I vividly remember the zombie craze that took the machete market by storm a few years back. No other blade manufacturer nailed the zombie killer game like Kabar. Despite the fad dying out almost immediately, it contributed to my collection. In fact, I want to share my thoughts about a really good machete knife. So, I hope you enjoy my Kabar Swabbie review.
Super-sharp and battle-ready, this machete is here to stay! And it does just that, it has been on the market for many years. I heard good things about it, but let’s go through all of them.
KABAR Swabbie Summary
Strong steel, resistant handle material, solid construction.
Cro-Van 1095 is tough. More durable than carbon steel.
Razor-sharp blade, from hard steel that maintains an edge.
Great balance, comfortable grip. Easy to control.
Amazing cutting tool. Not so great at chopping.
Very low priced, accessible to the wide public.
- Tough steel that can absorb damage.
- Razor-sharp, superior cutting ability.
- Battle ready, sharp, full-tang.
- Amazing design, shape, aesthetics.
- Accessible price.
- Not very good at chopping.
- Quite heavy for a small machete.
- Kabar doesn’t produce these anymore.
Overall rating: 4.5 / 5
The Kabar Swabbie is an awesome machete. If you check some of the videos in this post, you will be amazed. I think this is one of the best survival blades the market has to offer. I heard some news that Kabar was pulling it from production, but you can still find it on Amazon.
When I first saw the blade, I knew it was going to be mine at one point! My mind was already making financial plans for the next month. I just had to have it… It appeared to be the perfect cutlass-machete combo. I liked it even before I glanced over its feature specs. A week later, a courier delivered it to my door. And now, after a few years, I am writing my Kabar Swabbie review – I hope you find it helpful!
Like other Kabar knives, this model features a long, fixed blade stretching approximately 12.5 inches (about 32 cm). They make it from the powerful 1095 Cro-Van steel, a good choice because it is very hard to keep a narrow, sharp edge for a very long time.
Cro-Van is much stronger and tougher than its carbon-steel counterpart with the same carbon content. It contains added elements to fix the molecular micro-structural defects that affect normal steel. The risk of crack-lines and chipping is greatly lowered. Cro-Van 1095 can withstand more abuse and rough play. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can break rocks with it! But at least you won’t have to worry about any Xenomorph:
This scimitar-like blade is sharp and versatile with a stark piercing point and a deep slicing belly.
Zombie survival has become a sport recently with all the movies, TV series, and games. There are even training camps that prepare you for the zombie apocalypse. I never took them seriously, and I felt like these anti-zombie gadgets were just toys. But the Kabar Swabbie defies the norm. It is functional, and you can use it in many outdoor applications.
The ergonomic handle is made from GFN PA-66 (Glass Filled Nylon), a resistant, non-slippery material – it doesn’t scratch, break, or damage easily. That vivid, toxic green fits well with the black coating that covers the steel blade. Here is a general look and feel of this tool:
The Kabar Swabbie comes with a few extra accessories: a Molle compatible sheath, a small Acheron skeleton knife, and a zombie patch. The utility pocket knife is useful for peeling fruit, preparing food, while the Swabbie helps with more demanding tasks like outdoor camping, chopping wood, etc. These two knives complement each other nicely. It is great that KABAR offers a complete pack of survival blades, ready to go.
The company produces these machetes in the United States. For the rest of this review, I may refer to the Kabar Swabbie as knife or machete. Just know that I am talking about the same item.
There are many things I want to tell you, but before we begin, let’s have this specification list as a reference guide. This is what our Zombie Scimitar has to offer. Click the image to see the product on Amazon for more details.
The product comes with a toxic-green handle, but in the box, you will find additional black scales.
I love the bright green ones, but that’s just me. The sheath has three pouches: for the machete, for a small knife, and a big one for other tools. It’s got everything you need to be prepared.
- General: Fixed blade, full-tang, sharp and battle-ready.
- Material Blade: 1095 Cro-Van steel
- Material Handle: GFN PA-66
- Material Sheath: Black nylon sheath
- Color & Finish: Black Mat (blade) / Black or Toxic Green (handle)
- Blade & Edge: Flat-grind, 20-degree angle
- Steel Hardness: 56-58 (Rockwell Scale)
- Length Overall: 18″ (45.7 cm)
- Length Blade: 12.5″ (31.7 cm)
- Length Handle: 5.5″ (14 cm)
- Thickness Blade: 0.25″ (63 mm)
- Weight: 1 lbs. 9 oz (726 gr)
There is also the extra Acheron knife, which features a skeleton handle. It is small, well-suited for precise work. It measures 6 3/8 inches (16.3 cm) overall, with a short 3-inch blade (7.6 cm).
Kabar Swabbie Review
As an outdoors person, I like to think of myself of being modestly knowledgeable about swords and machetes. For starters, I wanted a survival blade that can carry out the basic work essential for life outdoors.
And this machete outshines most products within a similar price range. The only place it falls short is chopping – the backward blade doesn’t seem suited for that, I prefer kukris. That is my opinion at least, others do not seem to share my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing against branches and bushes, but I would not try to split big chunks of wood.
Whatever it lacks in chopping, it more than makes up for in cutting and slicing. The Kabar Swabbie is a decent machete for camping and outdoor crafting.
It can function as a first-aid accessory. Or just a tool for making kindling for the fire, hunting and skinning, self-defense and much more. Next, I will list a few things I had to check before deciding to buy.
That video summarizes in a nutshell what this amazing knife can do. If it can shave off your arm hair, then it’s razor-sharp.
Size – Is the Swabbie Too Short?
Size matters. As for a machete, I know for sure that bigger isn’t always better. In my garage kit, I have both big and small blades. Obviously, when I go on a trip, I don’t bring all of them – it’s a matter of personal mood!
From my experience, big blades sacrifice efficiency in detailed tasks. They lack cutting precision, and you can’t really use them for carving wood or skinning game. Their blades aren’t as sharp. But you can use them in heavy, intensive work, even chopping down trees.
Small blades don’t perform well in rugged tasks such as chopping or batoning wood. Batoning is a method of chopping big chunks of wood by driving the blade through it (repeatedly striking it on the spine, so it bites through the wood, splitting the chunk). You need a decently tough machete for batoning.
Having worked with survival knives and machetes, I figured out my personal preferences. I usually opt for a blade between 13 to 15 inches (32 – 38 cm). The Swabbie blade measures about 12.5 inches, a bit short for my taste – but I still love it for many other reasons.
Fixed Blade Is Better
My thoughts aside, what do you really want to do with your survival knife? Are you looking for something that can help you around your house, or in the garden, or in the wild? Do you want a versatile machete, adaptable in a wider array of tasks?
If your focus is on survival, all you need is a resilient cutter and chopper that can handle tough tasks such as crafting, cutting and hunting. A fixed-blade machete is just the kind of tool you need.
Fixed-blades are full-tang, and they are more durable and reliable compared to folding knives. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need those as EDC accessories (every day carry). Luckily, the Kabar Swabbie already comes with such an item, the Acheron skeleton knife.
Good, Sturdy Full-Tang
Your survival knife should be full-tang as well (fixed-blade can only take you so far). Full-tang means the blade stretches through the handle, up to the pommel. That way, when you strike hard objects with heavy force, the steel blade doesn’t break at the neck of the handle.
I would not have written the Kabar Swabbie Review without mentioning the tang and handle. Full-tang knives are more robust compared to partial-tangs such as push-tang, rat-tail, and half-tang.
In my early days, I did not see this as an important factor (I was mesmerized only by aesthetics, not by functionality). But over time, I realized that partial-tangs loosen and begin to wiggle in the handle, especially if used repeatedly in demanding tasks. Once the partial-tang machete loosens, it is dangerous to work with it – higher risk of accidents.
Full-tang machetes and knives stay fully functional for a long time. Even if the scales come off, you can use cordage for additional grip and comfort.
Sharp, Pointy Tip
Most machetes have an angled, rounded, hooked or straight tip. I wrote an entire article about the different machete types, their uses, and applications. We can tell them apart by design, shape, and size.
But the Kabar Swabbie is unique, in fact, the reason it captured my attention in the first place was because of its outlandish shape. It looked like a miniature-sized scimitar – cute but fierce!
I admit I would have liked it a bit bigger, but this machete is so well-adjusted and functional… And the backwardly curved blade features a pointy tip, which may be useful depending on the application. The design is user-friendly because the piercing tip extends its functionality.
Maybe because of ergonomics, the tip provides higher functionality compared to a kukri. It is perfect for preparing edibles: carving, skinning, cracking walnuts, acorns, pine nuts.
One thing I want to point out in my Kabar Swabbie review: There are so many small improvements they made to this machete:
- Backwardly-curved blade for easy slashing and cutting.
- The piercing, pointy tip makes skinning game and preparing food much faster.
- Flat side for batoning and down-pushing the blade.
- Ergonomic handle for a comfortable grip.
All machetes are single-edged. This makes them more versatile: the flat side is a good spot to grip, push, pull, depending on what you want to do with it. It is like using a kitchen knife to chop an onion. It even reduces the risk of injury.
What Other People Say
Now you know how I feel about this machete. When I saw it, it grabbed my attention and as I read about it more I became convinced that despite a few drawbacks, it’s a good tool to have. Here is a short demo:
But a true Kabar Swabbie review cannot be complete without going in deeper, to check other users’ experiences. For starters, I will point out this machete has a very positive rating online (mostly 4 and 5-star reviews). That is always a good sign – it means that many people have bought it and did not find anything wrong with the product (maybe I am exaggerating a bit).
I am going to give you a general consensus. So, here is what people liked: It is a high-quality survival tool. A heavy-duty blade with a razor-sharp edge, befitting a zombie apocalypse.
Usually, the most common complaint about utility swords is they are “not sharp enough”. I did not see a single bad remark about this Swabbie not being sharp. Now, honestly, this is a first! It means Kabar really set a high standard for sharpening this tool.
Check out more Amazon user reviews on this link, to see how they rated the cutting ability of this machete.
My Final Thoughts
Buying the Kabar Swabbie was a good decision, and I saw many similar opinions in the online blade community.
As other buyers have outlined, it is impressive, sharp out of the box and magnificent.
It is a good and trustworthy travel companion, enabling you to simplify otherwise daunting tasks.
Being well informed in this sector, I think the considerations I made before making the purchase are crucial for any outdoor enthusiast looking for a good survival knife. If you are interested in some of our other reviews, check out this top 10 machetes list.
Beyond this, do you think there is something I missed? Share your personal experience with the machete to enrich our Kabar Swabbie review.