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RCM initial impressions only

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
I was very surprised when I open the package containing my RCM because I had heard many times that Newt makes "working knives" this usually means an unfinished product. However the fit and finish on this blade is very high. The bevels are even and match on both sides. The fit to the kydex sheath is snug with no rattle. The grip is well formed to the tang with no raises that need to be sanded out. In fact aside from the edge being a little off in the sharpness dept., it looked pretty much perfect. What really surprised me is that the spine is fully rounded, I really like this for comfort aspects and it is rare to see.

Concerning the edge, it is ground thin at about a 20 degree bevel. There was a slight burr which needed to be removed but a few passes on an 800 grit ceramic rod and the blade would shave fine. There was one small patch in the middle of the blade about 1/2 an inch long that was a bit rough but other than that the edge would now push cut paper.

The only immediate problem I can see design wise is that the handle seems a little thin for heavy work and a little too smooth so there may be problems when the grip gets slippery.

I had intended to just compare this blade to some machetes I had, but it outclasses them so strongly that the outcome is obvious. I will be using several machetes as benchmarks but will be extending the work to include the Busse Battle Mistress and a couple of other blades.

The RCM should in general outcut most of the heavier bowie style blades becuase of its thinner grind. The only exception being thick wood cutting as it may bind too readily. The only advantage the heavier blades have is of course in regards to durability and it will be interesting to see how far you have to go to make this useful.

This afternoon I took the RCM out for an extended period of hardwood chopping. I took the Battle Mistress along and alternated between the two blades every 100 chops. After 500 chops the RCM had rippled along the edge. The edge had bent about 1 mm or so to the side with the dent extending about 3.5 cm. This deformation ran about a cm deep into the blade.

I stopped chopping at this point as the damage would have just kept getting worse if I had continued and finally the steel would have ripped as the ductility was passed (I have done it before). However I saw no point to doing that.

The Battle Mistress was not bothered by the 500 chops. I will be contacting Newt about this later on to see what he has to say about it.

To see if I could duplicate the results I saw with the RCM on another machete I took the Tramontina I had and did another 500 chops into hardwood. I worked quickly with a strained grip to as to enhance the fatigue rate. After the 500 cuts were completed I di another 100. During this I could not control the blade well and it twisted during the impacts and often impacted at an angle on the branches after the first clean cut.

However this failed to damage to the machete blade at all (but did induce a small crack in the handle). This was a little puzzeling at first as the Tramontina is of thinner stock (.08"), but then I realized that the RCM is both heavier and has a thinner edge geometry so it will impact with more energy and have less metal to resist the blows. I think the way to go might be a 1/8" stock with a full convex grind. That would give the necessary weight and strength.

Having no further use for the Talmontina and 12" Ontario as I have a couple of Barteaux's from Marion. I had my brother and a friend break them while I stood back and had a clear view of the deflection. Both were stuck about halfway in a birch stump and pressed sideways.

The Ontario flexed to 45 and returned almost cleanly to true. There was a slight bend that I could not clearly see from about 10 feet but my brother could identify. He then put it back in and kept pushing. As he went past 45 there were a couple of loud snaps as the handle material fractured and a piece poped off. The tang was now flexing past the ability of the slabs. He kept pushing and finally the blade snapped cleanly. He said it was about 90, my view was obstructed.

Repeating this with the Tramontina was much easier. It went to 90 easily. It had a perm bend but nothing serious. He then kept pushing until the handle wrapped around and was almost touching the top blade stuck out of the end of the stump. The blade now had a perm. bend ast 45 degrees. However after some work with a vice this was reduced to a slight twist. Still usuable.


Impressive looking. Looks sort of like the older battle mistress. What king of quarantee are they providing, especially considering the claims being made and your short test results.
Cliff, what is your impression of the Barteaux machete's and were did you get them?
The warrenty on Newt's blades is unconditional as far as I know. He has already stated my RCM is covered on his discussion forum in the comments section :


The Barteaux's were from Marion Poff, I don't know where he got them. Drop him an email. As for my impressions of them. I have done little work with them yet. They are on loan to a few friends as I am a bit busy. Comments about them are positive and everyone prefers them to the Ontario's I had awhile back. I should have something less vague to say about them after this week.

I will note however, the grinds are horrible. The two I got had very rough edge bevels that didn't evenly match and left huge visible burrs when they did. The 18" version, for some reason, also had a very obtuse bevel on top of the main edge grind, about 45 degrees or so.

It took about an hour with a file and a 220 grit Japanese waterstone to get the 12" machete to have two even 15 degree bevels that cleanly matched. I just used the dremel on the 18" and finished up with the waterstone - about 15 minutes. If the edges I saw were standard be prepared to work on them. I have the economy models.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 03-12-2000).]
The grinds sound about standard for Barteaux.I buy them from a farm supply store and usually have to go through 10 or so to find one that is nicely ground.I have been buying up the 12" blade mini-machete models($6.99 at Farm and Fleet) and reshaping the handles,redoing the edges then pressing out .093" concealex sheaths for them.These were the X-mas gifts I gave to my friends and family this year.These knives make great choppers and have a really nice springyness to the blade.I have been surprised that some of the things I have chopped havent damaged the edge.It might be the L6 steel.
Ben, what modifications do you make to the handles and have you seen the specs anywere as L6? I have seen this commented on, but on the wrapper it just vaguely described the material as a "high carbon spring steel" .

Cliff-I had to round off the finger hook on the pommel of the knife it was a blister making machine.I also took off some of the cross hatch texture and epoxied some stainless steel tubing in the lanyard hole to reinforce it because I thinned out the area.As far as L6 I think Poff told me that.What ever the steel is it is very tough.Also I did my edges up moran style and it seems to keep the edge from rolling over.
I don't think there is a machete out there that comes with a decent edge. If there is, I havent seen it. My ontario machete came with a dull edge, but it didn't take that long to get sharpened. L6 is band saw steel isn't it. Good springy stuff. Not as hard as 1095, but probably tougher.
Hi Cliff... Read the thread and Newt's replies in the other forum, but never saw any real conclusions..

It seems, that the Juniper you picked out was hard enough to bend over the RCM, but not quite enough to bend the thicker Battle Mistress. I suppose if you moved on to old dried bones, you might wreck the latter edge too... Will like seeing Newt's further conclusions...

This isn't a criticism of your testing by the way. Its always good to know what the limits of a particular configuration happen to be, but its also a good idea to bear in mind what the knife was designed to do when you're not testing, but really using where your life depends on it...

Thanks for all the hard work!

[This message has been edited by matthew rapaport (edited 12-18-2000).]
Matthew :

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It seems that the Juniper you picked out was hard enough to bend over the RCM, but not quite enough to bend the thicker Battle Mistress.</font>

The edge on the BM was actually thinner than the edge on the RCM (more acute edge grind). However, yes, the primary grind is thicker on the BM. In hindsight I should have measured the specifics of the RCM when I first got it. I usually don't do this right away as it tends to influence what I do as I quickly form performance expectations based on them and that could bias what I do.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I suppose if you moved on to old dried bones, you might wreck the latter edge too...</font>

I have tried the BM on heavy seasoned bone and yes at the angle I have it (16-18 degrees) you will see some damage, but it is sub mm in depth and will not cause the blade to ripple as happened to the RCM, this was damage that extended above the edge grind.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Its always good to know what the limits of a particular configuration happen to be</font>

I think that this is about as valuable as you can get, but there obviously comes a point at which it is unreasonable to expect someone to repair a blade that was damaged from something you didn't have to do and knew that doing it was going to harm the blade. I have taken light use knives and cut harder and harder materials until they chipped out. Would it then be reasonable to expect the maker to grind these chips out and give me a fresh edge - well no.

There are makers that will do this though. I have worked with five (off the top of my head) that have gone far above what I would expect and have offered to repair blades that have taken intentional damage as soon as we discussed the results. You don't even need to ask, they will just offer to restore the knife. But in general I don't expect this kind of service - but I do obviously gravitate towards the people that offer it. Not because I want it in and of itself, but only the highest level of products tend to have it.

Accidental damage I think should be covered, as it gives security of use, however it would rarely if ever be used for obvious reasons. Most don't have a problem with that.

If you are using the blade to do something that it was designed for or promoted as being able to do then I think that you should be covered for obvious reasons. However there are makers that will use tests of performance as promotional tools and not cover damage greater than they report if you do them. I don't agree with that, but as long as they are clear about not covering it I can just avoid them, so no harm done.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">its also a good idea to bear in mind what the knife was designed to do when you're not testing, but really using where your life depends on it...</font>

Yes, and because I have damaged more than a few blades on this and consider it one of the most stressful things you can do, I discussed it with Newt at length before buying the RCM.

I still think the profile can work, 12+" long blade, 3/16" stock, full flat grind, 2" wide blade, but you need a steel that is significantly stronger than 1095. 3V would be a nice option, too bad R. J. Martin is not taking custom orders, the limbs would probably fall off themselves if they saw that coming. The Bush Hog from Camillus might be workable as well. I am seeing too much damage on the Machax, but Will Fennell has said that is not the expected behavior.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 12-19-2000).]