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How to Choose the Perfect Machete

Anyone who is interested in the great outdoors; camping, hunting, trekking, exploration, nature walks, forest survival or other wilderness based activities should own a machete.

A large survival knife or machete is the #1 tool that will be used in a survival situation. You must choose the perfect machete carefully because not all blades are created equal; you don’t want your most valued tool to fail you in the field when you need it most!

We’ll cover everything you need to consider when choosing your new machete… functionality, design, sizes, blade compositions, blade processing, tang, handle, accessories and prices.

There Are Lots Of Machete Styles To Pick From:

There are so many different kinds of machete being sold on the market. Choosing one can be overwhelming, but don’t worry, by the end of this article you’ll have a solid understanding of which blade suits your needs best.

Some of the best machete types for survival situations are: kukri, bowie, bolo, coping, panga, tanto & tapanga. Of course many of the other designs are great as well… but lots of them were designed for agricultural work, like the panga which is used for cutting tall grasses or the cane machete, which as the name suggests is used for chopping sugar cane and corn stalks.

Functional Qualities You Want In Your Survival Machete

Think of what kind of tasks you will be using your machete for… functionality is key! Machetes are manufactured in a wide variety of shapes and sizes as we discussed in the section above. Some of these tools are effective for chopping mid sized trees while others are better for clearing light brush.

SurvivalGrounds Choice for Best Survival Machete

When it comes to the perfect survival machete you want the most well-rounded blade possible. One that can be used for food prep, hunting, self-defense, chopping down trees, clearing a path & building a shelter.

Choosing the Perfect Sized Machete

A typical machete is roughly 14-24 inches long, 2 1/4 inches wide and a couple millimeters thick. Remember when choosing the size of your machete that the larger the blade the more strength it will take to swing over and over.

Different Sized Machetes layout out on a table

Machetes over 22 inches are not recommended for the average person.

Different Machete Blade Compositions

The blade of your machete can be made out of a wide range of different metals, many of the highest quality blades on the market are forged out of high carbon steel with spring temper.

Carbon steel blades are higher quality than stainless steel, they are composed of two elements; iron and carbon. These blades will stay sharp longer, offer better rust resistance, will hold an edge better and can take a solid impact with lower chance of damage compared to stainless steel. Micro-cracking is the first step towards a dull blade, the toughness of carbon steel keeps the bare edge of the blade sharp for longer and your machete in top shape.

Spring temper is achieved during the manufacturing process of the machete blade. The manufacturer will harden and temper the blade and then reheat the blade until the carbon steel turns blue. The end result of the spring temper process is an increased upper limit of elasticity in the blade with no loss of strength and less chance of cracking.

Full Tang – Dependability, Strength and Durability

If you are unfamiliar with blade terminology you may be wondering about the terms full tang, half tang, quarter tang and partial tang. To put it simply the tang is the amount of metal from the blade that protrudes into the handle.

Full tang means the metal from the blade extends through the entire length of the handle. Generally you always want to look for a full tang blade because it improves the weight and balance of the knife along with added durability and strength.

Avoid anything less than half tang because its an accident waiting to happen, the metal has a much higher chance of breaking through the handle if it is not secured all the way through!

Accessories That Compliment Your New Blade

Ideally you should make sure your machete has shatterproof high impact polymer handles and steel compression rivets to keep the handles secured. Wood handles tend to deteriorate or rot away while a high quality polymer handle can outlast the blade!

Don’t forget about a sheath, when ever your machete isn’t in use it can be safely stored with easy access when you need it again. A few things to consider when choosing your sheath: If you go with leather it can increase the amount of moisture on your blade while its being stored and cause premature rust spots.

Wood isn’t very practical because it isn’t flexible, the weight can also be an issue and it might crack if dropped. A sheath made out of woven fabrics can be good if its high quality but cheap ones should be avoided because the blade will eventually wear through. One of the best choices is a plastic sheath with a compartment for a sharpening stone and other small accessories such as fire starters.

Time To Choose A Machete!

Machetes range in price from $15 to well over $200, but remember, the price does reflect the quality and workmanship of the product. You should still be able to find a versatile, sturdy, well crafted, carbon steel machete for around $50.

A few excellent choices for survival machetes in 2016:

  • #1 – CRKT ChanceInHell
  • #2 – Ka-Bar Kukri
  • #3 – Ka-Bar Cutlass Machete

The machete is one of the most valuable and effective survival tools that one can own. Buy one today and get familiar with it, after a while you’ll never want to be in the woods without one!

Choose a Machete

Lastly don’t forget to read reviews! Although the machete you want to purchase may seem perfect others who have reviewed it may be able to bring problems or defects to your attention.

You may be interested in: KaBar Kukri Machete

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3 Comments
  1. Reply
    Tim Ranger August 6, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Nice article!

    I’m stuck trying to decide between a Kukri style machete and a bolo. Both have near perfect review scores and are around $50.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions.

    I think I might go with the bolo just because I like the way it looks and it has a nicer grip.

  2. Reply
    John F. August 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I need something for camping and had no idea how to choose out a good machete. I was going to buy one of the $15 ones from Walmart and decided to do some research online first. I’m glad I found this article!

  3. Reply
    zCamero June 13, 2017 at 1:33 am

    I bought my CRKT ChanceInHell about 1 year ago and it’s a pleasure to use. I tend to beat the hell out of my tools and this machete has held up very well. Also the spine works as a fish whacker when I’m out on the lake and catch some dinner 🙂

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