Machete time!

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by monster, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. monster

    monster Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 13, 2001
    Well I recently took down some almond tree limbs that were extending into our backyard. I ended up using a pole saw for the large limbs but couldn’t find my shears so I went to work with my Gavilan 12” machete. In short that thin little blade made quick work of removing the smaller limbs from the larger ones I sawed off, I was impressed!

    Now I’m on the hunt for another machete that I may mod out a little. What are you all using out there modified or stock?
  2. monster

    monster Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 13, 2001
    Forgot to add that I have convexed the edge and added a choil to the Galivan.
  3. Grease


    May 10, 2012
    Personally I'm a fan of the basic wood handled tramontina. They're plenty tough for normal work, and if you do manage to damage one, its hard to weep over a broken $10 blade. I picked up four of the larger latin style ones off of BudK a while back when they had a buy one get one free sale. A little work with a grinder and a cutoff wheel later, and I have 4 unique machete patterns for $25.
    vba and WILLIAM.M like this.
  4. Camber


    Jul 13, 2011
    I like the Cold Steel machetes. It takes some work to put an edge on one and get to the good steel, but once you do, they kick ass.
  5. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    I've had mixed results with Cold Steel machetes. I'll preface this by admitting that I've never been a fan of Cold Steel products; but I tried to overlook that when I did a bit of a machete comparo some years back. Both came with utterly useless edges, which is not uncommon for machetes - I only mention it in case somebody didn't plan on shadowing first.
    First the (mostly) good - the cold steel magnum kukri machete. I found it relatively ineffective at light work (grasses, thin stalks, thin live branches); but it excelled at heavier chopping, taking down 1.5-2" thick weed/tree growth in a single swing. 3" tree usually in two. Much over 4" was better suited to axe or saw; though I did try one 4.5" thick tree, just for giggles - it wasn't worth the effort, and I was trying to work efficiently. It was not particularly good for chopping through dead wood; but that isn't typically a machete task.
    The cold steel Latin machete I had, on the other hand, was complete and utter crap. Even after multiple sharpenings, the edge dulled and deformed too quickly to be considered a useful tool.

    For light to medium growth - Tramontina, all the way. Behind that, pretty much neck and neck - Condor and Marbles (just sound get the wire wrapped handle if you ever plan to use it without gloves, lol). Imacasa didn't impress me, but it was better than the cold steel.
    For thicker stuff, the OKC HD machete and Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete won by a large margin. Neither of these are typical machetes, in that they aren't lightweight tools...but if you've got growth beyond normal machete fodder, that isn't yet up to axe size; they're solid options. I think I liked the OKC a little better overall; but I did have fun with the magnum kukri when I found an area of "weed trees" that averaged 1-3" in diameter.
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  6. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I really like the parang shape and a somewhat stiff machete for general use. Been using a discontinued Condor Puerto Rican (14") and the current 16" Swampmaster the most. The other machete that I find to be absolutely great is the wood handled Condor 18" El Salvador model (latin shape). For my hands, it pretty much comes ready to use with no sanding or shaping of the handle needed.

    Up until about 5 years ago, I was using a cheap "Walmart" type machete and it would bend (blade and edge) and was uncomfortable to use much. Hence, I never really wanted to use it unless I had to. So, I was on a hunt for a better machete. I got a 12" Ontario thinking it would be a great short machete, but found it absolutely uncomfortable to use. It pretty much got benched and I probably won't use again or buy another Ontario machete. I have a couple of them.

    There is a thread over in general on a plastic material Forty-Two blades has been experimenting with and making sheaths using it. You might check it out if you haven't already especially if you buy a machete that does not come with a fairly good sheath. One of the problems I have had is that the cheap factory sheaths get torn up (cut) rather quickly and for me a custom sheath for a machete was pretty much out of the question. Hence, enter 42 Blades. He sells a lot of the major brands of machetes via his website.

    Sheaths are handy both to carry the machete if walking and occasionally chopping or simply storing it with other things that could get cut if they ride up against the blade. If you never carry one, even the cheap canvas sheaths last a while, but I don't favor them except for storage.

    I tend to be a little biased against Cold Steel stuff and as a result, have only tried a couple of their knives and no machetes. I don't buy SOG machetes either even though the local sporting goods store carries them. I have just become totally satisfied with the Condor stuff and don't look elsewhere anymore. I only need so many machetes to use. I have fairly broad selection of the Condor machetes. I favor the Pack Golok for basic chopping if I want something relatively short.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
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  7. monster

    monster Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 13, 2001
    D3FF8360-B739-4B71-89F5-69D6DC70038E.jpeg Well I went out and picked up an Imicasa 12” machete for more yard work. The handle was ok but a bit on the round side for me so I took the sucker off! I had some G10 scales laying around so threw them on and started shaping the handle. It’s not quite where I want it yet but here it is, hoping to use it on some mulberry tree limbs this weekend. This one needs a lot of edge work.
    LG&M likes this.
  8. Mannlicher


    Nov 19, 2008
    I have yet to find a 'better' machete than the Cold Steel 12 and 18 inch Sax style.
  9. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    That's what makes the consumer world go around. We have different experiences and develop our preferences. I personally have not tried out a Cold Steel machete. At this point, I have no particular need to get another one and I have all my bases covered and then some.
  10. fishiker


    Nov 5, 2006
    The last real work I did with a machete was on an American Hornbeam tree that had blown over. I use a Cold Steel Latin machete and it held up very well. I worked on the edge before starting and after a few hours of serious chopping it was almost as sharp as when I started.
  11. McFeeli


    Feb 13, 2017

    I use this picture quite often, but I think it’s the best I have of it, it being a Big Chris machete using 3V. 16 and a quarter blade, 21 and a half inches overall. I believe it’s around .140” thick(not 100% sure right now) so it’s not a light and flexible machete. It’s solid. Just yesterday I split some thick walnut branches down to use as kindling for my fire pit out back. I’ve straight up abused this thing since I’ve gotten it and I’ve yet to damage it at all. I love it, haha.
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  12. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    The imacasa or tomantina machetes are nice. I do have a few condors that I'm also a fan of. The condor golok machete is a beast for cleaning up limbs and does so-so for vegetation but it's a bit short and thick for that. My viking machete it good in really thick stuff and briars with the extra reach and the billhook side is nice for digging stuff out when I need to be a little more careful.

    I'll be honest, I think a 7-9" chopping knife is great for cleaning up branches, mostly because they're short and I find myself working in tighter quarters. The BK4 makes quick work of limbs that fall down in the yard or back trails and then use an axe or saw on the thicker stuff when I have the room.

    Some pictures of machete, knife, axe, and saw work out in the woods this past year.

    I'll be honest, I have some of the more expensive blades and while I really like using them the cheaper stuff does function pretty well. I might not like using them as much but that 18" tromantina has been a workhorse while my condor machetes get re-handled after the wood rotted between the pins and steel from using them a lot last winter.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
  13. monster

    monster Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 13, 2001
    bikerector, you sir are putting in some work! Great pics!
    bikerector likes this.
  14. JV3


    Mar 17, 2010
    i have ones from tramontina, imacasa, svord, ontario, fiddleback forge and condor...i usually like them stock except for the tramontina wood handled ones i belt-sandered the corner round to remove the hotspot against my palm.


    svord kiwi machete.


    fiddleback forge 12".

  15. NoRest

    NoRest Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 27, 2015
    The Fiddleback machete is the most comfortable that I've used. It seems to be holding up well after some serious use.
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  16. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    If I want to carry a "big knife" that is machete like, I carry the Condor Kumunga for occasional chopping such as when I might be wandering down a familiar trail and I run onto things that have fallen across the trail that should be removed. I'm not much for simply carrying a machete (or big knife for that matter) unless I expect to need it. One stays in my truck all the time. That would be the new Condor 16" Swampmaster. The 14" Condor Puerto Rican stays in my work van. They both get used, but not for long periods of time.
    vba likes this.
  17. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    I take the opposite approach. Sometimes I get outdoors just so I have an excuse to carry the big knife. :) I used to carry it every day when I worked outside more.

    I just received my Kingfisher from Baryonyx Knife Works. Still have to sharpen it and cobble together some kind of sheath so I can actually carry it, but I'm expecting its long reach & relatively light weight will be much appreciated for clearing briars & thorns.

  18. Uncle Timbo

    Uncle Timbo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 23, 2005
    I love all of your machetes. I have an older, plastic handled one and I also have a Martindale Golok that I still wonder what it is actually designed for.
    Did I mention I love machetes?
  19. LG&M


    Dec 19, 2005
    For most work I like the basic Ontario 12" machete. Admittedly I have little need ,mostly it's fun work.
    monster likes this.
  20. Anrkst6973


    May 15, 2008
    I like a Latin style 18", best all around size IMHO. I am currently using a Tram because it's lighter although I think the Condor 1075 is slightly better in the edge holding dept. By that I mean the finished edges are very close in sharpness but the Condor holds it a little better or for a longer period.

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