The machete is the largest hunting tool and can be used as a crucial tool in many different survival, hunting, and outdoor situations.
The need for a long bladed knife to help cut down vegetation in survival situations has been an important tool for thousands of years. The name “machete” derives from Spanish and originated in South America when the need to clear vines and jungle brush was a necessity for survival.
However, this concept was developed in many areas around the world for survival, and has evolved into the varying blade styles of machetes that you can find currently on the market. For example, the Panga style is from East Africa, the Prang from Malaysia, the Barong from the Philippines, and the Indonesian Golok.
With all the different options out there for machetes, we have compiled our Top Ten Machete list to help you get the most chopping power for your money. Be sure to check out our Buyer’s Guide to learn more about the common characteristics of machetes and which style would be right for you!
1. CRKT Halfachance Parang Machete
The CRKT Parang style machete is made of 65Mn Carbon Steel with a black powder coat for extra corrosion protection. The drop point blade is ideal for chopping whatever vegetation you may get yourself into. This machete also features an ergonomic handle with multiple lanyard holes for different hand holds to help ease fatigue. The machete also comes with a reinforced nylon sheath that allows you to carry the blade snug against your belt or dangling down, depending on your preference.
2. Gerber Gator Machete
Gerber has created a machete that is the most budget friendly option we reviewed. This machete is 25” overall, with a multi-purpose 15” fine edge blade on one side and an 18” high performance saw blade on the other. The blade is high carbon stainless steel with a gator grip handle. This comfortable rubberized texture is designed to give added security and safety, even when wet. The machete also comes with a black 400 denier nylon sheath.
3. Cold Steel Barong Machete
Don’t let the low price scare you, the Cold Steel Barong Machete is a great all-purpose durable machete. It is based off the Filipino Barong style machetes. It features the classic leaf-shaped blade traditionally used in agriculture and warfare.
The Barong is used in Filipino martial arts and is capable of creating deep cuts. This blade is 18” long, with an overall length of 24.5”. It is made of 1055 carbon steel with a black matte finish that is baked on to provide additional rust protection. The handle is curved to help it easier form to your hand and stay there during use, and is made of polypropylene. This machete also comes with a sheath made of Cor-Ex for safety and convenience.
4. Condor Golok Machete
The Condor Golok Machete is 19” long with a 14” blade. Although slightly on the smaller side, it’s lightweight blade makes it easier to wield with control. It is made of heavy duty 1075 high carbon steel and has a black powder epoxy finish for added rust protection and durability.
It also has a walnut handle which gives it more of an authentic look. This machete also comes with a 100% leather sheath as an added bonus to make it that much easier to carry.
5. Ka-Bar Kukri Machete
The Ka-Bar Kukri machete is based off the traditional Kukri style from Nepal. This blade is 11.5” long, 17” total and weighs 1.7 pounds. The black 1085 carbon steel blade is durable and weighted to provide excellent chopping power in a smaller sized machete. Although it cannot clear as much at once, the compact machete is great at clearing brush and vegetation.
It has a Kraton thermoplastic elastomer handle that is ergonomically designed with a non-slip grip. This machete also comes with a sheath made of a combination of black leather and cordura.
6. Cold Steel Latin Machete
This Latin-style machete from Cold Steel is a long 24” blade (29” overall), ideal for clearing large areas. The blade is made of 1055 Carbon Steel with a black matte anti-rust finish. It also features a non-slip polypropylene handle.
This straightback blade has even weight distribution and is excellent for vegetation, also known as a Bush machete. Although this machete does not come with a sheath, the low price point makes it a great value for this bushwacking machine.
7. Ontario SP8 Machete
The Ontario Knife Company has designed a great all-purpose survival blade with their SP8. It has a 1095 black epoxy high carbon steel blade that is 10” long, making it compact and easier to handle. The wedge style tip and sawtooth back make this lightweight machete very versatile. It comes with a fitted nylon sheath and Kraton handle for added comfort and accessibility.
8. Condor Parang Machete
Another Parang style machete from Condor Knife & Tool, this blade is 17.5” of 1075 high carbon steel with a black epoxy powder coating. This machete has more of a traditional look compared to the CRKT Parang style that we reviewed, with a more traditional Parang handle design made of hardwood. This drop point blade comes with a heavy duty black leather sheath.
9. Ka-Bar Grass Machete
This machete is a 14” straight back blade made of 1085 high carbon plain tool steel, and is 19.5” overall. This blade is heavier than most other compact machetes as it is ¼” thick, but this creates a machete that is strong and able to chop thicker vegetation. It is advertised with use in all branches of the military. The handle is designed for comfort and made from black kraton g. As a bonus, it also comes with a heavy duty cordura sheath.
10. Cold Steel All Terrain Chopper
This All Terrain Chopper from Cold Steel is a 21.5” blade capable of clearing pretty thick vegetation. At 30.5” overall, this machete is made of 1055 high carbon steel with a baked on black anti-rust finish. The polypropylene handle brings added comfort to your chopping, and this long blade is capable of clearing a variety of vegetation with one motion. It comes with a black cor-ex sheath and lanyard hole for added carrying convenience.
There are several key factors to look for when deciding what machete would be best for your personal use. We’ve narrowed it down to the 4 most important characteristics: Blade Style, Blade Length, Blade Thickness, and Blade Material.
Throughout history, many different cultures created their version of a blade to help in agriculture and survival. Those ancient blade styles have unique characteristics based off the needs of the region they were developed in. In our day, they have all been classified as “machetes” but still provide some of the same benefits of the original design. Ultimately, these styles are based off the tradition of their origin and which style you choose depends greatly on personal preference and what you will use your machete for!
Machetes are generally divided into two main styles, either the lightweight, thin, long blade designs for cutting down soft vegetation, or a thick, heavier, short blade better for chopping wood.
For example, the Panga style was developed in East Africa and the Caribbean. These blades are designed to have all the weight towards the front, which allows the blade to more easily chop woody plants and trees. They also have an extreme point at the front for incisions.
The Barong style comes from the Philippines and has more of the weight of the blade in the middle. These leaf-shaped blades provide more control when swung and was traditionally used in hunting and slaughtering animals.
The Kukri style is found in Nepal. This machete type is more of an all-purpose blade with 3 different sections. The pointed tip for stabbing, the wide blade for chopping which then narrows as it goes into the handle creating a blade good for whittling and carving.
Parang style machetes are also called Golok machetes and came from Indonesia. They have a curved blade much like a scimitar, with the curve on both the spine and the edge. With a thicker blade, this style is great for chopping woody vegetation.
Latin-style machetes originated in Latin America. These blades have a popular straightback blade which creates a more even weight distribution and can easily be sheathed. This style is also referred to as Bush machetes, and is great for cutting down loose vegetation and makes an excellent all-purpose blade.
Bowie machetes were developed in the United States and are named after American Frontiersman Jim Bowie. These blades are characterized by a clip point ideal for skinning animals. This style has become popular among survivalists and hunters.
Weighted/ Heavy style machetes are the best choice for chopping woody or thick vegetation. This blade is weighted toward the top to create its immense chopping power. It is characterized by a dull tip and a flat cutting edge geared towards chopping instead of slicing. This machete is a strong cross between an axe and a knife.
Ultimately, the style of machete you choose should be based off of the tasks you will be doing with your blade.
Machetes vary greatly in size, usually ranging from as small as 10” to longer than 28”. The smaller the blade, the less it will weigh. A shorter blade is easier to control and also easier to wear. A longer blade creates more momentum when swung and can clear a larger area with one swing. However, a long blade creates more of a hassle to transport. The average machete length is around 18”.
The thickness of the machete blade can determine its durability and what type of vegetation or wood you can successfully chop. Most blades are around ⅛” thick. This provides a very thin blade that is easy to maneuver and is ideal for chopping through brush and jungle-like vegetation. However, because the blade is so thin if you try to chop something too thick and strong you run the risk of damaging your blade.
There are machetes that are closer to the ¼” thickness. These blades will be much stronger and can more easily chop woody vines and tree branches. However, the thicker blade means a heavier machete which is more difficult to wield.
Another thing to keep in mind is blade material. Most blades are either made of stainless steel or carbon steel. Carbon steel is more commonly found in machete blades and is an alloy of carbon and iron. The addition of carbon helps make the iron stronger and the blade will stay sharper for a longer period of time. However, because the carbon steel is so strong, it is harder to re-sharpen. Carbon steel is cheaper than stainless steel, but it also can rust and needs to be oiled regularly to prevent moisture from rusting the blade. Because carbon steel is less expensive and stronger, it is most often found in survival and agricultural blades.
Stainless steel is actually carbon steel with nickel and chromium added in. These additional metals create a protective barrier and prevent the steel from rusting. Stainless steel generally requires less maintenance since it is naturally rust-resistant. It is also a softer metal which means it doesn’t hold its edge as well and needs to be sharpened more frequently, however it is easier to sharpen than carbon steel. Stainless steel is more expensive than carbon steel and is usually found in more decorative blades.
To combine the best characteristics of both carbon steel and stainless steel, high-carbon stainless steel has been developed. Blades made of this material have the benefits of a strong metal that holds its edge longer, combined with the rust-resistant benefits of stainless steel. Blades made of high-carbon stainless steel are more expensive, but are a great option for survival purposes.
A machete is a long blade that is ideal for survival situations. It’s no wonder that so many different cultures in completely different regions around the world all developed some version of a “machete” to better help their people to chop vegetation and better cultivate their region in which they lived. These blades have served their purpose for thousands of years, and are a great blade for the modern-day survivalist.