Some Comments on the Busse Battle Mistress

Burke

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We’ve seen a number of reviews of the Battle Mistress from Busse Combat, and I won’t pretend to have the patience to slice 2000 pieces of 1” hemp rope, or limb eighteen identical pine trees with the Battle Mistress and two other knives in order to get a comparative picture. Rather, I’d like to focus on the design and general attributes of the knife. Before I start, I should mention that I purchased this knife used, in new condition. So this is not a factory fresh knife, but I believe it is the closest thing to it.
First, description. The knife as a whole is 15” long, 5+” of handle, 9” of blade, and a little less than an inch of unground ricasso between the end of the handle slabs and the beginning of the edge grind. There is a small choil. The blade is a drop point, with a straight edge up to the last few inches, coated in black. The handle is a full tang affair, with micarta handle slabs. The micarta is described as black, but actually looks more gray-green to me when dry, darkening when wet. The oft-mentioned E-handle starts out like a regular straight handle, and has a dropped butt, rather than being bent directly at the blade-handle juncture like a khukuri. Fit and finish overall is very good, with edge grinds starting perfectly even, and only one or two minor grinds that show less than perfect symmetry. This is nit-picking, and I honestly think that the grinds are exceptional for any knife, let alone a large user of this sort.
The handle fits my hand very nicely. I have large palms, short fingers, and a decent set of calluses. I find it quite comfortable to hold for extended periods in either hammer grip for chopping or saber grip for whittling/slicing. I haven’t done much difficult extended work with this knife, but I have had no problems with “hot spots” or blistering. The texture of the micarta, combined with the front and rear talon holes make for a very secure grip, even with cold wet hands. The choil is nice for finer work, but if your fingers are any fatter than mine you will find it impossible to use without slicing them open on the beginning of the edge grind, and forget trying to use it while wearing gloves. A larger choil would be good, as long as edge length wasn’t sacrificed. I’d also like to see a little more contouring inwards of the micarta towards the front of the handle where the inside of the thumb rests. I think that this would provide for a slightly more natural, comfortable grip.
The general shape of the blade is more for heavy utility than anything else. The drop point provides good tip-strength, though it reduces penetration. Compared to the Spyderco Gunting, the Battle Mistress exhibits almost the exact opposite behavior in stabbing. I took a card-board box and stabbed it with both knives. The Gunting simply slid in up to the ramp, while the Battle Mistress penetrated a little over an inch before knocking the box forward. The blade came extremely sharp, with the hybrid edge that is standard on all Busses now. I notice that the convex edge is much wider than the flat ground portion, and that the portion of the edge closest to the handle is substantially sharper than the portion of edge closest the point. The first few inches of the blade will literally scare hair off of my arm, while the rest of the blade will shave only with a little bit of persuasion. I haven’t had to really sharpen the blade yet, but touching up the flat edge bevel proved simple with a Spyderco Profile. I haven’t touched the convex side yet. I guess I’ll have to buy a strop. Poor me, more knife sharpening equipment.
smile.gif
I’m not sure if the difference in sharpening along the length of the blade is deliberate or not. The general cutting geometry of the edge is excellent, and gives the knife very good penetration while chopping. I would say it is roughly comparable to, or slightly better than, the Cold Steel LTC Kukri, praise of Battle Mistress given that the kukri is three inches longer, with a design dedicated to chopping. The Battle Mistress is also much more durable in regard to prying, with its thicker stock and stronger steel. I have no trouble flexing the Cold Steel knife when it is stuck in a pine tree or between two boards, while I have yet to notice flex in the Battle Mistress, despite the fact that I have purposely done some rough twisting it out of chops. The balance point on the blade is just slightly behind the choil, making the knife feel surprisingly light and maneuverable for such a large blade. Given the knife’s purpose I wouldn’t mind the balance point moving forward an inch, as this would make it a slightly better chopper, while sacrificing little in the way of handling or general utility. In terms of hacking stuff up just for fun, I was able to cut in half a single sheet of newspaper rolled into a tight tube with a single downward slash, cut a sheet of printer paper in half in mid-air with a single swipe, and demolish a card-board box that viciously attacked me. I think this is pretty impressive performance from a knife that is not a dedicated fighter, and I attribute it to the very sharp edge and the full flat grind.
The sheath that comes with the knife from the factory is functional. It is a rectangle of olive-drab nylon, with a kydex insert that holds the knife ambidextrously. The knife is held in by a nylon strap with button. While this sheath is acceptable, I don’t think it is fitting for a knife of the Battle Mistress’ quality, especially at its price point. The snap-strap doesn’t fit the knife particularly well, and the kydex insert has a narrow top, requiring practice to fit the knife in on the first try. I also don’t find that it wears very comfortably on my belt. However, the knife came to me used, with another carry option, and I also purchased yet a third sheath. These are a blade-o-leer, and a Kenny Rowe leather sheath. The blade-o-leer proves a nice way to carry the blade when you want ready access and don’t need to add anything else to your belt. I carried the knife several times snow shoeing in this sheath, and it worked well for me. The Kenny Rowe sheath is made from heavy duty black leather, and holds the knife securely on one’s belt. No fancy multi-carry or any of that, just a well-made, high-quality old-fashioned sheath. I’m pleased with it as well, and I believe that that is how I will primarily carry the knife this summer. Were I to buy the knife new, I would rather pay an extra fifteen dollars for one of these sheaths, or a multi-carry kydex one of similar quality, than the stock one.
These are, of course, only my opinions, and I look forward to being able to use the knife more extensively once the snow is gone from the ground and get a better impression of the edge-holding and strength of the INFI steel, and other attributes of the blade. I welcome any polite feedback either here or via email.
 

Cliff Stamp

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Burke:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">A larger choil would be good, as long as edge length wasn?t sacrificed. I?d also like to see a little more contouring inwards of the micarta towards the front of the handle where the inside of the thumb rests. </font>

I made modifications similar to this on my BM. I rounded out the Micarta a little exactly where you describe and in shaping the choil, increased its size slightly. However my major complaint was that it was too squarish not so the size. I have an old style BM and am not sure the new ones have the same size choil.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I?m not sure if the difference in sharpening along the length of the blade is deliberate or not. </font>

I don't think so. It would be the first I heard of it, and it would make little sense.

Is there any way to get a picture of the stock sheath (anyone)? Are they similar to the sheaths that Strider offers?

http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sstamp/images/wb-sheath-front.jpg

http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sstamp/images/wb-sheath-back.jpg

-Cliff
 
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Cliff,
I just slapped the NO sheath in the scanner (it almost fit), so the detail's not great. The SH and BM are the same except for length, I think-don't have either one.
The pouch is larger (read that-deeper) than it appears-note the elastic band. I thought it would be enough to hold a Leatherman tool or folder. I was wrong, it will hold both.

http://albums.photopoint.com/j/View?u=1483342&a=12403933&p=45746318&Sequence=0&res=high



[This message has been edited by OwenM (edited 04-04-2001).]
 

Cliff Stamp

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That looks decent, who makes them for Busse? Concerning Kydex vs Cordura, I strongly prefer Cordura. With a Kydex insert you get the security of Kydex without the extreme fragility in cold weather.

Cordura is also more cut and wear resistant than leather. Finally they are far stronger than Kydex + webbing as most attachments are simply not done very securely. On the other hand to damage a well sewn together piece of material you have to pull the material apart, the sewing will not give.

The only change I would make is put a thin mild steel wrapper around the Kydex insert. This way if it ever cracks in cold weather the blade will hit the mild steel instead of you.

Does that belt loop fold down and snap on to covert the sheath to high-ride?

-Cliff
 
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Hey Cliff...

I'm not too sure where you have been collecting your data from,, or for that matter how you have been collecting your data on cold weather and Kydex...

What tests have you done with kydex that would bring you to the conclusion that it gets damaged in cold weather ?

I have tested my own Concealex sheaths in the dead of winter by hitting an empty sheath repeatedly with a ball peen hammer,as well as Stomping on it,,, Without any more damage than scuff marks.

I did manage to crack the face of the sheath after driving over it several times with my truck.The sheath was still usable and was purely cosmetic in nature.

I believe that if a knife would have been in the sheath it would have been untouched...

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make with kydex fracturing in cold weather...

If it's on your person when it recieves Blunt Force Trauma enough to damage the sheath,,Fractures of the sheath will be the Very least of your problems,,as you possibly have other parts of your body Fractured...

If you are destroying sheaths made from kydex/Concealex I suggest taking better care of your Kit!

ttyle

Eric...

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Smoke

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Eric, there is an old post where a knifemaker had a kydex FB while doing some work in the snow. He dropped the FB and the kydex cracked, so he went back to leather sheaths.
 

Cliff Stamp

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Normark:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">What tests have you done with kydex that would bring you to the conclusion that it gets damaged in cold weather ?</font>

Light impact when cold, here is one result :

http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sstamp/images/broken_sheath_machax.jpg

This was thrown out about 6' in front of me and landed on concrete, it shattered.

I have also seen them break due to a hurried draw in cold weather as the ductility goes down fast.

Rob Simonich also described a fracture due to an impact while he was wearing one awhile back, in this forum I think. From what I have seen this is easily possible with only a moderate impact.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'm not sure what point you are trying to make with kydex fracturing in cold weather...</font>

It breaks too easily.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If it's on your person when it recieves Blunt Force Trauma enough to damage the sheath,,Fractures of the sheath will be the Very least of your problems,,as you possibly have other parts of your body Fractured...</font>

Hardly, it doesn't take near that amount of force. It I slipped/tripped and fell over I would have exerted far more force on the sheath than when I dropped it. This would not have caused me serious bodily harm, I have done it often enough this winter.

I have also recieved several impacts moving around light - heavy logs that would have easily shattered a Kydex sheath had I been wearing one as it left a serious bruise. A broken sheath would have resulted in a far more serious injury.

My brother does a lot of climbing and he can say the same, probably even more than me.

Kydex is also not very tolerant to high temperature. Cordura you basically have to get hot enough to catch fire in order to damage it.

-Cliff

[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 04-05-2001).]
 

Burke

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That's basically the problem I have with this sheath; seems like it combines some of the disadvantages of both Cordura and Kydex. Get it hot and the Kydex will deform, get it cold and it might crack. It lacks the ease of sheathing I have found with plain Kydex, and there are no multi-carry options. The sheath seems to ride in a poor position for me, neither low enough to be comfortable along my leg, or high enough to a true high-ride sheath. If there were, say, two sets of leg straps and an extender for "thigh" carry, I would be a very happy camper. I believe that would be similar to the sheath on the straight-handled Battle Mistresses. I also don't care for the snap that retains the blade; it is held in place by velcro behind a nylon loop. This makes it adjustable in theory, but in practice have you ever tried to undo velcro from both sides of an object at once? All of this, of course, is just my opinion, and YMMV. Plus, with the abundance of good aftermarket sheaths, it's not difficult to find one that fits your fancy.
 
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Hey Cliff....

I haven't had that problem with any of my sheaths, other than the one I drove over with the car.

What kind of temperatures are we talking about ??

As far as high heat goes..LMAO
Thats kind of Obvious..

ttyle

Eric...

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Leading The Way In Quality Synthetic Sheathing

[This message has been edited by Normark (edited 04-05-2001).]
 

Cliff Stamp

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I don't know the exact temperature but I would say it is somewhere around -20. While that is cold, it get colder than that around here, and its not like this is the coldest place on earth either.

As for it being obvious that it deforms when hot, well yes if you make them. However take some guy off of the street and ask him what his opinion is of a $50+ sheath that "melts" if you leave it in the sun.

While kydex is very common in the current knife industry, especially for "tactical" blades, I have yet to show one to someone around here who doesn't respond "How much was the knife again? -pause- ?! And you get a plastic sheath?"

Depends on where you live I guess, I have friends living in the tropics where it is constantly between 30-40, and friends living in places where it falls below -40 on a regular basis. They are very active outdoors, and Kydex would obviously not be functional for them at all.

The heat is not a concern to me, while it on rare occasions does climb to a decent temperature I am not overly concerned about the functionaly of my sheaths as I am not that functional at those kind of temperatures. However I do go out a lot when cold and all the Kydex work I have seen failes.

Now some of it is basic design problems, too thin a material for a heavy blade, poor choice of fastners, weakness in the geometry (abrupt corners etc.) but even the best of them can't handle repeated exposure to the cold. The last time I saw the Sheath for the Busse Basic it was cracked in several places near the bottom. What happens the next time water gets in that and it freezes?

Burke, while it is true that the Kydex insert can break / deform, so would a full Kydex sheath under the same conditions. You could always carry a spare insert, and the metal wrapper would solve both types of weather problems.

As for carribility and such, I have not used Busse's new sheaths so I can't comment but you can get very functional Cordura sheaths that have many carry options and don't have the other problems you listed. If you can check out the work by Eagle who does sheaths for Strider.


-Cliff
 
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Hey Cliff...

Well put it this way I haven't noticed a single problem other than maybe a broken clip on either one of my sheaths nor anyone elses,, and believe me I've seen them all..

Then again I haven't Beat the hell out of any of them either,,other than one, and that was excessive to say the least.

I guess if one trys hard enough Anything can be destroyed...

"While kydex is very common in the current knife industry, especially for "tactical" blades, I have yet to show one to someone around here who doesn't respond "How much was the knife again? -pause- ?! And you get a plastic sheath?" "

Yup some people just don't understand these things.Maybe they are the ones who still prefer a leather sheath and a snap with a steel boot clip to stick in their pants...

I'll stick with Plastic Thank you..


You can Please Some of the People Some of the Time,, but you Can't Please All of the People all of the Time!

ttyle

Eric...

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On/Scene Tactical
Leading The Way In Quality Synthetic Sheathing

[This message has been edited by Normark (edited 04-06-2001).]
 
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Cliff,

What are your thoughts on better sheaths?

Are the Eagle/Strider(Special Operations Equipment) Cordura with Kydex insert sheaths that best that you have worked with?

Any thoughts on the "Ultimate" knife sheath in terms of durabibilty and convenience of use?

Any thoughts on leather sheaths with kydex inserts?

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Marion David Poff aka Eye [email protected]

My website, guided links, talonite/cobalt alloy info, etc....
http://www.geocities.com/mdpoff

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Best thick leather sheaths are hard to beat. Looked after and many will out last the knife. Kydex and for that matter a lot of the new fangled materials being used today give little real advantage other than additional choise. I've bust a kydex sheath before. Balistic nylon and cordura with an insert can work well, but are not the last answer, but are better than canvas. Just ensure that the whole package is not let down by cheap/poor strapping/webbing and shoddy stitching and thread.

The greatest crime is that so many knives come with fairly poor sheaths; both in fit and finish. Its as if the sheath is an after thought and somewhere to keep the costs down. Its like fitting an expensive scope with cheap mounts.

We have also lost the skill to make and mend our own. Once there was a cobbler in every street that could put something together. Now you have to be bothered, pay up, and find someone who enjoys working with leather and stuff for knives. All too often a great knife is unused collecting dust because it has been let down by the sheath. A good sheath is a real joy.

When so many knives are so good and the performance difference is only marginal; its time for all of us to demand better in the sheaths.

Sorry for the general rant. I don't know how good the Busse sheaths are. How they stand up to long term carrying in the field of what are quite large blades. Those I've seen looked fine, but I did think there was room for improvement.
 

Cobalt

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Sheaths are one of my biggest gripes. I really can't stand the new crop of kydex sheaths. For smal knives they may be fine, like neck knives and small concealable fixed blades, but for large blades I really don't like them.

I prefer leather or cordura for several reasons. The first is NOISE, the kydex with the knife in it is just to noisy, or maybe it is just the knives I have that are like this. The second is that the knives tend to loosen within the sheath faster and if you do not have a perfect fit they seem to not snap in like the knife should either because the fit is to tight or to loose or not fitted correctly. Third, the sheaths are hard and usually unconfortable when placed close to the body. Fourth, I have also noted cracking(on one sheath only to date) in cold weather( at least cold for me 10 degrees F). Those are my opinions and If I had the choice, I wold go with the custom leather or cordura. Maybe, when I find the right kydex sheath for a big blade I will think differently. When I get my carson blade, I'll see if the kydex sheath is to my liking or if I still prefer leather. The big advantage to Kydex is weight savings over leather, IMHO.

I have to admit, Randalls come with some of the nicest leather sheaths I have ever seen.
 

Cliff Stamp

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Normark:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I guess if one trys hard enough Anything can be destroyed...</font>

I didn't try very hard, that was kind of the point.

Marion, the work done by Eagle is easily the best I have seen. The only improvement that comes readily to mind is a steel wrapper around the Kydex but I think this is overkill except for rare situations. The Cordura will insulate the Kydex from excessive heat and also absorb impacts to some extent.

Personally I would add a detachable leg strap (velcro) and make the handle strap also detachable as I rarely engage it and most of the time it is in the way.

As for sheaths in general, like knives you have to design them for the job. One of the nicest sheaths I have seen was on a David Boye blade, Will York told me awhile ago who made it but I can't find the name. Anyway, the blade would glide in and out of the sheath effortlessly. The knife fit securely and I could not notice I was wearing it.

However, the durability was obviously not high. Leather in general is not that resistant to abrasion and this particular material was on the thinner softer side. As well while the blade was secured with no movement, it would pretty much fall out if you turned it upside down and there was no handle strap.

Personally for frequent light use work the thing I want most is ease of draw and sheathing. I don't need high levels of durability nor a huge amount of security. Thus that leather sheath was perfect.

However if I was out working outdoors I would replace it with something more durable with a more secure fit. Leather can do this as well. Phil Wilson makes very solid and secure leather sheaths. The leather is very thick and rigid and locks the blade in tightly. You can shake the blade out but not without effort. It will not come out easily in a fall. You should definately check out his leatherwork if you get the chance.

However there are situations where I would want even more durability and retention. When I work around dead wood for example the cracked off points will readily penetrate leather and tear it up. As well working in heavy brush can dislodge the blade if it gets caught as you are walking along. Cordura fits this for me as it is more resistant to abrasion and a Kydex liner prevents the blade from cutting through the sheath.

The biggest advantage that I see with Kydex is that it is very stiff even when thin and thus for concealing a knife it works very well and can lock a blade in place just by shape alone. However as Cobalt noted this is one of the problems with Kydex as it is generally used as a shape-locking material and thus once the knife changes shape the sheath ceases to function. And blades will change shape over time as they are used.

A couple of other comments on Eagle, the workmanship is top class both in craft and materials. I showed it to someone who worked in the industry and they immediately commented on the quality. They also have the ability to change from high/low ride which I like, and can be removed easily as the belt loop can be undone as it is attached to the back of the sheath with velcro. The tool pouch is a solid feature and there are many carrying options through the webbing loops and such.

The real downside to Cordura is that I have heard that it rots in very humid weather. I can't personally confirm or disprove that though as it isn't like that here.

-Cliff

[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 04-06-2001).]
 
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Let me throw my .02 in, since I'm a big fan of Eric's sheaths (as anybody who looks at a post with a question about aftermarket sheaths already knows, I'm sure). I know the criticisms about kydex are not directed solely at his sheaths, but they're what I use, so that's what I can comment on.

I live in Alabama, so extreme cold is not a consideration most of the time, though it does dip into the single digits on occasion. Heat and humidity are, however, especially heat, since I work in a slag wool fiber plant (we melt rocks to make our product, and the heat can be extreme in that area+our plant is located in what used to be a swamp, and humidity is very high).
I use one of Eric's sheaths for a BM Nimravus that I carry as a beater. The sheath gets soaking wet, filled with grit, splattered with molten rock (along with the rest of me
smile.gif
), covered with mud on occasion, gets cold in the winter, and then heated because I usually wear it behind my hip, and frequently back up to a heater. I've broken one clip from not wearing the sheath properly and constantly snagging it, and the knife rattles a little (haven't tried heating it and adjusting the fit, yet), but the sheath still has excellent retention.
Got the sheath because the factory one did not retain the knife, and the sheath itself would come off sometimes while climbing ladders, or up to/into/out of the cab on heavy equipment.
I've taken to wearing it IWB, because it is comfortable, and keeps the sheath out of the way.
The sheath is scratched, and the finish is worn off the grommets, but is still 100% functional. A leather or nylon sheath would have been destroyed long ago, and caked with grit, inside and out, before that.
Kydex/Concealex might not be the best choice for every environment, but neither are any of the other options listed here.
The Nimravus sheath was the first I bought from Eric, and I have gotten two more of his sheaths since + he's sending me one for the Busse NO I mentioned above next week.

I prefer leather, and don't buy Eric's sheaths because I like him, or want to be his buddy. I buy them because they work, and are tougher, more convenient, more comfortable, and offer more carry options than any other sheaths I've used.

Cliff,
On the Busse sheath. The kydex insert is really just a sleeve, and is not fitted to the blade, though it does grip the choil a little bit, and the knife can be inserted backwards (sheath would work left-handed, too), so it does not add to the retention. Have to depend on the strap for that. Good-looking sheath, and seems to be pretty well made.
Don't know who makes them.
The loop is not made fold down to convert to a high-ride. Since you asked that, I folded the loop down, put a piece of 550 cord through the top of the loop, ran it around through the top of the velcro flap on the pouch, and put the sheath on my belt. Works very well, but the 550 rides up when the flap is opened to access the pouch. Pulls back down when the flap is closed though, so it doesn't really interfere. I like it enough that the 550 is staying on there for the time being.

[This message has been edited by OwenM (edited 04-06-2001).]
 
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I think it's important to note this thread is not in any way a slam on Eric's sheaths or his quality. I'm sure they're top notch, just as I'm sure Bob Dozier's knives are top notch. I've never held either one, but just start a thread with Bob's name, and tomorrow you have 80 or 100 replies singing his praises. Wow! Now I gotta cut myself with one of his knives.
biggrin.gif


I personally like cordura the best, it's tough, easy on the skin and jeans, and humidity is a non-issue in the Colorado rockies. I have never been fond of leather, and I don't like the looks of kydex. It's purely aesthetics and personal preference, nothing more.
 

HJK

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I am certain that Eric's [Normark's] sheaths are superb. The issue is the limitation of Kydex/concealex/plastic in extreme temperature. For me, deformation in the sun or damage in extreme cold would be a problem but I would venture to say that for the vast majority of knife users [who are careful with leaving their sheath where it may get too hot], kydex is probably more convenient and clean than anything else.
Cliff, -20 is pretty darn cold anywhere. You guys out on the Rock are even tougher than I thought
smile.gif

For some uses I actually prefer Kydex, like my personal defence multicarry Polkowski's, Nealy's and neck knives. And they even look pretty mean and cool, in a minimalistic sort of way. These sheaths are very unlikely to see temperatures that will do them damage because of how they're worn - I'd likely fail before the sheath does [neck knife a possible exception in the winter or way up north if worn exposed or lashed to something]. Personally I've not yet had a problem.
But, with all due respect to all who love kydex, I still prefer leather as a rule. Hey, leather can fail too. And it can rot. But I love the look, feel, repairability and versatility of leather. The best leather sheaths actually have an inner sheath, preferably of wood. That not only helps prevent penetration, it also helps keep the blade clean.
Believe it or not, when I have space for an extra, I like to take two sheaths: one kydex and one leather[ this developed because the original sheaths are often kydex and I then get a custom leather sheath ]. One sheath I usually lash to pack or canoe or kayak and the other is for wearing. It saves time lashing and unlashing, especially with cold hands. It is a little lighter than taking another knife [although I'm sure I take too many knives anyways].
I'd be interested to know if this kydex breakage or melting is something people have experienced very often out there in the real world. How about leather sheath failure?
 

Burke

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One of the reasons I posted concern about the sheath was because I'm applying for several wilderness firefighter jobs this summer. There is, I think, less exposure to heat than in structural firefighting, but it's easy to get close to a small tree before it torches, and temperatures can easily spike up to well above a hundred degrees. At the few controlled burns I've seen, I've also done some walking through short (6") flame lengths while igniting scrub oak. I'd hate to lose an expensive knife to a sheath that either melted (kydex) or decomposed (nylon) due to high heat. Leather, I think, is better for this sort of use due to the fact that it holds up fairly well to heat. Of course, I would keep the sheath well-oiled to reduce drying out and cracking. Any thoughts on this particular subset of sheath use?
 
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