Machetes VS Hatchets

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Which are Better for Survival?

The question is difficult to answer because it depends on the type of survival scenario you’re preparing for. But before going any further, it’s important to know the difference between a machete and a hatchet.

For starters, a survival machete looks nothing like Danny Trejo. Instead, it’s a large knife with a long, broad blade. It has several uses, which we’ll look at later.

A hatchet, however, is like a small-handled ax that is used with one hand to chop wood, cut meat, build a shelter, and so on.

Both machetes and hatchets have their uses. But we’re going to say that a machete is the better choice for most people for a survival situation.

Who doesn’t love chopping up trees as much as I do? This Christmas, equip your loved ones with the best of all worlds: a hatchet and a machete. Put an arm under them so they can be both camping companions and wildlife destroyers! A Christmas can get a little confusing when you have so many different people to shop for machetes or hatchets. With time running out it’s getting hard to know what is the best gift. By knowing what men, women, and so on like, you might have an easier time shopping for Christmas gifts. If they love chopping wood off-grid in their free time, then a hatchet would be the perfect present.

  • What are you preparing for?

If you’re thinking of a survival scenario where you need to evacuate your home and bug out in the wilderness, a machete will be great for clearing brush, cracking open coconuts, slicing meat (if you’re hunting), etc.

This tool is most often used for clearing foliage, chopping wood, and so on.

A hatchet, however, doesn’t have the versatility of a machete because of the limitation of the blade. It’s shorter, and the hatchet itself is unwieldy and not as effective when it comes to clearing brush.

But if you’re living off-grid and chop a lot of your wood, a hatchet is a better tool. While you could chop wood with a machete, a hatchet makes the process easier. 

As a survivalist, you want to expend as little effort as possible to get the job done. If you’re chopping trees and dry branches to build a shelter, or you’ve killed an animal and need to chop the limbs into smaller pieces, a hatchet is a tool for the job.

  • Let’s talk self-defense.

Very often, people think that hatchets and machetes can be used as self-defense weapons. They can, but with one major condition – you need to have the training to use them well, just like the Gurkhas are trained to use their kukris (a type of machete).

Without training, the machete or hatchet becomes difficult to use during an attack. The length of the machete’s blade/hatchet’s handle makes it ineffective in close combat situations if you don’t know how to move (footwork). You’ll be better off with a tactical knife or even a tactical flashlight.

While you can swing your machete around to scare assailants, if they enter your personal space zone, you’ll find it very difficult to slash or stab them with a machete. With a hatchet, it’s even more complicated.

That said, some people have excellent hatchet-throwing skills. Ax throwing is a very popular trend these days in many bars around the U.S.

However, when you’re in a self-defense situation, you’ll experience an adrenaline dump. You might have tunnel vision, and your hands may tremble a little because of the nerves. Throwing a hatchet at someone to save yourself becomes extremely difficult for the average layman, even if they are skilled.

If you miss, or the handle of the hatchet harmlessly hits the attacker instead of the blade. Now the attacker has your ‘weapon,’ and you’ll end up running like one of the terrified people in the Friday the 13th movies.

Even if you manage to lodge the hatchet in the sternum of a would-be attacker and kill or maim him, let’s not forget that there are serious legal ramifications here. There’s a fine line between self-defense and murder.

To even fling the hatchet, you’d need some distance which then raises the question, “Was the perpetrator even a lethal threat in the first place?”

So, it’s best to err on the side of caution. 

Use a tactical knife/flashlight for self-defense. If you have a good empty hand system, you’ll defend yourself better with short-range weapons, and let’s not forget, you should also have a firearm with you.

Leave the machete fighting to Danny Trejo.

  • What to look for when buying a hatchet or a machete

The most important specification to pay attention to will be the blade material. You want the blade to be made of high carbon steel. That will make it very effective, and it’ll be easier to sharpen the blade.

This applies to both hatchets and machetes. Good blade material will not rust easily and won’t chip or get blunt too fast. You’ll be able to sharpen it with a multi-tool sharpener.

It’s best to avoid stainless steel. While it doesn’t rust, it’s ridiculously hard to sharpen. Stick to high carbon steel.

The next important point to note will be the tang of the blade. If you’re wondering what the tang is, Wikipedia has a great explanation – “A tang or shank is the back portion of the blade component of a tool where it extends into stock material or connects to a handle.”

In other words, the blade and handle are one piece, and the rubber-covered wooden handle is riveted to the blade, making it extremely secure. You ALWAYS want to get a full tang, whether it’s a machete, hatchet, or even a tactical knife. 

The handle should have a non-slip rubber grip. When clearing brush or chopping wood, your palms may sweat. A good handle will not only prevent the tool from slipping out of your grasp, but it’ll make it easier on your hands too. This extra comfort is priceless when you’re constantly using the machete/hatchet.

Ideally, you’ll want to get a machete with a black, matte finish. Always aim to be tactical when you’re preparing for survival situations. Even the slightest glint of a blade during a crisis when people are desperate can lead to negative consequences.

Make sure your machete or hatchet has a sheath to protect the blade. This is crucial. If the machete/hatchet you buy doesn’t come with one, you may need to buy one separately.

  • How does it feel in your hands?

Your machete or hatchet needs to feel ‘good,’ Which means you’re comfortable using it. Some men may prefer a larger machete, while others may prefer a smaller one.

There are no right or wrong answers here – and bigger doesn’t necessarily translate to better.

What matters is that you can wield the item effectively and with the economy of movement. Clearing brush, chopping wood, etc., can be tiring. With the right tool, you’ll conserve your strength and energy.

You may also wish to sign up for weapons-based martial arts such as Arnis or Kali. These arts will train you to use a machete as a weapon. With the right training and practice, you’ll be able to use a machete very effectively in a combat situation.

In conclusion, decide what your needs are before choosing whether to get a machete or a hatchet. There are many excellent models sold on Amazon. Look around and buy one that’s right for you.

Tactical flashlights are a must-have for any prepper. They’re tough, durable, and super bright. But they can be expensive too. So you need to find the best tactical flashlight that won’t break the bank, but will still meet your needs in an emergency situation. We found it! This is one of those rare products where we were able to get quality AND affordability right at the same time. It has all the features of a high-end tactical flashlight without costing hundreds of dollars as other models do.