Review: Browning Model 231 Camp Axe


Review: Browning Model 231 Camp Axe

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, I had some trees come down. When I recently went to work removing a cherry laurel tree stump, I grabbed a couple hatchets and a small Browning camp axe. Both hatchets did more bouncing than chopping on the rubbery roots, but the light axe performed well. I reviewed it a while back on a now-defunct website, and decided that AO’s readers should know about this handy little chopper.

I’ve had this Browning Model 231 camp axe for about 5 years, and I’ll say right now that I’m not a daily user of any axe, but when I’ve needed a light chopper, this one has served me well. Although the handle is longer than that of a hatchet, the head itself is not much (if any) lighter — and using it one-handed is a breeze. This is NOT a full-size axe, and it should be a no-brainer that it shouldn’t be asked to do a full-size job.

First Impressions

When I was just a young ‘un, Dad had a small wood-handled camp axe, which he dearly loved for small chopping chores. The first time I saw this axe, I thought of Dad’s old axe and knew I needed to get my hands on one of these to try it out.

Once it arrived (“made in Taiwan” and clamshell packaging, bummer), I noticed the cutting edge was decidedly not sharp, especially towards the heel (lower end). I used it to clear some brush to erect a ladder stand, and it did okay but not great. In chopping tree limbs it was usable, but when I tried it out on a wild hog I found it to be much too dull for dressing or butchering game.

After spending some time with a file to give it a nice sharp edge, I used it to remove the shoulder from a whitetail carcass I was quartering. The broad curved blade works well for such tasks, and although the long handle can be awkward for quartering smaller big game like whitetails, I think it could really be handy for shucking out big animals like caribou, elk, and moose.

After I sharpened it, it cuts quite well. In fact, when I went to get it from my workshop to write this review, I stopped on the way back to get rid of some small roots in the trail. This slim chopper cut them easily, and the long handle allows a lot more leverage than a hatchet handle would.


  • One-piece hot-forged, hollow ground, high carbon 1055 tool steel tomahawk-style head
  • Length: 24″ per manufacturer (mine is a touch shorter)
  • Head Length: 6.75″ (edge to poll)
  • Cutting Blade Length: 4.25″
  • Weight: 2.3 pounds (37 ounces) (measured without sheath)
  • Handle is injection-molded polypropylene and fiberglass
  • Says an “integrated tang extends from axe head down into the handle for increased strength and rigidity”
  • Includes nylon sheath with embroidered buckhead logo (only covers the cutting edge)
  • Currently priced at $44.99 with free shipping at Amazon
  • Designed by Russ Kommer

Good Stuff

  • The cutting edge is fairly long, and the hook at the heel (bottom) is nice for hooking onto a log to move it around.
  • Once I sharpened it, it holds an edge well.
  • I like the light weight and the size is right.
  • The handle seems tough and has a light texture that provides grip without being real rough (that said, my handle looks different than new models of this axe).
  • Easy to use and control, no matter where I grab the handle.
  • The sheath protects the cutting edge from damage, and protects you from the cutting edge.

Not-So-Good Stuff

  • Arrived dull, so I had to sharpen it.
  • Sheath only covers cutting edge (doesn’t provide for carry of any kind).
  • The rounded poll makes a poor hammer.
  • The handle is flexible (this hasn’t caused me any trouble, but the handle seems to have changed since mine was made).


When I first reviewed this axe, it hadn’t been around for long. Four years later, a full one-third of Amazon reviewers give this axe only one star, and several have experienced severe bending and/or breakage of the handle. This is a serious issue which prevents me from really endorsing this axe — along with the fact that the weirdly-rounded poll isn’t worth a damn for driving tent stakes or tree-felling wedges, and that mine arrived so dull I had to sharpen it myself.

This seems to be the current version of the handle. (Image: Browning)
This seems to be the current version of the handle. (Image: Browning)

For carrying, you will need to figure it out for yourself because Browning hasn’t done anything for you there. The “sheath” merely covers the cutting edge without providing a way to attach it to belt or pack.

That said, I do like mine and I’m happy to have it. After reading others’ complaints of handle flexing and breaking, I did try the flex on mine and it does bend more than I expected, but nothing like what the nay-sayers have seen, and the flex that I have doesn’t bother me. So for my part, this axe does a pretty good job and its light weight makes it easy to tote, but there are probably tougher ones out there.


A review sample was provided by the manufacturer. (This doesn’t affect my review, which contains my honest opinion of the product.)

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