Sword vs. Machete: Distinguish the Tool from the Weapon

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Whenever you hear someone is wielding a blade, what often comes to mind is a sword or a machete. Especially in movies, these two types of blades have been used as alternatives to guns. Such a comparison might seem and feel grim, if not savage, but we intend to enlighten you. Therefore, understanding the sword vs. machete debate will help you distinguish the two.

Subsequently, we have put together comparisons between the two blades. We will take you through a trip in history and bring you back to the contemporary making and use of each of these weapons. In the end, you will watch the Samurai films or even the Machete film with a different perspective of the weapons used.

History

1. Sword

Viking Swords

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A sword is considered one of the earliest forms of weapons, with archeologists unearthing a form of a sword dating back to 3300 BC. In line with the earliest form of human civilization, these artifacts were found in Mesopotamia. There were made of bronze and silver and were about 60 cm in length.

Progressively, different sword forms have been unearthed as historians try to understand ancient civilizations. Moving into the human Bronze age, the sword was predominantly used as the primary one-on-one weapon in war. For a better picture of the sword, the Romans, Greeks, Spartans, Knights, Persians, Vikings, and the Samurai have often been associated with the sword. These depictions are often made through movies such as The Last Samurai, which predominantly brings to light the traditional Japanese sword (Katana sword).

2. Machete

Machete

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On the other hand, the Machete has been traced back to the 13th century in the form of a falchion. The falchion was like a short blade with a curved cutting edge and a protective guard for battle. Progressively, other adaptations of the machete have been used in later civilizations for cutting food like meats.

Even more recently, the machete has been used as an agricultural tool in subtropical and tropical regions of the world like South America and Africa. In adventure movies like the Anaconda or, even more recently, Jumanji, the machete is used by explorers to hack and create paths in forests. In modern households, machetes are to cut foodstuffs.

Notably, the machete has outlived the sword in modern relevance. Unfortunately, the machete has been used as a weapon in uprisings like genocides in Rwanda. Historically, the machete was used as an agricultural, self-defense and survival tool, while the sword was only used as a weapon.

Construction

1. Machete

Originally, machetes were crafted by hand, with apprenticeship being at the heart of this craftsmanship. However, in recent days, machetes are being manufactured in industries through automated processes for mass production. Traditionally, the machete has been made to look crude with an ideal shape for chopping or hacking.

Properties

Machetes are often made from stainless steel, tempered carbon steel, or high carbon steel. However, stainless steel is deemed not durable and will easily break. Regarding the blade thickness, a machete is made with uniform thickness ranging from 1/8″ to 3/8″ and a full-length tang on one end for strength applications. Also, the construction of any machete is considered quite thick compared to other blades.

Additionally, machetes vary in length with a standard range of 10″-28″, depending on the purpose. Regarding the blade tips, most machetes have blunt ends, with some being thickened for an enhanced chopping stroke. Also, the machete handles are standard fare and can be made from ivory, wood, rubber, plastic or micarta. Generally, the modern mass production of such blades dictates the use of cheap materials for affordability across the board but still provides knuckle and hand protection.

Overall, the machete profile can be described as quite wide from edge to edge with forward weight or even weight, depending on the utility. Modern machetes often lack a grind so that they may effectively chop or hack. Ideally, a machete is primarily made for force and precision.

Performance

Due to the construction of a machete, its blade can only be effective while using force such as chopping or hacking. It cannot be used for slicing since it lacks geometry and grinding. Overall, its short blade length makes it ideal as a tool rather than a weapon. However, a machete is a timeless survival tool that is more locally available and affordable, thus its preference by most survivalists.

2. Sword

Traditionally, real swords underwent complex processing and refining before use. Not to say they were not mass-produced, but a cheap sword was more complex to make than a cheap machete. First, a good sword had to be hammered into the desired length and shape, then refined, grounded and polished. As a result, swords are expensive even in modern days due to the intricacy involved in their making.

Nonetheless, making modern swords has been simplified by industrial machines, but they don’t take the exact form of ancient swords. Whether a short sword or a long sword, modern replicas have to be fabricated for sword-like effectiveness. Fortunately, swords in the modern day are mostly for decoration rather than wielding in war. However, battle-worthy swords were always tempered for resilience and long service, thus requiring more time and skill to make.

Properties

In light of such a construction, the blade material of a sword is made from Damascus steel or carbon steel. Such materials are lightweight and guarantee long-lasting sharpness. Also, a sword is quite long compared to a machete, approximately 18″-40″, depending on whether it’s single-handed or two-handed. The thickness of the sword ranges between 0.15″ and 0.45″ and has the addition of a distal taper. Nonetheless, a thicker blade was considered more tedious to wield

Even more, the tip of a sword blade usually is pointed for easy piercing or slashing through armor and flesh. However, the deeper one wants to slice, the more force one has to apply. Regarding easy handling, the profile of a sword is narrow along its length. Finally, a sword’s handle is made out of wood or metal covered with rubber and has a guard for hand protection.

Performance

A sword effectively cuts and slices, thus its effectiveness in ancient warfare. However, despite modern swords not being for war, they are sharp for easy slicing. For instance, sword replicas are used for slicing cakes. Accordingly, you cannot put the performance of a modern sword to the test since most of them are made for decoration.

Across all sword varieties, their blade should be used delicately. Fortunately, any sword profile comes with a knuckle guard to protect the wielder. Also, swords provide precise performance even with minimal force. As such, a sword can be used for piercing even in small spaces, thanks to the pointed tip and thin blade. Therefore, a sword is more sleek and tactful than a machete.

Applications

1. Machete

Simply for reiteration, a machete is by design and function a tool since it’s effective in tasks that require more power than precision. As such, a machete’s thick blade is ideal for hacking tough vegetation in the forest as well as bones and flesh. For instance, a machete is ideal for cutting large chunks of meat that can be easily sliced for edible portions.

In most cases, survivalists usually use a machete for numerous functions, be it creating paths or self-defense. Besides its outdoor utility, a machete can be used as a weapon but rarely. Generally, you can use a machete for more tough tasks due to its durability and hardiness.

2. Sword

Naturally, a sword is a weapon that was popular with armies before the invention of the gun. As such, a sword can be used to cut, pierce and thrust. Even more, a sword was preferred as a weapon because of its finesse or precision.

In modern days, the application of swords has highly reduced due to increased social order, reduced conflicts and the invention of better weapons. As a result, you will only find real swords in museums as preservation of ancient civilizations. Nonetheless, sword replicas are still made and used for ornamental purposes. Also, replica swords are used as symbols rather than weapons during military occasions.

Limitations

1. Machete

The short length of a machete will require the wielder to be up close, thus risking harm to its user. Additionally, the thick machete blade might cause serious bodily harm if it accidentally falls due to its weight. Also, a machete isn’t effective in piercing or in tight spaces. Finally, a machete lacks knuckle protection, and its grip might be slippery when wet.

2. Sword

On the other hand, modern swords are simply symbolic replicas and aren’t effective in practical use. Also, a real sword is expensive to acquire, but even so, it’s impractical to own a sword in the present day. However, you can get a sword for memorabilia.

Conclusion

Generally, the sword vs. machete debate is sealed on the aspects of construction, performance, application and affordability. The machete has more practical uses than the sword in the modern world. Even so, the machete is only recommended as a tool. Therefore, wielding a sword or a machete as a weapon is illegal in almost every jurisdiction, leaving the sword only applicable as a symbol and memento.

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