as popular with today’s canoeists as with the trappers and fishermen who ran the same routes centuries ago.
Many of the old trade axes lacked the quality you’ll find in this modern Snow and Nealley. Trade axes from older days often included pipe bowl peens and hollow stem handles, for enjoying a good smoke. Many that survive show broken pipe bowls, a misfortune that resulted when someone tried to use them for hammers. Other better tomahawks were made with rounded eyes — less practical for driving stakes but very easy to fit a handle to in the woods. Replacing the handle on this axe will require something better than the nearest branch, but it’s an inexpensive and common pattern even now and should be on hand at a hardware store near you.
For a full-sized single bit axe, try Snow and Nealley’s Best Axe.
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