Arms & Armor Hungarian Axe
A hands-on review by Russ Ellis
Today when we think of ancient combat the weapon that often comes to mind is the sword. However, throughout history it has been polearms (specifically spears and axes) that were carried by the majority of soldiers. Axes were easily produced, they did not require large amounts of resources, and even the most untrained peasant typically had some experience with the axe since it was part of his everyday life. There was a great deal of regional variation in the type and style of axes. However, the typical war axe was a two-handed affair with a 3 1/2 to 5 foot handle.
Christopher Poor founded Arms & Armor (Minneapolis, Minnesota) in 1982. He and his company have been building some of the finest production replicas of medieval arms available to the public ever since. Most of the replicas made by the company are recreations of actual historic pieces, and the axe under review is no exception. Arms & Armor's Hungarian Axe is based on a weapon housed in Muzeum Wojska Polskiego. It is a splendid example of a type of axe in general use in Eastern Europe throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Arms & Armor of Minnesota.
This axe handles very well. As is to be expected, most of the weight is centered out towards the head. This would make a sword extremely slow, but an axe is not used the way a sword is. The hands are typically placed one-quarter to one-third of the way up the handle from the butt. This, in effect, shortens the swing and allows for faster swings and recovery times. This axe is nicely balanced. It can be used with a one- or two-handed grip but is very difficult to recover when used one-handed. When swung using two hands, very powerful blows can be generated.
This axe is also versatile. The elongated top of the axe blade is eminently suitable for thrusting, allowing for some very nice cut and thrust combinations. Something that is often overlooked is the handle of the axe. This one is made out of ash and is nicely smoothed. More importantly, though, it is rounded on the front and back and flattened on the sides. This "indexing" allows the user to know how the blade is aligned without having to visually check his weapon.
Fit and Finish
Except in rare circumstances most medieval axes intended for battle were fairly simple non-adorned affairs. The Arms & Armor Hungarian Axe follows this pattern. Its only adornment is a grouping of three small holes in the lower part of the axe blade. The blade itself is nicely polished with no grind marks or surface ripples. The axe was buffed to a satin finish.
The haft is nicely polished ash and appears to have been affixed to the blade by placing it through the axe head and then splitting it by inserting a wooden wedge. This method of attachment seems to be extremely secure as I could detect no looseness or wobbling in the head.
The Arms & Armor Hungarian Axe reviewed here is a case study in simple yet beautiful lethality. The original was obviously designed to be a brutally efficient weapon and not a show piece. I believe that A&A's reproduction accurately reflects that original design. If the purchaser is looking for a well-made, quality two-handed axe, I highly recommend this piece.
About the Author
Russ Ellis is a Systems Engineer working for Northrop Grumman by day and a scabbard maker by night. He has been a student of medieval history for many years and this eventually led him to the world of sword collecting. He currently resides in Alabama with his wife and three children.
Photographer: Chad Arnow