Survival machetes have plenty of advantages, especially when you need to clear a path in a deciduous forest area or place to pitch tents at the end of a long day. With so many options on the market, it is not always easy to choose the best survival machete for your needs. This post reviews the 5 best survival machete. But first, here are a few factors to help narrow down your choices.
How to Choose the Right MACHETE
As with hunting knives, the most common materials used to make machetes are carbon steel and stainless steel. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. For instance, carbon steel is stronger than stainless steel but more susceptible to corrosion. On the other hand, stainless steel is highly resistant to rusting even when dipped in water. Your choice of either of the two comes down to personal preference.
Another important factor to consider when shopping for a survival machete is the weight. The last thing you need is a tool that weighs down when cutting the thicker branches. A lightweight machete is particularly good if you are going on a long backpacking trip. You can always go with an in-between weight if you aren't sure about your weight needs.
Length affects both the weight of a machete and how well you can cut with a single swing. The longer your machete is, the more difficult it will be to carry on your hip or even cut well with every swing. It can also prove a serious drawback if you are going on a long hiking trip. You need to ensure that your machete is neither too long nor too short to deter you from completing some tasks.
The sheath is an important safety feature that allows for easy storage and transportation. A machete that doesn't come a sheath isn't recommended, although you can purchase one separately. The sheath needs to be sturdy and high quality. If you frequent humid locations, invest in a synthetic sheath. It resists moisture much better.
You want to invest in a machete that is easy to sharpen, and stays sharp for a long time. Preferably, it should come sharp and ready to use right out of the box. But if you can't afford a high end model, you can always opt for a cheaper one and sharpen before use.
The best survival machetes come with a full tang. This means that the blade extends all the way to the back of the handle. This design delivers maximum strength and longevity. It is also more effective for digging and other tasks.
Machete blades come in various styles including:
The Parang's design is borrowed from the jungles of Southeast Asia, where it is used for cutting down crops. The main difference being that survival Parang is less bulky. This means increased portability and compactness. The Parang blade has a unique shape that prevents it from being stuck in things it's used to chop.
or activities that involve hacking anything under 3 feet tall.
Also known as the Nepalese Ghurkha's weapon of choice. The Kukri blade is best utilized for cutting off vines, limbs and branches. It is very versatile and has a spear point tip that works well as a carver. Kukri blades have a full tang, hence durable and strong.
It has a weighted end that provides intense striking power. Its direct spear point makes it unsuitable for self defense purposes. On the plus side, you can use it for chopping anything from bushes and trees. You will need to look elsewhere if you will be going on a long distance hike as a Panga is heavy.
Machetes with a Bolo blade are best utilized for brutal slashing and chopping. And while they are a little heavy, they are great for self defense purposes. Its full tang construction means increased versatility, strength and durability.
BEST SURVIVAL MACHETE REVIEWED
Gerber Gator Machete
Taking the crown for best survival machete is the Gerber Gator Machete, which is a long bladed machete. It's best used for clearing bush or sawing through branches. Highlights include an 18-inch saw blade on one side and 15-inch fine edge blade on the other side. The machete blade is forged of high carbon steel, hence improved performance and longevity.
Its oversized, molded handle with rubberized grip adds control and flexibility. The handle is incredibly comfortable and the rough machining marks on the blade with black oxide coating add to the aesthetics of the machete. With an overall length of 18 inches and at 18 ounces, this machete is similar to many in its category.
I was a little disappointed that the tang only extended 1-2 inches beyond the two hex screws, giving it a full length of 2.5 inches. As you would expect of a machete, the stock is reasonably thin and the saber grip is comfortable.
Ka-Bar Kukri Machete
If you are looking for a machete that is light enough to add to your backpacking supplies without weighing you down, consider the Ka-Bar Kukri Machete. Like the Gerber Gator Machete, the Ka-Bar Kukri is forged of high carbon steel. However, it is shorter at 17 inches long and heavier at 20 ounces. It has a total length of 17 inches and a 11.5" blade.
The blade adopts a Kukri shape that puts more weight at the front. This makes the machete an excellent tool for chopping. The blade begins at a rectangle shape and ends in a wide curve at the bottom, with the top extending on a continuous line. Sharpened edges of the machete start where the blade starts to curve and don't require honing out of the package.
This machete comes with a pitch black handle made from Kraton G, a durable rubber material with a great grip. You get an exceptionally long and thick handle with a curve at the end for added comfort. The sheath provides added longevity and safety. It is made from a mixture of cordura and leather. It has two snaps to hold the machete securely in place.
Kershaw 1074 Camp Machete
The Kershaw 1074 Machete is one of the best is a series of innovative survival knives manufactured by Kershaw. It has an 18-inch blade machete that weighs 2.1 pounds, making it the biggest in Kershaw's line of knives. The drop point blade is made from 65Mn high carbon steel. When you combine that with the ergonomically designed handle, it's easy to see why the Kershaw 1074 is described as a formidable knife.
Kershaw uses a fuller that runs down about 60% of the blade to deliver a lightweight machete whilst maintaining a reasonably thick blade. The factory edge is extremely sharp right out of the box. This machete has a 6" full tang polymer handle that boasts a Sure Grip rubber. It is contoured to ensure a firm grip. Kershaw also incorporates a hand guard at both ends of the handle to prevent the wielder's hand from slipping during intensive use. The handle is held in place by two bolts and you can slide it off once you remove them.
The sheath is molded from a hard plastic and has robust nylon straps for portability. You can position the straps for either left or right handed carry. While the sheath lacks a friction fit, you will be glad to know that it has a strap to hold the knife securely in place.
Ontario Knife 1-18 Military Machete
The Ontario Knife Co 6145 boasts a lot of good features, probably because it was designed as a military machete. It boasts an 18" Latin-style, high carbon steel blade with a partial flat grind that extends about 0.5" up the blade. It is coated with a heavy powder for added corrosion resistance. Factory grind is good, but not as sharp as what other brands considering the tip is a little rougher than the rest of the blade. What I love most is that the 6145 has a full tang blade, making it stronger than most machetes on the market.
This machete has an overall length of 23" and weighs a little over one pound. The thick plastic handle has three slabs that hold it in place. It is ergonomically designed to ensure comfort and strength. An extended pinky notch at the back of the handle prevents you hand from slipping while at work.
SOG SOGfari Machete (MCO2-N)
The 18" sawback SOGfari machete machete is a good investment for those who need a lightweight tool for work. It comes with an 18 inch blade that broadens slightly towards the end to move the center of gravity to the midpoint. The blade is forged of 3Cr13 stainless steel and coated with corrosion-resistant powder. This is a big improvement over previous models and an obvious advantage over other models on this list made from high carbon steel.
The saw teeth extend 12 inches along the blade's spine and are slightly offset for a better bite. You don't have to worry about them cutting your hands when you touch the teeth or clogging with sawdust. While it won't be able to produce razor-clean cuts, you can rest assured that this machete will be fairly useful for cutting branches up to 6" thick.
You get a well shaped handle made from Kraton, a durable rubber that provides a firm grip in all weather conditions. The machete ships with a padded cordura nylon sheath that has a Velcro closure strap and belt loop. You also get a saw protector.
When it comes to survival machetes, I would definitely recommend the Gerber Gator. Not only is it affordable, it is also lightweight and comes with a 2-sided blade. Other reasons why I love it and it's the #1 survival machete: it's easy to sharpen, versatile and built with high carbon steel coated with black oxide for corrosion resistance. It won't disappoint when you go on a backpacking trip.