I’m a big fan of machetes for all sorts of reasons. They make great gardening implements for some tasks; when “roughing it”, they can clear a trail through brush and vines; they’re very useful around the camp fire, chopping small branches into kindling and even cutting down small trees; and in a defensive situation, they’re a heck of a weapon, scary-looking and intimidating, and inflicting really serious wounds if necessary (and if you know what you’re doing with one). They’re a favorite all-purpose tool and weapon in many parts of Africa (in southern Africa, from where I come, they’re known as pangas).
A machete is supposed to be a working tool, tough, strong and able to stand up to heavy use. Sadly, many of those sold in the USA today are relatively flimsy, made of thin, poor-quality metal that won’t hold an edge for long, and wobbles in your hand when it hits something solid. They’re light-duty blades, not real machetes. On the other hand, those made in countries like Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, etc. tend to be serious machetes – working men’s tools. I’ve had and/or seen good results with those made by Condor (expensive, but high quality), Imacasa, Incolma and Tramontina. Among US brands, Cold Steel, Marbles and Ontario aren’t bad, in my experience.
I was interested to learn that Major Surplus & Survival is offering a 5-machete package for only $19.95. The illustration they provide is an example, not a guaranteed representation of what you’ll get. Click the image for a larger view.
The photograph is clearly a composite image, and isn’t true to size. To estimate comparative sizes, think of all the handles as roughly the same length, and figure out blade length from that. Major Surplus describes the package as follows:
Mixed blade lengths and finishes, mixed wood, and plastic handles. Sizes and styles will vary. Sorry, no choices. Satisfaction Guaranteed.
Intrigued (and because I had a couple of friends who were interested in buying some as well), I ordered two of the 5-packs. They arrived the other day, and to say I’m very satisfied would be an understatement. All of the machetes in both packs came from South American manufacturers, and were clearly working tools, strong and tough, not for dilettantes. The shortest blade in each package was 14″, and the longest 24″. Each had a long-handled sugar cane cutter (similar to this one), heavy and tough enough to take down small trees; a long-bladed brush-cutter like the second blade above; two blades that grow wider towards the tip to lend weight to a swing (one with an angular blade like the top one above, the other with an upswept curve like the fourth from the top); and a short 14″ general-purpose blade. Four of the machetes were clearly brand-new, while one was lightly used, but still in good condition. Four had wood handles, and one (the shortest) plastic.
For the price, I don’t think this deal can be beaten. Including shipping, each pack came to about $30, which averages out at $6 per machete – a steal, IMHO, for such good quality. The package deal can’t last forever at that price, so if you need a machete or two (or three, or…) get them while it lasts. If the shape of some of the blades doesn’t suit you, remember, you can re-shape them using a cutting wheel and/or grinding wheel (provided you keep the steel cool, and re-temper it if necessary when you’re done). At this price, a mistake won’t break your heart or your wallet.
(No, I’m not being compensated for recommending them, and Major Surplus & Survival don’t know I’m writing this review. Nevertheless, if they continue to offer deals this good, I’ll be shopping there again in future.)