Notes on the Machete Costeño
by Carter Rila

Machete costeño made in Mexico by Campos Hermanos, model 1173. Purchased on the west coast of Mexico, likely between Matzatlan and Guaymas in the early 1970s. The 27 inch blade is double edged along its widened end.

The machete costeño is common in the Acapulco district of Mexico, and as far as I know, nowhere else. The pattern must be of twentieth century origin for it does not appear in the big Spanish Collins catalog of 1919, which was still, circa 1960, the current Spanish catalog. There were several different short English catalogs for the US trade, but they usually had only the common patterns such as the 128 and the 37, which equal the US Army M1939 and M1942. Also the 128 is the same as the USN Mk II.

I first saw the costeño pattern in the first episode of the A Team television show, wherein it was being wildly waved by a mob of revolucionaros. The show was filmed in Acapulco, so that is how I located its area of use.

What makes it most likely that it is a post WW II pattern is that I have two specimens, one made by the C.V. Mfg Co., Cleveland, Ohio, and the other by the Stamford Tool Co. of Connecticut which both have plastic scales. My research in various sources led to nada.

Post WW II several US firms made machetes in the 1940s. Another was Briddel, located in Crisfield, MD, on the Eastern Shore, which later became Carvel Hall. The Germans and Czechs were out of the world market and the British were busy in the African colonies making up for them, so the Western Hemisphere market was being served mostly by Collins. Disston and True Temper had dropped the market in favor of cutting tools and farm and garden tools. Briddel had a lot of idle grinding and planing machinery, for they had made USMC Hospital Corps knives during the war. So they went into competition with Collins. They became such an annoyance that Collins bought the machinery and the business and moved it to Conn. The machinery was not installed, though. If they had done so, they might have been able to compete as it was becoming too expensive to beat machetes out by hand using skilled Yankee workmen. When the forging and hand tempering became too expensive, the Collinsville plant was closed in 1965. But the machetes were being made overseas before that.

I do not know what the crop is that the costeño is used to tend, but it must be close to the ground. A sweeping motion like swinging a "G.I. golf club" (a weed or grass trimmer!) seems most appropriate but it will also serve well for land clearing.


Copyright © 1999 by Carter Rila  ~ Ver. 1.0  ~  16 Aug 1999

Return to Notes on the Development of the Machete
Return to site home page