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Hunting and Survival Machete

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Longfisher, Apr 16, 2002.

  1. Longfisher


    Apr 4, 2002
    I've been lurking here for some time trying to understand enough about machetes to buy one. Getting no where (man o' man do you guys know your knives' technically!), I thought I'd just ask you folks directly.

    I and my young son hunt creek and river bottom lands for squirrels, rabbits, coons and other varmits. We have to contend with some pretty dense thickets in doing so. In particular, we must clear "cat's claw" and "crown of thorn" vines and plants from our path to effectively hunt and to set up camp and blinds. But we must also frequently clear fields of fire which entails cutting small saplings and or rare occasion larger, small trees.

    I own a couple of sports store bought machetes now. What junk!. My objections to them are so numerous that I'll just limit my complaints here to the few I'd really like corrected in my next purchase. The problems are 1) the blade steel is very soft and easily deforms when used to cut saplings or to limb out larger trees to clear fields of fire, 2) the blade does not hold an edge well at all, 3) the blade will actually bend in the middle if a glancing swing is made, 4) the blade distorts on the cutting edge readily when used on hardwood saplings (pecan, oak and hickory saplings abound on bottom lands and one can't avoid cutting them), 5) the handle is cheap plastic and slick in a sweaty palm, 6) the handle does not have a hole for a thong to prevent slinging the machete (my son has scared me to death a couple of times already; he's only nine years old) and, finally, the sheath is cheap canvas and the machete's have both begun to cut through them despite our only infrequent use.

    So, I'd like a recommendation for a machete which will not have the defects mentioned above, which will also come with a nice sheath (not canvas), which will handle most clearing and camp chores and which won't cost me an arm and a leg. I'm not all that interested in the shorter combat knives which some you fine Gentlemen seem to favor as we already own very competent knives for hunting chores. Rather, I'd like to buy 18" blades at a minimum. In fact, I'd like to buy a somewhat longer blade for myself but keep the boy to the 18" size.

    I've also seen some machetes with a saw back which looks interesting and I can think of a lot of things one could do around a camp with something like that. But if the steel from which it's made is so cheap that it won't hold an edge then it's of little use, I'd expect. If the steel is good, I'd consider adding that to the list of desired features. But it's not nearly as important an item that I'd sacrifice good cutting and clearing and a good, long-lasting, sharp edge for it.

    Anyway, thanks in advance to anyone willing to comment and to help us out. I enjoy reading these forums and am impressed, no, very impressed at the depth of knowledge you guys (gals too?) seem to have about blades and their sharpening. Contrarywise, I'm impressed by my lack of knowledge at the same time.


  2. tknife

    tknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 18, 1999
    Sounds like the Becker Patrol Machete would suit your needs perfectly. The steel is much better than the cheapies, handles are really comfortable, thicker blade for more hardwood type chopping.
  3. Longfisher


    Apr 4, 2002
    Thanks for the recommendation for the patrol machete. I'd not seen that model or maker before in my searches of the net. Looks like a great handle (minus thong though, right) and good steel.

    It's only got a 14" blade. Now, I may be wrong and I'd certainly accept advice on this but I had a preference for a longer blade. May I also ask some of you to comment on the benefits/detriments of longer vs. shorter blades.

    Lastly, about the saw back machete's (not referring to the Beckers here)...is it possible to have a good bladesmith "add" a saw back to an otherwise good machete if I wanted to do so. What might be the advantages or disadvantages to that also. Oh, while we're at it I've also seen skinning notches on some machetes. Is it possible or adviseable to add those things also (not that I'm particularly interersted in doing so it's just that it's another interesting blade modification).


  4. Josh Feltman

    Josh Feltman

    Feb 12, 2001
    You might want to take a look at something like the cane cutter from Mineral Mountain. You might also want to look at a khukuri from Himalayan Imports. Both offer blades in the length you specified, and should handle your chopping needs.
  5. Will Fennell

    Will Fennell

    Oct 4, 1998
    All the BK&T products, including the BK6 PATROL MACHETE have a thong hole. Ethan Becker considers a thong hole a "must have" for any working tool. The hole goes through the handle material[Swiss GV6H] and the rear of the blade tang. Here is a pic for you....thanks for the interest!
  6. Marion David Poff

    Marion David Poff

    Oct 8, 1998
    I think your perfect machete may be a Barteaux.


    The make machetes up to 26 inches long.

    They offer machetes with sawbacks.

    The D-guard handle on the heavy duty will allow a lanyard.

    If you do not want to lanyard v the D-guard, you can easily drill a lanyard hole. Note- I would not suggest lanyarding off the hole in the blade near the choil, if you lose control of the knife, a lanyard there can cause a helicopter effect that is very dangerous.

    The handles are plastic, you can wrap them if you feel you need more grip.
  7. allenC


    Jun 18, 2000
    You might also want to check out the Ontario military style machete's. But avoid the ones with the D-handle knuckle guard.

    One other thing: I discovered that when using a machete (or an ax, or even a golf club), the performance obtained is about 80% technique and only 20% tool.

    Good luck,
  8. sgtmike88


    Oct 15, 2000
    Ontario - handguard is the way to go. Forget the sawback, they suck. Buy a Gerber folding saw or a bow saw of SAK with a saw.



    Feb 23, 2000

    The BK&T Patrol machete has quite a following and is cost effective. Its not perfect but prety darn good. There are not a whole lot of options out there anyway. Machete's and parangs are really for vegetation and not hard woody stuff If beefed up then they have to be on the soft side as otherwise they chip out or snap. Its why the next stage up is an axe.

    If you really need some reach then take a slasher. Its a long wooden handled cast bill hook type tool used for traditional hedge building. Its the same length, but a little lighter, than a small garden spade. This might be too much to carry about, but it will blow away any knife at the stuff I think you are tackling. Use the seach engine and you will find a link. I used to clear my hunting route once a year so that I could move freely and quietly, but then my vermin patrol was only a 40 minute round trip.

    Forget saws on the back of blades as they are more triouble than they are worth. Take a small folding saw as they are very good and light.


    Feb 23, 2000
    Double post.
  11. Ken C.

    Ken C. Jack of all trades, master of none. Staff Member Super Mod

    Jun 14, 2000

    Pick up a copy of the July 2002 Tactical Knives magazine. They have a great article on the BK&T Patrol Machete. It is definitely worth a read.

    I would certainly pick up a Patrol Machete. I can't imagine that a blade has to be more than 14" to cut up what you mentioned. As a hunter myself, I never need more than that to do the job. The shape of the blade makes it prime for clearing brush, saplings, and felling small trees. As allenC states,"One other thing: I discovered that when using a machete (or an ax, or even a golf club), the performance obtained is about 80% technique and only 20% tool." I agree with this statement because if you have bad technique you can really do some damage to the blade, not to mention yourself.

    Blade length should'nt really be a factor. To carry anything longer would hinder your progress through all that mess by catching up on it. Add a Gerber Saw to the package and you are set to tackle anything that gets in your way.

    Try the Patrol Machete and if you don't like someone here on the BF.C will buy it from you. :)
  12. texascarl


    Jan 27, 2002
    I've got a D-handled 18" Barteaux and the steel is very good. I sure do hate that D handle, tho, so much I'm thinking of using the blade to make something else, I just don't like using it at all.

    A few years ago I bought a cheap 12" Tramontina machete, since then I've added a few of their other machetes and I like their 14" blades the best, even if their steel is softer than I might wish for and the handles are rough. I shaped and wrapped the handles and I hone the blade with a small mill file and just get back after it. Note that I'm not cutting anything big, and I'm not clearing debris right down to the ground...longer blades are useful if you're hacking at the ground, but otherwise they can be a pain. I prefer the control a lighter, shorter blade gives me...I'm a lot happier hitting exactly where I aim.

    I've also got a Cold Steel LTC kukri, it's a nice chopper with a decent sheath, but I'd consider swapping it for one of the Becker's. One of those beauties is on my wish list.

    edit: I bought the Tramontina's at gun shows in Houston, and over the net from Smokey Mountain Knife Works and Bladez.com.
  13. matthew rapaport

    matthew rapaport

    Jun 23, 1999
    If you're interested in something on the higher end, check out Newt Livesay's RCM. Made for the kind of cutting you're describing. Go to the Wicked Knife Company site

    Cliff Stamp has a great review here at: http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sstamp/knives/RCM.html which contains a link to a review I did as well. Newt's site is temporarily to be found at:
  14. Rifter


    Dec 15, 2001
    Put my vote for the Patrol Machete, it has cut everything i have asked it to with no problems, it may be a little short but it has enough weight behind it to get the job done, trust me :)
  15. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    Machete length does increase raw power, and not insignificantly either, but its main benefit is reach. A longer blade allows a wider cutting path, keeps you further away from the vegetation, and reduces the amount of bending and reaching you need to do. In regards to length, what works best is dependent on what you want it to do. A fourteen inch blade is about the limit of what I would use if I wanted it to do any knife like work, however if you have secondary blades for light work, the extra abilities of the 18"+ models are very nice to have.

    In regards to tasks, limbing out larger trees is the most demanding thing you can ask of a machete, or even an axe for that matter. It is many times harder on the blade than chopping the tree down. Is this is one of the frequent uses then you will want something a little different than the classic machete. I destroyed two Ontario machetes limbing out trees, and have damaged many others. Barteaux makes a nice heavy duty model which can handle this as Marion noted, however you will have to spend some time creating a decent edge profile, and they don't come with a sheath. Livesay makes some really well designed larger pieces as well that are built for heavier work than standard machetes. Tramontina can produce decent wood working blades, but the QC is so low I would not bet on getting a good hardness, and the grinds and handle fitting is likely to be sloppy.

    If you have the money there are lots of high end custom options as well. Here is a nice clean design from Trace Rinaldi


    I would want some minor modifications, most significantly to the handle, but the basic design is very sound. This is a tad bit more money than your $5 Tramontina though.

    As for saw backs, the only way they are going to be functional is if the blade has a primary grind, other wise you won't have a wide enough kerf. And even if this is the case, I can't see them being any where near the ability of the actual edge. As noted, a small folding pruning saw is a very capable tool.

  16. Marion David Poff

    Marion David Poff

    Oct 8, 1998

    I was in my local surplus store and I noticed that the edge on the Barteaux's have improved, no burr, no burning, convex, but not exactly sharp.
  17. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    That is very good to hear Marion, the biggest problem I could see with their machetes is that they needed a lot of edge work NIB. For someone without power equipment, this means a decent amount of work, even with quality files. For a lot of people, this is going to be a huge drawback. Personally, the handle suits me well, the steel is very solid, and the balance is heavy enough for excellent chopping performance, so the initial work is well worth it.



    Feb 23, 2000
    Can anyone post a picture of the Blackjack Marauder II or give a link. No longer available but its another hardwood machete that was up to the job. If you are tackling hawthorn thicket and bramble you need all the reach you can get and even then gauntlets aren't a bad idea either.

    The Trace Rinaldi looks very nice. If you need to ask you probably can't afford it. So how much? :)
  19. TT2Toes


    Apr 16, 2002
    Sounds like this is mostly for clearing brush and saplings. You might find the machete you're looking for at A.M. Leonard:


    A.M. Leonard carries a good assortment of professional agriculture/gardening tools. They sell several machetes, 18" to 24", and advertise one that I think is made by Ontario Knife Co..

    Just do a search using the keyword "machete".

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