7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

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When the jungle, forest, campsite, or even your yard bites at you…you need to bite back!

With a proper machete, you can do more than bite.

Machetes are a tool I’ve loved since childhood. As a kid, my dad owned a landscaping business, and for us, summers were spent laying sod.

Machetes Libertariat-Brush Demon-Gerber Gator Jr
Machetes

These cutting tools are vital for getting a yard of laid sod to look just right.

As a kid, I loved wielding the machete.

It felt like some kind of sword! Chopping corners of sod was slaying a dragon. I was Aragorn and the sod was Uruk Hai.

Bushcrafting Frame with Ribs
Take that sod.

Machetes followed me into the Marine Corps, where they were a common sight among infantrymen.

Over the years, I’ve swung many a machete, blistered hands, killed trees, and learned a thing or two.

In my yard, I’m constantly fighting back a brutal dictatorship coming from the dense Florida jungle that surrounds me.

Machetes Libertariat-Brush Demon-Gerber Gator Jr
Florida be like that sometimes. (Photo: Florida Hikes)

All that said, let’s talk more about machetes. I’ve gathered some of the best models currently on the market so you can grab your very own.

I’ll even talk about how to go about picking the perfect one for you.

So, let’s get to it!

How To Pick a Machete

I won’t rattle on and on about the intricacies of choosing the absolute perfect machete. But I do have some tips to ensure you get your money’s worth.

Favorite

Blade: Blade length will vary depending on your task. Long machetes provide a longer reach and more weight behind your swing. They tend to be best for thick brush but are heavier and take up more room.

Compact machetes are way easier to carry while hiking, patrolling, or doing primitive camping. They still provide a slasher versus a regular blade but expect to do more work.

Machetes Machetes Gerber Gator Jr
Are you going to be waking limbs? That might dictate a specific kind of blade

I like machetes with round tips that do better when smashing through thick vegetation — Pangas, bolos, and Latin-style blades.

Steel: Carbon steel blades provide a balance of cost-effectiveness and functional material. They get nice and sharp and hold an edge for quite some time.

Machetes Gerber Gator Jr
It’s all about what you want to do with it.

Carbon steel can be vulnerable to rust, so keep the blade oiled or make sure it has a corrosion-resistant finish.

Handle: I like a good soft handle that provides a good grip. Most machete handles are functional but rarely super comfortable.

You’ll get blisters fast but handles like the Gerber Gator’s help a fair bit. Ultimately, you want a rounded handle that absorbs some shock.

7 Best Machetes

1. Gerber Gator Jr.

If you deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in the 2009 to 2011 push, you likely carried or knew someone who carried the Gerber Gator Jr.

This machete became a quick favorite for Marines deploying.

Greek Kopis
Favorite

Why? Well, it was at the PX and super affordable. Not to mention, this deployment was more primitive than previous ones to the urban areas of Iraq.

The Gerber Gator Jr. was also one helluva awesome machete.

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I didn’t bring one, but several of my squadmates did. I now own one after using it overseas.

The Gerber Gator Jr. is the smaller variant of Gator and packs a hefty blade covered with a reverse sawback that doubles its utility.

Machetes Brush Demon
Gerber Gator Jr.

I use my Gerber Gator Jr. around the house almost every other weekend.

It’s a short and handy tool that cuts through brush both thick and thin. The sawback allows you to chop hefty branches and wood.

I’ve taken down several small trees without much difficulty.

The handle is a soft material called Gator Grip Overmold.

Machetes Brush Demon

It’s extremely comfortable and helps you resist hot spots, blisters, and sore hands after a day of chopping.

The compact size also makes it relatively easy to carry and pack in and out of the great outdoors.

2. Outdoor Edge Brush Demon

The Brush Demon is an appropriate name for this machete.

Oddly enough, it satisfies my sword fantasy with its similarities to the Greek Kopis sword.

Machetes Libertariat

The Kopis was the sword of the citizen soldier and was a very simple chopping and stabbing tool. Average Greek citizens could wield it necessary.

Experienced Kopis designer Jerry Hossom created the Brush Demon, and it’s good.

The blade feels heavy and features a slight inward curve. So, this thing is an eater of weeds, palmettos, and saplings – chewing through without remorse.

Machetes Libertariat
Brush Demon

At 13.5-inch, the lightweight blade is efficient and reduces the effort you need to finish the job.

The Brush Demon grants you a good deal of control, making the machete a very precise tool.

It can strip limbs of leaves and scratch away bark to form a stake or spear. On the flip side, you can carve a path through a jungle easily with the tool.

The handle is a Zytel material that’s ‘skin’ molded.

Latin D Guard

It’s soft and makes for an easy and comfortable grip. No gloves are required, even for the softest of hands.

It also ensures you can control your whacks with a single hand without worrying about a loose grip.

3. ESEE Knives EXPAT Libertariat Machete

If you want a super compact and simple machete, I got you, fam.

The Libertariat just wants to end brush and weeds. It’s also the most compact machete on this list — a hair bigger than a KA-BAR.

Fiskars Machete Axe
Libertariat

Its blade and handle shape make it more of a chopper than a knife.

Made in El Salvador, those fine folks know a thing or two about chopping through jungles.

The Condor blade style makes it easy to use, even though the blade is a mere 9-inches long.

The wood handles and high carbon blade aren’t fancy, but both are proven well for long-term use.

Machetes Libertariat-Brush Demon-Gerber Gator Jr

I use the Libertariat almost weekly for chopping the little branches, saplings, and annoying fast-growing weeds from the edge of the property.

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It’s so small and light that it rides shotgun on the lawnmower with me.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

For the more adventurous type, it offers a blade that takes up minimal space and offers lots of chopping potential.

A short blade means you’ll expend more effort to chop through the jungle, but you’ll expend less carrying it everywhere.

It’s perfect for adventures that you don’t plan to need a machete, but just might.

Have you tried The Libertariat? Give it a rating below!

4. Cold Steel Latin D Guard Machete

Latin America might as well be considered the heartland for machetes.

The simple designs coming from South America have long been awesome designs made to last. And they’re often affordable.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One
Latin D Guard (Photo: Cold Steel)

Cold Steel adapted the Latin design and the famed D guard handguard.

The D guard is a fully enclosed handguard that works well with the Latin’s 24-inch blade. (There’s also an 18-inch variant available.)

Users can swing the machete broadly to create a path without worrying about losing their grip. The machete won’t fly into the woods if your hand tires or grip slips.

Not only is this great for tool retainment, but also safety’s sake. A wild machete is never a good thing.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

This is a true jungle machete that would serve Rambo well in the jungles of Vietnam. The traditional machete-style blade allows it to whack through both thick and thin materials.

A carbon steel blade means it will take abuse and resist chipping and breaking after years of heavy use.

The propylene handle is quite comfortable, helping your hands stay soft and free from blisters.

Old, calloused hands will still appreciate the handle design because blisters suck for everyone.

5. Ontario Knife Company Military Machete

Do you just want to keep things simple? I hear you.

The Ontario Knife Military Machete is incredibly simple, providing you the same machete issued to military troops.

I saw this exact machete in the armory, and eventually, it was issued to our team 2-point man.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One
Ontario Knife Company Military Machete

These things took all the abuse a 19-year-old PFC can toss at them…and shrugged it off.

The design isn’t fancy, but it doesn’t need to be to work. The big 18-inch blade design rips through brush and most thin wood.

It’s a true whacker that leads with a big belly and thick blade.

Between this model and the Gerber Gator Jr., we chopped down several small trees outside of our patrol base to open fields of fire and gather firewood to keep warm as Afghan winter set in.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One
Take that tree!

When used properly, there isn’t much that stands up to the Ontario Military Machete.

The biggest downside is the hard plastic handles. They don’t offer a great grip and can cause quick hot spots and blisters. Wield with gloves for best results.

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It’s a classic design that doesn’t pack any fancy features in, but the price tag reflects the simplicity.

6. Fiskars Machete Axe

What’s better than just a machete? How about a machete ax!

The Fiskars Machete Axe looks like a State of Decay 2 melee weapon but is actually a functional but unique machete variant.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One
Fiskars Machete Axe

It’s part panga and part ax, and all kick ass.

The Fiskars uses a traditional machete blade for about three-quarters of its length; at the tip, it grows into an ax.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

That hefty end gives you so serious swinging power. It will make short work of brush and slightly longer work of saplings and small trees.

Got a thick limb in your way? Well, you won’t after a few swings of the machete ax.

Need to kill some roots? You won’t have a problem making sure they’re dead with the Fiskars.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

The rear blade of the ax portion has a saw tooth back for a little sawing in tight quarters. It can’t split wood as well as a regular ax, but it’s much easier to wield when broad slashes are required.

Be warned, it’s a little off-balanced, and it will carry your swing through.

Always make sure you have a clean cutting area because it might be tough to stop the Fiskars mid-swing.

7. Gerber Double Down

My wildcard selection is the Gerber Double Down, and boy, is it a wildcard.

Have you ever seen a machete that’s also a butterfly knife? Well, you have now.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One
Gerber Double Down

This compact machete allows you to easily trim the size of the machete in half by folding the blade into the handle.

It’s small but made for machete-like tasks. Gerber’s Double Down chops, debarks wood, and will make hanging a tree stand, clearing a path, and trimming away the weeds quite simple.

At the same time, it can fold in half and fit into your back pocket.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

Gerber over-engineered the hell out of this thing. They made sure it wouldn’t be fragile for the chopping and cutting.

This massive butterfly knife features a stability guard and overstrike guard.

A four-lock system engages in three different positions to provide the highest amount of safety possible.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One

It’s not perfect. Not a fan of stainless steel for machete blades, but it is a high carbon stainless steel. So, it’s not that bad.

Second, the $100+ price tag makes it a tough pill to swallow. However, it’s damn sure a cool choice.

Conclusion

Whether you’re heading into the jungle or taming your backyard, machetes are useful tools to have around.

7 Best Machetes & How-To Pick the Perfect One
From left to right: Libertariat, Brush Demon, and Gerber Gator Jr.

I’ve tried to narrow the selection down to models I know are worth your attention and time. Hopefully, you’ll find something that works for you!

What do you think about the machetes above? Let us know in the comments below. For more cutting content, check out our Knives Category.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>