Is there any kitchen utensil more intimidating than the meat cleaver? Eschewing the thin, sharp blades of other knives, the cleaver is more like a hatchet, a heavy tool with a thick, blunt blade made for chopping through thick cuts of meat and breaking apart bones. It’s meant to be used and abused. And while the cleaver’s most obvious application is in restaurants and butcher shops, where chopping up entire animals is the norm, a meat cleaver at home isn’t unwarranted. Be it cutting up meat for your upcoming barbecue, breaking down a deer from your last hunting trip, chopping up bones for making stock or simply crushing garlic with the flat blade, the meat cleaver will do good work in your kitchen (and may even make that chef knife jealous).

Dexter-Russell 9-Inch Heavy Duty Cleaver

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Dexter-Russell has a nearly 200-year American knife-making heritage under, and it shows in its line of heavy-duty cleavers. The 8-inch model is made from high-carbon steel and a rosewood handle, healed together with three brass rivets. Coming in at damn-near three pounds, this cleaver is a behemoth, cut out for breaking down the bones of larger animals.

F. Dick 7-Inch Restaurant Meat Cleaver

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German knife-maker Friedrich Dick boasts a prolific history of use in German butcher shops and culinary schools worldwide. Therefore, the 7-inch meat cleaver is plenty capable for use at home. With a hefty two-pound build comprised of a full-tang stainless steel blade and a thick and riveted poly handle, it will prove a durable, long-lasting tool.

Global G-12 Meat Cleaver

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Made from a single piece of Global’s proprietary “CROMOVA 18” high-carbon stainless steel, the G-12 features a contoured handle with dimples for an enhanced grip. Considering the relatively lithe one-pound weight and the sharp edge, it’s best suited for lighter-duty chop jobs and is ideal for chefs who favor agility over brute chopping force.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star II Meat Cleaver

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This Zwilling J.A. Henckels cleaver features an ice-hardened, high-carbon steel blade with a laser-controlled edge. It utilizes a full-tang design and has a grippy, permanently-bonded polypropylene handle with a stainless steel end cap to provide balance.

Coltellerie Berti Cleaver

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Coltellerie Berti makes some of the most sought-after knives on the planet. They’re known for impeccable cutting prowess, attractive designs and esteemed rarity. Each knife is the sole work of one of eight Italian knife artisans, and no two products from the company are exactly the same. This cleaver features a full-tang design, hand-forged from equal parts carbon steel and 420B stainless steel.

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