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Great job! This test reminded me of your Ontario results. Sometime in the next few weeks I'm going to try to duplicate your results with the Ontario, especially with regards to the handle coming apart. I just keep thinking you got a bad one, but we'll see.
Quite possibly, the same behavior was exhibited in both the 18" and 12" versions though, and I have never thought much of 1095 in regards to durability when left really hard, does make a fine small knife steel though. As for large knives, the TOPS knives are 1095 and are thought of to be fairly durable, but they have an extreme cross section as compared to the Ontario machetes.
Which brings me to a knife I am really interested in - Newt's RCM. I like the idea of a few extra inches on my BM with a slightly thinner blade stock. However the RCM is also 1095 and of a similar RC to the Ontarios. It should also be weaker than the Ontario's becuase the edge profile is thinner (all else being equal which they probably are not).
The specs on the RCM state a differential temper with a RC of 59-60. I assume the RC refers to the edge. While a softer spine will help with some things (bending, impacts on the spine), it is not going to make the 59-60 RC edge any more durable.
As for the Barteaux, yes. I am hoping that they will be a bit harder than the Tramontina and still be just as tough.
I forgot to mention that I modified the handle. The wood was basically unfinished as it came from the factory. There was a gap about 1/16" wide and 1/8" deep between the handle scales for the entire length of the handle. I threw it on the belt sander and cut the handle scales flush with the tang. I also hand sanded the rough spots and finished with a coat of Lin-Speed. It was a real blister machine before I got to it.
Thanks for the review Cliff. I was beginning to wonder if my little "garden tool" had made it through customs.