Written By: James C. Jones
I have always considered the machete to be a jungle survival tool. They are generally seen being used to hack trails through tropical rain forests and jungles. Most North American forests are more open and have plenty of trails and game trails for passage. I was recently scouting a site for future training activities. The area included a lot of high grass and thick sapling growths. I had to wade and push through these obstacles. I realized that a machete would be ideal for clearing paths, campsites and training areas. I would never advocate a machete as a replacement for a good survival knife, but if you anticipate surviving or just camping in swamps, marshes, grasslands or thick growth areas a machete may be a better choice than an axe. Not only can this tool be used to clear trails and campsites, it can quickly cut grass and brushes to thatch a shelter or cut light firewood. What it lacks in weight it makes up for in velocity for cutting. You can clear a campsite, and build a shelter much faster with the big blade of a machete than with a knife. In general the bigger 18-inch blade machetes are not as handy unless you are only going to be clearing grass and brush. The shorter 12-inch blades are easier to use, safer and better for axe work.
These big blades need to be respected. The wide swing arch makes them a hazard to the careless user and anyone nearby. The wide blade can deflect off of hardwood and do serious damage. Some machetes come with a full “D” handle while others provide a safety strap. You can get a good machete for about $25 to $40.00. Beware of cheap ones with flexible blades and unsafe handles. I selected a Gerber ™ machete with a thick 9-½ long blade and a strong composite grip. The full length saw blade on the back will be very useful for the more precision cuts and notches required for building shelters, traps, rafts and other survival devices. As a weapon, the machete is somewhat clumsy, but very intimidating and lethal. It may not be a “must have” item, but it’s not a bad investment if you anticipate operations in the back country.
This Gerber ™ short machete cost about $20.00, but will do a wide variety of survival tasks.
Author Bio: James C. Jones is the president of Live Free USA, a not-for-profit organization devoted to advocating and supporting emergency preparedness and family self-reliance. Live Free USA publishes the American Survivor newsletter, conducts seminars and supports chapters. They can be contacted at www.AmericanSurvivor.Org, LFINOW@AOL.COM or at Live Free USA, Box 3295, Munster, IN 46321