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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:09 pm 
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I figured I'd do a quick review of the Cold Steel Smatchet Machete.

I picked this up last year at a gun show. There was a table full of the then current Cold Steel Machete line up. I ended up picking this up for $20 even after being chatty with the vendor for a little bit.

This picture is not mine. I can't seem to take good enough pictures to post on my phone to post.

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Here are the specs as set forth from Cold Steel.

Specifications:
Blade Length: 14"
Overall Length: 19 3/4"
Steel: 1055 Carbon Steel w/ Black Baked on Anti Rust Matte Finish
Weight: 23 oz
Blade Thickness: 2.8 mm
Handle: 5 3/4" Long Polypropylene
Sheath:Cor-Ex™

The smatchet as I'm sure some of you know was designed as a large fighting knife in WW2. This Cold Steel version is a "machete thickness" copy, meaning it is much thinner than this blade was meant to be.

First off the bat, I noticed that this blade was much heavier than any of my 12inch Cold Steel machetes, and closer in weight to a full sized one. This is probably due to the steel used in the guards and the full tang construction. The balance point comes off as a much lighter blade in the hand though. It balances about 3" above the guards.

The handle-

The handle fills my hands very well, and is very comfortable. I have larger than average hands, and this was a nice change from the small handles usually found on machetes. However if I had smaller than average hands, I don't know how I would feel about it. There is a lanyard hole near the pommel, suitable for a single strand of non-gutted paracord.

The handle itself is made of their polypropylene and is very slick. Much more slick than I would like. You can feel slippage begin after just a bit of sweat. I gave it a quick wrap with gaffers (a strong cloth tape) tape and it immediately helped with grip.

The guard-

I wasn't sure how much I would like the guard on the Smatchet, as I have never used one on any machete before. Turns out, I like it a lot. The guard really helps cinch and lock your hand down when doing any sort of chopping. It is non-obtrusive enough to not get in the way. If you have large hands like me, I can still grip up to the coil and slip the guard between my fore and middle fingers for finer work. Here is a pic I found on another forum

The factory edge-

First off, I was surprised to find that the Smatchet came with a workable egde. It has been awhile since I bought a new CS machete, but they used to come with their black coating all the way down to the edge of the blade, which dulled it horribly so. The edge on this came clean, and more than workable. There was a slight wire edge that I took off quickly with a few swipes of a diamond. It was by no means shaving sharp, but more than acceptable for a working machete out of the box. It also comes with an unsharpened false edge on the top 5 inches or so of the blade. It came with a very sharp point as well.

After my initial chopping, I ended up putting a convex edge on the blade, as I do with all of my machetes. I haven't decided whether or not to do the false edge as well.

The Blade+chopping ability-

The blade itself was a bit under 14" over all, with about 12 1/2" of edge. It is the classic wide leaf shape that has been seen in so many cultures over time, and I like it. Like I had mentioned, this is not a full thickness blade, only a machete. It comes in a fraction under an 1/8". Thicker than your average hardware store machete, but much thinner than a full fledged bush sword.
As a chopper, the "sweet spot" is right about where you would expect, within an inch or so of the widest part of the blade.

This means it is only a "fair" chopper when compared to the Cold Steel Kukri machete, which is of similar size but has its weight and sweet spot farther to the end of the blade. I used this to break down some limbs of a tree I was trimmings. It had no problem biting deep, even with the factory edge, but you lose some leverage that is only partially made up for in weight.

However, it is much handier when doing tasks that involve a little less power, and I little more control. Things such as husking a coconut, trimming smaller branches, sharpening and stick into stakes, and even certain food prep tasks. This is a much more versatile blade than a pure chopper. I don't doubt this would work just fine as a wood processor for arm and calf sized pieces of wood, Just not as well as a full length machete or axe.

As far as machetes go, it is a jack of all trades, master of none. If I'm carrying my usual mora+machete combo, then this is on the small side. However if my only cutting tool is my machete, this gives me the option for more "knife" tasks.

Edge retention was good, though most of my cutting was done on green wood. I've used enough Cold Steel machetes to know that it will hold up.

Note, that I'm basing this on the factory edge. Once I put on my convex edge using my belt sander, it became a much better chopper and the edge held up much better.

The sheath-

The sheath sucks. I am not a fan of the Cor-ex sheaths, or whatever cold steel maes them from. I would much rather have a stiffer sheath. While it is not a "cloth-like" flimsy as the sheaths provided with the kukri machetes, it is still not rigid enough to my taste.

There are two snap fasteners on the sheath. The first is located on the spine side, a third of the way down. It offers no retention whatsoever, and the blade slides in and out without the need for unfastening. The second snap is located on the handle, an inch or so under the lanyard hole.

Before I wrapped the handle with tape, if I held the knife in the sheath by the tip, it would slide out about two inches before the guard was finally snagged by the loop. It seems like it would make more sense to have the snap and loop moved closer to the guard to prevent any sort of slipping out. However, since I wrapped the handle, the extra thickness and grip added on keeps it from slipping out at all. An unexpected bonus of the wrap.

So... can it be used as a weapon?

Well, its sharp and pointy... of course it could be. As stated before, the blade shape and design was as a weapon first, and utility second. The size and shape is very reminiscent of a Spartan length xiphos, which conjures up imagery of badassness all by itself. The leaf shape blade is also very close to the Filipino barong swords, albeit less organic and more symmetric. I think that anyone with a background in FMA could easily use this in a similar way. Even without the false edge fully sharpened, the full tang guard and fine point makes this the only machete I own I would truly trust thrusting with.

So what would you use it for? Well, being a shorter machete, it has it's niche. It is not long enough that I would use it as a primary camp blade for wood processing. For hacking away in heavy brush, I would still prefer something longer with more reach. However, I see this as being a great companion for day hikes. I do not like being out in any sort of brush without some sort of machete, but often times I am going on a somewhat managed trail for just a quick hike in and hike out with minimal bush whacking needed. Just the occasional dangerous limb or brush I want to get out of the way, or a hiking stick I want to cut to length. It would be easier to pack around than a full sized machete, but more keen to machete like tasks than a large bowie or hatchet. It is still suitable enough to chop wood and make a small fire if needed. It also seems like a great bamboo knife and yard knife, where areas are tight and you can't swing around a full 18" blade.

Currently, I use a now discontinued 12" barong machete as my day hike blade. I bought a bunch of them for $7.99 when Cold Steel had a close out, after giving a few away to family I only have two left. I bought the smatchet to see if it offered an improvement. While its a little bigger and badder in many ways, my barong machete still wins on weight alone. It offers near same cutting performance, at a fraction of the weight. I don't "need" a guard and thrusting point in a woods blade.

So should you buy this? I'll admit, its pretty fun in the hand. I think this was $20 well spent, for a fun fighting blade that doubles as a semi-good woods knife. I'm pretty sure they are running about $25 most places online. Changing to a convex edge really makes a dramatic difference in my opinion as far as edge retention and chopping ability goes with a blade this size.

I give this sucker 3.5/5 stars. The price, shape, guard, steel, and badass factor are all on point. However, the slick grip, crap sheath and the specialized nature of the design all bring it down a little bit.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:32 pm 
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i recommend the book "Get tough" by W.E. Fairbanks. I believe he helped design the knife, and he put a small section in his book about it. But he does recommend some strange things with other weapons. Overall, he was a man ahead of his times.

http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Taught-British-Commandos-Forces/dp/0873640020

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:54 pm 
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I'm an off and on escrima guy over the years and have a special affinity to barong-ish because my Father and his family are from the Philippines. A lot of the general moves and strikes from stick training translates well to a blade, however there are certain techniques that are of pure blade style.

The barong was actually a weapon typically used by women and weaker fighters. They used the spine of the blade to push on to give much more leverage, and to make what is typically a mid ranged sword, into a very effective up close and personal weapon. My Dad is really into that style, and has since been popularized by guys like Ray Dionalde. Check out this video where he shows a few techniques that are quite different from the classis hack and slash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5ltL33ClKk

Look at how he meticulously makes defined and precise cuts to the joints and arteries. He looks likes he's butchering a pig rather than chopping a tree

Of course, with the false edge on the smatchet, I wouldn't be pressed to use these specific techniques. I never bothered learning them personally, even though my dad is a fan. But it does show the versatility of a similarly sized blade.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:49 am 
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The Smatchet was originally designed for trench fighting in WWII and used extensively by the OSS. You can find the details in the book (Oss Special Weapons And Equipment - Spy Devices Of WWII).

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 4:59 am 
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The one I just bought from Smokey Mountain Knife Works came with the false edge sharpened, and thus not so false. Haven't had the chance to put it to the test with yardwork just yet.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:10 pm 
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Reminds of the newer Shanghai Shadow

Excellent review, Sworbey!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:14 am 
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JeeperCreeper wrote:
Reminds of the newer Shanghai Shadow

Excellent review, Sworbey!!!



Shanghai Shadow is a type of kunai with a smaller blade. Good utility knife though just like a kunai

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:14 am 
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JeeperCreeper wrote:
Reminds of the newer Shanghai Shadow

Excellent review, Sworbey!!!



Shanghai Shadow is a type of kunai with a smaller blade. Good utility knife though just like a kunai

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