Posts Tagged ‘Fairbairn’

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]

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]

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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.

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]

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