Tuesday, January 15, 2013
I had an interesting conversation at the last gun show with a fellow shopping for a knife.
Me: How can I help you sir?
Him: I’m looking for a knife I can carry tip up.
M: That’s very doable. Let me show you a few I recommend.
H: I want a partial serrated blade.
M: Take a look at these.
H: I want a quality knife, .... that’s cheap.
M: I think you need to try a few of other the vendors. The ones with the 2-for-5 bucks baskets, sir.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
We all start somewhere. What’s that expression? Oh yes! Even a mighty oak starts from a little acorn. Of course we don’t discuss the acorn is a little nut…
I stand next to Teddy Roosevelt:
“The credit belongs to the man … who strives valiantly, who errs …, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming,…, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly,...." "Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.
I hope Teddy will forgive me for truncating his humongous run-on sentence. But I believe in what he said. So I’m pretty excited. I just got my hands on a knife made by Brian Davis. It’s an early attempt, in fact it’s his second attempt. But it’s a glorious attempt!
blade is quarter inch thick, 5.5 inches long and 1.75 inches wide. It appears to have been ground out of a solid
piece of steel.
|That's over 10 inches of honest knife. You could do a lot worse than to have this on you.|
|I liked the balance and the thick blade is awesome!|
The handle is black micarta on a full tang with front and rear bolsters. It’s pretty awesome! The blade is so close to a full length flat grind it takes a straight edge and a good light to see the slight curve at the blade edge.
Strictly speaking the blade is a drop point design, but the point has a shape which reminds me of the belly on a skinner. With all the metal behind the point, this is a blade you can pry with if you had to.
It was described to me as a camp knife. I can see it in use at a deer camp or cabin. The overall length is 10.75 inches and the balance point is right on the index finger when you hold it in a hammer grip. I prefer the weight in my big knives in that position. I feel it gives me the most control over the knife. And with a knife this big, control is a vital.
The blade is finished nicely, but one of the problems with Kydex sheaths is grit gets trapped in the plastic and scratches the blade. There is evidence of that on the blade. The blade is sharp, but if you examine the edge with a strong light you can see how the edge faces don’t quite meet. A little touch-up on a diamond stone will set that right.
The micarta isn’t quite symmetric about the handle, but it’s nicely done with the micarta flowing gracefully into the rear bolster.
The handle sports two nice compound pins seen
on fancier and more expensive knives. I
don’t know the steel, the Rockwell C hardness, or the price. I do hope to see more of these knives in the
|The slight asymmetry in the handle didn't seem to affect my grip.|
|I'm a sucker for these dressier pins!|
Brian, I like your knife. I think it needs a lanyard hole and a complete flat grind to a shaving edge if the steel and hardness will support it. But even more, please start marking your blades, even if you have to use a vibratory engraver to scratch your name in the ricasso.
You can reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm sure he'd be interested in talking about future projects.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Before I get too far:
Happy New Year!
May the New Year find you healthy and happy. If you have those two you are truly wealthy.
Now, let’s jump into knife stories.
I typically carry folders.
That’s not to say I don’t like fixed blades. I do. It's just in the urban environment most fixed blades tend to alarm the rabbit people. I like to keep a low profile. If there is trouble I want to slip away before it gets to me, so not being on the forefront of anyone’s cerebrum is good.
In my collection, and I’ve been known to carry and use them, are three of my favorite fixed blades.
|From left to right: S&W's HRT, the Gerber MKI and Livesay's Woo|
The first is the classic Gerber MK I, a double-edged dagger. Gerber introduced this fighting knife in 1976, but had to call it a survival knife so they could sell it on military bases. Wouldn’t want those men going overseas to fight to own a fighting knife. Who knows, maybe fightin’ knife sounds un-American?
Mine’s a black blade. I purchased it sometime after 1984. The blade is described as a high carbon surgical steel with a Rockwell C hardness of 58. Unfortunately Gerber didn’t keep track of the serial number as well as they did with the MK II.
I’ve got to admit as a camping or survival knife, it’s the pits. Every time I carry it I have to remember not to push on the back of the blade with my palm to get extra force on it.
I bought the S andW HRT at the famed Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. The shoot is just one giant excuse to spend money. (I loved every moment there!) Oh, and how you can spend it. At the time $50 would let you shoot 50 rounds of .50 cal BMG ammo from a machine gun. You didn’t even get to keep the fired brass. So I bought a knife. Cheaper, and I walked away with it.
It looks a little like Gerber’s Guardian, but to avoid any legal complications the 3.5 inch dagger-like blade is sharpened only on one side. The other side is tapered to a nice rounded edge. It wouldn’t take much to sharpen that edge, but the blade’s thinness would leave very little metal behind the point. I’d think twice about sharpening the false edge.
The blade locks in a molded plastic sheath that secures the knife upside down. Unfortunately the belt clip isn’t reversible or removable. At least not removable more than once. You can cut it off and then lash the sheath anywhere you want. I’d keep the belt clip. It’s nice to have options.
Steel? Hardness? Quality? Beats me. It’s made by Taylor Cutlery
in China and it’s called the HRT. Do you really think that after the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team is outfitted with $2000 handguns the agents then carry $14 knives? If so, please contact me. I have a option on an uranium mine I want to talk to you about.
Still I like its looks, and 3.5 inches of sharp steel can get me in more trouble I would want.
The last is my Newt Livesay Woo.
It’s a bare bones 7.5-inch long tanto neck knife made from 1095 steel. The blade is a 3.25-inch high chisel grind that makes for easy care and resharpening.
Once upon a time there was a cable show called SOF or something like that. Almost every program featured a scene with a main character needing his neck knife, his Newt Livesay neck knife. Needless to say, they were HOT! with the civilian tactical crowd.
I use to sell the Woo along with two other neck knives from him. The initial order was under $500 and that made you an authorized dealer.
Now, Newt was the knife maker, but his daughter was the business manager. After the cable show was terminated with extreme prejudice, sales of these knives cooled off. So I thought I’d carry a few of his other fixed blades. After all, I’d been an authorized dealer for at least two years and bought a lot of those knives.
Not so fast college boy….The daughter insisted I do another buy-in of $1000 to be an authorized dealer. That was the end of that.
Despite having a noose with a breaking strength of 500 pounds around my neck making me nervous, I liked the idea of a bare bones knife tucked safely away under my shirt. The knife was lightly parkerized to resisted rust. The straight-edge tanto is easy to sharpen. It’s a nice knife. It reminds me of the knife the government agent carried in “Death of a Citizen.”
(PS: Take a look at the price on that paperback: 25 cents...!)
Oh yeah, she lasted about 3 paragraphs before Matt Helm found her dead. I’m going to think on that.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Christmas arrived a few days early for my wife. She asked L.T. Wright from Blind Horse Knives to make her a little kitchen knife.
|I really like the way they worked BHK into a logo of a horse. It’s a little bit of pizzazz!|
My wife and I found ourselves sitting back to back with L.T. and his wife at the OGCA show in Cleveland and business was slow. Of course this meant we spent a lot of time talking and handling the knives on both of our tables. My wife really fell for BHK’s short bladed Maverick Colt. The blade was right, the handle length right and the balance was right. It should have been an easy sale. But she wanted it in blaze orange!
|I like the tight, compact look to this sheath. The knife fits well and feels secure.|
Why blaze orange? We like get-away weekends in state park cabins, but the kitchen cutlery at most public cabins is from hunger. Dull, bent blades and broken handles are the unfortunate reality of most state park kitchens. Long ago we learned to take can-openers, sharp knives, ladles and serving spoons with us. Oh, sure we could make do, but I never want a get-away weekend to turn into survival camp. A sharp knife and a serving spoon isn’t that much of a luxury.
To make sure we leave with the same number of knives we arrived with, my wife realized that colored handles made for an easy spot check. After packing up for the trip home, a quick look in the kitchen drawers told you if you missed anything.
L.T. was more than happy to make one for her. We opted for a Kydex sheath. I like the protection it gives a knife blade and a belt sheath clip because it gives you options. Because L.T. knew it would be a kitchen knife he made the blade from stainless steel.
|The orange handle makes it easy to find. My wife and I think it's a winner!|
The blade is flat ground and is almost 2 ¾ inches long. The G-10 handle is just over 3 ½ inches long and is decorated with 3 two-tone metal pins he calls fisheyes. The knife weighs in at 80 grams or 2.8 ounces. It’s a nice knife, well made and sharp. I like a little more weight in the blade, but it isn’t my knife. My wife, who knows what she wants, likes it and I’m overjoyed to have a Blind Horse in the house!
Blind Horse Knives has made a name for themselves with quality knives and reasonable prices. To no surprise a cadre of followers has formed. BHK is very astute in utilizing the internet and social media. And while I hope they aren’t insulted, their gains come from hard work, quality and an eye for functional knives and not their internet savvy.
You can visit them at http://www.blindhorseknives.com/index.htm .
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I just got a FreeHand. That’s different from a glad hand or a hand out. My FreeHand is a small pocket knife designed by Blackie Collins.
I’m not going to change this little guy. I just want to keep the knife as it is to remember Blackie Collins.
I met Walter Wells Collins, also known as Blackie, at the first SHOT Show I attended. I stopped by the Meyerco booth and they introduced him. He was gracious, warm and put up with me asking questions and posing for photos. He had a true love of knives and knife making.
As most of you know he died when he crashed his Triumph motorcycle July 20, 2011. He was 71 years old.
I recently decided I
needed wanted a Collins so I bought a FreeHand. Blackie Collins designed the knife exclusively for Meyerco and I’ve always liked its looks. The button release, matte silver blade and round silver medallion containing a BC set in shiny black handles has always appealed to me.
|It could be the right size to carry just about anywhere you go.|
The 2.5-inch blade is made from 154CM steel and is housed in a glass filled nylon 3.5 inch handle. A button releases the blade and your index finger can flick the blade out.
Yes, it took a little practice, but not much.
|With a little practice you can open the knife with one continuous finger pull or walk it open with several shorter pulls.|
Push the button again and you can close the blade with your index finger or simply wipe it closed.
The blade is too light for a wrist flip to open the knife, but I’ve read that people are converting these to auto-knives with a little work. I wasn’t able to find a spring kit or video but I really didn’t look that hard. I did find you can take the clip off. The knife is set up to be carried tip down and the knife handle doesn’t look like you can reverse it. Without the clip you can drop it in your pocket and go about your business. Not every knife has to be a hide-in-dark-shadows-tactical knife.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I opened the newspaper the other day to see what I had missed on Black Friday other than voluntarily lining up in frigid weather to buying things I don’t need. After perusing the newspaper ads I discovered I hadn’t missed anything.
Credit where credit is due: Their date system is a stroke of genius for keeping the collectors interested and driving up prices due to scarcity.
I did however note that our local outdoor store had Case knives on sale. I also noticed that several of the knives had pocket clips and a thumb stud. I couldn’t tell from the pictures, but it didn’t look like the knives locked open. I searched the Case website, and yes, they do have lockable knives with pocket clips! But only a few.
So why not more? I always knew not every knife needs to be a tactical knife, but an article on infobarrel suggested that a tactical knife was originally any knife that was issued by the military for use as a weapon and as a tool. Later marketing took the idea and hasn’t stopped running with it yet.
Case introduced tactical knives several years ago at the SHOT Show. I always considered Case a stick-in-the-mud company, but the announcement made me reconsider. Several years later, I’m still not seeing tactical knives in catalogs or knife press. The Case website doesn’t find “Tactical” during a knife search.
I guess they don’t feel it’s a market they want part of. Of course I still think Case is really a collector company like the Franklin Mint. With all the SKUs Case carries, it would be
impossible very difficult to have all the representative knives in any one store.
I recently picked up a long skinny non-locking folder. Yes I know, what am I doing with a friction lock knife?
|I've had a few misses, but I think this knife from Gurrentz International Corporation (it's a meat company!) is a hit.|
The truth? Well, it looks like one my father used to keep in his fishing tackle box. He said it was a sausage testing knife and the cream colored handle and long skinny silver blade fascinated me. It looked too sharp for me to use without cutting off a leg or some other equally important body part.
I later learned the knife was also called a fruit testing knife. The long slender blade always seemed too fragile to cut open a cantaloupe or watermelon. A peach yes, a strawberry of course, but why did that type of knife need such a long blade for such small fruit? But cutting open the casing to inspect the grind and mixture on a length of sausage, I think that knife would shine at that.
Maybe fruit tester had higher job status than sausage tester.
Anyway, the knife went missing years ago and my father has no idea where or when is disappeared. When I saw the knife on the seller’s table it reminded me of fishing for bluegills with Dad. I have a picture I took of him standing on a dock holding a walleye he caught in Canada. He was a little younger than I am now when I took it. That knife takes me back to standing there with my camera snapping the photo. I’m glad to have that knife.
This knife? The blade is stamped stainless (good for handling fruit or raw meat) and is made by the Colonial knife company.
Monday, November 12, 2012
I expected the first gun show after the election to be a crazy place. I’ve heard stories of people rushing in to buy ammo with two-wheel trucks following the first election of President Obama.
Heck, I’ve heard of people buying ammo for guns they don’t have. I guess they anticipated either all ammo sales would dry up and they could find the right gun later or they were already planning to buy the appropriate gun. Who knows? Maybe they planned on using it as trading wampum following the zombie apocalypse.
I didn’t see the frenzy this time. Either people are still overstocked from the pre-election feeding frenzy or this election hasn’t alarmed them as much.
What I did see was a lot of was knife sales. Used, new or collector, they were all there. I seldom buy used knives. For one, most people want back what they paid for it. I can’t do that. Many of my sales are impulse buys. It’s a new knife; you haven’t seen it before and it beckons to you. Unlike Ulysses, the songs of the Sirens prove too much and a purchase is made. Well, it’s not quite that pleasant but impulse buys are a big part of my business.
Older knives almost always need to be marked down to sell. It may surprise you, but I am in business to make a profit. If I pay you top dollar, I can’t sell the knife.
Collectables are another story. Many of them are too valuable, or rather too expensive to buy at “market price.” I can’t buy your collectable at market price if I want to make some small but fair profit.
|The collectable Randall knife|
You bought it for the pride of ownership, for the status, for the physical appeal and maybe for the investment. I have to speculate the market will remain hard long enough for me to get my money out of it.
I did run into one fellow who wanted to sell a knife, so he claimed, made by Kershaw. It was some sort of “collectable” but he left the knife at home. Instead he brought a crappy picture of the knife which he displayed on a smart phone screen.
Not interested – Pass!
I also had a person ask me why Benchmades are so expensive. I’m not sure how to answer that. The big question is why do things cost what they do?
That’s a cosmic question. It deals with how we value things and the sliding scale we use to trade hours of our work for hours of someone else’s work. Honestly, in the face of that question I’m often at a loss for words. Can I explain our economic model to him? I don’t fully understand it myself and I’m in it, like most of you.