Good observations by John Farnam in one of his Quips. Notice his observations regarding the Cold Steel Vaquero Grande, a knife I carry myself and constantly recommend.
Good comment regaridng leather jackets too. Dont think it would make much of a difference in a gunfight, but there's some slash protection there.
Last weekend, as we cheerfully shot various handgun bullets into Mike Shove l' s gelatin blocks, some of us decided to also experiment with knife-blade penetration and cutting ability, especially when heavy clothing and leather jackets are involved. I'm still far from persuaded that gelatin is particularly useful for any purpose, nor am I convinced that penetration results from shooting such a unrealistically homogenous medium mirror reality to any specific degree. Conversely, I'm not sure we currently have anything better that is readily available, is as easy to use, and is as transparent so as to generate effective, visual results. We can probably describe ballistic gelatin as: " the best of the worst."
I "stabbed" the gelatin with two of my Cold Steel blades, a Ti-Lite and a Vaquero Grande. In bare gelatin (the "Nudist-Colony Test") both, of course, penetrated easily, requiring only a few pounds of insertive pressure in ord er to slide in to the hilt. When the same test was done where the blade had to first penetrate the leather jacket and then four layers of denim before reaching the gelatin, results were largely the same! Both knives effortlessly penetrated to the hilt. Even leather and heavy clothing provided scant shielding.
However, when we did the same test with differently-shaped blades, results changed radically. On student had a folder with a "bulb" point. The knife was reasonably sharp, but, when he stabbed the clothed gelatin, even with a great deal of strength, the blade refused to penetrate leather. He enthusiastically attempted several times, all with the same result. "Tanto" blades faired slightly better, but still not nearly as well as the stabbing point found on the Ti-Lite.
When we slashed the gelatin, we learned that "reasonably sharp" produces poor results! Leather effectively shielded the gelatin from even enthusias tic slashes from several utility blades, including the bulb-pointed one. Once again, however, both the Ti-Lite and the Vaquero sliced through leather and denim handily, delivering deep cuts to the gelatin beneath. The serrated Vaquero was particularly effective, slashing through both leather and fabri c with ease.
My conclusions: Heavy leather is an underrated form of armor, frustrating both pistol bullet performance and knife attacks alike! Not long ago, it actually was used as armor. Even today, some folks routinely wear leather g auntlets around their wrists. I often see my good friend, Mas Ayoob, in a substantial, leather jacket. I now know why!
To be effective fighting tools, knives need to be (1) strong, (2) appropriately shaped, and (3) razor sharp!
Weak, flimsy knives (of which there are too many) lack the strength and structural integrity to get one through a fight. In order to "cut strongly," one needs a strong knife, not an anaemic toy that will break the first time it is put to heavy use!
I have become persuaded that the shape of a knife blade is important. Blades designed for skinning and utility cutting are poor for fighting. In order to stab deeply, the knife tip must be able to penetrate, and the blade behind it must be appropriately shaped so that you'll be able to cut ruinously as the knife is withdrawn. Otherwise, as we discovered, the entire knife is little more than an impact weapon!
Dull knives are basically impact weapons too! I've always marveled at the extreme degree of sharpness with which every Cold Steel knife comes from th e factory. Now, I see why! In a fight, you're going to desperately need every bit of that sharpness in order to cut through clothing and penetrate deeply into flesh. Don't carry a dull knife and naively think you'll be able to u se it as an effective weapon!
Finally, I'm going to follow Mas' lead and get a leather jacket!