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WANTED: Dead or Alive....

The way I look at serious reviews are simple; review the blade for its designed purpose. I also second what someone else mentioned in this thread about having several people use the same blade. This way you get feedback that you might miss due to ergonomics and experience of the user.

The Basic 9 is probably tougher than the Trailmaster, but I would bet that the TrailMaster will out-perform it in a jungle environment, while the Basic 9 may out-perform the TrailMaster in chopping through a 4 x 4. On another note if the Basic 9 or Trailmaster's handle won't stand DEET it's a useless piece for me and my area of operations.

With all that said, I would like to see a 15 dollar Ontario machete in the hands of an experienced woodsman up against all the knives previously mentioned (Basic 9, RTAK, Trailmaster)in the hands of their respective experienced users- if the test is to be done in a wilderness environment.

Simply put, most knives are designed to fit our own inexperience, while those who rely on knives for survival everyday usually have the bare-bones basics of sharpened steel and WILL out-do the higher dollar pieces - and no it's not from the lack of funding that these people use cheap blades. I've given away 100 dollar blades only to have these people trade them off for cheaper pieces.

Every maker has their 'gimmick' or cosmetics to make the piece sell.

On the other hand, if we're doing a crowbar, edge retention, corrosion resistance, beauty, bullet-proof, or 'my blade can bend further than yours, not break, and then cut 1" steel plate' test, I would go with the higher dollar superman blades.

If this is the case, then the RTAK won't fit the bill since it's design is for wilderness and making the inexperienced machete user a little more comfortable with doing all the chores of wilderness work.

I will place the RTAK up against any others in a serious wilderness environment - and would lose against and Indian with a 5 dollar machete. Skill will beat quality everytime.

Abuse tests usually don't mean a damn thing once you're in the woods and actually using your blade for survival (since improvising will take over for the lack of other qualities).

Ease of re-sharpening and being able to comfortably use a blade with less required work will increase your woodsman skills and survival rate quicker than Kryptonite blades.

Personally I don't see any fairness, or use, in testing blades outside of their designed intent - except for the fun of it. - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training

Geez Jeff , why did you have go bring reality and common sense into the subject? That's not what sells knives.
Throw a Khukuri in there! Surely Bill Martino has a blem HI laying around? An Ang Khola would just plain stomp 'em, you'd need something of "lesser girth" to make it fair.

Jim March
What about a Marbles Trailmaker - the big one? Or an Ontario Spec Plus Survival Bowie for the economy contender?

I thought of donating a Fallkniven A1 to the cause, or a Sissipuukko to the cause, but they are not in the same blade length class. Likewise the Chris Reeve Project 1 & 2 (which I'm much too thrifty to donate!) are more in the Kabar-Plus! class than the big honkin' Bowie class.

AKTI Member # SA00001
Do the edge retention testing on cardboard, not manila. We all know how much cardboard the knives we already have will cut so we have a standard for comparison; if the knife being reviewed does better than anything we already have we might buy it. None of us are going to waste our money buying manila to see how the knives we already have compare.

Besides, cardboard will dull an edge faster so you'll save yourselves a lot of effort as well as expense.

-Cougar Allen :{)
Jeff R. Said...
I will place the RTAK up against any others in a serious wilderness environment - and
would lose against and Indian with a 5 dollar machete. Skill will beat quality everytime.

Abuse tests usually don't mean a damn thing once you're in the woods and actually using
your blade for survival (since improvising will take over for the lack of other qualities).

This is always an interesting debate. It has sprung up here out of whole cloth as neither Spark nor Mike T. have told us what the tests will be. I do certainly look forward to seeing the results though. Not because they are necessarily meaningful for real-world applications, but because they will put an end to the posturing one way or another.

I also find it humorus that some of you are suggesting knives to test, but not offering your own in the process. I think our intrepid testers would test as many knives as they can get their hands on, but somebody has to send them in. One would presume the manufacturers would be interested in the results and volunteer a blade, but then again... :)

Getting back to the debate though, I see no one has pointed out that the "abuse tests" for all their artificialness, are objective, while the real-use tests are much more subjective. Of course some modifications to the former can easily be made to bring them more into line with real-use. For example, the suggested cardboard cutting test, and the handle's resistanct to DEET. I am curious though... Don't you already know how the various handle materials (eg micarta, kraton, various woods, bone, etc.) react to DEET?

Even if Jeff's proverbial "indian with a $5 machete" were to be given the RTAK for a year and then successivly the other knives to be tested, at the end of the process, we would be getting, that indian's opinion of the best blade. Another indian might have picked something else, though of course anything that *breaks* during the test period would be automatically disqualified :).

In the end, and for me personally, I'll go with the recommendation of experience over standardized materials testing every time, but there is obviously room for variation here, and thus a wider market for knife makers - that is good isn't it? Jeff is *far* more experienced than I, and he likes the RTAK and the Trailmaster. That tells me that, among other things, both micarta and kraton stand up ok to DEET. On the other hand, Ron Hood seems to favor Busse, a heavier knife. This tells me that *both* the Busse and RTAK are competent knives for a jungle mission, which you choose is to some degree a matter of personal taste.

Still will love to see the test results though...
Since we have opened up the door for debate

I never said I preferred the Trailmaster...I only made an assumption about the Trailmaster's design compared to the Busse. Please re-read my post.

I've never tested the handles of the Trailmaster or Basic 9 with DEET, it was simply an idea for testing, since that's important in a wilderness environment where bugs are present. Some forms of synthetics react differently than others.

Again, we do not have the details of these so-called tests. Are we testing useability, toughness, beauty, sharpness, function for designed intent.....what?

Are we going to be throwing KaBars in with a Busse Basic 9, RTAK and Trailmaster and then report on a 'chopping' test?

I wished the creators of the thread would provide more details becuase if this is going to be a 'Dead-or-alive-lets-see-who can-tear-something-up test, I'd just as soon stay clear since it serves no puropse for me in the real world - unless of course I can enter my titanium crowbar. - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training

Did Jerry say which models were shipping? Might have a slight influence on which knives you're gonna test, wouldn't ya say? I mean if he's just shipping the #3 . . . !

Little River Trading Co.
Attitude - The difference between an adventure and an ordeal.
I also agree with Cougar's idea about the cardboard. These manila rope tests mean almost nothing to me. I cut cardboard almost everyday, and would be very interested in the results.

After all this abuse and scarring can I have the knife that is left? lol

Plenty of good comments from all.

A fair knife test...there's a $64,000 question (lets see adjusted for inflation that would be ... never mind
). Coming up with a fair and objective way to compare knives is probably the toughest thing for the industry. I'll give it a shot .

We would probably want to evaluate each knife for:

1) Finish:
How does it look out of the box, are the grind lines solid and even; is it sharp, has the surface been
uniformly buff, polished, or treated?

2) Ergonomics: (how does it feel in the hand)

Method: Select a sample group of 10+ individuals - make sure each differs in strength, size, age, and gender. Have them perform a few simple basic tasks with each of the knives and them reply to a few subjective questions (e.g. on a score of 1 to 5 how did this knife perform? (1) uncomfortable - possibly painful or dangerous, (2) uncomfortable but could use for a short period , (3) usable , (4) comfortable - wouldn't mind using for an extended period, (5) Very comfortable, felt like an extension of my hand.

3) Corrosion resistance:
During the course of 1 week expose each knife to the following:
1) Organic acids (slice and dice a couple of steaks, and tomatoes, and let the knives sit overnight)
2) Dishwasher (run the knives through the dishwasher as you would your silverware)
3) Expose to a battery of household solvents and chemicals let the knives sit for 12 hours.
4) Expose to intensive sun light for a few hours.
Examine knives - look for discoloration, or damage to protective coating and handle material.

4) Edge Retention:
OK, I guess this is the free hanging manila rope cutting portion of the test - standard stuff - lets see which knife cuts the longest. Lets not confuse sharpness with edge retention. It doesn't matter how many pieces of rope can be cut at one time - what does matter is how many times we can repeat the experiment before the knife stops performing.

5) Toughness: (wear protective gear - goggles, gloves, and heavy apron for this one!!)
Unfortunately, this can get destructive. Find the reasonably hard substance (deer pelvis would be ideal - but is probably hard to get) - perhaps ceramic tile would work, and hit the substance hard with the edge of the knife. The impact with each knife should be hard enough to completely break the substance. Examine the edge carefully and look for chipping or folding. A good knife should be able to survive with relatively minor damage (e.g. nothing that could be cured by routine sharpening)

In addition, I guess aging each piece for 20 years would be a plus, but I guess we will have to wait on that one.

p.s. almost forgot... a good quality sheath is a critical part of the package. I have passed up quite a number of knives because the sheaths were cheap (many dangerous), and I didn't feel like having the hassle of procuring, or making an after market sheath.

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 06 September 1999).]
Apologies Jeff for mis-understanding your comment regarding the Trail Master. As for handle materials, I thought that all of the more common handle materials have been tested not only for resistance to DEET, but against other substances as well. These tests were reported on the usenet group rec.knives. I don't remember who did them, but I'm sure he's around here somewhere :)

My main point though was to put some sort of balance on the destructive-materials testing vs. testing by use in the knife's intended environment. Both have their place. Only the former is free from personal bias, but a buyer would be foolish to rely on the results of such tests alone and not first determine from experienced users that the knife is appropriate for the intended application.

Then there are the purely subjective and personal parameters that no amount of second or third hand experience can provide. The comfort of a handle in your hand is an example. The experts may universally praise a particular knife that, no matter how appropriate it is otherwise, just isn't comfortable for long in your particular hand. No amount of materials testing can address this aspect, and even the testimony of experience is only partially helpful. Sometimes, you've got to try it for yourself.
Most of the test I preform will be real world tests. But for the science of it I must include some good comaprison tests that each maker has already shown in their own tests.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

Simply because no one has mentioned it for a while now I'd like to see the Fallkniven A1 included merely for the fact that Cliff Stamp tried to bust one and couldn't. If for no other reason perhaps the Fallkniven could be used as the $100.00 baseline blade.

This is not to say that a 347.00 blade should perform 3.5 times better than the Fallkniven. Just it would be refreshing to see why these "production/custom hybrids" are worth so much more money than that Japanese/Swedish survival knife that Mr. Stamp tortured.

For "value added" to mean anything at all there has to be some value actually, and not just reputationally or attitudinally, added no?
No problem Matthew...just didn't want someone to think I was praising something I don't know that much about. From what I've seen of both Cold Steel and Busse's product, they are excellent pieces and I would bet my life on them. I just think, for my purposes, the tests should reflect the way a knife is used in the real world. - Jeff

Randall's Adventure & Training