Cold Steel 12" Barong Machete Review- Bushman's Big Brother
(I apologize in advance if this was supposed to be posted only in the review section, and if so then I'd be happy to delete the thread.)
I've been wanting to do a review of this wonderful bush tool since ordering one on a fluke from Cold Steel last year for the ridiculous closeout price of only $7.00! I had never heard of a "Barong" machete and to be honest, the name was rather off-putting and strange to me being as I'm not much of a tactical gear person, but the blade shape looked very useful and for only $7 I decided to order one to see what it was about.
What I found (to my utter suprise) was a machete that was basically a Cold Steel Bushman on steroids but with a quality, fit and finish that seemed more like a knife costing $50-$60. Needless to say I was pretty blown away. After using the tool for the better part of a year up here in the rugged Rocky Mountains, my initial favorable impression has only grown stronger. Since I had already owned a Cold Steel Bushman, I was struck with the fact that the Barong machete just seemed more or less like a bigger version of the Bushman, so after a long winter, I wanted to post this review with that in mind.
Cold Steel Barong Machete specs
- 12" Blade length
- Overall Length 17.75"
- Weight without sheath (as measured on a digital postal scale)- 16.9 ounces
- Weight with sheath- 22.3 ounces
- Blade steel- 1055 Carbon Steel
- Price- Discontinued last year
The Barong when it was new out of the package and taken last year when the weather was still warm (ahhhhh!). Note the Cold Steel logo stamped into the machete which is conspicuously absent on the South African made Cold Steel machetes (like the Kukri Machetes, for instance).
Unlike the Kukri Machete, the Chinese manufactured Barong machete sports a much higher quality sheath, with thick Cordura material similar to the Bushman's sheath. My Cold Steel Kukri Machete's flimsy sheath literally ripped open after only my first outing, but the Barong sheath has easily handled almost a year of bush trekking with no problems. It holds the machete securely and also hangs low enough to clear a backpack strap, a big plus for me since I backpack quite a bit. I like cordura over leather for this application as it is lighter than a comparable leather sheath yet still holds the tool safely and securely.
The fit and finish of the blade is also much higher than the Kukri's and this particular one came with a fairly sharp edge right out of the package. The handle material is also of much higher quality, being much softer than the rather hard plastic of the Kukri and closer to the feel of the Kraton on the SRK. The handle is just about perfect and one of the things that makes this machete such a pleasure to use.
The steel is 1055 Carbon Steel, which is commonly used in machetes as well as Cold Steel's line of axes and tomahawks. It's not the greatest in edge retention but makes up for it in toughness and ease of sharpening. This machete will easily get hair shaving sharp with no effort, whereas my Kukri machete took quite a bit of work to reach this point. It comes stock with a very efficient Scandi grind profile, similar to what the Swedish Mora Knives have. This makes it an excellent chopping and cutting tool. In practice, this machete will chop nearly as well as my 1.25 lb head Wetterlings Wildlife Hatchet, which is really quite an accomplishment considering the machete weighs almost 6 ounces less than the hatchet. Though this is a very tough machete in general, the Scandi grind does require one to be a little more careful when using around rocks and tree knots. That said, it is easily fixed in the field with a file and some 220 grit sandpaper. (PART TWO OF REVIEW BELOW)