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CS Recon Scout Fails Miserably

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May 9, 2003
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First off I'm a Cold Steel fan... at least I have been. Good knives, designs, and fair prices and I've probably sold a few with my advocacy. I've been teaching winter survival skills to a young mens group in our church where I'm a youth leader. Currently we're doing firemaking skills with flint and steel; the real kind like when it's snowy outside, windy, and about 10 degrees out. I find few people can make a fire in such conditions and it takes some teaching and practice to build the skill and get confidence in doing it. And that's what we're doing.

Along with practice, as I've told the boys, you need a good survival knife. One that can hack wood and split logs under hard use. It's an essential piece of gear in the back country: not too heavy to be left behind but sturdy enough to do the job. That's where the CS Recon Scout comes in.

Most of the boys, at my recommendation, have purchased their own survival knife to be used in these exercises. My recommendations including Becker BK7s & 9s, CS Recon Scout, Kabar Next Gen, and SOG SEAL 2000; all good knives for their money. Or so I thought. A few bought the Recon Scout including another leader. It was this other leader's Recon Scout you see broken in half below.

The conditions on this winter campout were about 5 degrees and clear on this morning when we started to split some more wood. The other leader was just started to hammer the RS through the pictured log when I remarked what a good blade it was and how he was probably going to hand it down to his kids later on. Nice timing. No sooner had the words left my mouth when the blade literally shattered! We were in shock. The knife wasn't even taking a big split of that log either. The leader is currently getting it replaced under warranty as it was only a month old.
BustedRecon720.jpg


This is a very serious failure in my opinion. Splitting wood was mandatory to find the dry stuff in the snow. This was a no-kidding backpacking winter trip where a fire wasn't just nice to have it was almost mandatory. From preventing frost bite to drying clothes to cooking the fire was a necessity. If we'd been in another couple miles up the mountain and had no other backup blades (we had several) the loss of this Recon Scout could have been very serious indeed. :eek:

I don't know what CS makes the Carbon 5 steel out of but my confidence in their blades has taken a serious hit. Maybe they should put a warning on their C5 blades not to use them below 15 degrees. Failure of this sort is inexcusable no matter the cold or what not. A survival knife should take any condition you find yourself in... if it can't you should pitch it. :mad:
 
Joined
Feb 23, 2003
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unbelievable :eek: i guess that won't be in their next PROOF! video :barf:
nice picture though :eek:
 

Klesk

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Wow, thanks for sharing that. It's good for us to see how knives fare when used hard, I'm sure many of us only use our knives to open the occasional package.
 

MelancholyMutt

Doggy Style
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Apr 13, 2002
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Consistently, knives hammered with another object will break, especially in cold weather...

Where's our resident metallurgist for an explanation why?

you think the knife would have broken if you had just chopped instead of hammering?
 
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just started to hammer the RS through the pictured log

2 questions.

What were you using for a hammer?
Where did the fatal blow land?

A steel hammer hitting just in front of the guard would be a wreck waiting to happen.

A wood, piece of firewood, hitting (should be tapping) at the forward end of the knife is a different story.

I too have a RS. I've removed the blacktickle finish, hand rubbed it to 600, decided to convex the edge, scratched the heck out of it & now I'm back to sanding :mad:
The upside is that I have a new cardboard cutter. What a difference :D
 

Esav Benyamin

MidniteSuperMod
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Cold Steel does not manufacture knives. They design and sell them. I believe Camillus manufactures the Carbon V knives out of the same or similar steel they use for the Becker line.

I can't see what he was using to hammer with. I agree with Ebbtide that a metal hammer is inappropriate. Batonning with a piece of wood instead is much safer. Batonning carefully can even be done safely with a strong folder.

These are not knives with a known history of failure. I'm glad he sent it back to them but I don't see this failure as typical. High carbon steel is more likely to hold up under shock than stainless.
 
Joined
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Ebbtide said:
A steel hammer hitting just in front of the guard would be a wreck waiting to happen.

A wood, piece of firewood, hitting (should be tapping) at the forward end of the knife is a different story.

I agree.
What many people don't want to accept is that knives are harder and more brittle than just about anything else made of steel.

And it's a Cold Steel, not a Strider.
 
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I bet Cliff would not be too surprised. I too am interested in exactly how this happened. Thanks for sharing.
 
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There is in steel a brittle transition temperature .Above that temperature it's ductile and below it's brittle .One of the reasons why the Titanic sank.I'm not sure this is the reason for the blades failure . I have split wood in the cold but the proper way is to hit the spine with a piece of wood.It appears that this knife was hit at the blade/tang junction which is not efficient and not safe for the blade. I have an excellent folding sailors knife which is quite thick at the spine , this is because it was designed to cut thick rope by hitting the spine with a mallet [and the blade is stainless ]. Was he trying to pry with the knife ?
 
Joined
Oct 28, 1999
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This is the 3rd time I have seen/heard of this happening with the Scout.

You have to assume it will happen with the Trailmaster series too.

I have dissected these knives and rehandled them on several occassions. The possibility of heat risers during heat treat exist since the shoulder to tang angle is very acute. I always drew them back with a torch in this area to bring them down to a spring temper.

This is a type of failure you rarely, if ever, see with a differentially heat treated blade.
 
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Actually, non-broken knives are never ductile. Ductility describes metal that has been extended to the point of losing resilience. A bent knife has experienced enough stress to become ductile. Knives are brittle - high strength (work required for extensibility) but relatively low extensibility compared to mild steel. A brittle enough knife will break before reaching the point of extension at which the steel will become ductile.

I think I know exactly why the knife broke. Interior corners, like cracks, act as force concentrators. As you can clearly see in the picture, the junture between tang and blade forms a 90 degree corner that has been left sharp, not faired (rounded out). This design flaw is a recipe for failure and crack formation whenever stress is put on the handle. It seems to me that your frined was pulling up slightly on the handle while hammering, and the failure occurred on the edge side corner between blade and tang.

This knife by Burchtree has a single corner between ricasso and the beginning of the blade proper. The corner has been faired to prevent this sort of failure.
elementfighter1.jpg

Here's a Strider. Once again, all interior corners have been faired.
mark1.jpg


Looks to me like CS tried to cut some corners (pun intended) in the design.
 
Joined
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In their "More Proof" video they bend a SS TM in vice. They did this with several others, but all SS models i think. It makes them look pretty flexible, but i wonder how one of their Carbon V models fair in that test. It seems pretty brittle from what I hear.

A few weeks ago someone posted that his SRK broke the same way when hit on the spine with a hammer.

It seems clear that hammer on spine is a bad idea. It could possbly splinter the blade too and you could be injured from tiny shards of steel. I have heard of happening from hitting one hammer with another. Using a sledge hammer to pound on the head of chisle hammer caused the chisle hammer to break and the person was impailed with splinters of steel.

Will
 

sodak

Gold Member
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Mar 26, 2004
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Ouch. I've pounded and hammered on my Trailmaster many times in subzero temps with no problems. I wonder if you got one with a flaw.
 
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Dec 23, 2004
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Regarding the broken knife pictured in the first post, is attempting to split a log like this typical of the performance you expect your knives to perform (day-to-day, not last resort/sacrifice the knife)? Just curious since I've observed that most knife tests and specs laud the ability to essentially replace an axe. I can see a need for having a knife to split branches in to kindling. Splitting logs into firewood may just require a tool designed for the purpose--and not just an axe--a wedge and sledgehammer if the log is stout enough. Most survival situations suggest energy conservation (small fire, get close). The situation above apparently required a different style of survival--and may point to why the survival knife failed to measure up.
 
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That is what happened to my CS tanto on a pork roast, only mine broke
above the hilt right at the end of edge to were the thick part part of the
tang starts. They replaced mine with no problems.
 
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Good technique for batoning would be, as suggested above, striking the knife (with a wood baton, not a steel tool) over the point where the knife blade contacts the wood to be split -- not between that point and the handle OR between that point and the tip.

However, in survival situations, especially with severe cold, fine motor skills may be absent. A knife with more reserve strength would be desirable. The solution may be Strider/Busse/Swamp Rat/CRK etc. --- or a hand axe (of course, there are always handle hits!)

Too bad so many production knives feature sharp corners (stress risers) where the tang leaves the blade proper -- a well-known design weakness. How serious can a design be if it intentionally includes such a defect?
 
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