• Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all of you! Thanks for your continued support and I hope that your holiday season is a blessed one.

Cut the crap test your knives try in a real jungle ......

Welcome Jeff.

SME is an abbreviation for Subject Matter Expert. Maybe it means other things also. I get lost in the world of TLA's. (Three Letter Abbreviations)

I am sincerely interested in the tools, and knives in particular, you have encountered in use by natives. Would you care to comment on this? During my brief perusal of your website I saw mention of the sandstones used for sharpening, but not much on the knives themselves.
SME = Subject Matter Expert.

They who know their Stuff...

Bob, I was showing my "back side", not my "true side". I got out of line so I caught myself. That kind of stuff doesn't really belong on the forums.

However, I'd be perfectly willing to engage you in a flame war via our personal e-mail!

Nearly every primitive Indian tribe I have visited and worked with (Jiavros, Urarinas, Yaguas, Matses) lives completely from a machete. They use them for everything from cleaning game and fish to building houses and climbing trees. Most of these machetes are the ultra cheap, wide blade Collins (the ones that you can even read a name on) bought in most river towns and in Iquitos for less than 5 bucks. Usually the plastic handles have been broken off a long time ago and they will be wrapped instead with just about everything and anything you can imagine. Most of the primitive tribes get these by trading with folks like us or loggers of the area. I usually take down 5 or 6 Ontario 18 inchers to give away. Funny thing is they trade these off for something else and keep their old wore-out pieces. The areas we travel (upper Chambira and Rio Blanco) have few, if any, flat rocks so the Indians treasure their sandstone sharpening rock as much as anything they own. Many times these sandstones have been handed down thru many generations.

Randall's Adventure & Training
email: jeff@jungletraining.com

That's something I really love to read...what knives natives use and how they use/maintain them. It's interesting the world over how knives that are usually considered cheap and crude are getting the job done hard on a daily basis.
I'd also be interested to read if anyone knows what knives the Australian aborigines and New Zealand Maori use in the field, and in what ways.
Now Snick, what fun would that be? No one else would be reading our hyped up, ego trip infested, machismo laced, antagonistic flames twords each other!
The only people that would be having any fun would be us. It would be selfish for us to do that.

The spirit grows, strength is restored by wounding
I, too, am glad that this thread brought a genuine expert to the forum. And he has real courtesy as well! It has been my experience, over 56 years of life, that the real experts do not need to bluster. One of the kindest, most gentle men that I have ever met was a Korean who was 6th Dan in Judo, and had coached the Korean National Team, 5th Dan in Hap-Kido, and 4th Dan in Tae-Kwan-Do. He did not need to brag, he was entirely too competent to do that.

Walk in the Light,
Joel's rule #1 - No sniveling.

Not only do I find AE's post NON-offensive, I actually LIKE it! It's just another man's rant and a good rant at that! I won't ask him to qualify his statement nor will I vilify him for being a first time poster. I don't get the idea of someone's "first" post being any less valid than someone elses 901st post. It's just an opinion. WE ALL HAVE THEM.

Although the post is titled "Cut the crap test your knives try in a real jungle ......" the text of the message states, "In my many years as an outdoorsman playing in wilderness areas around the world......" I infer REAL USE of a knife and not JUST in a jungle from this statement.

I too would like to hear more on the matter from him but he was gracious enough not to name any particular manufacturer or *gasp* CUSTOM maker. Golly, what ego's might have been bruised there!?!

I have used knives in the jungle, and on the 400 acres I live on, and in the deserts of Mexico, and in the Swamps of Lousiana and I have yet to put one through the paces as vigorously as Cliff Stamp does. (By the way, Cliff, I like your reviews.) I like Jeff Randall's reviews too. Real world use of real knives.

You anal people, go get a cleansing and loosen up. The rest of you, pop some Lithium, pop a beer, or pop a cap in the neighbors cat and relax!!! If egos are getting stepped on, it might not be poor aiming on AE's part, it might be that they are just too big.

[This message has been edited by the4th (edited 05 June 1999).]
The only problem with AE is the post was copied and pasted directly from our web site - Junglee review. The only thing 'orginal' about the post is his username. I can live with that but I don't like some 2-bit imposter wannabe attemtping to qualify his expertise by using our web site in a pitiful attempt of convincing the group he (or she) is actually me.
I'd just like to apologize for assuming that the poster was the same person who wrote the review in the first place. Plagiarism, too! AE has trolled us baaaad.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

Thanks for your reply to my previous question. Here are some more.

What is the size and "grit" of the preferred sandstone sharpening rocks? Have you ever considered bringing rocks for trade items and gifts? (I'm sure there would be nothing to compare with the experience of packing a pack full of rocks through the tropical jungle.
) What are your thoughts on the impact that contact with your parties may have on isolated peoples and cultures?

Along the same lines, what other sorts of material things do you find the natives value? I think many of us fantasize about simpler lives. At least I find myself doing so at times. Some of the people you meet on your expeditions live in a very simple and primitive manner that no longer exists in many places on earth.

Both Tobii3 and I spent a little time down in southern Ecuador, and can attest to Jeff's comment that the indigenous populace uses the standard machete for just about everything..hunting, skinning, chopping, food prep, making snares/traps, etc! Tobii3 may disagree, but my SRK (w/ Blade-Tech kydex sheath) worked pretty good.

Hey stjames...saw some of those SUV's in action as well (Ford Explorers). Only made the 2 hour tip from Patuca, Ecuador to Cuenca, Ecuader twice and were so beat up they were confined to the compound!


Hard to answer your 'grit' question - I've not that much experience with using a varying amounts of sharpening stones - mostly I just use the Lansky for all my smaller work and a flat diamond for the larger blades, so getting in to knowing the actually grit of a stone from feel would best be ansered by someone with more experience.

The size of the flat rocks range from 8-12 inches at the widest point and 2-3 inches thick although this varies according to what the people can find. They remind me of the old Native American 'corn mills' that you find that were hollowed out sandstones. Most of these rocks are well worn from using the same areas - much like the old hardware store carborundum stones that old-timers sharpened their knives on while they hung out and talked about the weather.

Sorry but the rocks are too heavy to bring home! I imagine Customs would want to ask questions on that one also :)

We try to avoid 'impacting' cultures too much while we're there - as best we can. We live just as they do (eating, sleeping, bathing, ect.) and will avoid ANY senstive tribe if one of our members is sick. One of the main things you have to do is be careful when treating a sick person with 'white man's' medicine, especially if you do not know the history. An aspirin to some of these people can be like a mjor drug to us. So we do the best we can to help when asked but within reason so as not to harm.

Of course most every tribe(that I've met) there now has been exposed to some form of 'civilized' culture. I've gone many miles deep in the jungle and found a Pert shampoo bottle in the most remote hut of the region - obviously traded upriver and through the jungle by many different Indians. It's a shame, but in may ways 'civilization' is actually a curse on the people. The more we give them to 'improve' their lives the more dependent we make them on technology and less on their true survival skills. Then once the 'great white saviors' decide it's time to leave, or we run out of 'aid', money, or interest, the people are forced to return to the old way and many times it's hard on them. Especially if this has spanned generations.

The funny thing about these people is they value EVERYTHING - including empty Pert bottles. There is no waste from these cultures. Anytime they take an animal or tree from the forest every part has a purpose. Garbage to us is valuable items to them. Even the simplest things like a worn out pastic garbage bag or broken shoe string becomes a part of their very existence. Thye are true survivalists and the most innovative people I have ever met. The good old common horse sense that our culture has lost is alive and well down there.

It's a beutiful place that makes you appreciate your easy life in the States, but also makes you just a little envious of their freedom.

Hope this answered all your questions.

Randall's Adventure & Training
email: mailto:jeff@jungletraining.com

Hey folks,

sorry about the long post above...I didn't realize how long it was until after it was posted.


Don’t worry about the length of your posts. They’re great.

Your story of the Pert bottle reminds me of a great scene in Kurosawa’s movie “Dersu Usala,” in which the members of the Siberian survey team are practicing marksmanship by shooting at a glass bottle suspended on a string. Dersu, the native guide, asks if he can have the bottle. They say yes, if he can shoot the string. Then they start the bottle swinging. Dersu shoots through the string, runs to the bottle, picks it up, and scampers off with it.

By the way, I meant bringing rocks to the locals, not exporting them back to the US. I have more than enough rocks thank you.

Howard wrote:

"By the way, I meant bringing rocks to the locals, not exporting them back to the US. I have more than enough rocks thank you."

Howard, Obviously I misunderstood your question. Yeah I've tried taking sharpening stones to the jungle and teaching them how to use them. No good. The natives usually end up using them as an ornament, fishing weight, and about a dozen other things that they're not intended for. I guess after you've been sharpening steel on a rock for 100s of years it's hard to do different.

Once I took a new rope down specifically for towing the smaller dugout canoes behind their other boats...well 2 hours later the 50 foot piece of rope was cut into small sections ans passed around the community and used for everything from clothesline to jewlery...the canoes got towed by philadendron vine - as always...you gotta love it!

Getting back to the knife sharpening. The new Collins machetes you buy down there have never been sharpened out properly. Usually the cutting edge is flat as a hammer over 75% of its length. It's amazing how fast the Indians can apply a keen edge to these on their flat rock. A lot faster than I can using regular diamonds or stones.

I wonder if the sandstone the natives use is as easily obtained as it was in centuries past. It may be that the desirability of the native trade goods, and the type of items that outsiders bring, has changed with the passage of centuries. I wonder if they would appreciate sandstone rocks of the type they are currently using? That type of trade item may actually serve to preserve their traditional culture.

Your expeditions sound intriguing. Perhaps when I finish up my latest round of academic studies, in about a year or so, I can contemplate joining you on one. The prices look within reach.

I notice you mention on your website that filters don’t work so well with the murky waters, and that you prefer iodine for purifying water. I have also found this effective, and usually carry iodine crystals. But I find that long term usage messes with my digestive system. Do you have a means of dealing with this?

Iodine has proven to work real well for us. We are testing some new methods and new technology but Iodine still seems to be the best ticket.

Diegstive problems? Down there just about everything can give you digestive problems initially - especially when your diet changes from Stateside McDonalds to monkeys, rats and bugs. It's hard to nail those type problems down to any particluar item.

Might I suggest Immodium AD
Hi Jeff, Guys

I am the a--hole who posted Jeff's article in Bladeforums. Why I did this?

Here are my sincere reasons:

1. I believe that Jeff Randall is a no nonsense guy (actually, I admire his knowledge, his gut and experience)
2. I want to get him in the forum because he is one of the best jungle instructor that I have encountered (at least he is one of the the internet space. Jeff you have a very informative site. Therefore, the other SME must get to know him.
3. I am very tired reading knife test performed in the lab - I want to read something that has been tested in the field.

Again guys - no offence but a little provoke do get the some attention.
Really, I want Jeff Randall to share his hands-on knowledge in this forum. I know Jeff does not like the word "expert" -(that is his soft spot) - that is why I choose that word to get his attention.

By the way, the quote that I posted from Jeff's site is my favourite.

Hi Folks,

I just returned from running a 6 day Alpine Survival course for The California Department of Fish and Game (10,000 feet, 15f, no food, 30 mph winds and no gear but a knife) and found this discussion.

I want to second Jeff's comments. I've known the man for a couple of years. Two months ago we met and had a burger and a few beers in at Ari's in Iquitos Peru and chatted about jungle stuff. The guy knows his way around. I respect his opinions and comments and second what he has written.

The F&G guys spend their lives in the field dressing game, hunting down poachers and other stuff. Blades? You name it. One guy uses a stout, full tang, kitchen knife!

I haven't read it yet but I understand my article about the "Blades of the Amazon" is in TK this issue.... I'm wondering how the editing adjusted my prose ;>)

Ron Hood