Review of the Russ Kommer Timberline Bush Pilot 9" Survival Hatchet


April 24, 2013, 10:42 PM
This will be my first hatchet/knife review so bear with me. Today I received the Russ Kommer Timberline Bush Pilot 9" Survival Hatchet that I ordered for $44.99 including S/H from Midway USA. Initial impressions are the hatchet is well-built. One solid piece of 440 stainless steel with full tang. Blade is 4" long. Two-piece handle is Zytel. Construction is solid. I don't see this hatchet breaking. Overall length is only 9", which is part of its appeal but also limits its use. It is advertised as a camp axe as well as a survival hatchet, but after testing it today I can guarantee you it would be my last choice for a camp axe. I would be comfortable choosing it as a survival hatchet given its compact size and quality blade. It had a decent edge out of the box, so I did not sharpen before beginning my test.

My test wood was a 2.5" diameter branch from a live cedar elm tree and a 3" diameter hackberry limb I had cut about two weeks ago and was hard as steel. Cedar Elms are classified as hardwoods but they are somewhere between a live oak and a Hackberry in hardness in my opinion and experience. I have all three trees on my land. I can chainsaw live oaks all day before dulling a chain, about 1/2 day on cedar elms and it only takes one medium size Hackberry before my chain is toast. I hate hackberry trees!

I began with chopping off the 2.5" cedar elm branch. I chose one that was overhead to see how it performed without the benefit of full leverage behind my swing, which might be the case in a survival situation if your only option was chopping branches from live trees to use for shelter, crutches, splint, etc… It took less than a minute to chop it down. That is the first pic in my attachments. I did notice immediately that the hatchet is very hard on your hand. The end of the handle has a sharp edge due to its deep finger grooves. There is zero padding to absorb the impact of your strikes. I put on leather work gloves for the next chop but then the hatchet was hard to control. It turned sideways if you were trying to strike at an angle or if your strike was not completely perpendicular. I was able to strip the smaller branches off in no time. Before making my second chop, I sharpened the blade to put a little better edge on it even though it had not lost much of the factory edge. My next chop was on the ground where I was able to use my leverage and chop the branch in two in less than a minute again, which is pic 2. I still had trouble keeping the handle from moving around with my gloves on. I took off my gloves for the third chop. It took me a few minutes to make the third chop mainly because my hand was really hurting by now due to the handle digging into me at the end.

For my last chop, I attacked the 3” hackberry limb. I sharpened the blade again making sure it had a good edge. It took me less than five minutes (pics 3 and 4), but by the time I was done my hand was really hurting, and I had already worked up and busted a blister from making the four total chops.

The sheath is made from bridle leather and is very thin and has a rough finish. I have attached several pics in the next post of this thread. The stitching is decent, but I don’t think the sheath would have a very long live if worn regularly or in a survival situation. I wore the hatchet around today while working on my land and did not notice the 20 oz. weight at all. However, I wear ” thick gun belts. A thinner and lighter belt will probably not bear the weight as well.

Overall, I would rate this as a decent survival hatchet for its compactness and quality construction. There is no way I would use this as a camp axe. I will take it hunting and use it for quartering deer. It might make its way into my bug out bag. I’m also going to round off the sharp edge on the end of the handle. I’m glad I also ordered the Estwing E44A 16-Inch Steel Campers Axe this week! Looking forward to chopping with it!

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April 24, 2013, 10:48 PM
sheath pics

April 24, 2013, 11:06 PM
Nice write up. You'll love that Estwing!

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