7 Best Survival Machetes To Slash Your Way To Safety

By "Just In Case" Jack | Updated: 06/23/2023

Survival MacheteToday I’ve got something I’m extremely excited to share…

A complete guide on How To Find & Use A Machete For Survival.

Now, I get it…

The word “machete” tends to conjure up images of corny survival movies, right?

Scenes where a group of castaways follow a burly jungle slasher.

But that’s just a silly trope.

The truth is, there’s so much more to this unique and versatile blade…

Table Of Contents

↓(click to skip ahead)↓

» Best Survival Machetes

» What Is A Machete?

» Best Uses For A Machete

» Best Machete Features

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What Is A Machete

Best Survival Machetes On The Market Today

When choosing a machete, remember to look for the critical features of a quality model.

  • Full tang construction
  • Medium or high carbon steel (or 3CR13 stainless)
  • Comfortable grip
  • Well balanced swing
  • Good, easy-to-use sheath

There are hundreds of models to choose from.

That’s both good and bad.

More options are good because there are many designs, sizes, and price points for everyone.

But also bad because it’s overwhelming to try and analyze them all.

And that’s where we come in.

Here at Skilled Survival, we focus on the best survival gear.

So we only highlight and feature what we consider the very best at different price points.

So let’s get started!

1 Our Top Pick
The Essential Tact Survival Machete

The Essential Tact Machete is one of the strongest, sharpest, and easiest-to-use machetes ever made at such an insanely low price point...

So what's the catch? It's a stainless steel blade. Recall what I said early, "to avoid most stainless steel blades"...

This blade is that exception - it's made out of 3CR13 Stainless Steel. This hybrid stainless steel provides a perfect balance of durability, corrosive resistance, and edge holding ability.

One often overlooked feature of a machete is its coating. The Essential Tact's entire blade (plus the handle) is coated in a matte black finish.

This finish is ideal for survival since it doesn't reflect light.

Giving this machete the ability to keep you hidden during a dark escape or stalking situation.

Now at this price point, you'd probably guess it's not full tang. But you'd be wrong!

The Essential Tact Machete is a full tang machete (with a small hole punched through at the base for a lanyard).

This guarantees that no amount of rough handling will harm it.

And speaking of handles, this handle provides both extreme comfort and grip.

It's coated in an ultra-rugged, non-slip rubber finish. So no matter how wet or sweaty your hands are The Essential Tact Machete won't slip.

Also, the lining inside of the rubber coating is a plush layer of polypropylene. This helps to provide extra cushioning. Helping to eliminate the bone-jarring hand shocks you'd experience otherwise.

Not to forget safety, the Essential Tact Machete has a deep, ridged thumb rise. Plus, an oversized finger guard keeps your hands safe from the blade edge - even during the most violent swings.

One of the features that make this machete a "true survival blade" is the tool added to the back of the blade. Instead of leaving it as a dull edge, they turned it into a serrated saw blade.

Again, for me, it's all about multiple uses in one tool. This is a machete/ saw combo in one.

Sure, there are more expensive machetes out there. But they can't hold a candle to the Essential Tact if you're looking for a machete at a value price point.

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Woodmans Pal 2.0 - Multi-Use Axe Machete

The Woodman's Pal Machete has been around for decades. The US Army has used it since WW2!

And it's received upgrades from 70+ years of testing in the harshest combat conditions.

You can use the current version as a machete, a shovel, an ax, and a knife.

The full tang construction features hard ash wood handles and a black finished blade.

All the cutting edges are hand sharpened before shipping. So the Woodman's Pal Machete arrives ready to go to work.

They also come with a full-grain leather sheath to protect the edges while not in use and to make carrying easy.

Each order includes reprints of the original US Army manuals. This covers both the use and sharpening of the machete, even fighting with a machete!

They're also made in the USA by skilled craftsmen in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Of course, all that craftsmanship comes at a price, with this blade topping the price list.

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↓ The Woodman’s Pal Review

Fiskars 29 Inch Machete Axe

This 18-inch blade is ideal for clearing, chopping, and cutting any vegetation in the wilderness, or around your home.

This Fiskars Machete has an ax-like blade that provides enough power for splitting wood.

The curved blade also offers the ability to easily remove suckers and vines from trees.

It's an excellent everyday machete that includes a good sheath and a lifetime warranty.

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CRKT Chanceinhell Fixed Blade Machete

Columbia River Knife & Tool is a reputable manufacturer. One that makes an entire line of extremely high-quality knives and multi-tools.

This 18" blade survival machete works well for heavy hacking through thick vegetation.

It features a drop-point blade shape, with a center of mass closer to the point than the handle.

This balance makes it efficient for chopping, but tiring if you're spending the whole day doing so.

The handle is a little smaller than most but makes up for it with good finger grips to keep your hands from slipping.

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↓ CRKT ChanceInHell Ken Onion Machete

Barebones Japanese NATA Tool Machete

One of the more distinct blade shapes on our list is The BareBones NATA Machete. It's a traditional Japanese garden and utility tool.

The straight edge and sharpened chisel point give you lots of blade options. It's great for both chopping and hollowing out materials.

The BareBones Woodsman is easier to sharpen than many of the curved blades.

But it only has 12 inches of sharpened blade length. So this machete straddles the line between a true machete and a large survival knife.

It's not the best choice for heavy brush cutting and chopping through thick branches.

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KA-BAR 2-1249-9 Kukri / Machete

Another unique blade is The Ka-Bar Kukri Machete. It's based on the traditional Nepalese kukri knife.

It has an unmistakable forward-hooked blade, similar in shape to a boomerang.

The hooked blade puts the center of mass towards the tip of the blade and in front of the handle.

It's only sporting an 11.5" blade. Making it an EXTREMELY efficient tool for chopping through branches and vines.

As you chop, these materials settle into the crook of the blade. This brings all the swing force onto one focal point and does not allow it to slip off the target.

It's also a very effective combat tool.

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↓ KA-BAR Kukri Machete Review

Condor Tool & Knife, Duku Machete

Finally, The Condor Duku Machete is yet another distinctive blade shape.

More sweeping and far narrower than most other machetes. The Duku blade is ideal for slashing cuts instead of chopping.

This design helps in cutting through lighter vegetation. Making slicing for harvesting and processing produce a breeze.

The high-carbon steel blade is easy to sharpen and stands up well to repeated blows.

It's very easy to swing the blade as well. The narrow profile and center of mass near the tip make it easy to maneuver for precision cuts.

But it's also heavy, so it can get cumbersome to swing all day.

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↓ Condor Parang Review Part 1: First Impressions

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What Is A Machete Anyway?

It’s a broad blade used either as an implement like an axe or in combat like a short sword.

The blade is typically 12.8 to 17.7 inches long and usually under 0.12 inches thick. – Wikipedia

Some form of machete shows up in nearly every culture around the world.

They come in a wide variety of shapes and construction methods.

Many of these have specific names.

There’s the Nepalese “kukri,” the Malaysian “parang,” the Philippine “bolo,” etc.

In some locations, it’s still a common part of rural cultures.

Places where young children learn how to use and care for their own properly.

So when I say “machete,” I’m referring to a wide range of long flat blades with grips at the end for swinging the blade.

I’ll refer to all variations in this article simply as “machetes” as well.

But many blade shapes perform similar tasks and can be somewhat interchangeable.

If you looking for specific differences between different names – watch this excellent overview video:

↓ The 3 Types Of Machetes

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Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

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Most Common Uses

For a tool to be so widespread worldwide, it has to be well-designed for the task at hand.

These tasks include:

  • Self-Defense
  • Harvesting Produce
  • Skin Big Game
  • Open A Can
  • Bushwhack Dense Brush
  • Prune Shelter Supports
  • Saw Down Trees
  • Create Tinder
  • Shaving Bark
  • Whittle Wood
  • Scale Fish / Fillet Fish
  • Crack Nuts
  • and more!

Few tools have the ability to chop down a small tree just as quickly as they can scare off intruders.

But the machete can – and that’s what I call “insane versatility.”

↓ Introduction To Machetes, Uses, And Benefits

But to have such versatility requires important features.

So let’s go over the key features to look for.

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Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Survival Frog Survival Machete

Best Survival Machete Features To Look For

This specialty blade features a short, heavy-duty blade.

It’s generally sharpened on one side and left blunt or serrated on the opposite side.

And for most, you can wield it with a single hand.

Most blades fall between 14″ and 24″ long.

However, some applications (such as pruning trees) call for a longer, lighter blade.

Type Of Blade Steel

High-carbon steel blades that are tempered into spring-like steel are traditionally best.

This results in a very strong but flexible blade.

One that handles shock better and is more resistant to breaking or chipping.

The downside to this type of steel is that it can be more prone to rust and doesn’t hold an edge as long.

The rust can be managed by frequent cleaning and wiping the blade with oil.

And a coarser bevel on the blade resists dings and dulling.

There are also stainless steel blades on the market.

And while these blades are far more resistant to rust, they tend to be more brittle and can break with heavy abuse.

Plus, normally, stainless steel can be difficult to sharpen properly.

So, avoiding stainless steel is best.

With that said, there is an exception. A few stainless steel blades use a new type of stainless steel – 3CR13 Stainless Steel.

This stainless steel has rust-resistant properties, is easy to sharpen, and has impressive durability.

The bottom line is:

A dull blade is worthless since it won’t cut. And a weak blade cannot be trusted.

Why? Because it’ll break when you need it most.

So the type of steel matters!

Full Tang Construction

Machetes are often used in hacking and chopping tasks, so you want yours to be extremely durable.

They’re frequently built full tang.

This means the metal of the blade extends through the handle.

And the grips are usually attached by a rivet through the blade.

Full-tang construction is more durable than partial tang because the blade can not come free of the handle during rough use.

Multi-Functional Design

Several modern styles feature a saw-bladed back.

This allows the user to make finer cuts or saw-through material too thick to chop.

These saws generally don’t have much tooth set.

So they don’t cut and clear sawdust as well as a dedicated sawblade.

But they provide an extra function in one package, which is worth it.

Another frequent feature is a solid steel pommel, the end cap on the bottom of the handle.

This solid steel cap provides a makeshift hammer without damaging the ergonomic handle.

Don’t Forget About The Sheath

You also want yours to come with a quality nylon sheath.

Without a sheath, these blades are dangerous to carry.

The blades are both long and sharp, so they can accidentally bump your legs, arms (or if it’s on the outside of your pack) others.

Make sure the sheath is thick, fits the blade well, and has a way to secure the blade in the sheath.

You don’t want the sheath slipping off during a scramble!

Final Thoughts

Sure, I get it; the machete seems like a simple tool.

It’s just a large flat blade with a handle.

But as you now know, there’s a lot more to consider.

They can be incredibly versatile tools – especially once you learn the proper techniques.

It can take on the role of a survival knife, a survival ax, a self-defense weapon, or a survival shovel

In some cultures, it’s the only tool one needs to settle the jungle and start a village!

I’ve found it incredibly useful during recent camping trips.

That’s why it’s earned a permanent place on my survival gear list.

Jason K.

  • Born & Raised In The Remote Woods Of Michigan
  • Engineering Degree From A Major University
  • Long Standing Member Of Mountain Search & Rescue
  • Offical Gear Tester For Several Outdoor Companies
  • Avid Outdoorsman: Backpacking, Camping, Fishing
  • Years Researching & Writing About Surival & Gear
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