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Made in Taiwan tougher than an ATAK or Project ?!

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
In the general forum I made a post concerning throwing knives :


This was not on the value of being able to do so but more along the lines of just how hard on a knife is it. For along time I just accepted that throwing knives are different than regular knives. I never really thought about it. But it was mentioned to me, mainly in jest, as a sort of a test and the longer I thought about it the less extreme it seemed.

Yes, if you throw a knife and the point jams into a piece of board that is a fair shock on the point. However many survival / camping / heavy utility knives regularly are used to dig point first through wood as well as puncture metals, dig holes in rocky soil etc. I then got to thinking about some of the throwing knives I had used and they were all very cheap stainless and I had never damaged them. Even when I experimented with high velocity throws that missed badly and sent the knife flying. This made me wonder how I could possibly damage a much tougher high carbon steel knife if the cheap 420 stainless ones were not overly bothered.

Ok, I know that the temper and geometry is much different. For one thing the points on throwing knives are very thick and the temper is very low. However I figured that even though the high end survival knives are thinner with a higher hardness the better steel and heat treat would make up for this somewhat.

Anyway all the replies to the thread got me thinking about this enough to make me want to actually verify what conclusions I came to. So basically I took a very cheap imported fixed blade, mystery stainless, and threw it around for an hour.


End result - I couldn't really damage it by throwing it at wood even when I intentionally missed and sent it flying. The tip was strong enough to take straight 6 foot drops onto concrete with just slight impacting. To see a bend I had to actually throw it at the floor.

This was a very curious result as many high end knives like the ATAK and Project are not warrentied under throwing. Now the subject line is not a serious statement - but - I do wonder how any decent knife would get damaged if the cheap knife held up fine.

Now I am not saying that if you are looking for a good throwing knife then get a camping knife, they are designed for two different things. Throwing a knife that the edges are sharpened is not an overly smart idea for one thing. But what I do think, is that any knife that wants to be known for its toughness should not be bothered by you throwing it around. There are exceptions, but I think that is a pretty fair statement overall.

I think the only way you would do real damage by throwing is if you missed a high velocity throw and the knife rebounded and landed straight tip down on a rock - and the chance of that happening is about the same as you flipping a coin and it saying on the edge. Usually the knife just rebounds and takes a glancing impact on the tip - and that is really not that hard on the blade. I am speaking of a specific class of knives here of course and that has to be kept in mind. I won't be throwing my Madpoet knife around any time soon for example.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 14 April 1999).]
Well it is not a matter of good knives don't break and cheap ones do is it? I think it is a matter of tip shape and cross-section coupled with heat treatment. Often the trade-off comes to whether you want a knife that can take being dropped tip first onto a rock, or one that penetrates effortlessly and holds an edge for a long time.
People who are into throwing knives say scale handles always break sooner or later. They use no handle at all or just wrap the tang with something. I suppose scales made of something really tough like G-10 or micarta and epoxied to the tang might hold up indefinitely, but apparently wood scales always break.

There are some websites on throwing -- I'll just post one because it has links to the others.


-Cougar Allen :{)
Cliff, a lot of these cheap knives are so poorly heat treated that they have soft metal cores which allow a little better impact resistance. I know, because I have owned enough of them and thrown all of them. I don't throw my good knives, but there is no doubt that they are much stiffer and may actually snap on impact. My Ti-MPK may be the only exception and probably the H.I. khukuries(although the handles may break). I would think that the theory that goes into making a large lopper/chopper type knife would help in the throwing aspect due to a slightly better ductility and impact resistance needed for chopping. So maybe the larger knives can take more abuse, because they are softer, if only slightly so.
Cougar, yeah, that is why for serious throwing I use my ultra high tech line of throwing knives - common kitchen butter knives. At any flea market or garage sale you can pick up a dozen or so for a few dollars. You then go home and slice a tip on each and bingo you have a dozen knives with very close balances, no edges, no weak handle, and a strong tip.

Steve, the point is that regular tests such as side snapping out of wood are a lot more stressful than just throwing the knife into the wood. Its simply not that much strain. I spent some time yesterday throwing an Endura into a piece of 2x8". Its tip held up fine upon impact but yet I would not want to use it for heavy digging through wood - which is what the larger survival knives claim to be able to do easily. Why then is throwing such a problem. There is nothing magical about the strain the throwing impacts produces and from what I have seen its not even as extreme as regular heavy use.

Cobalt, yeah that's it. If a knife can take the strain of heavy chopping and digging I would be very surprised if throwing is a problem. However I don't think you can go the other way.

Is throwing a good indication of strength, no. The cheap knife easily took all the throwing but yet failed badly a simply test of digging in wood. However if a knife failed the throwing test I would not want to depend on it for heavy utility. By failure I mean blade failure. I could knock the handle off of my HI khukuri if I banged it off of the ground but I know the tip would laugh at throwing it around as I have stabbed it through 2x8" not into it. And I have slammed it into a 6x6" with no effect (on the knife not on the 6x6).

The subject line like I said, is a joke. I just found it funny that this really weak knife could pass such an "abusive" test quite easily.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 15 April 1999).]
I think using the cheapo Taiwan knife was like using Lexan to test a test for glass breakage. That steel has like zero inherent brittleness, and probably only vibrated like a wet sponge when it hit the ground.

When I was the student aide (shop gorilla, minion of Mr. Bohn, destroyer of freshmen) in out HS's metal shop, it was my duty to "test" the temper of the cold chisels that the students made. If the temper was soft, the chisel would not cut the plate steel and the edge would deform, but if it were too hard, it would shatter when dropped. I have seen projects that kids have worked on for days, polishing & buffing, fall accidentally to the ground and shatter into three or four peices...I have also dropped a couple "testing" them for newbies to the class. The overly hardened Chisels would shatter during normal use if hit hard enough. A perfect temper was hard enough to cut mild steel, but it wouldn't break if it hit the ground.

What does this have to do with knives? That 420 POS is like the undertempered chisel...it handled the abuse, but it does not perform the way a knife should. The perfect knife will will BOTH handle abuse and perform as it should. I think that you should discard that test and start mangling real knives.....I would like to know if an ATS-34 blade will shatter if dropped...

Yekim, I think that as you stated in your second paragraph, it is not really a matter of the type of steel so much as it is the way the steel was made and treated. The problem is that it is hard to get that perfect blend.
I just haven't ever seen 420 j ever get hard enough to shatter. I am sure it is possible, I just haven't seen it. To me the stuff is barely a step from aluminum for blade use.......I know that alot of the more high end steels will get overly hard if not treated right.

Yekin :

That 420 POS is like the undertempered chisel...it handled the abuse, but it does not perform the way a knife should.

I agree with that. Its far too soft. It will bend easily under lateral strain.

The perfect knife will will BOTH handle abuse and perform as it should.

Again I agree. However note that the knife would not bend under throwing. I realize that it wouldn't crack because its so soft. But it would not bend at all - this indicates that not much force is being exerted on it.

I think that you should discard that test and start mangling real knives.....I would like to know if an ATS-34 blade will shatter if dropped...

No problem, send me one

Dropping a blade on a rock is not that hard even if it is dropped from a fair distance. I am willing to bet that I can break any knife chopping, digging, and prying, that is anyway seriously effected by a simple throw - that's my only point - its just not that hard on a knife. Try it.

Note when MD tested the Sebenza this was included as part of what he did. He repeatily threw it into a wood floor and even at a tree with the blade out to test both the lock and the temper of the blade. A Sebenza does not have what I would consider a strong blade geometry but it had no problems with this.