Friday, September 30, 2005



The machete (
International Phonetic Alphabet: is a cleaver-like tool that looks like a very large knife. The blade is typically 50–60 cm (18–24 in) long. In the English language, an equivalent term is matchet.

Since the
1950s, most modern factory-made machetes are of very simple construction, consisting of a blade and full-length tang punched from a single piece of flat steel plate of uniform thickness (and thus lack a primary grind), and a simple grip of two plates of wood or plastic bolted or rivetted together around the tang. Finally, one side is ground down to an edge — although some are made so cheaply that the purchaser is expected to finish the sharpening.

These machetes are usually provided with a simple cord loop as a sort of
lanyard, and a canvas scabbard — although in some regions where machetes are commonly used tools, the users may make decorative leather scabbards for them.

The machete is normally used to cut through thick vegetation such as
sugar cane or jungle undergrowth (the lack of a primary grind makes the machete much less effective on woody vegetation), but it can also be used as an offensive weapon. Machetes were the primary weapon used by the Interahamwe militias in the Rwandan Genocide, as well as the signature tool/weapon of the Haitian Tonton Macoute.

The machete was also one of the most common weapons during the
Cuban Independence War. Freed slaves by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes agreed to fight against Spain, where their only weapons were the very tool they used to cut the sugar cane in the La De Majagua plantation.

Some tropical countries have a name for the blow of a machete; the
Spanish machetazo is sometimes used in English.

Trinidad, to hit someone with the flat of the blade is termed planass.
The modern machete is very similar to some forms of the
medieval falchion (a type of sword), differing mainly in the lack of a guard and a simpler hilt.

The panga (a
Swahili word) is a variant used in East Africa, with a broader blade and a squared off tip. In the Philippines, the bolo is a very similar tool, but with the blade swelling just before the tip to make the knife even more tip-heavy for chopping.

This was also used during the
Philippine Revolution against the Spanish, and later a signature weapon of guerillas in the Philippine American War.

Other similar tools include the
parang and the golok (from Malaysia and Indonesia); however, these tend to have shorter, thicker blades with a primary grind, and are more effective on woody vegetation.

The Nepalese
kukri is a curved blade which is often used for similar tasks.
Retrieved from ""

I have a list of some of the best out there for the best results on a buget. Hopefully this post will help out anyone out there. I'll start with the cheaper and work my way up. Also I will start with the smaller fixed blades and work my way up the line.

So we will cover all the bases.First all the knives I mention here are ones I have and have tested in the wilderness and in the urban wilds! I would not give you faulty info or a made up story on a product I have no knowlage about.

1) Cold steel SRK(survival, rescue knife. This knife is 10-1/2" long clip point blade with a 1" wide blade and is 3-16th's thick. It is made of high carbon steel that they call carbon V(5) It had a black coating on the blade to stop rust and oxidation. The edge is exposed so it has to be oiled.I have so far used this knife to carve a 12lb turkey for the soup pot and chop up celery, carrats, mushrooms and oinion's. This goes to show it does well in food prep work in the field. I have debarked a few saplings with it as well and chopped small saplings and delimbed said saplings. All in all so far it is a good utility knife to have along on a hiking trip. I have heard many other survivalest like myself rave about this knife. As for the price, one can be had for a bit over $50 off the internet.

2) Another Cold Steel UWK(urban warfare knife) This one is patterned after the old veitnam SOG. It is made of 420 stainless and has been sub zero quenched. 11-1/4" OAL, about an inch in width. Being a military type knife it has it's limitations in the wilderness. But with some mods like I have made it will do alot better as a utilty/survival knife. I have chopped with it but it is lite in the ass so It takes a bit more effert to get the job done. As for cutting, not a problem CS knives are made to cut like hell. So for food prep and light wood work it is a decent knife and built well. It can be had on the internet for around $60.00

3) How about the good old Ka-Bar USMC fighting utility knife? Great knife. But still a military knife. 12" OAL, 1-1/4" wide and thin.Cuts well and chops ok. I have also modified this knife to cut better and you have much better control over this blade. I would use this as an utility/fighting type knife in the woods. I have owned it for some time and love it. This knife can be had for $45.00

4) One more Ka-Bar knife. It is the 12-1/2" tanto. A hell of a strong blade design here. The tanto tip will go through a car door and not even get pissed off!! So for piercing it takes the medal. Not a bad survival knife at all. It could also be conciderd a military type knife though and has limits. The tanto tip is usefull in the woods. It could be had for about $60-70.

5) Ontario Knives are some of the best priced and best survival knives made today. The first one is my TAK-1. It is 10" OAL with a drop point blade of 1095 High Carbon Steel About an 1-1/4" wide. The blade has great belly for slicing flesh and wood carving is a breeze. This is a great knife and for about $60 you can't go wrong.

Disclaimer: This commentary as well as all my commentaries contains some of my personal opinions only and some portions are copied and pasted from a public domain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


(Some material below from Steve Tarani's FAQ at
A curved, shortbladed combat knife, "the Karambit as a utility knife. It can be also, however, be used for martial arts. [For] self-defense, the Karambit can be used as a means of ensuring your personal safety in the event you are... attacked.

"What makes the [Tarani] Karambit [somewhat] unique is it's pronounced curving edges and oversized finger ring. Providing maximum safety, the finger ring ensures a positive and non-slip hand-grip allowing optimal functionality in extreme weather conditions, under water, or in any hostile working environment. As a result of its signature curved edges and characteristic finger ring, the Karambit [can be] used for a number of practical functions including utility, personal defense, and martial arts applications."

The use of Tarani Karambits with (his) martial arts training material can probably make you using his (expensive) knives into a formibible opponent. This additional aspect is best suited to law enforcement and military users, though.

The re-emergence of this ancient weapon as a self-defense option is essentially in its infancy and the knife may emerge as one of the best and most concealible self defense options in the next few years.

Tanto point?

(From Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.)
"A Tanto is a Japanese blade or small sword. It is a smaller version of the Katana sword and the blade is about 6" to 8" in length. It can stab or it can slash. However, the Tanto knife is designed more to be a stabbing instrument."

A well-made 8" tanto blade will penetrate a car door (with the window rolled up), should you ever need to do that. (Requires above average upper body strength to do this, however.)


The Katana is the Japanese longsword (Daito), although many Japanese use this
word generically as a catch all word for sword "katana."
It refers to a specific type of curved, single-edged sword traditionally
used by the Japanese samurai. The scabbard for a katana is referred to as a saya.

It is primarily used for slashing, and can be wielded one- or two-handed (the
second being the most common mode). It is worn with cutting-edge up.
Tanto points are available on both fixed blade and folding knives. The shape of the point and design of the blade gives it more lateral strength than other shapes. These are very rugged knives.

Plain edge or serrated?

The choice of which type of knife edge to get appears mostly to be one of personal preference. In general, avoid edges blades under 3" on that are only partially serrated as they afford little advantage. And keep in mind that once dull, serrated edges can be very challenging to resharpen. One product worth investigating for sharpening serrations is
Gatco Sharpeners. But shop around for the best price. And DMT makes good products as well.

If we remain aware that an effective defensive knife will typically have a blade of 3" or more, that it may not be legal to carry without a CCW/CHL permit or even with one, that we may have a problem with John Law if we get into a situation requiring police presence then we may be able to avoid trouble or at least be prepared for surprises.

An effective defensive knife may or may not be legal but certain kinds may be "less legal" and more problematic for a police officer who must confront us, however otherwise law abiding we may be. And civilian users should know to absolutely avoid certain kinds such as (true) switchblades. daggers and dirks.

And, by the time we get to this part of this page we should be aware there may be more effective choices in regard to defense with an edged weapon than an oversized pocket knife or a bargain tactical folder.

Advanced Topics and Links

Choosing a Good Knife

"Even with the wide proliferation of knife manufacturers, good knives are hard to find, and not every knife is suitable for knife combat. There are several factors to consider.

"The size of the knife is very important... a large knife can be uncomfortable to carry and very difficult to conceal. The generally accepted ideal knife size is a blade length of 3 inches and perhaps another 3 or 4 inches for the handle. At that size the knife can be carried comfortably, is of light weight and easy to conceal.

"Quality is another factor which can be very serious in the case of folding knives. A bad quality folding knife can close on the carrier's fingers when striking a target causing self injury. Quality should always be a deciding factor in the case of folding knives. Folding knives are usually chosen because when closed for carry they are small in size, fitting neatly into a trouser pocket.

Unbranded steel types such as 'Stainless Steel' should be avoided as it is [generally] a sign of poor quality. It is preferable to select a special type of steel such as 'stainless steel 420' or 'stainless steel 440'. Other excellent types of steel are also available.

"Finally, a few Full Tang knives come with their own carry system, i.e. a sheath in the form of shoulder, neck or belt carry that allows the user to conceal the knife very easily." Boker makes an excellent rig of this type and it is very sharp and generally a well-respected carry system available for several knives.
Source: And, another opinion:

"People who like guns like knives. It's not so much a 'weapon thing' as it is a 'craftsmanship thing' and a 'functionality' thing.' In selection, the tool follows the predictable task. In a fight, the blade follows the threat. Picking the knife is like picking the gun. It's not about image. It's about what you're likely to need it for.

"There have been cases of hunters who've used their knives to defend themselves successfully against dangerous animals. There are far fewer cases of cops who've used knives to defend themselves against criminals. What you absolutely do have are cases of private citizens who've used knives to repel lethal assaults by criminals.

"For American gentlemen and 'Ordinary Joes' throughout this century, it has been the utility knife and the 'pen-knife.' The analogy to 'service pistol and backup gun' is achingly obvious."
from Massad Ayoob's, article, Blade,in "Guns Magazine, July 1999
A place to discuss knives. This website makes no claim to speak for or on behalf of the above listed forum.

A recent development in knife design: The Timber Pig. Click for review from "The Martialist"

A less than lethal (but potentially deadly) alternative to knives, the Pocket Stick. for a general article or click here for an article on its use
The Martialist, an online electronic magazine (e-zine) for those who fight unfairly (or aspire to). "...among the handful, dozens, or scores of people whose paths you cross on any given day as you go through your life could be individuals who represent a threat -- and you won't know ahead of time who they are.

As a result you must maintain a perceivable level of alertness when you are out and about. You may choose to take this a step further and seek out the training and the tools -- including legally possessed weapons -- that give you an advantage should an altercation occur."

The Karambit is a tool/knife capable of being used for many different applications. Its basic use that of a common tool – a utility blade, used to open boxes, cut twine, dig holes, etc. Today, it's most commonly owned by collectors and knife enthusiasts. It's also used as a martial-arts training implement. Lastly, it can be used to ensure personal safety should the need arise (i.e, as a personal defense or survival weapon).


Some thoughts about combat knives

Combat knives?

Not defensive knives?

Not survival knives?

That's correct, combat knives, because what we're dancing around on the page above are short, edged weapons with which to do combat with an adversary, an aggressor, a predator, someone who has attempted, is about to attempt or is attempting to put us in serious danger, about to set upon us with malice and intent to do bodily harm.

And among the several differences from a defense using a firearm, this is about preparation for a close up, potentially close-in full body contact encounter.

For this reason, and presuming we are making serious preparations to carry and to use a rugged and lethal tool, something other than a mere pocket knife or a "gentleman's" hunting knife or folder is required. This rules out El Cheapo knives with marginal steel and any which cannot withstand serious lateral torque. The knife must be able not only to stab repeatedly but also to cut repeatedly. Not just through flesh but through possibly thick outer clothing including denim or canvas types of cloth.

If, in the course of using such an instrument for less than deadly encounters, the knife will be used for utility purposes, it MUST be able to maintain an edge. We cannot afford for it to become a (temporarily) useless tool after cutting up boxes, ropes or any materials which will make it less than very, very sharp.

Between such utilitarian use and the next time we get out the sharpening tools, mortal combat may ensue. (Use of a knife for utility purposes has no parallel to using a firearm for such purposes. Guns do not have more than one base function; there are no such things as utility firearms.)

Look, if you are going to cut things which will dull your knife, invest in a keychain box cutter or similar device. (Or go get a box cutter.) Using a defense knife for pedestrian chores does two things. First, it reveals to those around you that you are carrying the knife. Second, it may compromise your readiness to deal with terrible potential eventualities.

So we must chose a combat weapon that can meet several criteria. There is more to a good combat knife than just being able to hold an edge (which will be a given for the purposes of this list). Personal preferences in knife design exist so the following should be considered as ideal criteria.

The blade should be able to withstand a good deal of lateral torque (in case it needs to be twisted). If it is a folder, the point where the blade swivels is its weakest point but it must be able to handle torque almost as well as a fixed blade.

The shape and design of the handle should be conducive to keeping a grip under adverse conditions such as cold weather, the presence of water, sweat or blood. Finger grooves or ergonomic handle design are desirable but a ring for at least one finger may be best. If the knife may be used with gloves, the finger hole must be able to accomodate the gloves. While there are many excellent all steel knives, material to give more volume to the grip facilitates holding on to the knife in the presence of cold, water or blood.

It must be pointed out that while deep finger grooves or a finger hole greatly improve the grip on a knife, they will also adversely affect the ability to change the grip or hands in mid-fight and will usually require both hands to change the direction of the blade in the hand.

In other words, an "ordinary" pocket knife and many inexpensive tactical folders simply will not serve well as defensive weapons. If you are going to carry a defensive knife, think it through. Get what you need. Don't scrimp any more than you have to. (But buying a moderately priced is fine if it is what you need, what you want.)
Seen on the 'Net
:"If you only have a $50 life, get a $50 knife."

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Bayonet

Cold Steel - the History of the Bayonet

'They don't like it up 'em!' said an old soldier, a veteran of the small wars of the British Empire. He was right, although a large quantity of lead balls or bullets to demoralise the enemy always preceded the bayonet charge. For centuries, the British soldier has been renowned for closing with an enemy and defeating them at the point of a bayonet. It so impressed the Ghurkhas of Nepal that they promised their loyalty in battle and their king allowed his soldiers to fight for another crown.

Early Days

The origin of the bayonet lies in 17th Century France. It got the name from the city of Bayonne; the first recorded use of the bayonet for the British Army was at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. The bayonet then used was a plug bayonet, which fitted into the muzzle of the musket thus preventing it from firing. Unfortunately for the Crown and its forces, the charge of the Highlanders was unstoppable: just how much this defeat was due to the new bayonet is debatable.

Building a Reputation

The continental wars against the French in the 18th Century built the British Infantry into a fearsome weapon on the battlefield. Capable of delivering three volleys per minute at fifty metres or less and then charging forward with the bayonet, the Infantry demoralised and defeated the opposition. The bayonet had by then developed into a socket bayonet, which fitted over the muzzle and allowed the musket to be loaded and fired. The bayonet had a triangular blade with a flat side towards the muzzle and two fluted sides outermost to a length of 15 inches (38cm). However it had no lock to keep it fast to the muzzle and it was well documented as falling off in the heat of battle.

This design remained almost unchanged until the year 1800 when the rifle was introduced into service. The selected bayonet was in the shape of a short sword with a straight 24-inch (60cm) blade. The British used it in the mid-18th Century and then discarded it about 1780, but the French Imperial Guard, at least, used it up to 1815. To this day, no matter what length of bayonet, the Rifle Regiments 'Fix Swords'.

The socket bayonet survived the introduction of the rifled musket in 1854, which copied the French locking ring system. It proved its mettle in the Battles of the Alma and Inkerman during the Crimean War, where the Imperial Russian Army learned to fear it as well.


The Volunteer movement of the 1860s brought another fashion of the design. Most Volunteer units preferred the carbine of two band Enfield Rifled muskets. These were supplied with a sword-like yaghatan blade bayonet of 24 inches (60cm). They were standard for Engineers and Artillery and were of dubious value, but they looked good and impressed the ladies.


Many of these were made in Solingen, Germany, and other continental sources. Poor quality control in bayonet and sword manufacture and storage led to the scandals of the early 1880s, where bent and deformed weapons endangered troops as they closed in on the enemy - African tribesmen - in the traditional English way. A cartoon of the time in Punch, always a ready observer of scandal, showed an infantryman with a bent and twisted socket bayonet standing beside a seated officer, holding a bottle of wine. The infantryman says, 'Corkscrew sir? Why, my bayonet will serve as any.' Foreign suppliers, rightly or wrongly, took the blame and the result was a major reform of design and quality control.

The bayonet for the Lee-Metford Magazine rifle of 1888 was a triumph of quality and effectiveness. The blade was a 12-inches (30cm) long, double-edged knife blade, with a knife-type grip that locked under the barrel. It was ground hollow on each side to form a central rib, with the edges and point honed. It was rigourously tested, with one of the tests bending the flat of the blade over a 12-inch radius curve and to have it return with no bend set in the blade.
With modifications and minor design changes, it lasted until 1916 when the Long Lee Enfield rifle was phased out. 'They don't like it up 'em!' might have been describing the Boers of South Africa, whom the British fought twice. The Boers loathed and feared the bayonet and being good marksmen with their Mauser rifles, they did their killing at long range and set off on horseback as soon as the British closed in, thus avoiding the bayonet.

World Wars

Reforms of the Army produced the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) rifle of 1907. To compensate for a shorter barrel, the bayonet was lengthened to 17 inches (42cm). The design was still along the lines of a knife but the blade was narrower, single-edged and with a fuller, ground indent, on both sides for much of its length. Originally it had a quillion or forward curving extension of the cross-guard. This was supposed to enable the infantryman to break the opponents bayonet blade and was copied from the French bayonet but was removed from later versions after 1914. The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield was the standard issue rifle and bayonet for the British Army from 1908 to 1943.

In 1943, the Lee-Enfield No4 rifle was introduced with a much handier 8-inch (20cm) bayonet. This was a very cheap socket bayonet, made of round steel about 1/2-inch (1cm) diameter tapering to a point rather like a nail. It represented the tactical value of the bayonet at the time. It was always known as the 'pig sticker', referring to an abattoir's instrument of dispatch. It had really only one use, although it could open condensed milk tins too. Some versions were good quality, made from solid materials while others were a cheap, nasty combination of a steel rod and pressed steel.

The bayonet charge was not always in the traditional image of the British Army. One of the last bayonet charges of the Second World War took place in 1945 during the battle for the Reichswald. One of the participants remembers that the British were taking cover in ditches and returning fire towards some trenches occupied by German troops about 200m away, when they were ordered to fix bayonets. He cannot remember the order to charge, no rush of adrenaline, any yells or bravado, just soldiers getting to their feet and running towards the trenches. As they closed in on the Germans, the return fire ceased and the German soldiers raised their hands; for the demoralised troops, resistance seemed pointless and it was time to surrender.

Modern Times

The British have never given up the bayonet. It has remained at 8 inches long but with a thin, fullered, bowie-type knife blade. Even the Submachine Gun L2A3 (Sterling) was issued with a bayonet in case the gun jammed or ran out of ammunition. The bayonet now passes as a combat knife, a sort of saw or a battlefield tool capable of cutting thin wire. It is still fitted to the business end of a rifle, knife-like, the quintessential close-quarter combat weapon.

The last documented use of the bayonet in combat by the British Army would probably be during the Falklands campaign by 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment on the night of June 11-12 and 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards on the night of June 13-14 1982, when night allowed them to close with the enemy without being seen, and engaged, at a distance.

The 3rd Battalion took Mt Longdon and its surroundings after hand-to-hand and bayonet fighting with the 7th Infantry Regiment. The British casualties were 23 killed, one of which, Sergeant Ian John McKay of the 3rd Battalion, was later awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross1. The Argentinians suffered over 50 dead, with many more injured.

The 2nd Scots Guards pushed the 5th Marine Infantry Battalion off the summit and flanks of Mt Tumbledown with rifle and bayonet shortly before the surrender of Argentine forces. It cost seven Guardsmen and one Royal Engineer killed, while 40 Argentinean Marines lost their lives opposing them.
After the Falklands, the infantry began to train in the use of the bayonet again; it had returned from near oblivion.


Modern weapons have an awesome weight of firepower available, so why bother with cold steel? The bayonet, used by a determined soldier, is capable of physical harm, but it is primarily a psychological weapon. Its value is not in its form or the harm it can do.
When the soldier fixes his bayonet and points it at the enemy, he is declaring his determination to close and kill savagely at close quarter. For most soldiers trained to kill with bullets and shells at distance, it is time to think seriously about an easy way out.

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