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Best Combat Knives?

LOL! Check out all those tanto points, chisel grinds, grinds that only go 1/3 of the way to the spine, sawbacks, serrations where your palm rests, and even a few functionless fullers or holes in the blades. From my standpoint, which comes only from making a couple dozen knives, reading, and talking to folks in military and outdoor professions, these are a better example of "wanna-be" combat knives than of the real thing. I look forward to hearing more opinions from the "go and do" crowd, though.

Admittedly, I have trouble reconciling Mr. Emerson's substantial martial-arts experience and the input he receives from so many military personnel with the designs he produces (I do not know if all of the knives pictured are Emerson designs, though all clearly show his influence). I find many functionally poor by my analysis. Perhaps someone might enlighten me.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Hi, I am not an expert. Can you tell me what is wrong with
"tanto points, chisel grinds, grinds that only go 1/3 of the way to the spine, sawbacks" I always thought tanto points are strongest, and the top knife up there won the Knife Of The Year award.
Thanks for help
Okay, I don't kill people with knives, I wouldn't want to, but I do kill three species of powerful wild animals with them, sharks, aligators, and wild boar. I also make frequnt extended jaunts into the wilderness, in my area(Fl.), that means swamps, scrubland, oak hammocks, and estauries/gunkholes. Not being a combat veteran, or even a soldier, I can't speak form that angle. However, I do feel qualified to say that those knives are just silly display pieces that could be pressed into service just like a el cheapo deluxe import or some crappy kitchen knife could. No offense to the member that posted the link. Most people would take this time to explain why these aren't really such good knives, since I'm an a$$hole, I'm gonna do my darnedest to rip them apart;

Essentialy my main man Corduroy got it right in that these knives are jokes. They are the result of feeding consumer trend, not functional analysis. I suggest sending a prominent knife combatives instructor, James Keating, reachable at KnifeMaster@Combattech.com I believe, an e-mail asking what he thinks about the SpecWar. Use oven mits when you open that e-mail, it will be scathingly hot.

Tanto points, in the American sense(100 hail Mary's for blaspheming the Sacred Name of Liberty), suck because they lack any belly which is so useful in slicing and slashing. Traditional Japanese tantos had belly. These points also are poor performers when it comes to thrusting. They present a large flat surface with an obtuse angle of entry that must penetrate a target by shear brute force. This is compounded by the fact that the tip is not only out of line with the handle, but is also at the apex of an obtuse angle which will make it want to slip off anything that offers resistance like bone or kevlar. In fact, they perform really poorly against kevlar in comparison drop or clip points, as well as spear points. They offer no advantage in terms of tip strength. This has to do with the thickness of the grind and narrowness of the point. Any point may be made thick and strong and still have excelent penetrative qualities. See the Chris Reeve Project 1 and 2. Oh, traditional tanto points are meant to thrust with the spine down, edge up, so the point make contact first to minimize the deflection inherent in the design. Check out a Japanese swordsman some time. For that matter, it was not uncommon practice among Western cavalrymen who were issued sabers with curved blades that lacked some form of swedge. Note: Not all sabers were curved, and some had clip or drop points.

However, these knives don't have tanto points. They have clip points. The maker must have realized that tanto's suck at thrusting, so gave it a clip. But, rather than give it a *real* clip point, he kept the inefficient angular intersection where the belly should be of the trendy "American tanto"(100 lashes in penance of repeating the heresy). This drives home the fact that these are wall-hangers, pieces made for show and display, to be bought by people who won't use them, based soley on looks.

Speaking of stupid features based soley on looks, check out the blade cut-outs. They serve no purpose other than to please the eye(not mine, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and weaken the blade. Unneccessarily weakening a blade does not fit in with my criteria for an ultimate combat knife.

The same goes for the sawbacks. I don't know of anybody who does serious work with knives that has anything good to say about them. Oh yeah, since these are combat knives that may see use as a weapon, it is worth noting that sawbacks have a harpoon-like effect and will become lodged in your adversary. While that seems real viscious, and is, it's not very efficient. The blade will plug the hole and reduce bleeding. This could really suck if you were some sort of elite soldier who needed to kill a sentry silently.

I'm not too pleased with the handles either. They don't look teribly secure given the tiny speed bumps on some models that are the only thing that stand between your fingers and the blade. I am pretty certain you could give yourself a nasty cut if you tried to drive that point home. Also, you will note that what passes for a gaurd is made from and integral with the thin stock(relatively for a gaurd) the blade is made from. These to are a liability when delivering a thrust, and can be a burden even for chopping, as the thin cross section concentrates the force of a given action on a small area and delivers it to you finger and thumb with the result of an uncomfortable pinch or even a cut.

Chisel grinds have been taken apart elsewhere, the upshot is they belong on chisels, not knives, as they suck for delicate work and have a tendency to vear off to one side when slicing.

These knives were made with one purpose in mind, to appeal to the collector and the arm-chair Navy Seal wannabe. The goal, though it has failed to be met, was to make as strong a knife as possible with little regard for anything else. I use knives as hard or harder than most. I can tell you that I look for performance features before raw strength, and after I find some knives with the right features, I pick the strongest. I don't find the strongest knife(which I sincerely doubt any of these are), then buy it and say it's the knife of God, sent from above to satiate all our cutlery needs, featuring the latest in "tactical trends" to make a "street-lethal silent partner" and "blow the competition away".

These are silly afectations, equivalent to Medieval "bearing swords", designed purely for ostentatious display, and quite different from the tools and weapons actualy used. If you realize and accept this, you can buy them for what they are and put them in a display case and show them off. But don't pass them off as something they're not.(I use "you" in the impersonal, general sense of the word)

Again, I'm an opinionated and abrasive a$$hole, so if I sound like I'm knocking you, I apologize. I am dissing the knives. I have no ill feeling towards you at all.
You all can attack the knives all you want. Please do not attack the makers as these types of threads can get out of hand really fast.


Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

I originally posted this under the "Why did I buy that?" thread, but it bears repeating here:


What do I regret purchasing? NOTHING.

That's right, nothing. Sure, there are plenty of knives I've bought (and sold) that weren't the greatest knives in the world, some that were down right poor, and plenty that were worth exactly what I paid for them.

But I mean, c'mon -- every knife has SOME purpose. Even the worse piece of Pakistani trash can serve a fuction,
even if just a one-time use that would ruin the blade, like using it as a fireplace poker or for scraping away some foul substance that you wouldn't want soiling the blade of a "good" knife.

Perhaps I get a little weepy and pseudo-spiritual where knives are concerned, but it's my philosophy that there's no such thing as a bad knife -- only varying degrees of quality and functionality. I think we tend to drift into a sort of knife-snobbery from time to time, looking down our noses not only at the offending tool, but sometimes at the person who purchased it. You're not a loser if you like tacky, cheap knives; you've just got lower standards. *chuckle*

So please, my brethren and sistheren (?), let us all join hands together and be happy that we share affection for sharpened implements.


Kumbiya, again,

Please read Snickersnee's post carefully. He has saved me a great deal of time and said it better and with more authority than I could. I will add that I don't consider the Knife-of-the-Year Award very meaningful. I stopped buying knife magazines when I realized that they are a "good old boys" racket where the shots are called by the manufacturers and distributors with their advertising dollar.

Thanks much for that post. You are, as usual, viciously blunt... but honest. I'd like to second your feeling that these knives are a response to consumer trends, not serious user input.

Mr. Turber,
I had not intended that as an attack on Mr. Emerson, but a serious question on his designs, which have puzzled me for some time. He clearly has the know-how and the information sources to design a combat knife, yet his knives do not fill that role as I understand it. It is certainly more likely that I am misunderstanding the knives and their role than that they are poor designs. I hope when Emerson Knives gets a forum I can ask him directly.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

Just realized that the Emerson knife forum is up. I have posted some of my questions there.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Snickersnee wrote:

Tanto points, in the American sense(100 hail Mary's for blaspheming the Sacred Name of Liberty), suck because they lack any belly which is so useful in slicing and slashing. Traditional Japanese tantos had belly. These points also are poor performers when it comes to thrusting. They present a large flat surface with an obtuse angle of entry that must penetrate a target by shear brute force. This is compounded by the fact that the tip is not only out of line with the handle, but is also at the apex of an obtuse angle which will make it want to slip off anything that offers resistance like bone or kevlar. In fact, they perform really poorly against kevlar in comparison drop or clip points, as well as spear points.

That in turn explains why our rabbi, who is a schoolteacher in real life, and who is concerned that when he carries a full size folder, it should look less like a weapon than a conventional large folder, carries a Benchmade-Emerson 975. The left-side chisel grind suits him as a southpaw too.


[This message has been edited by James Mattis (edited 02 July 1999).]
In regards to Snickersnee's coments on sawteeth on a knife and what it does...Bwa hahahaha. That was funny.
I'm laughing even harder now! I just looked at the other "equipment" advertised at this site: clothes, weapons, and paraphernalia from movies like "Aliens" and "Judge Dredd" These knives fit right in.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Heh heh. Now that I've graduated to the "dispassionate voice of reason" role on the forums, I'm happy to see some of the newer guys take up the "kick ass and take names" role
Great epic screed by Snick, I agree with the general points, if not every detail and the overall intensity.

The bottom knives are TOPs guys and they have had some high respect given to them. One was designed by Dr. Ron Hood even and I doubt any one would say he doesn't know what he is doing. As for the other TOPS knives they were all designed by former military experts which include SEALS, Rangers, SAS scouts, and SWAT team members so those weren't designed by arm chair warriors like myself.

No offense buy this guys but you are also pretty set in your ways here because you have found want works for you. Others have found other things that work for them. And please remember Snick the P1 you apeak so highly of has been knocked by others quite knowleagable aobut knives so please realize your choices are really the best ones either.

Lastly, I own one of the TOPs and the handle is very secure Snick. If you run your hand on to the blade thrusting with it you have a very very loose hold on it when doing so. (And yes part of my defense is based on that I own one of them and I don't consider myself to be prone to making stupid purchases.)

thanks and take care

please I am not trying to start a fight here or put anyone down but I just disagree with a couple of you.
[This message has been edited by RUDY (edited 02 July 1999).]

[This message has been edited by RUDY (edited 02 July 1999).]
I concur with Collin. You'd be hard pressed to break any of those knives, especially a TOPS blade. And they were designed by people who have "been there done that". As for being able to pierce armor or Kevlar, I thought tanto points were pretty good for that. And second, that would be more in line with a "fighting" knife not a combat knife. A combat knife IS NOT something you would set out to kill a person with in the first place.

That's my confusion exactly. Now if only some of these folks would turn up and explain their reasoning behind the knives and why it differs so much from what I've seen, read, and been told. That's what I hope to get with my posts on the Emerson forum.

I have respect for people who are authorities on a subject because they can provide clear, concise reasoning behind their views. Not simply because they are authorities. It is possible for people who are not authorities to construct sound reasoning as well, but less likely. It is the reasoning and the practical testing that count, not the credentials of the speaker.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

I'd argue that you'd be hard-pressed to cut anything with these knives, either. Strength and edge geometry can be a trade-off. These knives clearly go for strength. I think a knife with a nice, wide full flat-grind and a small prybar would better serve the user.

If they are "fighting" knives, why the enormous sawbacks? I would state very firmly that you never, EVER wanta large, backcurved set of spikes on a "fighting" knife (disregarding some special and outdated weapons intended to trap and break rapiers).

I have ground a couple of knives that resemble these in one or more ways, and done hundreds of drawings. In every case I concluded that I was trying to do too much, that I was sacrificing the main purpose of the knife for "gizmos." I don't design or make knives like that anymore.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

[This message has been edited by Corduroy (edited 02 July 1999).]
Well, Courdoroy Ron's site is www.survival.com if you want to talk to him.

AS for Snick's reference to James Keating I don't know where that came from. These are not fighting knives they are utility knives and so yeah keating wouldn't like them.

Courdoroy, as for cutting stuff with them, they are choppers plain and simple. If you are trying to slice tomatoes with that knife that size I would say you are not using the right tool. A small thin bladed knife would be best as I think most would agree for such things. So it appears to me that you are trying to use this knife for what it is not intended to do.

thanks and take care

p.s. sorry if I butchered your name
I am sorry too but I just read your post again and referring to these as fighting knives by my def seems just plain silly.

And as for the saw teeth, well they have been proven to cut and cut well. I myself really would like them gone but then again they add something different to my meager collection. I can see why you would want them gone. The ones with the 2 notches only are bone scores so you can break the bone easier with out hurting the edge and so get to the useful marrow inside better.

thanks and take care
I appreciate the perspective of one who has actually handled the knives. I too often wax opinionated about knives I haven't handled. Your description of your experience with the knife in question certainly helps. Mr. Hood's credentials can hardly be questioned, and he stands very strongly behind the T.O.P.S knives. Not just a financial endorsement, but he actually uses them too. Ask him for details if you're interested. I'm sure he'll be glad to share.
I "wax opinionated" as well on knives I haven't handled (though I have handled a SpecWar and that just strengthens my feelings on it). I exchanged some ICQ messages with Collin and feel we reached some common ground on the issues raised here. I also learned some things about the functions of various features, but I feel we also agreed that some of the pieces may be trying to pack too much in. He directed me to sites where I can learn more about the knives and the thinking behind them.

The most important point I think we agreed upon was that the user's skill and familiarity with the knife far outweighs its material design. Folks survive in parts of the world with machetes or sharpened rocks. Others skin animals with multi-blade folders or sharpened automobile leaf springs. Both the Kuhkri and the Pukko have served well as "combat knives." The skill of the user and the familiarity with his or her blade's abilities is the key factor. To me, this is part of what makes evaluating user response so difficult.

I hope to have some of my own pieces in this genre "in the field" by fall and we'll see how my thinking on the subject bears up. It is certainly very different thinking than that apparent (or obscure) behind these knives.

I'll also be breaking a couple of knives this weekend and will post the results. They're not pieces designed for strength, but they are cosmetically flawed knives that will not be sold, so I think I'll see how they break and try to learn something from it. I know my knives cut, but let's see how they react to abusive forces. This isn't something I would have done without the great discussions here on bladeforums. They have really opened my eyes to the harsh need to evaluate knives in all aspects of performance. Thanks to all who post here.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)