Hanwei Full Beard Axe Review (with video)

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Avery P.
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:18 am
Location: Harmony, N.C.

Hanwei Full Beard Axe Review (with video)

Postby Avery P. » Sun May 19, 2013 9:34 pm

Hanwei Full Beard Axe Review
by Avery Pierce

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Stats
Axe Head Length - 8 1/2"
Axe Head Width ( at eye)- 1 1/2"
Blade Face Length - 5 5/8"
Beard Width - 1 5/16"
Bevel Width - 3/16"
Axe Material - High carbon according to Hanwei
Overall Length - 30 1/4"
Overall Weight - 4lb 1oz
Head weight - 3lb 14oz
POB - 25" from end of handle
Price - $105USD (better prices can be found on the net)

Introduction
Well, here lately, there's been a few reviews of Hanwei axes done. I've done a couple myself, and fellow forumite Sparky did an excellent review of their Hero Axe. Of all the reviews I've seen here, and what others have told me, I keep hearing one main thing. The handles. From my own experience, to others here who have rehafted their axes such as Jak did, the one thing we all say is, "Hanwei, Why???"
"You guys have some of the best axe heads on the market, but your' handles suck!!"
Now, having said that, I couldn't consider myself a repeat customer with only 2 axes, so I thought a third time may be a charm. And if not, I'd at least have good credibility if I bitched about the handles. Plus, I also wanted to finish out my Hanwei Viking axe set, and since I have the throwing axe and the short beard, this rounded it out.
I plan to do a very sacrilegious thing with these....... I'll display them on a kake with a rising sun. No offense to you katanaphiles out there, I just think it'd be kinda funny.

Upon Arrival
I ordered this one from Richard Tabor of Sword Nation fame. Richard was quick with any questions or issues I had, and I recommend him to anyone looking for not only a vendor, but also for a standup guy in the weapons business. I ordered this on 11/05/09, and I received my axe on 11/10/09. That's just five short days. The box arrived as you seen below.
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It took me a bit to cut away all the tape, the box was very well packaged. Once I opened the box, I found a box full of paper.
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OK, I thought, I dove into the paper and dug through it 'till I found what I thought was the axe.
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Apparently I hadn't ordered an axe, I had ordered a blank flag.
"Well, what the hell", I thought. So I decorated my flag. Then I stood it in the cardboard boat it came in.
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And here's a better pic of the proud flag I now own.
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Ok, so it wasn't a flag, it was just wrapped really nice in cardboard. Once I peeled away all the paper and cardboard, I found the now familier handle and a very nice axehead wrapped in bubble wrap.
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After the bubble wrap, the blade face was still covered by plastic and then cardboard. I think once Hanwei gets their axe blades as sharp as their swords all these precautions might be neccesary. 'till then, it's really just a waste of plastic and cardboard.
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All things considered, the packaging is what I've come to expect from Hanwei. Nice and tight with alot of overkill when it comes to axes.

History
As stated in many sagas and other Norse writings, the axe was often an all purpose weapon. To live in such an unforgiving land, most all men had an axe of some type. Simple farm implements were quickly converted into combat tools at a moments notice. The use of such tools as weapons is a theme found in a great many cultures, and the Norse were no exception. These types of Farm axes tended to be heavier and thicker for the work required of them. Battle axes, on the other hand, were lighter and thinner across the bridge than their farmer counterpart. This allowed for better recovery after a swing, and deeper penetration into an enemies body. Once seated firmly into a mans skull, the shape and wedged cross section of a bearded axe allowed its user to retrieve the axe with a quick pull up.
Fellow forumite Ichiban was cool enough to help me out with rebuilding some links, as my old laptop died; and with it all my links.
This link is to a very good site that takes a quick tour of not only Viking axes, but also of how they're used in combat.


http://www.hurstwic.org/history/article ... ng_axe.htm


Handle
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This handle is of the same type of wood aa the other axes I've gotten. I called Cas/Hanwei a couple of weeks ago, and spoke to a very nice lady. Unfortunately, she couldn't tell what type it is. Neither could the person she asked. All they knew was that it is some type of Chinese hardwood. She did, however, agree to inquire about it and get back to me. At the time of writing this, I haven't heard back. The length of the factory handle, as said in the stats, is just over thirty inches. It's shaped in more of an oval than a rectangle, which I like. The top measures an 1 5/8"s by 1 1/8", and tapers slightly toward the bottom. The pictures about as good as I could get it to show the top.
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Of course the handle and axe eye had glue residue, which still confuses me a bit, but at least they don't use set screws. Of that I am thankful. I decided not to even atempt to use the axe with this handle, so I went ahead and rehafted it with a sledge hammer handle that I cut down to 30". It adds about another pound to the weight, but worth it IMO.
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Axehead
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First off, I begining to become a big fan of Hanweis axe heads. I didn't like heads that were antiqued, but now it really has grown on me. The finish on the bevel is also very impressive. Polished to a mirror finish with no flaws that I see.
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But, the bevel is smaller and fatter than I expected. Still, being made to fight with and not necessarily thrown, it's actually a good thing. With a wedge cross section and the narrow bevel makes for a very tough blade face.
I also like how the bridge rises into an arc before trasitioning into the beard. The only real complaint is the residue from the glue in the eye, and even that isn't really a big deal.
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The glue is removed fairly easily, but it really isn't necessary to do so.

Handling and Throwing
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Vikings, if not the biggest, was that it took a massive warrior to wield thier weapons. Almost always, T.V. and movies show Vikings as towering raiders who use huge, unweildy axes as their weapon.
In truth, the average height of a viking between 9th to the 11th century was about 5' 8" tall (*1)
These axes weren't unweildy or heavy. In fact, they were made in such a fashion as to be used as a hook, a stave and with the right blade sweep, a short stabbing spear.
This axe has the right haft length and beard to hook an enemies sheild and create an opening, but not long enough to be used singlehandedly. Although it's light and faster with the factory handle, I woundn't put it through drill untill I replaced the haft with a heavier, sturdier Hickory haft. After I did so, I ran through a few paces using this axe and the short beard.
I used the short beard in my right (weak) hand and got used to the weight of the full beard in my left. To give you an idea of the different haft lengths, here's a side by side pic.
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With the full beard in my strong hand, I can definitely see using it as a hook and moving in with the smaller, faster axe for the kill.
Now after Sparky told me that he cut bottles with his Hero axe, I had to give it a shot with this one. I mean, I can't be out done with axes, now can I? ( no offense Sparks!)


The axe surprised me by sailing through the 2 litres so easy. But, as you can see, the recovery is very slow due to the heavier haft. I did have one bad cut that didn't split the bottle, but all in all, I'm happy with how it did and the bad cut was due to my foot work more than anything.
I also figured I'd show a quick video on throwing. Even though these axes would have never realy ever have been thrown in battle, I can't resist the temptation.


As you can see, the axe rocks the target. Being a fairly new walnut target, it's hard and will spit out an axe in a heartbeat. I had to lean way over my center of balance to get enough momentum up for a solid throw. Still, if one were hit by this axe, there'd be no getting back up.

Conclusion
No matter if you're a collector or practioner, these axes aren't a bad addition to any collection. Sure the handles aren't as good as other companies, but for the price I think it's worth it. As long as the buyer expects to rehaft it rather quick for regular use.

the Lowdown

Pros
1) A very nice antiqued axehead
2) Mirror finish on cutting edge
3) Sharp enough to kill some bottles

Cons
1) Same bad handle
2) Thick wedge cross section (bad for throwing)
If it be a sin to covet honor,I am the most offending soul alive.
- W. Shakespeare

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