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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    Default Knife Penetration: John Farnam E-mail

    >14 Apr 06
    >
    >Knife Penetration:
    >
    >Last weekend, as we cheerfully shot various handgun bullets into Mike Shovel's
    >gelatin blocks, some of us decided to also experiment with knife-blade
    >penetration and cutting ability, especially when heavy clothing and leather
    >jackets are involved. I'm still far from persuaded that gelatin is
    >particularly useful for any purpose, nor am I convinced that penetration
    >results from shooting such a unrealistically homogenous medium mirror reality
    >to any specific degree. Conversely, I'm not sure we currently have anything
    >better that is readily available, is as easy to use, and is as transparent so
    >as to generate effective, visual results. We can probably describe ballistic
    >gelatin as: "the best of the worst."
    >
    >I "stabbed" the gelatin with two of my Cold Steel blades, aTi-Lite and a
    >Vaquero Grande. In bare gelatin (the "Nudist-Colony Test") both, of course,
    >penetrated easily, requiring only a few pounds of insertive pressure in order
    >to slide in to the hilt. When the same test was done where the blade had to
    >first penetrate the leather jacket and then four layers of denim before
    >reaching the gelatin, results were largely the same! Both knives effortlessly
    >penetrated to the hilt. Even leather and heavy clothing provided scant
    >shielding.
    >
    >However, when we did the same test with differently-shaped blades, results
    >changed radically. On student had a folder with a "bulb" point. The knife was
    >reasonably sharp, but, when he stabbed the clothed gelatin, even with a great
    >deal of strength, the blade refused to penetrate leather. He enthusiastically
    >attempted several times, all with the same result. “Tanto" blades faired
    >slightly better, but still not nearly as well as the stabbing point found on
    >the Ti-Lite.
    >
    >When we slashed the gelatin, we learned that "reasonably sharp” produces poor
    >results! Leather effectively shielded the gelatin from even enthusiastic
    >slashes from several utility blades, including the bulb-pointed one. Once
    >again, however, both the Ti-Lite and the Vaquero sliced through leather and
    >denim handily, delivering deep cuts to the gelatin beneath. The serrated
    >Vaquero was particularly effective, slashing through both leather and fabric
    >with ease.
    >
    >My conclusions: Heavy leather is an underrated form of armor, frustrating both
    >pistol bullet performance and knife attacks alike! Not long ago, it actually
    >was used as armor. Even today, some folks routinely wear leather gauntlets
    >around their wrists. I often see my good friend, Mas Ayoob, in a substantial,
    >leather jacket. I now know why!
    >
    >To be effective fighting tools, knives need to be (1) strong, (2) appropriately
    >shaped, and (3) razor sharp!
    >
    >Weak, flimsy knives (of which there are too many) lack the strength and
    >structural integrity to get one through a fight. In order to "cut strongly,"
    >one needs a strong knife, not an anaemic toy that will break the first time it
    >is put to heavy use!
    >
    >I have become persuaded that the shape of a knife blade is important. Blades
    >designed for skinning and utility cutting are poor for fighting. In order to
    >stab deeply, the knife tip must be able to penetrate, and the blade behind it
    >must be appropriately shaped so that you'll be able to cut ruinously as the
    >knife is withdrawn. Otherwise, as we discovered, the entire knife is little
    >more than an impact weapon!
    >
    >Dull knives are basically impact weapons too! I've always marveled at the
    >extreme degree of sharpness with which every Cold Steel knife comes from the
    >factory. Now, I see why! In a fight, you're going to desperately need every
    >bit of that sharpness in order to cut through clothing and penetrate deeply
    >into flesh. Don't carry a dull knife and naively think you'll be able to use
    >it as an effective weapon!
    >
    >Finally, I'm going to follow Mas' lead and get a leather jacket!
    >
    >/John
    “This is a war and we are soldiers. Death can come for us at anytime, and in anyplace.” - Morpheus

    "There are no silver medals on the world's mean streets." - CWS

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    377
    Awesome read. Thanks for the info.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Not of this world
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    17,831
    Good stuff, but no real surprise.

    I often wear a heavy leather jacket in the winter for the same reasons. My folders and fixed blades that I carry for SD purposes do not get used for anything else, so that the edge is always razor sharp.
    **Mike Ronin on FaceBook**

    **Spero optimus instruo pro pessimus**

    **Out of destruction rises opportunity. We are only defeated when we give up. Never, ever give up. (Phil 4:13)**

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    153
    Lynn Thompson has really done his homework when it comes to cutting things with knives, I carry a Cold Steel all the time. And, like michael, the knives I carry are always sharp and are only carried for defense of myself and my family.

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