aka. the Spetsnaz Machete

Commonly refereed to as the ‘Spetsnaz Machete‘, the UVSR Tajga (УВСР Тайга) is a somewhat rare tool issued to Spetsnaz and Pilots/Crews right before the fall of the Soviet Union in the early ’90s.

The UVSR is the last version in the history of military survival machetes.
From left to right: initial pilots machete; UVSR gen 1; UVSR gen 2; commercial post-soviet

As mentioned above, the UVSR was initially developed and produced for the military by SEPO-ZEM (ЭПОС).
However after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia could not afford them for their military anymore so the manufacture was stuck on a huge stockpile of those machetes.

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You can see the UVSR as I got it. Still wrapped in its original oil-paper from Soviet times, there is some rather new packaging around it.

After some unsuccessful attempts to sell them to militaries aboard, SEPO-ZEM decided to market it as a survival and rescue tool on the civil market. Hence the new, somewhat unusual packaging.

That is also where the current name UVSR originates from. In order not to be labled as a weapon, the manufacture called it:
Устройство для Выполнения Спасательных Работ‘,
which means
tool for rescue operation‘ – in short ‘УВСР‘ or UVSR in English.

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While the UVSR already is hard to find, the original pouches by SSO (ССО) are even rarer. The small pocket on top of the pouch is perfect for holding stuff like a magnesium fire-starter.

As expected both the UVSR and the sheath have a very solid feeling.
The weight of 0,7kg is pretty decent for a tool like that. Not heavy, but also not too light for it to be an effective machete or ‘axe’.

The total length is 20 cm while the chopping part of the blade is almost 9 cm high.

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Allegedly produced in 2012, in reality this only refers to the year they ‘repacked’ it.
Also it is a nice touch, that each UVSR has its own unique serial number.
In my case 3T56 (or ЭТ56?), which is also stamped into the blade

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From what I found, the blade is made from 65Г steel.
Anyhow the steel is ridiculously hard. On the one hand it will stay sharp for a very long time, on the other it takes some real effort to sharpen it again.
Also steel that hard will contain a lot of carbon and is prone to rust. Due to the sheer size you do not have to be worried of it to rusting through, but nonetheless rust sucks.

So oiling the blade if you are not using it for a long time is a must.

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Here you can see the serial number 3T56 I mentioned earlier, next to oval opening which (according to the manual) can be used to loosen nuts.

A ruler and a mechanism to measure angles is also worked into the blade.

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Although I bought mine (well actually two) about a year ago, I have written the review only now that I actually used them quite a bit.

And after using it for on a 1 month hike through East Europe, I appreciate it even more!

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The saw-blade on the back is inevitably rather thick. This means cutting down a tree will take quite a bit.
I still works flawlessly, but it is time consuming

The upside is that the saw-blade will probably never wear out.

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For the most part you will be better off, by just chopping it. The blade is (front) heavy enough, that it does not take much effort to even chop down thick branches.

As you can see on the photos the inner part of the blade also features a saw blade. According to the manual it can be use to cut ‘metal, wood, cobblestone, bones and many more materials’.

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While I really like the look of the Bakelite handles, they can be a bit slippery at times. Especially if they are wet.
So it makes sense to use a decent glove with it, if you use it excessively.

Also attaching some sort of sling, para-cord or whatever is a good idea.

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A rather large needle for sewing (probably so it can handle animal skins) is integrated into the grip and hold in place by a screw plug.

Flipped 180 degrees it mounts back to the handle, making it easier to even get through the thickest materials.

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The hollow compartment inside the grip ‘can hold small party like matches, needles, twine etc.’
Apparently some UVSRs were actually delivered with the mentioned items. Whereas mine just had an empty compartment. Thanks to the o-ring it is 100% waterproof. So even with loose matches you shouldn’t have an issue with them soaking.

Another thing that became apparent while fiddling with the compartment is the way they attached the blade to the handle.
Generally I dislike blades that are only hold by a thread with a small nut. They often tend to be a weak-point …and on a tool that is supposed to be used for chopping, it is even worse.
I even asked the manufacture about that ‘issue’ and they stated they do know about this potential flaw. But they also said, that in all of their stress-tests the blade actually broke before the link.
So I suppose it is fine on this particular tool.

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Is it practical?
Yes and No. While there are better (or more modern and lightweight) tools, the UVSR is not bad at all.

Is it nice to have?
Definitely! Not only since it is very rare to find in a mint condition, but also because it is a great tool and somehow iconic to Speznas. Besides that, if you are a Russian gear-nerd anyways, this makes a great collectible Item.

Bonus: UVSR in use with FSB group Vympel


25.06.2017 – by netsplit for Gruppa L

8 thoughts on “The UVSR
aka. the Spetsnaz Machete

  1. Sweet piece for survival gear! If only it wasn’t so expensive to get! 🙁
    For the same price (or even less) I could get the Gerber Downrange (machte or tomahawk – not all that different)
    What are your thoughts on it?

    • Hi Kyle!
      To be honest, I do not like to give my opinion about stuff that I did not use or own. But the Gerber Downrange is definitely unique, I will give it that.
      I was actually at the exhibition when they revealed it in 2013 and thought about getting one myself ever since.
      But there is so much to get …yet only so much I can afford. I do however own two Gerber multitools and a couple of knifes, which all are pretty decent.

      • I totally understand!
        Should you find the time and money to do a review about the Downrange, I would really appreciate it. The ones that are out there read more like an advertisement form the manufacture. …

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