By long Knives I mean swords, kukri’s and machete’s. Anything over 10 inches that can be used for chopping in a self defense senario. I am not a sword expert and have only just brought my very first sword blade. I have had a large collection of kukri’s, down to 5 at the current moment and had a little experience with machete’s. Below is the research Ive collated from the following links, that I thought may make it easier for another purchaser to use when buying their first long knife.
Ive found that anything over 18 inches is not practical in terms of concealment POST SHTF. Anything under 10 is more a camp chopping blade. 12 inch kukri’s can be carried in a dundee rig, inverted across the shoulder blades as can a medium length golok, 14.5 inches in blade length. Ive modified my golok by reshaping the tip so its more rounded and had it reground from a convex to a V grind for better decapitation qualities. At the moment it is also having a kydex sheath made for an inverted carry option. I suggest watching Cold Steels fighting Machete dvds from Cutting Edge Knives to see the capabilities of a machete in action. As these seem the wave of the future in defensive choppers.
I was about to purchase a Cheness Ko-katana but just got in with the pre-orders of Swamprat Rodent Waki’s made from SR-101 with a 17.5 inch blade. If I ended up purchasing a ko-katana. I probably would have cut it down to an 18 inch blade from the handle end and replaced the grip with micarta. (Personal observation). I believe theyve now come out with a Practical Katana called a Tak Wak at 18 inches in length made from 5160 steel.
One blade Ive taken a chance on buying to see how it would perform is a Rambo 4 chopper. Ive got to tell everyone before mentioning this not to laugh, but it ended up being a great chopper at 12 inches. The temper is a little soft, so doesnt keep an edge when chopping hardwood. However it wasnt brought for that reason. Going up against a steel bar or similar a softer temper has less chance of snapping when compared to a harder steel, being brittle with a harder temper. Ive ended up doing the same as with the golok with an inverted kydex sheath and reshaping the initial grind to a slightly thinner edge for slicing. I havent touched the secondary grind to keep the weight behind the length. The grip has also been replaced with black paracord. These would make a very good design for a combat machete made from a better quality steel.
Cold steel DVD’s
Swamprat Rodent Waki
Sword Buyers guide
Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri
Review of the Cold Steel SK-5 Gurkha Kukri
by Mc Joe Donald
So far, the CS SK-5 Gurkha Kukri has been a fantastic companion. It chops, it splits, it carves, it stabs and pierces deeply. It comes with a great edge, and it keeps a great edge. I’ve used mine regularly with little more than the occasional touch up to the edge, I haven’t had to actually re-sharpen the knife in the year that I’ve owned it.�
Aesthetics: The knife is 17″ from tip to tail, 5/16″ at the spine (which tapers after the curve down to the point), with a wedge-shaped blade, and a v-shaped edge grind. �
It has a kraton handle, which can be described as a hard rubber or soft plastic, durable, grips well when wet, and has proven to be comfortable so far. The black coating has held up well. I’ll be posting pics and hopefully videos of the knife in action at a later date.�
Steel: SK-5 (I’m no expert) is a high carbon tool steel. It’s similar to that used in hardened cutting tools, such as chisels and wood carving knives. It is a tad on the brittle side as compared to say 1055, but with the shape of the blade it seems it would take a really stupid mistake to ever make this a factor. I’ve split countless logs (batoning) chipped tinder, carved spears, notched traps, drilled fire boards, hammered tent stakes, cleared trails and lanes and so far the only noticeable wear on the edge is where it caught a couple grains of sand while splitting a 4″ ash log (you can feel it with a finger nail, still cant really see it). For as much hardwood as this knife has been through, I am amazed. I’ve never seen an edge on any knife last this long after so much hard use, except for my high quality bee-keeping hive knife.�
Style/Shape: The kukri shape of the blade definitely adds to its utility. I do not exaggerate when I say this knife chops like a good hatchet. There’s one less tool you need to carry. The downward angled, weight-forward design makes it bite deep, and the V-shaped grind on the blade makes it spit chunks like an axe. Have yet to get it stuck.�
The narrow part of the blade (nearer to the handle) makes carving tools a breeze. You have good leverage when choking your hand up nearer to the edge, and the weight of the blade makes taking small consistent shavings an easy task. This is one area where a heavier knife shines, as you are able to make more controlled (and resoundingly safer) strokes with less effort. Let the weight of the blade do the work. I’ve found a lighter knife for carving tools to be dangerous and much more fatiguing.�
Advantages: When in the wilderness, every calorie counts. Every drop of sweat counts. Every drop of blood really counts. Having a little weight in your blade will save you effort in the long run, even though it’s more to carry. That’s why I like a bigger knife… fewer blisters, you don’t have to swing as hard. You don’t have to push the knife to carve, you gently swing it. And more weight = more steel, and usually that means stronger. It’s worth the extra carry weight to me to have it easier when its work time.�
Quality:The knife comes with a 5 year Warranty. Judging from what I’ve seen I don’t think I’ll need it. The handle would probably be the only thing I’d expect to wear out. It is made of Japanese steel (great stuff) in China (eh, didn’t know it when I bought it, glad I didn’t though) but so far it has far exceeded my expectations.�
The sheath is decent, 2 pieces of molded kydex style plastic, suspended vertically on a nylon web loop. The halves are riveted together, kind of a negative in my mind, as I like to be able to take the sheath apart. It secures on the bulge near the business end of the grip by snapping around it. There is a hole in the sheath tip to allow for water drainage. There are many places to attach a leg-lashing to keep it in place. I like to lash the sheath to a pack with the 2″ wide holes running along its sides. It also hangs low enough to wear it on a belt on your hip while also wearing a backpack padded belt (mine is a Kelty external frame) and still have easy access to it.�
Drawbacks: The only other negatives I can see to the knife are the fact that you need to keep the edge oiled (animal tallow would work for this), and the fact that it is a tag big for gutting and skinning smaller animals, but does well at this task, with care, on whitetail (and I assume larger) deer or animals. This would be a reason to carry a smaller, more suited knife for fine tasks, besides the the fact that you should always have a backup anyway. I like the Tom Brown Tracker T2 by Topps for this purpose. I’ll be reviewing it at a later date.�
Overall: I’d give this knife a 9 out of 10, loosing a point for the potential long term durability issues of the handle, and limited utility on small game. I plan on ordering a couple extra handles from cold steel, I understand they are hammered on, so it should be a simple task to replace the handle once the worn one is removed.�
This is my favorite knife to date. The price is reasonable (i’ve found them for less than $80) the steel is quality with a good ring to it. It is hard and sharp, and in my opinion, just the right size.
What is the best type of steel for a sword?
This is a common question asked by beginners, but it is somewhat akin to asking ‘how long is a piece of string’ – mostly because ‘best’ depends on what type of sword we are talking about and what its intended usage is…
Not to mention that there are other factors that are actually more important than just the type of steel it is made from (for example, heat treatment and the quality of the forging is more important than the steel itself – a properly heat treated piece of the cheapest plain carbon steel is much better than than the best quality L6 tool steel if the attempt is not NOT tempered properly!).
BUT LET’S TRY TO KEEP IT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE!
So let’s ask instead ‘what are the different types of steel commonly used to make a sword – and what are their strengths and weaknesses’ (when tempered properly of course!)?
In this article, we will attempt to answer THIS question – and let you make up your own mind on what types of steel best suit YOUR preference (and budget) in a sword.
It used to be that just about every sword on the market was made from Stainless Steel. Now, it is almost only relegated to cheap decorative swords – and for good reason!
Stainless steel swords (or any blade over 12″ long) is considered to be TOO brittle for serious usage and can shatter relatively easily.
To get just a little technical with it – Stainless steel is ‘stainless’ because it has a high Chromium content (over 11%) – and when a blade gets over 12″ long (such as a sword..) the grain boundaries between the chromium and the rest of the steel start to weaken, creating stress points. So the purpose of a sword made from stainless steel is to put it on the wall – and just keep it there to admire from a distance!
NOTE: There are a few exceptions to this rule. Stainless steel swords can be used for NON CONTACT forms practice. And there have been a few smiths who have been able to use more sophisticated techniques to make it suitable for cutting – but these techniques come at a price, and are never found on the ‘surgical quality stainless steel’ blades being sold on the Internet and marketed as battle ready because they are sharp… (Yikes!).
PLAIN CARBON STEEL SWORDS
At the very least, for a functional sword it has to be a (properly tempered) ‘High Carbon steel sword’. But what exactly does this mean?
Generally, The American society of automotive engineers (SAE) scale is the one most commonly used by sword manufacturers. And the most commonly used steel for functional swords is plain carbon steel, which is designated by the first two digits 10 – and a number from 01 to 99 afterwards, with each point signifies that .01% of that steel is carbon.
For example, steel classified as AISI 1045 has 0.45% carbon content, 1060 is 0.60 carbon, etc.
Steels with a carbon content between 0.05 to 0.15 are considered to be LOW CARBON STEEL, and 0.16 to 0.29 MILD STEEL – neither of which are suitable for a functional sword (as any sword with a carbon content of less than 0.40% can’t really be hardened and given a decent heat treatment).
The most popular three types of carbon steel used in swords are 1045, 1060 and 1095, starting with the most inexpensive (1045) with most sword experts agree that the ideal range for a durable and sharp sword is somewhere between 0.5 and 0.7 carbon content.
1045 CARBON STEEL
1045 Carbon Steel swords are quite cheap to make because, being relatively soft, they are easy to make (either by hand forging, pressing or machine milling) but can be hardened, so are effectively the MINIMUM acceptable steel for a functional blade.
If well tempered, they can be surprisingly strong, and when you look at a sword under US$100, if it just says ‘high carbon steel’ – it is probably 1045… (and at this price, it is almost certainly machine milled).
1060 CARBON STEEL
1060 Carbon Steel is a great compromise between hardness (edge holding ability) and pliability (strength) – and many swords famous for their DURABILITY, such as those by COLD STEEL and DARKSWORD ARMORY , are made from 1060 carbon steel.
Consequentially, 1060 Carbon Steel swords are very popular, though because the steel is harder than 1045 – are more difficult to forge, shape and polish and thus almost always has a higher price tag.
Definitely a great all round steel that is hard enough to take and keep a good edge but focused primarily on it’s durability.
1095 CARBON STEEL
1095 Carbon steel is very HARD – and unless it is properly heat treated, this hardness can sometimes be problematic when used on harder targets (either intentionally, or unintentionally – such as accidently hitting a wooden stand).
The main advantage to swords made from 1095 carbon steel is that they can take and keep a much keener edge than swords with a lower carbon content. The disadvantage is that they can sometimes be a little on the brittle side – so durability is traded off for edge retention.
It doesn’t mean that a sword made from 1095 carbon steel is exceptionally fragile, but it is simply no where near as TOUGH as the lower carbon content swords. The video below of the Akio Hattori Katana distributed by DARKSWORD ARMORY show that while they may not be as tough as the lower carbon content swords, they are still quite durable…
So it just depends on what you are looking for in a blade…
For our purposes, there are basically two types of spring steel swords – 5160 and 9260. As with the plain carbon steel swords, the last two digits represent the carbon content – so both have .60% carbon and therefore, are like the 1060 carbon steel swords (a great compromise between hardness and durability) – and when properly heat treated, allows objects made of spring steel to return to their original shape despite significant bending or twisting, thus giving 1060 spring steel a special kind of ‘twist’.
So let’s take a look at these two different steel types:
5160 SPRING STEEL
5160 Spring Steel is a low Chromium alloy steel, with around 0.7 Chromium – which is not enough to make it stainless (which requires a minimum of 13% Chromium) – but combined with a small amount of silicon (0.2%) results in an extremely tough and durable sword and is favored by sword makers such as ANGUS TRIM, GENERATION 2 and the blades designed by Michael Tinker Pearce and made by the HANWEI FORGE.
5160 Spring Steel was also the steel of choice for the famous Nepalese Khurki – blades so tough and so sharp they are reportedly able to cut off a buffalos head with a single strike!
Again, what is critically important is the heat treatment – if it is applied wrong, even the best 5160 Spring Steel sword will take a set (Generation 2 had some issues with this way back in 2007), but when applied properly – the end result is spectacular.
9260 SPRING STEEL
Made famous by CHENESS CUTLERY – 9260 Spring Steel (also called Silicon Manganese Steel) consists of 2% silicon content, giving it an even more dramatic resilience against lateral bends and allowing it to spring back to true even after being bent almost to 90 degrees.
Swords made from 9260 Spring Steel have a reputation for durability – with 9260 Spring Steel having a tensile strength almost double that of 5160 (source – efunda.com).
While these swords are almost legendary for their toughness, like any blade they are not indestructible – and while rare, they can be broken or damaged. I’ve tested quite a few myself very hard and never had this happen, but I have heard of it occurring – and there is this video on youtube showing a Konron forge 9260 blade breaking against a thick bone (thicker than any human bone would be) – which would happen to almost any blade striking it – so they don’t have magical powers that defy metallurgy or physics..! 😉
The moral of the story is that no blade is indestructible – and because of the nature of what swords were originally designed to do, it is never a good idea to put yourself in a situation where you expose yourself to the potential of a blade snapping off and flying through the air anywhere near you…
Tool steel swords have been quite popular in recent years, mostly because swords made from these steels are hard yet quite tough and tend to hold and keep a good edge. While there are several types on the market, there are two that everyone tends to be talking about – and those two are T-10 tool steel and the legendary L6 Bainite.
T-10 TOOL STEEL
T10 Tool Steel is a Tungsten alloy steel with a very high carbon content (around 0.9 to 1.0%) with a little bit of silicon (around .35% maximum) and is often referred to as ‘High Speed Steel’.
This stuff tends to be very hard (above HRC60 when properly tempered) and the Tungsten means that it is also more resistant to scratches and abrasions than most other types of steels, plus considerably tougher than other swords with a similar level of carbon content.
While these swords are generally only seen on higher end production swords, the $330 SBG Custom Katana series swords are made from T10 steel, hold their own quite well.
L6 Bainite is also a tool steel (band saw steel actually), with the L designating it is a low alloy steel and – when properly heat treated, has a reputation as the TOUGHEST type of sword steel currently on the market – mostly due to the innovative custom sword work of Howard Clark, a smith for the Bugei Trading company who started producing this steel in the late 1990s.
While when properly heat treated (it can be a hard steel to work with) there is little argument that it is one of the toughest steels commercially available for swords, it can sometimes be prone to rust so needs plenty of maintenance, and of course, is quite expensive to make (no decently made L6 sword has a price tag of under US$1,000).
REAL Swords have a FULL TANG
The weakest point of most modern swords is the handle, in particular the metal insert into the handle attached to the blade known as the tang. Unless a sword has what is known as a “full tang” it is liable to break when struck against any surface. Or worse still, come loose from the handle like a helicopter blade when swung with even moderate force (and for obvious reasons cannot be called a functional sword).
REAL Swords have been properly HEAT TREATED
Real swords (at least these days) are for safety reasons always properly heat treated and tempered to create a blade that is not too brittle and not too soft. If a sword is described as “carbon steel” but there is no mention of how it is heat treated and you don’t know about the manufacturer – there is a good chance that it hasn’t been heat treated at all. And if it hasn’t been heat treated, it doesn’t qualify as a real sword.
REAL Swords are made from CARBON STEEL
Real swords are always made from carbon steel. The vast majority of cheap swords being sold online are made from stainless steel. While stainless steel is a great choice for knives, it starts becoming very brittle on anything longer than 12″ and is NOT a suitable material for a functional sword, no matter what some marketers might claim�
What are you going to cut with your sword?
- There are light, medium, and heavy use cutters. Most manufacturers will tell you right up front what a particular sword is designed for:�
- Light cutting: beach mats, pool noodles, water bottles, etc�
- Medium cutting: regular cutting of light targets and occasional cutting of tatami omote�
- Heavy cutting: regular cutting of Tatami Omote and occasional cutting of heavy targets such as 3″+ bamboo, multiple rolls of tatami omote, or mats wrapped around an oak dowel
A Beginner’s Glossary of Terms�
Arms of the Hilt | Basket | Blade | Blade Length | Blunt | Button | Center of Gravity (CoG) | Center of Percussion (CoP) | Counterguard | Cross (Cross-guard) | Cruciform | Edge | False Edge | Ferrule | Finger Ring | Forte’ | Foible | Fuller | Furniture | Grip | Guard | Hilt | Knuckle-guard | Langet | Overall Length | Pas D`ane | Point of Balance | Pommel | Port | Quillion | Quillion Block | Ricasso | Scabbard | Shell Guard | Side Ring | Tang | Terzo | Turk’s Head | Wire-wrap
Arms of the Hilt�
Blade Length (BL)�
Center of Gravity (CoG)�
Center of Percussion (CoP)�
Finger Ring (Finger Guard)�
Knuckle-guard (or Knuckle-bow)�
In sabers, and less often, in other swords, the langets are extensions of the cross guard going symmetrically from its center into the grip and over the shoulder of the blade, on both faces of the blade. In most cases, there is a small space between the blade and langets, which tightly fit the locket of the mouth of the scabbard, thus preventing an accidental unsheathing. There is a possibility that strong langets were also used by experienced swordsmen to stop and catch an opponent’s blade at a sliding lateral strike. �
Overall Length (OL)�
Point of Balance (PoB)�
Quillion (or Quillon)�
Quillion Block (or Quillon Block)�
The ways in which scabbards have been made down the ages vary a great deal, but they have been generally simple for weapons of war, and richly decorated and ornate for weapons carried by leaders and royalty, and for presentation and ceremonial weapons. �