Mission 12" MPKS

Nov 23, 1998
After reading about the warranty and vague explanations provided by Mission Knives I was unsure what to expect from my MPKS. What was particularly alarming was that the MPKS is not durable enough for heavy chopping. My first knife a Ka Bar had no problems withstanding chopping on any wood. Warranty or not, a 7” bladed survival knife that can be used to chop with is off no use to me. So I took it out and did as much chopping as possible on wood to see how it performs.

The first task the MPKS is to remove the limbs from a downed spruce tree. This tree had been dead for a couple of years and downed last fall with a H.I. khukuri. The most of the limbs were between 1-4” thick. The knife finished the task without any problems. The knife had excellent penetration on the softwood and got stuck quite a few times. After finishing the task, I could not find any damage to the edge. The knife was definitely not shaving sharp anymore. The black finished appears to be significantly discolored. I stuck the blade back into the sheath along with all dirt and wood bits on it.

The knife was used to de-bark a tree that had been knocked down by wind. The knife was stabbed underneath the bark and used to pry the bark off. This turned out to be light prying and the knife held up fine. Even the slender tip was undamaged. During the process the blade was wet all the time. After finishing I dried the knife as best I could on my pants and examined the blade. Again I found no damage or staining.

For a bit more challenging work used the knife to try and section wood that is well seasoned and know to be hard. The first was about 4” thick and around 38 years old. This piece of wood is quite chop resistant. The knife had poor penetration and I chopped away with it for a while to see what would happen to the edge. After about 15 minutes the edge showed no damaged. The edge could no longer scrape hair and I could feel it had flopped to one side. If I had brought a steel along this would have been the time to use it.

The finial chopping challenge is an old post that is about 5” thick and has approximately 25 rings. It has been seasoning for well over 10 years and quite slow to chop or manually saw through. The MPKS did not penetrate very well and I after 15 minutes I gave up. The edge was undamaged and but dull. While carrying the knife by the scabbard the lanyard got caught on some branches and the edge was dragged across my hand. It did not cut me, so I conclude the edge must have been quite dull.

I was introduced to stabbing a free standing 4”x4” which I have since become addicted to. The object is to thrust the knife into the wood block and have it stick on the tip. The MPKS was also used to do this and was undamaged.

Unless the damage to the knife from chopping is cumulative I think the MPKS will stand up to any wood chopping task I will use it on. After washing the blade off I found the black finish on the blade was just like new. The MPKS was also very easy to re-sharpen with a Spyderco sharp maker. I only used the fine (white) ceramic stones. The only difficulty was I had to do the edge in two sections due to its blade length.



Your comments are what I would expect since the knife is made from A-2 and properly heat treated. It's hard to tell from the description how hard the chopping was and whether the edge held up as it should. From what I gleaned out of the thread, it sounds as if perhaps that knife is just a tad lower in RC value then a Chris Reeves One Piece (which people use in a similar fashion). As mentioned, one of things I like about A-2 is its ability to take an edge without some of the effort required of other popular blades.


In terms of force, I striking the wood as hard as I could. With such a light knife it reaches its maximum velocity with very little effort. Any effort after this seems to be a waste of energy. I did try to push the knife through the wood as a follow through after the chop.

In terms of quantity of wood. The limbs were removed from a 15' section of spruce that was about 17" thick. The 2 hard pieces have V's in them about 2" deep and 3" wide.

I think the edge held up fine, but then wood chopping is not that tough on a knife. There was no chipping on the edge. The edge was misaligned after the hard wood. This is probably because I swing harder in one direction. A steel would have fixed the edge.

I suspect that chopping will even be less stressfull on the titanium alloy blade. It is lighter and the impact force will be even less than the steel.


[This message has been edited by Will Kwan (edited 26 May 1999).]
Nice report Will. Did you use a steel to try and align the edge before you ground a new one on with the sharpmaker? If so how much was it restored? Could you slice with it?

How did the handle feel? Are there any abrasion points on it? How secure in the hand was it after your grip started to loosen from fatigue and slippery with sweat?

I didn't try to re-align the edge when I first got it.

I didn't have any problems with abrasion points. It was pretty cool and dry when I was out, so sweet was not a big problem. The bark removal was wet and messy. The rough texture and grooves (expecially the ends of the ovals) prevented my hand from sliding.

I don't know how the grip would have been if my hands were fatigues. I did not have to grip the knife very tightly, even during follow through. My hands did not get tired enough to make gripping difficult from chopping, removing bark or stabbing.

I forgot to mention the kydex was attacked by insect repellent, probably DEET in the deep woods off I was using. Insect repellent did not bother the handle.


[This message has been edited by Will Kwan (edited 27 May 1999).]
I got a chance to handle Will's MPKS yesterday. Except for some minor wear along the coating right at the spine, I would be hard pressed to tell it was used at all. He certainly knows how to sharpen a blade, the edge was uniform, thin and bit very easily into my thumbpad under very light pressure.

The handle feels nice and a full tight grip doesn't reveal any pressure points. There is much more friction present between your hand and the handle due to the surface being a lot rougher than the synthetic handles on the MD's. It is no where near rough enough to be abrasive but it does look like it would prevent slipping a great deal more. The immediate difference in handles (MD / Mission) is the lack of a deep finger cutout that MD's have, which is a bit of a downside as I *really* like this for grip retention without ergonomic compromise. Could someone from Mission comment about this specific aspect?

I will do some work with it this weekend. As its not my knife, and I don't want to be on the recieving end of Will's 20 AK, it will only be wood work and similar.

Will and Cliff,
Thanks for your testing, feedback and comments. The story on the handle is as follows...

Discussions with the Navy led them to the conclusion that a finger groove does not work when the handle must fit the 3 standard deviation (hand fitting) requirement. We are told that the MPK handle fits 99.5% of every SEAL when we tested in 1993. The problem with the finger groove is - what size do you make it? There are people with large fingers, medium sized fingers and small fingers. A person with large fingers will find the handle uncomfortable since the back side of the groove will hit them mid-index finger (the finger is too large for the hole scenario). A person with small fingers will also find the groove uncomfortable since the middle finger will try and move forward into the groove hole (the finger is too small for the hole scenario). If you look closely at the MPK handle, you will notice a very slight depression where a finger groove would go. For extraction, notice the flared area at the butt end of the knife. The little finger will srcurely grab this flared area preventing the hand to slip off the butt end of the knife.

Handle material and texture. They wanted something that would maintain maximum grip in frozen conditions as well as tropic conditions. Gun checkering was out due to it removing skin in tropic environments. We decided to use a "warmer" material that provides some grip in its natural state - Hytrel. Also, Hytrel is resistant to oils, fuels, and solvents, as per the requirements. Hytrel is a co-polymer elastomer and the heat test (tip of a blue flame on a propane torch) was an issue, so we added a large percentage of Kevlar flock to the handle mold material. Kevlar does not burn or melt so this solved that issue. Horizontal lines were added to give it a little more grip.

Hope that helps.

I would be interested in hearing what you think of the handle compared to MD's after some use.

The blade does not seem to have the forward angle of the MD's as well. In a knife this small I don't know if it will hinder chopping.


The minor wear on the spine is from my Lansky sharpener. I needed to apply the course stone to the left side of the blade. A lot of metal had to be removed from the left side. The right side of the edge was fine.

From what I can tell the coating wears away much like Bob describes as small scratches. You will have to look carefully for them, as I have not used the knife much. The above testing, a bit of wood splitting, and after fixing the edge up some hedge trimming.

I also agree with Rick that the MPK/S handles are more universal even for an individual. I like the MadDog grip but it only suits me under certain condition. Whereas, the MPK grip fits me the same whether I am bare hand, with diving gloves on, with winter gloves on, with rapelling gloves on, etc.....