Close Contact Fighting Knife Design

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by warshard, Nov 23, 2015.

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  1. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    First of all, if you bring yourself in a situation, where you as a soldier has to resort to a knife, something has gone terribly wrong and/or someone failed abysmally.
    Further more, this persons MOS seems to hinge around his ability to speak several languages. If he is a terp, he most certainly should not be in the fray. Sxxt happens of course.
    In regards to the knife - for a soldier weight considerations are paramount. One already carries a lot of gear and you already have gear items sticking out from your body every which way (depending on your job, its guns, rucks, sat phones (in my case) and a multitude of other items).
    You dont want a huge heavy pig sticker to further burden you or get in the way of other gear.
    Look at the size of for example Daniel Winklers knives and you get a good impression of the size and shape of what is acceptable to carry.
    Yes, you see pics of big knives being carried, but they are very very far from the norm.
    Often soldiers carry a big knife once and then leave it behind.
    Rather a smaller sized knife carried than the big pig sticker left behind because its heavy and cumbersome.

    Carry method; whether kydex or leather (I like kydex because its sweat and wear resistant), its great to mount a Kydex plate for carry. On the knife sheath type, that I prefer, I can use Malice clips and or MOLLE carry. To be able to use the clips for belt or MOLLE carry is a huge advantage.
    This just my experience from a couple of deployments.
  2. georgiaboy34


    Dec 16, 2013
    A lot of guys also ziptie kydex sheaths to their plate carrier or vest. I sent one with a close friend (retired Ranger BN) to carry in his work as a contractor. He didn't want any molle or hard attachments; he prefers to zip tie. I did include a soft loop so he could belt carry if he was inside the wire or just wanted to carry it on his belt. I personally rarely carried a fixed blade, occasionally one would be in my pack. My multi tool was my main stay and I carried a folder in a position where I could get to it easily. Some guys carried a small knife affixed to a holster or affixed behind a med or utility pouch where only the handle is visible. Others carried a fixed blade on their belt and that seemed to be more of a last ditch or emergency tool. People can get separated from their weapons and gear in crashes or IEDs and in general personal experience seems to build on what people decide to do. Also remember that the mission drives the gear, so what one SF type may do may not be the same the next day or for a different guy.

    I've been out for a long time and I'm not an established maker so take the above for what it's worth, but I hope it helps. I'd just ask the guy how he prefers to carry and he will know. Hanging out with some guys on my buddy's team I got 4 different answers from 4 individuals. All were on the same ODA so you can see that it's a personal choice unless there is a unit SOP.
  3. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    +1 on zip ties.
  4. Lu1967


    Oct 20, 2014
    Those Winkler sheaths are pretty slick.The inside of the kydex is lined with some sort of felt,that sewed on. The outside of the kydex is covered with leather.Very quite all the way around,but a bit heavy.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  5. Spectre


    Nov 3, 1998
    The suggestions from Mr. Apelt are almost all correct, except
    Which is, of course, ridiculous. Knives are in fact the most dangerous weapons up close. Despite that, a 3-4" sturdy knife is a good choice. This is a Shirley-Owens MK1, which I think is about right for most troops. Most of the Special Ops troops I've been on missions with did not have large knives, even when routinely close to the enemy (speaking of which- not sure how you're going to maintain 100 meter separation from the enemy when kicking in doors. Just sayin'). The single exception was a PRT Marine Gunny Sgt with a huge Pakistani Rambo knife. I asked him about it, and he said he just used it for crowd control. It worked, too- I saw him pull it out and just hold it in front of him. And the Afghan LNs just parted, like Moses parting the seas.

    The knives I have actually used in combat were a Spyderco Native LW, serrated, and a custom Shane Justice knife. Both used to get into mortar crates and "tootsie roll" ammo carriers. Here's a pic of me with the SJ Soldier's Knife in early 2007 after a firefight. In case any of you don't know, war always ends up muddy.

    (Here's a pic of the Soldier's Knife- which is actually a little larger than most Soldiers need, but which was good to have to get into ammo crates quickly during a firefight.- with other tools for size reference)

    So, again, a 3-4" sturdy, single-edged knife is probably the best all-around combat knife. A sturdy, quick-access sheath that can be mounted on armor or belt is needed. Anything larger starts to interfere with other gear, and anything smaller is only useful for slicing and opening packages.

    John Shirley
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  6. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    I've settled in at around 5" for my troop knives.
    That SJ Has a wicked Ed Fowler groove to it from what I can see-very nice.
    Bottom one I carried one trip out-top one I did for somebody else after rubbing all the skin off my elbow with that #%^€! bare tang
    This is my usual troop, if it helps-I don't forge the hole in the guard or use bolts for the scales these days
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  7. Spectre


    Nov 3, 1998
    I see you were rocking the recurves, too, for a while. :)

    The reasons I suggest 3-4" blade length now are:
    o some theater/command prohibitions against large/"conspicuous" knives;
    o amount of gear modern US troops carry (the most in history, except for heavy mounted cavalry(!);
    o common US CONUS requirements for Soldiers to store knives with over 4" in the arms room.

    Combine all these things, and I believe a good 3-4" blade is typically the best solution.
  8. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    Yeah, the "that's too long" business was...vexing. At Drum it was 6"...which didn't seem to apply to the parang in my ruck frame, or tomahawks. I still do a lot of recurves now, too.
    As to loadout...I was "light" infantry...:p
  9. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    This is a great post. The talismanic importance to soldiers and warriors of their edged weapons stretches way back into the mists of history and legend.
  10. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    I could not be bothered to go back and check, but if thats a stand alone quote, I could not agree more.
    If all is suddenly FUBAR and one is tangled in a situation that requires CQC, a knife can of course be a excellent life saver in a last resort.

    Yeah, all the Rambo-esque 'carp' aside from couch ninjas who were never deployed, knives are simply not used -nor carried for that matter- in any bigger scale.
    I understand the fascination -this being a knife forum and all- and the wanting to believe, that the thoughts of professional soldiers revolve around quality knives and carrying them in the field 24-7. How ever that is simply not so.

    That goes for Army and smaller specialized units both. Most simply dont care about knives ...or if they do, a lot of generic knives are bought. Big Rambo knives are carried once or twice then with few exceptions simply left behind in camp. Small specialized units dont focus much on knife fighting. Its simply not a factor and as I mentioned before; if you find your self in a knife fighting situation, something has gone gravely wrong.

    Agree about the 'parting the sea bit as well.' Afghanis simply dont care for cold steel.

    I went with on an 'excursion!' with some combined units. It ended very badly for us, but before that I noted Brit troops mounting bayos on their (horrible) SA80 rifles. Partly because of close contact in dense vegetation but also because the sight of soldiers patrolling thus equipped for some worked as a preventive measure.

    Agree with that as well (if a fixed blade, that is;)). As mentioned before huge pig stickers simply get in the way of other gear or worse tangle with your rifle or gets stuck inside and APC during egress.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  11. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    Thats the first ARK proto, right:D
  12. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    "Close Contact Fighting Knives"... I call bullshit. EVERY sturdy, pointy object can be used by a terrified or highly-motivated human being to kill or incapacitate another human being within arm's reach. It's just not that difficult. Ask any prison guard.

    As for utility knives for government-supported military personnel... I never served in the armed forces. And I've never been asked by an active-duty, or probably-going-to-the-sandbox soldier or Marine "on the ground, in harm's way" to make them a knife with a blade longer than 6 inches.

    Those cats already have long pointy bayonets, including the very-cool-looking (but heavy as a damn brick) M9... an Army Nat'l Guard friend of mine who coordinated gear to troops in Iraq told me that most troops felt it was not likely to be used much, and therefore too heavy to bother carrying around. He claimed nobody wanted it, they all wanted multi-tools and cheap folders.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  13. Spectre


    Nov 3, 1998

    No, that was my first (2006) deployment. Even then, I took some guff for wearing that while I was on SecFor at Camp Phoenix, though it came in handy when I got pushed out to the little firebase. (There was one young idiot there who was carrying a wakizashi, though. Way to go, Nasty Guards*! :rolleyes: )
    Most of the ODA I talked knives with, actually carried small Benchmade autos. I traded for one, but gave it to a friend after I got back.

    *I had been involuntarily reactivated, and even though I wasn't NG, was assigned to the 45th Infantry.
  14. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    A WAK!! :eek: Too funny :) :)

    Okay, I seen some crazy things in firebases, but never anybody carrying a wak. That has got to be a first since Mad Jack Churchill went hunting Axis forces with a broadsword back in WWII*

    Most reassuring hardware I encountered in firebases was the Brit 105.

  15. Maelstrom78


    Sep 21, 2013
    Never mess with a man with a broadsword!
  16. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    There was a guy at ECP South (Red Sox) who had the Ontario rubber-handled version of the Bagwell bowie strapped to his leg-that contract I had a leatherman, CQC-8, and a 4" Jarvenpaa puukko...and I ws going outside the wire by myself, and this mudpuppy sat at ECP south for six months and hassled my locals for their cellphones and PKM's...
  17. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    Yeah, that is ironic.
    All great knives BTW.
    Funny coincidence; I was just looking at the Sheepdog with Bowie point and also recently checked out the Ontario Bagwells (not the Gamer, but the Helles Belle), as Im a huge fan of Bagwell knives. Id like a custom Bagwell of course (who wouldnt), but wanted an Ontario to start out with. How ever when offered for sale, they are gone pretty fast.
    And who doesnt like a well made puukko. Its funny, how I like Bagwells but that the same time, Im a fan of the elegant no-nonsense puukkos.
    I have a decades old mint puukko by the famous Wirkkala some where. The lines are just so clean and elegant.
  18. Spectre


    Nov 3, 1998
    Oh, my apologies. The way I wrote that was unclear.

    The idiot with the wak was at Camp Phoenix or Black Horse~ not sure which, because they were close, and had daily traffic between. The ODA at the firebase would have laughed at the short sword so hard, he would have taken it off within the first hour, guaranteed. :D

    I actually had a reasonable amount of experience with kenjutsu when I deployed, and I sure as hell wasn't carrying anything bigger than that 5" blade...

    My team at the FB had the base big guns: a 120mm and 81mm mortar.

  19. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    I see.

    Yeah, Id hope it would be taken from him ASAP. Of all the things to carry.....

    I believe a Wak would be the last thing, Id carry around there.

    120s and the 81 yes, they should get the job done.

    The Brits liked the 105 because it could be slung under their ShXthooks.

    IIRC I caught a glimpse of an MLRS (not on a firebase). Never saw those fired in anger though.
  20. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    MLRS is bloody terrifying. Training up for Kosovo, met a guy playing "local national" at jrtc who had been a PL in the Bosnian war and got MLRS'd by the Serbs. He figured that was all his luck, for the rest of his life, used up in two minutes.
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