Here’s a unique knife that I’ve been carrying for nearly four years now. I’ve carried it on my keys, clipped to my pocket, as a money clip, etc. The CRKT Ashworth Turtle has a sharp 1″ blade that is perfect for small utility tasks. It excels at sharpening pencils and I’ve used it to sharpen plenty of pencils in school and between classes. It’s non-threatening look makes it the perfect tool for small utility tasks where a large tactical folder might scare co-workers or people around you. This knife has trimmed its fair share of fraying cordage and unraveling clothing strings. Overall, I would recommend this useful little blade to anyone that lives in areas with restrictive knife laws or anyone looking for a neat, small tool for small cutting tasks.
I’d like to tell you guys a true story about how knives have saved my life. Now I know what your thinking. “What did you single handedly take out an entire unit of taliban with just a knife and a ferro rod ?”. Or maybe its “Did you save a dashing blonde from the arms of a criminal, while you where being held hostage at gun point, with a knife throw from fifty feet?”. While that would make a good book/movie/ drunk guy at the bar war story, this isn’t one of those. My story is gonna start at the age of 21, when I deployed to Iraq as an infantryman. We arrived in the beginning of 2006 and Iraq was still a very dangerous place to be for US military personnel. In fact our first mission that my team ran, was just a simple escort our battalion commander from the main base where we landed, to the forward operating base from which we will be living and operating from for the next year. On the way to the base our Stryker vehicle( an armored tank like vehicle, that has 8 wheels instead of tracks, and carries a squad sized element inside) was hit by an EFP( explosively formed projectile) road side bomb. Luckily whoever placed the IED, aimed it slightly to high and nobody was killed, but a few us sustained some pretty bad injuries and our vehicle was out of commission. A terrible way to start your first mission in Iraq…Through the whole tour many things like that took place, since our job was to kill or capture high value targets. Of course the insurgents viewed my unit as a threat and did everything possible to kill as many of us as they could…Fast forward 7 years later to me getting out of the service and having many tours like that one in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now you have a guy that was use to combat and the military life and I had no idea what to do in the civilian world. I had trouble relating to my old friends and pretty much anyone else so I became a recluse. Soon I became very depressed, had horrible nightmares from what I seen and did and turned to drugs and alcohol. I had trouble keeping a steady relationship with my girlfriend and my life just got on this spiral downwards fast.I lost all my friends because of my behavior. I lost a relationship with my ex girlfriend and couldnt see my daughter because of it. Had no money left, and lost my job.I was alone and broke and addicted to drugs and had to move back in with my parents…One day I was watching a Youtube video from just searching around there and came across a guy that was talking about bushcrafting skills and the importance of the tools you need to survive in the outdoors. For some reason this really caught my interest and I started to look for these tools for myself to start practicing these skills. I started scrounging around the garage for old tools I could use. It really gave me something positive to start doing as a hobby and I soon after I quit doing the drugs and alcohol and became focused on that…. Now one of the most important tools to have doing that is a knife. This really peaked my interest and I wanted to learn all there was to know about knives. From the different knife makers, to the different types of steel, and all the variations of grinds, etc..I started to think about the knives I carried overseas like the Spyderco Tenacious, and CRKT Hissastsu and how they got used alot more then my machine gun did. So that let me see just how important knives really where. I now recently just started designing and making my own knives and want to start my own business with it…So to sum my story up I really can say that knives have saved my life. Here are some pictures of my first knife I ever tried to make. I took an old kitchen knife and turned it into a skinning knife/utility knife. Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
Some things are invented, most things are discovered. The tactics of a modern battlefield will always predate that battlefield; in the mind of the successful criminal rests somewhere between one and all of the dynamics of educated combatants. If one thing can be assumed, it is that anyone who believes they are dangerous to you, is dangerous to you and there must be a reason why.
There are many tactics and tools that one could assume the enemy has. So many in fact that a person could become bogged down trying to understand what is common and what is rare. Understanding certain overarching laws can save you that trouble and keep you in class and the gym; sharpening your skills instead of getting lost in rabbit holes.
In essence, the Powell Doctrine (named by General Powell) is an attitude that tactics and tools are filtered through. It is the philosophy of hitting as hard as you can, as early as you can. Surprise is its primary asset, like hearing the whip and only having that data to react to; in such a case, you are already struck. This piece wont be long, but I am hopeful that it will be long enough to show you how you can maybe see that whip and the man holding it long before its deployment. This will be a treatise on thinking, not action. For those who think they can survive without study, may this show you how wrong you are.
Trinity of Force-Numbers, Weapons and Power
Robbery, rape and murder are all confidence games. What I mean by this, is that without confidence these crimes would not occur. The violator must believe they are superior. This exists on a sliding scale but is universal. The highjacking’s that lead to 9/11 are an example of this: sure they’re only coming with box cutters, but you say “only” because you may have a shotgun in your closet or a four inch folder on your person. With only empty hands to offer, a box cutter is a severe life threat. If you aren’t aware of these factors, you will become your enemies “slam dunk” and life will never be the same.
Tackling the issues in order: it is a serious risk to engage one target by yourself. Should you find yourself against a lone combatant, I would advise being skeptical of your eyes; odds are good that wherever your weak point is, another combatant is waiting for you there. We don’t point rearward: the only thing that can fire backward with any effect are the elbows and still, it will not be a fight ender if you cant face and engage that threat immediately after.
A solution to this that doesn’t involve hyper awareness or installing eyes in the back of your head is to exit behind your opponent. If someone is in fact attempting to box you in, you must neutralize them and circle toward their back. Not only is your safest exit behind them, so is the safest point to engage from. It is also an opportunity to use your first opponent as a human shield if the need arises.
Weapons are an issue so serious that martial artists who consider themselves competent will seek knowledge and training in these tools, knowing that at some point the enemies hand enhancer–whatever it may be–could enhance them well beyond the skills of any unarmed combatant. Ive heard odd numbers now and again: the idea that comes to mind first is that a martialist of a year takes on the ability of one of five or more years just by picking up a knife. Attaching any number is silly, but the point is hard to miss: hand enhancers increase lethality. All the man needs is luck after that and you will drift into the past tense.
Taking on weapons is always ill advised if you came to the party empty handed, but you must do what is easiest even if it is terrifying. When confronted with fight or flight conditions, you must be able to discern which option is safest and easiest. Assuming you engage, there is little I can impart to you from here, save to remind you to cover your head and neck first and engage viciously. Leave your opponent on the ground and unable to follow as you flee the scene.
Concerning how you engage as an armed citizen: remember that it isn’t your job to match his weapon, but to exceed it. Fair fights are butchery. You may be incredibly well versed with your stick or knife, but all they have to do is want victory more. You may think to yourself, “how could a man want my wallet more than I want to live?” My only answer is that poverty is a lifestyle. You will only be under attack for a billionth of the time that a person can live paycheck to paycheck or suffer crippling anxiety wondering where the resources for life will come from. This may be the person standing in front of you. Don’t assume anything except that they will do anything and do it like they mean it.
Finally, we come to power: part illusion, part reality. Muscle and size aren’t a power per say, but they are a layer that will interfere with power transfer in striking as well as your ability to kick effectively or defend. When someone like that has the mount on you, the only thing thats going to get you home is a weapon or a friend. When someone thinks they can kill you single handed: don’t challenge them on it. Keep your weapons and friends close because no man can kill many unarmed and none can fight effectively with half a magazine worth of bullets in them.
Protecting the S.O.I.-Drawing a Line in the Sand
In the case of combat, we need space to live. Actually we don’t, we need space to think. We need time to respond effectively to what appears and that can only be done with space. If you reach your hand out, you are touching the limits of your Sphere of Influence. This is the place someone has to be to negate all of your skill and ability. You can stop one thing at that distance, but only something you’ve stopped a million times before; something you’ve trained for.
Thinking you can prevail at this range is half a fallacy: only half because it may well be true; it becomes a full-fledged fallacy if you actually put yourself in that position. The space you want is several miles, the space you may have to settle for is one full step away from your S.O.I. this is traditionally thought of as the minimum measurement of the Line in the Sand.
It’s just enough time for the brain to say “incoming” and for the body to respond effectively. The Tooler Drill paints an even graver picture: showing that a person can close from twenty feet before a pistol can be produced and actuated. You train to be comfortable up close, but don’t ever think that means you should be.
Know the Ground-Tricks, Traps and Exits
In many ways, the ground is as great a factor in a fight as the person you face. When you fall, it never misses. When ignored, it takes on the intention of whoever is paying attention to it and can use it. A fire hydrant is stronger than any sidekick, a bench is a takedown that cannot be countered and a wall is the one way to punch someone everywhere all at once.
Gentle grades in a sidewalk will disrupt balance: its not often that a fighter will lift their feet to move forward and even less common while moving backward. Carl Cestari was an advocate of only stomping to move: the moving Jong of Wing Chun was something I initially distrusted on account of that. The truth of the matter is that you must fight two battles; one with a human, the other with the ground. Both must be watched and both demand different approaches.
As for exits, there are two kinds; exits in known areas and exits in unknown areas. In a place you know you have choices: you can weigh them out in a split second and be through the door immediately. In a place you don’t know there is only one safe exit; once the engagement has begun and you can no longer look around, it is only behind your opponent.
Properly Equipped-The Law, Friends and Planning
Everything done well requires forethought. If I really don’t feel well about a thing, ill bring a friend or two; preferably someone who’s already been where I’m about to go. It changes your unknowns into knowns all in a sudden. In this way, humans can be even more valuable than weapons though their presence doesn’t invalidate them. The ability to avoid a fight–to practice discernment–is by far the best way to carry.
I live in Pennsylvania, but I work in New Jersey. Initially, this threw my system of carry into chaos. Suddenly, most of my knives were no good and my gun was out of the question: in a few years they may be as restrictive as a jumbo jet. Eventually, I stumbled across an HK Plan D. Shaped like a Kabar TDI, but with a thinner, more useful profile. I carry it tucked into my wallet on my strong side. It can be drawn just like my gun and the angle is nearly identical. Its location on my body also allows me to skip a step in production: I no longer have to clear my cover garment as the pocket itself serves to conceal the weapon.
In this instance, I’ve managed to carry without changing anything jerastically and I’m still in harmony with the police agencies I pass through en route to and from work. Ive had to sacrifice, but I still run efficiently. There are situations where I’ll pay a little more to avoid “unfree” areas, but when it cannot be avoided, I will adjust. Thinking flexibly, being proactive and staying optimistic are sometimes your only assets; never leave them at home.
So, it was the 1970’s. I was living in Denver, Colorodo at the time, so it was only a 13-15 hr. drive (nothing for me…LOVE DRIVING) to…would you believe it, Las Vegas. I went out right after I got off from work that Sunday morning. This trip out is what ended up giving me the brilliant idea (which wasn’t typical for me) to hit up Vegas and spend my entire weeks vacation there. You see, the week before I had made a nice amount of money by putting in a lot of overtime, and I guess I was in a hurry to lose all that money huh.
I was just browsing around a few stores…looking to burn just a LITTLE BIT of my hard earned money. That’s where I saw it, in some display case…the Victorinox Classic (would you believe it) this was going to be the first ever folding knife I would ever buy. Good thing too, cause this knife would later on SAVE MY LIFE!!! After pondering the decision for a sec I said “what the heck.” While the sweet little girl behind the register was boxing and bagging this knife up I saw (sitting on the counter) this little pamplet for some Vegas attraction. That’s when the decision was pretty much made for me…”Vegas,” I said, “here I come.”
So there I was, leaving Denver heading for Vegas (with Victorinox in pocket…my new pocket rocket). The drive to Vegas went great, scenery was beautiful, temp was great, and my nerves were shot by the time I reached Vegas. Why, because, well, lets just say that back then (my 20’s) I was a MUCH bigger risk taker…more so than I care to remember. I want go into too much detail about that (my risks), but lets just say I never went anywhere without my herbs…nuff said?
Had a blast in Vegas though. And this is where my story really starts to pick up. I was up about $1,400.00, yeah, the craps table was definitely on my side (along with fate) the first night I was in Vegas. I had just got done with my turn on the craps table and the man next to me had just picked up the dice…with a smug look on his face too. This guy was on fire, even more so than I was, which was amazing because winning $1,400.00 at the craps table back then was no easy task. The cheering for this man (who seemed to be a dice magnet) was relentless. That’s when I noticed it, a hangnail on my thumb (something I could not stand…still can’t). So I whipped out my new Victorinox, popped out the file, and thanks to my gracefulness, dropped it on the floor. “Oh well” I said, bent down to grab my knife, glanced up, and to my utter amazement noticed that this supposed ‘dice machine’ was nothing more than a cheat. The guy had a second pair of weighted dice in his hand. Even though I just barely caught a glimpse of these dice it was enough for me to go to the pit boss, report this cheating douche-bag and get him arrested.
The casino owner was so grateful for my help that he comped my entire weeks stay there…can you say “SWEET!” That’s when I turned to the owner and explained how it was all thanks to this little Swiss Army Knife (and my clumsiness) that his casino was prevented from being robbed…he couldn’t believe it.
Well, at this point I bet you can believe that I was on cloud 9. I was up $1,400.00, saved a casino from being stolen from, was kind of a hero (at least in my own mind) and apparently had a new good luck charm in pocket (my Victorinox Classic). The rest of my weeks stay in Vegas went great. Except for that last night, I guess my new knife’s luck (or mine) had finally run out. That’s right, lost about $600.00 on the craps table that night, right before leaving Vegas to head back to Denver too. Can you believe that (like an hour before leaving…my timing SUCKED). Oh well, at least I was still up $800.00 and had my whole hotel bill comped (could’ve been worse).
Anyway, so on the way back to Denver…that’s when things got hairy. About 5 hours into the drive back (it was around 3:00 a.m.) my 1972 Ford Pinto started fading out one me. With my head lights getting dimmer, engine clanking out one me and car slowing down I thought to myself…”you’ve got to be kidding me.” Pulling off to the side of the road I said “what a way to end this fabulous week huh, with getting stuck out here in the middle of nowhere!” Nowhere was right too, I had broken down right between Green River, UT & Grand Junction, CO…there’s nothing for over 110 miles.
Getting out of the car heading for the hood I was like “great.” I mean, I’m by far from a mechanic, but what did I have to lose right. Opening the hood with a little extra force (from my great mood) I noticed that there was a wire or two that looked like they had come loose from somewhere. It didn’t take me long to realize where these wires went…you’d be amazed at how far common sense will get you. Whipping out my new Victorinox Classic I thought to myself “man, who would’ve thought that this baby would’ve come in handy so much on this trip.”
Unfortunately, I shouldn’t of counted my blessings quite yet. While I was attempting to reattach all the wires I happen to glance up…and what did I see, that’s right, here came Mr. Police Officer. Of course the officer had to pull over (thinking back now, I guess it was nice of him), but when this all was going down I was sweating bullets. Think about it, I had a car with stashes of my (lets just say) “herbs” all over it, and a nice amount right in my shirts front pocket too. Can you all say “jail time.” “This is it” I thought as the officer pulled off the road, got out of his patrol car and was approaching.
Luckily I had almost reattached all the wires by this point (correctly I hoped). As the officer reached my side he could probably see the sweat pouring down my face. “Can I help you” the officer said. “NOPE” I yelled back, a little too loudly now that I think about it. I wanted to get back on the road (and away from this officer) as soon as possible…so that’s when I thought of a plan to do just that. “Excuse me officer” I said, continuing on with “can you please stay right here next to the hood while I try starting the car up, just in case I need something adjusted?” “Sure” he said. As I got back into the car all I could think about was getting the stuff that was in my pocket front out, and stashing it away somewhere.
The only problem was that I wasn’t in reach of any of my stash spots. With only seconds to decide I slid out (discreetly) my Victorinox Classic and slit a small hole into the drivers seat right between my legs. Luckily my front pocket stash fit perfectly into this hole I made. It even matched a few other holes around the inner upholstery…so it didn’t stand out. I then proceeded to take a deep breath, slid the key into the ignition and to my great delight…the car (lights and all) started right up. “Phew” I thought, bullet dodged…literally.
After closing the hood, stepping to the side and saying “goodbye” the police officer proceeded to get back into his patrol car. And as we both pulled away (driving off in opposite directions) I thought to myself, “what a week this was.”
Well that was it. the rest of the drive back to Denver (on the I-70, and even over the Continental Divide) went off without a hitch. As I pulled up to my apartment around 8:00 a.m., walked up to the door, slid my key in the lock I said to myself “who would’ve thought that this whole weeks adventure started with the purchase a single SWISS ARMY KNIFE.”
Picking the perfect knife for you
A lot of times, when I’m deciding on my next knife, I spend as much time researching and comparing as I did helping plan my own wedding. (I’m talking about napkins and crap, not my wife.) There are a lot of things to consider and narrowing it down can be a grueling job if you over-think it like I do. Here are some things that have helped me figure out exactly what I want in a knife:
1. USE: The most important thing you will want to consider is what you will be using it for. Is it a tool, for self defense, survival, hunting, or a time consumer like a butterfly knife? When you know exactly what it is you intend to use it for, it makes it much easier to select the category to start and this will get you pointed in the right direction. (No pun intended.) It is vital however, that no matter what you plan to do with it, you know how. Study up on how to properly handle it. This could be knowing how to efficiently gut an animal or resorting to it as a line of defense. Taking it out and not being trained in how to employ it could result in more trouble than it was worth in the beginning. Knives are to be respected as the weapon they are. Many knives can be multipurpose and cover a couple of these categories. My suggestion is that you utilize it for the purpose it was created but know its limits. A folder knife doesn’t really make a great hunting knife because they aren’t fun to clean and aren’t as reliable as a full tang (blade goes the entire length of the handle) which can also be used in a survival situation to chop wood or throw with less chance of breaking. However, walking around with a machete hanging off your waste tends to give people a bad impression of you. And I’m sure you’re a real decent person.
2. BLADE: As I said before, a full tang blade is much more reliable and will hold up through whatever you throw at it. On the other hand, a good folder can tuck comfortably in your pocket and give you a subtle extra hand in almost any situation. Be sure to check local laws if you plan to carry a knife concealed on your person. In most cases, the blade must be shorter than 4 inches and have a pocket clip to remain visible. I know this is especially true in California where all their laws are whack but in Utah, where I live, I have talked to several authorities and the general consensus here is that as long as you can justify it as a useful tool and that you aren’t just carrying it with intent to do harm then it is alright. The guy who did my concealed carry class told me that the permit does not cover knives and that I would have to research that separate. I still haven’t found anything saying otherwise so don’t quote me on it, but that’s all I know.
A few things to consider are the type of steel, the type of blade, number of blades, and length. Most common knives you find have a standard stainless steel or 440. There are 3 types of 440 steel. 440A, 440B and, you guessed it, 440C. C is the best and also the most expensive. If it isn’t specified which, you can assume that it is A. Any of these metals will work for day to day functions but can be considered essentially base grade. If you really want to invest, you can look into more upscale metals like s30v or v10. Those are just some more common types. There is also Damascus (real Damascus hasn’t been made for centuries since the recipe was lost) which is very strong, and titanium which is weaker but won’t rust making it great for diving knives. You may want to go with a multi-tool if you’re looking for practicality. I’ll swear up and down on the Leatherman Wave but the Surge is a close second. A Swiss army knife is also a good alternative. This gives you multiple blade options for more specific jobs. Remember that every blade eventually goes dull. Invest in a honer and sharpener and then learn how to properly use it. Benchmade makes a great honer and Spyderco a great V design sharpener, both available at Bladeops.com. A good point here is to think about the fact that it is much harder to sharpen a serrated blade. They are practical in that they can cut tougher materials but lack the surgical precision of a straight blade. And finally, you need to think about what style you are looking for. I have a trailing point blade that I use for gutting ducks, my deer knife has a gut hook, my butterfly knife has a tanto which is more handy for day to day jobs, and my all purpose daily carry is a drop point which I find better for self defense and it better fits my personal needs. A few other types include: the clip point, pen style, needle point, spear point, and hawkbill. Each was created for its own purpose but have fairly specific jobs.
3. MECHANISM: This is where personal taste and style really come into play. If you want your knife to have panache, an assisted knife allows quick access and cool presentation. Out the Front or OTF knives are a great example. However, pig stickers like the balisong butterfly knives serve little purpose other than to impress or intimidate, if that’s your game, showoff. They require a process to access and freak most people out but are a fun talent to master and teach you a sick sort of serenity. It’s kind of like how martial arts are supposed to bring you a kind of enlightenment. I do suggest that if you go this route to pick one held together with pins rather than screws. I’ve had many a butterfly explode on me after playing with it too long. People like screws because you can adjust it to your preferred tightness tolerances but if you do go that way, use lock-tite to keep the screws in place.
A full tang knife can hang from your belt or you can carry a lock blade in your pocket. It’s all personal preference. Lock knives have a wide variety of options. Cold Steel have a very reliable lock back that they advertise with military personnel swinging from knife to knife like monkey bars. Very common is the liner locker style which can be a trick at times but I find more reliable. And then there’s the lever lock or button lock which has a switch on the side of the handle to release it. It’s all about finding your price range and knowing what you like. If you can only afford $65 then don’t play with a $300 knife. After that, everything in your range will feel like garbage. More popular brands will usually offer better quality. That’s what got their name to where it is. A few noteworthy brands are: Gerber (Don’t buy it just because Bear Grylls posted his face all over it), Benchmade, Buck, Kershaw, Shrade, Boker, Spyderco, SOG, Cold Steel, K-Bar and CRKT. Go with what looks good to you. Find what fits your hand and something that you can see owning for a long time. Who said you had to have just one? I own over 70. Granted, for some that may be excessive, but each has a function, a specific purpose, and better yet –a story.
After a long excessive trial and error period of many years, I have decided that the CRKT M21 -14SFG “Big Dog” is the pocket knife that works best for me. CRKT is a fairly new company but has already made itself an outstanding reputation with 15 patents under its belt. I was looking for a heavy duty blade that could take a beating to perform any mechanic work I may use it for and double as a personal defense. The reasons this one won out over so many others was primarily the hilt. The number one injury in a knife fight is actually your fingers slipping up onto the blade and cutting you all up. Having the hilt prevents this but it also allows me to quickdraw the knife from my pocket. When I pull it out, it catches in the corner and pulls the blade open. The only other knife I’ve seen with this option is the Emerson series by Kershaw. I had to change the position of the pocket clip to permit this but the nice thing is that it has 4 possible clip locations for left or right handed handlers. Use lock-tite on the screws when switching it. Another plus is that it is not an assisted knife, but by applying a lot of pressure with my forefinger to the hilt on the back of the closed knife and then releasing the blade with the other fingers, I am able to make it spring open as if it were. It is perfectly balanced which also gives it the potential to make a good throwing knife if it came to that, and I throw it often to get the feel down. It is a steel frame and has a 8Cr14MoV blade with nitrade coating. In English that means that it holds up better than an aluminium construction and is resistant to corrosion. From tip to bottom it is about 9.25 inches. It’s a standard crocodile Dundee. It was designed based on the requests of military procurement specialists. This is just the one that works best for me and I wanted to explain why. I hope this has all helped save some money and time in figuring out what you’re looking for. All I can say is find what satisfies your taste and needs. It’s ok to have more than one.
The Gerber prodigy is full tang and crafted of 420 high carbon steel. This particular one I have is the military approved digi-camo tanto point. The steel in this blade is very reliable. I have been able to use this knife without question or worry of it failing. The blade an inch long serration which has its uses. The knife is fantastic at batoning due to its nice thick spine. This knife also is very strong at chopping. The strong tanto style tip also allows for stabbing.
The handle is very grippy and very comfortable. I have used this knife with and without gloves and found it to handle well with both. This knife also has a lanyard hole with is a definite plus when chopping. The knife also has a glass breaker in the butt of the handle which works well for either a defensive situation or for its intended purpose of breaking glass… surprise.
My favorite part about this knife is the sheath. It has three ways to lock the knife in the sheath it has two reinforced plastic clips that lock the knife, a Velcro snap that secures the handle, and an elastic hood that covers the butt of the knife. These secures can be used all together or individually as per your desire. I love the versatility of this sheath. In addition, this sheath has a M.O.L.L.E. system or a belt loop with a drop leg strap. The sheath is strong and will hold up very well.
Overall I love this knife. Gerber knocked this one out of the park. The final bonus to this knife is its selling point. You can pick this knife up for around 50 bucks. All in all I have not found anything that I dislike about this knife. I give this knife 10 out of 10.
At the end of the seventies, thanks to his first Rocky movie, Sylvester Stallone was at the top of his popularity and critical acclaim.
In the same years, David Morrell’s universally acclaimed novel ‘First Blood’ was one the many Hollywood projects lost in ‘development hell’.
In the ten years following the book’s release, its screenplay version has been rejected by the most famous actors of its age (Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, just to name the most famous).
All of these actors refused the project fearing the consequences of acting such a violent and controversial character, or were rejected by producers for various reasons.
Only when Stallone expressed interest in the project, Hollywood finally found the star a project like this really ‘needed’. So, after almost ten years spent in development hell, the project finally received green light.
THE IDEA OF THE KNIFE
In Morrell’s book their isn’t any survival knife at all. The idea of introducing it – as a way to show both Rambo’s military training and survival expertise – came from Stallone himself, because he was a real knife enthusiast.
After some discussions, the idea was approved by producers and Stallone met with Arkansas knifesmith Jimmy Lile to design a brand new knife for the movie.
A LITTLE HISTORY OF MILITARY KNIVES
The first knives ever used in modern warfare (from WWI and on) were the ‘fighting knives’.
A ‘pure fighting’ knife, is a very slim knife whose primary (and almost only) purpose is thrusting. Slashing is a secondary purpose for the fighting knife, to the point that the very first versions of the famous Italian ‘stiletto’ knife weren’t edged at all.
WWI saw a wide usage of very long and narrow blades that couldn’t be used for any other usage than fighting (they were no more that thin bars with a point on one side and a handle on the other).
In the years following WWI, the fighting knife became double-edged to let the fighter slash in any direction, making it even MORE difficult to use for any other task than fighting.
For example, the legendary Fairbairn-Sykes dagger knife was so appreciated that it earned a place inside the symbol of the S.A.S., the famous English special forces.
Anyway, in its many variants the fighting knife never lost its usual and very slim blade that was both its trademark and the feature that finally led to its ‘extinction’ from the military world.
Because – despite many movies saying the contrary – soldiers don’t spend most of their time fighting, but doing really less interesting things – as cooking, installing tents, digging, etc.
So, the fighting knife left its place for the more ‘modern’ (and useful) ‘military’ knife.
The military knife is a knife that is more useful as a field tool – which is its primary purpose – but that can be used to fight also.
In order to do so, its blade is larger (to be sturdier for field tasks), but with some attention to the point too, that must be good for thrusting also (during fights).
Another important feature of the military knife, is that it’s only single-edged, so that the user can grip the blade higher, without hurting himself, during difficult tasks.
The Gerber Mark II was the last really successful ‘pure fighting’ knife in the U.S. Army.
It was never officially issued but during the Vietnam war it was privately bought by so many soldiers that it became some kind of ‘unofficially issued’ item.
The reason so many soldiers liked it, was that they thought that the recently introduced Ka-bar wasn’t ‘powerful enough’ during close quarters combat.
It’s also interesting to note that the Gerber had (and still have) a so ‘vicious’ look that in the seventies it was shown by people marching against the Vietnam war as proof of ‘how ‘dirty the U.S. involvement had become in South East Asia’.
Whatever the initial opinion of soldiers, in the following years the Ka-bar became – and still is – one of the best military knives ever, while designs similar to the ‘Gerber Mark II’ have largely faded away from both the military and civilian market.
THE SURVIVAL KNIFE
The survival knife comes from the military world and is initially meant for military usage.
It is a ‘kind’ of military knife designed to also accomplish (and stand) some particular survival tasks as chopping trees, sawing, cooking, etc.
The first survival knives weren’t different at all from other military knives but as the years went by, they started to sport brand new ‘added’ features as reinforced tangs, sawback blades or ‘survival’ hollow handles to store matches.
Nowadays the survival knife is a category on its own and designers of survival knives usually teach people what they can do with their knives in a survival situation (so that users don’t have to understand on their own).
For example, the famous ‘tracker’ knife is one of the very few modern knives far different from any others before.
For example, the ‘tracker’ knife, according to its instruction manual, is made to “chop, split, carve, hammer, scrape, saw, engrave and break metal wire.”
And by the way, in its latest versions it sports a sawback identical to that of Jimmy Lile’s survival knives.
JIMMY LILE AND STALLONE AT WORK
Stallone choose Arkansas knifesmith Jimmy Lile to make the new knife for the movie.
Lile could surely just make a ‘bad-ass looking’ movie prop, if he would, but a ‘knife-guy’ like him would have never put his name on a pure movie prop.
So, the actor and the knifesmith spent countless hours in discussing a design that had to be new, big and mean-looking, but really useful in the real world too.
It had to be a ‘real’ knife, not a movie prop.
Stallone focused his attention on look, Lile to details and real usefulness.
Since Stallone’s wish was to show the survival knife usage in a real wilderness situation, Lile thought that the best choice would have been a hollow handle knife with a sawback blade.
So, he turned his eyes to the best one of that kind that was ever made, the Randall 18.
Even if never officially issued, the Randall 18 was really used by some special forces soldiers during the Vietnam war, so it also fit the character as well.
Having finally found the perfect ‘kind’ of knife for the movie, Lile started to re-design the Randall to make it more modern, bigger, better and – most of all – much more ‘bad’ at the first glance.
The result, was one of the most original knives of its time, and one of the most misunderstood also… Just like the character who carried it.
In my modest opinion, this knife places itself on its own category, as a ‘survival fighting knife’ which is exactly the situation the character finds himself in.
This is a knife made to fight and survive only, and is not meant as a working tool or for heavy-duty field tasks.
The blade is long, longer than that of the average survival knife, but not so large (considering it’s length) to make it a ‘military’ knife. length and width together, gives the knife the real intimidating look Stallone wished.
The second eye-catching feature is surely it’s sawback, with its teeth that looks so similar to those of a chainsaw.
Note that its particular tang construction makes it much sturdier than people usually think, and the saw is really useful, which makes it a ‘real’ survival knife.
Overall, even after all of these years, real knives experts know that an original Lile knife has nothing to do with its cheaper, ‘official licensed’ versions.
1) 14” overall length
2) 9” long blade with bowie point.
3) 5 single teeth
4) 9 double teeth
5) screwdriver handguard (phillips and standard) with lashing holes
6) waterproof-cord wrapped hollow handle
7) pommel with compass
THE CAMERA TURNS ON
The First Blood movie was ‘troubled’ from the start because after the huge success of Rocky, Stallone had the power to change the script, and he did a lot.
The most important message hidden inside Morrell’s book, was that it was the U.S. that made Rambo become a psycho killer. But ‘whoever the fault he deserves to die anyway’
Stallone ‘ruined’ the book (in the opinion of almost everyone working at the movie) by making the character less violent and by turning one of the cops into the usual stereotyped-big screen-‘bad guy’.
He also changed so much Col. Trautman’s character, to the point that Kirk Douglas left the set, because – said Douglas – he ‘had spent months preparing for a completely different role’. And his words were confirmed many years later by actor Richard Crenna (Douglas replacement), when he said in an interview that “I was chosen at the very last minute, so I acted with no preparation at all. I was given the lines, and simply told them in front of the camera”
THE MOVIE RELEASE
A knife that wasn’t even mentioned in the book became almost important as the main character.
It’s first appearance is legendary itself, with the sheriff discovering the knife on Rambo and confiscating it as a ‘concealed weapon’. Than the Sheriff pulls it out from its sheath and clearly show surprise for its dangerous dimensions and look (just like the public is surprised too, thus enhancing the impact of the scene).
Rambo than escapes and uses the knife many times in the movie, and for many different tasks: for building booby traps with sticks and ropes, for land navigation, to stitch his wounds, to open drums and to fight also.
He even makes a spear of it and go hunting.
AN UNBELIEVABLE SUCCESS
The movie and it’s knife had such a worldwide success that they both changed the knife industry for ever.
Knife shops were flooded with people desperate do get their hands on anything barely similar to what they had seen in the movie.
Even nowadays, it’s really easy to find collectors whose first knife ever was some kind of hollow handle, sawback survival knife, because ‘you know, that first movie was so good….’
…AND SOME NOT-SO-GOOD CONSEQUENCES
After the amazing results of the first movie, the story didn’t went on so well and – strangely – both the knife and the movie character shared the same destiny.
They both got misunderstood.
Crazed people started to buy the biggest and less useful survival knives they could find.
They started to see knives as pure collector’s items with no use at all, and bought them mostly because of their overall look, without any knowledge about their steels, constructions or possible usages.
Most of all, since Randall-Lile’s tang construction was too much expensive for the general public, the market was flooded with cheap, easy to break Rambo copies that had nothing to do with Lile’s original.
These useless, too big and too cheap copies became indeed so popular, that even nowadays you can hear most knife enthusiasts use the name ‘Rambo knife’ as some kind of insult, or that ‘high quality hollow handle knives doesn’t exist at all’.
This is not true… But a millions of bad knives later, who believes that?
Strangely, Stallone’s character in the movie followed a really similar path.
Because in the second movie, Stallone took away any ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ issue from the mind of his character, and made him become a ‘bodybuilding killing machine’ killing dozens of enemies on his own.
Than he made a third movie too, following the very same path, thus increasing even more the ‘hate’ some people had for this new version of the character.
And suddenly it was over… Everything was over
The respect both the knife and the character once had, was now gone for ever.
IN THE END
Nowadays, we find ourselves are in a paradox situation.
What was once the object of a very large, almost universal following, has now became something to like on your own, without saying it too loud to other people.
If you are a Lile fan nowadays, pay attention to the people who you say it aloud: you at risk of spending countless hours trying to explain the different ways of tangs construction… To people who doesn’t want to believe you.
But if you are like me…
Keep enjoying the secret cult of high quality hollow handle survival knives, because they exist.
And most of all… Don’t mind the rest of the world.
Take the Schrade’s ‘extreme’ survival knives, for example. They are the true ‘sons’ of Lile’s work.
They are ultra modern, hollow handle knives sporting a one piece patent-pending construction that Lile himself should surely be proud about.
No one laugh about them… And they also are a lot cheaper than a Lile’s nowadays original.
In the upper image, you can see the star thrown accordingly to its design (with the flat side on its right). Thrown it this way, it uses the spinning effect to stick even more deeper).
Shape: ‘four blades’ shape (‘hira’ shuriken) with central hole.
Maximum length: 110 millimeters
Thickness: 4 millimeters at its center (awesome)
Weight: – 75 grams (little heavy, really good)
Writings: ‘Iga ninja’ and a couple of chinese symbols.
+Blades: this star’s edges are of the ‘fake edge’ type, but with a very unique ‘chisel’ grind. In theory, the fact that the edges are ground only on one side makes this star wrong from an air drag point of view (it should curve during flight). In reality, this star flies as any other, but it’s edges are nearly the most powerful I have ever seen on the market.
+Grip points: yes and usable. Quite good.
+Grip overall: grip is not the easiest one, but more than acceptable.
+ Training usage: no
+ Paperbox usage: really, no
+ Wood targets usage: yes and only. This star is powerful and makes really large holes, so it will destroy your wood target sooner than other stars.
+ Sticking difficulty: really easy. This is almost a sure sticker.
+ Double throw difficulty: not available
+Triple throw difficulty: not available
+ Does this star has an upside? In theory it has, because the blades are not symmetrical to each other. In reality, you can throw it upside/down, and you will barely see any power loss.
+ ‘shuriken’ boxing? Yes, but use only two fingers and pay attention at what you do. It requires a little training and can be dangerous for yourself.
+ sharpening difficult: edges are straight and quite obvious to follow with your file or wet stone. So, sharpening is really easy.
+ How much does this star will damage itself if it hits the ground? a lot. The edges of this star have really a lot of power, and thus will damage themselves a lot if the star fall to the ground.
This is a professional star not to mess with.
This is another high quality professional throwing star that didn’t ‘survived’ the nineties and is really rare to find nowadays on the market.
With it’s 75 grams of weight, it is a serious throwing star with a lot of power and a very unique design.
Despite having an asymmetrical design, the blades are not curved, so even if you throw it upside down, it will make a lot of damages anyway (with a little bonus if you throwing it the right way, with the writings on the left).
Anyway, right-handed users will immediately hold it on the right way (because the other side – the flat one – it is much more difficult to hold).
However you hold it, the grip is not so easy to master, but once you get used to it, the very particular shape of the star helps you ‘feeling’ if it’s really vertical during the throw, which is a very good thing for any professional thrower.
+ heavy, thus powerful and professional
+ wicked, ultra-powerful blades
+ useful grip points
+ its flat side helps you feeling if ist’ really vertical
+ it hasn’t a real upside/down, but if thrown correctly it takes a little energy (power bonus) from the spinning effect.
+ a little too much powerful for its blades (the first time you will hit a hard surface with those tips, you will destroy them. Pay extra care while throwing)
+ you can grip it only on one side. Holding it on the other (the flat one) is much more difficult.
+ left-handed users can’t take full advantage of the star’s asymmetrical design (they should grip it on the wrong side, to do so)
Overall, as any other 70+ grams throwing star, you should buy one*every time* you find a ‘real’ one (and not a smaller/lighter copy).
But if you think to throw it seriously, pay extra care: this is a really professional throwing star, that will do a lot of damages if you unluckily miss the target.
Back in 1968 I was three years old and my Dad took a job with the Panamanian Government teaching them how to fly their newly acquired Lockheed Constellation. The plane crashed on take off killing everyone onboard. My search to know my father began at an early age in a country as small and confused as I was.
My mother began another quest. Single, she had to balance work, raising her two boys and sanity. She worked as a Kindergarten teacher in poverty stricken Norfolk, Virginia so we lived in reduced rent beach houses in the Winter and traveled to stay with family in the Summer. We simply could not afford the rent when the arrival of tourists drove it up. Looking back I consider this lucky.
The endpoint of our cross-country adventures were always the open arms of Grandparents. My Mom’s folks still lived in Lindsay, Oklahoma. We used to joke that my Mom was the Homecoming Queen of a one stop-light town. I have many fond memories of fishing & hunting with my Uncle and Cousins. Here a boy was allowed to be a boy and that meant carrying a knife everywhere. My first knife was an old buck folder. A gift from my Uncle. He helped me connect with manhood in small simple ways; filleting the catfish we just caught, telling me stories of my Dad and letting me shoot a rifle for the first time. I fell in love with knives and have owned many since.
One Summer in particular stands out. My father’s side of the family lived in Phoenix, AZ. Since we were on the East Coast trips all the way across the country were not common. This Summer we would drive to Oklahoma and then take the Greyhound bus to Phoenix. I don’t know how my Mom survived it, but for my little brother and I it was quite an adventure. Mile after mile of “flyover” country out our window, colorful passengers (met my first drunk!) and plenty of travel games. We were eager to arrive in Phoenix, but the bus was high entertainment.
Granny was glad to see us and welcomed us into her home. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to lose her son and spending time with us had to remind her of her loss. I can remember her taking us into the spare bedroom and pull out a box of memories. Pictures, his watch & wallet, matchbooks from every place he and my Mom visited on their Honeymoon and his Marine issue Kabar survival knife.
I hadn’t known that my Dad was a fighter pilot in Korea. Later my younger brother would take a job with the Army Corps of Engineers and out of curiosity track down our Father’s discharge papers. It took a lot of guts for my Mom to let her son keep that knife when Granny offered it. I find it amazing that I never did lose it. Knowing that my Dad carried it at his side while serving our country and brought it home with him with the dreams of sharing the outdoors with the sons he would some day have connected me to him through this knife.
When my own sons were just old enough to handle the Kabar without hurting themselves they got to hold the knife. It was their introduction to the GrandPa they didn’t get to meet. And as I retold the stories and help them connect with him that Kabar was the loadstone that gave tangible truth to the memories I found in my search.
A year ago my eldest daughter gave birth and I became a Grandfather. Right now my Addie Rose is too little to handle a knife, but the time will come when she will get to hear stories of her Great-Grand Father Earl while holding that old Kabar . Until then it will stay in my dresser where it awaits my occasional visits with Dad.
There Are 2 Kinds of People in the World
“The world is divided into two types of people: those who love to talk, and those who hate to listen.” – James Thorpe
“There are two kinds of people in the world, those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.” – Clint Eastwood, 1966, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”
“There are two kinds of people in the world…Those who last — and those who fade.” –Dan Pink
6 years ago, my brother-in-law gifted me a knife. That gesture drew a line of delineation between all my days before that to all the days since. Now, I pick up 4 things in the morning. Keys, wallet, phone, and knife. My EDC is a Benchmade Presidio. I say there are 2 kinds of people in the world: Those who carry a knife, and those who don’t.