The Survival Machete…SM18 & SM24

Design Criteria For ZXCS
April 20, 2012

The Survival Machete…SM18 & SM24

When you first see SM18 and SM24, (US Pat Pending) from Panacea X, you might think it is some kind of Fantasy Knife, but I assure you that every line, edge and point was designed into this machete with purpose. The SM18 was designed to be a highly efficient total survival tool, being able to do heavy cutting for shelter or raft building to digging, to precision cutting like fish cleaning and animal skinning, to carving a bow drill set. Fast handling and light it was designed to have every feature be fully functional. It is also designed to be small enough and light enough to be easily stowed in a standard sized day pack or bug-out bag or under the seat of your airplane.

Here are the main features:

1. SM18 Blade is made from.094” (3/32) thick 1095 (or 1070), high carbon steel, blade length is 12.3”; overall tool length is 18”. Width at widest point is 3.0” Over all weight 1 lb. 2 oz. (510g). Main blade is convex ground the Spur Knife is flat ground. This steel was chosen because it is very stiff, yet flexible, (a spring steel), it holds an edge well, can be sharpened in the field easily, and it throws great sparks from a Ferro rod or from a flint. 1095 and 1070 when properly heat treated is very difficult to break and it is stiffer than stainless steel, which comes in handy if you have to dig with this tool. At .094” thick, it is also a little heavier that most production machetes, (which are .074” thick), this heavier blade helps to reduce chopping vibration and improve chopping velocity without making it so heavy as to quickly fatigue the operator and burn calories. Machetes use velocity and a thinner blade to make chops or cuts, while an Axe and heavy blade knifes use inertia and kinetic energy. Swinging heavy tools in general uses more energy/calories, fatigues the operator, and gets old quickly when doing a lot of chopping like making firewood.

2. Saw back, the SM18 and SM24 has the best saw of any saw back machete that we have tested. It cuts on the both the push and pull strokes. A good saw can save you lots of calories!

3. The Manu Hook, for log handling, climbing aid and high harvester, etc. This is Manu’s design contribution to SM series of machetes. My original design had the hook on the bottom of the blade and she suggested that she would like to see it on the top like on a Cane machete.
Manu grew up in Australia and worked in the Sugar Caine fields as a youngster. There she came to appreciate the utility of a small Machete called a Cane Knife. The Cane Knife has a hook on the front of the spine which is useful. Manu says;” I have used that hook to do everything from drag snakes out of the road to dragging dead animals.”

Pulling branches down to harvest fruit or pulling branches out of your way when trekking; saves calories over hacking your way through. Processing firewood, the operator can pull in branches while chopping.

4. Baton edge, the upper edge of the clip point has dulled edges for battoning blade through larger logs, making fire wood or a fire hearth board etc. This edge is also dulled to allow the operator to use it as a hand-hold when scraping or using the SM18 as a draw knife.

5. Spear point use has an obvious application, but I would probably never use my SM18 as a spear that I would throw. I would never want to lose control over my primary survival tool in a situation; as loss or breakage could mean disaster. In grizzly country, or boar hunting, a spear might make sense, but I think making a spear by sharpening a strait sapling or shaft and having the SM18 as a backup makes more sense to me. If you ever had to do a lot of digging, in hard ground one could lash the SM18 to a shaft and dig. If I was relatively sure I was going to be rescued or self-recued soon, I would do it. Digging really hard ground with a stick would use way more calories and water. Otherwise, it is never a good idea to use your primary knife/machete to dig with as it quickly dulls it and wears away the point. Digging a snow cave or a trench shelter in the desert, where there is no other way to dig, makes sense to me.

6. Cordage/ hanging hole. While I do not think I would ever hang my SM18 by this hole in a survival situation, it can be used for that. By battoning the SM18 into a stump vertically, you can then quickly strip leaves from vines by running them through this hole to use as cordage. Also, when processing cordage such as Dogbane or Nettle, by running the fibers back and forth through the hole, the rounded edges will break out and remove the last of the “wood” clinging to the fibers to make for stronger more flexible cordage.

7. Scraper edge, flat area on main blade scraping hides or scraping bark for tinder.

8. Ferrocerium rod striker edge, “sharp 90 degrees” grind throws great sparks.

9. Upper 90 degree sharp edge is designed to use as a sparking surface for Ferro rod and can be used with a flint. It is also an excellent scraping edge for scraping bark off of Dogbane or green saplings, etc. All the while saving your primary edges from getting dull.

10. Spur Knife: You saw it here first. This is the most important breakthrough in survival tools. All knife designs are a compromise and this one is no exception, but with the advent of the Spur Knife, an operator now has the best of both worlds, a small utility knife integrated into his large heavy work knife. The spur knife can be used for cleaning and scaling fish, skinning, and precision carving and piercing. With your thumb located directly over the sweet spot of this knife it makes carving and whittling possible with this large knife. The Spur Knife is flat ground so that dicing and processing food is much easier, it does not have to wedge its way through and cause the food item to “jump” when it splits.
Since the Spur Knife is located next to the handle it keeps its valuable sharp edge out of the way of the heavy cutting and digging in order to be used for more precise cutting where sharpness is a necessity.

Handle: the SM18 and SM24 I spent a lot of time designing the handle of the SM’s. The handle shape is made to be as ergonomic for the task and as comfortable as possible.

The handle is ~6” long which is a “hand in a half grip”. Being able to use both hands on the handle is good for sawing and for some chopping. I realize that on some machetes, Kukris and most parangs, there is a curved feature at the end of the handle which helps the operator in the “proper” use for bushwhacking or clearing brush, the most common use of a machete. I did not incorporate this feature for two reasons, one, this machete is not designed for bushwhacking or clearing bush, and two, this feature inhibits comfortable and efficient use of the saw. One thing that is not evident about the handle is that the center line of the handle runs straight down the center of the handle directly to the point. This feature helps the machete to point intuitively. Flats on both sides are parallel to the blade and the low thumb support help the operator to be able to feel “where he is” in relation to the cutting surfaces, making the SM’s more intuitive to use even; in low light conditions. There are no finger grooves or large edged grip features on the handle as these will cause blisters on a working knife.

There are several handle material options. The handle is attached by 3 through bolts with lock nuts. This allows the handle grip scales to be replaceable, and upgradeable and personalize able. Current handle scale options include G10, in several colors and wood. Three through holes in the handle cover the three L’s in handle design, Light-weight, Lashing-holes and Looks.

11. Hammer pommel, only weighs 40g which is less than 2 ounces. I know some survivalists will complain I do not want to carry the weight when I can just use a rock. Here is my argument. One, sometimes there are no rocks, like in deep snow, or in some desert areas. Two, let’s say you are walking along the seashore gathering and eating snails, it would be easier and more efficient to crack them open with the SM18 instead of carrying a rock and the SM18. The flat surface of the hammer and rounded edges make grinding acorns or cattail roots easy, again without having to waste calories looking for the right rock.

12. Sheath is made from rot proof nylon pack cloth with a Kydex liner. This sheath is designed to be highly flexible in the ways that it can be mounted. It can be mounted vertically, at a slight angle for cross draw. Set up as a “dangler”, or attached to MOLLE gear, or attached horizontally to a belt for Tracker style carry. The most import feature of the sheath is that it can be securely attached the SM18 into the sheath, so even in extreme conditions, it will not fall out and be lost. Yet it is designed to be able to be drawn in and out easily without un-snapping a bunch of snaps or undoing a bunch of other fasteners. As your primary tool in survival it will be drawn and re-sheathed many times in a day; so easy access is essential.
Further, the sheath has pouches to carry all of the necessities and thereby potentially making the SM18 and sheath a complete survival kit. A sharpening stone, a triangular file a round stone and a Ferro rod are included with the SM18; everything you need to keep the SM18 sharp and efficient as well as the Ferro rod for fire.

Machetes are proven to be the best survival tool the world has known. Millions of them are in use the world over every day and many to make a living for their owner… real survival.

The main advantage of my Survival Machete, is that it has efficiency and big cutting power of a machete, while still having most of the advantages of a small knife. Sure, you can cut tulles for bedding or a shelter with a small knife, but it will take you longer and use more calories, efficiency and saving calories and hydration is the name of a game for survival. I believe a machete is the best choice for a survival tool. It can chop as well as most axes while having the carving agility of a knife. The biggest problem is the machete is too long and cumbersome to do most precision cutting.

The SM18 and SM24 with the Spur Knife is the answer to that, big cutting power of a machete and the precision cutting with the spur knife.

There is an age old question in the survival knife community, “if I could only bring one knife into a survival, situation what would I bring”. The SM18 and SM24 is my answer to this question.

Bob

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