10 Best Machetes | February 2017

10 Best Machetes
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Best High-End
★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Hacking your way through virgin trails while hiking or hunting requires a powerful tool. The machete is engineered for lightweight, effective chopping and easy one-handed operation. Our selection has something for everyone, from the brush-clearing property owner or casual outdoorsman to the serious hunter. Skip to the best machete on Amazon.
10
The Elk Ridge 280 looks so good you'll almost feel bad using it to hack the branches off a sapling or clear a path in the forest. But don't let its stylish design fool you, this is a serious, field-tested tool capable of slicing through thick brush like butter.
  • 3 mm blade thickness
  • injection molded handle
  • slight blade wiggle issues
Brand Elk Ridge
Model ER-280
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
9
The Sog SogFari 18" weighs just under one pound but delivers exceptional chopping power thanks to its long, gently tapered blade that also features a sawtooth reverse edge for versatility. It has a Kraton rubber handle that feels great in the palm.
  • sleek black powder-coated finish
  • backed by limited lifetime warranty
  • prone to chipping with heavy use
Brand SOG Specialty Knives &
Model MC02-N
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
8
The Whetstone Cutlery Full Tang has the look of a pirate's cutlass or cavalryman's saber, but is entirely modern in its materials and design, as evidenced by its contoured, impact-resistant ABS handle with a comfortable and secure rubberized grip.
  • includes durable black nylon sheath
  • rugged saw on reverse edge
  • blade tends to snap unexpectedly
Brand Whetstone Cutlery
Model 20-926813
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
7
The full tang Schrade SCHKM1 has a curved steel design with extra width and weight at the head. It's perfect for hacking through heavy brush and branches. Use it to clear a path through the jungle or prune your estate with ease.
  • sharpening tool included
  • safety grip handle
  • sheath can expose the blade
Brand Schrade
Model SCHKM1
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
6
Made from tough, high quality carbon steel, the Condor Engineer Bolo is a heavyweight champion, prized for its 3.3 lbs of elegant power that slices through thick branches with ease. A hardwood handle completes this handsome package.
  • great for splitting firewood
  • functions like a large cleaver
  • may be overkill for casual needs
Brand Condor Tools & Knives
Model 60946
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
Though its nontraditional design looks somewhat sinister, The Brute boasts a friendly price tag and a long, multifunctional blade with a cutting slot and a sawtoothed reverse. Its half cord-wrapped pakkawood handle provides exceptional grip and leverage.
  • rust-resistant stainless steel
  • comes with nylon belt sheath
  • handle eyelet for easy storage
Brand Whetstone Cutlery
Model 25-H229
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0
4
The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang puts a modern twist on an ancient style, with a texturized rubber grip and a high quality carbon steel blade that maximizes your chopping and hacking power thanks to its angled, gently-curved design.
  • includes bear grylls' survival guide
  • extremely corrosion resistant
  • lanyard on handle for added safety
Brand Gerber
Model 31-002289
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
3
The Camillus Carnivore Maxx is the last thing you'd want to see wielded against you in a dark alley, but is exactly what to have on hand when hunting big game. Its titanium bonded steel blade features multiple cutting surfaces to make quick work of nearly any task.
  • great for field prep of deer or elk
  • top quality camouflage abs handle
  • full lifetime warranty
Brand Camillus
Model 19115
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
2
From a classic name in survival knives comes the Ka-Bar Kukri, a powerful and reliable choice on the shorter side, at 17 inches from end to end. Ideal for clearing brush, it arrives razor sharp and is nicely weighted to keep its momentum going without tiring you out.
  • durable kraton grip handle
  • excellent value for the price
  • includes leather and cordura sheath
Brand Ka-Bar
Model 2-1249-9
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
1
Despite its Canadian name, the Ontario Knife Company 6145 has been a staple of various units in the United States military since WWII. It will serve as well in the bush as it has on the battlefield thanks to its super strong 1095 carbon steel construction.
  • elegant and simple design
  • molded plastic riveted handle
  • made in the united states
Brand Ontario Knife
Model 6145
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

How To Choose The Right Machete

There is an elegant simplicity to the machete that helps to explain this tool's worldwide popularity. At the most basic assessment, all cutting implements -- be they knives, daggers, or broadswords -- are nothing more than a blade attached to a handle. But the machete represents a pinnacle of design in the cutting category.

By affixing a large but lightweight blade to a single handed grip, a machete allows for maximum chopping force with minimal effort. There is nothing ornamental or ostentatious about a good machete, there is merely efficiency and functionality. Choosing the right machete for your needs means considering the kind of material though which you must hack, be it bamboo, underbrush, or the limbs of a sapling.

A basic machete has a single sided blade that has a long, sharp edge without serrations or any specialized cutting surfaces. It will taper to a wider point just short of its tip, and it is here, along the last few inches of the blade, that maximum cutting force is concentrated. If you need a tool to help you blaze trails through green underbrush, such as thorns, weeds, slender vines, and flowering plants, the most basic machete is a fine choice trusted by generations of bushwhackers.

They are also great for gardeners or homeowners who just needs to clear a few low hanging limbs -- a machete costs much less than most pruning tools, so if you don't need to do a lot of yard work, consider the basic machete. A tool such as this can usually be found for less than twenty dollars. Plan for your tool to perform well but to likely lose its edge quickly with regular use. Fortunately a machete offers plenty of blade surface for countless resharpening sessions.

Many specialized machetes feature varied cutting surfaces. If you need to do serious clearing of trails or underbrush beyond cutting a one time path, consider a machete with a large serrated surface. This will allow you to saw through limbs or branches hanging in the way of your path (or overhanging your property) and to remove deadfalls from the ground. While a machete with serrations can't hope to match the efficacy of an actual saw, the versatility afforded by the chopping and sawing it allows is helpful when you are traveling into the field and want to minimize the weight carried. Therefore a machete with a saw surface and a large chopping blade is a great choice for the hunter who needs doc make space for a hunting blind or for the camper who needs to clear an area to pitch his or her tent.

How To Sharpen Your Machete

Keeping a standard machete sharp is easy and, with some practice, won't take more than five minutes of your time. You can always use a store bought blade sharpener to get the edge back on your machete, but with a few simple tools (which you may already own) you can handle the process yourself.

Before you sharpen your machete, you have to decide what edge angle best suits your needs. If you use your machete to cut through green plants only, such as weeds, grasses, and flowering plants, then you want the finest, sharpest edge. Plan to grind the blade at a twenty degree angle for such purposes. If you will be chopping away at branches, vines, or other thicker, woody growth, then sharpen at an angle closer to thirty degrees. Too fine an edge will be quickly lost when chopping thicker plants such as these; the thicker edge may not be as razor sharp, but it will stand up under the chopping you will be doing.

To sharpen the blade, simply immobilize the machete -- using a vice grip if possible or the flat of your hand and a stable surface such as a table or wall -- and draw a thick, heavy file across the blade at the appropriate angle, completing several passes on each side of the machete until the proper edge has been achieved. Then remove the burr, which is the slender layer of metal clinging to the edge and often bent over to one side, using a fine file or a steel honing rod.

If you own a belt sander, these powerful tools can also be used to sharpen a machete. Hold the blade at the same angle as specified above with the sander moving past the blade (not against it) and keep the machete constantly moving up and down the surface of the sanding belt. Repeat the process on each side of the blade until it is sharp, and then use a hand tool to remove the burr and hone the edge you have created.

The Machete's Place Around The World

The machete is often unfairly maligned as a weapon used only for violence, when in fact it is first and foremost a versatile tool. The simplicity of design and construction of the machete has made it an affordable and accessible tool useful by people all over the world no matter their economic or geographic situation.

Machetes can be seen harvesting sugar cane in the Americas and clearing old rice fields in Asia. They help clear paths through jungles ranging from the Congo to the Indian subcontinent and help farmers, hunters, and adventurers alike.

What one person calls a machete, however, another might call by another name. If we accept the basic specifications of a machete as being a large, single sided cutting tool with designed for single handed use and with a blade usually measuring between twelve and twenty inches, then we will see the true universality of this implement.

In much of the Caribbean, the machete is still referred to by the largely antiquated term cutlass. In Africa, a cutting tool known as the panga looks and functions of all intents and purposes like the machete known elsewhere. Many South Asians know the machete as the parang, a large bladed tool often with a distinct sweep to the blade that handles just like a machete and indeed is designed for hacking at think jungle vegetation.

While the machete's ease of production and affordability has seen it used as weapon of offense far too many times, this tool is more often used to help with agriculture, cooking, or the clearing of land for enhanced human use.



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Last updated on February 21, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.


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