Frequently Asked Questions About Machetes

What is a machete?

A machete is a large, sharp knife that is used for chopping and slicing. It is often used to clear brush or cut through dense vegetation. Machetes are found in many different sizes and styles, making them versatile tools for a variety of tasks.

What size Machete do I need?

Machetes come in a variety of sizes, with the most common being between 18 and 24 inches. The size you need will depend on the task you plan to use it for. If you plan on using it for general lawn care or light brush clearing, a smaller machete should suffice. However, if you plan on using it for more demanding tasks like chopping down trees or hacking through thick brush, a larger machete would be a better choice.

What type of machete is best?

My personal choice for best all around machete is a parang style. I have found these to be good slicers which can slash through brush and vines, but are stout enough to actually chop a substantial tree. The blade edge is sharp but the spine is a little thicker giving it a heavier feel and more weight when chopping. These can also be great for self-defense and survival situations.

What are some of the different types of machetes?

There are many different types and styles of machetes. Literally every corner of the world has its own style of machete. Keep in mind that the reason there are so many types is because different styles are suited to a particular landscape and climate of the world. The machete, at its core, is the ultimate do it all tool.

Below is a list of some of the more popular ones:

  • Latin Machete – Often used in South and Central America. This style is typically between 18” and 24” long with a heavy blade.
  • Bolo Machete – These originated in the Philippines and are often used for agriculture. They can vary greatly in length but tend to be on the longer side, often over 2 feet.
  • Golok Machete – Similar to a bolo machete, these originate from Indonesia. They generally have a shorter blade than a bolo machete but can still slash. It has a more pronounced pointed tip. This can be useful for stabbing or puncturing tough materials.
  • Panga machete – The panga machete is a large machete that is common in Africa and Central America. It has a very wide blade that tapers to a point. The panga is used for hacking through thick vegetation.

Is a machete good for survival?

If I could only have one item in a survival situation (after a satellite phone) I would choose a machete. They are the ultimate do-it-all survival tool. They can cut like a knife, slash through dense underbrush, and chop and process firewood. You can also dig and scrape with them and the best part is that they are very easy to sharpen in the field. They can be used for everything from self-defense to cleaning game plus countless other bushcraft type tasks.

Is it hard to sharpen a machete?

Even in the field it is not difficult to sharpen your machete. You can use a whetstone, file, or even a rock. First, find a comfortable place to sit or stand. Second, lay the blade flat on the sharpening surface at about a 20 degree angle. Third, using long strokes away from the body, move the blade across the sharpening surface until it is nice and sharp.

What type of machete is meant for cutting brush?

Longer, slashing types of machetes are perfect for cutting brush. These include a Latin machete, bolo machete, panga machetes, and many more that originate from jungle environments. Something with a slight curve to it will aid in the cutting action and the belly of the blade will make the cutting force more powerful. I recently wrote an article about my top choices for brush clearing machetes, you can read it here.

Can I use a machete to chop down a tree? 

Yes, machetes can be used to chop down trees. Machetes are often used for this purpose in many parts of the world. Of course, if you are talking about a very large tree an ax or chainsaw would be better, however this is where the versatility of a machete comes into play, it may be more work, but it will get the job done.

Can I use my machete to chop wood?

Yes, you can use your machete to chop wood, but not all machete styles are good choppers. Machetes are designed for cutting through soft materials like brush and grass. If you want to use a machete for chopping, make sure to pick one with a stronger spine and made from thicker blade stock. The mistake people make when trying to chop a tree or big logs with a machete is they try to swing it too hard and go deep on each blow. Lighter chops that don’t take as much physical effort will be better. You want to make the tool do the work as much as possible.

Are machetes good weapons?

Machetes make great weapons. In a way, a machete is just another style of a short sword, one of the most common weapons since the beginning of time. Machetes are often used as weapons in many countries around the world. Machetes are also used by militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world.

Can I use a machete to skin an animal?

Yes, machetes can be used to skin animals. Machetes are often used for this purpose in many parts of the world. Machetes can also be used to gut animals. Machetes can also be used to decapitate animals.

What is the difference between a machete and a sword?

The main difference between a machete and a sword is the length of the blade. A machete has a shorter blade than a sword. Machetes are usually between 12 – 18 inches long whereas a traditional sword will be 24 inches or longer. Machetes are also thinner and lighter than swords.

What is the difference between a machete and an axe?

I’m troubled that you have to ask this question, but I will answer it anyway. The main difference between a machete and an axe is the length of the blade. A machete has a long and relatively thin blade compared with the axe which has a short, thick head. Machetes are intended more for hacking while the axe is better suited for heavy chopping.

What is the difference between a machete and a knife?

Same as above, but I can understand this question a little more. Again here, the main difference between a machete and a knife is the length of the blade. A machete has a longer blade than a knife. Machetes are usually between 12 – 18 inches long whereas a traditional knife will be 6 inches or shorter. Machetes are also thicker and heavier than knives.

Which machete is best for self-defense?

Without a doubt, the best self-defense machete is a Kukuri. They are the right size to swing in tight quarters, they have more heft than a jungle machete so their cutting power is multiplied, and the curved blade ends in a sharp point perfect for stabbing and piercing.

What machete does the U.S. military use?

Machetes are no longer a standard issue item in the U.S. military, however a wide variety have made their way to our troops throughout many of the wars and conflicts we have been involved in.

During WWII the Machete, Model 1942 was issued to soldiers fighting in the jungles of the Pacific. This machete was 23 inches long with an 18-inch blade. After the war, the Machete, Model 1946 was issued which had a longer blade at 20 inches. This machete was used during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

These machetes are very traditional looking ones with straight blades and short handles. While machetes are no longer standard issue, soldiers are still issued them on occasion. In 2010, 10,000 Machete, Model 1859 were sent to soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

Where did machetes come from?

Machetes have been around for centuries, and their history is closely intertwined with the history of humankind. The first machetes were probably nothing more than sharpened sticks or rocks, which were used for hunting and defense. As time went on, people began to fashion blades from metal, which made them much more effective. Machetes were especially popular in Central and South America, where they were used for everything from chopping down trees to clearing fields. Today, machetes are still an essential tool in many parts of the world, and their design has remained largely unchanged. Whether you’re using it to clear a trail or cut through a jungle, a machete is a versatile and powerful tool.

There are many different ways to use a machete, depending on what you need it for. In all cases the machete is swung either down or across. If you’re using it to clear brush, you’ll want to hold it in your dominant hand and swing it back and forth in an arc. For chopping down trees or other large objects, you can use both hands in a downward motion. A machete for the most part is a slashing tool that you swing. The sharper it is, the easier it will be to cut weeds and brush.