Friday, October 29, 2010

Edged Weapons from the Civil War

The American Civil War was not fought by highly trained, professional armies, but by a whole population forced to fight for the family values and ideals they believed in.

This made it a unique war in many ways, not least in the types of weapons that were used. The large majority of weapons carried through the conflict were old-fashioned and rudimentary as the tide of the battle seemed to rely more on fighting spirit than superior modern technology.

Typical tools were bayonets, sabers, swords, short swords, cutlasses, Bowie knives, pikes and lances which were all produced in profusion during this period. They are a delight to modern collectors and were often spectacular decorations for their users but actually inflicted few casualties. Of approximately 250, 000 wounded victims treated during the war, only 922 were victims of edged weapons.

One reason for this was the troop's lack of training. Although a bayonet is dangerous in the hands of a trained trooper, the volunteer horsemen had difficulty handling them and so avoided using them.

Furthermore, until recently swords were the symbol of an American officer's authority and served this primary function in the Civil War. Officer's kept their short but useless artillery swords as decorative items rather than using them as they were supposed - to disembowel the horse and kill any rider who stood in their way!

Lances were also serious weapons in the hands of trained troopers but fairly ineffectual for the volunteers. The weapons shortage in the South meant troops were armed with lances and pikes but they were often abandoned if a more practical weapon could be found.

As edged weapons were more decorative than useful they make fabulous collectibles for the Collectors of Civil War weaponry as most of them are in very good condition. Classic Civil War Confederate 'D' Guard Bowie style fighting knives are typical finds. These knives will often show crude Southern workmanship with a long iron blade which may have been fashioned from an old file - the edge of the blades sharp with a spear point scratches in the surface. They will sell for an average of $2000. It is rare to find a Confederate made fighting knife still with its original scabbard and this will increase its value to $3000 or more.


To find products of interest to the reenactor and collector of U.S. Civil War replicas and Civil War gifts click the link below.

Civil War Collectibles




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Friday, October 22, 2010

Grading the Condition Of a Pocket Knife

In 1973, the National Knife Collectors Association developed a knife grading system that became the standard for many years. Over time, most dealers and collectors have enhanced the standard to provide more clarification and a more detailed grading system. Most knives are now graded as described in the table below.

Pristine Mint

This condition is perfect plus. Knives in this category must be flawless, and must have additional characteristics that set them apart from mint. They could have an unusually good fit for example.

Mint

This would be a knife that has never been carried, never sharpened, never used, and does not have rust problems of any kind. Some collectors will classify a very old knife that has a few rust marks as mint (especially those made prior to WWII). The newer the knife gets from there, the less rust specs it must have to maintain its mint status.

In addition, most Case knife collectors are a bit more strict on grading knives. An old Case knife with any rust mark would not be considered mint. Note: A knife that had rust, and was cleaned to look mint would be considered near mint or worse depending on how harshly it was cleaned.

Near Mint

There must be nothing wrong with a near mint knife. It should "walk and talk" and must have most of the original polish visible on the blades. Very light sharpening would be acceptable, but the blades must be full. It can have some light rust spots, but no deep rust pits. Some light carry scratches are permitted on the outside as well.

Excellent

Knives in this condition would constitute a solid, lightly used knives. There may be a bit of blade wear (no more than 10% on any one blade), and some tarnish and light pitting would be acceptable. Blades should still snap well, and the tang mark should still be clear.

Very Good

Knives in this category are generally fairly well used knives. There may be blade wear of up to 25%. The blades should still be sound, but one or more may be slow. The stamping should be readable, but may be faint. The handles may have cracks and wear, but shouldn't have major chipping. The knife might also have some rust pitting and tarnish.

Good

Knives in good condition must still be useable as a working knife. Blade wear may be between 25-50%. There might be chips in the handle or blade. Blades may be slow with deep pits and rust. You should still be able to make out the maker of the knife by shield or tang stamp.

Poor

A poor knife is generally only good for parts. The blades might be less than 50%, extra lazy or even broken. Tang marks are generally barely legible, and the handles may be chipped.

Junk

Anything less than poor. These knives would be pretty much worthless. May have a liner, back spring or bolster that would be salvageable for parts, but probably not even that.

What does new, used, vintage and antique knives mean?

New knives: Never sold to a customer and never used. New as shipped by the manufacturer or distributor with all original packing (box, sheath, etc.) and instructions. Knives or any merchandise sold as "New" must be eligible for full warranty service from the officially authorized importer, distributor, or factory in the USA. New is what most knife stores sell and they are generally current production knives.

Used knives: Any knife that has been owned by a customer, even if it is like new. Used knives may not have the sheath, accessories or box that they came with. They vary in condition, from like new to completely worn out. By this definition most knives are used, including vintage and antique.

Vintage knives: Knives made after World War II (1945), but not still in production. They are no longer made. A vintage knife will usually be higher in cost than when it was originally produced, but many times it will not cost any more than a similar made knife today if you can find one.

Antique knives or Old knives: Any knife made before World War II (1945).



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Monday, October 18, 2010

Knife Review Video of the Week - SOG Trident Folding Knife

This week's Knife Review Video of the Week is SOG TRIDENT KNIFE





SOG's mission was to create an updated SOG folding knife based on historical proven design but launched from a platform of new technology. Somehow, when you see it, you immediately know it is a SOG. When you use it, you definitely know it is a SOG. At a casual glance it has elements of our original SOG Bowie, Tomcat, SEAL Pup, Flash, etc. Upon a closer look, it has features never before put into a knife.

The SOG Trident uses the well-proven means of delivering a knife blade to the open position with S.A.T. (SOG Assisted Technology). Now using the patent pending Arc-Actuator™, the Trident locks stronger and releases easier. There is also a built-in safety to lock the blade closed. When it shows red, you are ready to go.

What also makes the Trident so unique is the patent pending Groove™ in the handle, which allows the operator to cut paracord, fishing line, etcetera without having to open the blade.
The Trident's blade is an evolution as well. Taking key elements from previous blade shapes created a distinct hybrid of form and function.

The Trident embodies the spirit of our elite special forces throughout the world. The only thing that it doesn't come with is testosterone...you have to supply that.

Specifications:

Blade: 3.75" x .125"
Overall Length: 8.5"
Weight: 4.5 oz
Steel: AUS8 Stainless Rc 57-58
Clip: Reversible SOG Bayonet Clip



I will be posting a video which I've chosen as the "Knife Review Video of the Week" every Monday.
If you have, or know of a knife review video which would be a good choice for "Knife Review Video of the Week" please send your requests to swordofodinknifeblog@gmail.com





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Friday, October 15, 2010

Kershaw Ken Onion Bump Knife Review


After a long wait, Kershaw Knives finally did it again. They released a high end Ken Onion designed model called the Bump. It's perhaps the sexiest looking piece I've seen come from this dynamic duo. There are curves all over this beauty! There is not one straight line on this piece, making for a visually exciting knife as well as comfortable to hold and use. The 3-D machining and anodizing gives the titanium handle a lot of vibrance as well as texture. One look at this piece and you can easily discern that this design came from the mind of Ken Onion.

The Bump's blade shape kind of defies definition. It is essentially a clip point with a bump in the profile of the belly, hence the moniker [I guess!]. Anyhow, it is 3.5 inches long, flat ground out of 1/8" S30V stock. Dual thumb studs are present though I don't see the point in having them on this knife as there is a flipper which aids in opening the blade fast and easy with the assistance of the Speed Safe mechanism. Out of the box the edge was laser sharp per Kershaw's usual work. Grinds are even, though on this particular sample the swedge grinds are off a bit. Though, this has no impact on performance and barely visible unless you look at it up close.

The handle is milled from 6AL/4V titanium and there is an integral lock cut out of one of the scales. Integral locks are stronger than your standard liner lock® and also make the knife thinner due to the lack of liners. The buyer has a choice of two handle colors - blue and green. Both come with gold highlights and the 3-D textured surface. While the texturing adds to the look, it also gives the user a nice grip as the surface isn't so slick. Though, the appearance of the blue or green handles maybe a bit too "festive" for some, I find them to be refreshing. This knife will clearly stand out in a sea of black and grey knives. A steel pocket clip is mounted at the pivot end to carry the Bump tip down in the pocket, and does so relatively low.

The lockup is excellent. No play in any direction and the blade snaps out instantly with the tug of the flipper when the blade is closed. Action is smooth. So far, the Bump has been a pleasure to carry. It also is a nice conversation starter too with its sexy curves and vibrant handle treatment. Performance wise, the S30V steel is the best you can get today and a big kudos goes out to Kershaw for opting to use this steel for the Bump. The large finger recess in the handle forms sort of an integral finger guard in which to protect your hand from sliding up on the blade.

The swells in the handle are in all the right places to fill your grip nicely. It feels as if the knife were molded to your hand. The blade geometry and shape facilitates easy cutting. The bump in the cutting edge allows for easy slicing when using a smooth, even, sawing motion. So, the blade's appearance does have function as well as aesthetics. No complaints at all in the blade department! I even had to do some work with the knife that required some work with the tip of the blade. The Bump handled this task well. I was able to choke up on the handle and blade effectively to provide the necessary control.

Kershaw has struck a gold mine when they paired up with Ken Onion. Chives. Leeks. Whirlwinds. Blurs. And now, Bumps. Another winner in this knife design tag-team. My recommendations would be to produced a "toned down" version for those who might think the blue or green anodizing to be a bit too flashy for their tastes. Also, the dual thumb studs could be done away with since the flipper offers quick and easy deployment with either hand - even for those not familiar with the Speed Safe assist opening mechanism. While Ken Onion's designs are certainly very pleasing to the eye, their appearances are not in any way overshadowed by performance, and Ken's knives are designed to perform as well as they look. And the Kershaw Bump is no exception to this. The Kershaw Ken Onion Bump Knife will add a high performance flash to any collection so get yours today!



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Friday, October 8, 2010

Kitchen Knife Care Tips

The following helpful tips and reminders can prolong the life of your kitchen cutlery and will ensure the final food product is at its best in texture and flavor:

Proper Use

Weather you're indoors using your chef knives and kitchen knife set or outdoors using your camping knives or fillet knife, you need to make sure that the blade lands on a relatively soft surface such as wood or plastic rather than on a hard surface such as metal or ceramic. Constant striking on a hard surface will dull the blade rapidly and dramatically hinder your knife's performance even if you're using hard ceramic knives.

Although it may be tempting at times, refrain from using your cooking knives for prying, as a screwdriver, as a chisel, or for anything kitchen cutlery was not intended. It is also not recommended to use the back or side of your kitchen cutlery as hammering instruments unless it is specifically designed to handle that task. Doing so may cause the pins, springs, or handle to loosen or even break.

Sand and grit should be kept away from the knife, so be attentive when outdoors using your camping knives or fillet knife. And, if your knife gets wet you should dry it right away. It's recommended to wash the blade with a mild soapy water solution then dry it completely.

Knives should be washed by hand and thoroughly dried immediately because wood tends to swell, so it is not a good idea to immerse wood handled knives in water for a prolonged period of time. Rub mineral oil on wood handles periodically to maintain their luster. Lemon oil or any good furniture polish is good for feeding wood handled knives and will help maintain the life of your fine kitchen cutlery and cooking knives for years to come.

Stainless Steel

The term "stainless steel" signifies that the knife will not rust in a humid atmosphere and that it will resist the various acids in daily use. It does not mean, however, that the steel is absolutely rustproof. The coarser the surface finish, the more likely it is to corrode. In other words, the more finely ground or polished the surface of the blade, the more resistant to corrosion it is.

The expertise of a knife manufacturer shows itself in his ability to select the appropriate steel for the intended purpose. A quality kitchen blade is generally achieved by the corresponding chemical composition and appropriate heat treatment. Top name brands like Kyocera, Zwilling J.A. Henckels and Chicago Cutlery all have this authority thanks to their long tradition in cutlery manufacturing and, as with Zwilling J.A. Henckels, also as a manufacturer of steel.

Although most blades today are predominantly made of a hard grade stainless steel, surface rust or stains will inevitably form. This can usually be cleaned with a mild scouring powder, or mildly abrasive pad.

Advantages of Ceramic Knives:

  • Ultra-Sharp Long Life Blade
    Holds its edge much longer than steel. Lasts many months or years without sharpening.
  • Stain and Rust Proof
    Impervious to the food acids which discolor steel products.
  • No Metallic Taste or Smell
    Maintains the fresh taste of food. Won't brown fruits and vegetables.
  • Easy to Clean
    Non-stick ceramic surface makes for easy clean-up.
  • Easy to Use
    Lightweight and perfect balance make it a pleasure to use.

Ceramic knives should not be put in the dishwasher, as the strong jets may cause them to chip other objects or to become chipped themselves. A quick wipe and rinse is all that should be needed to keep your ceramic knives in great condition. For storage purposes, your ceramic knives will do just fine in a knife block, drawer or however you store your other kitchen cutlery and cooking knives.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your kitchen knives insures a lifetime of cooking pleasure. The key to keeping your knives sharp and long-lasting is to keep the edge of the blade aligned. With regular use, any knife's edge will lose its sharpness. Under magnification, you would see that the cutting edge takes on a wavy S-shape. It is important frequently to re-align the edge of the blade with a honing steel and oil, to keep the edge of the blade straight, or eventually these S-shaped curves will bend back over themselves and permanently damage the knife.

Sharpening your cooking knives on a periodic basis will not only extend the life of the blade, it is also a safety rule! Please see my knife sharpening tips for more information. Please note, although your ceramic knives should not require sharpening but once every few years, they do require handling with care.

I hope you've enjoyed this article and make use of these helpful kitchen knife tips and reminders for your safety, pleasurable cooking and great tasting food!


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Friday, October 1, 2010

Bayonets History

"All nations boast of their prowess with the bayonet but few men really enjoy a hand-to-hand fight with the bayonet. English and French both talk much of the bayonet but in Egypt in 1801 they threw stones at each other when their ammunition was exhausted and one English sergeant was killed by a stone.

At Inkerman again the British threw stones at the Russians, not without effect; and I am told upon good authority that the Russians and Japanese, both of whom proffes to love the bayonet, threw stones at each other rather than close, even in this twentieth-century."



Antique Spanish hunt Plug Bayonet from 1700

The bayonet stems directly from the various forms of polearm, it was obviously inappropriate to have a firearm-bearing soldier encumbered by a pike, yet there was need for a polearm to stand off cavalry and for hand-to-hand encounters when ammunition was gone or when there was no time to reload.

The original "bayonnette" - the name came from the town of its supposed origin, Bayonne in France - was introduced into the French Army in 1647.

It was a plug bayonet, a spear-like blade to which was attached a long conical steel plug inserted directly into the muzzle of the soldier`s musket, a collar lodging against the barrel to prevent it sliding too far in. This had certain defects; the musket could not be fired once the bayonet was fitted, and during the act of fitting the soldier was virtually unarmed. Misfortune overtook an English army at Killiecrankie in 1689, when a sudden rush of Scottish Highlanders overwhelmed them as they were fixing bayonets.

As a result of these defects, the socket bayonet was developed; this had the blade cranked and attached to a hollow sleeve which slipped over the muzzle of the musket. The blade lay below the axis of the barrel and left sufficient clearance to permit the weapon to be loaded and fired while the bayonet was fixed.

Although generally considered as the infantryman`s assault weapon, the bayonet was originally a defensive instrument. Steady infantry standing two or three deep and adopting a "square" formation could defend their position against a sudden rush of cavalry; the combined length of the musket and bayonet was sufficient to permit a standing soldier to reach a man mounted upon a horse.


The 28th of Foot form a square at Waterloo to resist a French cavalry

The idea of using a short sword as a bayonet was tried from time to time but the first regular users of the sword-type blade appear to have been the British rifle regiments in the early 1800s. However, the advent of breech-loading, and then magazine arms provided infantry with a firepower capable of beating off cavalry, at which time the bayonet turned from being primarily defensive to being a personal offensive weapon. For this a knife-like blade was of more use than a spike blade, and so from the middle of the 19th century the knife or sword blade became common, though a few armies still retained spike blades.

The difficulties of fixing bayonets in the heat of the battle led some armies to adopt permanently-attached bayonets which folded above or below the barrel of the weapon and could be released and locked into place very quickly when required. A singularity of the Imperial Russian Army, which carried over into the Soviet Army, was the permanently fixed bayonet; no scabbards were issued, and the bayonet remained on the rifle muzzle at all times.

With the adoption of modern short assault rifles the utility of the bayonet as a weapon was placed in doubt; the combination is not well suited to bayonet fighting.



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