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High-Performance Blades Sharing ideas for getting the most out of our steel.

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  #16  
Old 09-18-2001, 07:25 AM
Raymond Richard
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RE. Input for X soldier


I look back to when I was in Nam (69 & 70) and not even being issued a bayonet. I'm not sure if that was because I was in the 4th Inf Div or they didn't make them for the M-16 then. They did have a few machete's which I can still remember we used to cut down small trees (8" - 10" in diameter) for overhead for our bunkers, but most the time they were just used when going out on our walks. Another thing I remember was by the time the army gave you all the stuff they expected you to carry you where in the transition from human to mule and any extra weight was not appreciated. I'm thinking size wise 10 inches max over all would be the biggest blade you'd want. Another thing that comes to mind was money. Back then my take home was $347. a month, thats including the free $50. a month combat pay. I realize GI's get paid much more now but I just can't imagine too many of them wanting to spend their money on a custom made combat knife when there's all that beer out there to drink and ladies to take care of. I'm not to sure what the modern soldier priorities are but I just don't think that part has changed that much.
Just my two cents worth, Ray
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  #17  
Old 10-07-2001, 03:32 PM
edmoses
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Re: RE. Input for X soldier


Rob,

That knife in the picture sure looks nice - I am sure that I have seen it someplace else?

I love the knife, especially the additional shap area on the top of the blade - as you say, you can use it to cut things without damaging the main edge.The profiled blade also puts the steel where it is needed.

My only downer of the knife is the sheath, this does not hold the knife in place very firmly - I understand why this in on the prototype, but would like to see the knife staying in place without having the strap done up. My ideal in this area is the sheath that comes with the Walter Brend knives - I think they are made by Tactical tools - Les or Walter would know better here.

Once agan, thanks for making a great knife.

Regards,

Ed
Usual Suspect
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  #18  
Old 10-10-2011, 12:55 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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one army guys imput

hey guys, if I may add my two cents. I have been a soldier for the last 12 years and am currently serving with the special forces. I am also a part time knife maker who spends a lot of his time pondering this same question and running it by every other "knife bug" army guy I run into. First things first... soldiers mistreat almost everything! if you can imagine a way to misuse a blade, somewhere somehow, some guy in green has done it... they are very creative people when it comes to wrecking stuff and to answer an earlier thread, NO, airmen don't count! (with the exception of para-rescue and JTACs) other than that... if you don't get dirty, you don't count! In my years I've seen everything from $350 knives broken by guys hitting rocks while chopping roots out of the way to clear a place to sleep, to guys hacking through 10" thick mud walls in afghanistan to make a door.... mis-use, but reality. that being the case, I can give you a rough idea of what they want on the whole but certainly I don't have all the answers. a knife must be hard enough to hold a good edge, but still tough enough to not snap when used as a pry bar when required. It's got to be heavy enough to hack through vegetation and smash glass to gain entry, but light enough that you'll actually carry it... you ALMOST never see anyone actually carrying anything larger than a ka-bar sized blade when they have to go very far. There are exceptions to every rule... there's always one guy with a machete or kukuri strapped to him, but that's the exception not the rule, and usually someone new to the forces, as soldiers use what works and if it doesnt' they stop using it QUICK as there is never enough space on your kit for all the toys, and no room for stuff that gets in the way and of course weight is always an issue with the standard load for basic kit running over 50lbs (bare ass). This is just from what I've seen and it's just a rough overview, but I have learned what works and what to leave out over the years and make every one of my knives with all of the "lessons learned" from everyone I've talked to, and I'd be glad to share it with anyone who has more specific questions. I hope this helps.

Just food for thought, here are my rough specs for my "combat" knife (and why):
spear point (holds up the best)
flat grind with convex edge (toughness)
skull crusher pommel (smashing stuff)
full tang (strenght and stability)
micarta handle slabs.

440c blade (please give me imput on what you think would be better and why???) but 440c holds up well in bad climates, keeps a pretty decent edge and I've never broken one, so I can attest to it's toughness.

Last edited by dirtydancer; 10-10-2011 at 01:46 AM. Reason: my "specs"
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  #19  
Old 10-10-2011, 10:33 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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military imput pitfalls (pros and cons)

hey guys. a point on asking "military" guys what they want in a knife that may help you decide what to use or not to. As stated, I have talked to hundreds, maybe thousands over the years on the topic and have come to the conclusion that most army guys have no more idea of what makes a good knife than anyone else, and a lot of what they say is based solely on the "look cool factor" or as we call it in the buisness, the "LCF" instead of how useful the knife is. The truth is, you as a knife maker or avid hunter/outdoorsman have vastly more experience than most soldiers and by careful thought of how the blade will be used I am convinced you would give them a far better product than they would turn out with their wild imaginations (Col Rex Applegate being one exception). That's why some companies who use the "designed by former navy seal THIS, or the ex SAS that" to give them credibility make such ridiculous products that look more like something darth vader would wield rather than a soldier. I'm not going to name any names per say, but for example, some companies who consult these "experts" make huge blades with saw backs resembling more of a sharpened pry bar than anything anyone would call a knife, but it looks cool (LCF) especially with it's black "non reflective" coating and it's sandpaper covered handle for "grip in wet conditions". Often times, instead of concentrating on blade geometry and handle ergonomics, they use the latest "clever" gadgets built in, like a fire starter in the handle, special cutters built into the back of the blade (to open ammo cans or cut para-cord) with screw drivers and the like milled into the guards and my personal favorite ...THE TANTO POINT, quite possibly the most useless of all points for a survival knife in my personal opinion (I DARE YOU TO PROVE ME WRONG) These companies claim that they were designed for use "in the field" when in reality, this stuff is almost always useless gadgetry stuck on to draw attention away from what would make a good blade rather than focus on what the knife's intended purpose (have you ever tried to skin an animal with a Tanto point (I have/not fun) but this is the kind of LCF that draws an inexperienced person to buy such a blade, and to eventually buy another that actually works instead. That being the case, if selling blades to soldiers is your main goal, you do need a little "LCF" as a big part of what makes a soldier buy a blade is how cool it looks compared to the guy,s beside him, so for god's sake don't overlook the details.
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  #20  
Old 10-10-2011, 07:26 PM
Recurve Recurve is offline
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Hey dirty d you are calling to a 10 year old post. I know of at least one that will not respond. Just my 2cents -Jim-
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  #21  
Old 10-11-2011, 11:19 AM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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An old post - yes. Good thoughts from a great man and comments all relevant today. I enjoyed reading it and appreciate the opportunity to share time with a man I called friend.


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  #22  
Old 10-11-2011, 03:10 PM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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hey Gents

sorry I was late to the party on this one... I hadn't read the date on that post, but the topic caught my eye and off I went. speaking of big fans, I have been a huge fan or yours for years Mr. Fowler. you were one of the first makers who's knives I studied when first I picked up a knife magazine.
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  #23  
Old 10-11-2011, 05:54 PM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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dirtydancer: Thank you for the compliment.

Some threads are timeless and this is one of them. We were discussing the old USMC Ka-Bars a few days ago and are working on developing a high endurance performance knife. The discussion included the strengths and weaknesses of what are remembered as the issued Ka-Bars although a number or outfits made them.

The weak tangs were evidently due to the possibility that the tangs were fully hardened along with the blades and became the weak point. I remembered a discussion about the later blades being induction tempered and that cured the fault. It was nice to have my memory of those knives confirmed in this thread. Somehow I missed it first time around.

Thanks for bringing it back to life.


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  #24  
Old 10-11-2011, 09:17 PM
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TexasJack TexasJack is offline
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There are some old threads with military knives around here. I know that Donnie Halter made a very nice long blade out of 5160 that took care of business (including chopping through an adobe wall and cutting up a goat) and Chris Daigle made a very nice push knife out of O1 that was a particular favorite for taking the hinges off doors. I had Chris make one for a neighbor's kid who went into the Marines. All 3 of these served in Afghanistan.

The main thing about these knives was that they were extremely tough. Most of the commercial knives are built for slicing, but not meant to take the kind of abuse that a knife gets in a combat area.


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  #25  
Old 10-12-2011, 11:43 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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Isn't that the truth... I have been trying to do some research on this very topic on the ole internet as well as another thread on this sight to find a better stainless steel. A number of my knives have served in afghanistan as well and have seen some severe abuse (my own carry blade included) and one of my friends who had one of mine complimented me recently as the knife I made for him was the only thing he was wearing to survive an IED that destroyed a vehicle he was in... including his rifle and watch! and it's funny you mention the knife hacking through a wall, as I've had the same done to mine. That's the problem I am trying to remedy lately.. or rather improve on. I am looking to find a steel to replace the 440c I am currently using, that is better suited for that kind of abuse. Any suggestions you guys have would be more than welcome... and trust me, they will be thoroughly tested.
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  #26  
Old 10-12-2011, 12:20 PM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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dirtydancer: you might consider a differentially hardened carbon steel forged blade. You can easily develop a stout tip that can get you into your work and do all a skull crusher can do without the inconvenience of a sharp point on the handle of your knife.

You can make them as stout as they need to be and with a little practice develop a blade that can easily withstand 70 foot pounds of lateral torque. They take longer to make, but I feel it is worth it. Some folks want stainless, but I believe you can so so much more with a carbon steel knife and it does not take a lot of maintenance to keep them rust free. When I look at my old military knives, some of them over 100 years old, and rust is rarely a problem - unless they have been left laying around for years in the dirt of a battle field or stored forgotten in a basement with grand fathers other stuff without someone to care for them.

If a non reflective blade is wanted you can etch them, and in the field after use, any fruit can be used to reduce reflection.


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Last edited by Ed Fowler; 10-12-2011 at 12:22 PM.
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  #27  
Old 10-13-2011, 03:40 AM
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TexasJack TexasJack is offline
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I have a WWI joke book that was sold to raise funds for the troops. In it is the following joke:

Sergeant: "If your bayonet becomes stuck in the enemy, you can just fire a round and that will free it."
Recruit: "Sarge, if I've still got a round left, that Kraut ain't getting close enough to get stuck!"

The same holds true today; it's pretty rare that combat gets close up and personal enough to use a knife. So skull crushers and such may not be worth much. On the other hand, the knife is going to be used to cut through the bands on an ammo box, or open a can, or chop into a wall, or butcher a goat. A friend in Afgh. told me his knife edge was all messed up after he loaned it to some Afgh. Nat. Army guys to butcher a goat. They don't cut the meat off the bones; they cut up the bones with the meat and cook it all together. Bones are tough on a knife.

With that in mind, steels like 1084, O1, and 5160 ("Old Chevy Spring") become good choices.


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  #28  
Old 10-13-2011, 10:51 AM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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A friend was in on of the first landing at Iwo Jima, only two of the men in his outfit survived the battle, he was wounded twice but refused to leave his friends. Celebrated his 92 birthday this summer.

I asked him about bayonets sticking in bodies, he told me that many times it was very up close and personal. Also when walking through what looked like dead enemy they would stick them with a bayonet to make sure. I asked him about bayonets sticking in a person, "it was usually because of the man doing the sticking getting a little excited, especially in hand to hand combat and sticking the bayonet through the body cavity and into the back bone where it could stick, shooting into the body would shatter the bone and free the bayonet. They learned to stick off to one side to avoid the back bone". He also stated that "some of the bayonets had full spines to the tip, they were more prone to stick in bone than blades with a slight false edge."

George Patton had figured that out when he designed the Patton Saber, it is too bad that those with knowledge are not asked when life saving or threatening decisions are made.


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  #29  
Old 10-13-2011, 10:58 AM
dirtydancer dirtydancer is offline
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I've looked into carbon blades as well as spring steel (from what I gather, the 5160 should take a beating better than almost any steel out there) and that's part of my equation. I have and will make some more knives out of this, but I still have a large market for stainless, as a lot of my guys (myself included) do a fair bit of work in marine environments, so I still have to get a good stainless for those ones. To tell you the truth, up to this point I am really happy with the 440c, and have never had anyone break on of my blades to date, but I just keep reading in all the magazines and articles online that these other steels are so much tougher, so I am just putting it out there for your experiences on the matter. And as far as the skull crusher goes, it's just a name... it's not like the pointy V-42 "skull crusher" you are probably invisioning (trust me, I don't advocate that... it does more harm than good) I simply leave a half inch of my tang exposed out of the rear of the handle and it's ground flat at 90 degrees to the point so the blade can be hammered into things or used as a hammer itself to drive in spikes or smash things. it's a very valuable tool, and I get a lot of positive feedback from it (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
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  #30  
Old 10-13-2011, 11:57 AM
Ed Fowler Ed Fowler is offline
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One thing I have learned is that all 5160 is not the same, it does not usually have the quality control that is enjoyed by some other steels. If you want some great 5160 you an get it from John Deer in their Load Control Shafts, also called load control pins. The one I have now is about 1 1/4 inch round bar, 21 1/2 inches long, part number is R46513 or 2011303DY on the mailing tube. Every one that I have used has been premium, all the same, no faults and work up very nicely. A new one was $125 last time I checked, used ones can be free or a dozen donuts if you are lucky. John Deer has demanded the quality control for us and provides us with an opportunity that is hard to achieve as it eliminates having to dance around unknown variables.


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