The AK and Bowie Got Their Workout Today

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Oct 25, 2004
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I arrived at work today with 16.5" AK and bowie in hand today, hoping for some idle moments to test them out in an outdoors environment. Fortune was smiling on me. While showing them off to my coworkers, the phone rang -- today's class was running an hour late. An idle moment had arrived. :D

It was off to the woodshop. The first chore, of course, would be chopping through a scrap length of 2x4; the first tool would be the AK. After securing the unfortunate piece of lumber to the workbench, I started swinging. Needless to say, this test didn't last very long. When I saw the amount of wood chips that went flying on the very first strike I knew that I was dealing with something a little different than a hardware store hatchet or G.I. machete...or my CS machetes, for that matter.

A 2x6 went next. Then a 2x8. Then a 4x4. Then I tried splitting them. The bowie lent a hand here. I don't know if I'm imagining things or not, but I could almost swear that it splits wood better than the AK. When the piece of wood was long enough that a single blow couldn't completely split it (rare), simply continuing to swing with the wood attached produced the results I was looking for. I do this often with hatchets, tomahawks, and mauls as well, but the shorter handles make this much less tiring with a khuk -- less leverage. Results were about the same.

The target backs we construct for range use are built from sheets of interior plywood, maybe 1/8" thick and supported by 1.5x1.5. (I know, it's an odd size, but we cut them from dunnage obtained from DRMO and this size produces an even number of legs.) I don't like target backs. Despite my concerns for accumulating bad karma, I made the choice to attack one with no provocation. You can imagine how that ended. If I'm ever trapped by sheets of interior plywood, I'm confident of my ability to chop a passage through in short order. Myself, and the others present, were extremely impressed by both knives at this point. I remembered the warranty on the Chiruwa AK, though, and decided that I wanted to be more than impressed. I wanted to be astounded.

My baleful glare turned on an old, disused metal trashcan, the junky sheetmetal type you often see in schools or military facilities. I gave it two chops on the rim, paying particular attention to my form so as to make sure the sweet spot was the only area making contact. Penetration tended to be 2-3". The cuts were clean with no tearing. I did not use full power -- I wasn't comfortable with going all out yet. My CS machetes only leave dents on this rim with full power. The G.I. machetes do even less, being considerably lighter. I don't believe I'd try that with anything else. (At least, nothing else I own.) I gave it a backhanded blow to the side. Nice dent, but no penetration. A second blow left a clean cut appr. 6" long. It was at this point we discovered that this was not a single trashcan, but 3 (!) trashcans that'd been nested and driven down in the past so as to resemble just one. Damage to the edge consisted of two small dings in the sweet spot. More on these later.

I passed it off to an eager coworker for a test. Bear in mind, this individual also handles axes, machetes, and hatchets often and has fairly good form. I instructed him on the sweet spot, where it was and why it had to be used, and gave him a few minutes with it. He got the hang of it almost immediately. I didn't trust any of my other coworkers with it. They can buy their own.

The final test performed in the woodshop was simply stabbing it into thick wooden surfaces and prying the tip back out. I would never do this with any other blade I own, but I've read plenty of reports of AK's tolerating this so I gave it a shot. First stab got down about a quarter of an inch -- no problems. That, if nothing else, got a few appreciative comments from the bystanders. Second stab was a bit harder, maybe half an inch, no problems. On my third stab I used both hands, my left against the buttcap, and applied about as much force as I felt comfortable with on a guardless blade. I got it down a good inch or so. Prying took some effort. I wound up with one huge chunk of wood and absolutely no damage to the tip or edge.

There was some discussion of running the bowie through some of the tougher tests. No way. I bought it for a different purpose and it's just too beautiful to abuse like that. Maybe another time, but probably not.

The students arrived. While they were getting their safety briefing, I was learning how to use my chakma. I wasn't sure whether to use a corner, an "edge", or a "flat" -- I wound up using all three alternately. Over ten or fifteen minutes of steeling, I kind of got a feel for it. If you asked me to explain why I'm using a certain surface I wouldn't be able to tell you but it just seemed right to use different techniques depending on what the tactile feedback was. Whether I was doing it right or wrong, I flattened them out about 75%. A bit of work on a coarse stone (the kind they sell at hardware stores for using on tools) flattened them right out. They are still slightly visible but don't seem to affect cutting in any way.

After the class and while the students were cleaning their weapons, we had another hour or so of idle time. The abovementioned coworker and I volunteered (being the considerate employees that we are) to remove some troublesome trees enroaching on a building. Two were dead alders, 5" diameter or so. They went down very easily. Again, the wood chips were flying; as someone else put it in an earlier thread, "the wood burst apart with pleasure." I mentioned that exact phrase while we were doing the cutting. My coworker agreed. It was almost as if the wood was fleeing.

Third tree was a live pine, maybe 3". We decided to limb it before removal, simply to see what this thing felt like on twigs. Verdict: not too good. The blade is too slow and heavy to work on thin, springy branches. The job certainly got done though. I let my coworker take the tree. It looked easy enough. He comfirmed this.

Fourth and final tree was a live alder, at least 8". We alternated cutting out of laziness...err, I mean, for different opinions. This job took about six minutes. We were easily able to direct the tree's fall. The khuk was unstoppable until we hit the heartwood; instead of beating our way through, we went around and let the tree's weight snap it. Tomorrow will be too busy but I'm looking forward to sectioning this sucker on Thursday.

Again, the bowie was spared from the worst of it -- to me, for my uses, it's a good cutter that can do excellent chopping if required -- but it may be put to use on Thursday for some limbing. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee it. Too pretty to beat on, but too useful and tough not to. Bura really made me a keeper here. I am thankful beyond words.

On the way back to the range house, we noticed what appeared to be a concrete foundation, partially/mostly buried and overgrown, right in the middle of a grassy area we traversed almost daily. No idea why it was there or what it had originally been for; the Camp has been open for at least 60 years (probably more than 70, although no one's quite sure when it opened anymore) and the few period maps I've found for it cover only five specific dates. A lot can change in a few years and we constantly find surprises.

COWORKER: "I wonder what that is?"
ME: "Looks like a foundation. Let's dig it up."
COWORKER: "Okay. I'll get a shovel."
ME: "You stay right there. We're using the khuk."

Not the digger a shovel is but far better than a stick, the hands, a rock, or pretty much anything else besides a shovel. There's a definite paddling technique to it. I was moving a lot more dirt by the end. Thirty seconds, a water faucet, and a green scrub pad were required to clean up the dirt, grime, and sap. A fresh heavy layer of CLP was layed over the dry metal. I found, to my intense satisfaction, that the steel is beginning to develope a gray patina. My AK was purchased as a user, not a wall decoration; I want it to look the part.

Just a few thoughts to cap off one of my better days at work:

The handle slips a bit on very hard swings. Annoying, but nowhere nearly as bad as with G.I. machetes that weigh half as much. The grip itself fits my hands well, which says something for its dimensions. I have large hands even for an American. The back edge of the bell irritates the edge of my palm after a while. My coworker had the same problem.

We're both in agreement on the bowie. What an excellent, awe-inspiring knife that is. It can thrust, cut, and chop with authority. (Especially chop.) The grip looked odd but I found it considerably more comfortable than that of the AK. I have no problems with it. A chakma and karda are not traditionally included with a bowie knife but I think it would've made a nice touch here...not that I'm complaining, though. (Possible future project: procure inexpensive AC karda and fabricate a chakra for this knife.) This knife speaks for itself. I can't say enough good things about it. As others have said here, I simply can't believe how much chopping power the kamis have managed to shoehorn into such a small package. This thing chops all out of proportion with its size.

Vibration on a Chiruwa -- I can see someone complaining about it, especially when attacking something solid like a tree. I can tell you from experience, it's nowhere nearly as bad as swinging a G.I. machete against a tree. These khuks are going to spoil me. :) When performing an activity with "give", such as splitting wood, the vibration isn't anything noteworthy for me...more than a hatchet but certainly not intolerable.

Technique -- when using a machete, hatchet, maul, hawk, or pretty much any chopping instrument other than an AK in the past, getting the blade stuck in the wood resulted in a few wasted moments while I pumped the handle to work the tool free. I've since learned to use an AK slightly differently: when the blade sticks, I simply torque it sharply to the side, bust a huge chunk of wood loose as the blade comes free, and continue swinging. If it's so deep that I can't torque it, I pry on it. The blade actually bent quite a bit on a few of my motions, alarmingly so in one case; no cracks, no permanent bends. This seems to be a bit easier and a lot faster. What a fantastic tool!

I'm awed. I know at least three other sailors that're equally awed and are saving their money now.

I'm very thankful to Bura and Raju for making these wonderful things for me. I didn't need them (in the life-and-death sense of the term) but my life has been made considerably easier by having them. I almost feel guilty for taking them out and using them hard but I'm sure that the kamis would want it this way. I'm equally thankful to UB for providing me with a means to obtain them.

I'm now a believer. :D
 
Joined
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Glad you had fun. What do you teach, Satori?

I want an AK Bowie someday.




munk
 
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munk said:
Glad you had fun. What do you teach, Satori?

I want an AK Bowie someday.




munk

Marksmanship and firearms safety mostly, tactics secondarily. It's a bittersweet job. I'll be happy when I don't have to do it anymore.

This AK bowie is something else, Munk. I bought it as a cutter. It can do so much more...
 
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You write well, and I enjoyed reading it. A bigger ham than munk? Naaahhh. Couldn't be.



munk
 
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I'm still just gushing over my initial enthusiasm. Give me some time. When I'm discussing purchase #20 or 21 a year or two from now I probably won't be shooting my mouth off quite as much. :)
 
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Mar 22, 2002
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Don't be silly; these blades are great and I can tell you are in there.

I wasn't even a knife guy until I found the HI khuk.



munk
 

Rusty

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Thank you for the report. Very nicely written, and can tell easily that you had fun doing it. You obviously belong in the funny farm - er, the Himalayan Imports Cantina.
 

Kismet

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Satori?

Carefully grind the top end of the handle bell down so that the butt is egg-shaped, rather than oval.

Also try using a snap impact, wherein you grip the handle with your thumb and forefinger right before impact. You will increase velocity of impact and should not lose control of the tool.

I don't know how that will work with the Bowie. Also, try using a baton for splitting the wood when the blade doesn't go completely throught. MUCH easier than with a hatchet or machete. You have good control with the handle hand, and can attack the spine of the blade to drive the edge through.

Take two aspirins and call me in a month.
 
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Great review. I am sold on the AK bowie now. I have been on the fence about them for 2 years.
 
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Satori,
Are you at Harris? I heard the range berms are so heavy with lead built up over the years that it's being shut down and cleaned up as a toxic site and the range is moving to Bangor. Is this true?
 
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Ben Arown-Awile said:
Satori,
Are you at Harris? I heard the range berms are so heavy with lead built up over the years that it's being shut down and cleaned up as a toxic site and the range is moving to Bangor. Is this true?

I am indeed at Harris. The story you heard is partially right. I'll tell you what I know about it, but bear in mind that I don't always get the full story.

I can tell you that there are areas of the Camp that are very badly polluted with lead. Remember, this is a shooting facility that's been in operation for a very long time. Until the seventies, the military didn't have a lot of rules about what was dangerous and how it was disposed. When things were disposed of, it was often done in ways that make us cringe today. The USMC had this place for most of its life; I'm not sure exactly when the Navy took it over but the evidence I have points at the early eighties. Both organizations have a history when it comes to hazmat disposal. :(

Out of the ranges we're currently using, two are in constant useage (A and B) and one is partially utilized. (C.) "B" is an outdoor range that is no more than 29 years old (it doesn't appear on a 1975 map) and uses an earthen berm. It's intended for pistol and shotgun use only, although it's seen some...ahem...heavier weaponry on occasion. The berm has been rebuilt at least once. "A" is an indoor rifle range that was converted from an outdoor pistol range (earthen berm) a decade or two ago. It has semimodern bullet traps and lead filtration capabilities. "C" range is an outdoor range with an earthen berm that was originally used for who knows what...it's currently used for shotguns only due to the drop zone. It's one of the original ranges for the Camp and has been in use for a long time, although it's only rarely utilized currently. There's a nice 600-yard outdoor rifle range (originally 850 yards) that's been out of service for a few years due to a danger zone conflict. (The county authorized construction of a school at the far edge of the drop zone; it's widely thought in most circles that they did this deliberately to force the Navy out.) Earthen berm, of course. This range has been in operation almost since the very beginning as well. Finally, there was once a .22 caliber range directly beside "C" range with an earthen berm; it hasn't been used in a very long time (the firing line shelter is gone and overgrown) and I don't believe it's ever seen a cleanup. That's just what I know about, mind you; there are at least two areas where we've found evidence of spent grenades that don't appear on any map I've seen. We've also found cartridge cases (primarily from the 40's and 50's) in very odd places.

As if those berms aren't enough, I've personally found junk, empty paint cans, 55 gallon drums (don't know what's in them, wouldn't let my people investigate), very old car wrecks, and other stuff back in the woods along overgrown trails and roads. There's a pond in the operational area that probably contains plenty of more stuff. (Oddly, it doesn't appear on the 50's maps, although it appears on the 1975 one.)

I know for a fact that we're on the EPA's Superfund list for Washington state. We have a rating of 2. (1 being the worst, 5 the best.) Primarily lead as far as I know, but the investigators probably haven't seen everything I have.

The last I heard, the administrative area will be converted to a trailer park. There hasn't been any discussion of a cleanup there but there will have to be, whether the new owners know it or not. The paint cans and car wrecks I mentioned are up there. There are also abandoned wells, junk piles, and other stuff in the woods they probably don't know about. On the plus side, they're keeping the classroom, admin building, and range house -- three of the four original buildings, all at least 60 years old. They'll be bulldozing the rest.

I've heard various plans for the larger downrange area. Last I heard, it will be converted to a golf course. This is very unfortunate -- the forest is thick and beautiful. As most of it is wetlands, they'll have a hard time of it. It floods badly in the winter. I've been told that the Navy isn't even contemplating a cleanup of the operational area yet; they'll simply fence it off for the time being and treat it properly when they have the money. Maybe they do know what's going on down there.

To the best of my knowledge, the site isn't being shut down on account of contamination; it's simply a matter of logistics. It's a major PITA for us to truck weapons, ammo, and students out there every day. The facility is very outdated and downright unsafe in some areas. We also have agreements with the neighbors not to shoot at night or on weekends. The facility on Bangor will be able to operate 24/7, will be up to date, and will make logistics a breeze -- it's equipped with an armory and magazine, so the gun runs will be eliminated entirely. It will also be able to accomodate considerably more shooters per class and will allow us to use fully automatic fire. (Not allowed at the Camp right now, meaning we have to bus the students to Fort Lewis for machinegun classes.)

That being said, I even though I will only see the new range a few times before I seperate, I'll miss the Camp greatly. It's very historic, very cool, and there are many unanswered questions. Some of these mysteries will never be solved. I'll also miss my weekend metal detecting expeditions. I've found some very interesting artifacts -- glass oilers near the classroom (originally barracks, then the mess hall) and old Garand clips on the 850 yard firing line. (Now totally overgrown and invisible unless you know where it is.) I won't have enough time to sweep some of the more interesting areas -- trails, the picnic area, the camp ground, the parade grounds, etc.

Sorry for the lengthy answer but I'm the local historian. :) I'm hoping to get a web site up and running one day but I'm having an extremely hard time gathering information. Documents are nearly impossible to find, the maps and drawings on record leave a lot of gaps, we've found things that don't appear on any maps at all and most of the people that served there through the pivotal construction years just aren't alive anymore. As I said, a lot of these questions will never be answered...just a footnote in the military history of Kitsap County, I suppose. With Kitsap's record of preservation regarding historical military sites, I don't expect any trace of it to remain in a couple of years. Such is life. :(
 
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Great posts, Satori- please keep writing and beating up HI products for the good and edification of us all.

AA

"My name is Ad Astra :rolleyes: and I approved of this brief thumbs-up."
 
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Ad Astra said:
Great posts, Satori- please keep writing and beating up HI products for the good and edification of us all.

AA

"My name is Ad Astra :rolleyes: and I approved of this brief thumbs-up."

I'm starting to worry that one of these days, Bura and Raju will find out about this and send a few apprentices my way to rough me up for my improprieties. Those guys swing large hammers for a living. I don't want them swinging them at me. ;)

On a very positive note, due to my boss's lack of planning and organizational skills (and his total inability to "ration work"), we pulled a long day today and got most of our weekly maintenance done; this means that the work that was supposed to get done tomorrow (when we actually had time) is already completed, meaning that there's no maintenance to be done on Friday, meaning that tomorrow will be very light in terms of work...ultimately meaning that the AK and the bowie are heading back out to the Camp. There is some serious limbing and sectioning to be done. The AK is sporting a bit of a patina, two minor dings, and a frightening utility edge. It's telling me that those dings are actually an attribute and that it's just warming up. The bowie can shave with effort and is very disappointed that it didn't have the opportunity to awe me last time, that I haven't seen anything yet. The karda is telling me that slicing up naugahyde and rags aren't a proper test for a skinning knife and to please challenge it a bit in the future. The chakma stated that, as I haven't steeled out a real ding yet, I'm incompetent and unfit to use it and to please report back to it when I have some real work to do.

My tools are challenging me. I've never experienced this before.

Tomorrow will be fun...for me, and for them. :)
 
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Ah. They're speaking to you. Now you know. Don't worry, you're gonna like it a lot. Dang, I wish I had a HI Bowie- people say many good things.

AA :cool:
 

Steely_Gunz

Got the Khukuri fevah
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AA, namaarie, you guys should get one and try it out. It's big but it's kind of the SAK of the HI line, IMHO. chop with it, shave with it, stab with it, dig with it, baton it through stuff, pry up stuff with it. The bit of steel where the lanyard hole is has been hardened so it can be used as a hammer for tent pegs and the like (think ka-bar application), or put some cord through it and you have an emergency boat anchor. It's heavy, but not awkward. I find it hardy enough to smash through pork ribs, but the edge is fine enough make fuzz sticks (tried that for the first time last weekend). Has a nice wide belly that i would imagine would work OK for scraping the meat off of a hide you were going to tan. It's also a scary looking thing. Anything on two or 4 legs would think twice about messing with that frightening meld of nightmare and steel.
Of all the knives i own and all the khuks in my collection i believe that my AK bowie is probably the closest thing to being "Jake's knife". What i mean to say is that if i should live to see many years from now, and the time comes when i walk west. People will go through my stuff and the scores of beautiful knives, khuks, and tools that i had collected for years. they will marvel at the beauty of them all, but will instantly know that worn and gouged bowie with its stained blade and exterior was "my" knife.
It's not a knife for everyone, that is for sure. But, i believe that it is a knife that at least deserves a chance by those that find it appealing. Ok, i PROMISE... i won't go on about the bowie again for at least a couple weeks. i know every one is sick of listening to me spout off about a blade they may or may not like;)

Thanks for listening
Jake
 
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I'm pretty sure, Steely, you talked me into joining the YCS list... you might be doing it again. The HI bowie isn't the prettiest knife in the world... can it do anything a much sleeker khuk o'mine can't? Somebody here, a biker I think, indicated you can pack it much easier than a khuk... mmm makes sense.

Have the kamis ever made one with wood handles? I've never seen. I lean towards wood.

Maybe the looks grow on you. I respect the multiple reports of it's abilities. :eek:

Also sorry I missed those cool kerambits with the blood-red wood about a month ago. Then again, I'm into March of next year's fun-money for knives. :(

AA
 

Steely_Gunz

Got the Khukuri fevah
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AA, sorry to have twisted your arm into buying knives you don't "need". I wish my customers were like that;) But seriously, i wouldn't speak so highly of something if i personally didn't feel its magic. I know it's not a knife for everyone...especially those that enjoy the 'beauty" of a knife. The bowie is a working blade through and through. I have a feeling that those that buy it, shine it up, hang it on a wall, and hope to have its looks grow on them are ultimately disappointed. It's just not a pretty knife.
As far as being a the choice of bikers, I can vouch for that. It does take up a little room in the saddle bag, but the bowie just feels 'right" for a bike.
While the bowie will never have the same chopping power as an AK due to its straighter profile, it is no pushover when it comes to chopping. I have easily cut through 11/2" to 2" branches with a single stroke. Compared to a khuk it's a ho-hum chopper. Put it up against a CS Trailmaster...well, like i said, the trailmaster now cowers under the bed these days;)
As far as wood handles go, i've never seen one with a wood grip come out of birgorka, but it would be easy enough to do i assume.
Bottom line is: If you don't like the looks and are happy with your khuks, just stick with those until you have the extra money or find an AK bowie cheap. If you want a bowie knife that not only acts like a bowie knife. but could remove a man's arm at the elbow, then the AK bowie is just right.
namaarie, YCS stands for the Yvsa Cherokee Special. It's the project that a lot of the guys are waiting on. i got one from the first shipment (btw, had i known it would have been so long between shipments I would have not taken one of the first. Not fair of me). Do a search on YCS. You'll find all kinds of cool reviews and info on them:)

jake
 
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