Friday, April 07, 2006

Carry or Field Knives

I see and have seen a lot of concern about which knife to use and get and how much money one has to pay for such things.

About the least expensive and best value would be the Swedish Army Knife as made by Frosts of Mora, Sweden. At $9.99 this is about as little as you can spend for a quality knife. The plastic handle isn't much for looks but doesn't get slick when wet with blood. It stays sharp too, as well as can be expected for a stainless steel. Mine handled my deer this year. Another good thing about this knife is the sheath which is very versatile and doesn't require straps to secure the blade. Mine rides on the outside of my US Army buttpack which I carry with a shoulder strap.

A knife that I've received as a gift but never had the opportunity to use is the Wyoming Knife. Mine is an older model with the pressed steel handle and a leather sheath. One can still find those but they are more expensive than the current model. It should be very useful as it is hard to lose one's grip and the blade is a proper shape for skinning and gutting. I'll be making a more sincere effort to carry mine just so I can use it once.

My everyday carry knife is the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, Hunstman model. When still in service I carried a Leatherman tool (original Leatherman, Gerber, Leatherman Wave in that order) from the time I discovered them. The pliers were handy and the tool(s) was (were) used daily. However, civilian life is different and after trying several models I settled on the Huntsman. While it doesn't have the pliers I don't seem to have the need for them I once did. Screw drivers, can and bottle openers, knife blades and particularly the saw are all usable and save many steps to fetch other tools! These knives can be found priced from $27 to $40 and even packaged with a mini-Mag light.

My other everyday knife is the Spyderco Delica. At only about $40 this is a using knife, also. I have the partial serration because I feel that this blade gives the maximum versatility while permitting rapid, emergency cutting of ropes and straps. This knife is NOT used for anything other than that and possible last ditch self-defense. I like the black Zytel handle/frame rather than the steel because the integral clip wears clothing less than the metal clips, because black is low key compared to the shiny steel and because it is lighter. I carry this knife in my right front pants pocket where it is immediately available. Spyderco's patented blade hole makes this a true one-hand knife and I have found out that can be a big deal. The smaller size of the Delica has advantages over the Endura in that one will not likely have problems legally carrying the smaller knife. This has been a concern for me and can be for many others.

Another knife I've had for years is a Russell Canadian Belt Knife. Made by Grohmann in Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada, these are good knives. Mine was purchased in 1973 in Monterey, California. The current production is illustrated. Mine has cleaned squirrels, rabbits, hogs, deer, and cut rope, etc. The handle doesn't let the hand slide onto the blade and permits good blade tip control. The leaf shaped blade penetrates well and still has the necessary belly for skinning. The sheath is comfortable to wear and the knife is held securely. There are many models to suit many needs but I think the original is the best all around knife.

Another knife which I've found to be useful, durable and a value is the US Air Force Survival Knife. I think that you MUST get a Camillus made knife. I don't think that the Ontario made knife is up to the standards that Camillus maintains. For a long time these knives retailed for $14.95. Now they seem to be in the $50-60 range! Look at all the yard sales you pass, lots of sellers will be happy with $10 for a knife they were issued in service.

These knives do need to be sharpened (some so much as to tick you off) but the blades are good quality and the handle doesn't get slick in the wet. The sheaths take dye well, too. I think this is important because you should immediately put a good waterproofing or black dye and waterproofing on before going to the field. You should also pop for the metal tipped sheath. It will last much longer than the other. There is a reason the military specified the metal tipped sheath, believe me!

Many folks seem to think they need a machete. Wouldn't you know it but some places have commies so concerned about illicit use of the machete that they are going to require registration! For a TOOL! Well, you can pray for our country but in the meantime you can get a Woodsman's Pal. Ok, so even the makers call it a machete but it doesn't look like the short sword that so frightens the wimps, it looks like a tool! For those who are willing to ride the edge in civil disobedience this is a defendable (perhaps) way to do so. Luckily, this tool also works very well. It is a bit expensive with the tool costing about $70-90 and the sheaths from $20-30. You can get it engraved with your initials and a meaningful date.
For me the most important features are the steel handguard, the dull point, and the curved vine hook. The handguard has saved me much grief and I've used standard machetes without a guard. I'm all for the guard. The fact that there is no point as with a regular machete is a plus for me as well. One can't accidentally stick things with this tool. I really like the hook. This thing makes the precision cutting of certain vines and small limbs so much easier. For regular swinging the tool has sufficient weight and comes sharp enough to work through a lot of jobs with ease. It is easily resharpened and the dull tip protects the blade from impact with rocks when working close to the ground.

My most recent knife purchase is this used Chris Reeve Shadow IV. I've never owned a knife by Mr. Reeve. Now this will be a used knife but I suspect that the sheath has taken the brunt of that wear and the price was very good. I'm thinking I'll either make a Kydex sheath OR get Simply Rugged or Levergun Leather Works to make a new sheath along the lines of the one Reeve sells for the Shadow III. I don't think that the blade will be too long for use with such a sheath as the knife will ride high enough to clear seats and such. The blade shape is more a utility shape and should work well for the intended use as a working knife.

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