Machete vs Swords

by Bill
(Miami, FL )

How come a 20 dollar machete can cut better and last longer than a 5-Star rated sword (like Ronin Katana Dojo Pro for example) Is it because of the length? cutting tools become much more expensive the longer they get? or it is just because of the extra detailing that goes into a sword? Thanks!

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Excellent Question!
by: Paul

Hi Bill,

This is an excellent question, I am glad you asked..!

There are two parts to my answer - the first is, a machete cannot actually cut better than a real sword. A machete can hack and chop, but cannot really SLICE or CUT the same way as a sword.

The difference in how they perform has to do with the blade geometry, the shape of the edge itself and the weight distribution combined. I don't want to be grim, but cheap machete are often used in modern day conflicts in Africa and Latin America and while they deliver terrible wounds, they cannot instantly decapitate or cut someone more or less in half like a sword can..

The reason for the price difference though is how easy or hard they are to make. A machete can be stamped out by a press, then run through one machine to put an edge on it and sandwhich on a handle in 10 mins. A sword like the Ronin Dojo Pro starts as a billet of steel, is hammered out into the required shape and length, then it is rough ground and refined, then heat treated, then polished by hand - then sent off to have the handle wrapped, saya painted, everything assembled, coated with lithium grease, packaged and shipped with the whole process taking several weeks and many hours of labor intensive handling (each sword is typically handled from between 10-15 different people/work stations).

The end result is a mass produced utilitarian hacking tool (Machete) that can be purchased for $20 or so to a hand crafted functional replica of a blade designed for warfare and personal hand to hand combat that costs ten times as much..

Indeed, when you know just how much work goes into making a single hand made sword, it is actually a miracle they can be sold for a few hundred.. Back in the day (around 15-20 years ago) stainless steel wall hangers were several hundred dollars and functional swords in the thousands and extremely rare and hard to find. But thanks to the rise of the internet, they have become readily available at prices I could only dream of when I was a young un..

Anyway, hope this clarifies things.

by: Bill

Thanks! Great explanation! I didn't realize that swords were made to virtually cut a person in half with one swing. I figured that just about any stab wound would essentially take your opponent out of the fight or at least knock him off his game so you could easily defeat him with follow up blows. In the case if you opponent had full plate armor you would then have to settle for small wounding attacks in the gaps of the armor or just switch to a mace/flail. thanks again!

Machete VS sword
by: Adam Pendragwn

No offense to Paul but I disagree on one point—but then this wouldn’t be the first time. Just so people know, I am the world’s foremost leading authority on Western European swords from AD 900 to AD 1200, and here are a couple of my thoughts: A real Medieval sword could cut someone’s head off in one blow or cut someone in half at the waist—in theory! I am not aware of any actual written account of this ever happening. We do know that beheading swords—which were made for just that—never seemed to do the job in one blow. I did cut half a hog in half with one blow, but as luck had it, it was nothin’ but net. In other words, I didn’t hit any vertebra or ribs. I also shoved it through a ‘69 LTD car door. But that was a sword hand made in Solingen, Germany. A machete could cut someone’s head off with one blow, if the head were over a log. Anyway, machetes seem to cut better, because they’re very light and can be swung very quickly, and they’re perfectly balanced to do the job they were intended to do—chopping down brush. However, they have nowhere near the longevity of a high-quality sword. The edge of a good sword will stay sharp much longer, and (a really good one) is balanced better for combat—and can cut through a helmet! That said, if you just wanted to cut-up plastic water bottles, I’d go with the machete. If you plan on starting an uprising, get yourself a good two-handed sword! I know I’m just rambling, but maybe there’s something of value here.

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