[SCENARIO] Machete/Knife vs. Axe/Hatchet


JetroKoro

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You are holed up in an abandoned hardware store. The building is partly collapsed due to the snow piling on the roof and hardly any light penetrate through the ceiling.

While searching through the shelves and trying to find anything useful, you hear a chilling sound outside. A sound no one would want to hear; especially in a almost-pitch-dark hardware store after the apocalypse.

A pack of wolves, six at least, judging by the sounds, are closing in. Since you are low on supplies and haven't had a good meal in couple of days, you decide to quickly leave the scene.

But you decide to grab some protection if the wolves catch up to you.

In front of you is a shelf where you can see lots of different kinds of knives and hatches laying around.

You have time to pick up ONLY ONE of them.

Which one is it?

----

Personally I'd go for the hatchet. It can give me some protection, even though it's not ideal in wounding a target, I can chop down trees and pry open doors etc.

Knife would be better if you had an intent to kill or wound someone. Also knife is way better (duh) for skinning an animal for their fur.

(PS. English isn't my native language :P)

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There's so many different types of knives that you could get almost any kind. Some are small like leathermans and some are long, almost long enough to call it a sword. Some are serrated, some are not.

The point here was that you can not go back to the store since it's overrun by wolves. And there's no other place to get these items near by.

I'd say you need to live with your choice for a week before tumbling on another store.

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It very much depends on the environment that you are in. In most situations I would take the knife/machete but in the setting of the long dark I might take the axe since it would be hard to chop down those trees with a knife! With practice, a well maintained axe can be used to do the same tasks a knife can.

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Great topic Jetro.

A long time ago, I went away from using my USAF issued survival knife. It's a heavy knife that can do just about anything, but none of it particularly efficiently.

Now I carry a small extremely light knife for fine tasks (mora), and a hatchet/forest axe for larger tasks (Grandfors Bruks).

It really depends on what your intended uses are.

First, in the snowy north, throw out the machete. Machete's are excellent for making your way through dense foliage that's less than 2 inches (2cm) in diameter. Vines, moss, roots, ETC. Not what you find in the frozen north.

Thought it might have some merit as a weapon.

The hatchet/axe would be essential if you're building shelter or processing large amounts of firewood. They are somewhat unwieldy as a weapon, and extremely dangerous if you miss your target, and find the bit moving towards you.

I think the knife would be my first choice. It's fast and efficient as a weapon, delivering multiple cuts per second. I've cut down trees around 4" (10 cm) in diameter, though it's a lot of work.

You can also make feather sticks from it, which are probably the best winter kindling you can get.

It's all personal style and skill. I personally would not be caught dead in the wilderness with a knife. (Actually if I was caught dead in the wilderness, it's probably because I didn't have a knife :-) )

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Yes you are correct, not a rock but a log! I knew rock sounded a bit wrong but then again my logic sometimes doesn't make sense...

Mini machete would be like a machete but the size of a standard hunting knife. I find that the shape would be more suitable than your usual knife for most things that you do in the wilderness. I grew up in an isolated village and my grandpa always had that with him, said it was so useful wherever he went.

Since it would have a machete shape you can't really stab things but slicing and cutting would be much more efficient, at least I think thats more useful than stabbing. Unless you really like and want to stab things all day.

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Well, here is the problem. A mediocre axe from any store could be way more useful than the average knife in a store. If there is a nice quality knife (Full tang, thick blade, full flat grind with good steel, and long enough to baton), then I'll take that; otherwise the axe is better in combo with a small pocket knife that I wouldn't have been anywhere without. If you want to tell me "But you don't get a knife as well..." You're an idiot to not constantly have a pocket knife. It's the best tool you can carry. There is literally not a single scenario where I'd be in a store like this without my pocket knife.

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Quality and variety are huge factors here. A well made machete will work as a hatchet, or even camp axe better than the average hatchet will for almost all purposes. Skinning comes to mind as an exception, but a proper knife is better for that. It's also hugely more expensive, and both larger and heavier, and requires slightly more skill to use to chop wood. The same is true of the kukri some one mentioned.

A poorly made machete is trash, not worth the effort of lumping around, but if it's made right the machete is the best weapon, and the most versatile tool of the lot. So, if it were a well made machete, I would take that. If, like almost every machete in North America, it was junk I would take the hatchet. A poorly made hatchet is still a pretty good weapon and tool. That's one of their big advantages.

The knife is right out for me for one simple reason. I don't leave the house without two knives, and for that matter, two ways to start a fire. Life's made me a bit paranoid I suppose. Regardless, having a knife, another isn't a huge priority.

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I'd prefer hatchet... decent swinging weapon... cut down branches and brush for shelter and fire... blade can be used for pressing and packing down snow... blade can also double for hammer (e.g. for bracing wood tighter)... longer handle in case needed as a makeshift pry bar... easier to notch trees as markers...

but most importantly (at least for survival) -- the hatchet is easier to use for flipping pancakes!

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The axe hits harder, the knife is more precise and has a shorter time between starting a strike and landing it....and the machete is the most versatile tool, but requires some skill to use effectively.

I'd probably take a 2-handed axe, if it's available. It's a heavy weapon that can kill with a single hit if you get a decent swing in, and with practice you can use it pretty fast. It's also got the best range of any of the potential weapons. I'm not proficient with a machete, so I'd avoid those if possible....in the hands of a novice they're not all that useful, and the middle of a fight with a wolfpack is not the best time to learn how to use one. If there's no decent quality 2-hander I'd go for a hatchet or the machete if it's a high quality one and I'm desperate. The hatchet is a considerably better tool....it's lighter, more portable and if it's made well it can do almost anything, and it's a fairly good weapon as well, having a decent mass behind each blow but without being so heavy it takes forever to follow through. A felling axe is big and heavy, but to me, that's the point....you want to kill with the first hit and then take advantage of the situation. It's the tool I'm most proficient with, and I know I can swing one damned quickly if there's a tree I don't like the look of, so it shouldn't be too bad in a fight. Against a pack enemy like wolves I expect you'd want to see if you can scare them away, rather than butchering the entire pack (although that might solve the food problem for a while), and a heavy weapon should do a decent job if you can get first blood on them. In theory, you can also modify it later on to become a halberd. Just weld, braze, solder and/or tie a decent blade on the end, and you've got something that can be used as a hammer, axe or short spear depending on the situation...and if you can rig that up effectively without damaging the components, it's probably the best possible weapon out of the bunch. Obviously in the given scenario, it's probably not possible to improvise one, but if I could, I would. Polearms are excellent weapons.

And I'd avoid knives outright. If we're talking wolves, you need a decent weapon, and even a decent sized hunting knife isn't going to be much use in a fight against a medium/large predator.

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I have to agree Robdoar, at least 50x more use of any of the choices as a tool than a weapon, or something is very, very wrong. Past, you know, the fall of civilization and all that. If you have to use any of these as a weapon you're simply way, way too close to something that you want to kill, and that presumably wants to kill you as well.

With any of these and a fire (without which you're probably dead anyhow), you can make a hardened spear pretty easily. You could make an atlatl as well, if you know how to use one without too much trouble. Even just chucking them, like I would be, some range is a lot better than no range to speak of. If the hostile is in knife/machete/hatchet range, well, it can hurt you pretty bad. If it can, if it happens a lot, it will.

With wolves your basically in intentionally thrust your hand down its throat to kill it territory pretty quick, and even with dogs, that... well your arm will need some attention if you have to do that.

If you're planning of using it against humans... well, somebody's going to have a gun, probably somebody you run into fairly early in the mess, for the simple reason that guns don't die with their owners. You can bring a knife to a gunfight and win, but you had better have surprise on your side, or a really bad shot on the other. If you win, then you have a gun, and the edged weapon goes back to being a tool... until the ammo dries up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hmm, it depends on how I interpret the question.

The way you phrased " you decide to grab some protection if the wolves catch up to you" in the original post makes it sound as though you intend for me to give wolf killing the priority. In that case, I'd want the machete. I think I'd be able to swing it faster due to the way it's balanced versus an axe. I know it's not double-bladed, but I think I might be able to do some extra damage on the backswing with that wicked wide point. Mostly, it's just longer, and I'm afraid of close-in fighting. I always feel safer playing ranged characters in RPGs.

However, the smart thing to do would be to grab something I can use in the long term for survival, not just for defence. A machete's still useful, but a knife seems so much more versatile for things needing close work or leverage. I can see myself starving to death because I find canned food and don't have a knife to open it with (always assuming I hadn't watched the video in the Survival Tips thread). I guess you can open a can with a hatchet, but wouldn't you spill a lot of food?

Then again, I can use an axe as a wedge, or turn the head around and use the blunt side as a hammer or even a grinder. I can chop off tree limbs, too, for building other tools as well as for shelter. Maybe I'll have to go with the axe, after all. This is tough...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, like some others have already stated, I too would not be without my knife(s) to start with since I always carry at least one knife (as a tool not a weapon). But for the sake of this thread, lets say I lost my knife in the crash.

I would pick a medium to long solid looking knife. It's more versatile as a tool and I wouldn't want either knife or hatchet as a weapon against a pack of wolves. If they are desperate enough to attack you, neither is going to do you much good. You may take one or two down, but by that time you're surrounded by the rest and are under attack from all sides... And if they are that desperate, wounding or even killing one or two won't scare them off.

And as for using the hatchet/ axe for chopping down trees, do you really need to chop down a entire tree? What for? Building a log cabin? For firewood you can suffice with dead branches that are off the ground and a knife with a small log would do that job most of the time if simply breaking it off won't work. And you don't need entire trees for building a shelter either. Heck, you'd have trouble enough just moving it into place. Besides, chopping down a tree, even with a good felling axe, takes time, energy and some skill. If you've never chopped down a tree, you'd probably be better of not trying it in a survival scenario. Chopping of your own leg or having a tree fall on top of you is not good for your health.

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  • 4 months later...

If a wolf pack encounter is likely an axe is too slow and close to stop you from turning into puppy chow. The machete is quicker and would cause more damage than the axe but still very close. I would choose the knife and find a 4-5' stick and fashion a spear. If your caught in the open by the pack you have slim chances but at least a spear will allow you to keep some distance and let them know your not an easy meal before they start an attack.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Anyone planning to survive in the wild needed. Chopping tools allowed trees to be cut, wood to be split, shelter to be constructed, big game to be processed, and enemies and prey to be quie, so I will go for Hatchet.

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