A few weekends ago I headed out to our local swap meet (flea market) to see if I could come across any deals for my survival preps. The place was packed, especially with my favorite kinds of tables – camping items and military surplus. In case you never realized it, these sales can be a gold mine for great survival and prepping gear at a very low cost. I combed through the bins of gear until I found a real gem of a machete, perfect for the Bugout Bag I was assembling for my younger brother. How did I know it was a good blade for the job?
1. Solid Metal. The machete I ended up buying was made out of 440 steel, and the spine (the thick blunt end) of the blade is 1/8″ thick – that’s pretty tough and solid. If you’re able to physically handle a machete before you buy it, knock on it with your knuckles and shake the blade – if it doesn’t sound solid or if the blade looks flimsy, it’s not the best quality.
2. Full Tang. Similar to a quality survival knife, don’t even touch one that isn’t full tang. (the blade and handle are all one solid piece of metal with that piece of metal extending to the end of the handle.) Basically, you don’t want a machete that will end up breaking in your hand due to the fact that it has a handle that only has the metal from the blade going partially through it. With the rest of the handle made of less durable plastic or wood, it won’t hold up as well with out the metal support throughout.
3. “Dummy-cord” ability. ”Dummy-cording” is basically having the ability to have something physically tied to you, making it nearly impossible to lose. This is a good idea for nearly all of your important survival items, especially your machete. Make sure you get a machete that either has a hole at the base of the handle or an area between the sharp part of the blade and the top of the handle for you to tie on some leather straps or even 550 cord. This way you can have a loop for your hand to go through for safety, so you won’t fling your machete through the air if don’t have a tight grip.
4. Design Style. There are multiple different styles of machetes out there and each person will find they feel more connected to one or the other. Personally, I prefer the kukri style of machete. It is very blade-heavy; allowing you to put minimal effort into your swings to cut through whatever you may be hacking at. The thicker, curved part at the front of the blade also makes this chopping part of the blade much stronger because this is the part that you will be using for your heavier jobs such as chopping brush or cutting trees. The skinnier portion of the blade closest to the handle will be able to hold a razor sharp edge and can be used for your more delicate, smaller jobs such as filleting fish. (My personal favorite is the Ka-bar Kukri) However, that’s my personal preference. You may prefer another style, shape, weight or design. So take time to feel it in hand, and consider what tasks you’ll be using the tool for.Like I stated above, my personal favorite is the Ka-bar Kukri (available on Amazon for $44)But other great models that I also enjoy and would suggest are: the Condor Tool and Knife El Salvador Machete , the Ontario 18in Military Machete , or the Ontario SP8 Machete.
Remember, these machetes are just another tool for the survivor. Be sure to practice with whatever materials you have so you’re comfortable with them and always remember to stay safe! Happy Prepping! – Skip