Where are people getting this idea that using spears as a primary in the first place is nerfing yourself? If anything, the idea (as it pertains to rangers) is to make yourself -not- nerfed if you want to use chopping or slashing.
All rangers OUGHT to be using piercing as their primary style anyway, for very good reasons that have nothing to do with poison: arrows, almost all throwing weapons, and almost all skinning weapons are piercing weapons, so if you get "caught" or forget you have one of those equipped, you can at least continue to parry at maximum effectiveness until you get your "real" weapon out. Additionally, these are all light, so you can carry numerous backups--again, without taking a hit to your parry skill.
Many rangers now -don't- go with axes, because Northerners get a location-based starting bump to chopping, and Southerners get a similar bump to slashing, and given how difficult it is to train weapon skills, most people tend to start with that advantage and stay stuck in the rut. Also, I'd wager that -most- rangers never branch parry at all, so switching to a weapon style that you're bad with only results in a noticeable hit to offense.
There are plenty of good primary spears and halfswords available that do just as much damage as axes. This discussion revolving around trying to gain some sort of advantage that's inherent to axes just seems like bad theorycraft based on shadowboard nonsense, and maybe a smattering of a few very strong PCs in recent memory who happened to use axes, versus the endless stream of assassins that prioritize strength second or even third and are stuck using piercing.