Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Survival Knives



First things first. To the left, a better photo of the Case V-44 that I stumbled across.

My lad bought a survival knife yesterday which is why I'm going to expound on a blade-related subject I've been chewing on for some time.

The knife he bought, $10 at Big 5, was a good deal by any standard. It's pretty typical of the type though and there are many things about them that I find silly.
First of all, they invariably have a hollow handle of aluminum containing matches, fishing line and hooks and the like. Having those things in the same package as the knife is a good idea but I think a more solid handle would be preferrable. I don't know where I'd put the stuff. I just think that solution sucks. And why matches? They absorb moisture and the handle can only hold 10 or so. Why not a Bic lighter, especially in view of how the quality control in the kitchen match industry has gone to hell.

Now, the compass. These are of a level of sophistication equal to the ones you played with as a kid - even on the high end examples. A compass is so fickle due to odd hunks of iron that may be about and even ore-bearing rock, that if you're going to have one it ought to be a good one. You can get a good lensatic compass, adjustable for declination, for twenty bucks and they don't weigh anything. Not only that, you can find true north by either the stars at night or by the path of the sun during the day far more reliably than the dime-store compass on the knife. If you can't you've got no business being out in the woods.

I remember the old Rambo style knives with those goofy spikes on the guard that you were supposed to configure into some sort of half-assed grapple. Okay...

These blades are also invariably made from the shittiest steel available. Always stainless which is bad enough, but often 440C which isn't even a good stainless unless you're making flatware. The reasoning is that the blade will stay shiny so you can use it for a signal mirror. Not a bad idea if you didn't have to completely sacrifice blade quality to have something to signal with. People have signaled aircraft with sunglass lenses. It's not rocket science. Throw a CD in your backpack. It's even got an aiming hole in it.
Lastly, and this is somewhat off the topic, I read an article a while back where the author, a hobby pilot, wanted to design a "survival knife". A major part of his criteria was that it be light weight. On the face of it, not patently stupid but considering the fact that he'll throw a thermos of coffee or an extra sweater and a book to read when he reaches his destination into his plane with out a second's thought, saving a few ounces on this piece of "life or death" equipment seems ridiculous. I think in the worst-case scenario where he sticks his plane in the ground, he'd be far happier crouching in his little shelter in the deep dark woods with a Big Fucking Knife rather than a thin, stylish little folder.
Anyway, the lad bought a survival knife and like I said: You can't go wrong for ten bucks. Good job Big 5 and all you Chinese minions.

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