I started playing OSRS last week mainly due to the nostalgic factor. However I never realised before that I've never seen a player fighting with a battleaxe (in the F2P world atleast, can't say about Members worlds).
Which is odd because stats-wise it would be the perfect middle-ground between scimitar and 2H swords.
| Speed | Slash | Strength Bonus| Battleaxe | 4 | +48 | +64 | 2H Sword | 3 | +69 | +70 | Scimitar | 6 | +45 | +44 |
I've used the stats from the rune weapons, because that's the strongest set in F2P.
So why is the battleaxe so rarely used?
While it be might seem like the best because it is in the middle of strength and speed, most people use a scimitar simply because of its speed. Being able to hit faster and more often in a fight usually is more advantageous than hitting slower.
Especially in PvP, the more you can hit your opponent the more time they have to spend healing which can cause the unprofessional ones to lose their cool and mess up the fight.
The battleaxe has lower DPS (damage-per-second, the rate at which damage is inflicted) than the other two by a significant amount. For certain monsters, it's worth switching between the longsword and scimitar, but the battleaxe DPS is low enough overall that it's never really worth using. The scimitar is generally considered to be the best overall due to having the highest DPS.
I can speak for the members side of things, and battle axes are still rarely used. I think the reason is mainly due to the speed of them. Yes they stronger strength wise than certain weapons, but lets make an example situation here:
Lets examine how many times you would perform an attack across 36 game ticks using a battleaxe (roughly 22 seconds).
36 game ticks / 6 ticks per attack = 6 total attacks
Now lets do the same with a scimitar:
36 game ticks / 4 ticks = 8 total attacks
So within the same amount of game ticks, you are able to perform 2 additional attacks using a scimitar versus a battleaxe.
Another problem with battleaxes is by the time you are ready to use the stronger variants (such as rune and dragon), you will end up paying more for them than you would there scimitar counterparts for example. The dragon battleaxe is currently around 120,000 gold, where the dragon scimitar is about 60,000. Attack bonuses for both of these weapons are nearly the same, with the battleaxe only having a +3 advantage (in regards to using the slash style). This also doesn't consider the fact that you need to do certain quests to use both of these weapons. The Dragon Battleaxe requires a significant amount of prerequisites while the Dragon Scimitar doesn't require as much.
The max hit with a dragon battleaxe at 99 strength with no other items is a 26 (see this calculator). The max hit with a dragon scimitar at 99 strength with no other items is 22. Consider the situation above again, except this time, we will use the total number of attacks to calculate the maximum DPS:
Dragon Battleaxe: 6 * 26 = 156 damage Dragon Scimitar: 8 * 22 = 176 damage
If you managed to max every hit, the dragon scimitar will be able to deal more damage over the battleaxe in the same amount of time.