When I finally got the chance to review the Cold Steel Latin Machete, I was intrigued to say the least. This machete is by far the largest one-hand cutting tool I have ever personally wielded, so I was curious about how practical 60 cm (24 inches) of blade real estate would really be. I’m sad to say that performance sadly doesn’t reflect the fearsome aesthetics of this blade.
Before discussing performance I would like to discuss the Latin Machete’s sheath. in a lot of ways, a sheath isn’t particularly important for a machete, as machetes are seldom carried on ones waist. That being said, I do like the fact that Cold Steel provides a reinforced sheath for this blade. At the very least, it makes travelling with the Latin Machete a lot safer and easier.
To test out how the knife would feel carried on your belt, I strapped the sheath on. While the machete’s sheath does hold, technically allowing you to carry it on your side, its is clearly a horrible idea when you put it on. The blade is just too long to be worn like this practically. I’d personally treat the sheath purely as a safety feature for transporting this blade, instead of using it to wear the Latin Machete.
As mentioned the tip of the sheath is reinforced, which is nice. No worries about throwing this machete in the back of the car, or pushing it down into a loaded pack, the sheath will hold it. I doubt this sheath would fall apart under ordinary circumstances, considering those rivets and the ballistic nylon construction.
The belt loop on the Cold Steel Latin Machete sheath generous, so if you’re a sadist and still insist on dangling 60 cm (24 inches) of steel from your waist, you would be able to do it wearing pretty much any belt on the market.
The core issue with this machete is that it’s so big it’s silly. It’s length is one thing, and its thinness, by contrast, is quite another. Cold Steel’s Latin Machete, is actually only 2 mm (1/6 of an inch) thick, by contrast to its 60 cm (24 inch) length, all of which you are supposed to carry one-handed.
After only one week of heavy use, I finally gave up and deemed using this machete exclusively torture. The blade is simply unwieldy, and it just doesn’t handle shock and torsion gracefully when it’s wedged in wood. That’s not to say it doesn’t look good. I mean it’s obvious it’s quite a nice looking machete. That being said, for practical use, trust me, it’s way too long.
Cold Steel’s real problem is that the selling point of this machete is the 60 cm (24 inches) of blade. If they made the machete tougher, and therefore able to withstand extreme torsion if it was wedged in wood, or able to withstand side blows without any deformation, Cold Steel would have had to either make the blade shorter (defeating the purpose of the beastly machete) or made the blade stock thicker, making the blade significantly heavier, and almost impossible to wield.
Although you can see the deformations of this machete very slightly in the photograph below, it doesn’t aptly reflect how beat up the blade really is. There’s a very evident, and quite a large warp in the alignment of the stock. IT deviates by a solid 1 cm to the tip. This deformation is to be expected considering the machete’s length to width ratio. Cold Steel’s Latin Machete is excruciating to use on wood thicker than a twig, as the blade almost fights you when chopping. It’s extremely exhausting to use for even regular garden/outdoor work.
The handles on the Cold Steel Latin Machete are relatively well designed. They have a bird beak design at the pommel, which is extremely useful as that stops the machete from being ripped from your hands due to gravitational momentum. I was forced to wrap some hockey tape around the scales, as I found the relatively smooth dimpled texture to lack comfort for extended use.
The edge does not come sharpened from the factory. Don’t let that scare you, however, as a machete is not designed to replace a fine cutting utility knife. Machetes make use their length to chop brush, vines, and saplings through sheer momentum and force. The edge on the Latin Machete is never going to be scalpel sharp, and as such, Cold Steel chose wisely when they used 1055 Carbon Steel for the blade. 1055 Carbon Steel has extremely high tensile strength (toughness), at the suitably low rockwell hardness (low 50’s). This machete will not snap under duress’ it will merely bend.
The Latin Machete weighs around half a kilo (18.3 oz), which isn’t much, but when the distance is so extreme, that half a kilo feels stretched out to a ton. This really is the least delicate chopper I have ever used. I definitely have more control with an axe or my Ontario Marine Raider Bowie than this machete. It’s just too much, and if the blade doesn’t strike your target dead perfect center, it has the annoying habit of twisting and bouncing: not something I have ever experienced with my 18 inch Tramontina or 18 inch Ontario.
When making clean chops, I’ll have to admit, the Latin Machete certainly does look badass. Yes, it does technically perform, but so does everything else I own. As such, I fail to be impressed by the Latin Machete. Up to 1.5 inch saplings, I don’t foresee anyone having any problems going through in a single strike. Any more and you’d be pushing it.
In terms of some of the machete’s highlights, the blade has an interesting matte black, baked-on finish that’s almost parkerized in appearance. I actually really like it, and so far, it seems to be pretty durable.
Chopping larger limbs is completely doable in a pinch, but I cannot emphasize how uncomfortable chopping with this thing is. It performs adequately in terms of cutting performance alone. If you take into account the comfort vs performance ratio, however, then the Cold Steel Latin Machete is a dismal failure.
Any kind of fine cutting is once again technically doable, but in practice is what I’d consider cruel and unusual punishment. I’d strongly advise against putting yourself through this.
Don’t let the pictures fool you, I really do mean it when I say any detail work is excruciating with this machete. Although it may look easy to wield in the photos, it’s isn’t, and the lack of control you have over all that length can be devastating.
I tried making a nice spear point, a normally simple and effortless task. With the Cold Steel Latin Machete, the blade kept bouncing around uncontrollably while I tried, making this process take much more time and effort than I care to admit. Elise got so frustrated watching me, she told me on more than one occasion to give up. Definitely not a pleasant thing to watch.
Controlled chops at an incline using flexible sapling? Horrible. Truly horrible.
But I’m stubborn, and so after the basic point was chewed out, I quickly put a point on it using my left hand as a resting place for the blade while using my right hand to guide the edge across at the right angle. Still not comfortable but once again, technically, though painfully, doable.
For sheer entertainment (all for you, my readers) I tried a firm chop into a thicker log with the intent of batoning through the wood. Instead, the blade of the Latin Machete wedged in and refused to budge. You don’t want to know how difficult it was to get this thing out of there after it was wedged, either. The Cold Steel Latin Machete is simply too long and too flexible to baton with. If you’re planning on using it to split anything, reconsider. It’s just not going to work. Obviously that shouldn’t be counted as a mark against the machete, as machetes are not designed for batoning or splitting, but bear this in mind if you’d planned on being able to muster any wood splitting with this tool.
Now something the Cold Steel Latin Machete could do reasonably well: if you put aside the comfort issues, cutting greenery with the Latin Machete was pleasant and easy. The blade whistled through tall weeds like they were blades of grass. If the machete was a more manageable size, I’d be able to use this for prolonged periods of time. As it stands, it’s fine to use in short bouts. Of course, this is a problem of heft and length, and not of design.
When Cold Steel conceived the Latin Machete, I doubt they had the Canadian wilderness in mind. As you read this review, please bare in mind that I tested this blade with typical woodland material, though the blade is quite obviously meant to be used in a jungle environment. Unfortunately, I don’t have a jungle conveniently located in my neck of the woods for testing out machetes in, so I had to make do testing the Latin Machete with what was around me.
With that said, whilst I do not live in the jungle, I have spent some time in South East Asia, and I find there’s good reason why locals usually use cutting tools with lengths of 10-18 inches at most. 24 inches of blade might look pretty amazing, but in practice, the length is more of a spectacle than a practical tool.
The last machete I reviewed was the Gerber Parang, and for my uses, it is infinitely better, both in comfort and performance, than the Cold Steel Latin Machete.
I am sure someone somewhere would be inclined to disagree with me on the practical uses of the Cold Steel Latin Machete. Someone is bound to ardently believe that they could use their 24″ Latin machete to destroy entire forests, but I can only speak for my own experiences. For me, the Ontario 18″, Condor eco lite, or Gerber Parang are much better options for use, though one could certainly argue for the Latin Machete in terms of aesthetics.
Cold Steel Latin Machete 24″ Availability
Amazon Availability // Amazon.com