Home Survival 101 Machetes Vs. Knives Vs. Utility Blades: Breaking Down the Difference

Machetes Vs. Knives Vs. Utility Blades: Breaking Down the Difference

by Survival Dispatch Staff

Machetes VS Knives VS Utility Blades: Breaking Down the Difference

Machete stabbed into a tree

What makes a machete different from a long knife? Can a machete be used in place of a knife? Why is a machete not considered a sword but a knife? Where do utility blades fit? These and many more questions might have crossed your mind.

Machetes are great outdoor companions. They are especially popular in South America and Africa and with anyone else who does a lot of outdoor work. Knives, on the other hand, make a great companion in the kitchen; having a good one makes chopping, dicing and cutting a cinch. Utility blades are versatile; they find their place in several applications in and out of the home. Whether you need to strip wires, open bottles, cut open boxes or prune small flowers, utility blades are your best bet.

There is no one-size-fit-for-all when it comes to kitchen knives, machetes, and utility knives. Each unit is designed to tackle a given task perfectly. As a user, you, therefore, have to take your time to choose the perfect knife.

Read on to learn more.


Machetes come in handy outdoors. When you need a useful tool for chopping, hacking, cutting, scooping, splitting, scraping, crushing, cracking, smashing, carving, hammering, digging and whittling, a machete will deliver. The tool is also used as a large combat knife making it handy in self-defense. The machete is the single most versatile knife in outdoor work.

With so many types of machetes, it is challenging for users to choose one that fits their needs.

Types of Machetes and Their Applications

A.) Double Edge Machete

True to its name, this machete sports two cutting edges. Most users sharpen one edge for cutting and slicing while leaving the other edge dull for chopping. You can also sharpen both edges and flip the machete knife over. This makes it easier for you to do more work without having to take sharpening breaks. These machetes are designed to cut from different angles with just a flip of your wrist. They come in handy for any sort of outdoor work, and also make excellent tactical machete.

double edge machete

B.) Bolo Machete

This machete is popular in the Pacific Rim and Asia. The machete has a single edge with a widened point that shifts its weight forward. Its design allows it to chop and slash fast and also feel comfortable on your hands as a survival knife. You can use it for hiking, training, camping, survival, and hunting.

bolo machete side view

C.) Heavy Machete

This is a machete that has a widened tip making it heavy and very efficient in cutting and chopping. The machete can be used to cut and chop huge trees and wood and also do rugged outdoor tasks.

heavy machete side view

D.) Kukri Machete

Kukri machete looks posh, and it is a high-end machete. Due to its elegant design, the machete is more expensive than other designs. The machete sports a great balance with an angled edge to facilitate a deep cut with every stroke. You can use this machete when you need a hand working machete knife for big outdoor jobs.

kukri machete side view

E.) Panga Machete

This machete is typical in Africa. It is designed in a variety of styles, with each style fitting a given application. It is a heavy duty machete intended to chop down thick bushes and small trees. It also comes in handy as a general farm tool.

sawback machete side view

F.) Sawback Machete

This is a machete that doubles as a saw. On one side, it has a cutting edge, and on the other, it has a saw. It allows you to saw trees and bushes as you cut out what needs cutting. It is also an excellent choice for those looking for an outdoor survival machete. Black and Government Issue machetes feature a saw back.

two-handed machete side view

G.) Two-Handed Machete

A two-handed machete comes in handy when you need to use two hands. Using two hands makes it easier for you to cut down tangled vines and thick terrain. The design of these machetes makes them an excellent choice for the jungle.

Black machete with carrying pouch

A Short Machete Buying Guide

When shopping for a machete, pick one that lasts. A good machete should be made of 1095, AUS-8, 9Cr18MoV, 420 Stainless Steel or 8Cr13MoV fully tempered carbon spring steel. These materials resist chipping, cracking or breaking and hence last longer.

A good machete blade should be 1/8” thick with Rockwell hardness of HRC 55-60. Again, consider getting a full tang machete as it lasts longer than other machetes. A full tang machete is designed as a long piece of metal with a handle attached around it.

Besides buying a quality machete, you should consider purchasing a machete sheath to protect your knife from elements and secure it safely to avoid injuries to the user on transit. The sheath should have a durable Kydex and be fitted with a long lasting adjustable strap.

Kitchen Knives

Kitchen knives, or just knives, are among the most critical tools in a kitchen. Unlike machetes, knives are smaller and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit different applications.

Knives laying on a wooden cutting board

Types of Knives

 A.) Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is versatile. If you had one knife in your kitchen that does all tasks, this would be it. It is the knife you turn to when chopping vegetables, different types of meats and so many other foods that need cutting. This knife comes with a large and smooth blade which can be used for crushing food items such as garlic and olives when required. It is also the knife to slice and dice food in the kitchen.

chefs knife with wood handle

B.) Paring Knife

A paring knife is designed as a smaller and shorter version of the chef’s knife. This makes it ideal for smaller slicing and dicing tasks that come up in the kitchen where a chef’s knife would be so big. The knife can be used to perfectly cut fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms and for any peeling tasks that need a knife. When you need a knife for delicate cutting tasks, this will be your best choice.

pairing knife with wood handle

C.) Serrated Knife

Serrated knives have a long thin blade with serrations on end making it ideal for cutting bread. The serrations ensure that you do not tear up or smoosh bread while cutting. You can also use it when cutting soft fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes.

serrated knife 2

D.) Santoku Knife

While a Santoku knife can perform the same tasks as a chef’s knife, it comes with a very different design. It can be used to chop veggies and mince herbs thanks to its broader and straighter blade. Its design allows chefs to get thin slices of vegetables. You might not need a Santoku knife at home, but professional chefs need them all the time.

santoku knife for chopping food

E.) Carving Knife

A carving knife sports a long and thin blade that ends in a sharp tip. The knife also referred to as a slicer or a carver, is generally used to slice chunks of meat into fine pieces for easy serving. This knife is designed specifically for this task which means it is not ideal for all kitchens. If you make roasts or baked ham a lot in your kitchen, you might need this knife.

Carving knife animation

F.) Boning Knife

This is a specialty knife that only a few home chefs will need. Hunters and home chefs who buy large chunks of meat will need this knife to cut through bones. The knife has a sizable handle with a short blade that tapers to a point. The 4-6 inches blade makes it easy for you to remove bones from your meat. The knife comes in different degrees of flexibility with stiffer blades working perfectly for thick meats and flexible blades working well for delicate meats.

Boning knife animation

G.) Filleting Knife

A filleting knife looks almost the same as a filleting knife but sports a thinner, sharper and flexible blade. These knives are available in different sizes ranging from 4 to 10 inches. It is another specialty knife designed specifically to fillet fish.

Filet knife animation

 A Short Knives Buying Guide

What do I need a knife for? This is the first question any chef should ask themselves when shopping for a knife. Knives are either forged or stamped. Forged knives are created when the heat is applied to steel then it is moulded into the desired design. Forged knives are stronger and resistant to bending. Stamped knives are machine-made, they are cut out of steel, and the edge sharpened. Unlike forged knives, stamped knives are not considered high quality and are generally cheaper.

When buying knives, you should also consider handling comfort, weight balance and ease of use.

Utility Knives

Utility knives are versatile. Unlike machetes or kitchen knives, a utility knife finds its place indoors and outdoors. In any well-stocked home or industrial toolbox, you will find a utility knife. This one tool is more versatile than any other tool in the box. While the term utility knife can be used to mean specific knifes such as the linoleum cutter, most people take the term to mean an all-in-one tool.

A utility knife can be referred by other names such as box cutter, carpet knife, pen knife or folding knife. The knife can replace some kitchen knives, but it is not large enough to perform the rugged tasks that a machete does.

The knife is used to:

  • Mark or score materials in construction sites
  • Open boxes
  • Trim excess material in rubber and plastics
  • Cut binding materials such as tapes, cords and plastic strappings
  • Strip Wires
  • Scrap paint or dirt off smooth surfaces

While utility knives are meant to be multi-purpose, there are some that are designed for specific tasks. To make the utility knives effective and safe for the users, manufacturers create different handle and blade designs: fixed utility blade handles and retractable utility blade handles

A.) Fixed Handle Knives

Fixed handle utility knives have a single blade that does not move when you are cutting. These knives are further divided into replaceable blade where the user can replace the blade, folding knives on which the user folds the handle to hide the blade for safety, and multiple position blades where the blade stays fixed when cutting but can be adjusted to different lengths.

These knives have sturdy handles making them ideal for cutting heavy duty materials. However, some knives leave the blade exposed after cutting which exposes the user to the risk of injury. Again, a knife that does not have a replaceable blade has to be thrown away whenever the blade becomes dull.

Orange box cutter

B.) Retractable Utility Knives

A retractable blade was designed for safety. The knife exposes its blade only when the user holds down the slider. On releasing the slider, the blade will slide back into the handle casing automatically. This simple feature keeps the user safe even when they forget to retract the blade after use.

The latest retractable knives are designed to retract immediately they lose contact with the material to be cut. However, it can be cumbersome holding down the blade when you are cutting.

Black box cutter

 C.) Utility Knives Blades

Utility knives feature different blade designs, with the common ones being the traditional metal blades, which are very thin and cut with ease. These blades can withstand bending when tackling side loads. Because the blades are very thin, they are not safe when put in the pocket.

Snap off utility blades are another common type where the knife sports a thin, razor-like blade with several scores across the width. There are also ceramic utility blades which are stronger than steel but are more expensive.

Multi-purpose blades are also common where one knife sports different blades each to fit a given application. For most users, a good utility knife is one that offers a bottle opener, a corkscrew, small scissors, a knife and many other pieces meant to make the knife versatile.

Orange box cutter


When shopping for knives, consider your needs and your budget first. You cannot buy a kitchen knife and expect it to suit all your needs just the same way a machete cannot cater for kitchen tasks. A quality knife is a hiker’s best friend, but just a simple utility knife might not be enough. The same case with a good chef, a single chef’s knife may not be enough. To enjoy easy cutting, consider buying a machete, a good kitchen knife, and a utility knife.

0 comment

Related Articles

Leave a Comment