CRKT ChanceInHell Machete

By Dennis Johnson, MD and Carolyn Johnson, RN

CRKT ChanceInHell Machete
Illustration courtesy of Columbia River Knife & Tool, Inc.

There was a myriad of cutlery at the 2016 SHOT Show and we thought CRKT ( had the best variety. We were not looking for a fingernail clipper, but a knife you could bring to a gun fight!

We were impressed with the ChanceinHell machete, which was designed by famed knife designer Ken Onion. We brought this blade home to see how it would endure the demands of everyday ranch life.

This rat-tail tang mini-machete is about 18 inches long overall with a 12 inch blade and weighs a little over a pound. It has an attractive bead blast finish with a black powder coating designed to resist the elements.

(A full size machete should ideally have a blade long enough to brush or just barely miss the ground when held point down with the user's hand at his or her side. This is to allow instantly taking the head off a snake striking at the ankle. -Editor)

The 1/10 inch thick, 65 Mn carbon steel blade is hardened to a moderate (for a knife blade) Rockwell hardness of about 54. Toughness without brittleness is critical for a chopping instrument like a machete and it is more important than the long term edge holding provided by a very hard blade steel, such as D2, hardened to HRC 59-60.

According to, "65Mn is a Chinese steel that is formulated to provide good wear resistance and hardness. The medium-high carbon content makes for a high degree of toughness and resilience, while the manganese, in addition to improving these properties, improves the hot-working characteristics of the steel."

The ergonomic handle has a polypropylene core with a ThermoPlasticRubber over-mold and incorporates multiple lanyard holes for varied grip options. The result is more efficient cutting action that will make quick work of thick brush. It is resistant to acid, alkaline, salt, alcohol and just about everything.

According to CRKT, the included, reinforced nylon sheath weighs 6.1 ounces. It incorporates a unique velcro belt loop system that can be changed between two positions: dangling or snug against the belt. An extra paracord fob comes laced onto the sheath for emergencies.


  • Overall Length: 17.88 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound 4 ounces
  • Blade Length: 12 inches
  • Blade Thickness: 0.10 inches
  • Blade Material: 65Mn carbon steel
  • Blade HRC: 52-56
  • Finish: Bead blast w/black powder coasting
  • Grind: Flat
  • Style: Drop point, plain edge
  • Handle Material: Polypropylene core with ThermoPlasticRubber over-mold
  • Sheath: Reinforced nylon
  • Country of Origin: PRC
  • MSRP: $69.99

We tested the knife for a month at our ranch where we raise livestock. The blade is very sharp and it holds its edge well. After hacking on brush for an hour it was still sharp enough to shave hair from Denny's forearm.

This knife has superior bioengineering. It is superbly balanced and precisely weighted for efficient performance. The pigskin textured handle has an excellent feel and won't slip out of a sweaty hand. It is extremely durable, requiring minimum maintenance.

We carried this knife in our 4-wheeler, where it was routinely employed for the variety of cutting requirements of ranch life. The machete has perfect momentum for clearing hardwoods or severing bones and sinew when processing game. The blade length optimizes its cutting efficiency and little effort is required for scalpel-true cuts. It is easily honed.

We were exceedingly pleased with the ChanceinHell's utility and toughness. We found this little machete to be a practical tool in daily ranch life. It has become one of the essentials we take when venturing into the field.

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Copyright 2016 by Dennis and Carolyn Johnson and/or All rights reserved.