Showing posts with label fixed blades. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fixed blades. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Happy birthday Ka-Bar!


Fixed Blade Ka-Bar
Nice sheaths!  Leather doesn't make any noise when it catches on a thorn or bramble bush.
It’s been pointed out to me that this is Ka-Bar’s 118th anniversary.  In a world where planned obsolescence is the goal, it’s hard to believe any company could last so long.

It was a Thursday, April 29 1897, in Pennsylvania, that a small company called Tidioute Cutlery came into existence.  That was the birth of Ka-Bar.  Several years later its assets were sold to start another company.

The buyer, Wallace R. Brown was the grandson of JR Case.  As with many of the traditional companies, Ka-Bar started with a different name and changed hands many times.  Starting as Union Razor Co., friction folders were made stamped with “Olcut” or “Keenwell” as well as “Ka-Bar”.

Almost all knife collectors have read or heard the story of the semi-illegible note received from some mountain man trapper who “kil a bar” with his knife.  The trademark KA-Bar soon became so famous and in such demand that the Union Cut Company changed their name to Ka-Bar.  During WWII, fighting knives were in demand.  With a little advice from the Marines and a little retooling, KA-Bar won a contract to make a general utility/fighting knife. 

Sargeant Dave E. Werner at Phu Bai.  Note the unstrapped Ka-Bar on left shoulder.  

The big beefy blade was attached to a rattail tang, which became the backbone of the stacked leather washer handle.  Even today, hunters of men and animals swear a leather washer handle works the best when your hands are covered in blood.

During WWII, I’m told, the knife had detractors claiming if you slapped the knife sideways you could snap the blade free of the rattail tang.  These detractors fail to mention we were also making ships that suddenly cracked for no apparent reason.  Metallurgy was just starting to make progress with metal processing and heat treatment and was still poorly understood.  They also don’t mention the relative short expected life span of the newbie in combat.  The cost accountants in the government were not about to give a $25 knife to man with a 12-minute life expectancy.  If you lived long enough you could always get a new knife off of someone who wasn’t a fast learner.  Today’s metallurgy turns 1095 carbon steel into a tool you can depend on when life is on the line. 

If the Buck 110 folder is the quintessential American locking folder, the Ka-Bar fighting/utility knife has fills that role for a fixed blade. 

You should own one.  One with a leather sheath, because it is quieter in the bush.

Aside:
Over 20 years ago Soldier of Fortune claimed you could safely conceal 12 inches of fighting knife in your waistband under a sport coat.  Might be time to start thinking about that again.  



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blade Show 2013



There are two important US shows for the knife world.  One is the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show.  That’s usually in Las Vegas in January.  Most of the commercial manufacturers will have their new products on display.  A knife that doesn’t capture the interest of the retail market at SHOT will find itself circling the drain.


The next biggest is the Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia in a few days.  Most of the commercial manufacturers will be there and use it to introduce tweaked and new knives driven by the SHOT Show.   It’s also a show about custom knife makers who may only make 20 true handmade custom knives a year.  It’s also a show about knives, blades, swords and their utility and artistry.

 
Spyderco Dragonfly ~ It's a cute as a bug! 



Like Spyderco’s Joyce Laituri say, “It’s more fun talking knives with knife people.”  I agree.


I’m leaving for the show and I’ll update my blog when I can.  I can’t stay for the entire show and there are more than a few lectures I would like to catch.  So I may not have much time for blogging. 

Tell me you’ve never attended the SHOT Show and I’m not surprised.  You need some access through a commercial endeavor.  But the Blade Show is open to the public.  Take the time and attend.  You’ll never be the same.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ESEE-3

The UPS man just delivered a box of knives.  I have to wonder what he thinks about all the knives that arrive.  It’s only human nature to try to form a picture of a person based on what little you know or at least what you think you know.  

I remember reading about an OSS (Google it!) training drill in which you searched a room and based on what you found, construct a picture of the unseen occupant.  One trainee found a blond wig and a hypodermic needle and announced the occupant was a transvestite drug-user.  Turned out the drill was a test to see how you use your imagination.

I wonder if the UPS driver thinks of me as a human porcupine brisling with edges?

One of the knives that just arrived was an ESEE-3 from Randall’s Adventure.  It’s a nice knife.  8.25 inches of 1095 carbon steel with a greenish gray micarta handle.  A fine line of green separates the micarta  from the epoxy-coated steel.  Very tastefully done.  The blade is 3.75 long so you have enough handle to use the knife.  I was surprised to find the false edge wasn’t!  About half of the top of the blade was razor sharp.

It's a nice looking knife and felt good in my hand.
  

The green layer adds a touch of color to an otherwise dull gray handle.


I like stainless in guns, but more and more I find I like high carbon steel in knives.  The carbides in the iron make bigger and more sparks with a ferrocium fire starter rod than stainless does.  Of course, carbon steel rusts, so the blades are often coated with epoxy or other finishes, but you still need to take care of them.  I just wish they would leave a little one-inch saddle of uncoated steel on the spine.  It bothers me to have to use the blade to generate sparks.

I really like the sharpened false edge.  More and more of my knives sport a sharpened false edge and a dull spot I can press on for more force.  Of course you really have to think that through.  Slipping onto the edge will injure you and complicate whatever you were attempting to do.

I wanted to compare the look and feel of the ESEE-3 to my DPxGear HEST knife.  The HEST is a little specialized.  The handle is hollow with just enough room for a couple fish hooks and monofilament line, maybe a lead shot sinker or two.  The blade is shorter than the ESEE but thicker.  A reflection of anticipated prying needs.  It too is a single piece of 1095 steel.

Never will be twins separated at birth, but maybe distant cousins.


The HEST is a sweetheart for me.  I met the designer (and author) Robert Pelton.  Read his book “Dangerous Places.”  I found it riveting and not all the places are in third world countries.  Some are just a state over from you.  His goal was to produce a classic “bug-out” knife.  One that could be used to make little cuts in people surrounding you trying to pick your pockets.  Not much more than paper cuts and still pry a lock off a door, pound through a plaster wall, discourage your enemies and still open a beer bottle with your friends.



It’s a lot to ask of a knife.  But if you have the skills, then the HEST has the chops.

I hate both sheaths.  The ESSE has a pukey tan Kydex sheath called coyote.  The HEST has a nice but wide Kydex sheath in black.  Both come with molle adapters.  Both can be lashed onto a strap or other things  and neither has a system for a belt loops.  Yuck!  I belt-carry more then I molle-carry.

Sure you can lash both to a belt.  Who knows?  Maybe there is some advantage to being able to untie a knot and let the knife and sheath slip away quickly and without any fuss.  I guess it’s hard to proclaim that you’re unarmed and peaceful when they find a fixed blade knife sheath on you.