Machax vs. Cold Steel

Oct 4, 1998
I finally got to do some heavy duty chopping with my Machax today. BK&T claims that they produce tools with special tasks in mind and the Machax is made for chopping. I must say they fell short on this one. I have always been a proponent of CS products so I took along my LTC and my ATC just in case the Machax did not perform as well as I expected... glad I did.
We were going out to get some pine to start fires with. We found a couple that had fallen and were pretty hard and dead and we also got a few green ones to let dry out for later. As everyone knows, the hard ones are tougher to chop. All of them were about 8"-10" in diameter at the stump. I started with the Machax and after a few minutes I decided it was time to switch over. The LTC did a considerably better job than the Machax and the ATC ate them both alive on both the dead hard wood and the soft green wood. The Machax actually did not chop any better than the Brute from my experience. I know someone on here did a comparison of the Machax with a HI kukri and they compared fairly well...
I must admit that I had high expectations of the Machax and I love my Brute and I intend to get all the other BK&T products, but there is a better design for chopping and the Cold Steel ATC is it. I have no idea why CS discontinued it.
I would love to see a BK&T product in the future that resembles the ATC (they could copy it and not step on any "moral elitist's" toes since CS no longer produces it). It could replace the Machax. The ATC has no blade coating and the Becker handles are superior but I will not be taking the Machax out on any excursions in the future. I may even try to carve some BK&T style handle slabs to replace the ones on my ATC...


Was that an original Machax, from BK&T, or the current version from Camillus?

I have an original Becker MACHAX (earliest with the leather sheath and wood handle) as well as the Brute from Blackjack.

The MACHAX will not leave you wanting as a chopper but the Brute sure takes the cake!

It is a superior chopper, prybar, wedge, campfire poker, and field knife all in one.

The flat platform on the back of the blade is ideal for pounding it thru firewood. It has to be my most used knife.
Orion, how were you chopping with the three blades? How much does each weigh and were are they balanced (roughly)? What are the respective edge geometries like?

Originally posted by Orion:
...I know someone on here did a comparison of the Machax with a HI kukri and they compared fairly well...

Since I did the Machax/khukuri comparison, I just want to clarify something. I was not using a HI khukuri but rather a relatively small & light village made piece that most closely matched the specs of the Machax. Also, while their chopping performance was close, I did give a slight lead to the khukuri.

I mentioned in my review that I found myself chopping somewhat behind the sweet spot on the Machax due, I think, to its blade geometry. Orion, did you notice the same thing with regard to the Machax?

FYI, about 1 1/2 yrs ago, I compared a different village-made khuk to a CS LTC & an Estwing hatchet. Although the LTC made the deepest cuts while chopping dry cherry wood, it did lodge itself into the wood several times & had to be backed out, increasing the amount of effort expended. (I no longer have the LTC & so couldn't include it in my recent comparisons.) I am not familiar with the CS ATC. Can you post its specs, Orion? TIA.

FWIW, I don't consider blades in the size/weight class of the Machax to be ideally suited to heavy chopping. Both were fine for limbing, cutting through 1" & 2" branches easily, usually with a single stroke. While I didn't count the number of blows required by the Machax or Villager to cut through the 4" trees, it was easily a few dozen each. By comparison, I used my 18" HI AK for cleanup the following weekend. The larger, heavier, blade consistently took < 10 strokes to go through the same 4" thick trunks.

Although a heavy khukuri or similar tool could be used for chopping through larger 8-10" + trunks, if necessary, it is not an activity that I would seek out.
IMO , such tasks are much better suited to another type of cutter.


He who finishes with the most toys wins.
Cliff & Brian-

As far as how I was chopping... I am not sure what you are asking...
I had to use different techniques on many different trees due to the
orientation and location, i.e. some had fallen over and I was
chopping straight down, others were standing and were real close
to other trees so I might have to use my left hand or even a back-
hand stroke. In all cases I try to chop v-shape sections out of the
tree all the way around, almost the same as you would with an axe
and a large tree. The ATC can go through a 8" pine in less than 20-25
strokes. The LTC took almost 60 and the Machax took at least 100.
The balance on all of them are blade heavy but the LTC is the least
blade heavy because of the thinner stock. The LTC has been modified,
also. It had a bite size chunk knocked out of the blade (hit a buried
brick) and it has been dremmelled down and resharpened. The profile
from the side of the blade now looks kind of like the profile of a
shark's head!! This has lessened the weight a small bit. None of them
would bind when doing the initial chopping, especially on the dead,
hard wood. It was more or less like chipping toothpicks out of the tree.
The ATC did bind a couple days later on a large piece I was chopping
up. It had gotten wet and was about half dry. I don't know if the
change in the texture of the wood caused the binding or not, but I would
guess so. I also tried out the Machax again on this day and I noticed
a considerable improvement. It went through the new textured wood
slightly better and did not bind (I think this was because of the coating
on the blade...) and I also found the "sweet spot" on the Machax.
This helped to improve its performance, but only marginally...
still nowhere close to the ATC.
I am not sure of the weight on them (I am not where I can weight them
at the moment...) but you can probably find specs on the Machax and LTC
somewhere on the web. Since the ATC is discontinued I doubt you can
find specs on it. I will try to weigh it later. The ATC is a thick heavy
knife. It is basically an LTC out of 1/4" stock like the CS Gurkha Kukri.
As far as the edge geometries, the LTC is relatively thin because of
the thinner stock. The ATC is fully flat ground. Don't know the exact
angles of the respective edges. The Machax has the factory edge.
The ATC does the best job of chopping out of all the knives I have used in this
genre, including GH kuks, Machax, Ontario kuks & machetes, and the other
CS model kuks. The only problem I have with the ATC is the handle.
I have to wear gloves when doing any heavy-duty, long term chopping with it.
I love these kinds of knives and I am looking for a Benchmade Bushmaster
and a BlackJack Marauder if anyone out there has any for sell!!!

Thanks for the specifics on the 8" Pine. You mention that this measurement is at the base, is this where the chopping was done or did the 20-25 strokes take place higher up on the tree where it was thinner. Were these chopping numbers on the fresh or seasoned wood?

Around 4 times as long on the Machax is fairly surprising as from the images I have seen it looks to have a decent profile. The edge geometry must be too thick or the balance too neutral as a blade that size should be able to handle 8" Pine fairly easily.

Thanks for the additional info, Orion.


He who finishes with the most toys wins.
The pines may have been 10" at the base and 3" around the top where I cut them off. It was around the 8" area where I was making my comparison.
None of the blades performed "well" on the seasoned dead wood. It was on this wood that I initially opted to use the ATC because the Machax wasn't even putting a dent in it. I had already hacked about 150-200 strokes with the Machax and was not even half way through it. I got the rest of the way through with less than 100 strokes with the ATC.
I think the problem with the Machax is the size. I don't think it has enough a$$ to do the heavier jobs. The ATC probably outweighs the Machax a great deal. Then again, it could have something to do with the edge geometry, also, but I do not know a whole lot about those kinds of things. The weight may not be a factor because the LTC did a better job than the Machax and I think it weighs less...
Like I said, after I found the sweet spot on the Machax, its performance probably doubled (or a little more) but still did not compare to the ATC. Keep in mind also that I have had years of experience with the LTC and ATC and I know these knives and the techniques to best utilize them compared with my limited experience with the Machax. I intend to do more comparisons in the next few weeks as I stock up on firewood for the winter!!

Thanks for the specifics on the tree, I look forward to your additional comments. Have you tried a simple machete like the Ontario as comapred to the ATC?

I have a 12" Ontario machete that is hard to beat!!! For the money, it has to be top on the list (think I paid around$10 for it). It will not outperform the ATC but will run rings around most others. The only problem is it tends to bind due to the thin blade.