When most people think about getting a machete, they often think about just heading downtown to their local major hardware chain and picking up what they see on the wall, bring it home and get going to work on whatever overgrowth that has been bothering them on their property. More times than not, this may suffice for that particular job, but for those of us looking beyond the backyard and perhaps thinking about physics and quality, I sure have something you may very well be interested in.
That being said, I must admit that I am not much of a “machete guy” and will always back up the fact that I am foremost an axe loving gentleman, who will gladly take and use a reliable machete when the job calls for it. For those who know me, you already know that I am a big fan of Condor Tool and Knife products and with few exceptions everything I have reviewed from their line has impressed me on multiple levels. For this particular review I’ve been working with Condor’s Speed Machete which is another design straight from the mind of Joe Flowers, the gentleman responsible for many of Condor’s knife and axe designs over the last few years.
My Condor Speed Machete arrived from Monkey Headquarters in a timely manner with the standard paperwork that comes with all Condor Tool & Knife products. What you receive is a small pamphlet that contains all of their products from their 2013 lineup, along with everything from previous years. Funny note, even though I have a short stack of these catalogs I will like to look through each one when they arrive. Extracting the Speed Machete from the box, the first thing that strikes me as impressive is the black leather sheath that contains the machete itself. Condor has a great history of providing quality leather sheathes for many of their products and in this case they didn’t spare any of the cow to save on quality. The machete in encased in a nearly full length, hand crafted black leather welted sheath that keeps the machete head in place nice and tight (almost too tight, but more on that later). The sheath has Condors signature logo stamped on the front, and a well stitched, thick swiveling belt loop that should last for years.
The first think that came to mind when extracting the machete from the sheath was how light it was. I admit, I was one of those guys mentioned above who went to the hardware store some years back and bought the machete hanging in the wall. Compared to the Speed Machete, that store bought piece weighed a ton! What I had previously read about the Speed Machete was true; weight was really taken into consideration when designing this piece. The blade itself is 16” and coated with a sand blasted finish that looks impressive and has a nice “feel” to it. The factory edge was sharp enough to do the job, but I wanted to add to it some before heading into the woods for real-time testing. The handle, a high impact polypropylene mold, feels great in my hand and offers excellent control of the blade, without sacrificing weight to do so. The 2.5mm thick, 1075 high carbon steel blade runs all the way to the hilt of the handle, making it a full tang machete. The Condor logo is also stamped on the blade close to the top of the handle. The overall length of the machete comes in at 22 and 5/8”. This offers just enough room to work with the machete and clear a path, but not tire you out with extra material. All that being said, it was time to take this impressive piece out to the woods and do some clearing.
Since I live in southern Indiana, one of the places I love to go frequently is the Hoosier National Forest for hiking, camping and practicing bushcraft. Lake Monroe, Indiana’s largest lake runs along part of the Hoosier national Forest and offers a lot of “comfort camping” locations. For this particular trip, I decided to get a campsite close to the lake, but also close to the forest so I could work with this machete (and maybe get a little fishing in). Along with the Speed Machete, I brought along a few other Condor items that are a staple to my adventure kit. I should note that before I left the house, I did take my Lansky Dual Grit Sharpening Stone to the Speed Machete for a little while and managed to refine the edge to my liking. It was easy to do and I was looking forward to seeing how the end would hold up after some abuse.
After getting camp set up. It was time to venture into the overgrowth and see how the Speed Machete would hold up to come of Indiana’s thick wilderness. Along the way, I used the machete to clear a path to a hillside that had a bunch of thick vines and overgrowth; the perfect place to put this machete to the test. I feel it’s important to note that while testing, I didn’t disturb any of the larger trees or native flowering trees within the forest and stuck completely to the thick overgrowth that contained “junk” trees, thin and thick vines, dead trees and other areas.
Needless to say, the Speed Machete not only performed its job admirably, but also was a great pleasure to work with! First and foremost, I could have easily used this machete for the entire day and I doubt I would tire from its weight at all. At just 1.88 lbs. I see why this unit has the name “Speed” attached to it. As you’re working along, you get into a rhythm and literally lose track of time. With its reduced weight, the machete’s “flicking” quality is amazing! Using just a half-strength swing, I was able to chop through some of the thickest vines and branches I could find, usually with just one swing. Within ten minutes, I had cleared a path and an area suitable for camping that was otherwise unlivable beforehand. The base of the handle is curved which helps you in each swing and adds that “flick” that is so desired in machetes. Another added bonus to the handle is a lanyard hole at the base, for those of us who like to add a little paracord or leather strap for added safety while working away. My edge held up very well and didn’t need to be touched up after several hours of land clearing. I was having so much fun that I completely forgot about fishing that day!
I do have one minor complaint that is worth mentioning, even though it seemed to have fixed itself over time. The machete was a bear to extract from the sheath at first, as well as re-sheath. It was very tight and required some muscle to deal with. Some online research shows that others have had this issue as well, and some interesting ideas for fixing it, like putting the sheathed machete under your mattress while you sleep. I found that when you go to extract the machete, it’s easiest to give the thick leather sheath a light squeeze a few inches from the handle when extracting or sheathing. It’s not a big deal really, the leather is just tight and it is in no way a deal breaker.
To finalize this, I am a huge fan of this machete for its simplicity, quality and feature set. This is easily the lightest machete I have ever lifted and could have used it non-stop for an entire day. The handle is easy to grip, will not break or bend on you and molded in a way to provide the maximum flick machete users desire. The blasted satin blade looks good, cleans up well and maintains and edge very well. The leather sheath alone is worth the price of the machete (MSRP $74.98, found online for a mere $46.95) and it will easily last the lifetime of the machete, if not longer. Need another reason to check into this machete? How about the lifetime warranty that it comes with, the same as with all other Condor Tool & Knife products. Spend a little more and pick up this gem, you will not be disappointed at all.