Archive for the ‘Throwers’ Category

Pauls Problematic Projectile.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Today, while doing a little pic gathering for a future post on shuriken, I ran across a sweet triple razor thrower I thought you all might like to see. And no, regardless of any similarity the description may have to any number of commercial disposable razors, it is, in fact, a hira-shuriken style thrower, designed by Paul Ehlers:

Paul Ehlers - Triple Razor Throwing Star

Paul Ehlers - Triple Razor Throwing Star

Now I have to admit, this is a nice looking thrower. A good 5.25″ of heavy gauge swirling steel blades. The three blades are adorned with a set of three equally wicked looking scallopped edges/points on the inside of each razor arm, accompanied by a neat cross drilled pattern. And at the end of each arm a large sweeping razor edge, looking for all the world like thier sole purpose in life is to sever the jugulars of whichever unfortunate happend to be in thier path.

If ever there was such a thing as an evil hira-shuriken, this would be it. For many reasons. Which I will, of course, expound upon shortly. No, you may not go to the bathroom. Hold it. This will only take a minute. Sissy.

Anyway, in case it isn’t obvious, this weapon is designed to kill you. Yes. Say what? No, not the person it is being thrown at, but the person who threw it. Yeah. Really. I mean look at it. Reeeaaally look at it. Do you think those absolutely sinister edges on the inside of the shuriken are intended for the target? No, I didn’t think so. And have you noticed how conveniently shaped everything is so that it would guide your fingers right to said inside edges/points should you not be paying attention even slightly? Yeah… You see that now don’t you?

And did you know there is a reason why shuriken use points instead of blades? No, it’s not really for safety, though that is a good byproduct of the design. It’s because the smaller the impact surface area, the better the penetration. A point just sticks better than a blade. So why, exactly would someone use a blade on a shuriken? Yes, I see a few neurons firing and the light bulb clicking in some of your skulls out there… Yes… That’s it. It’s so they can cut the thrower! (Yes, that means you dufus.)

So yes, this blade is wicked. Evil. Sinister. Diabolical even, in a beautiful, sexy and lethally attractive kind of way… Errrmmm… *cough* Where was I? Ah. Homicidal tendencies. Yes. As I was saying, sure, get it, if it suits your fancy, but just don’t think for a second it has your best interests in mind. And whatever you do, do not bequeath anything to it in your will. Just put it up on a wall. A plaque. A pedestal, whatever, and worship it from afar. Trust me, you will live a lot longer that way.

Paul Ehlers Triple Razor Thrower – [True Swords]

The Finer Points of Throwing Knives…

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Many, many moons ago, Sinza, over at our automatic knife forum  Exotic Automatic, had posted about an interesting throwing knife that had set a world record for throwing distance. It was used to hit an 8″ bullseye from almost 60 feet away. 59’6″ away, to be exact. You can view the thread here if you are interested. The knife in question was the Flying Knife. The site has all the details you may want to know.

The Flying Knife

The Flying Knife

Now I personally thought the Flying Knife was a very interesting design, completely forgoing any attempt to conform to the appearance of a traditional throwing knife, in favor of a highly specialized design requiring an equally specialized throwing technique. This knife was designed to spin in flight, like a bullet fired from the rifled barrel of a sniper rifle, and thus maintain much greater in-flight stability.

And as you might surmise from the diagram below, the ideal throwing technique for this design has much more in common with throwing a baseball, than it does any traditional knife.

The Flying Knife - Grip

The Flying Knife - Grip

Interestingly, this is not the only throwing knife design that has left the beaten path for more exclusive territory. There was also the Easy Stick Pro thrower from AccuFlight. I think they may have gone out of business, but this thrower, in contrast to the Flying Knife, both looks, feels and throws like a somewhat over sized dart, and much like a dart, it’s tail imparts a self correcting attribute to it’s flight. :

AccuFlight Easy Stick Pro

AccuFlight Easy Stick Pro

Both of these knives have one thing in common. They both attempt to replicate a way of throwing that is familiar to most people. Baseballs and darts are quite common pastimes, and so throwing one of these should be equally easy to learn. However, for first time throwers who intend to pick up knife throwing as a hobby, I have reservations about these kinds of throwers.

Knife throwing is a cool sport in it’s own right. However, to me, knife throwing is even more fun because once you have mastered the basics, you can apply those basics to almost any knife. Table knives, paring knives, kitchen knives, cleavers, whatever. This is one of the knife throwing skills that you may not pick up if you learn to throw using specialty knives like the Flying knife, or the Easy Stick Pro.

I have a personal set of criteria for throwing knives which I will share, since it may be helpful to others, especially if you are a first time thrower planning to get into the sport. My first criteria for a throwing knife is that it not be too small, or too light. When I first started throwing, I picked up a set of small throwing knives, like these:

Cheap On Target Throwers

Cheap On Target Throwers

They were dirt cheap, and I got quite a few of them. However in retrospect, I realize now that although they were the perfect shape, and properly balanced, they were much too short/small and light. I wasn’t getting enough feedback from them, they were too easily affected by even the smallest variation in my throwing technique, and too light to resist any random disturbances in the airflow around them, and consequently, it took me ages to figure out how to throw them with even a modicum of consistency. So I’d advise against getting cheapo knives like these.

You will also want to avoid the fancy schmancy looking throwers like this one:

Cold Steel Naga Thrower

Cold Steel Naga Thrower

These may be fine for seasoned throwers, but if you are just starting out, avoid complex knives with multiple curves, or handles with knobs, sharp divots or asymmetrical lines, as they will make getting a handle on consistent throws more difficult because of the irregularity of the grip area. What I’d recommend is something more like this:

Boker Zeil Throwing Knife

Boker Ziel Throwing Knife

or this:

Cold Steel Sure Flight Thrower

Cold Steel Sure Flight Thrower

Notice the lateral symmetry of the grip and the blade? Both have relatively straight lines, the blade and grip often have roughly the same effective length, and even when they do not, they are still symmetrically balanced, (ie center of gravity coincides with the geometric center of knife) with a nice heft, which helps with feedback, and in-flight stability. Also with heavier knives, you can feel what the knife is doing as it leaves your hand, and this will help you learn proper technique.

Yes, knives like these may be a bit more expensive, but you don’t have to get name brand knives either. Any knife constructed of any good steel, (ie won’t snap in two if it hits a target sideways) at least 9″  long overall (this should be your bare minimum length), with a weight of around an ounce per inch in length (give or take a few ounces) should make a good thrower. Heck you can even make them yourself.

Anyway, just thought I’d put my thoughts out there, I hear less and less about knife throwing these days, so I’m either seriously out of the loop or it’s slowly becoming a dying sport. Hopefully my experiences will be useful to someone. Anyway you should give it a try. It is an engaging sport, and plenty of fun, but please do be careful!!

Easy Stick Pro – [AccuFlight]
Cold Steel Naga Thrower – [True Swords]
The Flying Knife[The Flying Knife Co.]
Exotic Automatic Forum – [Exotic Automatic]
Boker Zeil Throwing Knife – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Sure Flight Thrower – [True Swords]

A Predatorial Shuriken

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

OK, So i’ll admit I’m not really the April Fools type. I sat thinking about all of the incredibly evil things I could have posted as an April Fools prank and realized… I just couldn’t do it. So instead, I’m gonna post about a fictional weapon that Ive always thought was very cool looking, but entirely impractical:

The Predator Shuriken

AvP Shuriken
[view full size]

This weapon was one of the cool weapons wielded by the race of Predators in the Predator series of movies. This particular shuriken was prominently featured on the AvP (Alien vs Predator) and AVP2 movies. Now the one featured here is a non-functioning reproduction shuriken, primarily because, well, this weapon would be near impossible to make work in real life, for reasons I’ll get into shortly.

I truly love many of the design details of this weapon. But what makes it such an intriguing weapon to me is primarily the subtle physical impossibility and impracticality of it. It is a weapon that appears, on the surface, to be physically plausible, but upon closer inspection, reveals aspects that are implausible, but so tempting close to real, that you cannot help but wonder if it would be possible to duplicate in real life.

AvP Shuriken – life size prop

AvP Shuriken
[view full size]

For example, looking at the pic above, you may notice that the overall design of this shuriken vaguely follows that of the Japanese Fuuma (or Windmill) shuriken, but departs from traditional shuriken design in it’s asymmetry. The blades are all biased towards one side of the weapon. Now besides the fact this this offends my sense of symmetry, this massive weight imbalance would also make it a very impractical throwing weapon. And yet, in the movie, it is thrown just as a Fuuma shuriken would be, without exhibiting any of the idiosyncratic flight characteristics that one might expect from such a poorly balanced weapon.

An even more implausible feature of the weapon is the great disparity between the retracted form factor and the fully deployed form of the shuriken. Below is a picture of the center section of the weapon with the blades extended:

AvP Shuriken – Center Section

AvP Shuriken - center Section
[view full size]

And here is a picture of the blades, again fully extended:

AvP Shuriken – Blades

AvP Shuriken -  Blades
[view full size]

In the movie, the blades are shown to extend out of the center section of the weapon. From the pics, it is apparent that a considerable level of nesting can and would need to occur in order for this to be physically feasible. By my count, there are six blades, each blade consisting of 4 sections, an extension/pivot lever, an outer extension sleeve, an inner extension sleeve and the blade proper. The weapons deployment sequence is shown in the clip below:

AvP Shuriken – Deployment

AvP Shuriken - Deployment

Sweeeet…! Incidentally, the little clip above may also explain the weapons asymmetrical design. If the blades were to extend in a symmetrical fashion around the circumference of the weapon, there would be no safe place to hold it during deployment without risking the loss of a few digits. If memory serves, I think these were used primarily as throwing weapons, so if I were designing it, it would be perfectly symmetrical, and would open in mid air when thrown, so as to avoid the awkward asymmetrical design. The asymmetry seems like a pointless trade-off if you ask me, but then again, I’m not an alien weapons designer…

Anyway, during retraction, the blade would have to retract into the inner sleeve, the inner sleeve into the outer sleeve, and the whole outer sleeve assembly pivot onto the extension arm, which would then all fold neatly into the center section, completely occupying that space. Sounds good in theory, except that, given the physical dimensions of blades, sleeves, etc, there should be hardly enough room for all six blades, let alone a deployment / retraction mechanism…

Of course, given the advanced nature of Predator technology, these technical details would almost certainly only be limitations of human technology, and would be little more than niggling little technicalities to a predator engineer.

In the end, however, it is the overall aesthetic of the blades, and the deployment mechanism that makes this weapon so captivating, and while the technical challenges would be great, the design is ultimately so close to something that could be made using current technologies, it would be very tempting to try…

I wonder if DARPA would be willing to give me a research grant for this kind of stuff… 🙂

AvP Predator Shuriken – [Black Aris]

The hollywood glamour of the Ninja throwing star…

Friday, January 18th, 2008

As a great fan of Ninja lore, I’ve always loved the Hira-Shuriken, or throwing star. It was a very useful tool for the Japanese Ninja, but simply not as lethal or as universally effective as Hollywood has made them out to be. Nonetheless this Hollywood glorification of ninja throwing stars has spawned some rather unique variations, like the following pieces of junk “art”:

Shiflett Iron Cross Twister

Shiflett Iron Cross Twister
[view full size]

OK, so this is hira-shuriken pocketknife hybrid design. Very cool lookin’. But of course, the first question that popped into my head was… “A ninja would not touch this with an extended length manrikgusari…”.

Folding blades are neat in concept, but even if they are cool and open in mid flight, so you don’t have to stand there for 5 minutes opening them up before you throw them, they always introduce structural weaknesses, and you can never be sure the blade locks will survive the chronic repeated impacts of throwing… I think I’m gonna pass on this one…

Shiflett Tech Twister

Shiflett Tech Twister
[view full size]

Now here I thought I was making progress. Then that little nerd in my head deigned to raise his screechy voice at me: “Buuuut why are the points all split in half? Won’t that weaken the points?” Blasted geekoid… But good question. No good answers. Save perhaps because it makes it looks a little cooler. But we all know a true Ninja craves not things like “cool”. Only strength, efficiency and functionality. So we move on…

Ninja Shuriken

Ninja Shuriken
[view full size]

AHA! What’s this!? Ninja Shuriken! Now this is a design I could see a ninja using. Simple, effective, solid, reliable, What more could a Shinobi Warrior want? Look at the thickness of this weapon. The sharp points. It would be heavy, and strong… Except for one thing. It’s cast from some cheap metal. If you look closely you can see the casting imperfections superficially covered by black paint. Dagnabbit! The points on this thing are gonna wear down to nothing, in mid air, during your first throw…

At the end of all of this, as I sit here writing my conclusion, I realize two things. First, I am torturing myself for no good reason. After all, there are actually a good number of perfectly good stainless steel hira shuriken designs available that I have chosen to totally ignore, just to rip on the stupid Hollywood and TV inspired cheap rip offs reproductions.

Second, I am anal retentive, and need to seek help about that shrill voice I keep hearing in my head that I sometimes wish I could burn out of my skull… It’s OK now though. I’m fine. No, really, I’m fine… 🙂

Ninja Shuriken – [True Swords]

Shiflett Tech Twister – [True Swords]

Shiflett Iron Cross Twister – [True Swords]

Flying African Blades Of DOOM!

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Today I would like to introduce you to some very, very special guests. A set of particularly wicked throwing implements. Following are examples of one of the more historic and rare forms of throwing knives, originating in Africa, that are certainly one of my most favored, unique, and rarely seen throwing knife designs. Grab yourself a cup of tea, coffee, vodka and tonic, or a lemon-lime mocha frappuccino – if that’s what floats your boat (though I would have some serious concerns about you if it does) and make yourself comfortable, as I present to you, my favorite throwing knives of Africa.

Banda Tribe (RCA) Throwing Implement

Banda Tribe (RCA) Throwing Implement

Mabo Tribe (RDC) Throwing Implement

Mabo Tribe (RDC) Throwing Implement

Now these have been called a number of different names, most notably “Shongo”, “Kpinga”, “Sapa” and one of the most popular (probably an butchered version of one of it’s tribal names) : “Hunga-Munga”, names which seem to be used, incorrectly, to describe nearly every form of this kind of blade. It is important to remember that, as you can see from just the two examples above, there are actually many different variations on this blade, each from their own unique African tribe; many of them were not named, and the ones that were likely had a unique name depending on where it was made and which tribe it was from. But one thing is universally certain, these are some hella crazy throwing blades, no matter what you wanna call them!

What is also cool is that this blade design has actually made it into Hollywood! In the movie “The Mummy Returns” we can clearly see one of the baddies toting one of these blades in his belt in the small of his back:

Hunga Munga - Concealed Back Carry

Hunga Munga - Concealed Back Carry

Shortly thereafter we see him throw it, very narrowly missing a (very fortunate) protagonist:

Hunga Munga - Impact!

Hunga Munga - Steerike!

YA MISSED!! 😛 (Whew!!)

Anyway, as you can see from the pics above, these blades generally have three points, give or take, depending on where it’s from, arranged in order to maximize the amount of time that any sticking points will be presented to a target. You will also notice, especially on the Banda tribe version, that every possible blade edge has been sharpened as well, to provide as many cutting edges as possible.

At the same time, this innovative design even allows for a handle, so that it can be thrown without injuring the thrower. Genius! African weapon engineering at its best. They certainly beat the Hollywood glaives I’ve been ranting about hands down, though they do so at the cost of portability, which I will talk about shortly.

To me, the most interesting aspects of these particular blades is how their cool and evil looking aesthetics are entirely functionally motivated. The observant will notice that these designs are asymmetrical, unlike similar smaller weapons like hira shuriken, Or even equivalent weapons like the fuuma shuriken, where all the blades/points are arranged radially around it’s center of rotation. I believe the asymmetry of the design served a specific purpose.

Smaller throwing weapons like hira shuriken are symmetrically designed in order to periodically present a sharp point to the target during flight, regardless of what direction it is rotating. However a hira shuriken are light, usually only a few inches in diameter, designed for speedy deployment, can be held between the fingers or in the palm of one hand, and can easily be thrown in a controlled fashion with a light grip.

Not so with these blades. What may not be apparent from these pictures is that these African throwing knives can be over a foot and a half in length, with the combination of large mass and razor sharp edges intended to inflict massive cuts on impact. To safely control such a weapon in battle, you need a handle. But adding handles always reduces the chances for a throwing weapon to stick, due to the possibility of the handle hitting the target.

Their solution was to build a small handle into the design, and skillfully position the blades so that the desired balance of the weapon was not negatively affected, angling all of the points in one direction, and then shrouding the handle with a blade pointing in the same direction. The end result? A directional throwing knife with almost the same the sticking potential of the much smaller shuriken, the mass of a throwing axe, with a safe, built in throwing handle for maximum power and control. These folks design a mean weapon!

The only (minor) caveat to this design is that, unlike most hira shuriken, these knives have to be thrown with all of the points facing the target in order to maximize the chance of a stick. Throwing it backwards could still wound an enemy if they were struck by a blade, but your risk hitting with the handle and bouncing off. But unlike a hira shuriken, thrown properly from the hands of a fairly strong warrior, it would be more than just a distraction. This weapon could take you out of a battle very quickly. Without the need for poison either.

What was even scarier about these weapons is that their design is such that, if they hit the side of an opponents shield, its rotating momentum and mass would keep it rotating long enough to cause it to hook on to the edge of the shield and rotate around it and hit the unfortunate victim on the other side. Talk about a clever (albeit very mean) design. Throw in their size, their sharp lines and (of course!) their many pointy bits, you can probably see why I like these weapons so much. Their dark metallic finish just adds to their evil charm. They are just so freaking cool and intimidating all at the same time, on so many levels… What more is there to say?

Mabo Tribe (RDC) Throwing Knife – [Mambele.be]
Banda Tribe (RCA) Throwing Knife – [Mambele.be]

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