Category Archives: knives

Testing the Bhojpure

Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria has been cleaning and testing a relic Bhojpure kukri (khukuri) from the large collection of original 19th century Nepalese Government military stores that IMA and Atlanta Cutlery scored back in 2003. Of course, he is a little late to the party as I picked up one of these a few years back and found it to be just a remarkable edged weapon. Truly excellent once you got the yak grease off.

Here is Matt testing it:

Speaking of Gurkas, this year’s intake at Infantry Training Centre Catterick has gone off swimmingly.

However, with Nepal still in COVID-19 lockdown, the 2021 Intake could be delayed, which could mean some uncertainty in the manning of the Brigade of Gurkhas, the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha regiments, and the Singapore Police Force’s Gurkha Contingent.

The Ottomans liked a little flash

I’ve seen probably tens of thousands of historic edged weapons in my time, but I have to say this 18th/19th century  Turkish Yatagan probably comes closest to taking the cake when it comes to an ornate presentation sword.

From the Sofe Auction description:

Featuring massive hilt with traditional eared grips of marine nature and seldom encountered form, gilt silver mounts with intricate filigree decorations, all set with numerous large fluted red corals to its hilt and upper scabbard. One side of the scabbard bearing an ink written number, matching to the number written on top of one of the large ears, and is most likely a Museum inventory number. Mounted with an unbelievably gorgeous large blade of traditional form but very nontraditional level of decoration, having large fire blued panels heavily inlaid with finest quality Gold Arabic scriptures, symbols and Koranic passages to both sides. In its beautiful repousse silver scabbard, depicting Islamic Temples, War Trophy panoplies, and wonderful floral scrolls.

You have to wonder how many times in this sword’s life it has been a war trophy in some soldier’s rucksack.

Getting a feel from some Black Ice

Since about mid-March, I have been working on a T&E on Kimber’s newest take on the M1911A1 platform– the Rapide (Black Ice). With a name familiar in Europe commonly used for a fast express train– and a popular Aston Martin model– the Rapide is billed by Kimber as a 1911 platform built for speed and is both competition and range ready.

The pistol is feature-rich including stepped cocking serrations, slide lightening cuts, a DLC coated barrel for extreme durability, extended magwell, and new V-Cut match-grade trigger. It also comes with Tru-Glo TFX Pro Day/Night sights and G10 grips. A 70-series gun with a 4.9-pound trigger pull on average, the variant I have been working with is a 10mm Auto, and I have to say, it is fetching.

The folder, btw, is a Case Gunstock in Curly Maple, which I think pairs well with the big Kimber. A blend of old and new.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Bringing a rifle to a sword fight

Matt Easton with Scholagladiatoria covers military bayonet/rifle fencing equipment that was common from about the 1850s through the 1930s, with, naturally, an emphasis on British kit.

You had to be a serious Tommy to suit up in one of these outfits back in the day.

British fencing musket as a properly-mustached sergeant looks on

The French also used much the same kit, as seen with this Pouli using his Berthier rifle in a fencing duel against a gendarme

The more slappy and less complicated U.S. M1912 Fencing Bayonet, for use with the M1903 Springfield

Of course, you can’t talk about British Tommies and bayonets without the mandatory mentioning of the venerable Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army fame.

Happy National Napping Day

Just in case you didn’t know, the Monday after Daylight Savings Time spring’s back is National Napping Day. In true LSOZI fashion, this is my take.

Marine Sgt. Robert Gwinn, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, takes a nap waiting for a helicopter to transport him back to base after a five-day recon patrol in the hills near Da Nang, Vietnam, 1969.

Official USMC photo by Gunnery Sergeant Bob Jordan via Marine Corps History Division

Official USMC photo by Gunnery Sergeant Bob Jordan via Marine Corps History Division

Of note, the likely exhausted Gwinn carries an aircrew/pilot’s survival knife and not a traditional K-Bar fighting knife. You can tell by the bolt-shaped pommel and sharpening stone pouch on the sheath.

As Gwinn’s patrol, according to the MCHD, “worked closely with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing pilots and aircrews,” he likely got the knife in trade. Below he is shown filling his canteen in another shot from the Corps Archives. That CAR-15 XM177, tho…

Robert Gwinn Fills His Canteens, 1969 1st Recon Danag Vietnam Marines CAR15 XM177

Bazooka Boy Scout

In this 1960s Army recruiting poster, we see PFC Vernon K. Haught, of the 82nd ABN Divison’s 325th Glider Rgt, around the final act of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, as he strolls in the snow-covered countryside near Ordimont, Belgium.

While the M1 2.36-inch Bazooka on his shoulder is likely his go-to should an errant Panzer poke its nose out of the woods, the thin-handled knife on the German army belt around his waist probably got a lot more daily use. The blade seems to be a Norwegian-style speiderkniv, or scout knife, of the kind commonly used by boy scouts in Western Europe at the time, differing from the beefier U.S.-style PAL or Western Cutlery-made fixed blade Boy Scout knives sold back home in the 1940s.

Also, note the M1 bayonet strapped to his leg.

After all, “Be Prepared.”

Glad I saved my $29…

As a kid in 1986– in an age where action heroes were shirtless, spoke with an Austrian accent or a mumble, and carried a big fixed blade– I downright pined for one of these $29.95 specials every time I browsed the gun mags of the day while camped out at the news rack of the local T.G.&Y.

Glad I wasn’t able to cut enough grass to afford both a wildly addictive Testors scale model habit, as well as my nascent knife wanderlust. That tang-less 420SS thing looks like pure junk-o. But hey, it had a compass!

Interesting pigsticker

This Mauser bayonet looks simple enough. For those familiar with such items, it looks like your basic M1935 knife-style bayo produced locally by Askari Fabrika turkije in Ankara for the Turkish military before WWII for their wide assortment of the 8mm Mauser M1893 and M1903 rifles.

Often using a mix of older M1913 bayonets and components with new elements as needed, these typically run about 15 inches long from tip to tip with a 10-inch grooved spear-point blade.

This example is labeled on one side “AS. FA.” for Askari Fabrika with serial number “145227” on the other and has a sheet steel scabbard and walnut panels.

What makes this bayo curious is that, sometime in the 1950s, it was modified by the NATO-allied Turks to fit an M1 Garand, of which the U.S. supplied some 300,000 through the Cold War.

As Uncle Sam did not send any bayos with said M1s, the Turks had to find a solution as best they could and both converted older Mauser bayonets as well as beginning production of a local copy of the U.S. M5 constructed by MKKE.

The more you know…

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