Machete vs. Cutlass
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Old 06-18-2010, 05:20 AM   #1
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Default Machete vs. Cutlass

These days I use (and abuse) a Cold Steel Magnum Kukri as my machete. Used to trim back raspberry bushes, kudzu vines, small trees and similar stuff. Got acres and acres to hack over and over again every year. Lots of good exercise. Unevenly beveled when new in wrapper, I re-did the bevel to an even 30 degree angle (using Gerber diamond hones) over the entire length and cutting power improved at once. Some chips have since accumulated in the kukri's blade over time. A consequence of using it to dig out kudzu roots in stony ground, or possibly hacking an occasional strand of old barbed wire while cutting vines off a fence, or even occasional slices of stone. I also cut down small (under 4" diameter) trees with it. Likewise the blade has acquired a curve due to using it to pry branches away from fences. Whatever, it has been a good tool, even if it is getting worn out.

Here are my complaints. Too short "Magnum" or not. Blade too thin. Needlessly pointy at the tip (possibly of value when digging, but ain't really sure as a old panga seems to dig equally well). Occasional grip retention problems (although not as bad as a few years ago, experience helps).

Too short is way up near the top of my complaints as the goal of the exercises is to clear a path tall enough to ride a tractor with a bushog through without bumping my head. Experience has taught me that what I think I need is another 4 to 10" of blade. Too often I have to go back and get a small stool or bucket to stand on to get rid of the desired branch or vine.

I am therefore looking at the Cold Steel copy of the US 1917 Cutlass as an alternative machete.

Has anyone tried this?

How well does the handle of the repro Cutlass hold up to the shocks of actually hacking something as hard as wood with it?

How thick is the blade steel, i.e., will it be more resistive to bending than the sheet metal blade of the Magnum Kukri?

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Old 06-18-2010, 10:01 AM   #2
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Just get an Ontario Knife Company machete. No one else's. You can thank me later.

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Old 06-18-2010, 10:43 AM   #3
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Ontario makes decent machetes, but don't overlook some of the better South American manufacturers. Check out Condor, they've got some wacky weird stuff that should be ignored, but they make really good machetes in a variety of patterns. It's an old Salvadorian company (IMACASA), originaly set up as a South American branch of Gebr. Weyesberg with German machinery and the original staff was sent to Solingen for training.

Condor is IMACASA's attempt to get into the US market, and so far it's done quite well. They've done colaborations with some well known bushcraft teachers and authors. While I wouldn't touch some of their "tactical" knife offerings with a ten foot pole, their machetes are really good and their more utility oriented knives like the Rodan and Bushcraft Basic are excellent tools (especially considering the price!).

They've also shown good customer service, when some of the guys that bought the first goloks complained about different fit and finish issues, their machetes where replaced with new ones by Condor.

Condor Tool & Knife

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Old 06-20-2010, 09:23 PM   #4
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***GASP*** I got a Cold steel and that thing is COOL and built ford tough. Sharper than any other machete I have ever used. It took me 6 weeks of work to get one sharp enough to use when I was younger.

I got the Cold Steel Sax machete Sax Machetes : Cold Steel Knives (Fixed Blade)

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Old 06-21-2010, 01:06 AM   #5
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I use a Coronet made in El Salvador that can't be beat.

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Old 06-21-2010, 03:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
I use a Coronet made in El Salvador that can't be beat.
If it says made in El salvador,Columbia,or Indonesia,they will be an awesome machete from my experience,I have had machete's from all three countries and when you buy one you are buying an actual farming tool they use everyday and know how to make well.I have taken down 2" thick trees with a single swing with the Elsalvador etc,and then tried the same thing with a Coleman brand machete,the El salvador cuts right through and the Coleman will bend in half.
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Old 06-21-2010, 03:50 PM   #7
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Over the years I have tried, bent or wore out many machetes. I found the bottom one (Vietnam era, unknown maker) to be the best and very well designed, but at 15 inches, it is just too short for the current work to be done. I was hoping the butcher tip of the 1917 cutlass (and the Dutch one it was cloned from) would give me the cutting action I want at about 22" away from my hand..

That's a big 10-4 on the Cold Steel M Kukri needing a more even replacement bevel right out of the box. I found a little pocket (folding body, multiple diamond impregnated steel leaves) tool by Gerber that put a very nice even 30 degree bevel on it fairly quickly. Much faster (took about 10 minutes) than I could do rebevling with just stones.

Really what I would love to see is the bottom design, but at about 22 - 24" and with a better handle. That little hook in the back is great at snagging loose twigs and vines..

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Old 06-21-2010, 11:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I use a Coronet made in El Salvador that can't be beat.
"Corneta" ("bugle" in Spanish) is another brand used by the German company Weyesberg in South America. German names are tough to pronounce and many machete users couldn't read, so loads of German brands were known by their stamp rather than the actual name. Kirschbawm was called "casco" ("helmet"), Böker "arbolito" ("small tree"), Weyesberg "corneta" ("bugel"). When they opened local factories to supply the South American market they usually used those names as their trademark since they were already well known in the area.



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Old 06-22-2010, 12:03 AM   #9
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Superc, stupid question probably, have you tried something with a longer handle rather than a longer blade? Cold Steel makes some machetes with longer "double hand" handles, there are also some really cool long handled billhooks (sometimes called "slashers") like this one: BTCV Online Shop

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Old 06-22-2010, 04:37 PM   #10
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Yes, over the decades I have tried, or acquired, brushooks, slashers and even scythes and sickles. IME, the sickle does the same work as a two handed slasher, but (being lighter) with less effort. Also because of the angle of leverage the sickle gives a more positive cut on tall grass than does a swing from 5 feet away with the slasher. [The scythe does the same as the sickle, but the path of the cut is of course longer.]

I have not tried any of those on overhanging branches and vines, but since it is shaping up to be a hot summer, I would prefer to not involve implements requiring whole body exercise. As it is I find, in the past two weeks, I am averaging a full Camelback of water every two ti three hours of hacking or chain sawing/chipping. My conclusion is what is needed is a 20 to 22 inch bladed implement with a belly swell similar to what I pictured. Lacking a machete of such design, I come back to the C.S. 1917 Cutlass with the tip reminiscent of the infamous British butcher sword of the late 1700s.

I'd like to hear from someone who actually has one of the 1917s as to the thickness of the steel, and if they have actually tried using it for anything more resistive to cutting than pirates.

That's interesting about the German names. My 'unknown maker' perfect short machete pictured has (near the hilt on the left side) a stamping that looks like a small pine tree. Could it be an arbolito?

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