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Short Machete

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by AStone, May 31, 2012.

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  1. AStone

    AStone Member

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    I'm in the market for a short machete,
    or at least a tool that acts like one,
    something with a blade around 10 - 12"
    and an ergo, full tang handle, all in a package
    that's less than $100 including sheath.

    (Yes, someday I'll buy something like an ESEE Jungla,
    or a Swamp Rat, but they're not in the budget right now.)

    The major uses of this blade will be as follows in camps in mid- and northern Maine
    (heavily wooded, much of it second growth; thick underbrush):

    * chopping small wood (1" - 3" diam.) for fires
    * batonning larger wood for fires
    * clearing camp sites, cutting wood for shelters, etc.

    (See below the line for more background on this project.)

    Right now, after participating in several threads, especially this one,
    and after a substantive amount of research/reading,
    I've landed on these three contenders as my major choices
    - were I to buy one tomorrow (which I won't).

    I'm seeking feedback on the best one to acquire.

    * Kabar Cutlass Machete
    Weight: 1.20 lbs.
    Steel: 1085 Carbon
    Blade length: 11"
    Overall length: 16-1/2"
    Grind: Hollow
    Handle Material : Kraton G®
    Shape : Cutlass
    HRC: 52-54
    Blade Thickness: 0.165​

    * Ontario Survival Machete SP 8
    Blade Edge: Plain
    Blade Length (inches): 10
    Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel
    Blade Thickness (inches): 0.26
    Handle Material: Kraton
    Knife Closed Length (inches): 4.06
    Knife Open Length (inches): 15
    Knife Weight (ounces): 22.8
    Country of Origin: USA​

    * Ontario Gen II SP52
    Blade Edge: Plain
    Blade Length (inches): 10
    Blade Material: 5160 Steel
    Blade Thickness (inches): 0.26
    Handle Material: Kraton
    Knife Closed Length (inches): 3.25
    Knife Open Length (inches): 15
    Knife Weight (ounces): 18
    Country of Origin: USA​

    Important: I've chosen the three blades above in part because
    they seem suitable for batoning, unlike Kukri,
    unlike those with a sharpened upper blade.

    Opinions?

    I'm open to others that meet the criteria specified above.
    ________
    ________

    More background.

    I am seeking a survival blade trio.

    My current two shorter blades are:

    * Spyderco Manix 2 (~ 3.5" blade)
    * SOG Seal Pup Elite (~ 5" blade)

    These two do most EDC chores: kitchen, eating, cord work, etc.

    I own a full-sized Kabar with 7" blade,
    but find it too short for chopping,
    too long for kitchen duty.

    The longer blade will take care of chopping, batoning firewood, heavy shelter work, etc.

    In a pinch, it could do SD also, but that's not its major function.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  2. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Oh, and why a short 'chete?

    I just like short tools.
     
  3. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    SP-8

    I have an SP-8 that lives in my truck box.

    I have a nice edge on it.

    The thing is a brute. It weighs just under a pound and a half (with sheath, closer to a pound and 2/3).

    It has a nice heft, and can indeed chop stuff. The balance is forward, but not unmanageably so.

    It would kinda suck for clearing grass or light brush; it wants stuff it can bite into. I would have no fear prying open a crate with it.

    It has a "saw edge" on the spine, but frankly I don't see it competing with a light folding saw.

    However, as a chopper, it rivals a small axe. With the caveat that there is really no surface on the SP-8 that will function viably as a hammer. Yeah, you can pound tent pegs with the flat of the blade, but that's really very improvised.

    It's compact and is thus less prone to snagging on stuff than, say, a 16-inch machete. Naturally, the trade-off is reach.


    Now, if it's a longer trek, I'm seriously considering going with a lighter axe -- you can drop most of a pound going to a Trail Blazer Ergo 13 -- and you get a hammering surface in the bargain.

    So, yes, I like the SP-8, but selecting it for a given venue has to consider context and application.

    If someone offered me a choice between going into the woods with a Mora and an SP-8 versus a Mora and a large Bowie, I'd take the SP-8.

     
  4. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Interesting. Thanks, Arf.

    Any thoughts about the Kabar Cutlass?

    Or the SP 52?
     
  5. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    Cutlass & SP52

    I have no face time with either of the other two.

    Couple of thoughts, though.

    The SP52 is 55% thicker and is made of 5160 steel. I have more confidence in that combination, all things being equal, than in the thinner 1085 blade.

    Further, the SP52 is flat ground, versus the hollow grind of the cutlass.

    So, without having handled either one, what follows is a SWAG.

    The cutlass tips the scales at 20 oz (and is an inch longer), while the SP52 weighs 18 oz (and has a thicker spine). I'm guessing that the cutlass blade will do better with brush clearing, while the SP52 will probably do better with thicker wood.

    They are both probably "baton worthy" blades, though I think I'd trust the 5160 steel more for that.

    The Kabar is hardened to 52-54 HRC, while the SP52 is done to 53-55.

    Just based on stats alone, and on no experience, I would be inclined to favor the Ontario SP52. Marginally better steel, hardened to a slightly higher HRC, ground flat (easier to maintain edge), and weighing a couple of ounces less.

    The blade profiles are really not all that different, although the Kabar will have somewhat more forward balance, and the handles don't seem to be very different either.

    I would be happy with either one, I think, although I'd favor the Ontario.

    That cover the ground?

     
  6. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Perfectly. I'm of similar mind.

    Muchas gracias.
     
  7. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Right now, I've been doing a little knocking about in the woods with a Becker BK4 Machax. 9" blade. Weight is just under a pound not including the 5oz sheath. The handle is the standard full-size Becker handle which is generally appreciated for its ergonomics and it has a full tang. Steel is 1095 Cro-Van hardened to 56-58 RH. Retail cost for sheath & knife is around $85.

    Chopping wise, I've been cutting up some 1"-2" Blackjack limbs into smaller sections using the Machax and it is making short work of the limbs. I'll have to try and count how many hits it takes to get to the center of the tootsie pop so to speak; but it does a great job for its size and heft.

    The Machax also does really well as a draw knife and you can carve with it suprisingly well. It will definitely crush the Kabar in chopping and batoning; but in a lot of ways still handles smaller tasks as least as well as the Kabar. Other than being on the short side of your desired blade length, it seems to meet all of your criteria.

    Here is a link showing the Machax in action chopping and batoning wood.
    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/959366-Better-than-a-Machax
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  8. Carl Levitian

    Carl Levitian member

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    Ontario.

    I've been using an Ontiario 12 inch machete for about 15 years now as a canoe camping knife. It's cleared out campsite from sticker bushes, cut kindling, and done a ton of home backyard gardening chores. It's been a great tool. The 1095 holds a good edge, it's a full 1/8th inch thick stock and has good heft without being too heavy. It will rival what a light hatchet will do on thicker limbs, but excels at brush clearing.

    Carl.
     
  9. JimStC

    JimStC Member

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  10. conw

    conw Member

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    Super short ang khola kukri. No brainer IMO!
     
  11. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    I used one of these a few years
    http://autocarsuperstore.com/product/42485_Kershaw-Outcast-Bush-Knife.html
    Before I got my Camp Defender (which is a knife not a machete) and I still use it as a ranch tool. The handle is the most comfortable for clearing brush for hours I've yet tried. The Kershaw sharpens easy enough too and holds an edge well. My choice after YEARS of Collins Machetes of arious sizes.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. scramasax

    scramasax Member

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    I like bolo machetes for utility and always have one available. It does sound as though you are describing the need of an ax or hatchet. A much more efficient tool for hardwood cutting. Less energy used for the same results. There are also a few of the walking stick axes out there(I don't remember the proper name.) that are being made. Have you considered one of these?

    Cheers,

    ts
     
  13. JimStC

    JimStC Member

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    Gordon is the bottom one in the picture the Camp Defender? How long is the blade and do you by chance know the weight?

    TS,
    What bolo do you recommend?

    Thanks guys
    Jim
     
  14. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    Any time you go to a shorter tool you give up swinging velocity and have to make up for it with mass. Short choppers need to be end heavy like a billy club to be really effective. Notice the Kershaw pictured above has a good full belly and plenty of foreward mass. Short of a hatchet, it would probably be the best choice for the money.
     
  15. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    Out of your price range by a bit, but Bark River Knife and Tool did some custom runs of the Ontario military-issue machete that are amazing. They convexed the edges, shortened the blade to 14", recontoured the tip to give it some point, and replaced the plastic grips with G10 or micarta. All in a Sharpshooter leather sheath.

    Unfortunately they are somewhat hard to find now.

    http://www.knivesshipfree.com/index.php?cPath=465_814
     
  16. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Thought-provoking responses. Thanks. I've read all of them, and bookmarked links.

    I have a few thoughts and questions, but for now, just one:

    Carl, do you know the model number of that Ontario 12" machete?
    I can't find a 12" machete by them. Perhaps it's an older model and no longer produced. (?)
     
  17. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Member

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    Perhaps I can help.

    I would also choose a 12-inch Ontario machete. Avoid the "economy" version of the Ontario that is sold in some places. The original has a 1/8-inch thick blade and is a much better chopping tool. I was also unhappy with the "D" handle models and strongly prefer the original handle type. The exact Ontario machete that I recommend is sold under item number ONCT1 at the KnifeCenter.com site. It comes without a sheath.

    I'm currently also using a 24-inch Tramontina (heckuva grass cutter!) and the Gerber "Bear Grylls" Parang machete. I love the feel of the Gerber, although I plan to replace the plastic/rubber grips with brass and Micarta. Its sheath is terrible! I plan to make one of my own for it.

    I make machete sheaths from trash can plastic. Rubbermaid trash cans sit outside in sun, rain and cold for years. The plastic lasts a long time and is easy to work with. Its also cheaper than leather or kydex. I use a simple, welted design. For fasteners, I use "double-cap" leather rivets, staples made from large paper clips (installed by hand, using a drill and small bit, needle-nose pliers to curve the ends inward, and a small mallet to drive the points back into the plastic to prevent snagging), or homemade eyelets made from copper tubing.

    All my best,
    Dirty Bob
     
  18. AStone

    AStone Member

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    D'Bob, thanks much.

    So, I found both of those Ontario 12" blade machetes on KnifeCenter.com.

    Here's the "D" handle (in an ugly orange). (Added by edit: it also comes with a black handle.)

    Here's the original. There's no way the pic of that one is correct; that blade is longer than 12". And compare it with the other D-handled one.

    Still, I get the concept.

    PS by edit: Here's the Ontario 12" with the original handle with a saw back.
    The picture is more accurate for the length; I suspect they're similar except with the saw back.

    So, question: why don't you like the D-handle version? What about it didn't work for you?

    I confess, aside from the orange handle, the concept and shape appeal to me.
    _______

    Re your sheaths from plastic trash cans, that's totally intriguing. I like the idea, especially for a big blade like this that's not going to be riding on my belt.

    Do you have any 'how to' videos or docs or pics that you could share? Or even just a basic written description of how you do it? I guess I get the broad gist, but some specifics would be useful. (The mods may decide to move it into a new thread, I guess, but that's ok.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  19. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Member

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    The D-handle I received was bigger than the regular handle, and it was loose on the tang (not in danger of coming off, but it could slide around a bit). I had to replace it. I'll always go with the original type, which has never been loose.

    Regards,
    DB
     
  20. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Ah, yes, now that I compare images of the two side by side, I can see the size/shape difference between the two.
    For grins, I put the images of Kabar and the Ontario SP 52 below these. Their handle shapes are more similar to the orange one.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  21. Needles

    Needles Member

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    Old fashioned Tennessee sorghum knife: (if you can find one for sale...)
     

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  22. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I think you will be happy with either the Kabar or Ontario SP. (I pretty much consider Ontario and Kabar company products to be essentially equal.) I have a couple of the 12" Ontario machetes and dislike the "D" handle, and find the regular handle (the second one) to be a little hard on my hands. But many really like them and I'm probably a whimp when it comes to my hands. :D

    The 12" Ontario machete does not come with a sheath and the $5 canvas/vinyl sheaths that you can buy are worth about what you pay for them and you end up taping them up with duct tape.

    I have a 12" Ontario machete in each vehicle in the cheapie sheaths. (They are seldom used.) The saw edge is useless for the most part. I am not totally against them. I just prefer something with a handle that does not abuse my hands. But the regular Ontario handle is very traditional and many like it. They are tough little blades and would make a great camping machete for most general purposes short of chopping grass or cutting large trees down. They are much more compact than the Kabar Cutlass Machete.

    My suggestion is that you actually handle both of the Kabars and make a decision. But that option may not be available to you.

    Another one to consider is the Condor Pack Golok. It is new. I haven't seen one in the flesh as of yet. http://www.condortk.com/productsdetail.php?prodid=5

    I will with total certainty buy one of the Condor Pack Goloks because of the handle and I have been very pleased with Condor products overall. They often are not pretty, but the work real well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  23. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    Good range of choices, Nem.
    I would add the Gerber BG Parang to your list of things to look at and hold.
    I bought one as a lark and have been using it for over a year. I did a review thread on it here you can find, if you're interested.
    Short story: 30 bucks is not a bad price for good steel and a decent grip. It holds an edge. It's a good chopper/splitter, if you use the end.
    I'd give it a 6.8 out of 10, detracting points for Gerber's unwillingness to warrantee it and the lousy sheath packaged with it. The tool itself is an interesting amalgam of attributes I like.
     
  24. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Thanks to Needles, .22 and Wheel.

    Needles, when I search "Tennessee sorghum knife", the top hit on Google is this thread; and I find no other reference to it, nor images.

    .22, that Condor Golok looks real nice, but at 1.75 lb (28 oz) the weight is a factor for me (v < 20 oz for the Kabar, say).

    Wheel, I've looked at those BG Parangs with interest,
    but it got sooo many bad reviews, especially on Amazon - complaints about quickly broken or bent blades.

    Obviously not in your experience, but that concerns me. Is QC really that inconsistent?

    I'm not seeing that for other tools that I'm considering, even on Amazon.

    Thoughts?
     
  25. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I believe the Condor uses a thicker bar steel. The weight can be your friend depending on how you use it. But I don't know if I'd want to carry it on an extended AT hike. I don't do much of that kind of thing anymore. Dayhikes (usually with a heavy emphasis on photography) or hunting/fishing are about it for me and I'd rather stay in a motel than camp especially if the better half is with me.

    I am going to buy one of these when they hit the retail outlets (aka online sellers). If I make the Blade Show this coming week, I will probably see one there. Whether I can buy one is another matter.
     
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