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What's the best chopper?

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by popopine, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. popopine


    May 13, 2009
    Hey guys, this topic has probably been covered a zillion time. So if you know of a thread, please let me know.

    Here are some things that are on my mind. Is it worth buying a beautiful custom knife to chop wood and stick in the dirt?
    If it really performs better i have no problem laying down the cash - i love great knives! But nearly every busse i see is pristine
    - so what's the deal?

    Would love to hear what you guys think as i mostly carry folders but I am now looking into something
    fixed that'll last out in the wilderness and won't break.

    Thanks! -Kris
  2. LX_Emergency


    Jun 28, 2007
    An axe?
  3. popopine


    May 13, 2009
    True. True. I guess i should have also specified that i need it to clear brush like a machete. What? Machete! Eureka!!!
  4. clearytja


    Oct 17, 2002
    Is there a lot of bush in Hoboken? Sorry giving you sh#t cause my parents are from that area. I just picked up a Walter Davis (knife maker here) 10 inch chopper and it is nasty. Great price, holds an edge and Walter is great to deal with. I had a Busse FFBM but it was too big (one third of an inch thick!). I picked up the Davis to compete against my brother's Fehrman Final Judgement (I think thats the name) which is a fast chopper. Cheaper than the Fehrman and Busse is the RTAK by (Ontario) Rat or wait (if you can) for RAT to come out with their RC RTAK! I'm sure others will have more suggestions than those.
  5. popopine


    May 13, 2009
    LOL... No we have a piece of land in Vermont. I'll check out the WD. Thanks!
  6. Stubai


    Mar 16, 2007
    The short answer to your question is no. The great majority of the products that cross my path from Wauseon are in pristine condition and have never tasted wood or felt the impact of hard rocks or metal. They are far too costly to use (or abuse) for the average guy out there on the street. That being mentioned, I still use my Fehrman for rough chores, but I still don't lend it out to anyone who might damage it. My basic 9 saw some use a few years ago in a yard where lots of chopping was going on in the removal of shrubs and other vines. Dents and some minor rolling occured but for the tough stuff I used a properly honed five pound axe. Most of the guys that do yard work use a machete or one of the cheaper China made products like the stout offering from Meyerco made out of 420 stainless. This 6mm blade (Combination Axe and Machete) will do anything you need, and it does not break your 401k in the process. As I've said before in other posts, the 18 inch machete properly sharpened is a marvelous tool that is very tough to beat as a general survival/utility blade. Another good choice is the cheap CS kuk made from 1/8th inch stock. I bought two of them. With a reprofiled edge, these knives easily out perform even my BM in all areas save for prying. Of course, they don't look near as good or draw attention to my coffee table. Every time I have guests over, they (without fail) pick up the BM and smile. The Busse has the 'cool factor' but when I head out in the field, the Ontario is the knife of choice along with the lowly SAK that has been used a million times.
  7. WalterDavis


    Nov 23, 2005
    Thanks for spreadin' the love, T:D

    popopine, dollar-for-dollar it's pretty hard to beat a machete for clearing brush, light chopping, and just beating around the woods. I personally prefer something a little heavier duty, but I'm more apt to be splitting wood than clearing brush:thumbup: If you're on a strict budget, Ontario and Ka-Bar have some bowies in the $50 range, or the Becker line for a bit more. HI (look in the manufacture's section for their forum) has a great reputation and they do more than just kukris. Above that price range you get into the Top-of-the-Line manufacturers (Busse, Swamp Rat, Bark River, etc) and into the custom/handmade knives, and there's something out there to fit your specific needs for sure:thumbup:

    If you like knives, I'd say it's worth spending a bit more on one that makes you want to take it out and play. I've got a few Busses, and none of mine are intentionally 'safe queens'-in fact, putting 'em to use is a good motivator to get me outside! Same with my customs. I've got a Robert Parrish survival knife that's got more than its fair share if dents and dings, a massive Siegle chopper that does most my wood cutting when I'm camping, and a few other customs that regularly go out with me! Of course, I'm a knife-knut of the worst kind, I started making 'em so I could afford to buy more of 'em:D
  8. popopine


    May 13, 2009
    Thank you all very much. (nice knives mr davis... very tempting). I think i'll buy a home depot axe and a decent production machete. And if i ever do get a Nice Walter Davis or Busse i think i'd have to hack some wood and brush. Sure it would be painful at first but not nearly as much as seeing that poor knife sit on a mantle with it's finger up it's nose.:eek:

    Thanks again! popo
  9. WalterDavis


    Nov 23, 2005
    Good choice:thumbup: If you browse through the 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' forum (it's in the "Tactics and Training" area here) there are a lot of discussions on both axes and machetes. From setting up a $25 'Nessmuck trio' to the best of the best, those guys know their stuff, and are more than willing to help you find the tools that will work best for your area, budget, and intentions:thumbup: And definitely, when you move up into those spendy toys, don't let 'em get dusty:D
  10. Glock&Surefire


    May 22, 2009
    I have a Final Judgement and it is a great knife, But I too am about to buy another machete, a ontario 18" with the new handle no rivots to loosen up and the sheath to go with it. all for about 30.00
  11. nozh2002

    nozh2002 Banned BANNED

    Jun 9, 2003
    When I did some informal chopping test I had two winner. I was chopping about inch thick bush branches and found that good chopper need to have high center of weight - closer to the tip - better. And also handle which you can control holding with little finger. And of course length. I guess steel is not really big concern here - many steel has required toughness, but grid is also very important - better be thinner, but should be strong. To my surprise Hollow grind did best job - and if you think, it is understandable why, thinner blade penetrates better.

    Winners were (I can not say one was better then another I think it was draw)

    RosArms Taiga - Big Russian knife which has most comfortable handle:


    G-Sakai Samurai Bowie - have totally different handle but very grippy as well - it has traditional Japanese Convex grind. It is easy to pull it from wood but it is bit harder to penetrate (however it is good for splitting wood log).


    Ranger RD7 - big flat grind blade, good balance for this task handle is not as comfortable as other knives have and coating just seems to find dirt like a pig and dirt seems to stick to it... After some use looks get changed... however some people like this as a sign of hard work... so here you may get sign of hard work very soon. I also make it harder to get rid of rust in the spots where it fall of the blade.


    Thanks, Vassili.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  12. DavidZ

    DavidZ Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 30, 2004
  13. MustardMan


    Mar 14, 2009
    I own a few knives from all of the three different Busse family companies. Personally, for me, the INFI offerings from Busse generally don't perform well enough to justify their extra price. If you are paying that amount for INFI, it's because you really love the designs of the knives, and some of the cool little touches Jerry puts on his blades, and not because they will out-chop another knife.

    I disagree that they are too expensive to use, though - they are guaranteed for life, and even if you use them, they will still probably pull a pretty penny on the second hand market a couple of years from now. I've seen user knives that had the coating completely worn off, selling for well over a hundred dollars more than original asking price. Very few knives can claim that.

    I've beaten the crap out of an $800 piece of INFI, while being broke, and not thought twice about it. I didn't buy the thing to put on a shelf.

    However, if the cost is worrisome to you, Scrap Yard and Swamp Rat knives have the same warranty and great performance. The Swamp Rat M9LE is actually my favorite large knife - it balances a little more towards the handle than pure choppers, which makes it excellent for brush clearing jobs, but it is still a capable chopper, and its full flat grind is awesome for batoning to split logs. And at $250 original retail, it's a little easier to convince yourself to beat on it than a Battle Mistress or even an NMSFNO.
  14. popopine


    May 13, 2009
    David Z Nice work on the comparison! can't wait to see what you do next!

    And Mustardman, kinda taking the middle road with the Swamp rat and it does nearly as well a an FBM. That's a good idea too.

    I guess there are two points (among others) that are coming out. You can look at it practically and get the right tool for the right job no matter what the thing looks like or costs- a $40 axe probably rocks, for example. Or you can approach the issue emotionally and get the sexy chopper just cause you like it - it may not do the job quite as well but it sure is a beautiful piece of steel that feels great in your hand. ... Or if your rich, you can get both!:D
  15. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    Yep - Walter had a great post. There is chopping and there is chopping. What I'm saying is that this catch all phrase is a dumpster bin of different types of things. A big thick knife will do wont do as well on vegetation where a machete excels. An axe totally sucks at springy vegetation but does the best at hard woods. Khukri's and big knives offer good intermediate grounds for more woody vegetation and small to intermediate samplings. They are also really great for splitting wood via baton.

    Then you get into the 'do I carry multiple tools' or one tool? Big knives can do it all, but then some argue that a good hatchet will do most of it also.

    Often times on the expense factor, the best of the best comes usable as is where as the bargains can be had much cheaper but require some work be put into them. The Wetterlings / Gransfors bruks is a classic example. A Wetterlings gives you all the quality and materials of a Gransfors, but the F&F isn't as nice and you need to put some elbow grease on the edge to make it really bite. Gransfors come perfectly tuned when you buy them. In this case the $60 difference in price can amount to how you value your time.

    I agree with Mustard Man that among the Bussekin knives, chopping performance isn't all that different. Albeit fit and finish, style and even availability seem to be greater with the high end line.

    Some great value chopper knives for the buck: Kabar Heavy Bowie ($50) big heavy knife that needs edge work but will last forever and chop quite well. Crowell/Barker Competition Blade by Browning, Ontario RTAC, Ranger RD-9. Better big heavy knives that will cost more: Scrapyard dogfather or SOD one of Walters big bowies, Bark River Hudson Bay knife, Bark River Golok, Valiant Company Survival Golok, David Farmer Dangerous Curves, Fiddleback Bow Legged Chopper (well it looks awesome).

    Some great machetes: Tramontina - great value but thin and needs edge work, Ontario. Better ones: Condor machetes, Linder, Bark River Modified Machete (from KSF), Brian Andrews modified Ontario machete (Off the Map Outfitters).

    Some great axes: Snow & Neely Hudson Bay Axe, Gransfors Bruks. Good axes that can be great ones with effort: Wetterlings. Good axes that are cheap: Fiskars.
  16. MustardMan


    Mar 14, 2009
    I second the Ka-Bar Heavy Bowie - for as cheap as that knife is, it's a real BEAST both chopping and batoning. And it's really not all that heavy, either. I don't really like the handle, but it's a heck of a value.
  17. Yorkshire Boy

    Yorkshire Boy

    Sep 27, 2008
    For the money the KA-BAR Machete Cutlass is very good.


    Although when RAT Cutlery release their chopper I'll be buying that!
  18. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Check out Condor machetes. Worth every penny! I use mine HARD and they chop like no other machete I've ever used. :cool:
  19. Glock&Surefire


    May 22, 2009
    I have been looking at these, before I buy the new molded, ontario 18" machete, would you say the condor is better? I have the school rivtoted Ontario and I get it shaving sharp on a belt sander with no effort. Are the Condors as good? Better? Thanks I already have four machetes but where I live you can never have enough! The chipping can be quite bad on the ontario when it hits rocks.
  20. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    Estwing E44a hatchet
    machete of your choice
    mule team knife from Spyderco

    cheap, gets the jobs done.

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