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Ka-Bar Black Cutlass Machete
|Price:||$52.33 & FREE Shipping. Details|
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- 100% Synthetic
- Sturdy machete with cutlass-style 1085 carbon-steel blade
- Ideal for chopping down weeds, clearing campsites, or cutting branches
- Ergonomically shaped Kraton G thermoplastic elastomer handle
- 20-degree edge angle; blade measures 11 inches long
- Includes leather/Cordura combination sheath; weighs 1.12 pounds
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|Item Weight||1.1 lbs||19.25 lbs||0.99 lb||1.12 lbs||1.21 lbs||1 lb|
Sold with a leather/cordura sheath
Equipped with a cutlass-style 1085 carbon-steel blade, the Cutlass machete from Ka-Bar is ideal for chopping down weeds, clearing a campsite, or cutting small limbs and tree branches. The machete is comfortable in the hand, with an ergonomically shaped Kraton G thermoplastic elastomer handle that ensures a nonslip grip. Users will also love the leather/Cordura combination sheath, which fits conveniently on your belt. Other features include a hollow grind, a 20-degree edge angle, and a blade length of 11 inches. The Cutlass machete measures 16-1/2 inches overall and weighs 1.12 pounds.
Top Customer Reviews
First, my rant. Too many knives try to be the kitchen sink. But in reality, knife tasks break down into two broad categories: fine work like cutting cord, food, feather sticks, etc., and heavy work like chopping and batoning wood. In my opinion, a knife that's heavy and sturdy enough for the latter is too clumsy for the former. "Jack of all trades, master of none ... "
So to me, the perfect combination is two knives - a small knife to keep on your belt for the quick-access, fine work, and a larger knife for handling wood. In my case, I like the KABAR Short Black Plain Edge Knife with nylon sheath on my belt - small, light and elegant for the fine work, but very tough and can be pressed into hacking wood in an emergency. (Some find the grip of the Ka-Bar Short too small, but I have smaller hands. Pick a knife that suits your hands and your needs.)
As to the larger knife, the Ka-Bar Cutlass Machete fits the bill perfectly.
The blade on this machete is 11 inches. Pull out a ruler and see how long that is. It's much shorter than what you'd think. But it ends up being the perfect length. Short enough to strap to the side of a pack, but long enough to be effective.
The blade thickness is about 1/8" or 4mm. Even though that's half the thickness of the Ka-Bar Heavy Bowie, which has a 1/4" blade, it's not a thin or a weak blade. This is a machete, not a pry-bar. Yet as a machete, the blade is significantly thicker than you'd find on other machetes and tough enough for heavy blows with a baton. More on this below.
The cutlass shape of the blade puts most of the blade weight forward. This makes swinging and chopping a breeze. If you hit with the inside curve of the blade, it bites deep and sure. I felt much safer chopping with this machete than with the hatchets we had on hand. The chances of this blade missing the mark or glancing off the wood are much lower.
To put the knife to the test, I found a rotting pine stump that had a thick fatwood core. This is wood that's saturated with sap or pitch, and it's extremely heavy and hard. I pulled the stump out, found a tough 3" stick to use as a baton, and set about splitting fatwood boards off the stump. This is done by driving the blade down into top of the stump with the stick - just like you would split a log with a wedge - then when the blade's all the way in the log, striking the end of it to keep driving it down, all the way to the bottom of the stump. Do a YouTube search for "baton wood" to see what I mean. I managed to split the stump into about a dozen planks that were 3/4" thick and up to 8" wide. Even landed a couple of blows right on the tip of the blade. No damage, no problems. The blade handled the hard blows and the dense fatwood effortlessly.
Next I needed a chopping test. I found a 4" stump which was fatwood all the way through. This one would need to be chopped off near the ground. So I set about chopping it, just like you would with a hatchet. The front-heavy blade swung effortlessly and bit hard into the wood. A 4" stump was no problem at all, even hardened fatwood. The handle cushioned the vibrations very nicely, and the ergonomics of it made the grip very comfortable and secure in the hand.
Then I spotted an 8" stump of fatwood and decided to give it a go. I won't deny, it was work. But I got through.
I did all of this with the edge that came from the factory. At the end of the day, it was still sharp enough to take shavings off of a stick.
After a weekend with this knife, it deserves all five stars I gave it. This is going to be my wilderness companion for many years coming.
Comparison to other options:
Hatchet: I would take this over a hatchet for three reasons. Hatchets are heavier, the likelihood of missing or glancing off the target is higher with a hatchet (personal opinion), and a machete is much better suited to clearing out small branches, clearing weeds, and hacking your way through undergrowth.
Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete: I've seen videos of the Kukri chopping, and that thing is a chopper. But from what I experienced, the cutlass is nearly its equal. The tipping point is batoning wood. The curved blade of the kukri makes it very awkward for batoning. On YouTube there's a video of a guy trying to baton with the Kukri. It's unstable to say the least. The cutlass, on the other hand, has a nice straight-topped blade that takes batoning beautifully.
Ka-Bar® Bowie Black Finish: I haven't used the Heavy Bowie. But the blade shape is much more uniform, meaning that the weight is distributed evenly along the blade. The Cutlass, on the other hand, is front-heavy, making the swing more effortless and effective. On the flip-side, you could use the Heavy Bowie as a pry-bar, if that matters to you.
I'm happy to say that I can now do the same with this machete. Well, it takes about five strikes to clear the husk, but I can chop it open with a single strike now. It's an almost perfect weight for this sort of task. Not too heavy that you'd get tired, but enough so that gravity can do lots of the work. It also retains an edge so that slicing off the "spoon" is easy.
The balance is pretty good, though the center of weight is a little more forward than I expected (but absolutely correct for this sort of tool). The handle material is durable but hard; i.e., it's not a rubberized type of handle. If you intend to use this machete for a good length of time you might consider wearing gloves. If you don't then after the initial blisters your hands will be tougher than mine :D. As to the blade, it is equally sturdy and durable. I went through about a dozen coconuts without sharpening. The only caveat is that the blade angle is not the same as my Smith's Carbide/Ceramic sharpener so you should check before using a fixed-angle sharpener.
OK, why four stars? The coating on the blade is not completely uniform. This *might* be by design, but from my eyes it appears more like a quality control issue. This said, this doesn't affect the utility of the blade in any way. As noted, the handle is not ideal for me. My hands tend to perspire so I would prefer a handle similar to the Gerber LMF II.