If you don’t like knives, you won’t get this blog post, and you likely won’t get “me”. Some people like knives and edged weapons and others, not so much. My daily carry knife is one of several pocket knives, which I keep very sharp. They’re tools, required for life, particularly up on Arizona’s Mogollon Rim.

My grandsons like to look at my “knife collection” when they’re up on the property. At this point, they are more like memories than anything else. So in a sense, they are a collection, even though the phrase “knife collection” grates on my nerves. It’s like saying, “memory collection,” as if the work is finished and there’s just an old human library sitting on the couch.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t dust them off from time to time in much the way that one does with memories.

Military edged tools (the MK3 Navy Knife and the K-Bar) only look like knives. They’re used for just about everything. The metal quality isn’t great but the knives are disposable. They’re “camp knives”. If you break the tip of the blade or if the handle comes off in the course of this or that, you simply get another knife. Having a camp knife is important if you camp or if you live in a rural setting. Some people attach sentimental feelings to a camp knife. I have difficulty doing that.

A fighting knife is different, and so is a good cooking (chef’s) knife.

This knife is a double edged fighting knife that I carried during Operation Desert Sheield/Saber/Storm in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (1990-91) while serving with SEAL Team Five and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1. It was made by Rick Hill (knife above, knife in sheath below). Rick reached out to me a few years ago. He had retired, but always recalled that this was the best knife that he’d made. I am honored to have it. The grenade pin loops are components of a garrote, made from piano wire that tucks into the pouch.

It’s a full-tang knife, constructed of D2 steel and has a micarta grip. A fighting knife of this type needs to be long enough to go in to a human body through either arm pit, from between the neck and collar bone or from the bottom of the rib cage and reach the heart. This knife also features a sharp skull spike on the butt.

Many years later, circa 2010, a friend of mine was working in Mexico with the Mexican Marines (SEMAR) and the law was such that they preferred that he not have a firearm, but they didn’t mind him having a knife.  They were ambushed. And before you chide my friend for bad tactics, he was only a passenger in the rear seat.

Fortunately, he wasn’t hit. Unfortunately for the two narcos, they had been poorly trained and failed to immediately drop the magazines in their rifles and insert fresh ones. They just stood there admiring their handy work when he jumped out of the rear of the Tahoe, knife in hand.  The first one went down with a gusher and the second one tried to run, saying that he surrendered. Yeah. Tell that to the Devil on your way to the fiery pit.

Learning Point: You don’t ever want to get close to somebody with a knife who intends to use it. You are unlikely to survive the event.

I have nothing against a good steel knife. I also own a couple Kukris, made out of truck leaf springs.

In my opinion, there is no better chopper than a kukri. I have the knife pictured above, on my desk next to me as I type.

But that’s not the end of the story. It will be continued tomorrow.

25 COMMENTS

  1. To me a folding knife is an article of clothing and I’ll always have one on my purpose, unless I need to go somewhere that they’re prohibited. Most of my fixed blades are of the “camp knife” variety though I do have a Mike Beathe Bowie. My prize though is my M1917 bayonet with Winchester markings. My grandfather, who served in France in 1918, brought it home and now it resides with me. Dad once told the story of the night when Granddad was out of town and his mother heard a noise and went to investigate armed with 17″ of cold steel. The story would been better if my grandmother, all 5’1″ of her, ran off an intruder, but nothing was found. I do need a kukri.

  2. I’ve never been a knife guy, but after reading this post counted just how many knives are in my household: over 50. Most are for cooking, peeling, filleting, that sort of thing. Then out in my shop there are knives for cutting soft material, hard material, scraping gaskets, and any number of tasks that involve using a knife that can take some punishment.

    None of these knives have I ever considered using as a weapon, with a few exceptions (we won’t go into that now). I’ve got a .357 Magnum Taurus revolver for that, and even then I’ve never actually drawn this weapon at any point. In fact, it has never been fired since I purchased it new. I only clean it every 6 months, and put it away.

    In a way, I guess I am a knife guy, but not anywhere close to the knife guy that you are, LL.

    • I don’t think that I have fifty knives in the house and garage combined. Then again I haven’t counted the steak knives – maybe a dozen of those alone. Ok, maybe fifty. I’m nowhere the craftsman that you are, in truth. I use my pocket knife every day, or “a” pocket knife every day. And the kitchen knives every day. The fancy killing knives are just for looking at these days.

      • Killing knives. Unless you are Jack the Ripper, those are mostly quaint things of yesteryear in polite societies. Other than your buddy in Mexico, making those poorly trained dopes pay the ultimate price because they didn’t refresh their magazines after spraying that Tahoe with lead. But you get my point. Of course, unless you live in the UK. Since guns are strictly taboo, knives are now the weapon of choice for that 10% of every population that thrives in evil.

        Craftsman that I am, most knife people would cringe and wince if they ever saw what I do to knives in my shop. I sharpen them with a bench grinder. A lot. They last a few years before there is nothing left of them after I have ground them into dirt.

        • I take you point completely. As I mentioned, my killing knives are anachronisms for the most part. They’re talking pieces. Then again, I carry a Colt 1911 handgun when I go outside. And a pocket knife.

  3. For kitchen knives I am a big fan of Japanese carbon steel from Korin Knives on Warren Street in NYC. They are easy to get very sharp. I loath Henkel and Wusthof.

    • I have a set of Korin knives. They’re excellent. For the edification of other readers, traditional Japanese knives are sharpened on only one side of the blade for a very sharp cutting edge, and easier sharpening. The hammered, pattern welded (damascene), Santoku is an excellent all around chef’s knife. To be honest, it’s amazing how only 15 layers is sufficient to make it a superior blade. Experience in metallurgy is telling.

  4. I’ll be interested in your take on titanium. Working it for other purposes, titanium seems a lot like stainless steel. Does Ti hold a good edge and stand up to bending forces?

    • First, considering who I’m answering, I’m going to get into the weeds, or you’ll kick my butt. It will sound like I’m rambling, but here goes.

      All titanium is not equal just as all steel is not equal. Many alloys of Titanium have ceramic properties in nearly direct proportions to metallic properties and it can make it difficult to work with. However, I have a steel-tantung knife (tantung is a cast alloy cutting tool material composed principally of chromium, tungsten, columbium, and carbon in a cobalt matrix) custom made by Bob Terzuola that is a great knife but is a bear to sharpen. It’s a fixed blade knife that I carried for years as part of business. One of my favorite knives.

      If you want a knife to use in salt water or around corrosive material and you don’t want it to react (oxidize), Titanium is the only way to go. I have had (disposable) steel knives that I’ve used with Sport SCUBA and I spray them with motorcycle chain lube, which contains bee’s wax and is a little sticky to keep them from rusting. But you don’t need to do that with a titanium knife. And they stay sharp longer than steel knives. It’s difficult to dull them – but it’s also difficult to sharpen them, once dulled. The titanium knives that I’ve tested for Naval military applications far exceed steel knives in all respects and are not brittle. (see part two, tomorrow) Titanium has an unfair reputation for being brittle because it doesn’t have the tension capacity to bend the way that steel does. The place where that is true is with MUCH greater stress than would ever be put on a knife used as a tool.

      For a kitchen knife, steel is the way to go, but all steel is not equal. It sharpens easily, it’s easier to work with, and it’s usually much less expensive (usually) than titanium.

  5. We’ve been watching Forged in Fire for several years now. Makes me happy I have some idea of what you are talking about.
    You do have a nice selection of knives.

    • They’re just tools. Each has a separate and necessary function. I’m sticking with that explanation.

  6. You didn’t lose me with your reply to SiG.

    I too am not a knife person. I have a reasonable pocket knife. I have a fishing/hunting knife found on the jetty of the entrance into Mission Bay 60 years or so ago. And I have my near 60 year old Boy Scout knife. We have about 20 kitchen knives of various quality. No fighting knives.

    I do appreciate your view on fighting knives; it is good to know about them. I wish I had at least one and was trained in their use. I fear the Leftist actions surrounding this virus issue may be the precipitative force for the watering of the Tree of Liberty and being armed will be a necessity here in South Texas (and every where else too).

    We have just a few guns.

    My big problem is getting and keeping the knives sharp. I have some decent sharpening stones but can just never seem to get a good edge on the knives. I remember my father could get a knife sharp enough to shave with (at least his arm). He tried to teach me but I have lost the knack. If you sharpen your own, what do you do? How about a post on that as practical as it may be?

    • Ok, I’ll do a post on knife sharpening.

      Everyone needs to know how to do that.

      And a traditional kitchen sharpener will ruin a Japanese grind, for example.

  7. I used to carry a machete in the trunk of my car.
    I had put it there once to trim around headstones of former family members.
    My wife’s agency had a picnic which we attended.
    They brought out a number of watermelons and had difficulty slicing them.
    Some very wide eyes when I brought out the machete.
    I got sent to Windsor once and Border Control there decided to look in the trunk.
    That took an hour out of my day.
    They gave it back on my crossing back.

    I still have the survival utility knife I was issued many years ago.

    • They didn’t let you keep your machete in the trunk?

      The Canadians don’t have a sense of humor. What if you had a felling axe?

  8. I’ve carried a pocket knife since the early 1970’s when I was issued one along with my Big Tool Box at Fermilab. Those were folding knives that were a lot like a “pocket knife”, but much larger. They were tools, and after I’d been carrying it for a few months, it became part of my “daily carry stuff”, and now I feel something’s amiss if I get dressed in the morning and don’t have a knife with me.

    And I have a few “Fighting Knives”, one of which my SLW calls a “dagger”, and is very much like your first one pictured. It doesn’t have the guard just forward of the handle, one edge is serrated, and it’s a SOG, like my ‘hawk. SOG calls it their “Pentagon” model.

    The other one is a big Gerber “LMF II Infantry” model, more of a “survival knife” than a “fighting knife”, but anything works in a bar fight.

    I’ve had some (very) rudimentary training, courtesy of my Korean buddy who was well-schooled in the martial arts, and edged weapons.

    In my estimation, if I’m down to fighting with my knife, I’m out of ammo, slide locked back, probably hurt or wounded, and might not be very effective, but I’ll continue fighting until I breathe no longer.

    And I still need to source a proper bayonet for my Garand…..

    • I built up bug-out bags – backpacks with a 72 hour kit – for each of my four children and their families. I included a Gerber LMF 2 with each of them. Good knife, not expensive, does the job. SOG makes good knives too. A bit more on SOG knives comes with Part 2 – Titanium, tomorrow.

      • I always thought SOG made decent stuff, but sometime after I bought them, I started reading a lot of negative things about SOG. Same with Gerber.

        Granted I’ve never used these in combat, but the workmanship looks good on them, they’re finished nicely, they’re balanced nicely per my friend who knows how to throw stuff, and they weren’t super expensive.

        • I have two old Gerber MK2 daggers in my foot locker and I like them. The only question about most knives is whether they work for you. Do they hold an edge, are they useful tools.

          When it comes to tools, I’ve bought garage tools made in the People’s Republic of China, from Costco and Home Depot and they’re trash, landfill. I focus on pure quality even at double or more the cost now and am much happier. The old Craftsman stuff I inherited from my dad and granddad is still working perfectly.

  9. Whenever I am wearing more than underwear, I have two or more knives on me. But, after all, the Air Force did train me to be a survival instructor in my late childhood. The ” pocket knife ” they issued me I have carried most every day for over 50 years. I like knives.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    • Some people feel that way. I am of a like mind.

      Some people feel that knives are bad (a lot of people in the UK feel that way) and want you to turn them in to the government.

      They’re tools. They are good or bad depending on how the person uses them. Nothing is worse than a maniac behind the wheel of a 2000 pound car with 20 gallons of gasoline in it going 90 mph.

  10. I have an old Sabatiet that belonged to my grandmother. Man that’s a good knife — maybe from the ’50s? Amazingly sharp. Pandemic carry’s a Spyderco folder; nice knife though some liken its logo to a “bedbug”! Hmmm.

    Kukris rock.

  11. On my way from Korea to the Gulf War I stopped overnight in Portland to see my folks. My old logger/farmer Dad asked if I had a good knife and I told him no. He bought me a nice 3 blade folder that I’ve had in my pocket every day except when flying and going to the court house. The last time I had jury duty the guard and I talked about the “good ol days” when every man and a lot of women packed a pocket knife everywhere.
    Bob in Boise

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