Russia’s Spetsnaz Survival Machete

Russian survival machete

One of the best survival tools of all time.

Americans spent $10 million to develop a pen that would work in space; the Russians used a pencil. This weird Russian survival tool has more uses than any US survival knife and can save your life in the wilderness or urban environment. It can hammer, chop, cut, pry, saw, pummel, and you can even use it as a ruler.

Who are the Spetsnaz?

The Spetsnaz is the Russian special forces group. It was created during WWII to meet the demands of unconventional warfare. Their main tasks were covert demolitions, sniping, and recon. The Spetsnaz were distinguished with maroon berets–similar to how US Rangers wear green berets. Today the Spetsnaz does everything from counter-terrorism to civilian and military policing.

Demand for a New Survival Tool

In the 1950’s, during the height of the Cold War, the Spetsnaz needed a tool that could chop, cut, pry, saw, hammer, and do just about every other field duty. It needed to do machete work for the heavy vegetation areas as well as knife work for the camp. It also needed to handle garrison labor.

The tool could be used for downed pilots, field soldiers, and anyone else who needed a good field knife. The tool needed to be small and light because soldiers will be carrying it for long ruck marches (20+ km a day).  Wow, is there any such tool that would fit ALL those criteria?

The Spetsnaz Machete

Up close photo of a spetsnaz survival tool.

This is one monster knife/machete/tool.

The original Spetsnaz machete features a curved blade that was very tip-heavy. It looks sort of like a Kukri. The tip is flat and can be used as a pry bar. The spine is a serrated edge you can use as a saw. The handle is hollow and can hold stuff like matches.

Downsides of the Original Spetsnaz Machete

The original Spetsnaz machete was made of super hard carbon steel that is insanely hard to sharpen. Russian environments were usually not moist so rust was not a big concern. Also, a softer metal would degrade the pry bar function.

The hollow handle made the knife feel very, very tip-heavy. The knife is not well-balanced at all.  It is good if you want to chop down a tree but bad if you want to do more delicate work. The handle is a square shape. It hurts your hands if you use it for a long time. It’s certainly not the most comfortable handle around.

Updated Spetsnaz Machetes

Kizlyar, one of the original manufacturers, produced updated models of the original machete. Two popular models today are the Alligator as well as the Kayman. Both feature the similar Spetsnaz shape but the steel, handle, and the sheath has improved. Both versions no longer have a saw spine.

They run for around $250-$300+ if you are buying them from the USA. They are also hard to find online. You can sometimes find for them for sale on sites like ebay and knife trading sites such as

American Versions of the Spetsnaz Machete

There is a small demand for a tool like the Spetsnaz machete in the US. US knife makers Kabar and Ontario have responded with the BK3 and SP8.

Kabar Becker BK3 Urban Survival Tool

BK3 in the woods

Designed for urban survival and tactical use.

The BK3 is a 1.3lb knife that is made in the USA. It is 12.5 inches long and is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel. The knife is designed to smash windows, cut 550 cord, pry open boxes and doors, chop wood, and hammer nails. It is basically the Spetsnaz machete for 2020.

It has a 4.5-star review on Amazon and is available for a lower price than the Kizlyar Alligator or Kayman.

Ontario SP8 Survival Tool

An amazing tool for $59. 4.5 stars.

An amazing tool for $59. 4.5 stars.

Ontario makes a lot of great knives and this is another outstanding knife. The SP8 is 1.4lb and 15 inches long. It cuts, hammers, chisels, pry, and chops. It comes with a condura sheath and is made of 1095 carbon steel.

It has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon and can be purchased for $59. This is $36 off of the retail price.

Conclusion on the Spetsnaz Machete

If you are looking for a great survival tool that can be used as both a knife and a machete, check out any modern day Spetsnaz machetes like the SP8 by Ontario or the BK3 by Kabar. You can also buy similar tools from Russia but expect to pay a hefty price.

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  1. You may find one of these blades or other Russian Spetsnaz blades through a company in Florida called Legion USA or you might be able to get one from Kizlyar. Kizlyar knives are located in Dagastan Russia. If you do a search of both you a
    should get links to their websites
    I have a Kizlyar Phoenix 1 and love the blade. I am looking to add a Voron (Raven) 3 and DV 2 to my collection.
    Due to the Russophobia in the States you can get these blades at bargain prices. Don’t be fooled by the low pricing.

  2. If the Russians wanted to inhale graphite dust in zero gravity then more power to them. That’s why we made a pressurized pen.

  3. Rangers do NOT wear the green beret unless they are also Special Forces. Rangers wear a tab on their left sleeve.
    Most non-medical officers are Ranger-qualified now, probably because they dropped the standards to where it’s a walk in the park for female officers.

    Special Forces qualification is FAR more difficult, and should not be confused with the Ranger course.

    1. You are confused let me clear this up, a Ranger is a special operations soldier who works souly for the 75th Ranger Regiment. those ppl who wear the Ranger tab have gone to a school called Ranger school and has nothing to do with the selection process of a 75th Ranger Regiment warrior. Also i wouldnt advise telling a Ranger who has gone through RIP 6 months of battalion “screening” and Ranger school that SF selection is harder, hes liable to punch you in the dick.

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