What Makes A Knife A "Fighting Knife"?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Night Rider, Jun 19, 2022.

  1. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    "Fought people with knives". Really? it's relatively rare to shoot at the enemy with a rifle, much less close to knife distance. You know who was most likely to probably be that close?

    Marines. And they largely seem to have been happy with their fighting knives, which have a guard.
     
    dogtown tom, Coyote3855 and Boattale like this.
  2. Night Rider

    Night Rider Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2022
    Messages:
    452
    Then why was the Eks knife so popular?
     
    Slamfire likes this.
  3. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I have a Eks model. I like it. It has a guard.

    You're seriously asking me why people going to war might want a knife? Maybe you should rephrase your question.
     
  4. Night Rider

    Night Rider Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2022
    Messages:
    452
    Oddly enough, with the exception of the photo in this thread every Eks I have seen had a guard.

    So was the design changed because the lack of a guard caused issues or because metal became available?

    I'm not saying I even necessarily disagree with you. I'm saying that apparently the Eks design worked without a guard
     
  5. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Anything *can* work. In general, I've always liked Eks because they seem purposeful, and not overheavy. The one I have has a lot of cutting potential for a knife that weighs as little as it does.

    I think John Ek believed a guard wasn't necessary, and then eventually believed that people wanted one, so he added it.

    Wasp waisted profiles really can help get a good hold on a knife, but I'm a firm believer in things going wrong if they can. A guard is easy insurance.
     
    entropy and Night Rider like this.
  6. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    18,321
    Location:
    DFW Area
    This is why I did not hit Post Reply on the long response I typed in yesterday.

    People who have actually fought with knives in combat (not talking about prison or back-alley stabbings) are extremely rare--at least they have been for the last century or so. That means there's precious little experience based information about the actual combat use of knives.

    That, in turn, means that it's relatively easy to be an expert because there are no real experts to contradict you if you make the claim. Make a knife and call it a combat knife, you're an expert on combat knives. Write a book about knife combat and you're an expert on combat knives. Buy a knife company and you're an expert on combat knives.

    I know what I would want in a combat knife, but if I post a list of features and someone wants me to back the list up with my qualifications in the field of knife combat, I can't do it. The fact that essentially every other person on the planet on the planet is in exactly the same boat won't really matter at that point.

    I think there's a lot of good general purpose information out there on what works and what doesn't in knives. A person who doesn't want to spend a lifetime collecting it, can get a knife they think is a good combat knife and then go out and spend hours chopping and stabbing things with it in a lot of widely varying conditions. It's a lot more work to do it that way, but it's quicker than spending years studying the topic and is still a good way to learn some valuable lessons.

    Here's a quasi-interesting and peripherally related story. Years ago, I bought a knife that I liked. I can't remember how it came up, but I ended up showing it to my folks. My mom looked at it but was clearly not interested in it at all, which I thought was kind of unusual. I asked her what she thought of it and she just made some polite noise, but again I could tell something was up. So I pressed her and she told me that when she was young and single she had worked in a plant that processed chickens. She spent a lot of time with a knife cutting meat and bone in conditions where her hands were slippery. She didn't like the knife for three reasons. The handle was nearly round which made it hard to index and made it easy for it to turn in the hand. The handle was slick. The knife was made so that if your hand slipped forward at all, it was going to get onto the blade--there was no guard or other feature that positively retained the hand on the handle.

    I thought it was an interesting perspective. The other features of the knife really didn't matter to her because of the problems with the handle. It made me look at knives a bit differently from then on. Of course, cutting up chickens is probably a lot more strenuous and potentially dangerous than knife combat so I don't think anyone should read anything into the story. :D
     
  7. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,296
    Location:
    Colorado
    When I think of a "fighting knife", my brain instantly goes to something along the lines of a Fairbairn-Sykes style.
    I really dig this gerber, and carry it from time to time through the woods.
    227530CB-A575-4003-A37A-B30B6AAC0F59.jpeg


    But, if confronted with a really real knife fight though, I'd rather grab a machete... or a 12 gauge.
     
  8. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2010
    Messages:
    3,257
    Location:
    south Florida
    Thought about actually using knives and realized that having cut thousands of pounds of fish with various knives over the years - I may actually have some preferences in what actually works for given tasks... and here there really are a lot of different designs meant for specific purposes as a butcher or a fishmonger (new term - I learned it watching the show of the same name...). I was never a professional butcher or fish cutter - but it you're a commercial fisherman or a fishing guide (I've been both... and was still guiding as of yesterday - but who knows what the future brings...) you'll end up cutting a bunch of fish for your customers. I want a different blade for fileting, one for chopping, one for breaking, etc. and a completely different blade for skinning filets..

    With that as a background if I needed use a blade in a fight - I'd still be using it in a variety of ways - slashing, cutting something particular, or actually stabbing. Once again hope that's never required of me - as my Dad said many years ago - to use a knife you have to get entirely too close to someone who really, really doesn't like you...

    One last point about using a blade or other weapon in a fight.... there was actually a really good clear video yesterday on Fox of why the Tueller drill is so important for anyone carrying a firearm and facing an attacker with a knife, or other cutting, stabbing, or hacking tool... It showed an officer on a traffic stop with his back to traffic - then another vehicle stopped next to him and a man exited that vehicle and did a sudden attack armed with a hatchet on the officer. What saved the officer was running backwards away from his attacker until he could draw and fire his sidearm... Very good clear video of how it all went down - and if I was still a cop it would provide a few sleepless nights thinking about it... There really are one or two folks in this world that are so dangerously crazy that you never want to meet them... Seems like these days there are more of them than there were when I was a cop... all those years ago...
     
  9. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    "And at an angle"- fall back quickly, at a 45' angle.

    my beliefs have been shaped by a lot of things, including historical perspective, most of a lifetime of Martial arts, 20 years as a member of the Army, and killing things with knives.

    First, efficacy. A precisely aimed stab with a large blade can end a fight instantly. I have killed downed but still struggling deer like this. Next, practicality. The ability to get that precise stab in a real confrontation isn't a given. The other super quick way to end an attack quickly, is to chop off large parts of the attacker. Chopping in a life and death confrontation makes sense, because under adrenaline, fine motor skills are one of the first things people lose.

    I designed a large knife with Sam Owens years ago, which I called the Camp Defender. I believe the things that make a good large outdoors knife, are some of the same things that will make that same blade wickedly effective should you ever have to use one to defend yourself. So this large knife has a point that can effectively thrust, but has weight enough forward to make it extremely effective as a chopper. And, it has some protection from your hand slipping or running onto the blade.

    This is a subject I've talked a lot about in the past, but I believe most deployed service members need a good deployment knife. This is a reasonably sized blade that can do a lot of things well, but the important thing, is that it must be instantly accessible, and it can't be overly large. The first modern war saw many of the side known for their fighting abilities leave for battle with enormous knives. Most of these knives were abandoned as they marched.

    I have used a knife several times during combat, and I have been in a situation where a squad member nearly escaped injury, because I couldn't get to my blade under my rain gear in time. When I did use my knife during a fight, it was to help get my primary weapon system back into operation.

    So my beliefs, based on how wars are now fought, and the load US fighting people carry, is that a smallish versatile knife that's instantly accessible is what most deployed service members need. For those of you who don't know, besides being completely impractical with all the other gear we have to carry, the US in the last 15 years has severely restricted the ability of most combat troops to carry large "aggressive" knives.

    The prototype compact fighting knife that I linked to earlier, was designed with a lot of feedback from one of my martial art instructors. This NCO deployed several times in situations where he and another service member would frequently go out by themselves, which is not at all typical, if you're familiar with combat operations. it doesn't have a long stabbing blade, because that can't fit into the mission profile. it does have a handle offering protection from cutting yourself, a rounded but so you're not likely to injure yourself by falling on it, and a very wide blade with serrations on the back for a back cut, or cutting yourself free of webbing and ex-filling a vehicle.

    Just like carrying around a full-sized shotgun or AR-15 is not practical in most situations, carrying the blade that would be most effective if needed against a deadly threat is just not practical. I was the exception to most soldiers in my infantry company, in that I was one of only two who carried a very large knife. I got permission from my first line NCO to carry it instead of an e-tool, because my primary mission in that company was a mortarman. As a mortarman, we might need to cut sight lanes through tall grass, so there was a legitimate need for a large blade- in fact, we had a machete issued to us as part of the squad gear.

    We carry firearms for a reason. I started seriously training in ways to kill my fellow man with a blade in 1994. I believe I can confidently say I have much more experience training with a blade than most folks here. I sincerely believe there is a place for defensive and offensive blades, but when we have the option, a modern firearm is what we should reach for.

    John
     
  10. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    15,980
    Location:
    Georgia
    I wouldn't say it was all that popular. As I understand it was never issued, but a handful of soldiers purchased their own.
     
    Boattale likes this.
  11. Boattale

    Boattale Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,306
    Location:
    SWMO
    A guard on a knife also has value in protecting one's hand from objects sliding down your blade - i.e. another blade, a piece of pipe, any hard object.
     
  12. Night Rider

    Night Rider Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2022
    Messages:
    452
    Interesting video review of the KBar EKs knife.

     
  13. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Speaking to my point that these were dedicated FIGHTING knives*. USMC "fighting knives" are actually a much heavier design that also works against human threats.

    *"purposeful" is how I described it earlier. It's light for its length because it's not designed to attack trees.
     
    Coyote3855 likes this.
  14. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2008
    Messages:
    9,420
    Location:
    Flatlandistan
    4883698C-1CAA-498D-A740-ADCF82B3A610.jpeg
    Is an issued combat knife, not bayonet, automatically, by definition, a fighting knife?

    This one was manufactured by PAL, the razor blade people, WWII issue.
     
    Slamfire, Boattale and theotherwaldo like this.
  15. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2008
    Messages:
    9,420
    Location:
    Flatlandistan
    317D486E-D3BD-4F31-AD8E-065B35F3A20B.jpeg
    Here’s another combat knife, German paratrooper out the front gravity style.

    Manufacturer by the Paul Weyersberg company, Solingen, WWII issue.
     
    Night Rider and theotherwaldo like this.
  16. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Most US issued knives have been fairly general purpose knives, that also could be used against people if needed. Let's put this in context: I have used knives during fire missions to cut my way into "tootsie roll" mortar round carriers, I've used my knife to chop open the bands around ammo crates, and I've even used a blade to pry a frozen 120 mm shell out of a case. These were definitely things that happened in combat, but I didn't need a so-called "fighting knife" for them.
    200397_506000504465_9193_n.jpg

    I used this Spyderco some of the time. Other times, like the steel band and prying the 120mm round, I used my custom Shane Justice.
    Screenshot_20220621-114011~2.png

    Neither of these knives look like what most people consider fighting knives, though I promise the Justice would be devastating if used that way.

    Screenshot_20220621-114937~2.png

    The knife on the left started as one of Don (@Valkman's) Land Sharks. Sam modified the handle. It's my idea of what a good deployment blade should be. The Spyderco Manix 2 XL is the first folder I would use, if I had to defend myself with one. And the little knife in the middle, ironically, is the only "fighting knife" in this post, being expressly designed for self-defense. Notice how the ARK is designed to keep the user's hand safe while keeping a minimalistic profile.

    John
     
  17. Valkman

    Valkman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Messages:
    8,923
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    All I know is Mr. Shirley knows what he's talking about.

    I did a double take on that, and I like what you did there.
     
    JShirley likes this.
  18. defjon

    defjon Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2005
    Messages:
    908
    Using it to fight, I'd say.

    Nobody wants a pen knife in their belly or back. Plenty of filed down butter knives or chef's knives doing the deed out there.

    Me I'd take a d guard Bowie if I had to show up for a knife fight with just a knife.
     
    JShirley likes this.
  19. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    12,628
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    I used a knife in "combat " , once in Vietnam 1969 , against a crazed 300 pounder trying to skewer my immediate superior officer with an M14 with a sharpened bayonet. I came in from the side with a quickly drawn 8" Randle #1 and sliced across the arm gripping the forestock on a thrust that had the Lt falling backward in a folding chair . The results were imm. and gruesome with the drunken soldier going to sitting position dropping gun and gripping his cut to bone arm and screaming.
    I have been in a couple "knife fights" with the last one last year in between the combatants pushing them apart ( the pen knife holding arm shoved down to the guy holding it body )when a third party coming in from the other side from me with a cold conking punch to the guy with the knife and coming away with a very nasty slice to his arm, he too set down on the ground and screamed ! Ah drunks :(

    Anyway I have a LARGE collection of "fighting knives" , including the Camp Defender and the Valkman model discussed. I even commissioned this one to be the "ultimate " ,at 13" we get into short sword territory tho :)
    Dagger-1.JPG
    If you want to fight over politics this commision has some merit :)
    166998163_10221956967125517_5763252168779956696_n.jpg
     
    Frulk, qwert65, Brin and 5 others like this.
  20. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    @Gordon, any chance we can get a pic of your Camp Defender next to a couple other knives, for scale?
     
  21. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    12,628
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Here is My Camp Defender when it was new and the Valkman "Fighter" when new ! The Camp Defender is strapped to a back pack last 10 years and a little stained and nicked but still good. Hoping next year to take up that back pack with two new knees ! The Valkman is on a war belt with bedside arm and still looks like new !

    015-1_zps6d2e5e62.jpg
     
    Frulk, qwert65, Speedo66 and 4 others like this.
  22. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    62,803
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    They should include a stop for the users hand. A small guard, finger choil, forward grip swell, or any sort of feature to keep the user's hand from sliding forward. Regardless of the effectiveness in a grip that doesn't incorporate these (like Ek's "pig sticker"), adding the insurance of a stop against sliding onto the blade if the user's grip falter just makes sense (as John Ek did after WWII).

    johnekknifeobv.jpg
    il_570xN.3414022291_69ng.jpg


    mages?q=tbn:ANd9GcQXaZALOceZlu8B9aRbwaXfX3EZoHGJiLA5--hNf9Dpq7pjb9Aqlj5rrs1F5dDxyHJLy_c&usqp=CAU.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
  23. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    12,628
    Location:
    Southern Oregon

    Here is the Valkman with a CZP01 for size comparison to compare to the larger heavier Camp Defender. To me the Camp Defender is what you want in the Wilderness.
    017_zps4bdbae29.jpg This set up is what I want in my Bedroom
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  24. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Yes, your description is more accurate, thank you.
     
  25. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,616
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I have used kukris a lot, and I like a heavy-dury chopper. To me, the Camp Defender is big enough to be instantly effective, yet not too big to carry for a dedicated outdoors knife. I think a knife this size is a luxury that the modern Soldier cannot afford. Knives this size were too big for the Civil War soldier, and we carry even more weight and gear today.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice