Monday, February 27, 2017

Hunting Knives – Ancient and Reliable

The hunting knife predates all weapons that are not stones or clubs. It is one of our ancestors’ greatest ever creations. Used for skinning game and self-preservation, the hunting knife’s function has not changed much over the centuries.  The first metal hunting knives dates to 2000 BC and iron was extensively used to make knives as far back as the Iron Age (1000–800 BC).  But, iron bent easily. A stronger, more durable knife was needed. Enter the good old Vikings. They were among the first to carbonize iron, which hardened the blade and improved its rigidity and sharpness. 

The modern hunting knife typically features a rigid, single-edged blade with a large handle for ease of gripping. The unsharpened portion (tang) extends through the handle and strengthens the grip. Other knives are also used but the straight hunting knife remains the number one choice for hunting aficionados.

The watershed moment for hunting knives was the Bowie Knife, around the early 19th century. Jim Bowie’s most significant creation served the dual purpose of hunting and self-defense. The Bowie Knife typically features a large fixed blade and a clip point. Some of these knifes also tend to exhibit an S-guard, an “S”-shaped piece between the blade and the handle which is designed to deflect the assailant’s blade from his hand, a feature that is not required when hunting animals.

The Bowie Knife is not the only major development in the recent history of hunting knives. There is the all-purpose Swiss Army Knife – the folding knife/ miniature toolbox – which came into existence around the late 19th century. These knives fall short of being primary hunting weapons (unless, of course, you are MacGyver) but hunters still carry them for field dressing, butchering, camping, and woodwork.

Like the Bowie Knife is an important part of American history, there are other knives associated closely with other countries (though some may not necessarily be used for hunting).  The Philippines has its long, slim bolo knives that are suited to jungle work. South American machetes are used to clear dense rain forest vegetation. Nepal has given us the famous kukris used by the Gurkha army. 

Knife technology has evolved greatly and today there are several manufacturers offering a wide variety of configurations and materials. We will soon be sharing a post on how to make hunting knives, including information on knife making supplies etc.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Value of a Sharp Knife

A sharp knife is a good knife. If you fail to maintain an edge, the knife becomes nothing more than a hammer or a club. A sharp knife is also a safer knife, which we will discuss later. There are several ways to keep your knives sharp – whetstone or a steel, handheld or electric sharpener.

We often hear the term “honing” with regards to knife maintenance. It is important to recognize the difference between honing and sharpening. Honing essentially pushes the edge of the knife back to the center. Honing a knife keeps the blade in proper shape and the edge will last longer between sharpening.  

Sharpening is different in that bits of the blade are taken off to bring about a new edge. Thus, it is not necessary or advisable to sharpen the knife more than twice a year, depending on the usage. An over-sharpened knife will lose the original blade shape.  

It is always advisable to use the sharpener of the same brand as your knife, as steel hardness changes with different manufacturers. 

Why is sharpening a knife important?

A sharp knife is a safe knife. It cuts and slices easily and does what it is intended to do. A blunt blade would mean extra effort to do the same thing and that increases the likelihood of the knife slipping and cutting a finger or some other part of the hand. Also, a sharp knife is a far efficient tool that saves time and mental effort.   

Some safety tips
  • Cut away from the body.
  • Do not toss knives.
  • Do not attempt to catch a falling knife.
  • Do not run with a knife in your hand.
  • Do not walk with the point facing another person (or yourself).
  • Keep knives away from children.
  • Maintain the knife. Sharp knives are safer as we’ve already covered.
  • Do not use the tip to open a container; the tip could break.
  • Don’t run your fingers across the blade to test the sharpness. Remember, blade cuts flesh.
  • Use knives on a firm surface, such as a wooden or polyethylene board.
  • Use knives in their proper capacity. For instance, do not use a kitchen knife on frozen food; let the food thaw first.

Monday, February 20, 2017

4 Best Fixed Blade Knives

If you’re a regular outdoorsy type who loves trekking, chances are you’d be happy to be introduced to a fixed blade knife. Fixed blades or straight knives are an extremely strong and secure tools. This makes them perfect for hunting, fishing and camping. A moderate adrenal junkie’s best companion. Contrary to what many people think, a good survival knife acts more like a tool than a weapon and offers many uses. Especially, if you get lost in the woods after being separated from your team and it has started getting dark. In survival situations, a good fixed-blade knife is the most important tool in your kit. It can help build shelters, cut rope, split wood and skin game. You’re not really thinking of using your hands, are you?

When it comes to choosing a great fixed blade we certainly have some suggestions. For those looking for a good, all-round knife for everyday use with enough style and oomph, the Damascus cowboy knife is one great choice. The knife is made with 512 layer Damascus and a heavy leather sheath that holds the knife firmly in place while riding or running and yet allows a fast draw.

The Frontier Stag Hunting Knife with decorative file work along the spine and brass finger guard belongs to the league of some of the most handsome and functional knifes around. A stunner in any collection. 

For those who just want a knife that can take any rough use and banging around – chopping, throwing, prying – the Down home Hunter is the best fit. Easy on money, the knife is grounded from a high carbon file and lends itself to easy resharpening. Its leather frontier style, fold-over scabbard that swallows most of the knife, makes it very difficult to lose.

By contrast, the Cold Steel Canadian Belt Knife is an elitist, award winning, international favourite. Made out of German 4116 Stainless Steel and hollow ground to a razor’s edge, it glides through just about any material because of its elliptical profile. It cuts an elegant shape and is light, slim and compact enough to be carried on your belt or be slung around your neck from a cord.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bowie Knives and their Care

The first Bowie knife was made in the early19th century in Washington, Arkansas by a blacksmith named James Black for American pioneer and Texan hero Jim Bowie. Originally meant for self-defense, Bowie knives these days are used for skinning and butchering game or bought by knife aficionados for their collection. It is one of the best wilderness survival knives out there and quite popular in fiction too having featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Rambo series.
Today, you can buy a Bowie knife online or at most knife manufacturing companies in the world. They tick all boxes necessary for a quality knife – durability, ruggedness, and looks. Still, no knife can withstand the elements on its own. Even the best of Bowie knives need proper care.

The Bowie knife should be stored properly. Using leather sheaths for protection is common practice but not recommended. Leather absorbs humidity which will eventually cause the blade – even the finest stainless steel – to rust. A hard scabbard, preferably metal, is a better option.  There are several models out there in the market, which provide a seal for the upper portion of the sheath to help protect against moisture. Another trick to guard against moisture is to oil the blade when in storage. 

Do sharpen the knife regularly. If you are new to the process of sharpening, start with smaller and less expensive blades till you get a handle on it. Bowie knives can be expensive and you don’t want to ruin them. Also, a dull blade is a health hazard. With a dull blade, you end up exerting extra force to bring about the same result, which could cause the knife to slip and cut a finger or some other part of the hand. Finally, keep the knife clean and dry. This prevents dust build-up which can spoil the knife and is also unsanitary. There are metal rubbing pastes in the market for cleaning knives.

To conclude, it is recommended that you use the Bowie knife in the capacity of a “knife” and nothing else. Sometimes, we get carried away by its effectiveness and test its versatility beyond what it can handle.  It is not a hammer or a screwdriver. If you use the knife correctly, you ensure its longevity and optimize its value.