Monday, July 27, 2015

Two Knives I've Been Waitng For

Another rare update on the world’s worst-maintained blog site

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I like carrying two folders, one full sized in my back pocket and a smaller one in my front pocket, the larger one for defense and the smaller on as a utility knife. There have been at least two times when I’ve pulled out my larger knife to open a letter or cut a loose piece of string off my clothing and a person standing nearby audibly gasps.

One of my favorite knives (granted, I have about a dozen “favorite” knives) is my black, Cold Steel Recon Tanto. The Recon Tanto has a 4” tanto blade and the blade is at least an inch wide. This was the knife I used to open a letter that made one of my friends gasp. Because the knife is fairly huge, I rarely carry it.

While it may have been in circulation for a while, I finally saw a Recon Tanto for sale with a 3” blade at the local military surplus store. It feels just as good in my hands as the larger Recon Tanto and (hopefully) people won’t gasp when I open a letter with it.

The main knife I’ve been waiting years to be produced is the Spyderco Salt 1 with 3” plain-edge black blade. (Serrated blades are for people too lazy to sharpen their knives) I already have her bigger sister, the Pacific Salt with 4” black blade. I also have the 3” and 4” versions in stainless, but to carry the 3” stainless version with the larger black-bladed one would just be tacky.

I purchased the 3” black-bladed Salt 1 online and now I have a complete set.

In an earlier blog I wrote of how I’ve found these knives really are rust proof after spending an hour or two in a hot tub and spending some time in a swimming pool with one in my pocket.

While I have full faith that the black-bladed Salt knives are rust-proof too, I don’t plan on hanging out in a hot tub with them. I do plan on testing the stainless Salt knives in actual salt water.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Knife Throwing for Fun and Profit (Well, for fun anyway) Part 1

The targets pictured here were about 6-7 feet away.

I admit I liked Danny Trejo’s knife work in Desperado. Yes I know his brief scene was highly implausible. He not only accurately threw knives at various distances, the tiny knives (with blades that only appeared to be about 3” long) were killing drug cartel members instantly. Poisoned blades perhaps? Apparently not, Banderas took several hits from the tiny knives and after being patched up by his hot, newly found girlfriend was back in action.

About 25-30 years ago, I purchased a book titled Knife Throwing by Harry McEvoy. I attempted to get into knife throwing back then, but didn’t stick with it (Admittedly, quitting too soon is a personality flaw of mine). Not only was I getting too frustrated with failing to get the knives to stick properly, the cheap dart board I used as a target came apart. A dart board made from wrapped cardboard is not a suitable target for knife throwing.

Rather than first reading the entire book again, I purchased a set consisting of 12 cheap throwing knives online from BudK and practiced throwing the knives at a wooden board, tied to a tree.

From Top to bottom: CRKT neck knife, unknown brand throwing knife, Ridge Runner single and double-edged knife.

More frustration. After several days practice, I was able to get them to stick, sometimes three or more times in a row. After about a week or so, I could even get them to hit where I wanted them to.

One thing I did find out, or rather relearned from the book, after finally reading it again is that profession knife throwers throw from the same distance, using the same or similar knives of the same weight. Another thing I relearned from the book is that a throwing knife should weigh approximately an ounce for each inch of the knife. McEvoy also suggested the knives should be about 10” in length.

The new knives I purchased were 6” long and weighed between 1.4 and 1.9 oz. An older throwing knife I owned which worked better and was about 7” weighed 2.5oz. Ironically, I have a CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool) neck knife, weighing about 2oz, which I throw the best, yet it’s not designated as a throwing knife.

The first 12-knife set I ordered were singe-edged, Ridge Runner brand knives. I had been throwing six knives in a row and trying to get tight groups. Getting tight groups in knife throwing is not a good idea if you want to keep your knives pretty-looking and intact. While I was rarely able to get tight groups, I was able to get the knives pretty nicked up. Now I just throw three knives in a row at three different targets. Occasionally I even hit them.

I mentioned that professional throwers throw at the same distance each time. For now my distance indoors is about 6-7 feet and the distance for my outdoors target is 7-8’. The knives I have are too small to hold and throw with the recommended, official grip, so I use either two or three fingers and thumb. When throwing my single-edged Ridge Runners at 6-7 feet, I hold them toward the center of the blade, at 7-8 feet, more toward the tip.

I still have the problem of doing three or sometimes even six perfect throws with and then having the next few throws slamming flat against the board.

I found I need to concentrate, estimating how the knife turns in flight for it to stick into the target. I’ve also found that I get them to stick better when I don’t try to throw them at a high rate of speed and concentrate on my throw. These past few days however, I’ve been increasing my speed.

This time I may stick with it. I plan on getting a better set of knives and a better target board though.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Me, My Knives and I in Israel

Me, My Knives and I in Israel

If you hang around gun people much you’ll often hear them say nearly every other person in Israel is carrying a gun and that most likely, that gun will be an assault rifle (I mean a real, selective-fire assault rifle and not a semi-auto rifle). While that may be true, it’s only because nearly every other person in Israel is in the military and generally, they and the police are the only ones allowed to carry weapons. For the most part, unless the soldier is on duty, the weapon is carried unloaded with the magazine either attached to the rifle or some place on their body where it’s easy to access. There are exceptions for people who have a “good” reason to be armed. Personally, I think living in a Country that’s surrounded by Arab crackpots who want to wipe you off the face of the earth and aren’t beyond attacking civilians to achieve that goal seems like a good reason to be armed to me.

I was recently in Israel again, this time volunteering on an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) base. During my trip several years ago, I was with a tour group and would keep my knives (My Spyderco Endura and Delica) on the tour bus when we went to one of the secured areas, otherwise I always had them with me. Being with the tour group, it was unlikely I would come into negative contact with law enforcement (and those guys are scary-looking).

Prior to this most recent trip, I did a little searching online for Israel’s knife laws. I was a bit surprised to find it appears that most knives are illegal to carry there. One online article I read said one could get into trouble if they carried a knife for defense that actually looks like a defense knife. How gay is that???

I figured that with being on a military base, knives would be more acceptable with people walking around with actual firearms. I work on a military base and you’ll rarely see a male soldier without a folder of some kind clipped inside his pocket. For some reason, I have yet to see a female soldier with a knife. One would think there would be fewer sexual assaults of female soldiers if more of them carried knives, but that’s a topic for another post.

On my first work day at the base, we were in a warehouse doing inventory. We were opening boxes and counting the items inside. I was carrying my green-handled (to go with our uniforms) Endura with the 4” blade. One of our IDF supervisors (one of (too) many) happened to be standing by when I took it out to open a box. He didn’t actually gasp, but he seemed to come close and said “what is that!”. I think had he seen the original Dirty Harry movie, he would have said, “My, that’s a big one”. (If you haven’t seen the first two Dirty Harry movies, you’re missing a couple of classics, but I digress)

One of my fellow volunteers, Chris also carried a knife, a Gerber of some type, clipped to the outside (?) of his pocket. From that day on, I decided to carry the smaller and less scary-looking Delica and use the blade of a multi-tool to open boxes.

When the weekend came around, the volunteers had to leave the base and we stayed in a soldier’s hostel, sort of a boarding house/kibbutz in Tel Aviv. While there I carried my Delica, thinking if the wrong person saw it, it would just be confiscated rather than me being sent to an Israeli prison. (The bathrooms on the IDF base were pretty disgusting and I’m afraid to see what a bathroom in an Israeli prison would look like)

Another one of the volunteers and I took a walk to the bus station/shopping mall in search of the military surplus store and IDF dog tag covers. When we got to the entrance of the mall, there was a security guard with a handheld metal detector. Crap, there goes my knife. I told the guard (who apparently didn’t speak English) that I had a knife. He didn’t respond and touched both of my front pockets with the detector. For some reason, it wasn’t even on and I passed through with no problems.

Within less than 30 feet from the entrance was a display stand containing various knives. They all seemed to be of cheap quality and I continued on to the surplus store. Once inside the store I saw more knives displayed. These were better quality knives there and I even saw a few butterfly knives. I asked the clerk if the butterfly knives were legal and he told me no and that once you buy one, you’re on your own. I assume it’s like the switchblade knife law in California. If you have one, but keep it in your home, you’re safe.

Later, during the trip when I was staying in an apartment, my friend and I went to a grocery store and there again, was another security guard with a metal detector. He glanced at us as we entered but didn’t check either of us with the detector. I guess we didn’t fit the profile of who he was watching out for.

Basically, I wrote this rant of just to say it can be risky carrying a knife for defense in Israel. I would suggest that if you have to use it to protect yourself, your best bet is to hightail it to the American embassy. The Israeli police may or may not be understanding.


Friday, July 20, 2012

The Spyderco Salt Series: A Rust-Proof Knife That Holds an Edge

Several years ago, I was in a hotel swimming pool with a few friends from work. I can’t swim, so while several of the guys were actually swimming, I was sitting in the shallow end of the pool. A few of my workmates, knowing I can’t swim jokingly suggested tossing me into the deep end of the pool. They also know that I always have a knife or two on my person, but assumed I didn’t have one in the pool with me. I grinned at them and pulled out my Spyderco Salt series, C88BPK folder with its 3” blade, made from H-1 steel. H-1 steel is completely rustproof. When I read the information about the knife before buying it, I was a bit skeptical about the knife being “rustproof”. I had heard years ago that a knife that won’t rust will neither take nor hold a sharp edge. I read sometime afterwards that with advances in blade metal that isn’t necessarily the case. But rustproof? I thought at best, it wouldn’t rust as easily and that would be enough for me. I generally try to avoid being in any water deeper than a bathtub.
(H-1 folder with Kydex neck sheath) Several months after buying the knife, (yet before the hotel pool incident) several of my friends would go swimming a few times a week. Not wanting to be left out, I would wade in the shallow end of the pool, with my Spyderco H-1 in my pocket. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it didn’t rust. I had been wiping the blade down with oil after being in the pool the first few times then decided to just leave the blade as it was. It still didn’t rust. I decided to use a different Spyderco model in the pool. I believe the knife I used was one of the older Endura models. After an hour or two in the pool and then letting the knife sit for another few hours, I found the knife had started to rust slightly. This test confirmed that the H-1 was indeed waterproof and was different from the other Spyderco blades. There are several Spyderco SALT models and the Spyderco Warrior fixed-blade knife is made from H-1metal. The H-1 knives come in several styles, some folding, some fixed-blade. Some even come with yellow handles. Personally, I think the yellow-handled knives are a bit gay-looking. Along with my H-1 with the 3” blade, I also have one with a 3-13/16” blade and also one with a black H-1 blade. I haven’t yet tried wearing the knives in sea water, so I can’t personally vouch for how well they resist rust after being in salt water. However, the H-1 knives are perfect for putting in the pocket of your gym shorts while working out or in your swim trunks. All in all, it’s a great knife and they aren’t as expensive as some other Spydercos, and they take and hold a good edge..

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Spyderco Warrior: Expensive, but worth it

When I first started to write this article, I had planned to credit Michael Echanis as being the man who originally designed the knife. I believed that for the past 30 years. I only found out when I read the booklet that came with the knife that’s a long-standing legend. The actual designer of the knife is Randy Wanner who was a friend and I also believe a colleague of Echanis

If you saw the movie “The Men Who Stare at Goats”, which was about the U.S. Military’s “psychic” warrior program, you may remember the character Ben Echmeyer. He was to one who had such the ability to control his mind and suspend a pail of water from a spike that was driven through his scrotum without pain.

If you read the book on which the movie was loosely based, you would know that Echmayer was based on unarmed combat expert, Michael Echanis. Echanis was an Army Ranger who became a master in Hwa Rang Do, a Korean martial art. Echanis trained U.S. Military personnel and also, elite soldiers for Anastasio ("Tachito") Somoza , the president of Nicaragua during the late 70’s. Somoza and Nicaragua were sold out by the Jimmy Carter administration and the country fell to the Communists. Echanis met his Maker several years prior when he died in a mysterious plane crash.

In the book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, the author, Jon Ronson was told by a military person that Echanis was one of the few, if not the only person who could actually kill a goat by staring at it.

And, by the way it wasn’t a pail of water suspended by a spike through his scrotum as Echmeyer did in the movie, (Leading one of the observers to ask, “What practical military application does this have?”) Echanis was able to suspend a pail of water suspended from a spoke that was driven through the skin of his neck, which admittedly has little practical military application either.

In Hwa Rang Do, the reverse grip is heavily used in their knife-fighting techniques. The Warrior knife was designed specifically for reverse grip knife-fighting.

The Spyderco Warrior at $300+ is hands down, my most expensive knife. (With great disappointment, I’ve since discovered the Warrior can be found for a cheaper price online.) While I used to buy Benchmade folders which ranged from about $150-200+, I now buy Spydercos and other knives that cost less than a hundred dollars.

The problem with purchasing expensive knives for defensive purposes is they can generally only be used once. Either it will be held as evidence by police while your defensive encounter is investigated, or if you don’t plan on taking a chance with the justice system where you live and trusting your fate to an OJ Simpson, or Casey Duggard jury, you’ll be dumping your expensive knife in some hard-to-locate-place.

The Spyderco Warrior, for me anyway was a must-have knife. If I’m end up visiting someplace where I can’t take a gun, but knives are allowed, The Warrior will be it, along with a folder or two

The Warrior’s blade is made of H1 steel which means it is EXTREMELY rust resistant at worst and completely rust-proof at best. The blade is a bit over 5” long and has black FRN (Don’t bother asking me what FRN stands for.) handles. NONE of my fixed blade knives feel as good in my hand and only my Gerber Applegate folder feels as good. The Warrior feels so good in fact, that I plan on buying one or more DVDs that teach reverse-grip fighting.

My one criticism about the Warrior is its pitiful sheath. The Warrior comes with a nylon sheath with a plastic insert. I could live with that if the knife fit securely in the sheath and didn’t wobble around in it if the strap isn’t secured.

For a knife that costs over $300, you’d expect a much better sheath that that. However, I found a place online, that will make a Kydex sheath for the Warrior at less than $100.

My summary: EXCELLENT knife, crappy, CRAPPY sheath.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Cold Steel’s Recon 1 Folder: The Upgrade

Several days ago my Cold Steel Recon 1 folder arrived via UPS. I already have one of the previous versions but this latest version fixes the main problem I had with the older one, that problem being the thickness of the handle. While I could maintain a good grip on the knife, due to my raccoon-sized hands my grip on just didn’t feel comfortable. The handle of the new Recon 1 is contoured so that those with smaller hands can get a good, comfortable grip. That one, seemingly small difference will be the reason I may actually carry the newer model Recon 1, rather than keeping it in my safe as a collector’s item like I usually do with the older version.

I do like the blade shape of the older Recon 1 better. Both have Tanto-style blades but the blade on the older version looks better to me. I’m sure function-wise, there’s no difference. I’m betting if you stab someone in the right leg with the older Recon 1, and then stab them in the left leg with the newer version, they wouldn’t be able to tell which one hurts more and both wounds would probably bleed out the same. Go ahead, try it out on someone.

Another difference between the two Recon 1 versions is their locking mechanism. The older version uses the Axis locking system while the newer version uses a locking system called Tri-Ad. Look up the locking systems if you want more detailed information about them. I personally prefer either the Axis or liner lock. I like a knife I can open AND close with one hand.

Both knives have 4”,AUS-8A steel and have G-10 laminate scale handles. It’s possible that one could coat their hands with Vaseline and still maintain a good grip on these knives. (Not that I would actually try that)

Frankly, I love the new Recon 1. I only wish they made a smaller version so I could carry it along with my full size version like I do with my Spyderco Endura and Delica.



Saturday, December 04, 2010

An Inexpensive Automatic Knife by Smith and Wesson

Recently I picked up another inexpensive, yet fairly well-made automatic knife. This one is made by Smith and Wesson. The blade, as you can see in the photo is tanto-style and the steel seems to be of an adequate quality. If you plan on only buying one switchblade for your collection, I wouldn’t recommend this one. If had to pick only one switchblade, it would be one of the higher quality autos either made by Smith and Wesson, Benchmades or one of the other companies. This auto cost less that $25 which puts in the range of the Boker auto-knives I wrote about on a previous post.

One of the main problems I have with this knife is its release button. On nearly all of the other higher quality auto-knives, the button is recessed into the handle enough so that you can carry it in your pocket with little risk of it opening unintentionally.

A test I like to do on auto-knives is to lay it button-side down on a flat surface and press down on it. If the blade doesn’t open, I then consider it safe to carry in my pocket. (Not that I would carry one in my pocket of course, carrying switchblades is illegal in the cowardly, Communistic state of California).

This auto, like many others has a safety, which is located on the back of the handle. While I don’t mind safeties on switchblades, I prefer the ones that are safe to carry without one.

Having to take the safety off of a switchblade before opening it makes it slower to open than a knife with a thumb stud or thumbhole, especially slower than those that can be opened with the flick of a wrist.

All in all, it’s a decent enough knife and it’ll do until I get the funds to purchase some of the higher quality autos.

Bryan Grasper