But seriously folks, I worked for 2 years deep in the crazy of the knife industry, and met all kinds of nuts. But I have an essay on that already. Truly, working for years in that kind of place teaches you a lot of things. And one of the things I learned was what a good knife was, and what a bad knife was.
Trouble is, a lot of people who buy knives don’t know a thing about them. I always tried to sell the customer based on what they needed, but some people were all about the glitzy look. And a lot of knife companies catered to that mindset.
A lot of cheap companies.
Don’t get me wrong, some el-cheapo companies like Valor or United Cutlery had a place among serious knife people. Sometimes you needed a disposable knife. If your boot knife is likely to get confiscated in a bar fight, you don’t care if it’s half-tang, made of Pakistan steel, the tip is off center, and the handle is vinyl made to look like wood. It’s $25. The Kershaw boot knife was $120, and that’s the kind of knife you wept about if you lost. The Boker was $400, but that was just silly.
But what gets me is that some of these companies cater to morons who could hurt themselves and others. I would like to deflate some of the “bad assery” balloon that one sees in the trade shows, catalog, and science fiction/anime conventions. After perusing through a catalog I ended up with, I decided to point out some of my choicer guffaws from a catalog called, “The Collector’s Edge.” I realize they will claim, somewhere, these things are not meant to be used but displayed for liability reasons. But the kind of person who buys and collects these things probably thinks, somewhere, that should the burglars come into their home, they will whip out a bad-assed weapon and Danny Elfman will compose the score that plays in the background.
Almost everyone I know (and there are a few exclusions, like I have a few friends who study kendo and the like) couldn’t use a sword to save their life. I include myself in this group, even though I have a cheap samurai-style sword and large knife by my bedside for burglars (still safer than a gun in my hands). The reality of swords is they are long, heavy, and awkward even to an experienced user. Someone trained in sword fighting will probably never draw one in an enclosed space like a bedroom or Bud’s trailer home. A sword, in order to survive a few blows, has to be made of a tempered steel that will not twist or shatter upon impact. Many people do not know that steel at this size becomes a little structurally unstable. To make a sword that works in battle, it has to be made by a skilled blacksmith who will fold and roll the steel until the grain is right. He or she will also find impurities that might cause the blade to crack like a carrot in its lifetime. This cannot be done mechanically; it has to be done by a skilled eye with experience. This, I assure you, does not come cheaply. I would think a basic sword one would use in a fight would cost at least $400 on up. Expect a lot of iron with carbon, which has to be oiled or it will rust, and a hardwood handle.
I have gone through their sword section, and noticed that there are a lot of anime swords. This is relatively new; most of my time only carried Middle Earth, Arthurian, and katana themed pieces. Most are just katana-esque with different handles. A few stand out, however.
The Dragon Lord. This represents what I consider the crux problem with fantasy swords: too many frills. There are a few pieces that are so impractical in this catalog, I define them almost as art, like the Black Widow: now there’s no way this weapon could be used, it’s obvious it’s just a display piece. But The Dragon Lord reminds me of the kind of sword one would loose quickly in a battle with a dragon. It’s far too long to be a thrusting weapon to have a spear tip like that, and if that tip gets caught on anything, it will be wrenched from your hand. The “guard” around the hilt is just asking to catch on your cape, or for your opponent to jam their weapon into (including just a stick), twist a little, and remove the sword from your grip. All you want the hilt to do is to block your hand from sliding into the blade and prevent his blade from sliding into your hand from a parry. Same with the Dragon Claw Katana, which also makes me want to wonder who comes up against dragons that much to carry a dragon-specific sword? I’d bring an army with lots of long spears and longbows. A sword is just too close.
I have always assumed the Cloud Burster was supposed to mean, “This guy’s wrists are so strong, he can use an impractical unbalanced weapon into battle and not drop it.” I see a lot of anime costumers with this sword made out of simple balsa wood who can’t even swing it. This sword, if ever used in real battle, would have to be a two-handed swinger, like an axe. It’s a waste of metal, really.
Knives and Daggers
What kind of knife you need depends on what you use it for. Most people only need a folding lockback. It’s small, folds away, and can be used to do pretty much anything. If you need a bigger blade, like over 5“, I always recommend a Ka-bar because they are cheap, simple, durable, easy to sharpen, and take a beating. I never recommend a larger bowie knife for anything except to compensate for a small pee-pee. If you need to cut brush, get a machete, to skin a deer, get a Wyoming Knife, and if you have a lot of salt water to work in, get something from Wenoka. If you get into knife fights, get the hell away from those kinds of places.
There’s a lot about knife fighting people don’t know. First off: if you’re in a fight where someone pulls out a knife, run away. Screw that shit, you don’t need to be there. If that’s not possible because he was rude to your woman, never be the first to pull a knife in a fight. Because then someone will pull a gun, and won’t you look foolish? If you MUST stab someone, know this: large fleshy bodies tend to react differently than you might expect when you put steel in them. The first shock will be how sticky they are. You might find as you pull back your knife has been left behind in the angry body of your victim. If you have ever seen a roast beef slicer, like the kind they have in buffet lines at fancy events, you will notice the blade has rows of divots in them which look a little like small fingerprints. These are ”blood grooves“ which prevent the slice of rare rump roast from sticking to the blade by suction, and thus, easier to carve. Good boot knives or bayonets will have this as well, usually as a long groove down the blade. You’d be shocked at the difference this makes. You stick, say, a chef’s knife deep into somebody, it will stick there and be really hard to remove. If you have enough silly putty, stick a knife into that and try to easily pull it free. Yeah. See? It will be worse once the blood gets on the handle and makes it slippery. Gross. See why running away from a knife wielding goon is the best thing? He has no idea and you’ll have to pay the price for his lesson. ”Give me back my knife! It’s there, in your torso!“
So, all that being said, I look at these fantasy daggers and laugh. Like take the Double Turbo. ”Double the blade, double the force!“ they say. This is one rib cage away from being someone else’s possession. ”Hold on while I unfold my bad-ass knife, you meanie!“ I can’t even comment on this one; I just kind of stare and gawk.
But the two pieces that really got my attention started with the Night Hunter. This is NOT the kind of knife I would use in the dark. Hell, I’d cut my hand up in the light. This trilobite-shaped weapon defies all common sense in the foe you are trying to fight. I can’t even think of a foe that this would be good against, except maybe revenge on a cat that clawed you while bathing them.
But the final crowing jewel of ”WTF?“ came when my eyes stumbled across Ophida Spine. I wouldn’t even know where to hold this thing. I mean, truly, what the hell? What is it? I thought it might be art, but it’s... it defies description. Why not just hold a centipede and whack someone with it? I imagine the weapon is only good for one whack before it’s taken from you and you get the shit beat out of you by someone with 12 rows of small cuts on them.