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Why Choils?

Discussion in 'Busse Combat Knives' started by papercutter, May 8, 2019.

  1. emanuel_mat

    emanuel_mat

    2
    Sep 3, 2017
    That's only because your hand gets closer to the edge. If that knife had the edge going all the way to the handle and you would hold it by the said handle, you would have the same "controlability" and your hand would also thank you for better ergonomics. I do like sharpening choils/notches, but anything larger than 5mm seems like a marketing gimmick and waste of cutting edge just for the sake of "put your finger on that lip of metal instead of the handle" kind of stuff.... I hope what I said makes sense to others.
     
    jux t and papercutter like this.
  2. WatermanChris

    WatermanChris Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 30, 2018
    The handle would have to have a deep finger groove closest to the blade to give me the same feeling I have with the choil. The Spyderco PM2 (my EDC) does a great job of combining handle contouring and ricasso/blade shaping to create IMO a perfect choil. Something similar on a Busse blade would be cool.
    Resizer_15577557537210.jpg
     
    MacLaren1 and DamascusBowie like this.
  3. DamascusBowie

    DamascusBowie

    Sep 20, 2016
    Its a different feeling than just choking up on the handle. It turns the end of the handle into a fuklcrum that is tightly and precisely controlled by my forefinger in the recess in the steel, ie the choil. Its a whole different feeling and grip imho. Believe me, Im not a fan of the choil for how it looks and shortens the blade, but its a tradeoff that's well worth it. When it comes to control, I want that choil grip every time.
     
    WatermanChris likes this.
  4. DamascusBowie

    DamascusBowie

    Sep 20, 2016
    That's not bad, but the beauty of the choil is it allows you to get closer to the middle of the blade, and the finger is locked in front to back.
     
    WatermanChris likes this.
  5. emanuel_mat

    emanuel_mat

    2
    Sep 3, 2017
    I understand where you're coming from. But there are ways to give the same effect without having your bare hand touch metal. For example, reduce the radius of the forward finger groove in order to bring the hand closer to the ricasso, and also bring the plunge line closer to the handle. Most classic saber grind bushcraft knives do it that way (some even remove the finger guard to bring the edge right next to your finger for maximum leverage when power-cutting, but I'm not a fan of that), the idea being that grabbing the handle will always allow you to put more power into your cut than holding a finger choil due to ergonomics. Bark River is a brand that does this for most of their survival/bushcraft models (I don't own or used any, I have a Choiless Anorexic Boss Street and some customs that fill all the roles I need atm). I'm I'm not saying a finger choil is bad, but there are ways around it, and some of these ways can make your knife more comfortable to use and improve performance and feel, particularly for long cutting tasks.
     
    papercutter, gk4ever2 and jux t like this.
  6. Jaxx

    Jaxx Moderator Moderator

    Jan 18, 2006
    Why not choils? I like 'em big enough for a finger, just feels more secure, "locked in" to my hand better. For arguements towards why not use a smaller knife? Sure! ...When you have one. If not, it helps to widen the range of usefulness on a larger knife. Just my opinion, usually I gripe when Jerry makes 'em too small lol :D
     
    Ironkid883 likes this.
  7. Cobalt

    Cobalt Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 1998

    I agree that a large finger choil is unnecessary on small knives, ie. 5" or less and arguable on 5-7.5" blades, I think that on anything 8 inch or larger it is necessary. The large finger choil doesn't just give more fine control, but it also changes the balance of the larger blade in your hand making it feel much smaller than it really is. You cannot make a large blade without a choil have the same control.
     
    Ironkid883 and MR HAPPY like this.
  8. Kenneth F Huls

    Kenneth F Huls Gold Member Gold Member

    402
    Jul 11, 2012
    ca
    caping
     
    Ironkid883 likes this.
  9. Pteronarcyd

    Pteronarcyd

    181
    Feb 19, 2019
    The big issue with the choil is no YouTube knife reviewer seems to know what one is.
     
    Cobalt likes this.
  10. Cobalt

    Cobalt Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 1998
    True. lol. The fact is that choils are useful for a small range of sizes. On knives at or smaller than 7 inch blade length it is not necessary. Knives that size are easy to control due to much lighter weight and a rearward balance point, for fine work. On blade lengths 7.5" to 11.5 inch it works because choking up with the choil reduces the felt size to something much smaller due to the balance point being at or near the choil. However, when you get to the truly large choppers that get to 12 inches or more, the choil will not likely be anywhere near the balance point anyway, so even with the choil the knife will feel heavy and fine work is tough regardless. This is my opinion of course and length range will vary with design, thickness and balance points.

    For example, I like my Basic 9 without the large choil better than if it had it since it is a light knife. The basic 10 and the dogfather are both heavier than the Basic 9 and I think the choil benefits them. However, on the standard Basic 8, I would love to see a choilless version, it would be near perfect knife. The HogB8, may need it due to mass. So number range does vary.
     
  11. Kenneth F Huls

    Kenneth F Huls Gold Member Gold Member

    402
    Jul 11, 2012
    I hear what y'all are sayin' 'bout the benefits of full choils on certain sized blades. I concur that they have less utility on truly large blades that are basically dedicated choppers. I have "rarely" tried to carve a spoon with my ASHBM, but I have been converted to using it over a hatchet for many wood processing tasks (to my surprise!), and of course do not use the choil while chopping limbs. I do prefer the full choil on my ASHBM as opposed to those without, but I am happy to admit that is really a matter of aesthetics on that one. The user choil on my new (to me - yeah!) NMSFNO is appreciated much as Cobalt explained above. I would, however, enlarge Cobalt's range to include blades down to 6.5" as well. I find the ASH-1, which I have used lots in the field, benefits from it - both the Skinny for finer work, as well as the Fatty for same (And less successfully I might add, though such use with my Fatty is rare as I usually pair it with a Badger of some sort in the wilds. ASH-1 & Badger are the very best wilderness combo when on the move, IMHO, as long as one can justify the weight of 2 knives).

    I understand the feeling that full choils on smaller blades have little to no use due to their built-in increased dexterity and sensitivity. Totally agree with that on truly small blades (like a dedicated caping knife). However, I do not always have the luxury of 3 blades on me when in the remote sticks. If I am packing a far distance and/or going over rough terrain off-trail, I have a hard enough time justifying the weight of 2, let alone 3 blades. As mentioned, I usually go with my Skinny ASH and Badger combo when I can. I cut a full choil (ever so slowly) into my SOB and I find that it allows my the feel of a 3" blade when I use it - generally eliminating the need for such a "third knife" in my field kit. A 5-6 inch knife can work decently well if that is what you have on hand for skinning, too, and with a full choil I can do the finer stuff with it as well (such as caping) in the absence of a approx 3" blade on-hand. When only able to carry one blade into the sticks, it is a 5.5" - 6.5" Busse with a user choil.

    I will also mention that my technical slot canyon knife is my Sus Scrofa, which as I discussed in another thread, is a fantastic knife for SAR/chopper folks, and technical canyoneers such as myself who have to cut rope, webbing, and other cordage, and often in wet, muddy, or otherwise slimy conditions. And often in a hurry. The hawksbill blade is ideal for this, and I also appreciate the full-use choil on it despite it being under 5" in blade length. In mud or slimy water, the use of the choil makes me feel like a have a better grip on it (if it goes down into the wet, it is usually gone = very bad!), and this is especially so when wearing wet, muddy, slimy neoprene gloves. Niche stuff, I know, but just pointing out that there are no hard and fast rules for features for all knives in all applications.

    If you actually read my boring treatise here, I commend you (and apologize!).
     
    WatermanChris and Cobalt like this.
  12. 360joules

    360joules Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    One of my major concerns with a choil on a small or medium Busse is that these knives end up with such a massive ricasso, having both the choil and the talon hole. On a medium or small knife every cm of blade edge is precious real estate.

    The CABS and choilless boss jack are exceptional blades and IMO two of Busse's finest. If people are rounding of the blade profile when sharpening these, I'd be more likely to blame sharpening systems like the sharp maker or work sharp that pivot the stone on a fixed radius than I would to believe that the lack of a choil caused this. I've seen many choiled knives look rounded as well.

    "Small choil" knives confound me most. The sharpening notch is just massive. It's not a usable choil and yet the edge is pushed nearly an inch ahead of where the index finger sits in the handle. Again, large ricasso = bad.

    Some of the larger choilless offerings didn't make sense to me as those knives are the ones that most benefit from having a choil. I can't imagine that those models sold that well.

    I will say that the best choil I've seen on a smaller Busse-kin is the gen-1 howling rat. I absolutely wouldn't mind if Jerry experimented with that one again on say a infi Dog Soldier 4.5 :)
     
    WatermanChris and MR HAPPY like this.
  13. Kenneth F Huls

    Kenneth F Huls Gold Member Gold Member

    402
    Jul 11, 2012
    I love the discussion!

    "On a medium or small knife every cm of blade edge is precious real estate."

    I have found that I do not cut using the edge portion that close to the top talon/guard. Cannot think of a time that I have really used that real estate for much of anything. Usually it stays very sharp on my knives! I can't get a surface to be cut that close to the talon/guard as it of course sticks out. When cutting cordage or whittling a stick - something that I could theoretically insert all the way down there - I just don't do it. Especially if the knife is maintained sharp I just don't find it necessary to go that deep on the blade. If one really feels the need for more edge, one could simply pick or use a somewhat larger knife, right?

    That stated, as I said previously, I am not advocating for user choils on truly small blades, but my personal preference is definitely for them on what I consider to be medium to large blades (as stated, on extra large ones it does not much matter to me aside from looks).

    "Small choil" knives confound me most."

    Hmmm. A lot of folks say that. As explained about using (or rather, not using) the edge closest to the talon/guard, for me the ricasso issue is not a problem. As well, any choil helps me with my sharpening. But your comment on rounding of the blade profile with some users on choilless knives makes me realize that I probably need to work on my technique or try a different system. While your comment is in a slightly different context, I wonder if I really need them as much as I think I do for sharpening. I am trying to remember if I have ever even tried sharpening a knife without any choil and cannot recall any!

    I think in the end we all tend to use blades somewhat differently, and have different preferences even within the same applications. So it is fantastic that the Bossman and Co. make more than one model!
     
    WatermanChris likes this.
  14. Pteronarcyd

    Pteronarcyd

    181
    Feb 19, 2019
    I've never owned a knife with a 7-in or larger blade (excluding kitchen knives), but I do have a few pocket knives with finger choils. I think such a choil on a smaller knife can improve handling during detailed work, but I suspect the primary reason for its existence is to allow one to get a full grip on the tool.

    As to my point, most YouTube knife reviewers I've watched have made nonsensical references to "forward choil" or "rearward choil," implying a knife has two choils. By definition, a knife can have only one choil, as for a notch to be a choil it must intersect the blade's edge and there is only room on a single-edged blade for that to be done once. A finger groove behind the edge (usually rearward of a sharpening choil) is a finger groove in the ricasso, not a choil. I've also seen a finger groove in the handle incorrectly called a choil, but a handle cannot have a choil by definition -- unless the notch extends all the way forward to intersect the edge.

    Knife anatomy is pretty simple. Any reviewer who hasn't mastered it is pretty lame.
     
  15. Cobalt

    Cobalt Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 1998
    so your saying that some reviewers would say this knife has two or three choils? lol. If true that is very lame.

    [​IMG]
     
    Pteronarcyd and Kenneth F Huls like this.
  16. DrHenley

    DrHenley

    224
    May 31, 2019
    Small knives, I agree. Here is a functional choil on a knife that actually needs one.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Kenneth F Huls

    Kenneth F Huls Gold Member Gold Member

    402
    Jul 11, 2012
    Thanks for posting the photo, DrHenley! Curious though. I have seen a similar photo recently (this thread?) of a TGLB being gripped the same way and I don't know and can't figure out the intended purpose of the grip? Especially on a knife with a double guard (or talon) or a quillon?
    This inquiry is from an obvious defender of choils, so I just seek to understand. (I will admit, however, that I am no longer a fan of the quillon on a knife of any size. My first custom/handmade was a Randall #1 in 1978. Got a #14 a couple years later, and an original release Gerber Mk I and later a Mk II as well. Last knives I ever had with a quillon. As I obtained some training in blade combat it became clear to me that one does not much (ever?) parry an opponent's blade with a quillon on a knife, and of course only the blade edge guard is necessary (if any are at all) to prevent the hand from slipping up onto the blade. This is why I do not like the TGLB. Now swords are another matter altogether (potentially at least)! They just get in the way of things).

    thanks!
     
  18. DrHenley

    DrHenley

    224
    May 31, 2019
    For fine work (whittling for example) the knife is too large to use without the choil. You get better balance and control by choking up on the choil. The balance point is at the front of the choil. I made this knife for a friend and it is mainly a showpiece not a working knife (ultra sharp highly refined D2 blade that is too sharp for practical use) so I didn't really expect it to be used that way, but to my surprise, the double guard doesn't actually get in the way of choking up on the choil.
     
  19. Kenneth F Huls

    Kenneth F Huls Gold Member Gold Member

    402
    Jul 11, 2012
    Thank you. Yes, I definitely understand the point of choking up on the choil for fine work, I guess I just don't imagine doing "fine" work or whittling with a large camp/field/Bowie knife - but yes, that would help, I agree. If I can only carry one knife, it is a 5 - 6.5" blade. That knife looks serious and beautiful, Sir - fine work (as you know)!
     
  20. Cobalt

    Cobalt Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 1998
    Amazon Indians like choils :D

    [​IMG]
     
    WatermanChris likes this.

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