Posts Tagged ‘Fairbairn-Sykes’

A Combat Oriented Fighting Knife.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Today I thought I’d talk a little about one of my favorite topics. Knife design. Specifically, knife designs for CQC purposes. In an earlier post, I spoke about one of my favorite classic fighting knife designs, the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife. The Fairbairn-Sykes knife is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile fighting knife designs ever developed.

The double edge allows for a very wide variety of grips and many more ways of cutting. The sharp, narrow point also makes it an excellent thrusting weapon, and the narrow 6 inch blade made it capable of deep organ strikes by a skilled combatant. However, as with everything, there are compromises and trade offs, and the FS fighting knife was no exception. The FS knife was made for one thing, and one thing only. Close quarters fighting.

In contrast to the vast majority of combat blades issued at the time, the FS knife was not a combat or survival knife. Compared to most other designs, it was much thinner, much lighter, and as a result much weaker. It’s point was more than enough for thrusting attacks during fights, but would never hold up to the abuse that a “combat” knife like a Ka-Bar, or a bowie, could handle.

And while the vase shaped, tapering, grip of the FS knife, with it’s circular cross section, was lighter, easier to control, and faster than other designs, it did not provide as much grip, and no real feedback about the position of the edges of the blade with respect to the grip. Certainly not show stoppers, since general purpose combat was not really what the FS knife was designed for, BUT… What if?

What if you could forge an FS style blade into something that could be taken into combat? What if you could change the design so that it was just a little more durable, maybe make it a little more suitable for general combat use, without losing all of the great things that makes it an excellent fighting blade? Well, in my humble opinion, I think you’d end up with this knife right here:

Ranger Stealth Kill - Shiva Ki Knives

Ranger Stealth Kill - Shiva Ki Knives

This is the Ranger Stealth Kill, by Shiva Ki knives. As you can see, this design has a lot in common with the traditional FS fighting knife. It is double edged, has a small but effective guard, has a vase shaped handle, and a sharp point. But that is where the similarities end.

This knife incorporates some changes to the design that, in my opinion, makes it a good compromise for a combat blade, as opposed to being simply a fighting blade. Lets start with the grip. In contrast to the FS design, the kraton grip on this knife is removable, wider, and flatter, and incorporates grooves, as well as a rounded flat pommel.

These simple design change allow for better control under hard use, and the wider, flattened grip provides much better feedback about what the knife is doing in your hand at any given point. The removable grip allows it to be cleaned or replaced quickly and easily in the field, and the flat pommel allows the knife to be used for hammering. These are all areas in which the original design was relatively deficient. But the changes don’t stop there.

The blade is also larger, at 8.75″ wider, and heavier, though perhaps not as heavy as it looks, since it also appears to be hollow ground, which would allow it to hold a rather wicked edge. And rather than the fairly sharp needle like point on the traditional FS design, this knife sports a spear point, which is considerably stronger, without giving up all that much in penetration power.

The resulting larger, heavier blade, while slower than the original, would be much more flexible as a general combat blade, and it’s added weight and size would make it capable of being used in a number of other roles, hammering, digging, punching through hard objects, light chopping duties etc. that would probably kill most of the knives that follow the original FS knife formula.

And of course, there’s one more thing. I think this knife is sexy. Perhaps not as sexy as some of the others I’ve posted about, but it certainly has a kind of rugged, no nonsense charm that I find intriguing. Now I’ll admit that for pure CQC purposes, a faster, smaller knife would be better. Thinner, lighter, blades are faster, more agile, and easier to control, while heavy knives tend to work against you.

However for a knife that you need to be a between a capable fighter, but not entirely useless as a general purpose combat knife, I think the Ranger stealth Kill is a very, very attractive design compromise. One of these days I will have to make one…

Ranger Stealth Kill – [Shiva Ki Knives]

A “Tactical Ring” does not a Kunai make…

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

A couple of days ago I ran across an interesting fighting knife:

Black Ronin Kunai Style Fighting Knife

Black Ronin Kunai Style fighting knife
[view full size]

Now you all know I have a thing for Japanese weapons. And the idea of a “Kunai” style fighting knife is an interesting one. Contemporary kunai designs are, in fact, very close in aesthetic to the original Shangai knife upon which the infamous Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife is based. The Shangai knife had a short, pointy blade with a somewhat wide base. Kunai were similar except with a really wide blade. They also lacked sharp edges, but they weren’t really intended to be knives to begin with, so edges were unnecessary.

However, while it all sounds good in theory, traditional kunai design is not really fighting knife material. Seriously. The kunai evolved from a garden trowel. A workable weapon? Yes. Ultimate fighting knife material? Meh. Not so much, imho. Which is probably why this knife here has some rather interesting weaknesses.

Like for instance, the blade profile. Kunai have wide bases and sharp points. good for parrying, and thrusting. Not so good for slashing. The FS knife design solves that be having a relatively narrow blade across it’s length as well as a sharp point. This knife has… Errm… a belly? Yeah. Right. Good for slashing (and skinning unwary prey…) Not so good for thrusting. Even with that cool fake rear edge. Or the admittedly cool curve to the black cord wrapped grip. Or the spine cut outs that don’t look like they are particularly useful…

And then there’s that humongous ring. Yes, yes, we get it. It’s a “Tactical”, “Kunai style” ring. Looky here ppl. The kunai was a garden trowel. It’s primary feature was a leaf like blade shape. Not a ring. Seriously. In fact, some kunai didn’t even have a ring because the ring was a little more work to make. Honestly. How many garden trowels do you see today with huge rings like that? Eh? Pfft…

Now I think the folks that are marketing this thing were probably more interested in trying to squeeze as many cool Japanese terms as possible into the name, rather than actually duplicate any kind of specific functionality (Black Ronin Kunai? What is this supposed to be the weapon of a rogue samurai turned ninja? LOL… whut? Helloooo!! No…)

But by and large, while the design might work (in a pinch) for fighting duty, personally, I’d probably use this as a camp knife first… I’m just saying…

Black Ronin Kunai Style Fighting Knife – [True Swords]

The Contemporary Light Fighting Knife.

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

In a recent post I did about the Altairs retractable blade from Assassins Creed, I made mention of the the characteristics of the ideal fighting knife. While any knife will only be at it’s best when used in manner and environment it was the designed for, most small, fast fighting knives have very similar properties.

Today, I thought I’d talk about a classic example of one of the best engineered fighting knives of the last century or so. The British Commando knife, AKA the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife:

Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knives

British Commando Knife British Commando Knife Special Edition
[view full size] [view full size]

Fighting knives have been around since the beginning of man. Blades such as daggers, dirks and stilettos have always been popular fighting tools, due to their speed and flexibility. However the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife is a knife that has had a very profound influence of modern day combat fighting knife design. Developed in China, just prior to WWII, it was based on a design called the Shangai Knife:

The Shanghai Knife

The Shanghai Knife
[view full size]

This basic design was developed specifically for closed quarters knife fighting speed, agility and effectiveness. In contrast to the many other fighting knife designs, this was focused on very specific things. This fighting knife was designed to meet a very specific set of criteria. For instance, it had to be slim enough to be thrust between the ribs of an opponent. It had to be long enough to penetrate several layers of heavy clothing (like winter greatcoats and such,) and still strike vital internal organs. It had to be relatively small and easy to conceal. And it needed to be light, fast, and well balanced. But it also had to have excellent thrusting and slashing ability.

The FS (Fairbairn-Sykes) fighting knife design was the end result. Featuring a strong but narrow tapering double edged blade, it was one of the most well designed fighting blades of it’s time. After being adopted by the British army, and later variants of it by American, many other armies, it has had a significant influence on numerous combat blade designs since. Even your common boot knife and push dagger share roots with the FS design:

Boot Knives

Bodyguard Knife Bodyguard Boot Knife
[view full size] [View full size]

<^>

USARA Dagger

USARA Dagger
[view full size]

To be fair, the basic FS design is a revamp of a very old one. The idea of a strong, but slender, pointed, double edged blade has been around for a long time. However the FS design really brought it to the forefront of combat fighting knife design.

Phyreblade’s guide to Altairs retractable blade (From Assassins Creed)

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I had been considering doing a piece on retractable blades for a while, and was finally motivated to do so by a post I recently got in my suggestion box. A reader, Zach B. commented about his build of an under-hand retractable blade, similar to what the assassin Altair uses in the game Assassins Creed:

Assassins Creed Poster
[view full size]

In general, I love blogging about game weapons with real-life counterparts, but obviously, this game is pretty new out, so there are no official (or unofficially) produced rip offs… err production “replicas” of the Altairs retractable blade to be had for review.

However, since the games release, there have been numerous attempts to duplicate this weapon, and while YouTube is replete with videos of home made “Assassins Creed” blade contraptions, I noticed that, due to a lot of conflicting concept art from the developers, there is actually a lot of confusion about this blades design.

So, in typical blade nerd fashion, I thought I’d try to sort things out. Not necessarily to replicate the game blade, but rather to come up with a practical, real life design for such a weapon. Now let me preface the following by saying that, for your average dweeb, walking around with a spring loaded blade up your sleeve is an incredibly bad idea. There is a reason why these kinds of weapons were not common, even when they were legal. They are highly impractical, not to mention that they are an accident literally waiting to happen.

But, for those of us who like to live on the edge, love the aesthetics and the mechanical challenge of designing wacky weapons, and are insane enough to try, (notwithstanding the very real possibility of self impalement), I’ll go on. Proceed at your own risk. But remember, Altair has no ring finger. Think about it… People, please, do NOT try this at home…

Mounting and Placement.
For any wrist mounted blade to have the stability and strength to be used effectively, it must be properly mounted. This means a solid (inflexible, like steel, very thick/stiff leather or wood) mounting platform, preferably formed to the shape of your forearm, and a minimum of two straps to keep it in place, one at either end of this base. Your best bet would be to use the entire length of your forearm, with a minimum of two straps, one placed at the wrist and the other just before the elbow, to maximize the weapons stability. Altair has this covered quite nicely, as he used full length bracers with three straps:

Altairs Bracer
[view full size]

Now looking at this concept art for the game you’ll notice that the blade seems to come out from the spot where Altairs ring finger ought to be. In the game, this is not the case, and is entirely impractical for any real life assassin, (unless they are a mutant, like Wolverine) so we will disregard this little snafu, and assume the blade is mounted under the forearm, and not actually in his hand. Next stop, blade design.

Blade Support and Design
Now here is another area that has been thoroughly bolloxed on account of multiple conflicting concept art. In the game, Altairs blade uses a nested rail delivery system, where the blade is housed inside of a set of nested sleeves, which run on an internal guide rail. The sleeves extend sequentially, outermost rail first, then inner rail, and finally the actual blade, once both sleeves are fully extended and locked:

Assassins Creed Blade with double nested sleeves

Altairs Nested Sleeve Blade system
[view full size]

Now here is where the confusion begins. Depending on which art you are looking at, Altairs retractable blade either has two sleeves, or one sleeve:

Assassins Creed Blade with single sleeve

Altairs Single Sleeve blade system
[view full size]

Now nested sleeve systems have the advantage of being able to fit in a retracted form factor that is only a fraction as long as the weapon is when fully extended. This means a much more compact housing. However this comes at a cost. The added complexity of automating the extension and retraction of multiple nested sleeves require smaller, more delicate parts, necessarily manufactured to very close tolerances, that would make the whole mechanism more prone to failure.

In fact, in my opinion, the ideal system would actually use no sleeves whatsoever. And given that you have (and should really use) the entire length of your forearm with which to conceal both the blade and the deployment mechanism, I don’t really see the point of implementing such an elaborate system. Not to mention that a single, fixed-length blade would be stronger, faster, more reliable, and infinitely easier to automate than a shorter blade mounted in multiple sleeves. Which brings us to the our deployment system.

Automation
A very important aspect in the operation of any stealth weapon is an equally stealthy activation mechanism. Preferably one that can be activated ‘hands free”, in a manner of speaking. And Altairs got one. In the first concept picture above, we can see that there is a little harness attached to Altairs pinky from the blade housing. This is intended to be his blades activation switch:

Assassins Creed Blade – Ring/Cable Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Mechanism
[view full size]
[video here]

However, in one of the promotional vids for the game we see Altair having to press a button to release a switch that activated his blade:

Assassins Creed Blade – Button Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Switch
[view full size]
[video here]

Now truth be told, this button is probably one of the more complicated ways of doing this. Indeed, you can see that it’s actuation would be counterintuitive, as it would require you to place your fingers in the path of the out going blade in order to activate it. In any case, from the numerous videos of him in action, we can see that Altair simply flexes his hand away from the blade to activate it, so we can assume that a button based activation system is not used. A finger ring cable is a much more flexible way of doing this, and the one I’d go with.

So far as the actual deployment mechanism is concerned, if we stick with the simple, single blade (no sleeve) approach, we can actually use a very compact dual spring double action out-the-front switch blade mechanism. They are simple, reliable and fairly easy to implement. I won’t go into schematic detail here, as it would extend an already excessively long post, however, I can point you in the direction of a buddy, and fellow knife fanatic Sinza, with whom I run a forum (Exotic Automatic) with a lot of helpful diagrams, as well as a break down of some common double action OTF mechanisms. Go on over and check his site out if you have the hankering for a more technical look into the topic…

The Blade.
Finally, we come to the point (pun intended) of all this, which is the design of the actual blade itself. As I mentioned earlier, I favor a single blade approach, with no sleeves, housed in a simple, dual spring loaded guide rail, in the style of your regular OTF switchblade. So far as the blade itself is concerned, we would need to meet a few specific criteria. The blade would need to be long enough to penetrate thick clothing and still puncture vital organs, thin enough to be able to slide between a persons ribs, yet thick enough to resist bending. Throw in double edges, and a sharp point, and we have a winner.

Interestingly, these are the same basic design specifications of the contemporary Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife design, which I will talk about in a future post. Nonetheless, this should give our assassins blade all of the required features to be a terminally effective assassination tool… And that’s all I’ve got to say about that…

A Triangle of Darkness…? Why?

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Today we have our first entry into the “What on Earth…?” pantheon of inexplicable weapons. Entries into this hall of fame are weapons whose design seems ill suited to serve their most obvious purpose, but seem to be more likely to be a product of some ADD stricken designers flight of narcotic induced fantasy. First up:

Triangle of Darkness

Triangle of Darkness

OK, all I can do is tell you what it appears to be, and let you take the next subjective step of determining aesthetics and functionality. It appears to be three fairly nice “tactical” (lol.. I said “tactical”… LOL) knives similar in design to the Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife, except that they are hinged together via some sort of double-legged display stand contraption thingamajig. The center knife appears longer than the two peripheral knives that it is connected to. And that’s all I got.

Now could someone please tell me what in tarnation this is supposed to be? The blades themselves don’t appear to be anything special, (apart from having a fairly proven tactical design, and being black, for which it gets it’s due props) so why would anyone feel the need to display a set of 3 fairly similar and unassuming combat knives? Somehow it just doesn’t feel right. This is the sort of thing I always have a hard time understanding. I think these would look much better on a ninjas belt, or in a nylon web sheath, on a British commandos belt, than on a display. But that could just be just me.

Triangle of Darkness – [True Swords]

Log In

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 159,095 bad guys.

Your Weapon Sir?
The Raiders Almanac
March 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Surf the Sands of Time:
Phyreblades Site of the Month!