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Help me choose a bushcraft machete

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by EdgyEddy, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Rich Davis

    Rich Davis Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 4, 2016
    hexenjager, Henry Beige and marcinek like this.
  2. EdgyEddy


    Mar 26, 2019
  3. Rich Davis

    Rich Davis Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 4, 2016
    No, but it has a good reputation and it should meet all your criteria. Unless you abuse it then it will last with reasonable care.
  4. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Kuhkris are heavy chopping knives meant for different tasks than a machete - chopping wood vs clearing brush and grasses.

    I met a surveyor once who said he had used practically every machete over several decades and he recommended old Collins Legitimus machetes as the best. They can be found on eBay.

    Condor also has a good reputation, here is a selection. https://www.knifecenter.com/series/condor-tool-and-knife/carbon-steel-machetes
    You might like the Sabertooth, but see reviews about handle being slippery.

    As for a good sheath, you can search the internet for one after you have the machete. Marbles and Rothco make inexpensive sheath that have pouches for other gear. But it will be harder to find such a sheath for a less standard design of machete.

    As for sawbacks, unlikely on a CL but you could add it with a file or hire someone to do so. However if the spine wasn't made with a sawback originally it could be a bit soft.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    You will have to decide if you want something for cutting smaller stuff or something pretty rigid for essentially chopping. If I owned one machete, it would be the 18" Condor El Salvador with the wood handle. They are a tad expensive running about $80 US with the sheath. But unless you loose it, you'll be using it for a long time.

    Most machetes are made with a steel that is more apt to bend rather than chip if you hit something hard.

    A 14" or 16" machete is easier to carry on your belt. Shorter than that length, you are probably better off with a big knife for versatility.
  6. EdgyEddy


    Mar 26, 2019
    From what I gather it's a WW2 era machete? Very interesting, nice to hear a real expert opinion too.

    I think 16 or 18 inches is more along the lines of what I am looking for. I do want to use it for chopping and batoning.
  7. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    (I was editing when you responded, check out the link I added)
  8. Yorkshire Boy

    Yorkshire Boy

    Sep 27, 2008
    Tops machete about 15 inch nylon sheath with 2 pockets around 150 euros
    Condor bolo 15 (1/2?) inch leather sheath somewhere around 75 euros
    EKA makes a saw back 12 inch machete with kydex sheath 100 euros or less
    From memory the Tops Tundra has a saw back can't remember if that's 10 or 12 inch around 200 euros.

    Someone on this site, is he called big Chris?, Made a 3v machete but that would probably cost hundreds of euros.

    Could be controversial but Bark River makes some expensive machetes.
  9. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    My Condor 16" Swampmaster is my second favorite machete. I keep it in a work vehicle for whatever needs wacking. The Swampmaster's predecessor was the 14" Puerto Rican. That one stays in my other work vehicle. The Swampmaster is a parang type machete with a wood handle. The blade shape helps me pull things toward me to cut or to push out of the way. You could certainly baton with the Swampmaster. I believe it's a a little more rigid than the El Salvador model.

    You don't normally think of batoning with a machete. But I honestly see little problem with either the Condor El Salvador or Swampmaster. I just wouldn't get too carried away banging on it.

    The shorter one I use the most is the Condor Pack Golok which is made for chopping but not as good with thin flexible vegetation that I might favor either the Swampmaster or El Salvador machetes more.

    Yeah, I like Condor stuff if you can't tell. Been pleased from day one with their stuff.
  10. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    I like the Condor blades, too. Just about any one of them has the potential to be an heirloom blade. My favorite mid-sized machete is the Golok. It is long enough to be effective on thin grasses, but really shines at de-limbing. It just blows through thumb-sized branches. It has a convex grind that throws chips like an ax on thicker stuff. Cutting down trees is not its forte, but I have used it to take down five- and six-inch Chinese elms.

    The Baryonyx machete, linked above, is a very effective piece of kit, essentially a 16-inch leaf blade with a brush hook on the back. It works well across a wide range of vegetation. It is heavy enough that I cannot comfortably use a snap cut, but it will just ghost through thinner grasses, and cuts in both directions. On thicker stuff, the relatively thin but broad and heavy blade cuts deep instead of throwing chips. Like many Condor blades, it comes with a nice leather sheath, but is a bit bigger and heavier than I would care to wear on a belt.

    A pattern that might work well for you is the bolo. I have been trying out an inexpensive Tramontina that is very thin and flexible, but still chops surprisingly well due to the concentration of weight near the head. I think Tramontina has a heavier one, and Condor’s is pretty robust.
  11. MolokaiRider

    MolokaiRider Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    18 inch Tramontina with a plastic Rothco sheath is a great set up. Been using this for several years with fantastic results.
  12. jdk1


    Apr 21, 2010
    I'm am not sure what sort of cutting you will do, as a machete and khukuri cut differently. But, If you are in the Netherlands, I would look at the Skrama from Verusteleka in Finland.
    betover and Henry Beige like this.
  13. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I like the standard Golok too (have two of them). It is THE machete that started me on the Condor path. I have since moved to the El Salvador and Swampmaster for most cutting that I do. I need to thin the handle down (sand) just a tad on the Swampmaster. My hands aren't huge.
    Henry Beige likes this.
  14. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    Bingo. For a short blade, there is nothing more versatile. It chops better than a big knife, and does knife stuff better tha a big knife or small machete. I don’t think it chops as well as a 10” parang, but it is good enough considering everything else it can do.
  15. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    Sounds like you are searching for a high end & high quality multi purpose tool. Generally that doesn’t exist. In most cases when you add a function you compromise somewhere else.
    Machetes are lite and springy, choppers carry more heft. I wouldn’t want to saw with either.
    Your needs sound like they would be better served by a KaBar Parangatang(or similar) or HI Khukuri along with a Silky Saw and a small to medium fixed blade.
    But you probably don’t want to hear that so carry on.
  16. Twinsdad

    Twinsdad Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 13, 2015
    I was reading this thread and all the talk of the tramontinas sounded familiar.so I went in the garage and looked at my old machete and sure enough I bought one of the bolo ones in the mid 90s and I’ve used it a good amount and it shows but for the 7 dollars or so I spent on it then it sure does it’s job when called upon
    jdk1 and betover like this.
  17. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
    Sawbacks on machetes are generally useless fantasies. Just get a good Central/South American blade like the real "bushscraft" people use. The one thing I would add to that is I don't have much use for anything under a 20-inch blade for serious work. Most of mine are 24's.
    FortyTwoBlades likes this.
  18. Dirtbiker


    Jul 2, 2010
    I have a huge pile of machetes. I enjoy them because they are cheap, easy to modify, and effective. I also have quite a few high end choppers too.
    If you dont want or can't modify an inexpensive model like a Tramontina or an Imacasa I'd recommend a Kabar parangatang or a Tops 230 machete. They come very sharp and are quality tools backed up by a solid warranty.
    Anything above that and you are paying for wants not needs anymore.
  19. MolokaiRider

    MolokaiRider Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    7EAA3C6C-8037-4623-A0A6-11E2A9B11F6A.jpeg 9A94B061-F889-4F3C-B1A7-467DDA527F99.jpeg
    betover likes this.
  20. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    Machetes are best matched to your environment. What works well in a jungle isn't necessarily the best choice for your wood lot. I live in a temperate rainforest. The machete that works best for me is a 16 inch Fiddleback Forge machete. I think is has 1075 steel that doesn't hold up well to really hard stuff, but works well on brush and softwoods, which is what I encounter. Comes with a nice leather sheath.

    I'd prefer CPM 3V steel and do have one 12 inch 3V machete, but it's a little short for me.

    I'd recommend that you talk to some custom makers who are knowledgeable about your environment. For me, the HI khukri is way too heavy to lug around and doesn't do well on brush. But it takes the limbs off downed trees really well -- about as well as a small hatchet.

    You might want to try a couple cheap machetes with different designs to see what works best for you in your environment, then work with a custom maker to finalize the design. Then get the other knives you want to attach and have a custom sheath maker put the carry system together the way you want it.
    betover and MolokaiRider like this.

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