The 10 Best Machetes

Updated April 08, 2018 by Josh Darling

10 Best Machetes
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 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 built for a wide range of tasks that one might need to perform when venturing off the beaten path. Our selection has options for everyone, from the brush-clearing property owner, to the casual outdoorsman, to the serious survivalist. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best machete on Amazon.

10. Whetstone Cutlery Full Tang

The Whetstone Cutlery Full Tang has the look of a pirate's cutlass or cavalryman's saber, but is quite modern in its materials and design, as evidenced by its contoured, impact-resistant ABS handle and comfortable, 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 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Elk Ridge 280

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 through some brush. While it is made of somewhat cheap steel, its low price point and commendable sharpness make it suitable for those on a budget.
  • 3-mm thick blade
  • injection molded handle
  • blade prone to denting
Brand Elk Ridge
Model ER280-BRK
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

8. Gerber Bear Grylls Parang

The Gerber Bear Grylls Parang puts a modern twist on an ancient style, with a textured rubber grip and a serviceable carbon steel blade. Its angled, gently-curved design proves well-suited to hacking through brush, though it won't withstand cutting dense forestation.
  • includes bear grylls' survival guide
  • corrosion resistant blade
  • bends after heavy use
Brand Gerber
Model 31-002289
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Schrade SCHKM1

The full tang Schrade SCHKM1 has a curved steel design with extra width and weight at the head. While well-suited for use as both a self-defense weapon and a tool for basic yard work, it is likely a bit too fragile to be reliably used on a jungle expedition.
  • sharpening tool included
  • safety grip handle
  • may cut through the sheath
Brand Schrade
Model SCHKM1
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Condor Engineer Bolo

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
  • heavier than most alternatives
Brand Condor Tool & Knife
Model 60946
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

5. Ontario Knife Company 6145

Despite its Canadian name, the Ontario Knife Company 6145 comes from a US company with over a century of blade-smithing experience. A heavy knife capable of hacking through thick branches, it is arguably the most durable low-cost option on the market.
  • built using good quality steel
  • molded plastic riveted handle
  • blade arrives somewhat dull
Brand Ontario Knife
Model 6145
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

4. Ka-Bar Kukri

From the brand best known for making the combat knives used by the US Marines comes the Ka-Bar Kukri, a forward-curved blade measuring 17 inches from end to end. It's razor sharp and tip-heavy, ensuring clean cuts and exceptional momentum with each swing.
  • durable kraton grip handle
  • thick enough for extensive use
  • includes leather and cordura sheath
Brand Ka-Bar
Model KA1249-BRK
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. My Parang Duku Chandong

Popularized in the West by British survivalist Ray Mears, the My Parang Duku Chandong is a traditional knife crafted by the Dayak people on the island of Borneo. The care given to this tool in its creation is evident both at a glance and while using it.
  • water-quenched for hardness
  • beautiful wooden handle
  • thin point for effective cutting
Brand My Parang
Model MYPCDG10
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Cold Steel All Terrain Chopper

The Cold Steel All Terrain Chopper is the go-to option for those who need one of these tools for seriously heavy-duty purposes. Its distinctive shape is heavily-weighted towards the end, allowing you to generate maximal power behind each swing.
  • stays sharp even when cutting trees
  • hilt accommodates two hands
  • hole in handle for wriststrap
Brand Cold Steel
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Condor Tool & Knife Golok

The fourteen-inch Condor Tool & Knife Golok is proof that, sometimes, they do still make them like they used to. Its a full-tang, well-made model, equally useful in hunting or skinning wildlife as chopping through small trees.
  • durable enough for years of use
  • classy walnut wood handle
  • comes with fine leather sheath
Brand Condor Tool & Knife
Model 60932
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 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.

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Last updated on April 08, 2018 by Josh Darling

Born in historic Massachusetts, Josh is a freethinking young man with a heart of gold. Noted by many for his wit, grace, and humility, he enjoys reading, history, politics, videogames, baseball, and talking shop.

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