East Beasts: Four Parangs Built To Last


This Quartet Of Knives, Inspired By The Parang Of The Malay Archipelago In Southeast Asia Are Tough, Rugged Fixed Blades.

There’s something about large blades with an Eastern flair, an exotic look, and that offer devastating function. They generally are built stouter and able to complete multiple hard-use tasks beyond those of a machete. Such knives clear vines and weedy vegetation, take out small saplings, and split wood for campfires. They are equal parts tool and, if necessary, weapon.

Condor Tool & Knife Pack Golok

Batoning the Condor Tool & Knife Pack Golok is easy. The convex edge bites right in and tackles the task with gusto.  

Originating in the Malay Archipelago, the golok is used primarily in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Varying in size and weight, it is typically anywhere from 10 to 20 inches long. Often shorter and heavier than machetes, the golok is used for bush and branch cutting. Cutting edges tend to be convex, preventing the blade from being stuck in green wood. Carbon steel is often the preferred blade material, usually with a softer temper for ease of sharpening.

A good modern production example is the Condor Tool & Knife Pack Golok. The 11-inch upswept blade is 1075 carbon steel with a convex edge great at not sticking in green wood. The handle curves down near the butt and flares out a bit to prevent the knife from sliding out of your hand while chopping. The rich brown appearance of the walnut handle material elevates the Pack Golok’s appearance. Three large brass rivets secure the walnut slabs to the tang. A thong tube provides a hole for a lanyard.  The overall length is 17 inches, long enough to tackle heavy work but not too long for belt carry or easy storage.

In use, the Pack Golok feels very sturdy and comfortable. The large diameter of the rounded walnut handle turns down a bit to help keep your hand in place. The generous diameter makes the handle easy to grip and fills the hand nicely. You feel in control of the knife at all times.

The solid convex grind puts a maximum amount of meat behind the edge for durability and helps resist chipping and rolling through heavy chopping.  The edge is very sharp and easy to maintain so the knife serves well in the field.

The Pack Golok performs like a larger knife without being one. Of the test bunch, it’s the best chopper. It also excels at baton work. Conversely, it works just as well for finer tasks such as whittling.

The leather sheath is extremely well done. It features two button snap closures to secure the knife. Unsheathe it by simultaneously lifting the handle and pulling it out. There’s a large loop for belt carry. 

MSRP: $107

DPx Gear HEFT 12 Chop

Chopping is what the DPx Gear HEFT 12 Chop does. It’s like an axe—swing up, let gravity take the blade down and it strikes with plenty of inertia. Chopping is almost fun with the HEFT 12.

DPx Gear’s HEFT 12 Chop is a serious piece of kit. Robert Young Pelton, aka RYP, is the founder of DPx Gear, a noted journalist, and a documentary film director who spent considerable time in Iraq and elsewhere covering various conflicts. Based on the parang, which also is a favorite in the Malay Archipelago, the HEFT 12 Chop is optimized for cutting woody growth. Sporting a sweet-spot belly for chopping and forward-weighted balance, the parang is a multi-use cutting tool that can be quite handy in the wilderness.

In the HEFT 12 Chop, RYP wanted a tool that would serve as a machete, hatchet, and large survival knife all rolled into one. As a result, one knife can be carried instead of several. This is especially beneficial on long treks—the old “less is more” maxim. 

The 12.5-inch blade is flat-ground D2 tool steel, a proven and highly consistent performer for hunting and survival knives. A black mil-spec blade coating enhances corrosion resistance and low reflectivity. The green G-10 handle is 3D machined and contoured for comfort with no hot spots to speak of. The grip turns down and flares out somewhat to act as a catch and prevent the hand from sliding backward. Three large Torx-head screws fasten the G-10 slabs to the full tang. There’s also a lanyard hole in the exposed tang. A single guard keeps the hand from sliding forward.

At 18.6 inches overall, the HEFT 12 Chop is a formidable cutting tool. Made in Italy by Lionsteel, it looks great with the black blade and OD green handle. When you lift the HEFT 12 Chop, you immediately notice the heavy blade-forward balance. This enhances chopping, building momentum, and using gravity to your advantage as you swing the blade. If you go into it with all muscle, trust me, you will get tired. Relax and let gravity do the job.

Rest the guard on your hand as if you are choking up and let the handle pivot a bit in your paw for additional power. A semi-loose grip works best—or at least it did for me. As you chop you can feel the power with each blow and where the blade’s sweet spot is (just behind the angled tip). The HEFT 12 takes out smaller and thinner vegetation with abandon—a testament to RYP’s design vision.

This is a wonderful blade for baton work. You can use the length for leverage as you pound the spine. The full flat grind is like a wedge, splitting wood effectively and quickly. The HEFT 12 Chop does not come with a sheath. It’s a bit on the pricey side but the design is backed by RYP’s years of real-world experience.

MSRP: $375

APOC Chop House

The APOC Chop House is a good chopper, though the author indicated the handle does raise some hot spots. Wearing gloves is a way around that.

Boasting a flared reverse-tanto-style tip, the Chop House from APOC Survival Tools is based on the dao, which originated in China as a single-edge sword primarily used for slashing and chopping. The blade’s moderate curvature and angular tip are effective for thrusting. A 12.75-inch blade and overall length of 18 inches puts the Chop House right in the middle of machete territory. It boasts 9260 carbon blade steel, full-tang construction, and a black G-10 handle. A black oxide coating reduces glare and enhances rust protection.

Featuring 3D-machined and contoured facets, the handle is certainly one of the knife’s most interesting elements. Three sets of Torx®-head screws fasten the G-10 slabs to the tang. A prominent finger groove trails a recessed grip area, and the handle flares out to create a catch for your hand, stopping rearward sliding. 

An integral double guard provides additional protection. Wrap your hand around the handle and feel your fingers nestle in and lock into place. Depending on your hand size, you might feel some hot spots around the palm. In fact, those with bigger hands might find the grip objectionable.

The Chop House feels agile and has more of a neutral balance than the rest of the test bunch. As a result, it excels more at such machete tasks as cutting tall weeds, grass, vines and maybe taking out the occasional sapling. To be an effective chopper, the balance must bias toward blade-heavy, something the Chop House does not do. It has a balance more typical of a standard machete. This isn’t bad, it just means carefully selecting what you use it for.

The factory edge did not last long out of the box and I wound up resharpening the blade to my liking. It might be wise to apply your own edge before putting the knife to use as well. 

MSRP: $159

Fox Knives Parang

Don’t let the Fox Parang’s short length fool you. It chops quite well, with plenty of bite to the blade.

The Fox Knives Military Division (FKMD) Parang is an outstanding example of a compact fixed blade that serves as a chopping, camp, and kitchen knife while remaining easy to manipulate and carry. Taking design cues from the traditional parang with the forward-weighted feature, the 7-inch blade has a bulbous, rounded tip great for slicing and as a skinning knife if need be. 

The N690 stainless blade steel has a layer of black Cerakote® for additional corrosion protection. N690 is higher-end steel that exhibits an excellent balance of edge holding, corrosion resistance, and sharpening ease.

The ergonomic handle is Forprene, a molded thermoplastic tacky to the touch. Several large scallops on the grip section accommodate the user’s fingers comfortably. Along with the main groove, the largest scallop seats the index finger. This locks in your grip and the rest of the fingers fall naturally into place. The tang has a choil and gimping ahead of it to promote a secure choke-up grip for finer cutting tasks that require additional control. Though the handle is boxy, the edges are rounded to soften things up.

In action, the Parang—one of this issue’s cover knives—is impressive. As a chopper, the blade bites in deep and hard. The flat grind and excellent edge quality out of the box help make this possible. The Fox entry can give some larger knives a serious run for the money in terms of chopping effectiveness. When you choke up, tasks that require control like whittling are as easy as chopping. The knife feels comfortable and balanced in the choke-up grip. The large blade belly slices very well and the grip is no slip.

The Forprene handle mitigates some shock from impact when chopping. Its slightly tacky quality makes for a good grip with wet, dry, hot, or cold hands. Some may think the handle material looks cheap but the Forprene offers function rather than aesthetics—crucial when considering an outdoor blade for hard work. I wear gloves when using big fixed blades and even with gloves, the Forprene still felt very secure.

The Parang seems the most useful of the review models as it serves well as a chopper/camp and kitchen knife. If you stash a chopper in your vehicle, the compact length makes it ideal for the role. You can do the same with the other test knives but their additional length may pose an issue.

A very nicely made ballistic nylon sheath with Kydex liners for rigidity and protection from blade puncture comes standard. A wide dual-snap retention strap fastens around the handle. A smaller strap secures the knife at an additional point below the main retention straps. 

This might seem redundant but when wearing the Parang on your belt in the wilds, you don’t want it to exit accidentally! A loop accommodates a variety of belt widths. There are MOLLE attachment points and a leg tie, too.

One drawback: the sheath is OD green and the Forprene handle is tan. I’d prefer the handle color to match the sheath. An aluminum box with a snap-on lid that contains common assorted survival items is included. 

MSRP: $365

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