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Best Machetes Reviewed and Tested

last updated Feb 16, 2019

There is no shortage in choice for machetes. It’s an odd kind of market, as the majority of consumers interested in a machete are focused on looks than quality. That’s a pity because the machete has a long and varied history as a vital piece of equipment. With that in mind, there are still many good options for reliable, hard-working tools that you can trust to get the job done; and a little searching soon turns them up. There are several included in this list. And of course, for those that want an imposing-looking model – either for strapping to the belt or for self-defense; there are a few of those options below, also.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 24 hrs of research

icon
 Military – Ontario Knife Co.
96.8/100 our score
Brand
99
Model
98
Accuracy
99
Versatility
99
Value
89
Military – Ontario Knife Co.
Why is it better?

Simple, proven design

Moderate weight for extended use while still heavy enough for tough work

Made in America

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
 Military – Ontario Knife Co.
Test Winner: Military – Ontario Knife Co.
Researched Sources
23
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
72
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
24
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
63
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Shelby Wallace:

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Sorting Options
Brand Model Accuracy Versatility Value By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
Brand
99%
Model
98%
Accuracy
99%
Versatility
99%
Value
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$25.61
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Brand
97%
Model
98%
Accuracy
97%
Versatility
97%
Value
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$68.49
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Brand
95%
Model
94%
Accuracy
94%
Versatility
93%
Value
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$59.31
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Brand
92%
Model
93%
Accuracy
93%
Versatility
93%
Value
83%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$35.00
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Brand
91%
Model
90%
Accuracy
91%
Versatility
90%
Value
81%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$48.99
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Brand
89%
Model
88%
Accuracy
87%
Versatility
87%
Value
79%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$49.38
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.4
Brand
86%
Model
85%
Accuracy
85%
Versatility
84%
Value
77%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$33.99
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81
Brand
84%
Model
83%
Accuracy
81%
Versatility
82%
Value
75%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$43.77
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.4
Brand
80%
Model
78%
Accuracy
77%
Versatility
78%
Value
74%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$87.99
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
75.4
Brand
76%
Model
75%
Accuracy
77%
Versatility
76%
Value
73%
Price Comparison Last Updated (24.03.19)
$33.00
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Military – Ontario Knife Co.
  • Parang – Condor Tools and Knife
  • Golok – Condor Tools and Knife
  • Bear Grylls Parang – Gerber
  • Black Cutlass – Ka-Bar
  • 1249-9 Kukri – Ka-Bar
  • Schrade SCHKM1
  • Kershaw
  • Gator - Gerber
  • SOGFari MC02N - SOG
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Machetes

1. Military – Ontario Knife Co.

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
 Military – Ontario Knife Co.
Brand
99
Model
98
Accuracy
99
Versatility
99
Value
89
best offer for today
$25.61
Pros:

Simple, proven design

Moderate weight for extended use while still heavy enough for tough work

Made in America

Cons:

Sheath sold separately

Let’s be honest – the majority of consumers interested in machetes are posers. This interest in gimmicks quickly floods the market with cool-looking, poor quality products. Not so with Ontario Knife Co. – the only product made in America on the list.

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A Tool, Not a Toy
Ontario Knife Co. has manufactured the 18” military machete to U.S.A government specifications for over 70 years – and this machete is made to do work. There are no flashy looks or trendy handle construction; just high-quality steel and craftsmanship built into every one.

Features and Specifications
18” blade length
1095 carbon steel
1lb 6oz weight
Full Tang
4mm to 2.5mm blade thickness (above the handle to tip)
Made in America

Cost and Value
This is an extremely affordable machete and considering the quality, the best value option on the list. The 18” military machete by Ontario Knife Co. gives the user everything they’d expect from a machete. Ruggedness and reliability are what it’s all about. It’s a pity a sheath isn’t included.

2. Parang – Condor Tools and Knife

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
 Parang – Condor Tools and Knife
Brand
97
Model
98
Accuracy
97
Versatility
97
Value
88
best offer for today
$68.49
Pros:

Heavy-duty blade for rough work

Well-designed for a variety of tasks

Attractive knife and sheath

Cons:

Cost

Condor Tools and Knife went all out in the construction of their Parang. It’s an attractive piece of equipment and well-made. This blade design is for heavy duty work and is made to be a well-balanced chopper.

Read more

For an Elegant Blade
Condor put effort into the construction of their machetes. The Parang features a slim-line and sweeping curved blade; putting the weight towards the end for good chopping power. The long blade gives the user plenty of reach.

Features and Specifications
5” blade
1075 high carbon steel
1/4” down to 3/16” blade thickness
92 lb
full tang
wooden handle with replaceable soft pads
leather sheath
Made in El Salvador

Cost andValue
The Condor Parang is expensive for a tool intended for the toughest work. That being said – the quality of the product up its value and this would be a good choice for serious expedition work.
This is a well-made machete with a versatile design. Not intended for light-duty brush trimming; choose this blade for heavy chopping work where reach is required.

3. Golok – Condor Tools and Knife

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Golok – Condor Tools and Knife
Brand
95
Model
94
Accuracy
94
Versatility
93
Value
85
best offer for today
$59.31
Pros:

Versatile, strong blade design

Quality wooden handle for good grip

Attractive knife and sheath

Cons:

This is a rather expensive option

Here’s another top contender from Condor Tools and Knife. This is the smaller brother of the Parang and has a similar, but more robust, blade. Condor’s good looks and quality stand out and it’s a nifty worker.

Read more

Short and Choppy
The Golok is shorter than the Parang, with the blade coming in at 14”. This gives a blade that’s a little easier to control while retaining the weight and strength in its steel.

Features and Specifications
14” blade
1075 high carbon steel
1/4” down to 1/16” blade thickness
3 lb
full tang
wooden handle with replaceable soft pads
leather sheath
Made in El Salvador

Cost and Value
This is the most expensive machete in this list. Don’t let that turn you off though, as this is a likely result of popularity and demand. Great value for a machete that’ll go the distance and always be reliable. The Condor Golok is a good all-rounder machete. Its cost may be the deciding factor, but it’s a good investment.

4. Bear Grylls Parang – Gerber

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
 Bear Grylls Parang – Gerber
Brand
92
Model
93
Accuracy
93
Versatility
93
Value
83
best offer for today
$35.00
Pros:

Affordable

Comfortable handle

The blade is short

Cons:

Made in China

Isn’t full tang

There’s nothing outstandingly special about this parang from Gerber, but it sure is popular! It’s an inexpensive tool that’s well suited to chopping things – just don’t rely on it in the wilderness. Remember, Bear makes TV shows; not scientific discoveries!

Read more

Affordable All-rounder
The Gerber parang won’t break the bank. It’s got weight enough to chop well, but not enough for real heavy-duty work. For a variety of tasks, it’ll perform perfectly.

Features and Specifications
5” blade
1/8” blade thickness
9 lb
textured rubber grip
lanyard cord
sheath

Cost and Value
The Gerber parang is affordable but isn’t the cheapest on the market. However, for a shorter bladed machete, this is a choice that many will be happy with. The Bear Grylls parang offers users an affordable machete that won’t take up too much space in a pack or on the belt. It’s a good option for anyone on a budget.

5. Black Cutlass – Ka-Bar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Black Cutlass – Ka-Bar
Brand
91
Model
90
Accuracy
91
Versatility
90
Value
81
best offer for today
$48.99
Pros:

Comfortable in hand

Forward distribution of weight

Great design for chopping

Cons:

Poor sheath design

The Ka-Bar Black Cutlass is another short machete. The cutlass style blade puts weight where it’s needed – towards the end – making chopping work more efficient.

Read more

An Ergonomic Favorite
The Black Cutlass fits the hand well thanks to the design of the handle and the materials used. The blade design compliments this and makes for a short, effective chopper.

Features and Specifications
11” blade
1085 carbon steel
5/32” blade thickness
12 lb
full tang
sheath

Cost and Value
This is mid-range in price. It’s probably the best value short-blade machete in this list due to the simple and efficient blade design. The machete is designed to do hard work.

6. 1249-9 Kukri – Ka-Bar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
1249-9 Kukri – Ka-Bar
Brand
89
Model
88
Accuracy
87
Versatility
87
Value
79
best offer for today
$49.38
Pros:

Known for sharpness out-of-the-box

Good weight distribution

Durable and rugged

Cons:

Made in Taiwan

Blade finish doesn’t last

The Ka-Bar Kukri is another popular choice for a shorter machete. It offers plenty of weight to chop; and the blade design gives versatility through the pointed tip, broad cutting section and finer section near the hilt for whittling/shaving.

Read more

Short and Stocky
The Kukri offers plenty of punch, weighing in at 1.7 lb in a blade only 11.5” long. This machete is well suited to a variety of tasks.

Features and Specifications
5” blade
1085 carbon steel
3/16 down to 1/8” blade thickness
7 lb
full tang
sheath

Cost and Value
The Ka-Bar Kukri is on the expensive end for what it is. There are better value machetes out there, but the price comes with the name. It fits into the shorter machete niche and is relatively well regarded.

It fits into the shorter machete niche and is relatively well regarded. It’s a good worker.

7. Schrade SCHKM1

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.4
Schrade SCHKM1
Brand
86
Model
85
Accuracy
85
Versatility
84
Value
77
best offer for today
$33.99
Pros:

Ergonomic and efficient blade design

Great balance in the hand

Thick blade

Cons:

Doesn’t retain edge well

Reported blade failures

The Schrade SCHKM1 is an attractive machete that keeps things simple. It offers good design.

Read more

Shoulder it
The Schrade offers a shoulder-belt sheath – which is a good idea for keeping the machete out of the way when wandering around in the brush. It also comes with a sharpener and Ferro-rod fire starter for the survivalist.

Features and Specifications
3” blade
3CR13 stainless steel
44 lb
full tang
safety grip handle
shoulder sheath
sharpener and Ferro-rod included

Cost and Value
It is quite affordable and offers reasonable value for money in the shorter end of machetes. This is a decent machete for the price and looks the part. The shoulder sheath and included sharpener and Ferro-rod fire starter sweeten the deal.

8. Kershaw

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81
 Kershaw
Brand
84
Model
83
Accuracy
81
Versatility
82
Value
75
best offer for today
$43.77
Pros:

Blade holds an edge well

Comfortable to use

Well balanced knife

Cons:

Not technically full tang blade

Blades are sometimes faulty

The Kershaw 10” machete fits into the dual category of machete/knife. This blade won’t get in the way. The Kershaw 10” machete is a short blade ‘crossover’ between knife and machete. It’s a good choice for light work and odd-jobs around camp, but don’t choose it for heavy-duty clearing.

Read more

Mix and Match
The Kershaw fills the gap between pocket knife and machete because of its size. Keep it sharp and it’ll perform a variety of cutting tasks or try putting it to work chopping and trimming.

Features and Specifications
10” blade
65Mn steel
1/4” blade thickness
1 lb 3 oz
Powder coated blade
rubber handle molded over the tang
sheath

Cost and Value
This is another mid-range machete. The Kershaw is appreciated for its ergonomic design but value-for-money is mid-range too.

9. Gator - Gerber

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.4
 Gator - Gerber
Brand
80
Model
78
Accuracy
77
Versatility
78
Value
74
best offer for today
$87.99
Pros:

Low cost

Well-made for light work

Low weight

Cons:

The blade isn’t full tang

The sheath doesn’t have a belt loop

The Gerber Gator is the budget-minded option for those after a solid machete. This comes at the cost of some features, but never-the-less you’ll get your money’s worth out of it.

Read more

A Light Blade for Light Work
The Gator weighs in at 1.1 lb which is the lightest knife on the list. This makes it great for those who can’t swing all day. It also makes it effective for light work, and the thinner blade is effective in this regard.

Features and Specifications
18” blade
1 lb
nylon sheath

Cost and Value
The value of this machete comes through low cost. For a light-duty, knock-around knife you can’t really go wrong. While it may not have the bells and whistles of some of the other contenders, the Gerber Gator offers enough utility and value to make the top ten list.

10. SOGFari MC02N - SOG

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
75.4
 SOGFari MC02N - SOG
Brand
76
Model
75
Accuracy
77
Versatility
76
Value
73
best offer for today
$33.00
Pros:

Low cost

Comfortable grip

Low weight

Cons:

Lower quality construction and components

The SOGFari offers another budget, long-bladed machete. It also features a serrated saw edge on the spine of the blade.

Read more

A Budget Package
Offering a long blade for added reach, and with a straight blade design for simplicity, the SOG is another budget choice for the prospective buyer.

Features and Specifications
18” blade
3CR13 stainless steel
8 lb
serrated saw edge
sheath

Cost and Value
SOG definitely has its followers, and for those wanting a machete that looks the part, this might be the choice. If you’re after a hard-working tool, however, you’d be better choosing another machete from the list.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Brand

Where a knife is made tells the buyer a lot about what to expect from it. Most machetes are produced in China – which is fine – but the steels commonly used are of variable quality. That’s why the number one on the list is a knife made in the U.S.A – you just know what to expect from steel produced there.

Model

The type of steel used in manufacture is important for all knives – and machetes are no different. They have certain requirements from the steel used for the blade if they are to perform adequately. Steels of increased hardness – generally those with a high percentage of carbon – are a must for any machete to stand up to regular use.

Accuracy

The tang of a machete is the extension of the blade fitting into the handle. For a tool that experienced a great deal of shock and jarring blows, a full tang that extends through the entire length of the handle is best, as there is an extremely low chance of failure. Blades that don’t have a full tang are liable to break free of the handle, rendering the machete useless.

Versatility

It’s important to cover the range of blade lengths in order to provide useful choices for varied applications. Long blades, up to 18”, are bordering on swords and are restricted to heavy-duty chopping and brush-clearing. Indeed, they are perfectly suited to this task. However, many machete users are looking for a more versatile brush-cutter and wood-chopper – and for this task short blades are best. These machetes with a blade length of 10 to 15 inches make accurate and fast chopping – a far safer option for work completed close to the body or in a crowded camp site.

Value

You get what you pay for, always. The important considerations for machetes in steel quality – this is the most regulating factor in machete performance. Spending money on quality steel will ensure that you get a tool designed to work and last well into the future.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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#2
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#3
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#4
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#5
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Outdoors and survival

The machete is very useful when clearing places where you are going to set up camp, whether you are going camping, fishing, or hunting. If you have a tent, the tool will be used to clear the land and if you are planning to make your shelter from three branches, the same tool will help you cut the poles and branches you will use to make the shelter or your shade.

Uses in agriculture

The machete is a common tool in many tropical and sub-tropical countries where is often used for clearing paths through the undergrowth common in rain forests. Common use in agriculture is in the cutting of sugarcane during the harvesting season. Farmers growing trees also use the tool to clear the woodlot on the undergrowth which can take away valuable nutrients from the trees they are growing for commercial purposes.

Keeping the blade sharp

Even though the edge of your machete does not need to be razor sharp, it still needs to be sharp enough to cut. To keep the blade sharp, you can either take yours to the knife shop or do it at home. How sharp you make yours will depend on how you want to use it. If you are going to sharpen the tool at home, you will need to get a standard sharpening stone.

Cleaning the blade

The tips we give above will keep the machete in great condition, but it’s possible that you’ve already made a mistake and left it to accumulate some rust and dirt. Even though restoring it to the state in which it was when new may be difficult, it’s still possible. One of the common methods of cleaning the blade is to use a citrus-based paint remover.

Safety Tips

Basically, machete safety comprises three elements: swinging the tool, holding it, and carrying it around. Before swinging the machete, check your surroundings to make sure that its clear and there is no one behind you. The major causes of accidents is a swing that has been deflected by an object the user is not conscious of.

Other Factors to Consider

Protection

It’s important that you take care when choosing storage for your machete. Find a place which is dry, as moisture is the machete blade’s number one enemy. If you find out some rust is starting to form, it could be an indication that the area was you have placed the tool has some moisture. Clean off the rust using the tips given above and find a new place to store the machete. While some people would advise that the machete should be kept inside a sheath when not in use, this could be a disadvantage as it is possible that moisture can accumulate inside and lead to rust. If you still think that it is a good idea to keep it in the sheath, apart from oiling it, ensure that you check the blade at regular intervals. It is important to ensure that you keep the machete out of the reach of people to whom it could be a danger.

Bottom Line

There are so many machetes on the market that it can be hard to narrow down to a single choice. The list included here offers a range of machetes suitable to a variety of tasks, and makes the search that much easier. Decide what you’re going to use the machete for and base your choice on that, bearing in mind that quality steel is always best for a hard-working machete.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Do all machetes come with a full tang?
a:

No. It’s important to find out whether a machete has a full tang as this is a big factor in the resilience of the knife. Full tang options are always better than half-tang.

q: Will my machete cut down small trees?
a:

It’s a common question, and a difficult one to answer. It depends on the type of machete to start. Those with thin blades aren’t designed for this kind of work – they’re better suited to softer materials. Thick bladed machetes, especially those with long blades, are fully capable of chopping down the odd tree – but don’t start hacking into a giant! Machetes aren’t axes – they can only do what they were designed to do. A trick is to work on your swing and timing, using the momentum of the blade to cut – rather than attacking a tree with all the power you can muster. You’ll tire yourself out, and probably fracture the blade.

q: Will it come sharp?
a:

It’ll come sharp enough for a machete. These tools aren’t designed to be razor sharp for a reason. The sharper an edge is, the finer it is – which is easiest to chip or bend over. A machete should have a suitably wedge-shaped edge that it can withstand chopping into things. By all means, keep the machete sharp, but maintain this robust edge for best performance.

q: Should I get a heavy one?
a:

Again, it depends on the intended use. If you can’t swing your machete without wearing yourself out, then perhaps it’s too heavy. But weight is good at transferring energy efficiently, meaning that you have to work less. Heavy blades are better for heavy work and lots of cutting. Lighter blades are better for finer work and light-duty brush trimming.

q: Does it have a double edge?
a:

Most machetes have one cutting edge. This is somewhat safer, as swinging a double-bladed, 18” knife around can cause all sorts of damage to the user and those around them. For most cutting work, one blade is all you need anyway. There are certainly specialized designs that have two edges, made for cutting through light jungle vegetation and grass.

q: What does it mean when it says a machete is full tang?
a:

The term “full tang” means that the knife/machete is one solid piece and the 2 handle pieces are pinned onto the blade, one on each side. This creates a stronger knife/machete blade, rather than two pieces (blade and handle) fused or fastened together. Full tang is the strongest of tang types. For example, half-tang machetes go to the length of the handle, but only half the width of it. Overall, it is a weaker design.

q: What is a push tang?
a:

Push tang can be found as both full tang and half tang. It is when the tang portion of the blade is set into the handle and held with a glue of some sort. A knife can be half push, which means it only goes into half of the handle while a full push would be the entire whole way down the handle.

q: What is Rat Tail Tang?
a:

With this tang, the tang narrows as it goes, sort of emulating the tail of a rat. As it enters the handle it gets thinner. The end will either have threads to be screwed into place or some can be found held in place with a weld.

Sources

  1. Editing Team, Extreme Survival,
  2. Editing Team, Knife Anatomy 101,
  3. Editing Team, Machetes Buying Guide,