If you are on the hunt for the best machete, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the many choices distributed across the market today. As illustrated by our own machete reviews, these bush-swords can differ widely when it comes to style, materials, weight, and so on.
Read on to learn more about the primary types of machetes, and how length, weight, and materials should factor in to make the best possible choice.
Are you in a hurry? We scoured the market, picked and review the top-rated machetes out there! We made sure to cover all budgets, needs, and applications. Check out or top 10 list, and the buyers guide at the end!
What Is the Best Machete Overall?
How did we short-list these blades? Why these models? Our aim is to help you make the best decision possible, so we selected only the most durable, tough, sharp, and hard steel blade, with the best ergonomics. We read dozens of review and specs on each model.
But we realize buyers have many criteria for what is important. That is why we balanced in other features: designs, applications, and price. So these are the best machetes that have a great combo of features:
1. United Cutlery M48 Kukri
Price for Value
Impressive kukri with a thick spine, that can easily be turned into a super-sharp blade.
The edge and steel don’t impress me much, but with such an amazing design, at a ridiculously low price – I think it is worth it! And the design is wonderful.
The M48 kukri is a perfect companion to the M48 tactical tomahawk, which is a decent standalone survival axe.
- Blade steel: 2CR13
- Handle material: Nailon
- Sheath material: Plastic
- Weight: 1.278 lbs (580 gr)
- Length total: 15.86 inches (40.3 cm)
- Length blade: 10.5 inches (26.7 cm)
- Width blade: 0.3 inches (8 mm)
How durable is the kukri? 2Cr13 stainless steel isn’t exceptionally tough, I would give a 4 out of 10. But this kukri is really thick, with a full-tang, and an edge that doesn’t chip. I expect it will hold out nicely.
How sharp is it? Unfortunately, this kukri is fairly dull, definitely not sharp. If you want to chop, it is decent, but any advanced cutting requires sharpening.
Ergonomics and ease of use. Good weight and balance, but the handle could use a makeover. A few users listed complaints: Handle too thin, hand-guard may loosen over time.
The forward weight and size add to the chopping power, but because of its length (over 15.875 inches), it loses points for portability. When you grab the handle, it may feel weird, the tang cuts off suddenly – making you feel like it’s you might lose grip.
Check out this Amazon review page to see what interesting quirks some of the top reviewers have found with the product. This is a pro vs cons section for this blade:
2. Condor Golok Machete
Price for Value
A long but sturdy chopper, with decent high carbon steel, and quite a bit of weight. This blade definitely proves that long machetes can chop remarkably well.
The edge is modestly sharp, just enough to chop firewood, branches, and roots. Even though the blade is quite heavy and unfit for anything else than brutish chopping, I would still consider it as a perfect traveling company in an outdoor survival situation.
Many people adore the handle, but I don’t like it. KABAR has far more ergonomic handle designs.
- Blade steel: Carbon Steel 1075
- Handle material: Walnut
- Sheath material: Real leather
- Weight: 1.62 lbs (735 gr)
- Length total: 20.4 inches (51.8 cm)
- Length blade: 14.5 inches (36.8 cm)
- Length handle: 6 inches (13.2 cm)
- Length grip: 4 inches (10.2 cm)
- Thickness blade: 0.22 inches (5.75 mm)
How durable is this golok machete? The 1075 carbon steel offers the best of all worlds: strength, ease of sharpening, modest edge retention. Despite being quite long, this machete is thick but the extra weight only makes it a better chopper. With a thickness of 5.8mm, this 1075 blade ranks above average on the durability scale. I really like the black epoxy coating; Never say no to extra-protection (1075 does rust)!
How sharp is it? I am satisfied with the edge, but keep in mind this is a chopping machete (very thick spine) so it should not be overly sharpened. As you slide your fingers carefully along the edge, it becomes ever sharper as you move closer to the tip. Goloks and parang are known for this feature of variable sharpness.
Ergonomics and ease of use. Smooth, comfortable and lovely to hold, even though it has no hand-guard (common with goloks, but kudos to Condor for sticking to the design). I am not a big fan of this handle, I had more ergonomic kukris – but it does your grip a good service because it is round, smooth and the bulge at the end allows you to feel and hold it steady. This machete has a good balance, and it is full-tang – so chopping with it is pretty safe, all things considered!
How qualitative are the materials? The handle is made of Walnut, and the scales are riveted (cannot change the handle). It has a plain leather sheath, that is tightly seamed – the golok is not an easy draw (need to hold the sheath and draw the blade).
You might find surprisingly hilarious some of the stories and experiences with the Condor golok, that I heard from Amazon reviewers. I love how personal some of the reviews get! Also, check out these pros and cons:
- Great, powerful chopper.
- Tough, strong blade.
- Good balance.
- Ergonomic handle.
- Good price, but not great.
- Quite heavy to carry on long hikes.
- Tight sheath, difficult to draw out.
- Not sharp enough, except for chopping.
Ultimate Buyers Guide to Machetes
There are many bush-sword variations on the market, and each one claims to be the best machete. But things are much more nuanced: there is no best tool, there is only the best tool for the job (factor in conditions, quality, and price).
When it comes to reviewing machetes, there is a wide range in quality. You must do your research before any purchase… especially a purchase as significant as a machete. After all, a sword should be, ideally, an extension of your own body.
This guide will help you narrow down your options. You will learn ways to spot true quality, avoid common pitfalls, save money, and, ultimately, find the best blade for your needs.
Our machete reviews list a wide range of options, in terms of quality, price, cutting and chopping abilities, and even type of blade. So, enjoy reading our guide before setting your mind on a product.
What Type of Machete Should I Buy?
Latin machetes are also commonly known as bush-machetes. Most people are already familiar with their plain design: long and thin blade, either straight or slightly curved backward. The Latin machete is a great all-purpose utility blade, perfect for path-clearing, agricultural work, cutting green vegetation, and similar activities.
As its name implies, this blade is useful in vegetation-dense, tropical places like Latin America and Southern Asia, where it is used for many outdoor tasks.
The kukri is a “jackoff all trades”. Compared to other machetes, kukris are stronger and more durable, because of the short, thick blade. Their purpose is two-fold: outdoor work and knife-fighting. Specifically, these Nepalese machetes possess a pointy tip, for stabbing; a wide, front-heavy midsection, for chopping; and, for whittling and carving, a narrow, sharp edge near the handle.
In strong hands, the kukri is an effective chopper. In capable hands, it is a formidable knife for self-defense, in close-quarter combat. Our machete reviews would not be complete without listing some of the best kukris since they are the most popular machetes for hikers, campers and adventurers.
Bolo machetes are Filipino designs, like the Latin bush-machete. But the bolo features a wider tip compared to the rest of the blade. This allows for greater momentum, which translates to powerful chopping ability. Bolos can cut grass, open coconuts, and dig up weeds and roots. The Bolo has also proved very effective for harvesting, especially when it comes to plants with thin, stiff stalks, like soybeans, peanuts, and rice. It can also chop up large chunks like meat and bones when used like a butcher’s cleaver. There is a variation of the Bolo called the jungle bolo, which is made for combat specifically.
Parang machetes are yet another type of South-East Asian utility blades, commonly used in Malaysia and Indonesia. These machetes have a thicker blade than most bush-swords (except for kukris) and they are easily recognizable by the pronounced backward arc / curve. It looks like a mini-scimitar.
Parangs are very multi-functional because their edge features three sections of varying sharpness: Razor-sharp tip for skinning game, duller mid-section for chopping and batoning, super-sharpness near the handle for carving and feathering wood. These machetes have some of the longest blades (25-90 cm).
Goloks are short choppers that originated in Indonesia; Apparently, this fertile region offers many creative tools. Golok machetes are effective in agricultural settings, where their capabilities are best exploited. They are the best machetes for cutting branches.
Their convex grind allows you to dislodge them easily when chopping green, woody vegetation. The hefty blade packs a powerful punch. Our machete reviews list includes some good models.
Goloks can clear even the most stubborn bushes and undergrowth. People often confuse goloks with parangs because they look very similar. But the golok machete has a heavier and shorter blade (between 25-50 cm), with a more pronounced curvature. The Parang features a curved blade throughout, like a scimitar.
Barong blades are awesome-looking leaf-shaped, single-edged machetes of Filipino origin. Their design offers a good balance and a decent reach for fighting, which was one of their functions in the past. Barongs have superior cutting ability compared to most machetes that were designed for chopping instead.
Given that barongs are longer and sharper than kukris, I think they are better combat swords. Their creators and wielders, certain Filipino tribes’ warriors deployed the blade with great effectiveness in combat and martial arts, as well as in hunting and preparing livestock. Good for clearing bushes and vines. Not great at chopping hardwood.
Panga blades are African and Caribbean bush-swords, primarily used in for agricultural work: clearing brush, cutting canes, and so on. The blade possesses a deep, swooping belly, and a tip that is sharpened wickedly. This makes the panga machete effective at chopping. It has a thin backside and a length of 16-18 inches (41-46 cm).
Tapangas are quite like the panga machete, but they have an extremely unique appearance. The blade possesses a back-swept, weighted chisel-tip, for chopping, and an additional, flat edge for general use.
US Bowie knives are some of the best modern-day survival tools. They are a hybrid between a knife and a machete. Too long and thick to be considered a knife, yet not quite as big as a machete.
These blades were named after the famous American frontiersman, Jim Bowie. Compared to the rest of this list, they are the most maneuverable and easy to carry. The Bowie is a simple, hardy blade, and is popularly considered the best outdoors knife.
What Size, Length, Thickness, and Weight is Best for Machetes?
First and foremost, always make sure your blade a full-tang, especially if it’s for heavy-duty tasks, such as chopping.
Aside from that, there are a few ways to tell whether you should go for a short or a long blade.
Short vs Long Machete
First off, how do you intend to use your machete? Short blades, like the Bowie knife and the kukri, excel in survival situations. They tend to be powerful in a compact way and can eat through tough barriers, like green wood and vines.
On the other hand, a long blade, like the Latin or Bolo machetes, will offer greater reach for agricultural work. They are better in combat for this reason, although I hope you won’t end up in a situation where you might need to use them such. Long blades will also have greater sweeping range, which makes them the best machetes against tall grass, stalks, brush, and vegetation.
Are Smaller Machetes Better Than Big Ones?
Smaller blades are lighter and more portable, which is one of the aspects that makes them so popular among campers and outdoorsmen. You can check out kukris, Bowie knives.
Alternately, a large machete will weigh more, take up space, and could be awkward to carry. Big machetes are better used in fighting off wild animals, combat, and in agricultural tasks. They are less suited for outdoors travel, hiking, and hobbies. Size may vary greatly depending on the model, but these are the large machete: parangs, bolos, pangas, and Latin bush-swords.
How Thick Should My Machete Be?
Next thing to consider is blade thickness. Again, this depends on what you plan to do with your purchase. Ranging from 2 mm to 8 mm, thicker and thinner machetes have different uses, respectively.
Thicker blades can better chopper and process wood, but they are clunky and unwieldy. To make them easier to handle, weight had to go down, so thick machetes are often shorter.
Thinner blades, on the other hand, can be longer, and as a result, they are more efficient when it comes to tall grass and soft vegetation. They are good for harvesting rice, soybeans, peanuts, and plants with thin stalks. Examples: Latin machete, barong, bolo, parang.
Survival swords need to be thick (5-8 mm) to allow you to chop wood and even take down trees. Kukris are on the thicker end of the spectrum. They are also shorter and more portable. Bush-swords are meant for path-clearing and weeding off vegetation and branches, so they can be thin and sharp.
Which Steel is Better for Machetes?
Carbon steel is the most popular material choice for machete blades. It is an iron-carbon alloy, which can be improved with micro-elements and tempering. Depending on the carbon content, carbon steels greatly vary in their properties:
Some CS alloys are tough and moderately soft (1045, 1055). Others are on the brittle and hard end of the spectrum (1085, 1095). Fortunately, there is a middle ground – CS steels that have a good combo of toughness and edge retention (1060 – 1075).
Depending on the composition, some carbon steels are difficult to re-sharpen, so when the machete edge dulls, you will need to take it to a professional smith. Unless it has chromium, it is prone to rust. But on the flip side, carbon steel machetes are inexpensive and have a good return on investment. They can take large amounts of physical damage which makes them ideal for chopping wood and heavy-duty work.
Stainless steel is made by mixing nickel and chromium with regular carbon steel. These components create a protective barrier in the metal, which prevents rust and oxidation. They also cause the steel to become softer and easier to re-sharpen. I recommend stainless steel machetes for hot, humid areas or when working around water, in the garden, for agricultural tasks, and so on.
The main downside to stainless steel blades is that they cannot take as much of a beating as carbon steel blades. Ask yourself: what do you need a machete for? And you’ll figure out which steel works best for you.
High-carbon stainless steel has the best of both worlds. Combining the most positive attributes of carbon and stainless steel alike, blades crafted from this material will boast toughness, hardness and corrosion resistance. This is a high-quality, expensive material for machete blades.
Spring steel is another noteworthy alloy in the industry. It is very tough and bendy. It can take a lot of punishment and yet retain its form beautifully. It typically has a medium to high carbon content. The result is a metal of truly exceptional quality.
Choosing your Handle and Sheath Material
I thought about including this section, even though I almost never pay attention to handles and sheaths, except when it comes to “what to avoid”.
Best Handle Material For a Machete
Micarta is a decent material for bush-sword handles. It is made from layers of heat-treated linen, paper, canvas, plastic, and fiberglass. Micarta grips combine comfort and strength. Their high quality is, unfortunately, matched by their price.
Hardwood is another popular choice, slightly cheaper. Wooden handles offer an easy and comfortable grip. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to physical stress and water damage. Wooden handles can also harbor bacteria, requiring additional care. I generally don’t like this type of handle, but some of them are good!
Plastic is, in comparison, easy to maintain and inexpensive. The grip is less comfortable and may quickly become slippery. Over time, plastic handles may fade in color and the elements will start eating away at the material. This is expected, really, as plastic is the most affordable choice.
Kraton G is a weather-resistant, durable, synthetic polymer comparable to rubber. This one is my personal favorite because it has high adherence, shock absorption. I really like it, and when you grip one of these machetes, you will know what I mean. Kabar has some good products that use Kraton G!
Glass Fiber Nylon, also known as GFN, is well-known for its impact resistance. For machete handles, this translates to incredible durability, according to user machete reviews. This is a top-quality material for sword and knife handles!
Top Sheath Materials For Machetes
Cordura sheaths are made of nylon. This means that the inside of the sheath can potentially fray from contact with the blade. However, Cordura is also comfortable, flexible, and relatively affordable, so it makes for a sound choice.
Leather is mostly about class and tradition. These sheaths are sturdy but will require more care than their Cordura counterparts. They are not as resistant to water and can wear out easily if you improperly store them. As in many cases, it is a matter of preference, really.
Kydex is more lightweight than leather, it is water-resistant and all-around easier to maintain compared to alternatives. In fact, most Cordura sheaths these days have Kydex on the inside, since it is so effective at preserving the blade.
How To Pick the Right Machete
A quality machete should be crafted from strong, durable steel and it should cater to your individual preferences and needs.
There is only the best machete for a job or activity. The first thing you must do is think about:
- What are you going to do with it?
- Will you use it for survival, chopping wood, hunting, bush-work, weeding out brush or cutting branches?
- Or is it for self-defense and tactical training?
These questions will inform you about which blade type, size, length, and weight you must choose. It might be a kukri, a thin Latin machete, a long parang, or a Bowie knife, etc.
Style, design and visual appeal are factors of personal significance. Aside from that, I rarely take into consideration the sheath and handle materials, although I try to avoid plastic.
Whether you are looking for something traditional, like a Latin style blade with wooden handle and leather sheath, or a modern tactical Bowie knife, you are now armed with the knowledge for picking the best tactical machete for your needs and budget.