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TOPS Machete .230

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by mistwalker, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I know the TOPS machete has already been reviewed here, but since I had the opportunity to put one to use on a recent trip to south Florida I thought I'd share my thoughts on it as well. I don't reckon there is anything wrong with having multiple opinions and reviews available on a particular subject.

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    It was the first time I had wandered through these areas since I was about 12...a loooong time ago...and the camera I had back then was an older 35mm and I was just beginning to figure out how to use it. The environment is much different than the woods I live in now, the woods of the Tennessee hills where I was born and raised. Having been away for so long it seemed nearly as alien to me now as it did back then.

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    Lots of insect and animal life there.

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    The fauna and flora really didn't bother me much, at least at first. I was testing out some good tools and had some I had previously tested, I was dressed for the environment so I was fine. Finally I found a really lush area that was secluded that I wanted to work in for a while along a coastal plain. I spent a few days working there, and then tropical storm Isaac moved in after the area already receiving unseasonably high levels of rain fall, then came the flooding. Suddenly a lot of the roads were under water in places and there were larger bodies of water in what had previously been only depressions and low lying areas. The river had reached flood stage and well beyond, it swelled to several times it's normal width. Now the fields I had been wandering through were incorporated into the swamps along the river.

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    I soon realized that a lot of feral hogs and alligators had been displaced and were wandering in areas I hadn't previously seen many signs of them. I was hearing feral hogs all around me and finding alligator tracks in dirt roads and palmetto fields that had been at least four or five hundred meters from the river in weeks prior. The feral hogs are hard to spot in these pics, but they are the black spots :)

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  2. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I have liked the looks of the TOPS machete since it came out, but I haven't had much need for a long machete in the Tennessee hills. While I had no intentions or desire to take on feral hogs or alligators with a machete, I was inspired by the environment to get a longer blade than what I had and decided to give the TOPS machete a go and see if I liked the handle as much as I thought I would. (handles are one of my issues with most machetes), and put in the order. When it arrived I made an improvised, easy-on/easy-off, baldric rig from para-cord, and built a basic kit around the machete sheath as it has dual utility pouches. That (along with my snake boots) became a go-to piece of equipment for the duration of the trip.

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    I do really like the handle, it's a lot more comfortable than other production machetes I've had, and I like first finger notches in handles on chopping blades for improved purchase.

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    It made short work of the tangling brier vines in the area

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    I like the way it handles, it came with a very nice edge, and green vegetation like palmetto and palm branches were no challenge at all. Pardon the dirt and sweat, it had been a long day in a hot humid area.

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    Dead pine proved to be very little challenge for the impact of the long blade and sharp edge.

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    Attacking a tree top laying across the road after the storms I learned that green hard wood wasn't much of a task for it.

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    It even handled seasoned hard wood well.

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    I know some people say it's a little pricey for a machete, but the last machete I bought cost $30.00, the “good” sheath was another $30.00 plus tax on both...and I liked neither anywhere near as much. I'm finally, for the first time, happy with a production machete, and I have no complaints at all.


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  3. Mossyhorn

    Mossyhorn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Great review and awesome photos. The .230 is on my short list. I like the Pro Tool machetes as well, but they cost even more.
     
  4. FTR-14c

    FTR-14c Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 24, 2011
    Nice review and pics. The area you were in looks very familiar.
    Thanks for taking the time.
     
  5. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, glad you enjoyed the review. After years of disappointment with machetes it's nice to be happy with one.

    I know what you mean. I love the Jest bolo design and have for years. I'm glad somebody put it into production...I just have a problem coming up with that kind of money for a machete after all the expenses I've been through recently. Especially one that's wooden handled and 1/8 thickness. Now...if it were 5/32 or so like the one I first saw used by a JEST instructor in a video, and had a non-organic handle...I'd probably figure out a way to get it sooner. But I do love that blade profile so I do hope to get one.



    Thanks, glad you liked it. Well...you're in south Florida...much of that area looks the same to me :)
     
  6. jdk1

    jdk1

    Apr 21, 2010
    Brian, your photos are stunning, your reviews enlightening, and your style entertaining. I really enjoy your posts. I also really like this machete. I'm not sure why. I am a huge khukuri fan, but machetes just work well. I like the cheap (priced) Tramontinas, but wouldn't trust my life to them. The blades are a wee bit soft, though that allows easy touch up with only a steel. The biggest concern is handle longevity. This isn't an issue for a work blade, but around here we spend so much time discussing how knives would function over long periods of hard use in remote places. This survival aspect makes me want everything to be overbuilt:) This idea is somewhat fanciful, but great fun and it generates interesting conversation.

    This machete seems to address these concerns. The handle seems bullet-proof. I like that! This machete is a bit longer than ideal for me, but does the long handle balance it out well? I also wonder about the blade. I have a very old Cold Steel LTC in Carbon V. It is 1/8" and has handled abuse quite well, so I know good steel can hold it's own even in thin stock. I see this machete is 1095. Do you see it as having real long term durability? It is a re-worked Ontario correct? I don't know how well they hold up, but I guess it would be easy to research. One more thing, is the sheath durable or just an attempt to give you something with which to hold the blade on your belt? Thanks for your time and effort.
     
  7. BePrepared

    BePrepared

    Aug 26, 2010
    Since he hasn't gotten around to it, i'll throw in my .02

    First, the sheath. it's WAY better than you're probably thinking. Normally, i kydex everything, but the sheath that came with this blade is as good as any kydex that i'd put it in. It's top shelf for it's type

    second, the 1095 is durable as heck from my experience so far. it doesn't dull easily, and 1095 with a good heat treat is good stuff

    IMHO, if you had to take something into the woods and use it till you died, this would be the one. I can't think of what you could break. The scales are REALLY on there, and you won't break em off unless you try.
     
  8. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007

    Thanks man, I'm glad you enjoy the posts. I tend to like thicker and shorter blades myself in my own woods in the Tennessee hills, but I think for a longer machete going over 1/8 would make it heavy to carry all day and exercise to swing for extended periods. I mainly got this one for the tropical environment I was in at the time, but after using it I feel comfortable carrying it here at home as well. When it arrived it was not as long as I had expected, but plenty long enough fr my needs. The edge has held up well versus various materials, even seasoned hardwoods...though I'm not sure I would attack a seasoned out maple tree with it. I seldom do that anyway, unless I'm testing an edge and want to take it above and beyond the norm. Typically all chopping tools, axes, hatchets, machetes, etc. have a lower hardness than a knife used for cutting. Abrasion resistance isn't usually as much of an issue with them, and better for a piece of steel impacting with such force to roll or flatten the edge than to send chips of steel flying if you hit a knot. It may be a re-worked Ontario blank, I haven't done a side by side yet, but there are definitely similarities beyond just the outline. If so I have my doubts about it having the Ontario heat treat with all of the cutting required for the handle changes. I think it has a better heat treat than the older Ontario machetes I've broken cutting frozen bamboo in the winter, I'll know more on that later on. The edge has help up really well versus various woods, but having hit a few rocks with it it does flatten and roll rather than send chips flying. Yes I do like the handle very much. The micarta is much better in my opinion than the plastic and wooden handles of other machetes, and the first finger notch improves purchase for me. When choking up on the handle the extra length counter balances the blade weight well and when you need chopping power you can hold the very end of the handle. This is my favorite machete sheath so far. It seems to be very well made and durable, plus gives ample room for storage of some small items. Over all I don't foresee and durability issues with either the sheath or the machete.
     
  9. jdk1

    jdk1

    Apr 21, 2010
    Thanks BP and Mist. It seems a great machete. I've realized a machete may be ideal for much of what I need in a large blade. I like thick knives as well, but their usefulness is limited a bit. It seems a proper machete can handle just about anything short of chopping firewood. I live in a warm weather area, so I'm not likely to get caught in a freak snowstorm while hiking:) My Junglas and Cold Steel khukuri perform well at chopping and machete work, but are a bit short for cactus and such. One of these could be in my future. I wish they were tan with a light brown handle. Throw in a khaki sheath and I'd probably already have one on order. Thanks again guys and take care.
     
  10. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    It's a great machete for sure! Well worth the money in my opinion, and plenty durable. As BePrepared mentioned the sheath is top notch for nylon--very heavy duty and rugged. It's definitely a "deluxe" machete in the upper price bracket, but if you've got the money to throw at it it'll still perform as if it were more expensive than it is, just like most less expensive machetes do. I love how the Tibo fits right in that front pocket like it was meant to go there!

    jdk1: Man--now you have me thinking how awesome a khaki or OD sheath would look on it! :p
     
  11. TwinStick

    TwinStick

    Jan 21, 2011
    Great review mistwalker. Been eying this since it first came out.
     
  12. TheGame

    TheGame

    Sep 24, 2008
    Great review as usual, mist. As much as I'd love to add this to the collection, I've purchased one machete over $60, and it's the perfect machete for it's size.(Custom from Koyote) I have no desire anymore to spend that on a machete. However, I do believe it to be worth every penny of it based on your review of it. I may get one in the future, though. Can never have enough sharp objects.

    Also, spiders :eek: (You had to know this was coming :p)
     
  13. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man, I had been eyeing it since I saw it at Blade when it was first coming out. I have an Armageddon that covers all of my large knife chopping needs here at home, but once I hit the tropics I remembered why I carried a standard shaped machete when I lived there before and wanted something with a little more reach. I like the kit I built around it so it will definitely be a go-to tool in the summer months here now.


    Thanks Dale. I was beginning to think I was going to have to go custom in order to get the thickness I wanted, a heat treat I trusted, and a handle I liked. I'm liking this one a lot though, so I'm happy.

    As for the spiders...I don't think you'd like it there. Although I never had any of the larger ones bother me, and they often ran from me if I moved too fast, there were some Golden Silk Orb weavers there that could sit on your nose, look you in the eye, wiggle their butts on your chin, and tickle both ears, all at the same time :)
     
  14. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Damned cold and cold medicine has my head all foggy...so I missed this one. I love the machete, it's what I had been wanting in a machete for some time, and I have no problem with the cost considering I have paid nearly as much for other machetes and sheaths I liked much less. Yeah, I like how the Tibo fits too, makes for a great large knife/small knife combo :) . I'd love to have this same sheath in khaki or coyote brown!
     
  15. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Coyote sheath and green canvas scales! :D
     
  16. mistwalker

    mistwalker Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Yeah, that would be sweet!
     
  17. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    I would really appreciate the coating if they came out with that combo--'cause I'd be drooling all over it. :p
     
  18. jdk1

    jdk1

    Apr 21, 2010
    I think you're right 42. The silver blade coating is actually pretty good as is. An OD or tan handle would work very well with it. It would actually look darned nice. The current colors are very nice, they just don't appeal to me as much. I definitely would prefer a tan/coyote/FDE/khaki sheath though. Add in a retention system, even if just a bungee strap set-up, and some molle straps or loops so the sheath could be attached to a pack, and TOPS would have a real winner. Hmmm, a Baryonyx special edition: OD handle, tan sheath, and a custom convex edge with your claw etched onto the blade! I'd buy one:) Take care guys.
     
  19. C_Becker

    C_Becker

    Oct 7, 2012
    Some great wilderness pics there !
    And that machete looks very nice and solid, too
     
  20. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Thanks for the review, really interesting and those are great pics :)
     

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