Whether used for splitting firewood or bringing down that shaky tree, an ax is a winter necessity. We found the best. To test them out, we took the axes out to the Catskill Mountains to clear white oak, paper birch, blue spruce, and white ash trees that had been felled by Hurricane Sandy. We then tested each ax's splitting ability, comparing the build, balance, and feel. Here are our favorites.
Husqvarna Splitting Maul
The Swedish-steel head on this 32-inch chopper isn't as refined as that of the Fiskars, but its wedgelike taper and extremely sharp edge made it adept at splitting medium-size logs – and even larger ones. And while its contoured hickory handle is comfortable and generates power efficiently, it isn't forgiving on mis-hits. [$80; husqvarna.com]