Friday, February 29, 2008

Colt Jungle Commander Review...

Back again.
Just took a long walk in the woods with a good cigar and a large knife which I haven't yet made a review of. Did some testing I thought I should put out there as I've heard people say never to buy a knife with a gun company's name on it and it seems to have held up pretty well as long as I've used it (intermittently) for about a year and a half.
Here we go:

Things I have used it for:
  1. Chopping fuel and kindling for campfires/woodstoves whilst camping.
  2. Chopping random wooden objects to test its edge retention.
Things I have NOT used it for:
  1. Excessive prying.
  2. Cutting through airplane fuselages.
  3. Chopping up oil drums.
  4. Chopping people's heads off.
  5. As a spear for hunting wild boar.
OK, now that we're through with the list of uses/non-uses, here's how it held up under pressure since its last honing. It started off with a keen edge but eventually I had to re-sharpen it within a week or so of heavy use. That was six months ago but since it was still good and sharp, I headed up past the ski hill into the hemlocks for some field testing. While not all that extensive, here's a few shots of what I did.

The lean-to (my base of operations):

After shaving the outer, frozen layer of bark off a tree. Don't worry, the tree is fine. I made sure that (a) it was already buggered up by other people, and (b) that I didn't cut too deeply.

After cutting a flat area in this log for people to rest a hot pot on, the edge is still going strong.

Closeup of the flattened log.

After bucking a small sapling-sized trunk (dead, of course). The edge is still pretty sharp. Note that all three of these testing compounds are not only frozen but also full of sap. Hard stuff to cut through.
Back at the Flat, I've been slicing away at double layers of this corrugated cardboard box. Most knives will go dull after only a few boxes' worth of cuts, but after positively filling this box with slices the edge is still serviceable, and this after the woodsy escapade.

Note that there was one area toward the tip of the blade that did not want to cut when used in a chopping motion. This was an area I had previously (before today) screwed up and then "fixed" with a diamond rod. Evidently it stil wasn't quite up to par, so I promptly re-honed the edge.

Now after all this you may be wondering "What type of steel is that?"
It is only the lowly, pathetic, practically useless 420 Stainless.
"But wait!" you say. "I thought stainless steel in a bushknife is a bad thing!"
Well, yes it is when you are speaking of custom knives, which is why most makers wouldn't expect you to pay hundreds of $$$ for a top of the line knife if they used crappy steel.
But 420 has its uses. It may not be useful in, say, a "high speed low drag" knife like a Strider, which is meant to be used every day for months at a time with zero problems. However, if you're talking about a knife you might use for a week at most out of a year, then there's not a problem with it, especially if the knife is built (like this one) with a thick tang (nearly a quarter inch thick) and grinds that do not compromise its structural integrity.
After all, would you really want to use, much less carry around in the woods with you that 400.00+ knife? Save the MSCs and DDCs for the safe or for selling in the future. At least, that's my take on it.

Here are some pros and cons as I see them.

  • It's cheap. This is a big factor when you're talking about a bushknife that you may at some point lose, have stolen, or have to ditch. Especially when you're only using it from time to time. If you're getting a big knife for a BOB, then all the more reason not to pay huge bucks for it.
  • It's surprisingly durable. When it gets dull, sharpen it. That's what your stone is for. And if it breaks in any way, you won't feel bad grinding away at it to fix it or even scrapping it. Just buy a new one if necessary.
  • Unlike many other partly-serrated knives, this one is ground on both sides, not chiselground, even the serrations are on both sides. I prefer my edges double-sided. Just a thought.
  • It's heavy. I mean heavy.
  • The sheath is a POS and a real PITA. I'd make (or have made) a Kydex rig for it if I thought it was worth it. Maybe someday I will.
  • The rat-tail tang isn't the sturdiest hilt construction method ever. One day it may pull off or fall apart and then I'll have to figure out a way to fix it.
  • The ribbed, rubberized handle is hard on your hands. Gives me blisters in five minutes, no joke. And I've got pretty tough hands for a college kid.
  • The "Teflon" finish is crap. It wears off in about fifteen minutes of heavy work. If you really like your non-reflective, matte-black, Parkerized finish then don't buy this knife.
Cost: Around 45 to 50.00. Got mine on Ebay, NIB.
Berserker's Overall Rating: 4 Stars. Minus 1 Star for rattail tang, crappy handle, crappy Teflon coating and REALLY crappy sheath.

If you buy this knife, give it a bit of work and attention, you may end up liking it and it will serve you just fine for normal camp useage.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Striderwrap your knife hilt.

Here's another of the many possible cordwrapping techniques available to make your knife grippier and warmer. This is my own tutorial on how to "Strider-wrap" your knives. You can find a (probably better) and downloadable tutorial on how to do it HERE.

OK, what you're going to need is some 550 cord of your favorite color, a pair of scissors (surgical scissors are my favorite), a lighter, a ruler to measure out about 10 to 15 feet of cord (depending on how long your handle is), and some duct tape. DO NOT neglect to tape up your edge! If you don't it's only your fault when you have an accident and cut yourself to shreds. It's best if you have a vise as well, to hold the knife in place while you're wrapping but I didn't so I just taped it. Be EXTREMELY careful. This is a more "forceful," less controllable method of cordwrapping so be forewarned that it's entirely possible that you may end up with a nice deep cut.

A pic of the needed materials (minus the duct tape):

Now take your cord (pre-cut) and double it up. Put the loop through the top hole in your knife handle (we're assuming you've got a knife with holes tapped through the tang). Then put the free ends through the third or fourth hole down, bring it up and make a lark's head knot through the loop. Pull it tight.

Now cut a separate piece of cord (about three to five feet), gut it, fuse the ends, and wrap it around where you just made a loop through the holes. Melt the ends once more when you're starting and finishing and press them against the adjacent cord to make them stay put.

Now take each end and wrap it around to the other side, give it a twist and a turn, pull both ends tight, and flip it over.

Do the same thing over and over, till you reach the end of your underwrappings, and then tie an overhand knot.

How you finish is your choice. You can pass the cord through the end hole and make a figure-eight knot, like so....

Or if you don't want it to have a tail, just tuck the ends under the last twisty turny and fuse them flat, making sure to cut them close so they don't chafe your hand while you're using your knife.

There you have it! It's ready for use. Be aware that if you're going to do this you may need to have a new sheath made to accommodate the extra bulk of the wrap.

Till next time,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to cordwrap a knife hilt.....

This is a relatively simple procedure you can use to make your knives more grippy.
All you need is about five feet of paracord, some scissors, a lighter, and a knife that you want to wrap. You may want to gut the cord ahead of time to flatten it, some people prefer it this way, others don't. It's a matter of personal preference really.
  • You take the cord and make an open-ended loop, which you lay along the handle with a short length (about a finger long) protruding from the pommel-end.
  • Then you wrap around both the handle and the loop you've made, really tightly. When I say tight, I mean tight. You need to wrench that cord down so tight your knuckles bleed.
  • When you get to the end, you just feed the remaining length down through the loop, which should be sticking out a tiny bit. Pull it tight, then grab the finger's length of cord protruding from the pommel-end and pull hard. You might need to use a multitool or pliers and a vise to budge it. You don't want to pull it all the way through, just enough to cinch it down tight so it won't unwrap itself.
  • To finish it, snip and fuse (melt) the remaining lengths on both ends, and for good measure you may want to soak the wrapped knife in a bucket of hot water to shrink the cord.
A pic of the procedure....

Voila! All done. You've now got a nicely grippy knife, fit for all environmental conditions. No longer will you have to worry about your knife slipping and cutting you should it be wet or bloody, and it will be nice and warm in the wintertime.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Favorite new T-shirts...

Some sweet T-shirts I won in a GAC on the USN. Thanks bro!

These slogans are Berserker-Endorsed!


Paracord Pimpage...

Click on the above link to see some photos of stuff I've made out of paracord.
I can make custom bracelets, zipper pulls, key fobs, knife lanyards etc. for low prices.