Archive for the ‘Knives’ Category

Killer Karambits!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

In a previous post, I wrote briefly about a very interesting weapon design. One that utilized a forward sweeping blade, as opposed to the traditional blade belly that curved outwards. In that post, I pointed out that there are good reasons why we generally do not generally use out ward curving blades. For one thing, a cut using an outward curving blade, would be difficult to achieve on a flat surface.

For whittling wood, it might be helpful, but because the shape of the edge would cause all of your cutting strokes would tend to want to pull the knife out of your hand, I think it would be a rather fatiguing design. However there is a specific knife style that utilizes just such a design, but in a way that makes it perfect for it’s intended use. And a wicked little knife it is. Ladies and germs, allow me to introduce you to: The Karambit.

Filipino Karambit

Filipino Karambit

Ain’t it a beaut? The Karambit (sometimes also called a Kerambit or Korambit) is of southeast Asian origin. Much like the Japanese kunai, it started off as a simple utility knife, used for household tasks, the southeast Asian equivalent of the American pocket knife, or hawkbill utility knife, and eventually ended up being used for self defense, and martial arts. However unlike these knives, the Karambit possesses a number of very interesting and unique design features.

The most noticeable feature is the large ring on the pommel of the knife, much like how many Kunai are depicted today. However that is where the similarities end. Karambits have a very pronounced reverse curve to the blade, and depending on the design, may have any number of other unique features as shown below:

Parts of a Karambit

Parts of a Karambit

Now that’s just a mean looking little knife. My kind of pocket knife. It would probably make your average pocket knife run screaming in terror. But that’s a plus in my book. Modern day Karambits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some features are removed to meet the restrictions of local laws, and others simply a matter of tradition. Some are double edged, others are single. Some have rippers on the spine, others don’t.

Karambit Designs - Strider Knives

Karambit Designs - Strider Knives

However the things that are common to all karambits, is that characteristically curved blade, with an sharp inside edge, a grip, and the ring. And therein lies the beauty of this design. Remember before how I said that a concave blade design actually placed more drag on the knife in use? Well this design actually allows you to use that drag to your advantage.

That ring in the pommel gives the wielder a very solid purchase on the knife, allowing very strong cutting strokes, and even low pressure draw cuts, simply by laying the edge on a target and pulling the knife across by the ring. It is really quite an effective design. And, unlike like most over knives, you get a very secure forward and reverse grip.

Undercover Karambit (Black)

Undercover Karambit (Black)

Incidentally, I am not particularly impressed with those little mini blades on the spine, (aka rippers). At least the way I often seem them implemented. They are a very cool (and sinister looking) design feature, but most of them do not appear to be designed for maximum efficiency. But a properly designed set of rippers, shaped more like small sharp gut hooks, than flat chisels, could really do some damage. Kinda like this:

Dawson Large Karambit Field & Tactical Knife

Dawson Large Karambit Field & Tactical Knife

Nowadays, the Karambit is a fixture in several southeastern Asian martial arts, where it is used, with great effect, to inflict large numbers of superficial cuts, deep major artery cuts, joint or limb control, weapon defence, or any combination thereof. About the only weakness of the Karambit is that you have to learn a whole new set of techniques for fighting with it, because it does not work the same way a traditional straight bladed knife does. And there are so many more things you can do with a Karambit that you could not easily replicate with a regular knife, that you really need training in order to use it to it’s fullest potential.

Traditional Karambit With Wood Sheath

Traditional Karambit With Wood Sheath

However it is definitely a very cool tool. My kind of tool. In fact, I could see someone like… Riddick… using a karambit. It’s totally his style. I bet if we upsized the karambit to large knife proportions, this would probably be a much more effective weapon than the saber claws Riddick uses. Hmmm…

Dragon Claw Toenail Set

Dragon Claw Toenail Set

I think I’ve got an idea for this piece of steel I just so happen to have lying around. I’m off to the workshop. I have a karambit theory to test! 😀

IT’S 2010? ALREADY!?! WELL HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Wow… It’s 2010 folks… 2010!

2009  just flew away… And didn’t even look back.I, for one, would like to thank the thousands of you that read this blog on a daily basis, believe me, I never thought I was writing anything that interesting. Well at least not to anyone but me… 😀 But I can’t say it hasn’t been rewarding. And to my regulars, I say Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu. Thank you very much! I will do my level best to continue to keep you all entertained in 2010!

And 2010 looks like it will be an auspicious year. It’s a nice round number, for one thing. And It has a movie named after it… though somehow I doubt the events in the movie will actually occur in real life… 😀 But either way, I think this is going to be an amazing year… I can just feel it in my smoldering bones. I’ve got some interesting projects planned, and I think you will all like them.

This will be the year of really, really, cool stuff. And I leave you with one such piece of cool to contemplate:

The Sword Gun

The Sword Gun

Awesome to 2010 and BEYOND!!!

Best wishes for the new year, from me, your perpetually fiery host, from the Realm of the Dark Blade! 😀

~Phyreblade~

Of Dragon Tails and Tigers claws

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Konnichiwa! So I thought I’d try and come up with some clever title for this post, since both tigers and dragons are subjects, (in a matter of speaking) of this post. But, as you may probably have guessed by now, the only thing that kept popping into my head was  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Yes. So I took the easy route. Pathetic isn’t it? I have no imagination. *sigh*

Anyway, today I thought I’d show you more great stuff from the site of NineDirections.com, as Matthew was kind enough to send me more pictures of his work. The first item on the list today are more pics of the Ninja Shuko (Tiger Claws) from the last post on the topic. First we have a really cool pic of the Shuko hand hoop being forged.

Shuko - Forging the Hand Hoop

Shuko - Forging the Hand Hoop

And here we have a couple of cool shuko just hanging out and acting all cool…

Ninja Shuko (Toger Claws) - Just Hanging Out

Ninja Shuko (Toger Claws) - Just Hanging Out

A pair of Shuko with their battle faces on… >: (

Shuko - Claws Out!

Shuko - Claws Out!

Enter the Shuko! LOL… OK, ok… I get it. Enough with the Shuko.

So how about… Dragons? Specifically Dragon Tails? Yeah, I thought so… Dragon Tails, also sometimes called Rope Darts or Dragons Tongues, are basically a small blade attached to length of rope anywhere from five to who-know-how-many feet in length.

Dragons Tail

Dragons Tail

They can be spun at great speeds, and controlled via cord or chain, can be used to cut or penetrate hard targets at distance. A rather intimidating weapon, indeed. I’ve always loved the rustic feel of raw sharpened steel, and Matthew at Nine Directions has, as usual, replicated the look beautifully.

Dragons Tail - Edge

Dragons Tail - Edge

So what we have here, folks, is a heavy slab of steel, with sharp edges, on a rope. You can’t beat that with a baseball bat. Yet another example of some excellent work by NineDirections!

Dragons Tail – [Nine Directions]

Ninja Shuko – [Nine Directions]

Anyone know where to find human dart boards?

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Why? Because I have some unique darts I’d like to try out…

Cold Steel Urban Dart

Cold Steel Urban Dart

This is the Cold Steel Urban Dart. Now to be honest, the name is a bit of a mystery to me. Why call it a dart? And why an urban dart? I dunno. But it is certainly one cool looking dart. And it’s design has a lot of merit as a concealed tactical bladed weapon.

Sporting a 5.75″ Aus8 blade, attached to a 2.25″ kraton handle with a small lanyard hole, all put together in a trim, slim form factor, this dart has all the makings of an easy to conceal little knife. Could easily be used as a neck knife, though I would not recommend you rely on this for something like outdoor use, since that I think 2.25 grip is waaaaay to small for a good wilderness knife. No, this looks like it would really be best used for things like an easily concealed defensive tool. Perhaps that is where the “Urban” part of it’s name comes from.

The design does have some interesting characteristics. About an inch or so above the kraton grip, on the ricasso of the blade, we see a grroved depression, clearly intended to be used as a thumb grip area. This would suggest the blade would be best held in a form of full handed pinch grip, with the ricasso held between thumb and folded forefinger.

The swell of the kraton base should fit in the closed palm of the hand, giving it a decent grip. And the flat kraton pommel should also allow it to be used as an impromptu punch dagger, with the blade held between the fingers, presuming Cold Steel has put enough Kraton down on that pommel to prevent the steel from pushing through.

And, of course, it is also very nicely shaped for throwing. perhaps where the “dart” part of the name came from, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you get one of these and start throwing it like you would throw a dart. Certainly not at another human. Unless, of course they started it first.  🙂  But either way, it ought to be a rather nimble little defensive blade.

And, funnily enough, I think I have just solved the riddle of why they decided to call it an ‘Urban Dart”.

Very cool idea. I like it.

Urban Dart by Cold Steel – [True Swords]

Mans best… pal?

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Ok, so I’ve been looking for a few good all around large wilderness knives, large blades, like machetes and the like, things I could substitute for an axe. My personal philosophy for wilderness excursions is to carry a large blade instead of an axe, because while an axe is really, really good for heavy duty chopping, unless you are doing something really involved, like building a log cabin, you could probably get by with a large knife instead.

And in addition to that, there are a gazillion things you can do with a large machete that an axe would just be too unwieldy for. My personal benchmark, my reference blade, my standard for any large blade that can double as an axe, is the Nepalese Khukuri. And I actually did find a Khukuri to add to my outdoor kit. That blade, however, is the topic of another post.

Today, I’d like to talk about one of the more popular machete type tools I happened to run across during my search: The Woodmans Pal:

Woodmans Pal - Site Logo

Woodmans Pal

Now this is one of the more unique machete designs I’ve happened across during my ramblings across the internet, and for the most part, I like what I see. Good solid construction, no gimmicky features, like some of the other specialized machetes I’ve blogged about in the past. I will admit that in my opinion, this machete does carry a little bit of bloatware on board, depending on how you plan to use this useful not-so-little blade, however this ends up working in it’s favor, which I will talk a little bit about later on.

So, lets start from the bottom. The Woodmans pal comes in two flavors, one with a nice hardwood grip, and the other with the premium, and very nice looking compressed leather grip, with an integrated D shaped knuckle guard, as shown later below. Me personally, I like the leather grip and knuckle guard, but depending on how you plan to use the machete, the wood may be a better choice, for reasons I’ll also get into later.

But perhaps the most distinctive feature of this machete is it’s blade. The woodmans pal features an interesting forward swept design, with the blade getting a little wider, as it gets towards the top. Interestingly the edge is not sharpened all the way to the top, but stops just short of the wide, flat tip. However at the top of the blade, opposite the unsharpened top edge, we have a billhook jutting from the spine.

The billhook sits in a depression stamped into the top of the hook, so as to ensure that, when oriented correctly, the blade of the hook is always lower than the blade of the machete, which should make it easier to catch limbs and brush with. I thought was a very clever design feature, though this is also where my little nitpicks begin.

The Woodmans Pal

The Woodmans Pal

Here’s the thing. This design is quite innovative, however it suffers from a few shortcomings. For instance, if you opt for the model with the leather grip and knuckle guard, you may find that your options for using the billhook are actually a little limited. Because as clever as the design is, that depression makes it biased towards one hand over the other, depending on whether you are a southpaw or not, and also depending on how you use a machete.

If you are one of the unfortunate few for whom the placement of the depression for the billhook makes it a little harder to use, you may want to opt for the wood grip, since the knuckle guard will generally only aggravate this problem, and the wood handle is actually much better designed to allow the machete to be used upside down. I also found that, at least based on the way I use machetes, there was only a marginal advantage to having it. A lot of what I might do with the billhook, I could do with just the machete blade alone.

However I will say that the bill hook, in combination with the slight flare of the blade as it rises towards the tip, provides the tool with a top heavy balance that should give it rather khukuri-like qualities in terms of chopping power. Perhaps with not quite the same kind of elegance that the Khukuri carries, but some semblance of it’s chopping ability nonetheless.

Now individually, none of these features are particularly unique. However put together, it makes for one heck of a well balanced, exotic gardening implement! The wood and leather, where used, appear to be of great quality, and the steel is a good quality tempered carbon spring steel, so no demerits in that area either. All in all, a really great machete, if you are in the market for something of this nature.

Equally confidence inspiring is that Pro Tool Industries, the maker of the Woodmans Pal, offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back. I’m tend to be a bit leery when I see things like that, but based on what I’ve seen of it, I’d be willing to bet few have ever taken advantage of this offer.

So really, apart from the whole billhook thing, I can’t really knock this. And it even comes in black. I wish they made one without the billhook.

But then I guess it just wouldn’t be a Woodmans Pal.

‘Tis a shame really…

The Woodmans Pal – [Pro Tool Industries, Inc]

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