quality machete,
Photo by Bob Campbell
A quality machete is a versatile tool for any outdoorsman, prepper, or survivalist.

A quality machete is a formidable tool for cutting vegetation and making your way through rough terrain. The machete is used in a slapping motion to push aside vegetation but may also be used as a chopper. It may also be used as a deadly edged weapon. As an example during the revolution in Cuba against the Spaniards many farmers went into battle with the machete, among the few weapons they had. Later Cuban police carried the machete much as cops in the United States deployed a night stick. The machete was used to slap with the broad flat but could be turned into action as a short sword if need be. The Cuban police also practiced a maneuver in which a squad of officers presented a wall of slashing machetes for use in crowd control. No one wanted to approach that wall of steel!

What is a Machete?

A quality machete is about as long as a short sword but not as thick and  made of thinner steel. While the machete is often seen in movies where the main protagonist may be hacking his way through the Amazon the machete is useful for more mundane chores. As an example I once cleared a field and a homestead that had been neglected for years. Vines and brush were all about, and the machete was used as a harrow of this tangle. It was some time and hard work as well before I could get to what needed to be chopped with the axe and hatchet. A machete is a poor ax but great for clearing vines and brush.

Machete in Use

I read a story by Elmer Keith of how a man clearing brush in Alaska was attacked by a bear. While a compatriot fired a .45 that slowed the bear down, the coupe de grace was delivered with a hand ax to the skull. If you are clearing brush and attacked by a feral dog or coyote the machete would serve providing it is a quality tool. Nine times out of then, however, the machete will be used for more mundane chores. I like the machete because it hacks like nothing else when clearing a trail.

Chopping More Difficult Material

My machete has also been used to chop wood, mostly kindling but some pretty big limbs along the way. An ax is better but then it depends on what the chore is. I once left my hatchet at home and used a Collins machete to chop wood by driving the machete through the wood with another large, heavy limb. Not exactly a survival story but it worked for me for gathering enough wood for a modest camp fire.

Staying the Distance

A quality machete is among the best personal defense weapons available in an edged tool, far more formidable than any folding knife or fixed blade knife. The machete is heavier and exhibits much more momentum when it is swung. The axe is too heavy and the hatchet unwieldy. The machete keeps some distance between you and the threat. Even a 12 inch machete is more formidable and a knife, and an 18 inch machete better. Consider the terrible reputation gained by the Philippine bolo during the Moro war.


The knife or field hatchet are easier to carry. The axe will do more work with less exertion. But the machete is still a very useful tool and one I would not wish to be without.

A Quality Machete

I suspect some of you reading this may think a machete could never be useful as your experience is with flea market/discount store machetes. Commonly available for 10 to 20 dollars they are made of thin material and the edge, once gone, is very difficult to re-sharpen. The blade and handle are so cheap it actually hurts when you attempt to chop wood. A Linder machete is first quality and may be found for twenty five to thirty five dollars at many outlets.

Occasionally an Ontario or Collins field machete has came across my path. These are excellent tools that are useful. Be certain to obtain a quality sheath that doesn’t rebound constantly as you walk or hike. The Linder is among the finest yet offered, with three snaps and a another security strap across the handle. It will not leave the sheath until the top two snaps are unfastened. The machete will serve well, choose a well made machete and use it hard.

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