Thursday, December 23, 2010

Knife Torture Tests

Knives are terrific tools and the reason why I mention them and review them pretty often is self explanatory for some of you but maybe not for others.
Few items are as useful as knives. I use them all the time, from opening letters and packages to cutting meat, or chopping wood. A couple weeks ago I used my fixed blade knife for cutting meat for an asado (Argentine version of BBQ) on another end of the year asado we ended up eating the meat straight from the grill and right on the wood table, no plates. We improvised dinner in the shooting club and we just cut the meat over the wood table soaked in meat juice. Everyone had his knife and showed it around proudly.  During our mundane daily chores a folding knife such as the ones mentioned here often does well enough.
 Just like a pistol isn’t ideal for self defense but portability makes it an essential piece of gear, folding tactical knives aren’t as good as fixed blades but them “being there when you need it” means that’s what you’ll be using most likely. In spite of this, fixed blades are of course more rugged, more comfortable to use and can have larger blades.

When I’m traveling, going to the country or some other place where it may be of use, I’ll take a fixed blade along with me. If anyone remembers the gear pic I took from my trip to Uruguay, in that occasion I took a Mora knife (excellent tool by the way). Lately, I’ll throw this knife I made in my bag. 
Can’t explain why, but there’s an extra pleasure in using tools and gear made by yourself. Its also nice to know exactly what to expect from them, knowing the materials you used and what type of abuse they can take or not. 

In today’s world where everything is so plentiful, an odd contradiction takes place. Just like it happens with guns, those that like knives will usually own MANY of them, more so than they’ll ever need. That’s how you see knife pictures in forums where the knives show little or no wear at all. If you see some of the native tribes in Africa or the Amazon jungle, you see these folks with worn out machetes, they wear them so much its not rare to see a Tramontina machete that has been worn down to knife size. My grandfather left me a small knife he brought from Spain, it’s the only knife that I’ve ever seen that has been completely worn out. The blade was probably 4 inches long when new, now its just 2” and the blade geometry is lost, only the spine is left.
We live in times of abundance, cheap food, clothes and tools like never before. Those of us that own so many knives, its practically impossible to use them all on regular basis. This leaves people with knives that they simply don’t know how well they will perform when pushed to the limit and beyond. Fine, I may have over 40 knives, but I only carry one or two and maybe another in the pack. I may have dozens of brand name knives, but what if I’m only stuck with one during an emergency? My well-being will depend on the quality of such a tool and that’s where torture tests like these come into play. (warning, rough language is sometimes used)
Check the above link. You may be surprised to see some knives that look extremely rugged and abuse resistant just snap. Granted, you shouldn’t abuse your knife like that, but what if you don’t have an option? A knifesmith friend of mine, he snapped an 9” D2 steel blade just by chopping on wood. The high end manufacturer quickly replaced the knife with a new one and claimed there was a heat treatment mistake. I wonder how many people out there have that same brand name knife, thinking its capable of resisting great abuse yet that knife may have an incorrect treatment and will let them down when needed the most, even if they don’t abuse it. Use your stuff now guys, learn what it can and can’t take.
Check the link above and see how many knives just snap, knives that are thought of as “prybars” by some owners.
This guy isn’t fooling around, he not only chops, stabs the knife into wood and intentionally tries to break the tip, he uses the knives to cut concrete, something you really don’t want to do with your knife but who knows? I had to use my knife as a shovel once, dig into the dirt and grit. You do want to know what your knife is capable of.

The Best bang per buck according to these tests? Here you go.

 Cold Steel Kukri Machete with PVC Handle 

The most awesome value knife? Priced at only $20 and performing better than others worth 10 times as much and more? The same knife your good old friend FerFAL recommends all the time, the Cold Steel machete. Hope you bought 3 or 4 short Bowie machetes back when I started recommending them, they are no longer offered in 12”.
The knife tested is the Cold Steel Kukri. Check it out.
Remember the comments saying that machetes are no good because the blades are just a couple mm thick? “But FerFAL …dhumm… machetes suck because there are thin, they break!…” I could just not mention it but being nice isn’t in my nature. :-)
This guy hammers the machete into a metal pipe, and the machete holds!
 Gerber 22-01463 Coyote Brown LMF II Infantry Knife 

Second, the Gerber LMF II this is pretty good value in a nice compact package. Gerber launched the same knife with the Bear Grills name on it, used orange plastic instead of black and added a firesteel… and doubled the price.

 Glock Knife With Fixed Clip Point Blade Md: KB17278. 
This one is a classic and in my short list. Everyone that I know of that owns it keeps talking about how tough it is.

Mora of Sweden Knives 840 Carbon Steel FOS Clipper Fixed Blade Knife with Black Composition Handle

The Mora got a poor review but common. Yes, it has a partial narrow tang. Yes, you’ll break it if you baton it through a piece of concrete. But use it as knife and for 15 bucks you have a blade made of laminated steel that is razor sharp, light and comes with a good sheath.

Only the Gerber costs over 50 bucks, but it does come with a nice sheath that includes a fool proof sharpener. 
Take care folks!



slidelock said...

I have a bayonet from a FR8 rifle, the same one used on the Cetme rifle. It is the toughest utility blade I own. I believe it should be considered on any such list

EN said...

Interesting. I have two Gerber MLF II Infantry knives. One sitting beside me on my desk and the other in my truck bag. I think I paid $65 a piece for them. Good solid knives. I was going to buy two Gerber Silver Tridents but a friend who had spent a lot of time in Afghanistan insisted that the much cheaper infantry knife would last just as long if not longer and was far more utilitarian.

Expensive knives are fine, but they are a tool that gets used hard, and often times it's not wise to put too much money into them as they will all break eventually. The other factor is that a $230 knife will draw the attention of the kind of people who are looking two turn around things for some quick money. They may not be as interested in a cheaper knife and I won't worry much about losing it.

Unknown said...

I can vouch for the Cold Steel Kukri Magnum machete. Mine is much tougher than any other machete I've owned and I've put it through some serious abuse.

I must admit that when I grab a general purpose knife to go out into the wilderness, I too grab a knife I made (well, my father and I). There is a joy to using a homemade tool.

Bones said...

The Buck #119 is a nice value knife which can be had at walmart for under $40. 6" fixed blade, cheap enough that you won't worry about it. The handle is a bit slick but easily fixed with a bit of friction tape. A good basic knife for folks on a budget.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the reviews. I'm actually impressed with the $9 dollar CTD knife. Its amazing that such an inexpensive work knife can take that much of a beating.

Anonymous said...

The Glock knife (actually a bayonet) is the best one I have. It cost $25 about 20 years ago, and costs the same or less now. I used it whenever I was in the field during my years in the military. An interesting fact was that no one ever noticed it on my belt. The dull synthentic finish goes unnoticed, unlike the flashy stuff everyone else liked to wear.

Tracy said...

Sorry, but I must take issue with Bones' recommendation of the Buck 119. I had one of those, and really liked it until the tip snapped during moderate use. I have had a couple other Buck knives that broke or chipped, as well. In my experience, if you are careful and conscientious in your use of a knife, a Buck will likely serve you fine. But if you may have to subject it to rough treatment, better get something tougher. I like a knife made of 1095 carbon steel, personally. Even an Old Hickory butcher knife will stand up to a surprising amount of abuse that the typical stainless steel knife won't tolerate.