Try a machete

by mcazazza

I'm not going to go into a particular brand, but I would like people to consider the use of the machete because of it's use factor. I realize it's more to carry.

However, one can hack your way through dense foliage and even cut trees with it due to it's mass and it's not expensive.. give one a try ...

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The truth about survival knives

by Shane Jones
(gunflinttrail, mn. USA)

I have spent the better part of 20 years living in the great north woods (BWCA), fulltime. Developing my bushcraft skills with my vary life hanging in the balance. I depend on my blades to keep me alive and I do stress the plural blades.

The perfect combination of steel is simply this, a large full tang 10"to12" knife/machete crossover, a smaller 5"to7" full tang knife to be used as a backup blade to the bigger knife. Also to be used for smaller more delicate tasks, also with this smaller blade a design with handguard holes which allows it to be used as a spear.

A tomahawk/frontier style hawk, a folding saw, and a multitool. This is without a doubt the perfect combination of steel and will serve every purpose needed, and will weigh only 3 pounds altogether.

I would highly recommend the coldsteel 12" bowie machete knife, coldsteel bushman, coldsteel trailhawk, gerber field saw, and leatherman pulse multitool.

With these lightweight tools (3lbs.) you will be able to survive easily in any wilderness. Providing you possess the knowledge of how to use these tools. All good medicine.

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Survival machete

by Death Blades Dave

For camping, multi-day hiking and general survival my blades are limited to just these two. An Ontario 22" bladed machete with a modified handle and an old 1996 original Gerber Gator clip-point folder. I will generally tote around a SOG powerlock multitool but I don't count that as a knife.

The machete had been modded along the spine and blade edges to perform many specific tasks but the Gator is just a plain edge folder made of 420HC stainless and is as tough as I would ever need. Together they make for a total package without spending crazy money on super-steel combat knives.

You never hear of Jim Bowie shopping around for a tool steel blade. :)

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Outdoorsman machete

by Bruce
(Las Vegas, NV)

For about 40 years I've carried a Boy Scout style pocket knife and a large sheath knife. For about 25 years it has been the Marine K-Bar. The last 3 backpacking trips I've carried a 12 in. machete instead of the K-Bar. I love it. It does a great job with chopping/splitting.

Most of my knife use is still the pocket knife though. It does most everything I need it to but for the large knife I'm becoming a big fan of the 12 machete.

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All around survival knife

by Joe Aycock
(Rome, Georgia)

My idea of the perfect all around survival knife would be a plain 12 inch machete. It's small and light enough to carry easily, cheap and available just about anywhere, and is far more versatile that most of the so-called "survival/tactical" knives selling for hundreds of dollars more. You can cot, chop, hammer, scrape, and dig with it, and even use it as a weapon if the need should arise.

A 12 inch machete, in combination with a Leatherman Wave or Supertool, should handle just about anything that you would be likely to run into in a survival situation.

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Gerber Gator Machete Junior vs Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete

by DarylD
(Atlanta, Georgia)

Gerber Gator Machete Junior and Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete

Gerber Gator Machete Junior and Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete

Gerber Gator Machete Junior and Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete
Gerber Gator Machete Junior
Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete

I’ve wanted to add a good machete to the EDC survival box. I wanted something compact, as most machetes are quite long. I have a military machete that has served me well, but I wanted something that would serve in close quarters and that would also serve as a chopping tool. In other words, I needed sticking power.

I have two Gerber machetes; The Gerber Gator Junior and the longer Gerber Gator Machete. Both machetes are light and, in some cases, light is not good. I wanted something with a little more oomph to it. Enter the Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete.

So, and since two of these machetes are close in length I decided to write this quick “Cut-Out” between the two machetes; The Gerber Gator Junior and the Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete.

First a word about machete safety:

When carrying a machete, pros always tuck the blade between their upper arm and their chest, with the handle projecting out the front. This way, if you slip you aren't going to seriously harm yourself.

Use a sheath to prevent harm, even a taped and folded piece of cardboard will suffice. Keep your machete in the sheath until you are ready to use it.

We recommend wearing eye protection, gloves, steel-toed boots, and long pants when using a machete. Have a first-aid kit around, and always try to be aware of your body's relationship to the blades trajectory.

Always check to make sure the area within range of your swing is clear and that nobody, or nothing, is standing behind you. Often damage happens when the swing is interrupted by an unseen object.

Always keep the edge away from yourself and others and be especially careful of your legs and feet while cutting brush in front of you.

If you are tired, rest before continuing. Fatigue produces injuries. Switching hands may be OK, but only if you are decently coordinated with your opposing arm. Try cutting backhand, away from your body, with your weaker arm.

Do not hack perpendicularly into the object you are chopping. Hack at a 45 degree angle, alternating between chopping in opposite directions to remove slices of material, opening a gap. This prevents the machete from becoming embedded and stuck in thick, woody vegetation.

The Gerber Gator Machete Junior:

The Gerber Gator Machete Junior is Gerber’s answer to a short-bladed machete that can be used in close quarters. Weighing in at a measly 1.5 lbs and a total length of 18.75 inches, the Gerber Gator Machete Junior is a hard machete to beat.

The handle is the legendary Gerber material that provides a very firm grip even when the hands are wet from perspiration in when in a rainstorm. The handle is formed such that you can rest the thumb on top of the grip to add some leverage to the chopping action.

The blade consists of a cutting blade and a saw blade. The blade comes sharp from the factory and can clear saw-grass pretty quickly. On 1” branches the Gerber does a pretty good job of chopping through the branch. I gave it a pretty good workout on a stubborn Rose of Sharon bush that has plagued my yard for awhile and it did a good job of cutting through the bases of the branches.

This is one machete that you want to keep the blade sharp. The blade is stiff, but it will bend. The shorter blade of the “Gator Junior” machete has fewer tendencies to bend than its bigger brother but bend it will. If the blade is not sharp, you may find it going toward places that you don’t want it to go as there is not enough weight of the blade for the edge to really dig in if the blade needs sharpening and if the blade bounces off the work. In other words, keep all of your extremities behind the blade.

The saw blade is sharp and easily cut through a 2” Crepe Myrtle branch due to its crosscut saw pattern. The handle, as with the cutting position, allow you to position a thumb against the handle to obtain a good grip. This is one machete that you don’t want your hand to slipping up on the blade.

Overall, the Gerber Gator Machete Junior is a good machete and can be useful in clearing in close quarters. It comes with a riveted, nylon sheath that provides safe, durable transport. The blade is High carbon steel and should be oiled to prevent rust.

I usually carry Smith's DCS4 4" FINE & COARSE Diamond Combo Sharpening Stones with me when I’m working with sharp blades as it very easy to carry and you can dress a dull blade up in a heartbeat. The sharpening system is self contained and takes up no space at all.

If you had to use this machete as a defensive tool, I would be wary in doing so. In a blade-back position this would place the saw blade in line with the fore-arm. Should the blade be pushed back toward you there is going to be some serious damage to your arm. SO, I would not play jungle warrior with this tool.

This tool is made in China, but is of good quality.

The Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete:

At 17” overall, the Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete can easily be tossed in the survival box, stowed in a backpack, or carried on your belt with not too much difficulty.

I’m not going to cut (pardon the pun) any slack here; the Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete is a workhorse. It doesn’t have a saw blade and it doesn’t need one, as it will chop through just about anything reasonable that you can put in front of it.

At 1.46 lbs, it feels heavier than the Gerber Gator Machete Junior’s one and a half pounds. The machete definitely has heft to it and you can feel the weight is forward in the widest part of the blade. Kukris are legendary in their cutting power and this Kukri-styled machete is no exception.

You use the widest part of the blade for chopping while using the wrist to provide leverage to the chopping stroke. The narrow part of the blade can be used for scraping and finer cutting actions, but should not be used for shopping.

The Ergonomically shaped Kraton G thermoplastic elastomer handle takes care of the business of keeping you hand away from the blade.

The downside of this machete, I feel, is the sheath. The sheath is a combination of leather and nylon with two straps that hold the blade in the sheath. If one is not careful, the straps could be cut placing the machete back into the sheath or when removing it from the sheath. I would have rather seen a more conventional holster for this machete. The sheath has a plastic D-ring for a thigh strap. A metal D-ring attaches the sheath to a leather strap that is slid onto a belt for carrying purposes. I would have liked to seen a Kydex shaped holster with a nylon outer covering. With a Kukri, you really have to pay attention to where your fingers are when drawing and inserting the blade – always behind the blade - always behind the blade. Did I say always keep your fingers behind the blade?

The design of the blade lends it self to use as a self defense tool, as in the blade back position there is no possibly of cutting the forearm as with the Gerber Gator Machete Junior. Because of the mass of the blade, using a blade back position to a figure-8 cutting pattern could do some serious damage to anything the cutting edge comes into contact with.

As with the Gerber Gator Machete Junior the blade is carbon steel and must be treated to prevent rust.


I have to give the edge (pun intended) to the Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete.

With the specs that follow, it’s a clear winner:

Product Features:

Surviving the toughest field testing, the Kukri boasts excellent test results in chopping and basic field use. Perfect for chopping down weeds, clearing a camp site or cutting small limbs and tree branches.


Weight - 1.26 lbs.; Blade Length - 11-1/2"; Overall Length - 17"
Shape - Kukri; Stamp - Taiwan; Edge Angle - 20 degrees; Steel - 1085 Carbon; Grind - Hollow; Handle Material - Ergonomically shaped Kraton G thermoplastic elastomer
Made in Taiwan

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