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Golok and machete questions

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Darteres, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. Darteres


    Feb 4, 2008
    Anyone have either the Bark River golok or the Valiant survival golok (or possibly both!) be willing to post some info and let me know why you choose one over the other? Maybe a comparison if you have both?



    The Bark River is lighter and a bit shorter. The Valiant looks like it has more curve to it.

    If you don't have one, why would you pick one over the other?

    Also, as a side question, why do all you Tramontina machete users pic a one of those over an average Harbor Freight machete?

    I'm looking for a chopper that's lighter than my khuks and eyeing either the Bark River or the Valiant, but those Tramontina mods do look sweet.
  2. akennedy73


    May 5, 2006
    I purchased my valiantco golok before brkt started making goloks - the brkt golok is obviously inspired by the valiantco golok and a tribute to how good a woods-tool they are. I believe Mike Stewart goes to great lengths to offer what outdoors-people really want and need and the brkt golok is a prime example.

    but if i had to make a choice between the two, i'd still choose the valiantco golok. that said, my opinion is based on never having handled a brkt golok so naturally i'm biased toward what i have experience with.

    here's the reason why i'd choose the valiantco - comfort. the valiantco does not have a full tang whereas the the brkt does. the american knife market tends to see this as a drawback - and i'm sure the brkt golok is ultimately stronger and less likely to fail under extreme use. but a full tang tends to transmit the vibration of impact into your hand when chopping. the valiantco golok handle better absorbs the impact vibrations and doesn't transmit them - additionally the handle on most models are curved with a bulbous end to the handle which increases the comfort level. the best way i can describe it is the force of impact is spread out into the palm of the hand by the curved bulbous handle.

    these considerations of comfort don't really matter if you're just doing some light chopping - it only comes into play for extended chopping sessions. and again, this isn't based on experience i've had comparing the two. it's just based on my own experience with how comfortable the valiantco golok is and the basic understanding that if you're holding the end of a thick piece of metal and whacking it into a log, it tends to wear you out after a while.

    people have had cracks form in the handle where the blade is inserted. on my own golok, the bone ferrule has cracked. again, is this a drawback? depends on your perspective - i see it as a strength. the tang is transmitting the impact into the handle instead of my hand. i haven't heard of a failure (loose blade) due to slight cracking of the handle. if cosmetic cracks bother you, you may be better off with a wood handle as it seems to be the buffalo horn that generates cracks.

    another final consideration is aesthetics - the valiantco goloks are not perfect. you can still make out the hand-forged nature of the blade - there will probably be a slight waviness to the blade's surface and the remains of hammer marks. suwandi has stated that to grind the blade to the point where those imperfections are removed would substantially increase the cost.

    oldjimbo.com is a great place for more info on the valiantco blades.

  3. Darteres


    Feb 4, 2008
    Thanks for the great comments! Does your Valiant have a "sweet spot" or is the hardness pretty even along the length of the blade?
  4. Grampa


    Jan 17, 2006
    Well, I guess I'll give the other side! I'd like to get a Valiant someday, but have been so happy with the BRKT Golok, that I just haven't bothered.

    I picked up the Golok while in my B____ phase, and was amazed that this lightweight little thing out-chopped one of B____'s largest blades! On top of that, it was remarkably comfortable to use. It is now, and has been since I got it, my go-to blade for any chopping, etc. I've used it for hours at a time, clearing and chopping without any blisters or hand fatigue (beyond that of just working that long!). And after all that, the edge was still reasonably sharp and came back to scary sharp with a minute's work with a strop.

    I think any golok or machete can be a great tool, and I think some of the machete mods I've seen here look really interesting. In my experience, a machete is a bit better than a golok for clearing grass and light, green vegetation, but a golok style blade does that well and does wood much better. It's just an inherently more versatile tool, at least for the chaparral and pine forests where I do my outdoorsy stuff! :thumbup:
  5. akennedy73


    May 5, 2006
    hardness is even along the length of the blade. but i think the survival goloks with the butter-knife blade profile don't have hardened tips (not sure about this). and from what i gather from oldjimbo's website goloks with similar profiles to mine like the small horn golok are hardened all the way to the tip.

    i don't think you'd go wrong with either choice - a brkt or a golok. my golok is 21 ounces whereas the brkt is 16 ounces. as a backpacker i'm tempted by the lighter weight, not to mention the fit and finish is going to be superior on a brkt compared to a valiantco. on the other hand, having something hand-made with old school techniques like a valiantco is pretty cool. i think they use ground-up ants in the glue that adheres the blade to the handle - i mean, how cool is that? :cool:

    it's too bad that outdoors-magazine is gone - lots of good articles on valiantco blades were on that site. here's one about how they are made:
  6. rctk1

    rctk1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    i once had a valiant golok and never will again! although the edge was extremely sharp they are notorious for having uneven heat treat. I was cutting a 4" limb down, after receiving the knife and a large chunk of steel was wedged in the tree after a few cuts. Its really a hit and miss when you purcahase things made in third world countries.
  7. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    I have a short Valiant Golok that is flawless and I have used it to chop very thick stuff before w/o problem. Golok Kelapa

    However I sent 1 medium(?) survival golok back for cracking in the handle and rolling in the blade and the replacement never rolled but has some handle cracking.

    Also understand that Valiant does not consider handle cracking to be a returnable defect.

    I love both of my Valiant Goloks but I was making the mistake of using them to chop stuff like I would do a khukuri.

    IMO they are not meant for chopping hardwood or thick stuff. The backward force when you strike a very hard peice of wood will cause the back of the handle to crack. However if you are clearing weeds or small woody saplings under 1" they are really hard to beat.
  8. Darteres


    Feb 4, 2008
    I'm mostly going to be using it for camp use. Maybe chopping down so small trees for shelter practice. Something bigger than a 4 in blade to take along on weekend hikes.
  9. rctk1

    rctk1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    if you are looking for something a little larger than 4" you can try Bark river, Fallkniven, or the new RC-6 by rat cutlery.
  10. Darteres


    Feb 4, 2008
    Sorry, I meant to say that the golok is going to be my larger blade for larger tasks while the 4 in is going to be my standard blade for normal tasks.
  11. TedPalmer

    TedPalmer Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 27, 2003
    which Valient golok is that in the pic? It doesn't look like either of my survival goloks!? I have the small and the large. They are about 6 years old and still going strong. Here in the Oregon rain forest they cut a lot of "brush" which is mostly small hard wood tree regrowth and I cut quite a bit of doug fir. No problems as of yet.
  12. langston302


    Apr 25, 2007
    three words:


    that is all
  13. R.H.Clark


    Aug 23, 2007
    I've spent big money on choppers before.Do yourself a favor and pick up a $6.00 Tram.I like the 12" or 14" model best.Heck,for the price get both.You may need to tighten the handle after a while,but a few taps with a large flat punch will solve that.

    I'll not spend big money on anything again that I might want to chop with around rocks and such.Trust me if you want to use it a lot you will eventually dent or chip the blade on something.I nearly cried when I nicked the blade on my super steel $400 bowie.I put the bowie up and grabbed my trusty 14" Tram.

    You don't want to baton with a Tram unless it is small light stuff but for general chopping I love them.
  14. perksy


    Jan 11, 2006
    Another vote here for the Barkie.


    I love this knife. Like others have said, its a very versitile tool. It is a superb chopper on light vegitation as well as the heavy stuff, but when you need it to it will work quite well a more delicate tasks. I have been surprised how light the golok was while still haveing the heft behind it for chopping power.

    A good set.


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