Sep 16, 2012

The Sunday Slasher

The very bright lad has some prepper tendencies. In the course of studying one "survival expert" he was persuaded to buy a Mora, hawked as the "best survival knife." A few weeks passed and he found eye and spirit offended by the garish plastic handle and the space-age polymer sheath. He wondered if Gramps might find time to reduce the ugliness. Sure. 

About 90 per cent complete, reflecting the notion that a blade is worth little if it can't be controlled, hence the outsize grip with admittedly unattractive palm swells. Looks bad, feels good.

This is the first experiment with a steel butt plate in the Shops of Camp J (tm). The  thinking is that a "survival" knife may be called on to function as a  crude hammer. 

And since we have a butt plate, why not use it to retain four wax-dipped  matches, virtually weightless and out of mind until a fire becomes crucial when all easier possibilites are absent?


The plate, hacked from a heavy old gate hinge, is attached, ground to a crude fit on a wheel, then trimmed to the wood profile on a one-inch vertical belt sander. It looks nice polished, but it will rust. If circumstances permit it will be hot-blued, otherwise painted. A question in my mind: Should it be flourescent orange for findability at the cost of ugliness?

I'll return the black tactical coal-tar sheath to the lad for whatever use he may make of it, but the knife will live in the heavy beef hide, similar to this but I hope without the stupidly misplaced copper rivet. The hole in the grip and the two little notches in the blade -- just forward of the handle -- might make it possible to lash the the knife to a shaft. I personally have never needed a makeshift spear, but who knows?

Notes and asides:

1. When someone offers you "the best" whazzis,  you're being flimflammed. There's no best survival knife, gun, or piccolo. A designer imagines the jobs the tool should do in various situations and builds accordingly. The honest ones will concede that they have created a compromise and not necessarily the optimum one for the situation you might meet.

2.  The matches hidden in the handle may or may not work. Moisture might destroy them despite precautions. Swelling might make them impossible to extract.  They are a last shot, in extremis, hope. If they added significant weight or complication, they would not exist.

3. The little blade notches weaken it. Heavy prying might easily snap it. Is the risk worth the ease of making a spear? Beats me.

4. I don't disparage knives from Mora. The steel seems proper, and the price is right. I tried to find one of the older laminated blades and couldn't.

5. The knife won't quite float, but it comes close enough to neutral buoyancy that you might be able to snatch it back before it dives to the bottom of Lake Nungusser. Wrist thong through the hole? Awkward but worth thinking about if you're lost in a watery place.

6. I hope the young man never learns the limitations of this thing.  Having to "survive" in the woods is almost always a result of bad procedure. My own  backwoods misadventures testify to that, in every case reflecting incomplete planning or inattention. The best survival tool is between the ears and should never be stashed between the buttocks.

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