CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

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Sworbeyegib
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CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

Post by Sworbeyegib » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:32 pm

As what has become a bit of an unofficial Christmas tradition between my Father and I, we always seem to get each other a new knife for Christmas (as well as one of the same for ourselves... so neither of us has something cooler than the other). This year, while I got him a Thai style chef's knife on my during my trip to Phuket, he got me the CRKT "Chanceinhell" machete. Been swinging it around for a bit now, and I'm pretty comfortable to write up an initial review on it.

First are the specs, and a stock pic, since I'm at my office and don't have a pic of my own yet.

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And the dimensions, as per CRKT's site.

Dimensions
Open Overall Length 17.88 inches
Weight 1 lb. 4 ounces

Blade
Length 12 inches
Thickness 0.1 inches
Material 65Mn Carbon Steel
Blade-HRC 52-56
Finish Bead Blast then Black Powder Coating
Grind Flat
Style Drop Point Machete
Edge Plain

Handle
Material PP Core & TPR Overmold Black with Faux Pigskin Texture

Carry
Carry Systym-Black Nylon Sheath
Weight-6.1 ounces

The blade is a Ken Onion design. I've carried a bunch of Ken Onion folders in the past, but this is my first KO blade from CRKT and my first fixed blade from him. I've always kept an eye out for him at the local gun & knife shows, since he supposedly based out of my state, but alas I haven't caught any sightings yet.

Blade shape and design

It's a very broad 12" blade that widens more as it gets to the tip. Oddly enough, for a Ken Onion designed blade, it has very little to no recurve, which is one of his primary trademarks in his blades. Rather, the only only section of blade with any recurve on it was the first inch or so by the handle. I don't see this affecting performance at all. In fact, a blade with minimal to no recurve is much easier to sharpen up on a variety of stones. The blade is slightly angled forward to the grip, which adds greatly to its cutting potential, as the blade presents itself at a steeper angle. This blade by no means reinvented the wheel. It is a basic and classic design, reminiscent of the Filipino bolos* I grew up using, as well as a slew of other big blades used across the world. That being said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The blade itself comes in at .1", or just a bit under an 1/8 of an inch. This in my opinion puts it in the "small machete" category, and not a big knife. This makes it a wee bit thicker than your typical "thin and whippy" light material machetes, but a hair thinner than my Ontario's. It is saber ground, with a secondary bevel for an edge. The edge out of box was sharp for a machete, but not hair popping sharp as a knife. Still plenty sharp enough for what it was designed for.

The blade material is 65mn. I've been out of the knife game for a little while now, and I wasn't familiar with this steel. After doing some googling, the general consensus is that it is a wel made Chinese steel, that is roughly the equivalent of 1065, and has a good reputation for big choppers and swords. I've even heard it compared to 0-1 tool steel, that I think that's a bit of an overreach. Either way, it is a high carbon steel, that had a coat of oil on it from the factory.

Handle

The handle on this thing has really grown on me. I was a little hesitant at first, since I tend to stray away from handles with "finger grooves". I have large hands, and they tend to not fit right, causing hot spots. But even with my large hands, I found that the shape was comfortable enough in my hands to not cause any problems. People with smaller hands may run into some issues though. The real selling point of the handle was the grippiness, It has a football like texturing to it that locks tight into your hand. The handle also has 5 hollow rivets, to allow multiple lanyard options.

Right away, I noticed that the handle really helps mitigate shock and vibration when chopping heavy stuff. This may not be a big deal for people that primarily use a machete as a brush clearing and light duty tool. But I use my machete and large choppers as my primary for almost everything. From camp clearing, to processing firewood some would say is too large or tough for a machete. My 18" Ontario is quite a beast when it chops, but if I'm hacking at something particularly hard and tough, it can really start to hurt my hand and arm if I'm not wearing gloves.

The sheath

The sheath is a very well made, semi stiff nylon sheath. As a whole, it is a very good sheath, with a few caveats.

The first being the snap systems. There are 3 snaps, two by the spine of the blade, and one that goes over the finger choil to secure it in place. Even though the blade slightly widens near the tip, it doesn't do so enough that it requires either of the two snaps to be undone near the spine of the blade to be removed, and still not do any damage to the sheath. I could understand if it drastically widened to the point that I would slicing my sheath open... but in reality it's not really an issue. The second issue is that the 3rd snap that snaps over the finger groove need to really be in the perfect position for retention. Even with it snapped into place, I can give it a quick wiggle and hard tug, and pull the blade out, without undoing any of the snaps. All that being said, even without the 3rd snap being used, the blade sits snuggly and well in it's sheath. No wiggle room, and even when turned upside down, stays in place.

The belt loop on the sheath is also a love/hate things for me. It is an adjustable loop, that allows a generous sized belt to be used, as well as being able to attach it to your belt without having to actually remove your belt or whats on it to get it in the right spot. It also has two attachment points on the back to allow for a traditional belt carry, or a more "drop leg" style. The down side to this though, is the belt loop is only secured by a hook and loop (velcro) tab. While everything is fine and secure now, in my experience, the velcro with wear out more and more with time if I use it a lot. I would've much rather seen the strap to use snaps, than just velcro.

Performance

As big and as beefy as this thing looks, you have to remember that this thing is still machete thickness. It is incredibly light and agile in the hand. Especially with the large and beefy grip that offers great control of the blade. Yet the broadness of the blade, the widening near the tip, and the forward angle makes this thing chop like something much longer and heavier. I used this blade to clear out some overgrowth in my back yard, and break down our Christmas tree into manageable chunks for our green waste bin. Generally I reprofile all of my "chopping blades" to a convex edge using my work sharp, as shown in this old post I did, but for these duties, I just used to factory edge.

viewtopic.php?f=33&t=114635&hilit=convex

It made short work out of all of it. I was especially impressed with how far it would bite into the wood for being a relatively short blade for chopping. No wear at all to the edge as far as I could tell. I just re-oiled and put it back in it's sheath. More field work will definitely need to be done with it over time... but I've used used large blades and machetes over the years to pretty much know right away how something is going to work for me, just on feel and balance alone. As long as the steel and the sheath hold up, I think this is an absolute winner in my books.

For general camp tasks, it should do just fine. I didn't baton or split any wood with it, but I've done enough batoning with similarly sized blades to know that it will get the job done. The thinness of the blade will limit the "splitting" capability of it a bit, but for average to medium pieces of wood it will still power thru just fine. The blade is also handy enough in the hand to allow for some food prep, and other odds and ends that a full sized machete may be awkward using.

Why do I need it, and what is it good for?

Let me tell you what this blade is not.

-This blade is too short to be a dedicated brush clearing blade for blazing new trails in thick overgrowth. For that, I much rather prefer a much longer and thinner style of machete that offers me more reach.

-This blade is too light to be used as a primary wood processing blade. I like using something longer, thicker and beefier if I'm going to be processing large amounts of wood for an overnight or multi-day trip.

-This blade is too big as a primary camp knife. While it certainly can do most of the camp tasks I ask of it, there are much better blades that would do my camp craft, cooking, etc, much easier than this would.

So whats the point of it????

Well, as I get older, and my work schedule gets busier and busier, I find i do not have as much time for my usual overnight and multi-day trips out. Rather, I find myself just going on my day hikes, and this is where this finds it's niche. As a day hike blade.

I don't like to hit any trail without some sort of machete, but rarely find myself needing a full sized chopper. Most of the trails are usually maintained fairly well, but I often times find myself in a part of a trail with large branches that have fallen or half fallen, that need to be cleared out for safety reasons. Something this size will easily take care of that, without being too cumbersome. If I do decide to make a camp for a day, something this size will be plenty big enough for a small fire to warm up some lunch. Since the trails I find myself can involve very tight spaces, or involve a bit of climbing, I find that a full sized machete on my belt is cumbersome and can easily get hung up on things as I'm moving thru it. My general rule of thumb is that I don't want anything hanging below my knee.

Other advantages so a smaller machete, is that they are easily slipped into a regular backpack or pack, without the need to be strapped to the outside or on my body if I choose to do so. This may not be an issue for some people, but I like to keep a grey man approach whenever possible. Depending on the circumstances wherever I may be, this can be a handy option to have.

Conclusion

All in all, I really like this blade for what it is. A short, light machete, that chops like something a bit bigger. The steel, handle and blade design are all on point. The best part is the price. You can find these floating around for only about $40 online. That's a great bargain in my books. If you are a fan of big blades, or just want something new to play with, check it out.
**Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't**

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Re: CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

Post by jor-el » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:02 pm

Thought that blade shape looked... familiar.

The ChanceInHell
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Kershaw Camp 18. Storm Crow did a review sometime back on Youtube.
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Of course, I believe Ken Onion had a hand in designing both.

If you want more blade, try the HalfAChance. Saw this at Wallyworld.
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Re: CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:26 am

I remember that review, and have had a chance to handle a couple of those Kershaw camp blades (which I really liked!). But the big difference between those blades, and this one, is the thickness. A little under 1/8" vs 3/16" doesnt sound like much, but in my experience definitely changes the intended purpose of the blade. Under 1/8" still constitutes "machete" territory for me, and is more suitable for cutting thru light brush and branches with little to no fatigue on the arm, and still being able to "flick" the angles enough to exert minimum effort. At 3/16" you are in what I consider "chopper" territory. You can obviously still bushwhack your way thru brush, but the added weight of your blade means it is requiring more effort on your part to both swing, and stop the swing, when hacking thru light stuff that offers little to no resistance. Where big choppers really shine, is for wood processing, and tackling anything more than wrist thickness you may run into. All in my humble opinion of course.
**Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't**

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Re: CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

Post by Storm Crow » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:52 am

I like the looks of the two new Onion choppers, but haven't had one in hand. Thanks for the review!

Jor-el - The Kershaw camp series, while I think is well-designed, got a reputation for bad chipping in the early batches. My Camp 18 succumbed to that quite recently, losing a chunk about the size of half a quarter while cutting green live oak. I'll try to get a picture soon. Hopefully, it's been long enough that the new versions have had the issue fixed. If they have solved the issue, it should be an awesome blade, but if not, I have to sadly not recommend them.
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Re: CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

Post by jor-el » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:24 am

I dimly recall reading online reviews of the Camp 18 to corroborate with Storm Crow's video. Almost bought one but went with a Schrade Schbolo. One guy damaged the blade/handle attachment by throwing it at a tree 50-100 times, sometimes hitting the tree or the ground with the handle.
Other than that quite a scarcity of broken Schbolos.

Storm Crow, you might want to update your video.
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Re: CRKT ChanceInHell machete review

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:51 am

Thats quite a bummer about that Kershaw. Ive had one in my shopping cart on amazon for awhile now. Ive also been eyeing out that Schrade bolo as well... not that I actually need any more big blades though. I have piles of them that Ive accumulated over the years, and I still go back to using the same 4 or 5 for about 95% of what I use them for.
**Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't**

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