Parangs

by Woodsbum

Due to a surprise opportunity to snag up a Turley parang this last weekend, I decided to do a quick post on parangs before mine showed up in the mail. Once my Turley shows up I will do a quick post on it as well.

There seems to be a lot of talk on various forums and websites about chopping style knives, machetes, parangs, cleavers versus axes. These discussions always seem to get a bit heated and end up with coming to the simple conclusion that there is no one best knife, only the best knife for that person.

Even though these type scenarios end in a stalemate of sorts, comparisons and evaluations of design are always interesting topics

Parangs seems to be collective term for short swords, big knives and machetes that come from Southeast Asia. There are many designs that fall into this category to include bent bladed machetes, straight blades, oddly curved ones, etc. Here are a few pictures of blades that are considered parangs.

Condor Parang

Condor Parang

Turley Parang

Turley Parang

Ray Mears Parang

Ray Mears Parang

There really is a huge variance in the shapes and handles. The one I just picked up has about an 8.5″ long handle and 7.25″ blade. The blade is 1/16″ 15n20 steel and has a fairly simple convex grind.

No matter what the shape of the blade and handle, parangs are designed to have a very specific area of the blade for various tasks. The front is usually designed for skinning, middle for chopping, and part toward the handle is for carving. Sometimes the back edge is sharpened as well for shaving/processing wood for fire.

Parang handles also have a larger end around the pommel so that your hand doesn’t slip during use. The materials also tend to be those that are a bit more textured to alleviate slippage.

The nice thing about these designs is that there is no hard and fast rule. You can design something that fits the 3 distinct cutting areas, has a longer handle, and the blade is from 6″ to over 24″ long and call it a parang.

Once I get my Turley parang in the mail, I will do a review of it and let you know how it works in comparison to a machete. Although I am not a parang fan, I am not a parang hater either. It will be interesting to see how it functions during hard use.

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