Posts Tagged ‘Cold Steel’

Walk Softly…

Friday, September 11th, 2009

But carry a big stick. Today I will be posting not about a blade, but rather a stick. A big stick. Don’t ask me why. I don’t have an answer.

Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick

Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick

The stick is one of my favorite weapons. Very fast, versatile, extremely useful for both offense and defense. Also generally quite non-lethal, though it can be lethal if used in the correct manner. But best of all, they are easy to find, easy to train with and are one of the most innocuous tools ever.

The Big Stick. Can go anywhere you go, and won’t let you down. Gotta love it.

Just don’t forget the “walk softly” part.

Irish Blackthorn Walking Stick – [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]

The Modern Kunai

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

In a few previous posts I’ve made much about how the Japanese kunai had undergone an amazing transformation at the hands of Hollywood, from a cheap, multi purpose garden implement into the omnipotent Swiss Army knife of the Shinobi warrior. The modern replica kunai is now part throwing knife, part parry tool, part fighting knife, camp knife, hunting knife, scalpel, the list goes on… Well, the point of this post is that I found yet another incarnation of kunai, from veteran knife shop Cold Steel…:

Cold Steel Kunai

Cold Steel kunai

[view full size]

Now as Kunai go, this is fairly recognizable, though it is a rather unique design, and a major departure from the traditional Kunai design in two very important ways.

First, the blade is a flat, wide triangular blade. Your traditional Kunai was more leaf shaped, than actually a triangle, though this is not a bad approximation. This also stays in keeping with the diamond shaped blade cross section, which gives the kunai a lot of strength, though it is much more shallow diamond than some traditional designs. It would make a strong thrusting weapon. Not so much for cutting, even though it has two very sharp edges. Kunai really weren’t the best design for cutting. Too short and too wide.

The second design departure is, to me at least, a much more important one. In defiance of the traditional full tang Kunai construction, Cold Steel has seen fit to simply encase a tang in a kraton handle. Yes, it looks cool, it probably provides a great grip, and it’s got this great tactical ring on the end of it, but this, imho, is a grave mistake.

There is simply not as much strength in a grip molded onto a rat tail as there is with a full tang with scales. given the kind of use that a kunai might see, i would always be worried about the tang somehow working it’s way out of the grip material. I’ve seen it happen too many times. And it’s a great shame.

But speaking of different kinds of uses, I couldn’t help but notice the handy little chart that cold steel provided on the different grips that could be used to wield the kunai. Now I will readily admit that I am no kunai fighting expert, but seriously, half of those grips seem very… well… pointless… It looks almost like they just held it in as many ways they could think of and then picked the coolest looking ones for the pic.

I mean seriously, a kunai is not a punch dagger. Punch daggers are short for a reason. You don’t want the blade rotating out of your hand. That is why grips 1 and 6 fail miserably in that respect. And grip 4 is pointless when you could use either 3 or 5 to accomplish essentially the same reverse/ice pick grip in a much stronger way. Grip 8 is a good strong hammer grip, while 7 looks like a good way to break a pinky. And whoever came up with grip 2 must have been smoking a controlled substance…

In fact I’m thinking the only ones who could find any practical use for grip 2 would have to be Ninjas… But you can try it for yourself if you feel so inclined… I’m just saying…

Cold Steel Kunai – [True Swords]

The Cutlass Supreme…

Friday, March 28th, 2008

LOL no, you ninnies, I’m not talking about the car, though I’ll admit to a little tomfoolery with the title, being a little word play on the automobile of the same name. But I am talking about today is a weapon made infamous by pirates, but was also a popular general purpose weapon if the buccaneering age… The Cutlass!!

1917 Cutlass

1917 Cutlass (Cold Steel)
[view full size]

In Hollywood, while the cutlass is primarily portrayed as the weapon favored by pirates, it was in fact a very common naval weapon, used by pirates, regular sailors and even naval military forces, all for the very same reasons. In a previous wannabe pirate sword post, I explained a bit what the characteristics of the ideal pirate swords were. In this post, we will get to see a much more accurate cutlass design a little closer.

As you can see from the pic above, the cutlass is more or less a single-edged, mid-sized saber. This particular example carries a curved blade, as did many others, though they were not all so. However for the average seafarer the curved blade was very useful, as it allowed longer cutting strokes to be delivered within a much smaller radius, something that would have been much harder to do with a longer curved blade, like a Katana, and even more difficult with a longer straighter sword, like a rapier.

Yet another characteristic of the ideal sailors weapon, be they pirate, merchant or military, was that it be fairly simple to use, as your average sailor received little in the way of training with weapons. It is a little known fact that most pirates, in contrast to how they are portrayed in the movies, were not highly skilled warriors. Many were simple sailors, conscripts from captured vessels, or aimless ragamuffins attracted to piracy by the promise of an equitable share of the loot. Few were the highly trained, swashbuckling sword fighters depicted in the movies.

The cutlass was a fairly simple weapon, fairly heavy, of median length, had no edges facing the wielder, and unlike most other highly specialized land bound dueling weapons, needed no major training to use. This made it ideal for both experts and novices alike. It’s weight made it easy to handle by feel, made it easier to land chopping blows with, and the additional blade material also made it strong enough to be used as a general purpose shipboard chopping and cutting tool for wood, leather, rope, etc. So, while in the hands of an experienced sword fighter it could be a lethal weapon, it was also your basic idiot proof sailors weapon/tool of the day.

Provided, of course, that the idiot in question wasn’t prone to stabbing themselves in the foot. Or even worse, the eye. Hey, things happen. Not all eye patches and wooden legs were come about in a glorious battle… I can guarantee you that much… 😛

Anyway, the version shown above also happens to be one of my favorite saber designs, because in addition to a nice, but not-too-ornate guard, a three quarter length fuller and simple wooden scales, it also incorporates two additional features that are not always seen in your stereotypical cutlass design. Namely, a clip point tip, which would both enhance it’s thrusting ability, and enable the tip to be used for finer cutting work where necessary, and finally, but certainly no less important, a totally sweet jet black finish…

Can’t beat that with a baseball bat… 😀

1917 Cutlass by Cold Steel – [True Swords]

A new take on an old classic…

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I ran across a rather unusual weapon recently. A Katana, to be specific. Now normally I don’t give a second thought to katanas because they have been done to death. There are so many of them, all with the same basic features, and simple cosmetic differences, that my eyes I kinda just glaze over when I see most of them. Not this one though. It kinda just just popped out at me. Or specifically a couple of words that I don’t believe I have ever seen preceding the word Katana: “Double-Edged”

Cold Steel Double Edged Katana

Cold Steel Double Edged Katana
[view full size]

Now this is interesting. Traditional katanas only have a single edge, generally because it allows the sword maker to incorporate all of the strength holding and resiliency of the blade in the body and spine of the blade, while focusing all of the hardness and cutting power on the edge. Each half of the blade serves a specific purpose, together making a katana a very strong and efficient weapon.

A double edged katana is possible, but poses problems. The blade of a traditional katana usually has a differential temper from the edge to the spine. The blade is tempered differently across the width of the blade in order to get more hardness at the edge, while retaining flexibility and resiliency from the rest of the blade. A double edged weapon would make this very difficult, as you would have to sacrifice flexibility and durability in order to have the same hardness across both edges. Incidentally you would also lose the characteristic curve of the katana if you tried to temper both edges traditionally, as that curve is a natural byproduct of the differential temper process.

This means that this particular sword design is not going to be as durable as a traditional one. But the design does try to get around this problem by only making the top half of the sword double edged. And in a katana, that top half is probably most likely to benefit from a double edge. Except that now you’ve diminished the structural integrity of the blade from that point on, and under duress, against a traditional blade, this one will most likely break in half. So though the folks at Cold Steel claim it’s strong, I personally wouldn’t be tempted test the veracity of that statement.

OK, so I’ll admit the structural validity of this design is questionable. However I don’t think I’ve seen it done before on a Katana, but it caught my eye. Which is a hard thing to do, especially if you look like the average, run-of-the mill Katana. So it gets an honorable mention. Even if it is a pointless and unnecessary design feature from a purists perspective…

Cold Steel Double Edged Katana – [True Swords]

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