Ka-Bar’s Black Cutlass Machete reaches back to the roots of both designs, coming up with a new approach that works well for modern campers and adventurers. The 16-1/2-inch rat tail tang knife — with 11 inches of 1085 high carbon steel cutting edge — chops brush, slashes rope, and in a pinch could repel a boarding party, just like the seaman’s cutlass of yesteryear.
Actually, there really is a strong resemblance both in form and in function, since the fighting cutlass originally was a short heavy blade designed for chopping work. With a hand guard added, it became a crude but effective fighting weapon popular with sailors and pirates. Later on in history, the practical working ability and hand protection made it the preferred tool for hand-harvesting sugar cane on Caribbean plantations.
In this lighter design, with a Kraton grip and no basket hilt, the Cutlass Machete serves well for today’s camping and bushcraft needs. Break trails, clear a campsite, chop kindling, and when you’re done, slip the 1.12-pound knife back into the leather and Cordura belt sheath to keep it handy. Hollow ground with a stout edge angle of 20 degrees and tempered to HRC 52-54, the knife holds up well to harsh treatment. If honed razor sharp, it could be a decent butcher knife for field dressing big game, but the intention behind this combination cutlass and machete is much less delicate work.
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