U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Modern edged implements such as axes and pocketknives commonly fall into the same aesthetic trap as modern vehicles: they’re as visually varied as two shades of white. It can take a unique, new design to truly stand out from the crowd, or in the case of the CRKT Berserker, an old design. Portland, Oregon-based Colombia River Knife and Tool tapped custom tomahawk maker Ryan Johnson to design this distinctively Norske axe. Having been raised in a small Alaskan town of Norwegian settlers, I’m interested in testing this out both as a Norse descendant, and as a heavy user of firewood for heating the house.
Let’s cover what the Berserker is made of before we cover how well the design plays out in the field. Tech specs provided by CRKT.
|Blade Length||4.65″ (118.06 mm)|
|Blade Edge||Axe w/Hammer|
|Blade Steel||1055 Carbon Steel|
|Blade Finish||Manganese Phosphate Coating|
|Blade Thickness||1.57″ (39.95 mm)|
|Weight||2.07 lb (0.94 kg)|
|Handle||19″ Tennessee Hickory (friction fit)|
The Berserker comes in a box with the head and handle separated. Simply slide the blade up from the bottom of the haft, then flip it upside down and smack the haft down on a solid surface to press the head of the axe into a friction fit position. That’s what the instructions said at least, but I had the head come loose a couple of times while working on some seasoned firewood before I used a mallet to persuade the axe head a little further up the haft. Now, it’s on tight and stays.
The Berserker comes with a rubber edge protector, less for the axe’s safety and more for the safety of everything near it. Seriously, the Berserker came out of the box with a near knife’s edge on it. This did cause the edge to roll a little in a couple places, and even develop a small chip during the first couple hours of use. Putting a slightly less aggressive edge on this will undoubtedly increase edge longevity, but WOW is it impressive to see what a finely honed axe can do, even if only for a little while.
Billed as a “two-handed axe”, the 19″ handle is more of what I’d call a “bastard axe”, or a hand-and-a-half. It’s a bit small for a two-handed overhead firewood chop, and larger than most one-handed hatchets. The Berserker is really well balanced though, so it’s certainly not out of form for one-handed usage. As the CRKT website says, with a little choke-up on the handle, the Berserker goes from cedar smasher to tomato slicer in a hurry.
Speaking of well-balanced, what’s the least practical thing you can do with your axe (that’s also a lot of fun)? Throw it. Nowhere in CRKT’s advertising or information is this mentioned, so clearly it’s not what they’re advocating you try with your Berserker. But does it work? Yes! The Berserker throws well, and sticks easily. Not in a “one-in-a-dozen” way like you can get nearly any axe or hatchet to stick, but easily and repeatedly. This speaks well to the balanced nature of this tool.
The hickory haft? A thing of beauty. This isn’t a species of wood I run into often here in Northwest Oregon, but it is incredibly strong considering how light it is. The haft has no finger grooves and a mildly slick surface, so I think I’ll add a little leather wrap near the bottom of the handle, just as a matter of personal preference.
The black manganese phosphate coating on the Berserker is a deft choice. While it appears to scuff off easily, a little scrub down reveals that wood and bark scrape off onto the axe head, while the coating is still thick and intact underneath. The edges have shown a bit of early wear, but not enough to compromise the protection of the carbon steel.
While the axe head itself is emblazoned with both CRKT and Ryan Jonson’s names, the country of manufacture isn’t. Nor on the website, nor on the box itself. One has to look for the barcode sticker to find out, “Product of Taiwan”. While Taiwan has produced many quality items over the years, it was a little let down not to see “Made in the USA”. Yeah, I’d pay the extra money American-made products cost.
Overall though, I have to say I really like the Berserker. The design is both aesthetic and functional, and the build quality matches what you’d expect out of a good axe. I do like the hand-and-a-half sizing, meaning this is a great jack-of-all-trades tool. I even liked it enough to break out the wood burner and adorn the haft with a few choice runes. For the approximately $70 street price these days on a CRKT Berserker, you’re getting a tool worth of farm and field.
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fishery and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”