Published on June 21st, 2012 | by TS Alan
We looked for performance, durability, edge holding, full tanged handle, grip, versatility, and purchase availability, not a custom order. The machetes have also been ranked in part by materials used in their construction (steel and handle material) and by online opinions. And all the machetes had to be priced under $100.
10. Two Handed Panga Macheteor a Ditch Bank Blade. Various manufactures. If you’re one of those people that need a little more distance or swing force in your defensive weapon, then either of these should be your weapon of choice. You can find both of these tools under 40 dollars.
Cold Steel makes a two handed panga that has a 16″ blade made of 1055 carbon steel with a bake black anti-rust finish and a 20 3/4″ long polypropylene handle with riveted tang. That gives you and overall length 36 3/4″.
Bully Tools has been manufacturing tools made in the USA for gardening, lawn, roofing, flooring and agricultural for professional contractors as well as consumers since 2006. Their 16″ Ditch Bank Blade is made of 12 gauge steel with a 40” hickory handle. You’ll get the swinging power of a baseball bat and the most tactical distance of any machete.
9. Bear Grylls Parang by Gerber Gear. The reviews on Gerber’s own website in regard to this tool runs the gambit from weak, mediocre at best, piece of junk to great tool, perfect and awesome. What I can tell you about this machete is it has an ergonomic textured rubber grip, full tang construction with a two screw handle, a blade length of 13.5” with an overall length of 19.5”, weighs 25.4 oz (with sheath) and comes with a lifetime warranty.
What their website states about the steel of their blade is that it is a “Robust High Carbon Steel Blade,” which doesn’t tell you anything in regard to what type of steel is used. I placed a call to their customer service number to find out what grade of carbon steel was used in the manufacturing process, and they informed me it was actually 440A steel, which means it is coated stainless steel. But for $43.00 (cheaper if you search) it’s still a good deal for a good tool.
8. Cutlass Machete by Ka-Bar. Our Marines know ka-Bar for their USMC KA-BAR fighting and this utility knife was used during WWII. Unfortunately not all of their product line meets the high standard set by their knife. Out of the three machetes Ka-Bar offers, the Cutlass stood out.
This tool strikes a very nice balance between chopper and machete. The cutlass’s shape of the blade puts most of the blade weight forward, allowing for better swing and striking force. The blade is 11 inches of 1085 carbon steel with a full tang construction and a Kraton non-slip polymer handle.
Users have reported that the knife handled lateral stress quite well, is flexible and will return to straight without issue. Though the full tang is not a 2 or 3-pin construction, the grommet at the butt cap for the lanyard is pinned through the tang. It would have been nice to have a better-constructed handle on such a good blade, especially at a price of $65.00. With that said, this is still an excellent tool for defense or clearing and comes with a leather/cordura combination sheath.
7. Tactical Magnum Kukri Machete by Cold Steel. This company’s website claims that it makes the world’s strongest and sharpest knives. I’m sure many of their competitors would disagree, however, I do agree that the Magnum is a good, inexpensive, “workhorse” model, and we gave it a favorable review in ZT Issue #1.
What I like about this machete is the17-inch blade made from 1055 carbon steel with a black anti-rust finish, which gives the blade exceptional strength and durability. I also like the blade has a weight-forward balance for improved striking power. Likewise, I appreciate the slip resistant grip of the textured polypropylene handle. However, for such a good product, I cannot understand why they chose not to pin the molded handle. Though I have a minor issue with this, I have placed it above the Ka-Bar Cutlass because of the better carbon steel, the longer blade and the inexpensive price. The Magnum retails for around $30.00 and includes a Cordura sheath.
6.El Salvador Machete by Condor Tool & Knife. Sometimes all you really need or want is a straightforward and reliable clearing tool. One that is balanced, tough and durable. One that makes a great heavy chopper, a good bushwhacker or zombie head decapitator—this is it.
The high-grade 1075 carbon steel blade with a black epoxy powder coat finish is 3 mm thick and 18-inches long. It comes fully tanged and three pinned with an overall length of 23 inches. The blade has a nearly straight spine with a slight upsweep, plenty of belly on the cutting edge, and is evenly weighted to deliver balanced strike. The El Salvador is an excellent bush craft and survival tool.
Unlike most machetes, this comes razor sharp out of the box and includes a leather sheath. You’ll want to purchase the model with the heat injected micarta handle, which is textured for a better grip. Priced at $70.00.
5. Martindale Crocodile Golok 2 by Ralph Martindale and Company Ltd. The Martindale Golok Number 2 is a British-made, military issue machete that is solid, strong and has enough weight behind it to be a functional tool.
The 13-inch, 4mm thick carbon steel blade is made from hot rolled high quality 1095 British Steel by the Ralph Martindale mill. The strip is tapered in section to optimize the unique cutting characteristics with the weight of the tool and is therefore lightweight and easy to use. I like the thick, short blade that allows ease of portability, while still being an effective cleaving and chopping tool.
The handle is made from German beech wood and comes with a full tang construction. The timber is cross-sawn for maximum strength and stability and the handle is fitted to the blade with 2 solid steel rivets and washers. The overall length of the machete is 18-inches. This is a close-up weapon that will get the job done along with being an excellent clearing tool. Priced at $45.00.
4. Aranyik Latin Machete by Aranyik Trading Company in Hawaii. Mainly used by farmers in the Hawaiian Islands, this traditional handcrafted Latin machete can be purchased in two blade lengths, 17.5 and 20.5 inches. The most popular is the 23.5-inch design, which garnishes the shorter blade. This is one of the first items to be offered outside of Hawaii for U.S. dometic use from Aranyik Trading Company.
The 1/8 inch blade (3.17 mm) made of 5160 spring steel has not undergone traditional steel softening but is till fully capable of cutting hard woods, yet long and reliable for cutting through jungle brush such as grasses and bushes.
The machete has a full tang design with 3 pins in a handle of Eucalyptus Camuldensi sustainable-farmed Thai wood. This is a strong and reliable tool that can take a beating and still hold an edge. Priced at $55.00.
3. Jungle Bolo Knife by John Nowill & Sons Ltd., aka F.E. & J.R. Hopkinson aka J. Adams Ltd. (parent company). Originally a prototype designed for British S.A.S. and S.B.S soldiers, this cross between an Indonesian Golok (mainly for chopping) and a Malaysian Parang (mainly for slashing) utilizes the best of both tools, making it not only an extraordinary clearing tool but also an excellent weapon.
The “Bolo” style shape of the Sheffield produced jungle machete means the blade is end heavy. Though you may have to put a little more energy into the strike, the weighted fore blade will produce a deeper cut. This makes it ideal for clearing heavy brush and chopping through zombie necks.
The 11-inch blade is made from Sheffield 1095 carbon steel, is a whopping 3/16 inches (4.76 mm) thick, and has a balance point about 8.5 inches from the pommel. The blade has a passive “blued” finish instead of a black oxide coating to inhibit corrosion.
The fully tanged blade has a black molded rubberized sure grip handle and features a lanyard hole. Included is a nylon/webbing belt style sheath. This heavy bladed machete is able to chop as well as slash with equal efficiency. Price ranges from $76.00 to $96.00.
2. Service No. 1 (Sarkhari Khukuri) by GK&CO. Khukuri House. If you’re looking for a Kukri, then this is the company you will want to buy from. They are the official Kukri supplier to the Gurkha Brigade, Nepalese Army and Nepal Police. Their machetes are completely hand crafted by artisans in Kaami, East Nepal and imported to their warehouse/outlet in San Francisco, CA.
All of their Kukris are extremely well built, sharp, well balanced and hand forged. The Service No.1 is the standard size Khukuris and is issued to British Gurkha Army soldiers on enlistment. The high polished blade is made of 5160 spring steel and is 10½” long.
Following traditional techniques, the semi-finished blade is secured to the hilt by inserting its spike-like tang into a Buffalo horn handle that contains Laha Nepalese traditional Gum. There is no pinning in the process, which one would believe to be stronger process, but it is claimed that a Khukuris assembled in the traditional method has never broken in combat. The blade then goes onto polishing.
The full tang handle is made of Buffalo horn and has a hilt and pommel made of brass. The overall length is 16” with a blade thickness of 3/8 at the spine. Includes a sheath made of buffalo hide and Karda & Chakmak knives. Priced at $60.00
1. Woodman’s Pal Military Premium by Woodman’s Pal is a zombie killer’s best friend when it comes to bladed weapons, but it is first and foremost a durable, high quality tool with the power of an axe that makes this machete extremely versatile.
The Military Premium is their best model and is nearly identical to the original military issue. The 1/8” thick by 10½” blade is made of 1075 cold rolled spring steel and hardened to Rockwell C47, which means it is tough, durable, flexible and won’t crack or chip even in sub-zero temperatures. The blade also has a resin bonded fluorocarbon coating that inhibits corrosion. The blade edge is not flat ground, but actually has a slight concave axe head profile with a convex ground edge.
At the end of the machete is a blunt tip with is a chisel sharp sickle hook for gripping and dragging vines and brambles. It also has the ability to severe branches 1½ in diameter with a single stroke. You may ask why the edge of the blade does not extent fully to the blunt tip. Well, there is a practical safety reason for this, and that is to prevent deflective injuries. In a survival situation the last thing you will want is a serious injury from a glancing or deflection cut, especially in a zombie apocalypse when blood with draw the undead right to you.
The tool’s hand-lacquering 5” handle is shaped from a single piece of American hardwood, cemented and riveted to the tang. For added comfort the grip is stacked with leather washers that provide improved all temperature comfort. A steel hand guard and extended wrist guard is another added safety feature. The tool’s line of balance runs from the handle to the sickle edge, which provides more momentum and accurate control of the blade during the cutting stroke, thus allowing the user to deliver a more commanding but less strenuous swing to deliver an accurate strike.
With an overall length of 16½” and all its feature and capabilities, this makes the Woodman’s Pal s one monster of a survival tool and weapon for intimidating the living and hacking heads off the undead. The Woodman’s Pal Military Premium with treated leather sheath and sharpening stone is $99.95 MSRP.
Whatever you decide just remember: Think smart, shop wisely, stay vigilant and be safe.