Deeply Rooted In Scandinavian History, The Seax, AKA “Scramasax” Or “Sax,” Was The Blade Shape Of Choice For The Much-Feared And Revered Vikings.
Typically the Norsemen were associated with their famous axes, but, truth be known, they also carried a knife that saw more general use: the seax.
The Scandinavians usually lived in villages, farmed the land and raised animals. In such an agrarian society, they also needed tools to help them work the land and harvest the fruits of their labor. This is also where a knife came into play.
“Their personal knife was called the seax and it never left their side because it was their version of an EDC,” begins Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives, Inc. “The knife was tasked with a myriad of chores, from skinning a freshly taken deer to cutting up the turnips they grubbed out of the ground with the same knife.”
Emerson said the seax also could be employed as a self-defense weapon if needed. It was truly a blade for all seasons: Harvest produce in the morning, fend off the enemy after lunch, and then prepare supper in the evening—all with the same blade.
All joking aside, the seax was a handy blade.
“It is a bowie-style blade, a spear-point type of blade, a Loveless drop-point hunter-style of blade, and, of course, the well-known ‘broken-back’ style featuring a severe clip close to the front, finishing in a point well below the center line,” Emerson said.
He said the broken-back seax style is the most common and appears in TV shows and movies depicting Vikings.
Blade lengths varied wildly from seven inches on the short end and topping out at 30 inches, the latter Emerson called a short sword, basically.
“The seax needed to be an all-around utility tool that could chop, cut, slice, and sometimes stab, all with equal ease of application,” he said. “A Viking’s livelihood depended on self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, and the quality of his toolkit.”
At first glance, the seax may not seem as exciting as a recurve blade, but looks are not always everything. The beauty of such a blade lies within its ability to tackle cutting chores.
The straight-line cutting edge tackles a variety of tasks easily, and the point of the blade is both precise and powerful, with the ability to score as well as penetrate.
5 Best Seax Knives
The long history of the seax is still going strong today as companies young and old are making new versions of the historic blade.
These five are some of the more unique and exciting seax knives available today.
Terävä Skrama 240
Direct from the Finnish brand Terävä, the Skrama is a rugged bush knife great for chopping, slicing, and building shelters in the outdoors. The 9.4-inch blade is made from 80CrV2 steel with a 59 HRC. It comes married to a textured rubber handle for easy grip in any weather conditions.
The blade has a full tang and a flat edge but with a twist. It’s sharpened to a 34-degree edge except for the two inches closest to the hilt. That small section is sharpened to a finer 25-degree edge for more meticulous, precise knifework.
The Skrama comes with either a leather sheath or a plastic cover and has an MSRP of $69.99-109.99.
SZCO Supplies Brass-Studded Seax
SZCO Supplies has made a fun, durable knife with its Brass-Studded Seax. The piece features a 10-inch blade married to a wooden handle. The knife is adorned with brass studs on the handle as well as a brass guard and pommel.
For a budge knife, it does have some weak points. The two main ones are that the leather sheath may need some working in to be at its best, and the knife may need a sharpen out of the box to have a pristine edge. Other than that, this is a good knife for the money.
Strong enough for a log, sharp enough for a piece of chicken, SZCO Supplies has made a seax that is well priced at an MSRP of just $27.63.
Medieval Collectibles Viking Seax Knife
This seax from Medieval Collectibles has the look and feel of a knife from the Viking era. It’s made from 5160 tempered carbon steel with a full tang, which is peened over the end of the handle’s metal end cap.
Just over 17 inches in length, and a blade length of 12.1 inches, the Viking Seax comes with a handle that has a wood grain finish and a hand-stitched leather scabbard with a belt hanger.
At just 14.4 ounces in weight this is a utility knife great for everything from chopping through wood and brush to defense and protection. The Viking Seax comes with an MSRP of $169.
Grimfrost Broken Back Seax, Type IV
From Grimfrost comes a full-tang seax made of 1045 carbon steel. A reproduction of a 1,000-year-old seax found in London, the Broken Back Seax is 16 inches in length with an 11-inch blade.
The handle is handmade ash and the included leather scabbard is hand-stitched. It also features “Grimfrost” stamped in runes on the side of the blade.
Lots of time and care went into making this knife as authentic as it could be and it shows. So whether you want to feel like Leif Eriksson exploring new lands or just want a strong knife while chopping, Grimfrost has you covered.
The Broken Back Seax has an MSRP of $132.
Lunar Light Forge Damascus Sanmai Seax
This amazing seax is from the husband & wife duo of Nathaniel and Megan Everett at Lunar Light Forge in Akron, Ohio.
The damascus blade is made from 42 layers of 1095 and 15n20 steel around a 5160 core. It is paired with a handle made of Buffalo horn and Cocobolo wood, and it comes with a hand-tooled & hand-stitched leather sheath.
It’s just as much an art piece as it is an excellent utility knife. The 7-inch blade can process an animal, hack off tree limbs, and chop in the kitchen. It does have an MSRP of $722.50, but for the amount of craftsmanship and care that went into the piece, you’ll know you’re getting a knife of the highest quality.
Editor’s Note: Mike Abelson contributed to this piece
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