Posts Tagged ‘Rambo’

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)

John Rambo and the Art of Knife Survival… Pt. 2

Monday, May 19th, 2008

While looking for pics for the knife from my previous Rambo IV survival/homicidal knife post, I came across quite a few pics of the knives from previous Rambo movies. Now interestingly, as survival knives go, most of these are actually not what I’d consider the ideal survival knife design, however as movie icons, these blades are legends in their own right, so I figured what the heck, might as well do a post on them… So hang on. The ride starts now:…

RAMBO: First Blood – Survival Knife

First Blood Knife

[view full size]

This is the design that started it all. What we have here is now commonly viewed as your stereotypical survival knife. It’s got a nice large, long blade, a mild drop point, and the trademark of 13 (oooh scary!!) little saw tooth cut outs in the spine. The blade on these is usually fastened to the hilt via a rather short push tang. Not the best design (for reasons I’ll go into in a bit), but there it is.

It also has a cool cross guard with a Phillips style screw driver tip on one side, and a flat screwdriver tip on the other. It also features the neato (and now fairly ubiquitous) little hollow cylindrical grip, wrapped in green paracord, in which all manner of cool survival stuff is usually stored, with a compass set into in the pommel/cap, with a rubber O-ring to (supposedly) keep out the elements.

So far so good. But the Rambo II knife did this one better…

Rambo: First Blood II – Mission Knife

Rambo II Knife

[view full size]

The Second Rambo knife followed the same pattern as the first, except for some minor, but nice visual upgrades, including a non-reflective black finish, 15 saw tooth cut outs instead of 13 (Pffft whatever) , a black cord wrapped grip, a slightly deeper belly to the blade, a deeper clip point, and the addition of an extended lanyard stub on the pommel. All very nice improvements if you ask me. Especially (of course) the black treatment.

Now these first two blades are pretty cool looking, but alas, as I mentioned in passing before, they are actually not the best survival blades. I think they a little bit too large and bulky, the saw spines on the back really aren’t really as effective as they should be (the saw blade on my swiss army knife bites 10 times better), and the push tang construction is a really, really bad idea. Add to that the fact that hollow handle storage is rarely ever truly waterproof, then I think it becomes a rather poor implementation of an otherwise good idea.

Fortunately, the Rambo III blade suffered from very few of these flaws, and among the three blades in this post, is probably the one I’d be most likely to use for long term survival purposes…

Rambo III – Survival Knife

Rambo III - Mission Knife

[view full size]

With the Rambo III blade we finally see a much needed departure from the handle storage, and into full tang, contoured wood grip, total survival knife domination! As you can see from the grip, the tang extends all the way to the pommel, which, in addition to being super strong, would provide yours truly with some truly epic cranium cracking action! Yeah…!! Errr… Don’t ask.

Anyway, we also see that the saw tooth serrations on the spine have been abandoned in favor of some even more useless divots. And a slot has been added into the side of the blade. Which was originally designed for some fancy schmancy spring loaded wing blade insert:.

Rambo III Knife With Wingblade Insert

Rambo III Knife Wingblade Protoype

[view full size]

Which is cool for a designer/fantasy blade, but is basically pointless in a survival knife. From a survival perspective, this blade is still a little on the large and heavy side, but in the grand scheme of things, I would rather have this, and a ziplock bag with my matches/flint, compass, mirror, string, needle, etc., etc., etc., than any of the prior two knives.

<^>

So there you have it. Phyreblades abridged guide to Rambos survival (and wannabe survival) blades. Obviously, these knives were made to impress the movie going audience, as opposed to actually being useful for survival, so their flaws are understandable, just don’t be fooled into thinking these are the stuff that ideal survival blades are all about.

Now that I think about it, I think It might be fun to make a post (or a page maybe), specifically about what I think the characteristics of a good survival blade are (as well as what they are not) in the near future, so stay tuned, ye wild folk of the Dark Realms… 🙂

John Rambo and the Art of Knife Survival…

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I have always been a fan of the Rambo movies. Not sure why. It almost seems as if John Rambo has been around for eons. I remember watching First Blood when I was younger, and can remember being blown away by how well Johns story was told, seemingly using his uncompromising ability to succeed in the face of unlikely odds, and his almost effortless ability to terminate his foes with extreme prejudice, as a rather convincing story telling tool…

I loved his indomitability, and his raw and unadulterated drive to survive. But of course, were are not here to talk Rambo. We are here to talk about cutlery 😛 … blades. And one of the things that the John Rambo series of movies did inspire in me, was a great appreciation for the practical usage of a survival knife.

It would appear they had the same effect on others as well. John Rambo used a different blade for each movie. And each has become a signature blade. Including his newest, most primal, evil and wicked iteration yet…:

Rambo IV Knife

Rambo IV Knife

[view Full Size]

Not to repeat the mantra of a couple of previous posts, but… Now that’s a Knife!

OK, actually that’s more like a small machete. But what is perhaps most notable about this blade is that it is a massive departure from his previous ones. Where the others are all sleek and “refined” (as far as survival knives go) this one is just… Raw… Primitive… Brutish… And not really a survival blade. At least not in the conventional sense.

A good survival knife should have a multi purpose blade. Preferably of a good, durable, corrosion resistant high carbon steel, with a strong, drop or clip point (for strength and fine work) a little belly (for skinning and such), a good straight edge with a strong spine, a good, comfortable, non-slip grip, and a full tang for strength.

Other nonessential “nice-to-haves” would be a saw toothed or serrated section on the spine, for sawing through tough materials, a rounded pommel for use as an impromptu impact tool, a lanyard hole in the pommel to aid in retention, and perhaps a nice large cross guard to save your thumb/knuckles some grief.

Finally, but certainly not least importantly, it should be big enough to handle all of your essential survival tasks, but not so big that it becomes unwieldy. Primarily because a large amount if the use you will get out of your survival blade will involve making small cuts, cleaning game, carving/sharpening wood for weapons, traps, etc.

Now lets compare this list against the characteristics of Rambos new knife.

First, and most noticeably… This sucker is a monster! It’s thick, and very, very large! It will be very heavy, and will almost certainly to violate the “not too big” requirement of the ideal survival knife. Sure, bigger can, in some cases, be better, but if you have to rely on a knife for emergency survival, and you find yourself weak from not having been able to eat for a few days, a big knife just ain’t gonna be your friend…

And then there’s the blade profile. Large and wide. With an almost rectangular angle to the tip. It’s more or less a multi purpose cleaver. This would be great as a camp blade, or for jungle clearing. But with no point, it’s functionality would be really limited to hacking, which, methinks, makes is not quite the best tool to have for things like, say, skinning small game…

Besides all that, the blade is unfinished, raw. In fact the aesthetics remind me a lot of the way the Uruk-Hai wannabe scimitars were designed. Simple blades, no finish, just simple edges (and the occasional point) here and there. Essentially the weapon of a brute who really cares little about finesse, and simply relies on brute strength to hack their way through battle. This blade is exactly that, except with perhaps a little more finesse. But not much.

So while the blade is made of an old truck leaf spring, (which, BTW, is an excellent source of steel from which to make a durable, near indestructible knife) it is overall not really a good survival knife. Unless, of course your definition of survival is hacking away at bad guys. Which, In John Rambos case, It is. And he does a darn good job of it.

So, actually, while it’s not the best survival tool for the rest of us, given John Rambos requirements, this blade is actually an excellent survival tool.

Indeed. Please. Carry on with the hacking away at “teh bad ebil peeps” John… Having recovered some of my testosterone from my last post, I leave you to your butchery… Kthnxbai… 😀

Rambo IV Knife – [Realm Collections]

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