Showing posts with label Tactical Knife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tactical Knife. Show all posts

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Tactical Folder part two

Few people have the same insights to tactical knife as knife maker Ernest Emerson.  His early knives were almost tactical art knives.  Evolution and his personnel interest drove him to form his company specializing in hard use tactical knives.

Shadow Tech Karambit
Shadow Tech's Karambit may have a curved blade, but it isn't what you would call a utility knife.

In 2012, Ernest Emerson addressed the tactical knife largely from the police user point of view.  To a large degree their needs are not too different from the civilian.  Here’s Ernie.

1.  Design:  When the US Navy asked me to design a rescue knife for their special boat units (SBU), they gave me a list of tasks the knife would be required to perform.  I designed the knife specifically to address those tasks. 

2.  Purpose of the knife:  The purpose of the knife will dictate what knife you should get.  Is the knife a weapon?  Is the knife a utility tool?  Is the knife an emergency rescue tool?  Is the knife an entry tool?  An undercover officer going into a potentially hostile environment will have completely different requirements than a SWAT officer.

3  Ergonomics:  Ergonomics is one of the most important aspects of Tactical Knife design.  It must feel comfortable when you use it and handle it under stress.  There must be no pinch points, sharp corners or unnatural feel to the handle.  There should be a place for the fingers that do not force them to a specific location.  In addition, the knife should not be too large or too small for your hand, but should be just right.  The bottom line is that your knife should feel like it fits you, in size, shape and weight. 

4.  Size:  As I have already stated, any design must be purpose driven.  Therefore, the size of the knife should be reflective of the task it is designed to do. 

5.  Materials:  There are two categories, blade and handle.  Starting with the blade, I would recommend a good quality stainless steel.  The knife industry is so competitive that any reputable knife company is now using good to high quality steel.  If the knife is only $3.98, it’s made in Pakistan or China, no matter what it says.  The best knife steel ever used is plain old W1 tool steel and it’s been around for a couple of hundred years.  It’s the stuff your files are made of and they cut other steels.

6  Handle:  Handles can be made of a variety of materials from plastic to G-10 and from Titanium to Stainless Steel.  What you want in a handle is something that is stable.  What I mean by stable is: It won’t shrink, check or crack.  Stabilized materials are generally waterproof.  They shouldn’t absorb sweat, water, gasoline, or oil.  Checkering or a textured surface of course will always give you extra traction, especially if the environment is wet.  Bare in mind though, materials do not make the knife.  Design makes the knife.  A bad knife with good materials is still a bad knife.

7.  Blade Design:  The blade should have a cutting edge and a point.  It’s really that basic.  More specifically, I like a good strong thick point.  If I have to poke or dig into something, that could damage or break a delicate needle-like point as found on some knives.  A couple inches of cutting edge is plenty.  Curved cutting edges cut cloth and webbing very efficiently, i.e. seat belts.  Blades should be a minimum of 1/8 inches thick up to 3/16 thick, for lateral strength; I recommend a hardness of 57-59C Rockwell.  At 57-59 C Rockwell, the blade has some inherent flexibility.  After all, a dull knife is still a knife.  A broken knife is . . . well, expensive crap.  One last word on blades.  Always, repeat always, get a serrated blade.  They always cut, even when dull and they blow through a seat belt like something vulgar through a goose.


Tactical folder from Spyderco: The domino
Spyderco's Dominio has almost all the desired attributes of a tactical/utility knife except for price!



8.  Locks:   I don’t get too spun up about locks.  A folding knife folds.  Get it?  Never depend on the lock.  It is not a fixed blade!

9.  Fixed Blade or Folder:  A fixed blade is inherently stronger than a folder (no moving parts).  So it comes down to this: What are you going to use the knife for?  Some cops who prefer fixed blades carry a much smaller version.  These knives which are the same size as an opened folding knife are very usable, efficient and are compact enough to be carried on a daily basis.  The choice between a folder and a fixed blade should be driven by use first and preference second. 

10.  Carry Options:   Pick a place to carry your knife and always carry it there.  There is no right or wrong about how you carry your knife.  It must be easy and clear to access and it must be in the same place all the time.

11.  Reputation:   This is one of those intangibles that’s hard to describe, but I’ll give it a try.  Your knife may break or need service at some point.  Will the maker of your knife guarantee their product and honor their guarantee?  Get your knife from a company that cares about its product and takes pride in what they make.  They are out there – you just have to look.


I have a slightly less verbose set of defining principles for the tactical knife that differ from both Bob Terzuola or Ernie Emerson.

The perfect tactical/utility knife should:
  • Fit the individual and be comfortable to hold when open and in use.
  • The blade should be between 2 and 4 inches, but equally important, legal to carry.
  • The blade locks open and remains that way until we decide to close the knife.
  • Knife can be opened with one hand, either hand.
  • The knife should be stay were we put it, not calling attention to itself.
  • The blade should have a strong general purpose, partially serrated blade and be able to perform functions from sharpening a pencil, preparing dinner and opening a package.  None of these functions should preclude self-defense.  The blade should be able to stab and cut with efficiency.
  • The handle should be a durable material, resistant to solvents, water, mild acids and bases and robust enough to hold the blade securely when open or closed
  • All metals have a heat treatment that produces the best compromise of strength, flexibility and edge retention. These conditions should be met.  You should be able to sharpen it with a stone you can buy at Wal-Mart.
  • The knife should be manufactured by a reliable company and be of a reasonable cost and good quality.  I may have to lose the knife and it shouldn’t cost me a days pay.
  • The knife should be capable of assisting me with my daily chores so I have it on me when I need it.


Summary: The primary task of a tactical knife is dealing with the mundane chores of daily life, opening items, cutting cord, ties, and tape, cutting food, brush and all the impediments we deal with.  It is only the seldomly used reserve function of physical combat or survival that the knife manufacturers address their marketing and design. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Hinderer 0550 Misses the Mark


I just got a ZT/Rick Hinderer 0550.  It’s a lovely knife.  


 
The ZT Hinderer 0550 kinfe remains closed
What a great looking knife, a great handle and a very nice blade.  Too bad for ZT.



At least I thought so until I went to open it. 

I thought I was going to bust my right thumb pushing on the opening stud.  I changed to my left thumb.  Still no joy.  The knife remained sealed shut.


No, there’s no lock.  Just grab the blade anywhere and it pops open.  But you’ll snap the bone in your thumb if you try to force it open using the opening stud.  I am so surprised about this considering the reputation Zero Tolerance has for quality knives.
  

It’s hard to sell a tactical knife you can’t open with one hand, so I called my distributor.


They didn’t want to believe me.  They sell a lot of ZTs and they never had opening trouble before.


“Tell you what,” Bob said.  “I’ll go out to the warehouse and get one and call you back.”


Five minutes later my phone rings.


“You know what the problem is?”  It was Bob back from the warehouse.  I expected to be told I was holding the knife wrong, or it just needed a touch of oil, or I didn’t use the super-secret unlock feature.

“Damn stud is in the wrong position!  I can’t get it open either if I hold the knife in the regular grip.”

the only way to open a ZT0550 is with two hands
The ZT 0550 is a tactical knife that can't be opened tactically.... NYC would love it!!

At least it wasn’t me. 


“If I hold the knife low in my hand and come at the stud from the 6:45 pm position and press sideways while I jump up and land on my left foot, assuming you’re right handed…..”  I kind of zoned out on the rest of the opening ritual.



Huh,  no.  This isn’t going to work.  It’s going back.  So if you’re thinking of buying a Zero Tolerance Hinderer 0550, make sure you can return it.  Unless you like jumping onto your left foot to open a knife.