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Old 10-03-2017, 07:55 PM
Naphtali Naphtali is offline
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Default Fixed blade knives

What are advantages of a full tanged fixed-bladed knife compared with a full narrow tanged knife, Randall's knives, Morseths, and the USMC Ka-Bar being the best known full narrow tangs?
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Old 10-03-2017, 08:12 PM
30-30remchester 30-30remchester is offline
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Full tang knives are considerably stronger if used as a prying tool or in conditions other than cutting. Handles also require more skill and time to attach to the tang on full tang knives. I prefer full tang myself as sometimes I have to baton, pry scrape, and hammer on my work blades.
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Old 10-04-2017, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by 30-30remchester View Post
I prefer full tang myself as sometimes I have to baton, pry scrape, and hammer on my work blades.
Remind me to never loan you one of my Randalls.
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:45 PM
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I'm not wanting to be argumentative. I'm trying to understand differences and/or comparisons. Cleaning out one of my "stuff" boxes I found a 1996 Knife World broadsheet magazine in which was an article about the Ka-Bar knife. I have no idea whose magazine it was. And I had never before thought about what an aggressively general purpose knife the Ka-Bar had to be.

Why would the USMC (or whoever did the choosing of the knife's design and manufacturer) have selected a narrow full-tanged blade during World War II when Marines' combat was close to "backs against the wall" in the south Pacific? Anticipating procurement would choose low bid on comparable quality, I wonder about cost of affixing handles?

A related question might be: In anything other than an emergency why would anyone use a halfway decent knife as a pry bar? An emergency occurring more often than, say, once or twice - is it an emergency?
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:52 PM
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If you want a tough knife for hard use, go with a full tang. Currently, my favorite production full-tang knife is the Benchmade Arvensis. Great knife for under $200.
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:50 PM
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[...] I'm not wanting to be argumentative.
Is friendly disagreement O.K.? I own a couple of full tang knives that cost me three times as much as a similar size 100 series Buck back in the day. They are too damn heavy for ordinary senior citizens to carry up a mountain. Their full tangs are weight that could be used to carry other emergency gear if survival in the woods is your interest. Also, reinforcing the handle does nothing to save a pointy tip. There is a reason why professional chefs do not use thick knives. The best knives have thin blades made of very hard steel to hold an edge. They snap if you use them for pry bars.

Diving knives are made to pry coral off rocks. Most have no point, only a squared off front end. To avoid breaking they are made out of soft stainless that does not hold and edge. If any knife needs a full tang they do but I've never seen one with a full tang.

I have read authors that wrote Randal #1s are sharpened pry bars. So they do not fail in that role Randals are not made from particularly hard steel. Morseth blades, at least old ones, were made from 3 layers of steel with the hardest in the center. As a sales demonstration their blades were clamped in a vise then by holding on to the handle they were bent to a crazy angle, almost 90 degrees. They would spring back. As you observed neither Randal nor Morseth needed a full tang. Fantasies aside, who does?
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:50 PM
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Full tang almost certainly stronger than a narrow tang.
But is the narrow tang strong enough?
I would say usually, yes.
Military are spec-ed to be adequate for the purpose.
When the Marines put out the RFP for the KBar, they wanted a bunch of knives in a hurry.
The original prototype had a brass hilt.
Marine Raider Gordon Warner showed me one.
Most GI knives are adequate.
Sorriest one?
Without a doubt, it’s the Orange Handle Switchblade.
It’s a piece of ****!
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:22 PM
30-30remchester 30-30remchester is offline
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The US military does not having a great track record on obtaining the finest for their troops. From the Reising to the Case V-42, though beautiful they were too fragile for serious use. I have seen many knives broken from heavy use. Last year I saw a mechanic using his pocket knife to short out an electrical circuit. Many Mark II's were broken when their butts were used as hammers. Paperwork came with the knives instructing the owner to not use it as a hammer. A survey took by a cutlery company in the 1930's asked owners how long their knives lasted before either being lost or broken. The average was 18 months before a new knife was needed. Before the advent of the multi tool, the pocket knife did it all. Knives were tools to be used. Tips got broke, handles got broke regularly. Just go get another. I have collected antique knives for many decades and regularly carry antique bone handled folders made before WW II. However when I go afield it is an different type of knives I work hard with. They may be older but they are made to work for a living. Same with my guns. Many are pre war Colts and Winchesters in near mint condition. But when I go afield, the old Winchesters will seldom win any beauty contests. Each piece of machinery I owned had a sacrificial knife in their tool boxes. The blades were often heated red hot to melt its way through some object. Often sharpened with a file. A contractor I knew well would buy a dozen Old Timers at a time. He said sometimes he could get by for a couple years before they were all used up or broken, and he had to get another dozen. He would sharpen them with a bench grinder. If you read the original military specs for the issue Jet Pilots knives, the government finally figured it out. It required the butt to be strong enough to be used as a hammer, the blade stout enough to be used to cut and bent your way through an aircraft, be able to be tied to a stick and used as a spear. to be driven into a tree with a rock and used as a step to climb on. I have only quality American made, mostly antique tools in my garage from beautiful Ames shovels of years gone by to axes and hatchets from before the war. All are used regularly. But for each one of those, I have a matching one that I call my grub tool that is sacrificed to the rocks gods when work would damage my good tools. Mentioning the pilot knifes requirement to be used as a spear brought back a memory I had forgot about from my youth. When camping with a friend near Ivanhoe Lake near the Continental Divide, a friend and I had ran low on food. We were about 12 years old and our ride down the mountain was not due till the following day. Our poor fishing skills had not helped our rumbling stomachs. Then we spotted a porcupine walking down the trail. Without any means of killing and eating him, dropping big rocks on him had zero effect. We took our small Western fixed blade knives, used our hood draw strings from our sweatshirts, tied the knives to tree branches and used them as spears to FINALLY bring him to bag. Even at 12 and hungry he was so tough after being cooked over a campfire we did not think it was worth the effort.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:20 AM
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I will second 30-30rem's assessment of the Air Force Survival Knife. They are strong! I have used the same one I bought in '74 for field dressing deer all of these years; it has zipped open many a gut and has split many a pelvis.

With the pelvis on a younger deer, all I have to do is drive in the point with the heel of my hand to the pommel, for purchase, then lever the blade to split the bone. With an old buck the pelvis is pretty much solid, and tough, tough, tough! I carry a heavy chunk of oak in my pack and use that to drive the knife-tip into the bone to lever, pry, and whatever else it takes to make the split. I have never rolled or chipped the tip or edge. It stays sharp. It is one stout knife, and does not have a full tang. I would never dare to do any such things with my Ka-Bar Mark II (an original WWII Navy piece), or my '50s vintage Schrade. Though they are very fine knives, I save them for peeling the hide and butchering.

I love full tang knives, but anything worthwhile is priced way out of my budget.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:24 AM
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As has been stated, a full tang knife is much stronger, sturdier, and more reliable if you are going to use it to pry, baton, or pound with it.

But, realistically, how often are you going to use a knife when a good hand axe, camp axe, or pry bar are available?

Basically, a knife is intended for cutting. A narrow tang blade is more than adequately strong in a well-constructed blade of quality steel and will more than adequately field dress a deer, bone out an elk, cut rope, or make shavings for the fire.

Even though some folks criticize the narrow tang, there are several advantages. For example, the handle is usually lighter in weight. You can use oddly shaped, rare, and characteristic material for the handle, like crown stag for instance. Also, narrow tangs can give you a complete seal against moisture, reducing thermal expansion in the grip/tang. It's not uncommon to see older full-tang knives where the scales have shrunk.

I own both and while a beautiful, full-tang knife that one of my sons made for me is a real work horse, I have no qualms about using some of my narrow tang Randall knives for everyday, all-around camp work.
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Old 10-05-2017, 02:24 AM
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Handle design and material might dictate which Tang style is used. If a handle is to have a Stag or similar style one piece handle then the Tang would be a narrow version. If the handle design is in two pieces and pinned, then a full Tang would be used.

While the full Tang makes for a stronger knife, the two piece pinned handle may not be better or more durable than a thin Tanged knife with a solid handle.

In the real world, I prefer a narrow Tang / solid handle to a slabbed and pinned handle with a full Tang, but over the years I've owned and used both. I have never had either style fail and think the real reason the Tang differs is mostly for design and handle style. Unless you are going to chop down oak trees, I highly doubt it would make much of a difference to most here.

If I were stranded in the woods and had absolutely no other tools with me I would obviously use a knife for what ever I had to in order to survive. But in a normal days woods walk or camping I would not use a knife as a pry bar (except for emergency purposes). I would also normally take an axe or hatchet with me for cutting wood and would not normally use a sheath knife for cutting logs. I know it's now all the rage for knife reviewers to baton wood in their testing and ratings, but IMO there are better tools for doing that.

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Old 10-05-2017, 10:20 AM
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I have seen maybe a dozen times, young hunters trying to split a pelvis on a deer or elk, drive the point in, then use a rock to hammer the knife through. I knew a custom knife maker that built knife that would put Randal to shame. With sheep horn handles, tapered tang, with custom file work and engraved pins. I have owner 3 of his knives. When working as an elk guide, I broke 2 of them within a few year. The last one I still use and has field dressed and skinned more elk than many have ever seen. The way I have kept this one, is I use it till the going gets tough then I drag out a grub knife to do anything destructive. Mulepacker, who I respect a lot from his posts, brings up the point about using a knife when a hatchet would be better. A very good idea, if you have a hatchet. Seeing some of the hunting shows on tv, everyone has a huge backpack even walking 100 yards to the kill. When we took off hunting, we carried a rifle, a half dozen extra cartridges, maybe binoculars, and some sort of knife. That was it. Maybe a sandwich or two stuffed inside our shirt. No such thing as tree stands in our neck of the woods. We would travel for miles afoot so equipped in search elk and deer. A close friend has the record of traveling 23 miles in one day above timberline in pursuit of elk. I know of 2 people who have used their rifle as pry bars over the decades, with predictable results. You use what you got at hand. I hunted and worked with a different group of men than most though.

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Old 10-05-2017, 11:02 AM
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I have seen maybe a dozen times, young hunters trying to split a pelvis on a deer or elk, drive the point in, then use a rock to hammer the knife through. I knew a custom knife maker that built knife that would put Randal to shame. With sheep horn handles, tapered tang, with custom file work and engraved pins. I have owner 3 of his knives. When working as an elk guide, I broke 2 of them within a few year. The last one I still use and has field dressed and skinned more elk than many have ever seen. The way I have kept this one, is I use it till the going gets tough then I drag out a grub knife to do anything destructive. Mulepacker, who I respect a lot from his posts, brings up the point about using a knife when a hatchet would be better. A very good idea, if you have a hatchet. Seeing some of the hunting shows on tv, everyone has a huge backpack even walking 100 yards to the kill. When we took off hunting, we carried a rifle, a half dozen extra cartridges, maybe binoculars, and some sort of knife. That was it. Maybe a sandwich or two stuffed inside our shirt. No such thing as tree stands in our neck of the woods. We would travel for miles afoot so equipped in search elk and deer. A close friend has the record of traveling 23 miles in one day above timberline in pursuit of elk. I know of 2 people who have used their rifle as pry bars over the decades, with predictable results. You use what you got at hand. I hunted and worked with a different group of men than most though.
Darned good post, amigo. Thanks!
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Old 10-05-2017, 11:14 AM
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Except for the relatively recent Garberg, Mora knives have stick tangs, sometimes full length, but often half or three-quarters. They are not indestructible, but you are going to have to subject something like a Kansbol or Companion to some extreme abuse before you will break it.

That includes some non-knife tasks like prying and batoning, up to a point.
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Old 10-05-2017, 11:33 AM
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Randall Made Knives makes a full tang in their model 14 (Attack), and the Airman, model 15. I had a model 15, past it on to a Young man who was going in harms way. One tuff knife.
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Old 10-05-2017, 11:45 AM
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And I had never before thought about what an aggressively general purpose knife the Ka-Bar had to be.

Why would the USMC (or whoever did the choosing of the knife's design and manufacturer) have selected a narrow full-tanged blade during World War II when Marines' combat was close to "backs against the wall" in the south Pacific? Anticipating procurement would choose low bid on comparable quality, I wonder about cost of affixing handles?
During the first US offensive of WWII at Guadalcanal the Corps realizes that the bayonet of its time (very long) was not suitable to either utility or hand 2 hand combat. It wrote procurement spec for a all purpose knife and a variety of manufacturers created designs and prototypes. KA-bar do PA won. The knife was tested for durability, utility, weapon capability and more. It was approved for manufacture by Ka-bar and three other companies. The knife was evaluated by the Army and Navy, both of which adopted it for service. It was made in full size and shorter sizes for use by pilots, etc.

The knife proved to be an extremely durable, nearly indestructible tool. Chip,up the earth to start a fox hole, hack down shrubbery or saplings, open C ration cans, cut through anything a knife can get through, and, yes, dispatch the enemy.

It proved to consistently durable and reliable. Today the Corps bayonet if basically a Ka-bar design with bayonet lugs to serve as fighting and utility knife and as bayonet. That is a statement of the knifeís proven performance.

I was issued a Ka-bar in Nam when I went from M14 to M3. Of my four tours there I carried a Ka-bar for three of them. I carried one on other missions after Nam. I decided that if I was not to be issued one, I would buy my own. I did that in 1971 when I want from platoon level to company level. I still have it, and it still is a fantastic tool. WhenI wanted an EDC knife Impurchased a Ka-bar Agama folding knife.

I am not a knife maven with a grasp of the details like tang variations. All I know is that I would not part with my Ka-bar straight or folding knives.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:39 PM
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RICHARDW. thanks for the good post and thank you for your service. A little known fact about the "KABAR" knife aka Mark II is, it was not designed by Kabar but actually Camillus. Thus adopted it got the Kabar name though Camillus designed it and produced more of them than anyone else. The Mark II's were tough but were getting the butt broken off when Marines, who could tear up a log chain with a rubber mallet, were using them as hammers to pound in tent pegs. Thus the warning being issued with the knife," do not use your knife as a hammer".
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:46 PM
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RICHARDW. thanks for the good post and thank you for your service. A little known fact about the "KABAR" knife aka Mark II is, it was not designed by Kabar but actually Camillus. Thus adopted it got the Kabar name though Camillus designed it and produced more of them than anyone else. The Mark II's were tough but were getting the butt broken off when Marines, who could tear up a log chain with a rubber mallet, were using them as hammers to pound in tent pegs. Thus the warning being issued with the knife," do not use your knife as a hammer".
My understanding is that Camillus was the first company to manufacture the knife, but that Union Cutler (Ka Bar) designed the knife. Three companies manufactured the knife to meet demand. Of course, I might be misinformed. I am going to research the matter. It is so nice to have time to do such things.


Added to original post.

I found this tidbit online that explains the situation.

States entered World War II, Union Cutlery submitted a Ka-Bar branded knife to the U.S. Marine Corps for issue to fighting personnel. Although the original design failed to meet USMC requirements, the company was able to work with the Marine Corps on improvements. The Navy already had a fighting knife, by Camillus, the Mark 1. A revised design based on improvements to the Camillus Mark 1 was accepted as the "USN Fighting Knife, Mark 2." The identical knife, except its markings, is called "1219C2 USMC" by the Marines with nomenclature "Knife, Fighting and Utility." The Marine Corps version was manufactured by Union Cutlery, stamped Ka-Bar, and was issued as the standard USMC fighting/utility knife. The first batch was shipped to the USMC from Union Cutlery on 27 January 1943

I further learned that Camillus designed the aNavy Mark 1 which is not a mirror of the Ka bar. They made the Mark 2 based upon the Union Cutleray design as approved by the USMC.

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Old 10-05-2017, 03:01 PM
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TOP: AF Survival Knife, Camillus
CENTER: USN Ka-Bar MKII, Olean, NY (WWII vintage)
BOTTOM: Schrade-Walden H-15. N.Y. U.S.A.
RIGHT: Schrade+ Uncle Henry, IB8 USA

...As mentioned in Post #9. The two Uncle Henrys have also seen duty with deer. One or the other is always at my left hip in a snap pouch. I've only had to replace the lock spring in one Uncle Henry, otherwise, none have ever let me down.
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Old 10-05-2017, 03:25 PM
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I’ll post my fixed blade first knife.
Bought it at Sears about 1953.
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Old 10-05-2017, 04:28 PM
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Iíll post my fixed blade first knife.
Bought it at Sears about 1953.
Neat old knife. This is actually a Western brand knife built for Sears. Western produced the same blade for themselves. The handles are bone stag instead of their usual leather handles.
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Old 10-05-2017, 04:36 PM
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TOP: AF Survival Knife, Camillus
CENTER: USN Ka-Bar MKII, Olean, NY (WWII vintage)

...
Last couple of years a 'new" Ka-bar MkI Navy has been my utility fixed blade at the cabin .... not too big ... not to small ....not to taticoool..... and not toooooo expensive for hard use.

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Old 10-05-2017, 08:14 PM
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Default Cold Steel Recon Scout ...



Pawn shop score along with a KaBar (not pictured). Shown with my 547
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:52 PM
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Pawn shop score along with a KaBar (not pictured). Shown with my 547

Got a Cold Steel, Recon Scout and a SRK years ago
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:40 PM
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Here are a couple of Finnish knives that use a full-length narrow tang, not a stick tang but rather about half an inch or so wide with the pommel extending through the handle. These are camp knives, and I have not had the chance to work with them much, but I do not expect any issues with durability.

The narrow tang saves weight as compared with a full tang, and gives the larger Skrama a balance point right at the juncture of blade and handle. Even with the 11" blade, it is quite nimble if you choke up on the grip.
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Old 10-05-2017, 11:39 PM
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Take a look at Grayman Knives.
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Old 10-06-2017, 12:20 AM
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Some knives that are not technically full tang do have quite wide narrow tangs, very strong.

Examples include the original SOG SEAL 2000 that passed grueling Navy trials, the Fallkniven line, and the Randall Models 14, 15, and 16.

Some here clearly do not understand what a Navy MK II is. It is the same as the Marine "Ka-bar', but with a gray plastic/fiber sheath. Marine sheaths were leather. There is wide variety in details on MK I knives, which can be confusing. Due to wartime needs, the USN accepted many knives as long as they were generally similar to MK I specs. Some had pommels similar to MK II knives. That may have led some to think they were smaller MK II's.

Many sailors and aircrew carried personal knives. This was reflected in the movie, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, starring Wm. Holden and Grace Kelly.

Look at the knives on the vests of the two pilots after Brubaker's (Holden's) Panther has been hit by ground fire and he's talking about crash landing. He wears a Western often called a "shark knife" and the other man (CAG?) has a
PAL RH=36. Both were very likely choices for USN pilots in the Korean War. Lt. Brubaker was a Denver lawyer in civil life, so the selection of a Western knife was especially likely, as they were made in CO. I saw many in stores there in the 1960's and bought a used one from another airman. I still have it and have used it occasionally on fishing trips, although I normally preferred more expensive knives.

You can also see Holden's Victory Model .38 after he lands. When Mickey Rooney's helicopter lands, he and Nestor (crewman) have .30 carbines. Look for the film clips on YouTube, which may have the entire movie.

Last edited by Texas Star; 10-06-2017 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Texas Star View Post
He wears a Western often called a "shark knife" .
Some Western Knives are real oddities, I believe the shark is one of them.

It has a double tang. Then leather washers shaped like an "H" are used. It seems and looks like a wacky idea, in practice it seems to work well.

I find with full tang knives there is always a place that the scales and tang are missaligned, leading to a chafe and eventual blister on my hand. Handles chip, shrink and warp eventually, plus the full tang transfers shock directly to your hand.

Even real Kukris have hidden tangs. So do Samurai swords. I'll stick with hidden tangs.

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Old 10-06-2017, 08:37 AM
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Some here clearly do not understand what a Navy MK II is. It is the same as the Marine "Ka-bar', but with a gray plastic/fiber sheath. Marine sheaths were leather. There is wide variety in details on MK I knives, which can be confusing. Due to wartime needs, the USN accepted many knives as long as they were generally similar to MK I specs. Some had pommels similar to MK II knives. That may have led some to think they were smaller MK II's.

Many sailors and aircrew carried personal knives.
My Bad..a "double tap" on the "I" key... I meant the new Ka-Bar MkI.......


My Dad... was a 25 year old police officer in 1941...... carried a 6" Kings custom (sights and action) Colt New Service in .357 magnum..........

.....enlisted in early 42 and was in the Philippines with the Coast Guard..... he carried a custom made personal knife with a 6 3/4 inch Bowie style blade .......the handle looks like bone around a narrow tang...... blade shows pitting from salt water exposure..... the sheath disintegrated years ago and I had a new one made.

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Old 10-06-2017, 08:36 PM
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This just came in the mail today . . . not really a powerhouse, but I sure like it.

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Old 10-06-2017, 09:04 PM
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While geometry and design play a roll, Heat treat is the most significant source of blade failure. The tang should always be tempered to dead soft.
Some claim the tang should be able to withstand 50 foot pounds of torque, that is more than you can apply with just your hands.

It is too bad that knives do not have bullseyes like firearms do to reveal their strength and quality. The way it is now we have to rely on the maker to do the testing because we cant go shoot a group to test the knife. The best we can do is ask the maker about his guarantee or buy one and test it to destruction if you wish.
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Old 10-10-2017, 05:49 PM
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I just returned from an antelope hunt in the very southeastern part of Colorado. One of the group I hunt with lives 12 miles outside a tiny town and runs a cattle ranch. As we were skinning out a few goats, I observed the ranchers knife. His only knife used every day on the ranch was a cheap Sabre brand folding hunter similar to the Buck 110's. The blade was worn down considerable and the entire knife was what we call swaybacked. This is what happens when a folder is pulled on too hard and the blade actually bends permanently backwards a ways. Asking how it got bent he replied he was trying to cut through the pelvis of a steer and could not get through it so while pulling as hard as he could, his son used a 12" crescent wrench to pound on the back of the blade. There were also deep blade scars that resulted from locking a set of vise grips onto the back of the blade as leverage when the blade was inserted between 2 pieces of chain link trying to pry them apart. Just another tool for many of us.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:16 PM
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Post No. 32 may have scarred me for life, or at least, for this week.

That's one of the worst knife horror stories I've ever read.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:51 PM
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I could send that Rancher this knife.
It’s a real no - name, not marked at all.
No! I didn’t buy it.
I found it.
The owner who did buy it maybe threw it away?
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Old 10-11-2017, 03:05 PM
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Couple of the knives I will use in extreme environments. Have to admit, the USAF Survival knife isnít as pretty as the Randall, but it is one tough puppy
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