With a different design from a knife, a machete is a cleaver-type, big tool distinguished by its slim and elongated blade for chopping vines, limbs of small trees, underbrush, and grass. This makes the best machete ideal for use in forests or similar terrain where it works as a robust knife. However, for millions of people, a machete is a daily use tool for slashing, cutting, and chopping through tough bushes, sugarcane, coconuts, and other produce. In many cases, its versatility and strength also makes it act as a weapon for building shelters, making other tools, and preparing food.
The word ‘machete’ is derived from the Spanish term called ‘macho’ standing for ‘strong’. It also has its origins in the lesser-known Caribbean English term called ‘matchet’ whose connotation is similar to ‘cutlass’, meaning as a sword.
Machete: An Overview
Majority of machetes are approximately below 0.12 inch thick but are long enough in the range of 12 to 36 inches. A typical long handle allows an arm to slash the bushes along with its undergrowth. Its flexible and thin blades make it easy to beat through small obstacles such as bushes and vines once, with a high speed.
Machetes are also cheap, which means they need a good amount of effort for sharpening during heavy use. While machetes are lightweight and disposable, knives are durable and strong enough to last for a lifetime due to thicker blades, high quality steel, and full tangs.
Secondary to a first-class knife, a machete is the best pal, as it is a highly functional and extremely easy to maintain tool. It can be a superb last line of defense weapons against beast or men.
Machetes: The Different Types
- Latin: Is common in the Western world as a bush machete and as a utility tool for green vegetation. It features a straight back blade, fat look, and even weigh.
- Kukri: Is a Nepalese knife with an edge that is inwardly bent and is used as a basic utility knife and as the distinguishing weapon by the Gurkhas and Nepalese Army. Such a machete’s blade is composed of three parts: Narrow section close to handle for carving, midsection wide enough for chopping, and pointed tip for piercing.
- Bowie: Is indigenous to the United States and is also called the survival machete or large bowie knife. It usually has a skinning or clip-point tip and is handy for survivalists and backwoodsmen.
- Panga (Tapanga): Is a modification of the machete ordinarily used in Southern and East Africa. It features a blade widening on the backside as well as a length ranging from 16” to 18”. While its upper inclined area is (may or may not be) sharpened for piercing, its deep belly ensures good load for chopping with the bent section facilitating easy slicing.
- Bolo: Is alike Panga but differs in terms of the blade that bulges near the tip for ensuring more efficient chopping. Filipinos regularly use such a machete for cutting big foods, clearing vegetation, and training in the native martial art called Eskrima. The bulging blade makes bolos superb picking tools for narrow produce such as peanuts. This is because it delivers much load behind the blade for great chopping power.
- Parang: Is analogous to the Bolo and Panga but differs with a thicker as well as a shorter blade with a major primary grind for preventing the blade to be stuck in wood. Parangs are seen in Indonesia and Malaysia and are more efficient on woody foliage.
- Golok: Is similar to Parang but is more of an agricultural tool. Invented in Southeast Asia, the machete’s short length makes it unsuitable for weapon use. However, it is ideal for cutting thick, green foliage with its thicker blade than most machetes.
Best Machete: Before Shopping for One
Here are some queries you need to ask yourself prior to researching on the different machete styles. Doing so helps you select the right machete as per your requirements.
- What is the purpose of buying a machete? (As a tool-making tool, chopping through the woods, or for survival in the camp?)
- Where you will be using a machete? (Thick forest, desert, or swamp?)
- Would you use it chiefly for wilderness-based tasks, as a defense weapon, or both?
- Do you also need a knife or hatchet? If yes, then you would not buy a multi-purpose machete.
Best Machete: What to Look for in a Machete
For survival and outdoor devotes, a machete is unhesitatingly essential. Right from clearing brush to building homes and defending against sudden attacks, a machete is capable of reducing fatigue and boosting overall efficiency of the project undertaken. While buying the best machete, you should consider some important factors that tend to affect your selection. Let us check them out now!
- Blade Style: The aforementioned types erase the myth that only a single machete type exists. Therefore, just ensure that you select the right type as per the purpose and use (get the answer from the above four questions).
- Blade Length: While the average length is almost 18”, the range can be from 10” to 28”. For selecting the right length, find out what is of higher priority: portability or reach? If portability is more essential, then choose a short blade as long blade can make it tough to carry around, although they clean the bigger green area in less time.
- Blade Material: This is perhaps the primary differentiator between the different types of machetes. Carbon steel and stainless steel are common materials, of which the former comes with the advantages of even stainless steel that does not rust but is relatively softer. Carbon steel also delivers cheaper blades whose sharpness lasts longer but are tougher to sharpen due to the tensile strength. Despite this fact, a blade made up of carbon steel is handier as a weapon or agricultural tool but in swamp areas. Further, the stainless steel costs more due to the oxidized finish created by the coating additives for resisting rust. The best option is high carbon stainless steel ensuring carbon steel’s durability and stainless steel’s resistance to rust.
- Tang: This refers to the machete blade part that passes through the grip and links to the handle and blade at once. Consider a full tang wrapped up in place if you wish for durability and superior strength.
- Handle Style: This should be comfortable as well as safeguarding from the blade. The handle should fit suitably in your hand, as a few styles can be too big or small for your hands.
- Handle Material: This factor is perhaps a matter of aesthetics, but the materials used for making the handle have their own pros and cons. For example, a wooden handle not only ensures warmth in your palms but also a good grip although it shall warp or crack if contacted with water. Similarly, plastic is economical and overcomes the limitations of wood, but exposure to water or swamp can make it slippery. The next option is Micarta that is expensive but comes with coatings of heat-treated canvas, plastic, fiberglass, paper, and linen for superb grip, optimal strength, and comfortable handling.
5 Best Machetes
As per the customer ratings and reviews, here are the top 5 machetes to pick, as per your requirements.
Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri
This one is a black, 1085 carbon-steel blade machete perfect for cleaning campsite, cutting branches, and chopping weeds. It features an ergonomic thermoplastic handle that delivers a non-slippery grip. The blade measures 11.5 inches, while the total length is 17 inches. This Kukri machete has a full tang, thick blade, hollow grind, and a leather/Cordura black sheath. However, it is not ideal for working with all grass.
Gerber 31-002072 Bear Grylls Compact Parang
This one is high carbon build with full tang, ergonomic rubber grip handle, nylon sheath, lanyard cord, and angled blade ideal for working with vines, limbs, brushes, and branches with grip security. The blade measures 9.3 inches, while the total length is 15 inches. You are ensured of boosted strength, minimal slippage, durability, easy sharpening, and resistance to corrosion as well as mildew. This military and lightweight model is perhaps a modern variation of the conventional tribesmen’s machete.
Schrade SCHKM1 Large Fixed Blade Kukri
This one is stainless steel build with coated black powder coating, safe-T-grip handle with rubber coating, full tang, and lanyard hole. The length varies between 13 and 19.5 inches. Consider this machete for chopping.
Condor Tool and Knife Parang
This one is perhaps the finest quality machete with hardwood handle and 1075 high carbon steel blade having an epoxy black power layer. It is ideal for working with small tress and larger brush having thick limbs and small trees due to its great chopping power, especially useful while camping where it can be better than a standard hatchet. The total length is 17.5 inches.
Ka-Bar Black Cutlass
With full tang cutlass-style blade designed using 1085 carbon steel, this machete is excellent for camping fans. It is hefty, but it serves well with its non-slip grip handle that stays comfortably in your hand. You can also use for cutting tree branches and small limbs, and for chopping weeds. The blade is 11 inches long, while the total length is 16.5 inches long.
Regardless of the purpose, you can surely get your best machete through quick research and reading reviews from various e commerce outlets. We hope our article could shed light on the right direction.