The KA-BAR Pestilence Chopper Review

The story of KA-BAR Knives began when a when a group of English knifesmiths from Sheffield (one of the major cutlery production centers of the time) gathered together, defied the rules of their guild, and migrated to the American north east.

Here in the Northeast, they set up shop and began producing far higher quality cutlery than the average American was used at the time. Consequently, their products were in such high demand that 38 members of the group decided to form a Limited Partnership called the Tridioute Cutlery Company.

This Limited Partnership is widely considered to be the official start of KA-BAR Knives, Inc. For more information on the history of KA-BAR Knives from one of my previous articles, click here.

The KA-BAR Pestilence Chopper features an overall length of 15 3/4” with a 10 1/4” Drop Point blade made from 0.20” thick, SK5, carbon tool steel hardened to 52-54 Rockwell. In addition, the blade features a Flat Grind with a black, epoxy, powder coat to help prevent the non-stainless steel from corroding. Plus, it features two, highly ergonomic, GFN-PA66 (Glass Filled Nylon PolyAmide 6-6) handles in “Radioactive Green” and black and it is supplied with a “Acheron” Skeleton Knife which fits in the Kydex lined pocket of the heavy-duty, MOLLE compatible, nylon sheath.

The KA-BAR Zombie series was created after a conversation among the top officials at KA-BAR in which they joked about the need for a tool to kill zombies when firearms were unavailable. So, if you have a mind to take on an apocalypse zombie invasion, this is the machete for you! But, while I am certain that we are all just waiting around for that to happen, in the meantime the ZK Pestilence Chopper makes an excellent camp machete since it was specifically designed to be a light to medium duty chopping tool.

Made from SK5 high carbon tool steel (similar to 1080 but with a higher Manganese content) which contains 0.75% – 0.88% Carbon, 0.60% – 0.90 % Manganese, and 0.07% – 0.60% Silicone with a relatively low Rockwell hardness of 52-54, this steel is very tough and reasonably hard and thus, it would make an excellent tool for clearing a trail through dense foliage as well as clearing a campsite.

Also, this machete features a blunt, Drop Point, tip design and a recurved edge with a positive included angle that reminds me of the knives used to harvest sugar cane. Consequently, it would also serve well as a tool for cutting small saplings to create a survival shelter or to make an Atlatl or a Self Bow for hunting. In addition, non-stainless steels are generally easier to sharpen than most stainless steels due to the lack of hard, double-carbide, bonds formed during forging between Chromium and Molybdenum. However, due to the lack of Chromium, this steel is far more prone to corrosion than stainless steels are and thus, it requires more care and maintenance; thus, the black, epoxy, powder coat. Also, the Flat Grind featured on the blade represents a compromise between the extra keen cutting edge of a Hollow Grind and the extra tough edge of Saber Grind.

Therefore, it allows the blade to be sharpened to a very keen edge and to bite very deeply but, is less inclined to roll when used as a chopping tool. In addition, the choil allows the user to sharpen the primary cutting edge all of the way to the back and the curved ricasso serves as an integral quillion to help prevent the user’s fingers from accidently sliding forward on the edge. Furthermore, the highly ergonomic glass reinforced nylon handle (similar to G10), features a highly ergonomic design with a sub-hilt to aid retention in the user’s hand.  Plus, for those of you who really don’t like the “radioactive green” handle scales, KA-BAR has included an additional set of black, GRN, handle scales which are interchangeable. Furthermore, the MOLLE compatible nylon sheath features a Kydex reinforced pocket which contains an Acheron” Skeleton Knife (which may be included in certain packages) which features a 3 1/8″, hollow ground, Clip Point blade made from 5Cr13 stainless steel hardened to 52-54 Rockwell for performing precision cutting and carving tasks.

Consequently, not only is the KA-BAR ZK Pestilence Chopper a great option for tough cutting jobs, it holds its own against several other machetes as a perfect tool to clear out brush in your next camping adventure.

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