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Machax BK&T : initial impressions

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
The Machax from BK&T :


You can readily see the bolo influence on the blade curvature as well as the extreme handle to blade angle found on traditional khukuris. It has a decent heft at 620 g with a significant forward balance. Here is a shot with it and a 18" AK from HI and a BM from Busse Combat :


Note the angle of the blade relative to the handle is achieved in the khukuri by an actual bend in the blade itself, with the Machax the handle is angled relative to a straight blade.

The primary grind on the Machax is much lower than on the BM and thus reduces cutting ability. The grind on the khukuri is lower still, but the blade is forged in a concave hollow behind the primary grind, and the edge is formed by the primary grind, two factors which increase its cutting ability.

The handles on the Machax and BM are very similar in profile, the outline is almost exact. The one difference is that the BM is swelled along the top so as to increase ergonomics and security. The grip on the Machax is also much smoother. There is a large difference in cross section, the Machax grip is very thick :


this is good as it lowers the pressure during hard contacts. However the deep set hex screws leave large gaps in the handle which are uncomfortable during use and will fill up with sap and debris.

There are many problems with the fit and finish of the Machax. The edge grinds are different from side to side and even vary about 100% in width along both sides. There seems to be a loose pattern of increasing the width running back along the belly and up towards the tip, but the changes are not smooth or even constant in direction. I would estimate the edge angle to be about 24 or so degrees a the top of the curve. But this is a crude estimate because of the grind variances.

The grinds also start with abrupt 90 degree cut which reduces strength. The handle slabs are not flush with the tang. One is up too high and causes abrasion during chopping. The other has a visible gap between the tang and the slab. The coating comes off readily during chopping. About a dozen or so pieces of 1/2x1" scrap and a couple of sections off a small stick (3" in diameter) removed the coating back from the edge about 1/4" of an inch for about 2" in length.

The sheath holds the blade securely with no rattle. Comparing the construction to the Kydex sheath on the BM a number of differences are noted. The webbing is thinner as is the front kydex piece. The belt loops are not as cleanly or uniformly cut. The snaps are of lower grade (not centered), and the attachment of the webbing to the kydex done with weaker materials. I pulled on the webbing and bent one of the rivets on the Machax sheath.

I did about a half an hour of chopping, cuting up some small scrap, pointing and splitting it as well as cutting up some small sticks. In general the BM significantly outperformed the Machax in terms of cut depth but tended to bind more. The handle on the Machax is much thicker which I find to in general increase comfort, but has a very abrasion points described above which in general would make me prefer the grip on the BM. As well, the machax grip is much smoother and I would assume that the security is much less in slippery conditions. Everything is frozen here now so I'll have to wait until it thaws to look at that. More specific performance comparisons will come as I do more work.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 11-21-2000).]
HEY Cliff!!!

which handle style on the BM are you comparing the manchax to? Is this the older style BM handle, or is this the new more ergonomic style? and do you have any knowledge of or opinion of the other style of handle. Thanks.
I was comparing it to the old BM handle. I have not used the new "E" grips yet but they look pretty much like a direct improvement. For reference here is the new grip :


It appears that there is a slight increase in the swell along the bottom and the top of the handle which should make the blade fit your hand better and increase ergonomics. The surface of the Micarta is "checkered" which should increase security.

The latter could be one of the problem areas, it may be possible that this is too aggressive and would be abrasive to some. This obviously depends on individual hand durability. I have not seen any reports of skin abrasion yet though, and in general Micarta is not as prone to this as say G10.

Another significant difference is that the Talons, expecially the end one, are sloped so as to avoid the hard impacts that can happen. This could be a problem as there is some security lost over the old ones, but it seems to be that they are still enough to insure that the blade stays in your hand. From looking at the picture it seems a good balance between security and ergonomics was achieved.

Will York had a nice commentary on the old vs new handles awhile back in the Busse forum. Much of what I said above was just repeating that. When I handle a new grip I'll see how close I am to the actual performance and post up my impressions of it in the Busse forum.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 11-22-2000).]
Thank you kindly, Mr. Stamp.
I really appreciate that you always take the time to answer all of my questions in great detail.

Have a great thanksgiving, but I definately WOULD NOT want to be your dinner table turkey
Hey, Cliff-

In defense of the Machax, I think you may have your hands on a reject or a factory second!
All the grinds on mine are fairly even and consistent except maybe the edge grind is slightly thinner on the right side. The handle scales on mine also fit fairly flush all the way around with a variance of maybe 1/64th of an inch in certain places at the most. Nothing very noticable. I have to agree with you on the coating wear, though mine has not worn near as much as your's and I suspect I've done a considerable amount more chopping than you've done with your's so far (judging from your report above). Mine has worn but not really badly... yet. Was it worn at all before you started chopping the scraps? The only Busses I have are all 4 basics so I can't really make comparisons there.
Your sheath sounds as if it may be a second, also... or maybe even an early prototype or something similar. I tried the "bend the rivet" pull you mentioned and either I have a higher quality sheath or you are one strong sonofagun! Though the sheath "could be better", I am quite happy with it. No real complaints. The belt loop is cut squarely and the snaps are centered. As far as the handle, I have expressed in many posts how much I love them. I have had no problems with them being slippery.
Now... as far as the performance... As I have stated before, I was disappointed in the performance of the Machax compared to some others (CS LTC, CS ATC, GH 15" Jungle) especially in light of all the hype surrounding the Machax as it being the "ultimate chopper". While it IS a decent chopper it does not compete with some of the others. What it does have on them is the quality of the handle and sheath.
Jay Maines is about to put a "Becker-esque" type handle on my ATC though, and soon I will have a kydex rig made for it. Then the Machax will probably spend most of its time in the closet.

I think most of the BKT line is about 139.00 retail on the open market (in the bigger knives). The busse is 350.00 retail.
My price on a 7 in fighter in 3v is 395.00
Thats a custom knife with a Kydex sheath!
My question is will both do the same job within 10 percent of each other overall (including sheath, coating, function, and handle comfort).

Are both sheaths kydex? Is the BM coated?
Which will rust easier? When left outside in the rain for weeks were they tested? Which one rusted? Every coating (just about) will wear off in time after hard use. That is just a fact of life. But Its a nice feature I feel to have a coating on a carbon blade from the get go.
As a ulitmate chopper well I dont know.
I like a thinner blade . I can use it for hours and not get tired. I get just as much done to. Multi function YES!
I have chopped and performed other tests with both. The BKT Machex has a far better handle.
The BKT (all models) edge holding was close to the busse in my edge tests. The BKT Machex limbed better.
The tip was far tougher also. I like the weight forward design of the BKT machex for chopping. The thick edge was designed to chop in the brutal mode. The BKT Machex is designed for log shaping also. OPPS another function. Thats what the large curve was designed for according to Ehtan Becker. It can also be used in a the reverse grip. 3 functions to one now. It a semi hammer. So the BKT Machex has more features.
I like both the knives (BM and BKT)
Both knives are U.S. made factory knives.

The BKT BRUTE is a great knife to compare to the Busse basic IMHO not the BM (price point). The BKT BRUTE has several more features the money.
The Brute can be used in the reverse grip for the hammer. The hammer is built into the top of the knife. It has less recurve on the edge for multi use.

The Magnum camp is a great knife also if your worried about the high grind factor and a thin blade for multi camp use.
So I can get a Brute, Magnum Camp, and the Machex for about the same dollars as one BM?
Thats a complete set of survival knives, coated, with secure kydex sheaths, multi function, for about the same price as a BM? I look at the value for my buck when it comes to a outdoor field knife. I just dont have bucks to throw around.
I call these knives my beaters. There is a great chance when camping, hunting , fishing that a knife will not come home with me. Its easy to loose one of these knives on a field trip.
When I go to the field I carry the Magnum camp. Light, easy to use, and it will perform multi tasks.

Lets see....
3 BKT Knives for one BM.. hum?
BKT= More functions, better handle design, great steel, Sharp bastids, coated, great kydex sheaths. Retail $420.00 for all three.
1 Busse BM= one design purpose, great steel ,
Sharp bastid, uncoated, nylon reinforced sheath. $350.00

Is there a knife in the same price point as ONE---- BKT KNIFE---that could be used instead of the BM for this test? This just isnt a fair test.

I have always respected Jerry Busse and all of his great designs. I have owned a BM, and a Steel Heart. I like both. They are (as in Jerry Busse's name) Designed to be COMBAT KNIVES.

Ethan Becker has been to my shop. We have broke bread several times. I know what the design purpose is for his knives. Ethan is into survival. He thrives on being able to survive in the wilderness with his knives alone. They all must fit a multi function and perform well with a KNIFE ONLY in a survival situation. Ethan is a frugal man also. He expects high value, and multi function for his dollar.

I have the BKT Magnum camp, and the Brute. I have used the Machex. I feel the price point, function, and features on these knives (BKT) are a far better value for my purposes.
The BKT Machex would be my choice to build a log cabin. Thats what the design is about. Cutting logs and shaping them for use.
Nuance's in design purpose count in my book.

Just my .02 cents worth.
Web Site At www.darrelralph.com
New projects and pics to look at !!!!

[This message has been edited by Darrel Ralph (edited 11-24-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Darrel Ralph (edited 11-27-2000).]
Orion :


Was it worn at all before you started chopping the scraps?

No. This is why I would not put a powder type coat on a blade, they come off with the first use and rust will go right up underneath them and flake them off. The only coating I have seen last any length of time was the Kalgard by Reeve and the Hard Chrome by McClung. TiN, I would expect to do very well, probably better than those even.

In regards to the handle, it is nice to finally see one that is not so thin. I don't think the surface is aggressive enough for certain conditions, and should be able to check that out at the weekend by the latest assuming the temp stays above zero. To be specific I am not talking about water or sweat, I think it will handle that.

Have you used a decent large bowie for heavy chopping work? I would be interested to see how you would place it against some of the other blades you mention. By the way, can I add some of your comments to the review of the Machax when I write it up as sort of a counter-point viewpoint?

Pergatory, no problem :

I definately WOULD NOT want to be your dinner table turkey

Turkeys - there has to be something for everyone else.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 11-23-2000).]
i bought a Machaxe at the NYC show...so many toys to choose from; but i'm gonna sell my CS Gurkha Kukri (it's the heavier one), and this seemed to be the perfect replacement (at least to me!)...i love it; the grind is perfect, and having a kydex sheath, as opposed to the leather one the CS came with, is a definite plus....just coated it with Rem Oil, it will be the new under-the-bed companion.
BTW, are you supposed to just pronounce it like the combination of the two - - machete and axe??

[This message has been edited by KELT34 (edited 11-23-2000).]

Price point on the coating comment:
I have the knives here and have used them . Didnt see the same results you did.
The coating on the BKT smudged as I expected it to after hard use. But as for slivers under the coating I havent had that problem on either knife (Brute or Magnum camp). The Brute has been used on several camping trips.
The coating ia as tough as most coatings of this type.
The kalguard coating was used on the first Krait knives I built. It is just a bake on.
Kalguard is very simular to a powder coat on the BKT.
Ti or Hard chrome would be better. But we are back to comparing apples to apples. Price point to price point. BKT wins this one again.
It breaks down to price point, features, and function for the buck in my book.

Web Site At www.darrelralph.com
New projects and pics to look at !!!!

[This message has been edited by Darrel Ralph (edited 11-25-2000).]
"Have you used a decent large bowie for heavy chopping work? I would be interested to see how you would place it against some of the other blades you mention. By the way, can I add some of your comments to the review of the Machax when I write it up as sort of a counter-point viewpoint?"


As far as the bowie question, the answer is "no", except maybe for the Brute if you want to call that a "bowie"... (probably not, but that is as close as I have come...). I have several; CS Trailmaster (2nd Carbon V with black coating), CS Recon Scout, CS Bush Ranger (too thin for chopping I feel) but they stay in the closet most of the time. I also have a few others bowies and bowie "types"; All Busse basics, a few Junglee models, I have an Ontario Bagwell... I would only consider chopping with the Busse 9 & 7 out of these.
I have been thinking of doing a "head to head" with quite a few models as soon as I get the Becker Bush hog. I was thinking of video taping the whole thing. The models I was considering were-

Cold Steel ATC
Cold Steel LTC
Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri
Cold Steel Gurkha Light
Cold Steel Trail Master
Becker Machax
Becker Brute
Becker Bush Hog
HI 15" AK
HI 18" AK
Pacific Cutlery Bushmaster
Blackjack Marauder
POS Taiwan copy of the above 2, only larger (18")
Junglee Military Bolo
Ontario 12" machete
Ontario 18" machete
Busse Basic 9

This test is going to be chopping only so no "multi function" considerations are going to be made. I don't have a degree nor have I written any articles about knives but I do a lot of chopping so I figured this would interest at least a few people. I also have all these knives (or will by test time) so I am not asking for anyone to loan me any!!) Although I WOULD like to include a Busse BM and an RTAK and a Rinaldi Armageddon, the only one I plan to get in the near future is the Armageddon, but I may not have it by test time. I am having a custom handle put on my ATC and am also going to have a custom "ATC style" knife made in the future but probably for initial purposes only the custom handled ATC will get to participate.
I have decided not to use the PC Bushmaster or the Blackjack Marauder in this test because they just do not have the "heft", in my opinion, to do the chopping that these others can. I will use the POS version because it is significantly larger and therefore heavier. I also feel that the Trailmaster and the Basic 9 will fall short in a "chopping only" test but would fare well in a multifunction test. I will keep posted as this project develops.

Correction- I just purchased a Busse Battle Mistress-E so it looks like it will get to take place in the demolition. That's what I get for getting on the "for sale" forum after I've had a few!!

"By the way, can I add some of your comments to the review of the Machax when I write it up as sort of a counter-point viewpoint?"

I would be honored!


[This message has been edited by Orion (edited 11-27-2000).]
Orion, nice looking collection of blades there, I will be interested to see how they perform for you. Have you seen any edge damage on the Machax or Brute? How about rust?

After my first session with the Machax I noticed a chip knocked out of the edge. I didn't mention it in the above as it could have simply been an accidental hard contact off of dirt on the wood.

However after several such chopping and splitting sessions I have noticed that the blade takes constant damage, more often dents and flattening than chips. It now has about 12 places now which show visible damage.

These have been only short sessions, about 250 chips or so, which does not make me think that the results of a longer session on harder wood will be positive, let alone bone and such.

The coating has continued to come off and the blade rusts readily under it. I knocked a piece off of the spine (tapped it with the spine of the BM) to see how impact resistant the coating was - it isn't, and that bare area went orange quickly. Note it is below zero here now so the blade is working in snow and ice as well as seeing heavy condensation at times.

The deep set screws are quickly becoming annoying due to filling up with debris as well as then freezing over. Cleaning out animal blood and such would be fairly difficult especially when cold. This is an easily solved problem however, they can simply be filled in.

The blade really would be helped by an index finger cutout. As it is you can't reposition your grip for finer work and it is readily outperformed by blades on which you can. You can sort of wrap your grip up around the top of the handle, which is what I do to get more leverage, but this creates high pressure points in my grip.

The bolo shaped top with the addition of the khukuri drop does make cutting holes in ice easier than with more traditional shaped blade though. I cut a few holes yesterday with the Machax and the BM and the Machax was significantly easier. Only thin ice though, about 3-4 inches. Similar advantages in terms of splitting on horizontal wood, smaller advantage there though.

The handle material is much better than I thought it would be. It looks just like hard plastic, however it is decently impact resistant even when cold, and while not as resistant to open flame as Micarta, it is much better than Kraton for example. And unlike Kraton I can't see it wearing down with use.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 11-27-2000).]
"Orion, nice looking collection of blades there, I will be interested to see how they perform for you."

Thanks. I really like these types of blades so I try to get my hands on as many as I can... Out of the ones listed I have used the CS GK, LTC, ATC, Machax, Brute, 15" Ang Khola and the Ontario 12" machete... all in different situations, under different circumstances and with different materials. I am really interested to see how they perform head to head. You know I favor the ATC but as far as "Bang for Buck" that Ontario 12" is HARD to beat.

"Have you seen any edge damage on the Machax or Brute? How about rust?"

Actually, not really. I have had some chipping of the coating on the spine of the Machax. I keep them up with Marine Tuf-Cloth so I have seen little or no rusting. I did wade through the pond back in July with my Brute and forgot to clean it up when we got home. It stayed in the sheath in the duffel bag for almost 10 days. I almost s**t when I pulled it out and rememberd I had not cleaned and wiped it down. It was rusted along the edge, but it cleaned up in no time. I was surprised. As far as edge damage, I have seen none. I have only chopped pine with the Machax. It is soft but I have chopped a LOT of it. No edge damage at all except a little wear on the coating. I've had to steel it to get it back to shaving sharp. I have chopped sweet gum with the Brute in addition to pine. It still shaved. Now that I think about it, I have limbed some large white oak trees with the Machax. Maybe 1" to 2" limbs at max. Nothing very physically demanding but still no edge damage... no rolling or chipping out.


Thanks all. You, along with others in the Camillus Forum have helped me decide to buy the Machax. I've just been waiting for a good reason to buy one to them, (especially since they were on closeout prices. $77.00!!!!! for the Machax!!!!. Probably the biggest reason I didn't buy one was just because I've been indecisive about which one to get. The reason I went with the Machax, (instead of the Brute) is because it's been called a better chopped. The designer basically said that the brute was a straight version of the Machax, and was basically built for aestheics. (ie, those who want a strait knife).

THANKS AGAIN ALL. I, for one, am very appreciative to all others who help me decide which knives to buy, because there are so many knives, but so little time!!!!

Formerly known as "EdRozen"

as far as "Bang for Buck" that Ontario 12" is HARD to beat.

If you spend some time at flea markets and such you can usually find imported machetes that are far cheaper and will work well. They will dominate any performance : price ratio comparison as they can be as cheap as $5 canadian. Tramontina I think is cheaper than Ontario, Diamond is another brand and there are others from China and other places.

In regards to the edge damage that I have seen. I spent some time limbing out some trees (about 100 hits or so) and noticed a couple of more dents. I figured that the edge might be a little soft so I then took some seasoned bone and chopped it up. I started out light, just pecks really and when this didn't do anything, increased the effort until the bone shards were flying 15+ feet away.

This was on some pretty heavy seasoned bone and the edge took no significant damage at all. There was some minor flattening, light was being reflected along a 3 mm section, but nothing serious. I even chopped up and down the edge to hit many places and nothing. A few dozen chops in all and the edge held up as good as any blade I have ever seen on that type of material.

So the edge is obviously not soft as it would have indented on the bone and didn't chip apart either so it is decently tough. I have seen similar performance before, the Ontario machetes I had could do really hard impact work with no problems (bone and such) but would break apart on heavy wood chopping. Since the Machax is taking dents mainly it seemed to me that maybe the strength might be a little low so I decided to have a look at that.

I chopped the blade full power (past the primary grind) into the corner of a 2x4" and twisted to break the blade out. I went up and down the board and tore it apart. The Machax handled it easily with little flex and the edge suffered no denting at all. I didn't do much of it though, compared to the length of the chopping sessions which will only produce 1-2 deformations. So that could be the reason for damage and as well the chops were straight whereas during actually chopping they are obviously angled.

Anyway, I will completely resharpen the edge and remove all the damage and redo the chopping work and if the deformations happen again I'll return the blade to Camillus and see what they have to say.

In regards to some of the comments I have made about the blade, sheath and coating, I will add some things after talking to Will Fennel :

The Machax has a short working section for drawknife work compared to the working length for a large bowie for precise slicing work. If you were to add a decently large index finger cutout to the Machax it would significantly impact the working edge length for such work. Carving work is geared to drawknife work more so than standard choking up on the blade as with a bowie. As for precise slicing you can choke up on the actual top of the blade as it is wide enough and the slanted handle actually reduces the torque it produces on the wrist compared to doing similar with the Battle Mistress for example.

The front kydex has to be decently thin to allow the necessary level of rigidity to keep the blade in place but still allow it to be drawable. If it was as thick as the back then trying to draw the knife would be very difficult. Note as well that the sheath has a major advantage over traditional khukuri sheaths as the blade can go in either way *and* your fingers are protected on the draw. You can't get the very dangerous finger limbing that can happen with an improper draw on a traditional sheath.

In regards to the edge deformation, rapid coating wear, poor initial edge grinds, rivot bending on sheath etc., not to speak for Camillus or Will Fennel (he can clarify obviously) but it was made clear to me that these are not the expected way the blade should perform and that a replacement was possible if desired - so you can't argue with blade support.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 11-28-2000).]
you only paid 77.00!!??
DAMN!! at the NYC custom show, i met one of the guys from the company (i think he was from Camillus) selling the Machax...he said i was getting the knife show price of 90.00!!!
i felt it was a fair deal...but still, after paying that admission price for myself and my wife, that means i spent around 110.00!!