I think the problem with the 2nd one is due to the clash of the wispy style on the head of the ax and the short, jagged patterns on the handle... try swapping handles, i think the styles fit each other better. The simplicity of the first handle is just excellent. I second giving the leather wrapped grip a try. That 2nd handle would make a sweet scepter, but I just don't see battle axes being quite as ornate, they're a bit too brutal looking
Also, apply that sweet specular shader to the 2nd model, it might ring out a bit cooler with all them highlights. Did you start with a base mesh? Nice job!