The 10 Best Machetes
10. Elk Ridge 280
- 3 mm blade thickness
- injection molded handle
- slight blade wiggle issues
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
9. Sog SogFari 18"
- sleek black powder-coated finish
- backed by limited lifetime warranty
- prone to chipping with heavy use
|Brand||SOG Specialty Knives &|
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
8. Whetstone Cutlery Full Tang
- includes durable black nylon sheath
- rugged saw on reverse edge
- blade tends to snap unexpectedly
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
7. Schrade SCHKM1
- sharpening tool included
- safety grip handle
- sheath can expose the blade
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
6. Condor Engineer Bolo
- great for splitting firewood
- functions like a large cleaver
- may be overkill for casual needs
|Brand||Condor Tools & Knives|
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. The Brute
- rust-resistant stainless steel
- comes with nylon belt sheath
- handle eyelet for easy storage
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. Gerber Bear Grylls Parang
- includes bear grylls' survival guide
- extremely corrosion resistant
- lanyard on handle for added safety
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
3. Camillus Carnivore Maxx
- great for field prep of deer or elk
- top quality camouflage abs handle
- full lifetime warranty
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
2. Ka-Bar Kukri
- durable kraton grip handle
- excellent value for the price
- includes leather and cordura sheath
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
1. Ontario Knife Company 6145
- elegant and simple design
- molded plastic riveted handle
- made in the united states
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
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.