Had a hankering for a larger axe for winter camping. My 19" Wetterlings is a great chopper for its size but to process enough firewood for an all night fire it's just not got enough oomph. I very nearly pulled the trigger on a 26" Wetterlings but instead went a little different route and bought an Iltis Ox Head "Europe" model felling axe.
Have only done a bit of chopping with it so far so these are really just initial impressions. I'll add more when I get more use in with this axe.
Head weight is 2.5 to 2.8 lbs depending on where you read
Forged in Germany
Bit is about 5.5 inches wide.
Price is roughly $100 shipped
First a couple overall views of the axe.
Looks good overall. Head is aligned well, seems to be on fairly solid. The grain in the handle is pretty good, not perfect but for an internet order I'm dang happy with it. Not terribly happy about the varnish/paint coating on it, but eventually I may strip it and put a proper linseed oil finish on it.
The head is finished very nicely. I'm not a huge fan of the paint on the back portion of the axe, but it's no deal breaker. It's already scuffed all to heck from what chopping I have done with it. Eventually it will mostly wear off. Earlier axes I've seen have black paint on the head, but this is a thin yellow coat. The profile of the head is impressive, almost more of a broad axe shape to it. It has plenty of heft to it also. The edge cover is a piece of junk. It covers the edge, but that's about it. It is made from thin vinyl leather. Will need to be replaced in the long run with a decent leather cover.
Head is mounted with a wood wedge and two very large ring pins. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of this mounting. The handle should stay on but the pins are huge and the wood in the eye has been very seriously compressed and distorted. I won't be putting the next handle in like this when it needs one. The top of the handle is cut flush with the eye on the axe... I like the Wetterlings/GB method of leaving a bit on the top but I'm holding judgment to see how this holds up.
Just a look at how the head was fitted. Some machine marks here, as well as wood that has been scraped down by the front of the eye, apparently from being forced on. Only place such a thing was visible.
View of the poll and the grain of the handle near the head. Nothing to complain about here.
Top view of the profile of the head. I like it. For the most part.
Hard to show but the edge as this axe came was THICK. Thick as in my 19" Wetterlings with a reprofiled edge bevel outchopped it without contest. Even before taking it out the first time I thinned the final edge bevel but it still mostly just bounced off logs. Not impressive at all. It's a lot of work to swing that big two and a half pound head around and get absolutely nowhere.
So at this point I am working with files to take back the shoulders of the bit. After two hours of work on that big convex bevel it is greatly improved but still needs a fair bit more work. It's taking a long time for me to fix the profile as I'm going very slowly and trying to maintain a good convex bevel, which is a bit challenging.
The steel is also nice and hard (quite comparable to my Wetterlings). It has taken the use and abuse of me getting used to swinging a longer, heavier axe with no damage to the edge at all. Want to make it clear that the steel is no disappointment on this axe.
Another couple hours or so on the edge and this should be a fantastic axe. At this point it chops fairly well, but it is not what it could be. With a belt sander a reprofile job on this axe wouldn't take much at all and you'd have a great chopping axe quickly.
The axe does hit with authority and will throw chips in a way that my Wetterlings can only imagine doing, especially on big (6 + inch) logs. With a thick edge as it has now I find myself forcing the axe and swinging hard as I can, which really defeats the purpose of a heavy head. With a proper edge the heft of the axe and the edge should do the work for you, as long as you swing the axe so it lands where it should. I think this axe has a lot of potential.
So, overall for my first impressions of this axe... It is a well made tool. The head itself is good but needs a fair amount of work on the edge bevel to be a very good chopper. It has a lot of potential though, which is really why I bought the axe in the first place. Should be a good size axe for car camping and winter camping on shorter hikes. Overall workmanship on the axe is very good and I'm not disappointed with my purchase.
That being said after seeing rg's review of the Husqvarna axe and seeing the price for it I might have gone with that instead. Its head also seems to be about 2.5 lbs (was looking for something in that range) and looks to come from the factory with a much better edge and less annoying paint on various parts of the axe.
Will post more sometime down the road.