Posts Tagged ‘Machete’

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]

The devil’s in the details…

Monday, July 27th, 2009

In a couple of previous posts I talked a little about what makes an ideal survival knife. I had actually planned a future post to treat the topic in a little further detail. However I recently ran into a good example of an almost perfect survival machete that I thought warranted a little post.

And I say *almost* perfect because, while it ostensibly meets the requirements of what I consider ideal in a large survival blade in a multi blade set, it falls short in one single area, a small failing, that by my estimates, rendered it almost 50% less effective than if it had been properly designed. Yeah. Small flaw, big problems. This is the tool in question:

The Ultimate Survival Machete

The Ultimate Survival Machete

This is the Ultimate Survival Machete. I may have mentioned in a previous post that in my opinion the ideal survival kit would actually include multiple blades, with a minimum of two, not one survival knife, which is a misconception that many people seem to have. The singe blade solution is a compromise for if you have absolutely have to carry only one blade.

However in my opinion the ideal solution includes at least two knives. One small blade for fine work, skinning, whittling, carving and what not, and one large, heavy blade, like a bowie, axe or a machete, for heavy work, such as chopping, log splitting, cutting down trees, and other heavy camp work. But I digress.

This so called “Ultimate Survival Machete” actually does do it’s name some justice, though possesses a basic flaw, which we will get into shortly. But besides that, I find the basic design concept of this machete would actually make for an ideal large camp knife. On the front edge, like most other machetes, you have a large, strong heavy, full tang blade that would make short work of heavy chopping chores.  But unlike most other machetes, this one also has a rather effective looking saw tooth spine.

Now this is something I have not talked a whole lot about, but it bears mentioning. A properly designed sawtooth spine is extremely useful on a single, multipurpose survival knife. The saw simply makes it much easier to cut through medium to heavy pieces of wood, with surprisingly little effort, especially compared to the energy required to chop the same saplings and branches down with a medium camp axe. This is important in a survival setting. Granted, when it comes to chopping down large trees and such, the axe is a better bet, however a heavy machete is a pretty close second.

So in my mind, this design, a machete with a saw toothed spine, assuming the saw teeth are properly designed, is a near perfect combination of features that could easily replace an axe. And as an added bonus on this machete, you actually have a somewhat decent point, perhaps not an ideal design for thrusting, but one which would allow it to be used as a defensive weapon whose full length could be used to keep large animals and whatnot at bay. Add to that the full finger guard, and the lanyard, and you have a near perfect survival machete design.

BUT now we come to the fly (or in this case the dung beetle) in the proverbial ointment. In their great zeal to create the ultimate survival machete, the designers of the tool forgot one little thing. Kudos to anyone who can guess what I’m about to demerit this survival machete on… Go on. Give it a shot. I’ll wait…

No clue? OK, I’ll give you a hint: Full finger guards rarely work as well backwards. 🙂

The Ultimate Survival Machete - Sheath

The Ultimate Survival Machete - Sheath

Bingo! That’s it. There is a full finger guard. And then there is a saw tooth spine.  And try as you might, nary the twain shall work! 😀 As you can see from the pic, that full finger guard would work great when the machete was being used for chopping. However what happens when you want to use the spine for sawing? You have to flip the machete upside down don’t you?! And then what happens to the guard…? DOH!!

Yeah… I bet you can just feel the calluses forming as you picture it in your mind. Sawing holding onto the grip upside down, with that full finger guard running over the back of your hand, or across your thumb, would be awkward, and get very, very, uncomfortable, because you would be hard pressed to actually get the blade into a 90 degree angle with whatever it is you are trying to saw into.

You could grip the guard instead, but then you’d be holding a very small grip, above the centerline of the saw blade, which wouldn’t be any better. Basically, by adding that full sized finger guard, they have rendered the saw toothed spine almost unusable. BUMMER!!!

Now to be honest, there’s an easy fix. Grab a hacksaw, and lop off the guard flush with the top and bottom of the grip, maybe leave a small, unobtrusive stubby guard instead, and sand it down to match the contoured grip. Voila! This would get you the perfect survival machete advertised.

However I did want to illustrate how important little things can become when they are not fully checked for correct ergonomics across the entire range of possible uses the tool is designed for. Clearly, in this case, either the saw tooth spine was added as an after thought, or the ergonomics of this feature was never really thought about during the design stage.

I already have a small camp hatchet in my camp kit. But this machete would still definitely make it into that, or my bug out bag. After making the aforementioned modification, of course. And I’d probably ditch the hatchet if I had to choose between them. But then again I grew up using machetes for everything from field work, to camping, to a few other out-of-left-field things, so I might be a little biased… 😀

The Ultimate Survival Machete – [The Happy Ninja]

Register

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 159,316 bad guys.

Your password will be e-mailed to you.

Your Weapon Sir?
The Raiders Almanac
August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
Surf the Sands of Time:
Phyreblades Site of the Month!