Posts Tagged ‘Dark’

The Mighty Machete!

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you may know that I have a good amount of experience with machetes. I have done many things with them, clearing fields of 10ft tall elephant grass, felling small trees, even carving field hockey balls. (Yeah. Betcha didn’t know you could carve a hockey ball using a machete did you!)

Indeed, there was a time when I used them routinely, I dare say even more often than I did my laundry!  The result, is that I tend to reach for a machete where most folks would reach for an axe. As a matter of fact, I consider machetes a blade that is highly underrated in North America. This may or may not actually be true, however when people start looking for a medium to heavy-duty chopper, the first thing people seem to reach for is a camp hatchet or axe.

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet.

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet.

Now to be fair, there are many things an axe is just better for. For instance, you don’t hear much about machete murderers in the good old U.S. of A. Axe murderers, on the other hand… Common knowledge. And look at how under represented machetes are in the media. You see hunting and survival knives portrayed prominently in movies all the time, like the Rambo movies, The Hunted, etc. Even in games, machetes get a bad rap. You see throwing knives, in all kinds of First person shooters, ballistic knives in Call of Duty, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on forever!

Even on Youtube, machetes get little love. There was recently a game of “Name your two favorite knives” tag on Youtube, and not a single person (whose videos I have seen so far) has even mentioned a machete. It is a sad state of affairs people. Especially when you look at what you can do with a good machete. Chopping, carving, wood processing, digging, brush clearing, dismemberment… etc. (And just so we are all clear, I mean dismembering large game animals, not people. Not that it hasn’t been done before, but it’s just not my style. I’m just saying.)

Anyway, a machete can do it all! And what is most amazing about it is that you can get a good machete for a mere fraction of the cost of many of the fancy schmancy designer knives that people all seem to love. But you can thrash a machete and not have to worry about, ride it hard, put it away wet (thought if you do that, you deserve to be flogged, hung from you hair from the tree of woe, for wild emu to slowly pick at you… No seriously.)

The fact of the matter is, machetes get no love. At least not in North America. In Africa, South America, and many developing nations, it is the hero of large utility blades, and today, I’d like to speak out on behalf of all the poor neglected machetes of ‘Merica! I’d like to show you that machetes are not only good, but that they can be cool too!
First, allow me to introduce you to the working mans machete, two of my favorites from the Ontario Knife Co:

Ontario 12in Camper Machete

Ontario 12in Camper Machete


 The Ontario 12″ camper machete. This one has a saw blade spine and a “D” handle to offer added protection to the user, though I must say that as a seasoned machete user, I can’t recommend either, as the saw back is incredibly inefficient at sawing anything. It is best used for notching, but that is about it. And the D handle simply makes it harder to use that saw back anyway, so this is what I would consider a bad combination. Moving on to one of my more favored workhorse machetes:

Ontario 18in Military Machete

Ontario 18in Military Machete

The Ontario 18in Military Machete is my go to machete for camping trips and such, it is versatile, tough, and best of all, Cheap! I have both the 12in and the 18in version of this machete, and I really don’t know why every outdoorsman doesn’t have the 12in version in their pack. They are awesome! Next up, a light duty machete: The Gerber Gator Machete.

Gerber Gator Machete

Gerber Gator Machete

Now this is a nice, easy to use machete, ideal for someone who wants to pack light. It is not as heavy-duty as the Ontario or Cold Steel Offerings, but is light weight, low fatigue, and has one of the best grip ergonomics I have run into on a machete for a long time. It also has a saw spine, however its performance is surprisingly disappointing, especially given that they know how to make a good utility saw. Phail on you Gerber! PHAIL!! >:{

And now, on to the machetes that I classify simply as “Cool beyond Words”. Ok, so they aren’t really cool beyond words. But they are pretty darn cool. I refer, in this case, to Cold steels line of machetes, starting with their quite impressive Kukri Machetes:

Cold Steel Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete

Both the Regular and Magnum Kukri machetes from Cold steel are simply quite good. Strong, tough, can be made shaving sharp, and quite versatile, I have both versions, and can say that they are great, especially for the price, being excellent low cost choppers and all around bush whacking blades.

Last but not least, allow me to introduce you to my favorite machete design of all time, the Cold Steel Kopis Machete.

Cold Steel Kopis Machete

Cold Steel Kopis Machete

Now this machete is just beautiful. Based on the ancient Greek Kopis sword, the Cold Steel Kopis Machete is a beautiful piece of work, a combination of style, function, strength and beauty that is really hard to come by these days. And, of course, as if simply to spite me, it is no longer being made. Curses. CURSES!!! Curse the machete gods for depriving me of this thing of beauty! Oh well. C’est la Vie. It is my own fault for not getting one while I could.

Anyway, there are a gazillion other machete designs i could talk about today, but these are some of my favorites. And hopefully I have demonstrated that Machetes are not just ugly choppers, and that you can have it all; strength, style, beauty and utility… with the Mighty MACHETE!! 😀

P.S.

By the way… Anyone got a Cold Steel Kopis machete they want to… umm… donate to… “charity”? I can take care of that for you… Yes, yes, it will be for a good cause. You know, like the Happy Balrog Knife Charity… No, no, it’s a real charity… It goes to Balrogs in desperate need of hard to find knives… No, really… 😀

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet – [True Swords]
Ontario 12″ Camper Machete – [True Swords]
Ontario 18″ Military Machete – [True Swords]
Gerber Gator Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Kukri Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Kopis Machete – (no longer made)

A Little Something For The Earth Bound Klingon… Or Lord Vader…

Monday, June 7th, 2010

OK so let me pose a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say you are a Klingon. Yes, you are a member of a well known warrior race from Star Trek. Got it? Good. Now lets say you get marooned on earth. No, I don’t know how that happened or what you did to deserve it. Stuff happens alright? Deal.

Anyway let’s say you are stuck on Earth. In prehistoric times. Yes, I said prehistoric. Why? Look, you are asking too many questions. I’m trying to set up a scenario here. Ok fine, we’ll say someone tweaked the nav systems and warp core configuration on your Klingon warbird so that the next time you tried to warp somewhere, you got marooned, on Earth, in the past, and the dilithium crystals in your warp core are broken, so you now cannot get back.

OK? Happy now? Can I continue?

Thank you.

So… Now you are stranded in a prehistoric earth jungle, and you need a bladed weapon to survive… Say what? Why no Disruptors? OH, for the love of… *sigh* Look, work with me here. Lets say you’ve been stranded for some time, and you’re all out of power OK? Does that work for you? Any other details you’d like me to cover before I go on? No? Are you sure…? Wait… What? Recrystallize the dilithium crystal lattice? …

… *veins popping out of forehead*

YOU @*@&#@! IDIOT!!! THIS IS PREHISTORIC EARTH! THERE ARE NO NUCLEAR REACTORS, SO YOU CAN SAFELY ASSUME THERE ARE NO SAFE AND READILY AVAILABLE SUPPLIES OF GAMMA RADIATION TO CAPTURE AND REPAIR DECRYSTALLIZED DILITHUIM CRYSTALS WITH, YOU #*&$%# INSUFFERABLE DWEEB!!!

Jiminy Christmas, enough already!! OK that’s it. No more questions. You’ve ruined my perfect set up.  I’m just going to show you the blade.

Tactical Golok

Tactical Golok

This is the tactical Golok. The Golok is a traditional chopping tool, a kind of short machete, originating in southeast Asia, characterized by a wide tipped, top heavy blade. The Tactical Golok is a a Golok on steroids. Or as would be designed by a Klingon, trapped in prehistoric ages, on earth, who had naught but primitive tools. WITH NO USABLE DILITHIUM CRYSTALS. Ok… gotta breath now… Whooosaaaahhh… alrighty then.

In fact the tactical Golok bears a vague resemblance to a traditional Klingon weapon, the MekLeh’ crossed with a traditional golok…

Klingon Mek'Leth

Klingon Mek'Leth

+

Golok

Golok

OK… Too vague. That didn’t work out quite the way I thought it would. All kinds of evil was supposed to ensue. Hmmm… What to do, what to do… Actually, now that I think about it, this Golok has more in common with Kratos’ Swords of Chaos from the game God of War:

Kratos Sword of Chaos

Kratos Sword of Chaos

+

Golok

Golok

=

Tactical Golok

Tactical Golok

Much better!! Yeah… Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout… And you made me go on that Klingon rant, and nearly pop a gasket, all for nothing. Yes, you. It’s all YOUR fault. Yeah, it’s my blog and I can blame who I want to… And today that is… YOU! Put that in your meat grinder and mince it! Bah Humbug!

<Eric Cartman> Man… I really, really hate you guys… </Eric Cartman>

Anyway, this Tactical Golok is the bees knees. Put together by the folks at Szabo Inc., it looks like a mean little chopper, a nice, evil cross between a machete and an axe. With the sweeping curvy edges and dark demeanour to match. My kind of chopper. Darth Vaders golok, if you will. I mean just look at it:

Tactical Golok Demo

Tactical Golok Demo

What more can I say. Short machete. Wide. Heavy. Evil curves. Double edged.  Integral guard and blade finger choil, possibly for choking up and better control. AND it looks like it comes in black. Which is really just all kinds of WIN.  BUT… It costs and arm and a leg. But if you can afford one, at least you’ll know they’ll be harvesting your limbs in style.

Umm… wait… Was I not supposed to say that out loud?

Tactical Golok – [Szabo Inc]

What can you do with no artistic talent, and a steel blank?

Monday, January 4th, 2010

That is the question of the day. An artist might say ” Make art.”  A carpenter might say, “Make tools.”  A metalworker might say “Lets build something!” A sword smith would say… well, you ca probably guess what a sword smith would say.  But today I ran across an interesting blade, that seemed to be what a person would make if they knew they liked sharp edges, had a large steel blank, but just didn’t know what to make:

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete

Yep. That’s pretty much it.  Here’s how it was probably made. They took a steel blank, and hammered it into a rough, long strip. Then… they sat back and had a beer. That’s it. Yeah. OK, ok, so they probably heat treated/tempered it and as well. But beyond that, wrapping some cordage around the “grip” end of this piece of steel, and grinding a basic edge on it, that was probably pretty much the whole enchilada for this thing.

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete - edge

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete - edge

And look at that curved concave tip. What’s up with that? That is about the only aesthetic bit on this blade. I like simplicity and all, but I do have a limit. It’s a pretty high limit, but this thing just kinda tippy-toed over that line… If only just a little. Really, I don’t even know why they bothered with a sheath. It’s not like this blade needs protection from anything.

Maybe it’s to protect the other swords from having to be seen with this one. Not that any sword, (or human for that matter) should judge a book by it’s cover or anything, but you know how some of these high end blades get.

Steel can be so cruel… 0_o

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete – [Amazon.com]

Mans best… pal?

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Ok, so I’ve been looking for a few good all around large wilderness knives, large blades, like machetes and the like, things I could substitute for an axe. My personal philosophy for wilderness excursions is to carry a large blade instead of an axe, because while an axe is really, really good for heavy duty chopping, unless you are doing something really involved, like building a log cabin, you could probably get by with a large knife instead.

And in addition to that, there are a gazillion things you can do with a large machete that an axe would just be too unwieldy for. My personal benchmark, my reference blade, my standard for any large blade that can double as an axe, is the Nepalese Khukuri. And I actually did find a Khukuri to add to my outdoor kit. That blade, however, is the topic of another post.

Today, I’d like to talk about one of the more popular machete type tools I happened to run across during my search: The Woodmans Pal:

Woodmans Pal - Site Logo

Woodmans Pal

Now this is one of the more unique machete designs I’ve happened across during my ramblings across the internet, and for the most part, I like what I see. Good solid construction, no gimmicky features, like some of the other specialized machetes I’ve blogged about in the past. I will admit that in my opinion, this machete does carry a little bit of bloatware on board, depending on how you plan to use this useful not-so-little blade, however this ends up working in it’s favor, which I will talk a little bit about later on.

So, lets start from the bottom. The Woodmans pal comes in two flavors, one with a nice hardwood grip, and the other with the premium, and very nice looking compressed leather grip, with an integrated D shaped knuckle guard, as shown later below. Me personally, I like the leather grip and knuckle guard, but depending on how you plan to use the machete, the wood may be a better choice, for reasons I’ll also get into later.

But perhaps the most distinctive feature of this machete is it’s blade. The woodmans pal features an interesting forward swept design, with the blade getting a little wider, as it gets towards the top. Interestingly the edge is not sharpened all the way to the top, but stops just short of the wide, flat tip. However at the top of the blade, opposite the unsharpened top edge, we have a billhook jutting from the spine.

The billhook sits in a depression stamped into the top of the hook, so as to ensure that, when oriented correctly, the blade of the hook is always lower than the blade of the machete, which should make it easier to catch limbs and brush with. I thought was a very clever design feature, though this is also where my little nitpicks begin.

The Woodmans Pal

The Woodmans Pal

Here’s the thing. This design is quite innovative, however it suffers from a few shortcomings. For instance, if you opt for the model with the leather grip and knuckle guard, you may find that your options for using the billhook are actually a little limited. Because as clever as the design is, that depression makes it biased towards one hand over the other, depending on whether you are a southpaw or not, and also depending on how you use a machete.

If you are one of the unfortunate few for whom the placement of the depression for the billhook makes it a little harder to use, you may want to opt for the wood grip, since the knuckle guard will generally only aggravate this problem, and the wood handle is actually much better designed to allow the machete to be used upside down. I also found that, at least based on the way I use machetes, there was only a marginal advantage to having it. A lot of what I might do with the billhook, I could do with just the machete blade alone.

However I will say that the bill hook, in combination with the slight flare of the blade as it rises towards the tip, provides the tool with a top heavy balance that should give it rather khukuri-like qualities in terms of chopping power. Perhaps with not quite the same kind of elegance that the Khukuri carries, but some semblance of it’s chopping ability nonetheless.

Now individually, none of these features are particularly unique. However put together, it makes for one heck of a well balanced, exotic gardening implement! The wood and leather, where used, appear to be of great quality, and the steel is a good quality tempered carbon spring steel, so no demerits in that area either. All in all, a really great machete, if you are in the market for something of this nature.

Equally confidence inspiring is that Pro Tool Industries, the maker of the Woodmans Pal, offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back. I’m tend to be a bit leery when I see things like that, but based on what I’ve seen of it, I’d be willing to bet few have ever taken advantage of this offer.

So really, apart from the whole billhook thing, I can’t really knock this. And it even comes in black. I wish they made one without the billhook.

But then I guess it just wouldn’t be a Woodmans Pal.

‘Tis a shame really…

The Woodmans Pal – [Pro Tool Industries, Inc]

A cool short sword…

Monday, November 30th, 2009

As you should all well know by now, I have an innate bias towards blades of dark, pointy, sharp and curvy nature. However the nature of the sword industry today is such that most swords are made for collectors, and are generally shiny wall hangers. Obviously, this is almost the polar opposite of the kinds of things I look for in a sword. But every now and then, I find one that just speaks to me…

Junglee Short Sword

Junglee Short Sword

Meet the Junglee short sword. A symphony of modern technology melded with beautiful lines that look like they were taken from a few different sword styles. A beautiful curving blade of AUS-8 steel, that looks like a cross between a bowie knife, a scimitar and a khukuri. A blade that widens down towards the hilt into a small integrated guard, and then down to a textured kraton covered grip. All finished in an understated black teflon finish. Absolutely beautiful. I love it.

Now as short swords go, this is indeed a beauty. However I do have some concerns about it. One of them is about the steel. AUS-8, when properly heat treated, can be a great knife steel, possessing qualities similar to 440 stainless. For small knives, they are good, will take and hold an edge well, and provided they are sufficiently thick, are fairly resilient against flexing stresses. However these steels tend to be low carbon, relatively hard, inflexible  steels, so I generally do not like to see them used for swords.

Swords, due to their greater length, do tend to flex a lot more than knives do, and so my concern would be that under hard use, or in cold conditions, this sword could chip or break. A thick blade can generally help avoid possible breakage, but given it’s relatively light weight, (a whole 1.4lbs, lol ), I tend to doubt it is particularly thick. However to be fair, I should also add that this sword is a “short” sword, so the typical weaknesses of AUS-8 may not be as pronounced, and it could have been tempered slightly softer than normal in order to help mitigate that risk.

Another possible cause for concern would be the grip construction and material. While I love the way Kraton feels, and the kind of grip it gives you, most Kraton grips are essentially tang sleeves, and the tang has to be designed in a specific manner, or employ some additional retention methods, like a lanyard sleeve that goes through both grip and tang, for instance, in order to prevent the kraton grip from slipping down the tang under hard use. Don’t really see any of that on this sword, which means there is the possibility of the grip moving around on you…

So, if you plan to relying on something like this as a primary tool for survival purposes, you may want to keep the above points in mind.

But apart from that, I just love the lines on this. And the dark beautiful curves. Just can’t help it. I will probably never be able to rely solely on it for outdoor treks, however I’m probably still gonna get it because it just so cool… 😀

Junglee Short Sword – [eBlade Store]

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