Modern Combat and Survival (MCS) “Guardian Machete”

I have to start this post with some full disclosure — I’ve worked with the staff behind Modern Combat and Survival for many years now. That said, I would not tell you anything that is not true, and when MCS introduced its first machete product to the market, I was as excited as any other customer to get my first-generation MCS Guardian Machete prototype. Did it live up to the hype? I’d say so. My Guardian is now my primary “bug out bag machete,” and there are some very specific reasons that I have one.

Many people don’t know that Jeff Anderson, the man who founded Modern Combat and Survival, is himself a devotee of Gatka. This is a Sikh martial art used with a pair of swords. A military combat veteran and survivalist based in Texas, Jeff offers (among a dizzying array of other excellent products) an instructional combat machete DVD set. He has, in fact,  regularly practiced with both machetes and short swords for as long as I have known him (and we have worked together for so many years that I had hair when we started).

The Guardian was the logical result of Jeff’s advocacy of the machete as both a weapon for “social chaos” and other survival emergencies, and as a utility tool for the same situations. Interestingly, he had occasion to address the concept on his website not long ago, when a reader took exception to his advocacy of the machete.

“Jeff,” wrote a critic, “I have enjoyed your articles and believe that you are a true patriot; however, suggesting that anyone train to use a machete <for combat> is insane. If you want to clear brush or chop trees, machetes are fine. One thing you want to know about a knife fight is DO NOT ENGAGE in one — and in a possible machete engagement, just run like crazy. Not a coward… but not a fool. Keep up the good work!”

Jeff replied, “…All one has to do is look at other countries where the machete is often used as a weapon (such as Central America and Africa). In fact, these are central weapons in some areas where firearms aren’t as widely found — a scenario that many of us plan for ‘just in case’. From that perspective, I believe that if other cultures have already chosen their primary weapon to be a machete, then we’re likely to follow the same path if forced under those circumstances… and the better trained the greater the chance of survival.” Among Jeff’s reason for advocating the machete are…

  • Machetes are easy to come by (even in foreign countries because they’re used for landscaping)
  • They’re incredibly deadly (“swords” have been used in combat for thousands of years)
  • They don’t run out of “ammo”
  • They don’t jam or malfunction
  • They’re legal pretty much everywhere

Now, as Jeff acknowledges, the machete isn’t the only weapon you should have in your survival arsenal. He is a firm believer in the utility of firearms and other edged weapons, and also an advocate of a “layered” approach to survival.

The Guardian machete is designed for integration with any MOLLE-based tactical or bug-out bag system, yet is also equipped for independent carry with its padded shoulder strap. It is Navy Blue — because the bugout bags that MCS advises (and sells) are this color in order to take advantage of low-light color-spectrum technology that renders the bags virtually “invisible” from dusk ’till dawn.

There’s no getting around it: the Guardian is a beast. It’s a massive machete with an 18-inch bolo blade of “spring-tempered” 1095 carbon steel. The blade is coated black and shipped with a sharp working edge; I coaxed mine into something near razor sharpness with a diamond rod. First-generation Guardians had a sharpened false edge, but I’m fairly certain subsequent versions won’t (though nothing would stop you from honing that beveled section of the blade).

Jeff acknowledges plans in the future for modifications to the sheath, including a possible Kydex model. Right now, if you were to use the Nylon sheath repeatedly in the field (if, in other words, this were a working machete) I think it would eventually work its way through the Nylon at the mouth of the sheath. Also, the only retaining strap is a simple snap closure at the top. Neither of these is a problem because, for moderate use and for carrying the machete, the scabbard works just fine.

The machete is, as the line from Blue Thunder goes, “nose-heavier than the Ayatollah.” It’s intended to be so, to facilitate powerful chopping. The bolo blade is also intended for thrusting, because Jeff sees every machete as a potential fighting blade, not just a brush chopper.

The contoured synthetic handle with thumb ramp really shines despite the weight of the machete. The handle also has an integral lanyard slot that doubles as a “glass breaker” tip. I found it reasonable easy to wield the blade. It is a big bastard, though, so it’s not as quick in the hand as a smaller, lighter blade would be. This is a machete intended for power, with nothing subtle about it. The heavier weight is mitigated when using Jeff’s unique “combat machete” fighting system because of the way the blade is maneuvered around the body.

There are things about the first-generation machete that I’d like to see refined for the subsequent iterations of this tool. The first run sold out completely, however, and these are not cheap by any means. Jeff posted video showing his personal Guardian being used to chop through a car hood (!) among other feats of strength.

These are ridiculously destructive and abusive tests, but the Guardian performed them. I am impressed by that, and I am more impressed by the smile the Guardian puts on my face every time I pick it up. Fortunately, Jeff is the sort of person who “knows what time it is” when it comes to weapons and tools of this sort. He backs up everything he does with solid, well-grounded instructional materials.

“I really question why someone would own any weapon and not learn how to use it to defend yourself,” Jeff points out. “And that includes the machete… So whatever weapon you use in your survival arsenal, be sure you’re taking the time to actually train with it.”