Thursday, January 27, 2011

Speaking of the Khukuri

This story is being widely reported -- Here's the Flopping Aces version.

Seems a just-retired Gurkha was on a train that was being robbed by 40 bandits. When they attacked an 18-year-old girl intending to rape her, the Gurkha pulled his Khukuri (or Khukri -- there's 40 ways to spell it, too) and went to work. He killed three, wounded eight, and scared the crap out of 29 more armed men to the extent that they dropped their loot and fled in terror. Can't say that I blame them. I'm not afraid of khukuri's but I am afraid of Gurkhas.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mora Knife Review

Everyone in the world has reviewed Frost Mora knives made of fine Swedish steel. They are quality blades. I had never purchased one. Several times I've had them on my list and one thing or another came along and the Mora was dropped. Recently I was ordering a neck knife for my wife's birthday. I know. She is an unbelievably lucky lady and clearly doesn't deserve me. Some guys would get diamonds, chocolates, or flowers, but nothing says "I love you" like a handy, razor-sharp blade.

The little blade I got my wife, by the way, is an Outdoor Edge "Wedge". She does a lot of puttering in the garden in the warmer months, and, unlike me, she mostly doesn't have pockets or a belt to carry a cutting tool. I have tried to get her to use folding knives. It's not her fault; it is some sort of genetic flaw in the family. Closing a linerlock or a lockback exceeds her mechanical capacity. It's like opposable thumb overload. Anyway, I believe she can un-sheath and sheath the Wedge without assistance, even though it has a little retention button in the scabbard. I also think that the stainless steel material, the blade geometry and grip design will work well for her. These are quality little blades for under $15.

But back to the Mora. Since I was buying the Wedge, I decided to order a Mora from the same place. I picked the single-guard Classic with a red wooden hilt. These are not big, honking "camping" or "tactical" blades. The blade length is a mere 4 inches. The profile is trim and straight with a very modest clip point. This is not an eye-catching knife, for most folks. The Mora is not a chopper. I would describe it as a utility knife. The problem is our understanding of utility. We think that it might be useful for several things, but will it do anything really well?

The Mora has sufficient "belly" for most skinning tasks. My opinion is that, unless one is perhaps a professional buffalo skinner, an exaggerated belly on a blade is overrated. The Mora will do an excellent job of skinning and cutting up anything from catfish to deer. I imagine it will work on larger game. The Classic is deeper and not as flexible as a regular filet knife but it will serve the purpose.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Mora is carbon steel. It has a bright, shiny lamination, but the core steel is visible on the spine. This means it is a good idea to keep it wiped down and dry. If any carbon steel knife is going to be sitting on the shelf for a while, I use Johnson's Paste Wax and coat the entire knife to protect it against moisture and corrosion. I leave it out of the sheath or leave it open (if it is a folder) until the wax has some time to dry. Finally I buff off the excess wax.

The Mora I have came sharp. This is not a knife that invites a person to run his thumb along the blade testing the edge. I sliced my thumb open and didn't even know it until I saw blood dripping. I could not shave hair off my arm because when the blade got close to the skin, the hairs simply leaped off in fear.* It is that sharp. Unless I have the misfortune to seriously damage the edge at some point, I don't plan on using anything to sharpen it other than my extra-fine Arkansas oil stone and my little leather razor strop.

My wife's first response on seeing the Mora was to call it a "potato knife". It does look a little like a paring knife with an oversized handle. No doubt it would serve well in the garden or the camp-kitchen. I wouldn't try to split kindling with it nor would I use it as a prybar -- things I have done with a khukri or a thick-backed KA-BAR. It is not a throwing knife. It is not a tactical blade although I'm sure it would do some damage in close social work. Consider the Mora a substantial upgrade from a folder for camping, hunting, and field use.

The Mora sheath is not terribly substantial, but it is more or less traditional. I think that the ad blurb said something about some kind of fiber. To me it looks like plastic. It is fitted to the knife and seems fairly secure. It is a friction fit. The guard slides down a slot so a portion of the hilt is covered by the top of the sheath. If I were going to wear it in an extreme situation — e.g., whitewater kayaking — I might slip a rubber band or a cut cross-section of a bicycle inner tube (aka, Ranger band) over the sheath above the guard so that it absolutely couldn't fall out. I might worry about the fragile looking belt loop, but I haven't thought of a way to make that more secure. In reality, if I'm going on a river run I'll likely be carrying something with more chrome than a Mora. For merely knocking around the hills the sheath will serve its purpose.

Frost Moras come in a number of variations. Some are a little more expensive than others. None are overpriced. The most expensive one I considered was less than $35. The one I settled on was $14. Anyone looking for a quality hunting and utility knife cannot go wrong with these Swedish blades.

*Note to non-hillbillies: humorous hyperbole.