The only axe that remains in the Hults Bruk Arvika Five Star line is their massive, massive 4.5lb Tasmanian pattern axe. These axes were designed as a modified racing axe, meant to stand up to Australian hardwoods and sold as professional timberman’s tools.
Another common use for this type of axe is as a practice racing axe for those interested in getting into Timbersports.
This pattern has survived over eleven decades of hard use. With almost every major Swedish and American brand offering Tasmanian pattern axes to professional lumberjacks.
For this review, I will be comparing the new production Hults Bruk Arvika to an original early 1960’s Arvika that was made right after Hults Bruk bought the brand.
The Arvika Five Star Tasmanian has never come with a sheath. Never has and never will. It’s already an expensive axe so it’s left up to the end user. Considering it’s meant as a professional axe everyone will have a different preference as to the best style of sheath.
The overall length is 32″. Exactly the same as the original model. However, the new models now use the same handles as their Hults Bruk Agdor Montreal Pattern 3.5lb felling axe.
The new head does have minor differences when compared to the vintage model. I had expected them to be identical but if you look closely you can see a few differences. For one there are no square edges on the 1960s version. Also, the vintage model has a beautifully tapered poll with rounded corners and a much better radius on the bit. Which also adds about a half inch in usable length and an extra 200 grams in weight.
These differences are minor and won’t affect performance but they do show better attention to detail in the past. The shorter bit also means a few less years of use.
Both heads have a satin finish to aid in performance. No trendy forged finish for either of these professional tools.
Both the new and vintage Arvika have the same bit profiles. By any standard, these have very thin bits. Especially for such a large axe. The vintage model is possibly slightly thinner but you would need a set of calipers to tell.
A lot of people like to romanticize how good vintage steel is when compared to modern steel. For the most part, I agree. However, after checking both axes with a file, the vintage Arvika turned out to be very soft. Actually some of the softest steel I’ve ever filed. Compare that to the current production model and the file wouldn’t even bite! It just skated across the edge like glass.
Hults Bruk handles are always well executed and this one is no different. As mentioned, It’s the exact same handle that Hults Bruk uses on their 3.5lb Agdor Montreal Pattern felling axe. Made from high-grade Hickory it has perfect grain orientation with zero runout.
The actual thickness is almost perfect. It’s thin enough to be comfortable but still thick enough to suit such a large axe. My only complaint is the way they now do their shoulder transitions. They’re very abrupt when compared to older models. It also adds about 1/16″ thickness on either side. It’s a minor complaint but shows a slightly lower standard in the fit and finish.
The shape of the palm swell is a very subjective thing. However, I personally prefer the newer style. It has a more defined nob for added grip and a nice gradual sweep. Overall these would make wonderful replacement handles for anyone doing restoration work.
This axe is a brute! It’s also one of the oldest continually produced designs still available. With over 110 years of history.
If you need an axe that is designed as a dedicated felling and bucking tool and meant for hard use by professionals then this is it. What it lacks in classic finishing it more than makes up for in steel quality. These new Arvikas have some of the best steel I’ve seen in current production axes. Or even vintage axes for that matter.
However, if you’re looking for a general use axe or something for splitting this definitely wouldn’t be your first choice. For general use, it’s just way too big. All you’ll do is wear yourself out. As for splitting, buy something meant for it. I tried splitting quite a few large maple and poplar rounds and it just gets stuck. As in burried. A Hults Bruk Bjork would be a much better and cheaper option.