American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

MBHanzo Machete Mod

Just before hunting season, I received an Ontario Machete modified by Mike Billman (MBHanzo) of Grindstone Cutlery based on a few simple design requests.

First, I wanted an Ontario 18" Military Machete for the thickness, steel, and heat treat. Second, I wanted the orange handle for ease of recovery should I set it down while I'm working. Third, I wanted to drop the length a bit and modify the tip to resemble the Martindale Golok.

I have used Mike several times in the past for kydex work and, while discussing this project, decided that a modified Ontario machete sheath was just the thing to protect me from the edge. Believe me, Mike spends quite a bit of his day sharpening knives for customers and he's got the process figured out. Protection from the edge is exactly what I wanted once I'd handled the machete.

I got to use the machete for the first time while building a temporary hunting blind/wind block and it sliced through 1" branches with ease. I used it for push cuts too. Mike rounded the spine so choking up on the blade for use as a drawknife is comfortable. He also left me with about 1" of squared spine for striking my firesteel. He then re-blued the end where he'd ground off the tip to improve the looks and provide additional corrosion protection--a very nice touch.

I'm left with a little bit of a forward guard and the "pinky dongle" at the rear. While I find myself more often than not choked up on the handle with the forward guard between my index and middle finger, it's nice to have the traditional feel of an Ontario machete without having too much extra "fluff."

I'm carrying the machete in the hydration pocket on my Camelbak Ranger and I don't notice that it's there until I need it because the sheath is so flat and the whole package is so sleek.

I'm very happy with the way this machete turned out and I think it's another step in the right direction. For the price of the machete, sheath, modifications, and sharpening this particular blade may be hard to beat for raw functionality and value. I look forward to many, many years of hard use with this blade.

I'd encourage you to give Mike a call at his shop, (260) 482-1105, if you're in the market for a kydex sheath, a new knife, or a machete like this one. He's a guy that has been around knives for a very long time and he's easy to talk to.

Thanks for reading,



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