Posts Tagged ‘Knife’

The All Natural Trench Knife! Don’t mess with Mother Nature…

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

So let me pose a hypothetical question. IF you were given a choice of a weapon made of wood, and one made of steel, which one would you pick? I’m sure most of you would, without hesitation, pick the one made of steel. I, on the other hand, would be on the fence. Especially given that I tend to like things that are just… Cool. That’s not to say that wooden blades are entirely worthless, after all, you can do a lot of damage with a piece of wood, and even more if it has been sharpened and the edge hardened.

But what if it had teeth as well? Yeah… You heard me… A wooden knife. With a wicked set of teeth for a blade. Uh huh. Yeah… Now things get interesting… Imagine, if you will, an all natural fighting implement… Made entirely of natural materials, and edged with rows of razor-sharp shark teeth. Oh, but I’m not done yet. How about we throw in a spike. From a swordfish no less. Awwww Yeah… Now we’re talking…

Think about it. We are talking about the hand weapon equivalent of  a shark with a rapier attached to its snout. Certainly a laser attached to its head might be far more impressive, but with a spike, you’ll never have to replace the batteries. I’m just saying.  A spike is nothing to sneeze at. Take that and make a weapon out of it, and voilà! you have a personal, wooden hand shark. With a spike attached to its freakin’ head!

A fearsome weapon capable of horrific damage, but so stealthy that would not even set off metal detectors in an airport. Unless, of course you happened to use teeth from a shark that had somehow had the benefit of a modern dental plan, and had braces and amalgam fillings to boot. No, don’t laugh. It could happen. No, seriously. Go watch “Finding Nemo” and tell me that can’t happen. But I digress.

Today, I fawn over a very old but very cool all natural weapon of war called the Pahoa A’u Ku, also known as the Swordfish Bill Dagger. A combination of this:

A`u ku - Marlinspike Dagger

A`u ku - Marlinspike Dagger

And this:

Leiomano pahoa a`u

Leiomano pahoa a`u

 

To create this:

Pahoa A'u Ku - Marlinspike Leiomano Dagger

Pahoa A'u Ku - Marlinspike Leiomano Dagger

 

In case you didn’t quite catch just how much awesome I just laid on you up there, let me recap. The A`u ku is a dagger made from the spike of the broad bill Marlin a large fish with a very distinctive spike, much like a swordfish. Sometimes swordfish swords were used. The Leiomano pahoa a`u is a mêlée weapon, usually made of Koa wood, with a row of fairly wicked looking shark teeth affixed to the front edge of it.

Both weapons are relatively cool and awesome in their own right, but combine to produce the Pahoa A’u Ku, a weapon more awesome than the Decepticon Devastator! And all with materials straight from nature, in an almost unmodified form… WIN!

Proof, once again, that in spite of all the cool things we can do with steel nowadays, Mother nature was a total BAMF long before Chuck Norris and Samuel L. Jackson came along…

Yeah, I said it. Don’t hate. You know it’s true…

A`u ku -[Kumulau]
Pahoa A’u Ku – [Kumulau]
Leiomano pahoa a`u – [My Armory]

The Mighty Machete!

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you may know that I have a good amount of experience with machetes. I have done many things with them, clearing fields of 10ft tall elephant grass, felling small trees, even carving field hockey balls. (Yeah. Betcha didn’t know you could carve a hockey ball using a machete did you!)

Indeed, there was a time when I used them routinely, I dare say even more often than I did my laundry!  The result, is that I tend to reach for a machete where most folks would reach for an axe. As a matter of fact, I consider machetes a blade that is highly underrated in North America. This may or may not actually be true, however when people start looking for a medium to heavy-duty chopper, the first thing people seem to reach for is a camp hatchet or axe.

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet.

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet.

Now to be fair, there are many things an axe is just better for. For instance, you don’t hear much about machete murderers in the good old U.S. of A. Axe murderers, on the other hand… Common knowledge. And look at how under represented machetes are in the media. You see hunting and survival knives portrayed prominently in movies all the time, like the Rambo movies, The Hunted, etc. Even in games, machetes get a bad rap. You see throwing knives, in all kinds of First person shooters, ballistic knives in Call of Duty, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on forever!

Even on Youtube, machetes get little love. There was recently a game of “Name your two favorite knives” tag on Youtube, and not a single person (whose videos I have seen so far) has even mentioned a machete. It is a sad state of affairs people. Especially when you look at what you can do with a good machete. Chopping, carving, wood processing, digging, brush clearing, dismemberment… etc. (And just so we are all clear, I mean dismembering large game animals, not people. Not that it hasn’t been done before, but it’s just not my style. I’m just saying.)

Anyway, a machete can do it all! And what is most amazing about it is that you can get a good machete for a mere fraction of the cost of many of the fancy schmancy designer knives that people all seem to love. But you can thrash a machete and not have to worry about, ride it hard, put it away wet (thought if you do that, you deserve to be flogged, hung from you hair from the tree of woe, for wild emu to slowly pick at you… No seriously.)

The fact of the matter is, machetes get no love. At least not in North America. In Africa, South America, and many developing nations, it is the hero of large utility blades, and today, I’d like to speak out on behalf of all the poor neglected machetes of ‘Merica! I’d like to show you that machetes are not only good, but that they can be cool too!
First, allow me to introduce you to the working mans machete, two of my favorites from the Ontario Knife Co:

Ontario 12in Camper Machete

Ontario 12in Camper Machete


 The Ontario 12″ camper machete. This one has a saw blade spine and a “D” handle to offer added protection to the user, though I must say that as a seasoned machete user, I can’t recommend either, as the saw back is incredibly inefficient at sawing anything. It is best used for notching, but that is about it. And the D handle simply makes it harder to use that saw back anyway, so this is what I would consider a bad combination. Moving on to one of my more favored workhorse machetes:

Ontario 18in Military Machete

Ontario 18in Military Machete

The Ontario 18in Military Machete is my go to machete for camping trips and such, it is versatile, tough, and best of all, Cheap! I have both the 12in and the 18in version of this machete, and I really don’t know why every outdoorsman doesn’t have the 12in version in their pack. They are awesome! Next up, a light duty machete: The Gerber Gator Machete.

Gerber Gator Machete

Gerber Gator Machete

Now this is a nice, easy to use machete, ideal for someone who wants to pack light. It is not as heavy-duty as the Ontario or Cold Steel Offerings, but is light weight, low fatigue, and has one of the best grip ergonomics I have run into on a machete for a long time. It also has a saw spine, however its performance is surprisingly disappointing, especially given that they know how to make a good utility saw. Phail on you Gerber! PHAIL!! >:{

And now, on to the machetes that I classify simply as “Cool beyond Words”. Ok, so they aren’t really cool beyond words. But they are pretty darn cool. I refer, in this case, to Cold steels line of machetes, starting with their quite impressive Kukri Machetes:

Cold Steel Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete

Both the Regular and Magnum Kukri machetes from Cold steel are simply quite good. Strong, tough, can be made shaving sharp, and quite versatile, I have both versions, and can say that they are great, especially for the price, being excellent low cost choppers and all around bush whacking blades.

Last but not least, allow me to introduce you to my favorite machete design of all time, the Cold Steel Kopis Machete.

Cold Steel Kopis Machete

Cold Steel Kopis Machete

Now this machete is just beautiful. Based on the ancient Greek Kopis sword, the Cold Steel Kopis Machete is a beautiful piece of work, a combination of style, function, strength and beauty that is really hard to come by these days. And, of course, as if simply to spite me, it is no longer being made. Curses. CURSES!!! Curse the machete gods for depriving me of this thing of beauty! Oh well. C’est la Vie. It is my own fault for not getting one while I could.

Anyway, there are a gazillion other machete designs i could talk about today, but these are some of my favorites. And hopefully I have demonstrated that Machetes are not just ugly choppers, and that you can have it all; strength, style, beauty and utility… with the Mighty MACHETE!! 😀

P.S.

By the way… Anyone got a Cold Steel Kopis machete they want to… umm… donate to… “charity”? I can take care of that for you… Yes, yes, it will be for a good cause. You know, like the Happy Balrog Knife Charity… No, no, it’s a real charity… It goes to Balrogs in desperate need of hard to find knives… No, really… 😀

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet – [True Swords]
Ontario 12″ Camper Machete – [True Swords]
Ontario 18″ Military Machete – [True Swords]
Gerber Gator Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Kukri Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Kopis Machete – (no longer made)

Throwing Knives – Part Deux – The Art of Throwing Knives!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

OK, so it’s been a while since I posted anything, truth be told, I’ve just had waaaaay too many things going on. So much so that any spare time I might have is a rare and precious commodity. And as you might imagine, rather than sit behind a computer screen during this free time, I prefer to get out and do… Things. Yes. Things. physical things. In ye great outdoors. Or indoors. And stuff. Yeah… OK… Enough of that.

Anyhoo, one of the “things” I like to do in my spare time is… Throwing knives. I may have mentioned it in a previous post, but I have been a knife thrower, on and off, for many years. However recently I’ve been noticing a resurgence in knife throwing interest. Of course it may just have been that I haven’t been looking in the right places, but I think that the relatively recent flood of knife throwing protagonists in movies, anime and video games, may have something to do with it.

I mean if you look at the way throwing knives are used in games like as Assassins Creed and COD:Modern Warfare, anime like Naruto, and of course, Jason Stathams “Hai guise, I’z so hard core ima bring throwing knives to a gunfight” guy from movie The Expendables, it’s kind of hard to miss the glamorization that they have undergone. Much like the lowly Japanese garden trowel morphing into the almighty ninja Kunai…

Incidentally however, even though all I have seen of  The Expendables is the trailer, I thought I should point out that in real life, if anyone was stupid enough to bring throwing knives to a gunfight, they would be dead. Yes. I said it. Jason Statham’s character should have been dead. Many times over. Riddled with bullet holes dead. Dead as a doornail dead. Dead as a doornail riddled with bullet holes dead. D-E-D… Dead. I’m just saying.

And on that note, I’d like to show you a humorous video  I found on Youtube that actually addresses some of the more interesting points about how throwing knives are portrayed in the movies:

A point about throwing knives

A point about throwing knives

Now this guy makes some great points, though he kind of makes a mistake when he presumes a knife that misses it’s target can’t hit (and stick, point first), into the wall behind them. In reality this depends on how the knife was thrown. There are three  main ways to throw a knife. The first, and arguably the most common is what is called the spin or Circus throw, technique.

A knife thrown using this technique spins end over end on the way to the target, which means that the point is only present to the target at specific distances, which limits a thrower using this technique because they must stand at specific distances from the target in order for a stick to occur. Too far outside one of these “sweet spot” distances and you don’t get a stick.

Skilled circus style knife throwers learn ways around this limitation, such as imparting additional spin, by flicking the wrist, or retarding the spin of the knife with the thumb, as it leaves the hand, so as to shift the sweet spots closer or farther away, but personally I think there are just too many variables to learn to take into account to use this style as anything more than a recreational experiment. I do like to use this once in a while, however, since one of it’s great benefits, in my experience, is that it is one of the most powerful throwing techniques, allowing sticks to occur in the hardest of targets.

The second throw type is some times called the “no-spin” though it is technically a very slow quarter spin throwing technique. Now with this style, you have a whole lot more leeway with your distance, since the spin is so very slow, that your effective point stick distances are much , much larger than with the circus style throw. However the knife still spins, albeit slowly, and a thrown knife that misses it’s target, may still hit point first a little ways behind it, but not by all that much. This is the throw I use most often.

I personally find that it is not as powerful as the circus throw, however you are not dependent on being in a “sweet spot” in order to get a stick. Below is a demonstration of the quarter spin through with a unique twist (pun intended), demonstrated by the Japanese weapon throwing expert Houzan Suzuki:

No spin (Quarter Spin) knife throwing - Screw Style

The last, perhaps most difficult, but most interesting, is the spear style throw. Now this throw can actually be performed in a couple of different ways. Some spear style practitioners throw their knives like actual spears, pushing them straight forward, like darts. Yet others accomplish the spear style throw with an overhand or sideways throw. However the distinguishing feature of this style of throwing is that when the knife leaves the hand, it is already point first toward the target, and stays that way across the entire trajectory of it’s flight.

No Spin Wave Knife Throwing Technique

No Spin Wave Knife Throwing Technique

This last method of throwing, demonstrated above by the Russian martial arts expert Yuri Fedin, using either a sidearm or overhand spear throw, is perhaps the most difficult of all to master, but it is the one throw for which a point first stick is almost guaranteed, regardless of where the target happens to be along it’s trajectory. This means that you can miss the target, and still get a point first stick quite a ways behind the intended target. This is the style I’d like to master, but believe me, it is not an easy one to learn.

At the moment at which you release the knife, you must use a a light brushing motion along the spine of the knife, with the forefinger or thumb, to counteract the knifes natural tendency to spin due to the rotational inertia imparted to it by the arc of the throwing arm. Too much and it will rotate in the opposite direction, too little and it turns into a quarter spin throw. You have to get it just right. I can do it fairy easily at half spin distances, but beyond that, it’s hit or miss… Yet again, pun intended.

I leave you with a video clip of what an expert who has mastered this style of no spin throwing can do with… well… anything that has a point on it…

Enjoy!

Fedin System No Spin Knife Throwing

Fedin System No Spin Knife Throwing

Of White Steel and Japanese Bowies…

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Today I’m going to talk about a knife that is both simple, beautiful and yet highly functional… In a traditionally Japanese kind of way. When we talk about bowie knives, a Japanese knife might be the very last thing that might spring to mind, but believe me, as knives go, I would swap a bowie for this beaut any day. The “beaut” to which I refer is the Akatsuki Bowie, made by Kanetsune of Seki, Japan. Here… Have a gander:

Akatsuki Bowie

Akatsuki Bowie

This ostensibly simple looking knife is unique in several different ways. The makers, Kanetsune, are old Japanese knife makers who make traditionally designed knives that are both aesthetically pleasing as well as fully functional. The Akatsuki is just one of many unique and beautiful knife designs they make. I plan to talk about some of their other knives in the future.

Now if anyone is familiar with the old Jim Bowie knife design, you may well be thinking that this design is not actually very Bowie like. At least not in any traditional sense. And you would be right. It is more of a hunting knife design than a bowie, but me personally, I still love it to death. Let’s take a look…

Akatsuki Bowie - Sheath

Akatsuki Bowie - Sheath

As you can see, Kinetsune uses a very traditional wooden scabbard design, with a cool set of buckles attached that support a few different carry positions. A wooden sheath certainly cannot compete with Kydex or similar synthetic sheaths in the durability department, but they certainly have a whole lot more character!

Akatsuki Bowie - Hilt

Akatsuki Bowie - Hilt

The knife itself is an interesting combination of design features, starting with the oak handle, double pinned to what I’d presume to be a half tang blade. Transitioning from grip to blade, we have a combination collar and guard, in black, pressure fit onto the grip, and providing support at the blade grip transition, much reminiscent of the metal collar used by many traditional Frost Mora knives with wooden grips.

Akatsuki Bowie - Grip

Akatsuki Bowie - Grip

Except better, since this collar is much thicker, stronger and has a built in guard. I really like this design.

Akatsuki Bowie - Edge

Akatsuki Bowie - Edge

Last, but certainly not least, we get to the beautiful blade. The Akatsuki sports a traditional hunting knife profile, with a mild belly and severely de-emphasized clip point. This results in a very smooth taper to the point. I really like the blade profile it ends up with.

Akatsuki Bowiel - Spine & Grip

Akatsuki Bowiel - Spine & Grip

But here we have a little bit of a departure from the norm. Unlike most other knife makers, Kanetsune leaves the flat of the blade unfinished. In fact it looks as though they actually pit it intentionally, in order to accentuate the effect.

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie High Carbon White Steel

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie High Carbon White Steel

Now personally, I have reservations about this particular design feature. Kinetsune uses white steel in their knives, a special kind of high carbon steel, and it’s been my experience that most high carbon steels tend to rust a lot faster than others if not taken care of. I think those pits may be a little harder to clean than a polished blade, and this may cause it  to retain moisture and allow pitting and rust to migrate to the polished area. However with diligent cleaning and oiling this should not be an issue, and I can’t really argue with the beautiful aesthetic it adds to the blade. For all of it’s simplicity, the knife is a work of art.

All in all, a beautiful knife, even if it’s not a true bowie knife, it certainly has all the qualities of a great all around hunting and bushcraft knife, with some character to boot. It gets a fiery thumbs up from yours truly!

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie Knife – [Kanetsune.com]

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie Knife – [BladeHQ]

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! 😀

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