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The $375 Hatchet That Sold Out in 4 Minutes: MKC Hellgate Hatchet

It's hard to fathom spending nearly $400 on a hatchet, but did Montana Knife Company win us over with its Hellgate Hatchet?

Montana Knife Company, MKC Hatchet
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If you don’t have one and you want one, tough luck … for now. The Hellgate Hatchet caused a major buying frenzy when Montana Knife Company dropped it live online. If you follow the brand, you know that’s pretty typical.

That being said, this isn’t a knife. It’s a hatchet, which is the first departure from what MKC is known for. Knife nuts go wild for new knives and will drop crazy dollar amounts for the hottest blade from the best maker. But a hatchet?

Is a hatchet, even from one of the best bladesmiths in the business, worth $375?

In short: Yup. I had my doubts, but those were quelled quickly when I got my hands on the Hellgate Hatchet. It’s part hatchet, part hammer, part knife, and all awesome — almost.

MKC Hellgate Hatchet Review

The Hellgate Hatchet


  • Steel 52100 ball bearing steel
  • Finish Black Parkerization
  • Handle material G-10
  • Total length 10-1/16"
  • Head length 4-7/8"
  • Hatchet weight 14.9 oz.
  • Origin 100% made in the USA
  • Sheath MKC Exclusive Black Kydex Signature Sheath 2.0

Putting the Hellgate Hatchet to the Test

MKC Hellgate Hatchet
Hellgate Hatchet; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on this new release from MKC early. I was elated but also skeptical. I’ve only owned a few hatchets in my lifetime, and they’ve all been dirt cheap and gotten the job done. I’ve always looked at my hatchet as a utility tool. I’m hard on them, and I don’t give them any care. They chop kindling, pry stuff open, and act as a makeshift hammer.

They also get flung into trees more than anything else.

A hatchet has never been a high-end item in my book. So, the idea of a top-notch, $375 hatchet sat uneasy with me.

However, Montana Knife Company doesn’t play. I had a feeling this would be an epic little hatchet, and as soon as I had hands on it, I realized that how I view hatchets might just have to change.

MKC Hatchet Sheath
MKC Hatchet Sheath; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

This is not your typical utility-style hatchet, nor is it a typical hatchet edge. This thing is just as sharp as your favorite knife with the added heft of a hatchet head.

I’ve now taken this into the backcountry on at least five trips and used it almost daily around our property. From splitting kindling to trimming low sucker branches, the Hellgate Hatchet is beyond handy.

“Swings like a hammer. Cuts like a knife.”

— Montana Knife Company

There’s no better way to describe it. It feels like a hammer in hand. The balance is unlike any other hatchet I’ve held. It just fits and fits comfortably with a swing feel that is secure and not overwhelming.

That being said, I don’t see you chopping down trees with this thing. There isn’t enough bulk to the head to put any level of serious force behind it, but that’s not what a hatchet is for, is it?

In my world, I end up splitting an insane amount of kindling, and this is my new kindling-maker. The razor-sharp edge makes easy work out of turning cut wood into splintered kindling.

Hatchet Head Meets Knife Edge

Where it really stands out is that signature Montana Knife Company edge. I find myself using the Hellgate Hatchet in place of my pocket knife when I have it in hand. I’ve opened feed sacks, cut bailing twine and paracord, and even broken down some poultry with it.

The edge has held up beautifully and now, it lives in my “go-pile” for every adventure I go on. This may be the first hatchet I actually take care of.

The Hellgate Hatchet Flaws

MKC Hellgate Hatchet Sheath
Tilt back sheath removal; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

Flaws? This may be the first flaw I’ve found with anything I have from MKC. In all honesty, it’s not even a flaw as much as a word of warning and a suggestion to pay attention.

The hatchet itself is great. I have literally no notes. The sheath is also great. Again, I have no notes. The issue arises with the combination of the two.

Because of the shape of the hatchet and just the logistics of getting it into and out of the sheath, it has to be tipped backward to remove. Now, if you have this attached to your belt, it means reaching over the head of the hatchet and tipping the blade up toward you. Conversely, putting the thing back into its holster means tipping that blade back up toward you while sliding the bottom point into the slot.

With most hatchets, this isn’t an issue. Most hatchets don’t have an edge like this one. This thing is f#@king sharp. It will cut you.

Luckily, as long as you pay attention, you should be fine. I don’t pay attention, so I’ll likely upgrade the sheath to something a little more clumsy-proof.

Possible Improvements

This suggestion has drawbacks, but it’s something I’d love. I have an old hatchet that I used to bring along before I got my hands on this one. I used it for everything, but specifically, I used it as a hammer.

If the back edge of the Hellgate Hatchet had just a little more girth, I’d be more confident in using it to hammer in tent stakes or tack stuff up into a tree. It absolutely can be used to do this as is, but I’d love to see just a hair more thickness.

The obvious drawback to my idea: added weight.

Final Thoughts on the Hellgate Hatchet

Hellgate Hatchet MKC
(Photo/Rachelle Schrute)

Is it worth it? Well, that depends on you and your use. Aside from being able to use it as a knife, it is just a hatchet. If you aren’t a big hatchet user, I’d save my pennies and use them to buy one of MKC’s incredible knives. They are worth every penny, regardless of your lifestyle … that is, if you can get your hands on one.

If you use a hatchet on a regular basis, the Hellgate Hatchet is top-notch and worth your hard-earned dollar. I’ve certainly never had a better hatchet in my arsenal and can’t imagine heading into the woods without it now.

As I write this, mine is perched just above my cast iron stove in my cabin, where it has split more than its share of kindling already and where it will likely live for the rest of my days. I guess you can say I’m a fan.

Rachelle Schrute

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