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Wouldn't a knife test be handy?

Nov 8, 2000
Firearms use ballistic gelatin. Even though it doesn't compare directly with flesh and bone, it DOES give a uniform comparison medium.
Wouldn't a knife test be a handy thing? It could use some similar and repeatable medium and test the force and time necessary to both cut and pierce.
Like how much time to pull a blade through the test medium for one foot. Could even rate by inches of coverage. 1/2 second for a 12" cut at 25 lbs pressure with 1" of blade in medium. Then rate for each additional inch of how much blade is in the medium.
It seems to me that it would sure show differences in blade designs and point shapes.
Also force needed and time required to penetrate medium to the hilt. Or per inch.
Seems a good idea.
Why not use ballistic gelatin? The mix for firearms testing might not be quite heavy enough (for measuring devices to register) but the mix could be standardized without too much argument. A "robotic arm" with pressure sensors could become the Ransom Rest of the knife world, and we could have our own group of "Jello Junkies". Those in opposition to our testing methods would necessarily come from the ranks of medical forensics, but would have to be known as "corpse cutters". I like it, I like it
Bullets are pretty simple things, designed to penetrate flesh and bone. Knives are far more complex and are used to cut almost everything in addition to flesh and bone. If you just think of the huge size differences in knives you can see that comparing a 12" bowie with a 3" utility wouldn't tell you much. Even comparing 12" bowies would depend on what grind was used, what edge was applied, and what are the purposes for which the knife was designed. Plus, that test would ignore a number of factors that go into a knife besides the blade that make the blade perform better or poorly, like balance, handling, leverage, and even the kind of stroke used to deliver the cut (i.e. pushed or sliced).

Now, if you set the test and have makers design blades to perform in that test, you could fairly measure how the different knives performed in that test, but only in that test. You really couldn't draw any other conclusions about how they'd perform in other tests or in real life situations.

Jerry Hossom
The New Tom & Jerry Show
Ballistics aren't quite that simple, when you consider modern technology involved in finding and testing the "magic" bullet. Velocity, weight, jacket wall thickness, HP dimensions and shape ad infinitum. Then, again, they are that simple - the old cast-lead, 250/255 gr. .45 Colt has been putting bad things down with some regularity for over 125 years. Some seek a lab-environment standard by which which results can be predicted, and others prefer to look at results and cast the future. I've had two encounters which could have been fatal, one with a Hydra-shock and one with one of my own cast bullets. Both worked (I'm alive and not a felon). I thank the delivery platforms, a well tuned Colt, and a well made N-frame. I would put one of your blades in the same highly respected category. Anything with a point and an edge can be "defensive" but oh-so-much more if it is well thought out and well made. My remarks were partly facetious, but on the serious side, if it don't work, it don't mean nothin'.
NO test is completely accurate. But, many people are not aware just how much resistance there is to pulling a full blade knife through a tummy. And with the proliferation of blade designs, it would be nice to see if a tanto or a harpy or a straight or curved or pierced blade etc, etc, etc. went through easier. Just a COMPARISON.
We all know that knife fights depend on MANY factors and that slicing and cutting and bloodletting are just as if not more important than stabbing and disemboweling.
BUT...IF....one was interested in which design would be easiest to pass through a test medium, it could help to make a choice.
Best to know ahead of time if your intended move to breadbasket would be more effective with one design over another.
I'm completely in favor of testing and have a lot of it done on my knives. I think that inevitably the knife ends up being designed for the test, as much or more than the test being designed to a specific category of knife.

We could definitely use something less expensive than legs of lamb though.

Jerry Hossom
The New Tom & Jerry Show
Well, at the risk of sounding extreme...

I remember reading somewhere on one forum that several hundred years ago, Japanese sword makers were graded based upon how many corpses their swords would penetrate/cut through. It was mentioned that the corpses were from condemned prisoners, although it wasn't clear if they were dead before the test or not.

I guess this sort of test would favor large bowies and kukris. I can only imagine the kind of test people could come up with for skinning knives.
Before WWII the US army did some ballistics studies on hogs. It was commonly refered to as the "pig report". If you could talk your local slaughter house into using some tactical blades for a week you might find some interesting results.
Ballistic gelatin simulates meat. If a knife can't cut meat with ease it must be very dull. There are easier ways to see if your knife is dull....

-Cougar :{)
Use of Weapons
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by GaKnife:
I think that inevitably the knife ends up being designed for the test, as much or more than the test being designed to a specific category of knife.</font>

This is exactly right. If a standardized test medium were approved or widely used, knives would be designed to cut that particular stuff. As is, most people test their knives on paper, cardboard, and arm hair, and the manufacturers know this and probably take it into account.

Jason aka medusaoblongata
"Is not giving a need? Is not receiving mercy?" - Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about." - Lazarus Long
"Knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting." - Michel Foucault