Author Topic: Need Help - Choosing a machete  (Read 5770 times)

Offline Sephiroth

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Need Help - Choosing a machete
« on: August 17, 2014, 08:04:52 AM »
Good morning fellow TSP Members,

I have decided to start learning how to camp and live in the outdoors. I never liked camping, was always a city-boy... But if i am to be really prepared and enhance my abilities to adapt and survive, then camping is an obvious education to attend to. I have been buying the items i need to camp. The basic stuff. But know i have hit a thoughtful spot... Choosing edged tools for the outdoors...

I heard months ago that a good Knife is #1. So i bought a KA-BAR USMC 1213. And i also have the swiss pocket knife for minor utilities. Those two items combined with a good Leatherman Multi-tool i own have been enough for my 4 times out with the group. But last time, they asked me to take point and i found out that it means clearing a way through sometimes. Hence the need of a machete.

But i have zero knowledge on Knives and Metallurgy. I don't know the first thing about Machetes, carbon steel or Stainless Steel and etc.... So how do i choose one ?

Here are some of the things i would like to ask:

1º - Carbon Steel, Cold Steel or Stainless Steel ?

I heard that 1085 Carbon Steel is best, since it is easy to sharpen and holds an edge better and longer. Did some research on what "1085" means and learned some stuff. But i don't know how it stands against Stainless or Cold Steel.... Some argue that cold steel is the best way to go.

2º - Size

Simple one here. I am a 5´10 and weight 85kg. So i am not a small fella. But i see some Machetes that have a 45cm blade !! Such as the Gerber Gator. Do i need something that big ? Since in Brazil you face the Jungle or dense woods, bigger does seem better...

3º - Saw-back or no Saw-back ?

The Gerber Gator has one. But the Machetes that really caught my eye don't have one. And i have no saw. So should one with a saw-back by a priority ? Does sound and look handy...



I have narrowed some choices down. 4 of them to be exact.

- The US Army Ontario Machete:    http://www.machetespecialists.com/onmisama.html

- The KABAR Machete:     https://www.knifecityoutlet.com/store/pc/Black-KA-BAR-Grass-Machete-51p49656.htm

- The Gerber Gator (winner so far...)         http://www.gerbergear.com.br/Apocalypse/Gear/Gator-Machete_31-000758

- The Brazilian Zakharov (which has Legendary status among Brazilians)         http://www.zakharov.com.br/fac-o-plus.html



Thanks for all the reply-s and posts !!

Offline PistolWhipped

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014, 12:58:49 PM »
There is no one "right" machete so much as the one that fits your needs better than others.  If you are trying to clear brush, a lighter machete like a Tramontina is going to let you work longer than a heavy Ontario Military.  But I've used my Ontario to cut down a tree with, which would likely wreck a lighter blade, and it can still be used for bushwhacking.

I'll take your questions one at a time.

1º - Carbon Steel, Cold Steel or Stainless Steel ?

Carbon and Stainless are types of steel.  Cold Steel is a brand, who makes pretty solid machetes for cheap.  Their machetes are made from Carbon Steel, 1055 IIRC.  So are most heavy use machetes, as it is both tougher and easier to sharpen than stainless.  The heat treatment is also a big factor in toughness, to hard a blade becomes brittle.  For a machete, 50-55 on the Rockwell Harness scale is plenty, while knives are better in the 60 range.  The trade-off is you should keep it oiled or it can rust.  I know there are a few discolored patches on the tang of my Ontario where sweat caused a little rust.  Still, for a hard use tool, go with Carbon Steel.

2º - Size

This is largely a matter of application.  A longer blade is easier for things like clearing land and provides more leverage.  The trade-off is packing size and weight. There are machetes with 22"+ that would be great for chopping scrub, but would be awkward to use in any kind of small space.  I think a 16-18" blade gives a nice balance of handiness, leverage, and size/weight.

3º - Saw-back or no Saw-back ?

If you want a saw, get a small wire saw or the like. It'll work better than one on the back of a machete.  If you want to use the machete for some tasks (like a draw knife, or for batoning wood) the saw will be a hindrance.

Of the machetes you listed, I've only used the Ontario. And I've used/beaten the hell out of it, it's been rock solid for me.



That and the Zakharov are the only two I'd personally buy of those you've listed .  Also look at some of the offerings from Condor Knife and Tool (the Golock is always raved about) and Tramontina.

Offline Carl

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2014, 01:13:00 PM »
I also like the Gerber Gator ,but I wrap the handle with better grip wrap (like tennis racket) and wear good gloves to protect hands from blisters and branches. I also like the Condor Golok as it feels like a natural extension of your arm and is easy to control.

http://www.knife-depot.com/knife-392884.html?src=gaw_mc&src1=kd&src2=gbase&gclid=CK-pxJ2Am8ACFeRj7AodlgcAPg

Offline Sephiroth

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2014, 03:13:42 PM »
#PìstolWhipped, my sincere "thank you" for such an awesome and complete response.

#Carl, you just put in a contender for my purchase ^^

I had no idea of the steel info PistolWhipped... As you said, the Ontario can take a beating from the reviews i have seen.... I am a strong fella and i train weights regularly, the Ontario wont hinder me i believe....

Funny, the Saw part really makes more sense in getting a wire type. i would NEVER have thought about that....

By all i have read so far, the Ontario looks pretty strong, second to the KABAR.... The KABAR Grass Cutter looks like what i need in terms of size and weight.... What a tuff decision...

Guys, thanks a bunch !

Offline PistolWhipped

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2014, 04:11:36 PM »
No problem.  I was in the same boat a couple of years back, ended up snagging my Ontario at a place just off base and been abusing it ever since.

The Condor Golok is easily the best machete mentioned on this page, but it runs twice the price of the Ontario.  It's all a matter of budget.  You invest in the Golok, you get a fantastic, very usable, supremely ergonomic tool.  If this gets used a lot, you're looking at fewer blisters at the end of the day. Or, you buy an Ontario, a Mora knife, and a bottle of Mineral Oil and get two solid usable blades and oil to maintain them.  Might even be able to squeeze some paracord, a firesteel, or a lighter into that budget with some smart shopping.

I've heard a few, isolated reports of the KABAR machetes snapping blades off near the handle.  I can't substantiate these, but I figured I'd pass on what I heard.

Offline soupbone

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014, 04:31:44 PM »
You can't go wrong with Ontario, or any other actual military supplier for that matter. Who has the contract for the Brazilian armed forces? You might be able to get an equivalent quality for less money. Machetes, like actual survival knives [and other similar equipment] are considered expendable items and only have to be good enough to do the job. Understanding that and not being put off by potentially rough finishing or machining could save you some bucks. Remember, they WILL do the job. For a saw, I'd look at a garden shop variety folding pruning saw. You can go through an awesome amount of wood with one of them. They are easily portable, safe to carry and relatively inexpensive. Good luck with your selection.

soupbone

Offline Sephiroth

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2014, 08:15:28 PM »
Hey Soup and PistolWhipped,

Heard about the KABAR also. It is off the list.

The Brazilian Zakhrov lost its place due to pricing, but are considered the best national. But to pricey for a Machete.

I found a awesome model. The CRKT Chanceinhell Machete. Is holds the title for now as TOP 5 Machete. Looks like a winner. But i still loved the Ontario....

It will be one of these two....

Offline Knecht

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2014, 08:09:44 AM »
I'd recommend a simple machete by Imacasa (made in Salvador). I've had one since I was 12 and still have it and use it. Much better steel than Cold Steel, holds edge longer. And pretty cheap as well.
Recent machete market focuses too much on being all tactical and anti-zombie. Machete is a tool and tool needs to work well, in the first place.
As for sawback, I wouldn't want one. Plain back machete can be easily used as a drawknife in need. Haven't seen a really good saw on machete yet. Would rather get a real saw as a separate tool, my advice would be Bahco Laplander (for small tasks, not for building loghouse, of course).

Offline Sephiroth

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2014, 01:50:03 PM »
I hear ya Knecht,

Well guys, my purchase ended up beeing a CRKT "Chanceinhell" machete by Ken Onion.

Reason is, it is very light weight, has a good size (blade has 30.5 cm) and can take a serious beating. Lots of positive reviews of it on the net. It is also very affordable, cheaper then the KA-BAR Machetes or the fancy looking anti-zombie ones...

http://www.crkt.com/Chanceinhell-survival-machete-K910KKP

It fits my "Get Home Bag" just fine. Also fits my belt and leg and does n´t hinder me when i move.

I recomend it ^^

Offline Carl

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2014, 02:30:43 PM »
I hear ya Knecht,

Well guys, my purchase ended up beeing a CRKT "Chanceinhell" machete by Ken Onion.

Reason is, it is very light weight, has a good size (blade has 30.5 cm) and can take a serious beating. Lots of positive reviews of it on the net. It is also very affordable, cheaper then the KA-BAR Machetes or the fancy looking anti-zombie ones...

http://www.crkt.com/Chanceinhell-survival-machete-K910KKP

It fits my "Get Home Bag" just fine. Also fits my belt and leg and does n´t hinder me when i move.

I recomend it ^^


I would like to hear you 'IN USE' report as to how you like it. I have yet to find a brush knife that did not blister my hand,though I have improved the ones I use (cold steel and Gerber) with tennis racket wrap tape and bike handle bar wrap.

Offline Sephiroth

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2014, 08:26:14 PM »

I would like to hear you 'IN USE' report as to how you like it. I have yet to find a brush knife that did not blister my hand,though I have improved the ones I use (cold steel and Gerber) with tennis racket wrap tape and bike handle bar wrap.

Exatcly one of the reasons to get this CRKT Carl... It is VERY light weight and ergonomic. There is a very good video from "Prepper101" on Youtube with the review. Guy is a blade/Machete specialist and loved it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOWsfv32L24

I´m gonna hack some S**t up and tell how it went. Bare in mind, i am a city boy just starting to learn how to camp... So blisters might be my still fragile hands fault.... LOL

Offline NCFreedom

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2014, 04:10:17 AM »
I had a machete my step-dad brought back from Mexico when I was a lil kid.  It had a 30 in+ blade.  It got stolen at a party I had when I was a teenager and I'll never find another one.  It was two sided for the last 10-12 inches of the blade.  It was awesome and I hope my grandparents still have theirs and I can talk them out of it.  This is the closest pic I can find of something like it.

http://media.liveauctiongroup.net/i/8539/9881995_1.jpg?v=8CD2DED9E437CB0

Now I have a Camillus Carnivore.  I think I should have gotten the Gerber Gator for about the same price but overall, its ok.  I got another machete I got at a yardsale that works ok as well.  But I still miss my old one. 

Offline Sephiroth

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Re: Need Help - Choosing a machete
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2014, 04:34:37 AM »
I had a machete my step-dad brought back from Mexico when I was a lil kid.  It had a 30 in+ blade.  It got stolen at a party I had when I was a teenager and I'll never find another one.  It was two sided for the last 10-12 inches of the blade.  It was awesome and I hope my grandparents still have theirs and I can talk them out of it.  This is the closest pic I can find of something like it.

http://media.liveauctiongroup.net/i/8539/9881995_1.jpg?v=8CD2DED9E437CB0

Now I have a Camillus Carnivore.  I think I should have gotten the Gerber Gator for about the same price but overall, its ok.  I got another machete I got at a yardsale that works ok as well.  But I still miss my old one. 

Wow, that looks solid !

I wanted something at a maximum of 30 cm because i´ll keep it in my BOB... I did not get the Gerber Gator because being realistic, i don't need a saw... I just need a good bush/grass chopper that will eventually chop small wood...

If you liked that one on the picture you posted and the Gerber Gator, you might want to check the Ontario Machete. Used by the US Army, that thing will out live even it´s user....