Archive for May, 2007


A Tactical Blade…

Well hello there! On today’s issue of Phyreblades “Why is that?”, we will be looking at a particularly sinister little dark knife. I found this while trawling one of my favorite sword haunts.

Striking Talon

Striking Talon Knife
[view full size]

Now this blade is actually quite reminiscent of the saber claws I blogged about earlier, in that it resembles some form of tooth or talon. Incidentally I have a hypothesis about why I seem to like claw, bone or tooth like weapons. I kind of think that blades that have shapes that mimic naturally occurring weapons, such as animal teeth and or claws, always tend to invoke some sort of primal response. Me likey this response. Thus, me likey weapon.

Now as a side note, this blade is in fact described thus: “Double Edge Full Tang Striking Talon Knife w/ Tactical Ring“. Which brings us to the “Why is that?” section of this blog. Specifically, what makes the ring on this blade “Tactical”? For that matter, what makes any blade, or weapon, for that matter, “Tactical”? Is there some top secret list of criteria that something must meet in order to be qualified as “Tactical?”

Websters dictionary defines “tactical” as follows:

1 : of or relating to combat tactics : as a (1) : of or occurring at the battlefront <a tactical first strike> (2) : using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront <tactical missiles> b of an air force : of, relating to, or designed for air attack in close support of friendly ground forces
2 a : of or relating to tactics : as (1) : of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose (2) : made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view b : adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose.

Now it could just be me, but based on the rather nebulous definition above, doesn’t it seem like, by very definition, every weapon known to man has, at some point in it’s lifetime, served some “tactical” purpose? So “WHY IS IT” that some arbitrarily selected weapons get to become specifically and mystically endowed with the label “tactical”? Like, what is a “tactical” nuclear missile. You know, as in “tactical” nuke? What? Is it more selective than other nukes? Does it spare civilians and only bomb combatants? Are the others simply “general purpose” nukes? I feel like Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Someone throw me a bone here!

But overused words and primal caveman tendencies and instincts aside, this blade is pretty cool. Apart from being black and stealthy, it appears to be a fairly formidable weapon, and the big old ring does add an air of exclusivity to it’s design, though I suppose I am not sufficiently inured into the blade arts to fully appreciate any functional advantage it may provide. Nonetheless, seeing someone approach menacingly with a pair of these in a reverse grip should be sufficient to elicit the appropriate primal response… Flee. Flee! FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!!!

Full Tang Striking Talon Knife – [True Swords]


Da Biggest Buttahfly Knife… Evah…

Sorry for the unusually long lapse from my last post. I’ve been a busy, busy bee, working hard to… err… make the most of the 3 day Memorial weekend to get some *ahem*… “work” done…

Not buying it huh? OK. I’ll admit it. I was slacking off. Pool parties, barbecues and whatnot. I’m kinda like the unofficial Grill Master at these things… Hey it’s never my idea. I guarantee you. I somehow manage to get invited to these things. But even if I do say so myself, I run a mean grill… But getting back to why we’re here.

Ok, so by now you all should know how much I love writing about gargantuan blades. They fascinate me. So today it should come as no surprise that I have found yet another blade that is unusually large for it’s class. This blade comes from a Japanese manga/anime called Battle Angel Alita. I present to you:

Alitas Damascus Blade

Alitas Damascus Blade
[view full size]

Now usually this is the point where I start ripping on a blades shortcomings, weaknesses, impracticalities, etc. But to be honest, I could really find no major faults with this blade, besides the fact that it’s name might be a bit misleading because it is not a “Damascus Steel” blade. But it is only so called because in the manga, the blade is actually given the name “Damascus” so it isn’t really intended to mislead anyone.

I even looked for shortcomings that might have resulted from designing a what is basically a freakishly huge butterfly knife but I didn’t see any. In fact, the butterfly knife design could be construed as a plus, since, unlike an ordinary sword, it would need no scabbard, and when closed it is encased in yet more steel, which means it could still be used as a very formidable weapon even while closed.

And it’s design is a thing of beauty. At 38″ overall when open, it’s blade is comparable to that of a medium sized sword. When closed it is 20.75″ which puts it at a decent eskrima range. In fact, id think this blade would be an ideal weapon for most Filipino martial arts.

The folding handles are steel, with beautiful oak scales covering both sides. The blade itself is 17.4″ of stainless steel, with holes and a wicked drop point adding to it’s no nonsense look. The latch mechanism seems very robust, and the attention to detail, fit and finish appear to good. Who would have thought that a butterfly knife could be scaled up to these proportions, and still be both practical and aesthetically pleasing? It certainly caught me by surprise!

Alitas Damascus Blade – [True Swords]


A Big Black Bastard…

Hey, hey, hey, before you start calling me a racist bastige, I should inform you that I am not racist in any way shape or form. I assure you that I have *many* black friends. Most of them are quite sharp, often have lots of good points, and are made of steel, but that should not make any difference, now should it? Unless you are prejudiced against steel.

In which case I say: “Shame on you!” : ) In fact, the title could easily be used to describe me, ya know? My 4 story, dark skinned, big horned, fire eyed, fiery sword totin’ self. But no, the “friend” I am getting ready to talk about in this blog is not only Black but Italian. Yep, A big black Italian bastard…

For the literally and contextually challenged among us, I am talking about an Italian Bastard sword. I’ll admit I was having way to much fun with the wordplay. Perhaps taking some creative liberties with what is admittedly a sensitive issue to many. My bad. I guess I’ll stop now. Spoilsports. Curmudgeons. Wet Blankets. Stick in the muds… OK, ok, I’ll get to the point. (HAH! I did it again! HA HA! Another “point” pun… I… Uh… *crickets chirp, twice, then go silent*)

Fine. Let me introduce you to an Italian bastard sword. In hyper black. This is a very unique sword in that it has a dark blade, hyper black or black chrome in appearance, and is of a simple classic and timeless design. If you happen to be wondering why this is called a bastard sword, the explanation is quite interesting. Bastard swords, (also knows as hand and a half swords) are so called simply because they are too long to be single handed swords, and too short to be double handed swords. They are thus called bastard swords. Interesting logic eh? I thought so.

The Italian Bastard Sword

The Italian Bastard Sword
[view full size]

This sword caught my eye primarily because of it’s beautiful dark and shiny finish, but that is not to say it isn’t beautiful in it’s own right, though I will honestly admit that, had it not been for the black blade, I might have passed over it without a second thought. As it is, I find myself curiously drawn to this oh, so coy sliver of hyper black steel…

The handle has a beautiful classic spiral design traversing the length of the grip, topped by a beautiful fluted pommel. The simple cross guard is elegant and sophisticated. The blade is also of a beautiful and traditional design, with a double fuller, which, extending only a third of the way down the blade, somehow only adds to the sophistication of the blade. This sword, along with it’s equally dark scabbard, make for an impressive pair. It’s just beautiful. Italian design at it’s best.

You know I just can’t say enough good things about the finish on this sword. I love dark finishes, but I simply get the warm and fuzzies when I see a hyper black or black chrome finish on a blade. It just gives it that extra kick that makes for an extraordinary appearance. Definitely a unique and one of a kind sword. Have I mentioned how much I love this sword? Eh? OK, ok, i’ll stop… Soon… Sometime… “Oooo, Sole Mio….!”

Italian Bastard Sword – [Medieval Weapon Art]


A Beautiful, Elegant Blade…

Ok, today we travel back to the realm of wizards, sorcery and dragons. We visit another sword from the realm of Eragon. I was caught by surprise by this sword. I don’t know what it is about it that impressed me so much, but I knew I had to write about it. This is the sword wielded by the Elven Princess Arya, I’d like to introduce you all to:

The Sword of Arya

The Sword Of Arya
[view full size]

Now this sword is beautiful in many ways. For one, it’s simplicity is very appealing. The blade is relatively simple, an basic single edged blade with a mild, graceful curve leading into a sharp point. The short handle is organic in appearance, also slightly curved, much like the blade, with a bone like look to it, but obviously designed to afford a positive grip to it’s wielder. The over all effect is one of elegance encapsulated in a very organic style.

At 34″ overall, it is not a long sword by any means, but it’s design is in keeping with the character that wields it in the movie. It is intended to be a light, fast sword, tailored to a very skilled user. The narrow point design might indicate a preference towards fast, thrusting attacks, much like a rapier, but the thickness towards the hilt would also provide a lot of blade flexibility, allowing for slashing and parrying larger blades where necessary.

I have to say I just love the overall design of the sword. The simplicity, the organic curves, even the design focus all work together to make this sword a beautiful and elegant work of art. It’s going on my list. Most def. No doubt.

The Sword of Arya – [Red Dragon Sword Company]

The Sword of Arya – [True Swords]


Swiss Army knife – Ninja Style!

Alrighty then, as I promised in my last post, I’d like to introduce you to one of the most over-used staples of animated ninja weaponry, the ubiquitous, omnipotent and omnipresent Kunai.

The Dark Warrior Ninja Spike Kunai

Ninja Spike Kunai
[view full size]

What is a kunai? Glad you asked. If you are to believe all of the animated ninja stuff that goes on, a kunai is a multi purpose knife tool, usually carried by ninjas in lots of 6 of them at a time, sometimes more. If memory serves I have seen it used as a throwing knife, a shovel, a pocket knife, a stake, a scalpel, an arrow head, shuriken, combat blade, a nail, an anchor, a fishing hook, a spear head, piton, wind chimes, main-gauche

I could go on, but I think you get the “point”. Hah! Did you see what I did there? Get the point? The point!? that was a pun, did you get that? Yeah, ’cause Kunai are pointy and… Ahem… Oh never mind…

Do you want to know what Kunai really started life as? An old Japanese garden trowel. A gardening tool, usually made of soft, easily formed iron. It had no real edge, and was used more like a small crowbar or small shovel than a knife.

An enterprising shinobi warrior could probably have parried with it in a sword fight, but in an involved battle soon you’d be fighting with a small lump of soft iron, which as you can imagine, would not be to your advantage. The tools in the picture below are of traditional Kunai design.

Traditional Kunai Design

They’re not the kind of multi-purpose super knife you would expect. But in spite of it’s humble beginnings, the need for an inconspicuous, easily concealed, multi-purpose weapon soon spawned the advent of the “Super Ninja Kunai”, made of tougher, sharper and altogether meaner stuff.

Or so I’m told. Heh. Yeah. Actually the dumpy looking tools above later evolved into these:

Traditional Kunai
[view full size]

Much more lethal lookin’ eh? It went from a lowly gardening implement to a finely honed combat tool, capable of trapping demons, triggering explosives, chopping down trees, and leaping tall buildings in a single bound…

Ok, so maybe there aren’t any leaping kunai. But amazing japanese jumping kunai aside, it still a pretty major functional makeover if you ask me. I wonder if that makeover team does bloggers…

The Dark Warrior Ninja Spike Kunai – [True Swords]
The Dark Warrior 3 Ninja Spike Kunai
– [True Swords]
Ninja Gaiden set of 6 red and white Kunai – [True Swords]


Want Wolverine Claws?

OK Bub! Who wants some! No, really, ya want some Wolverine claws? Too bad. Ya can’t have ’em. But I can get you a cool set of hand claws that are almost as intimidating.

Anderson Cutlery – Pantera Claw

Anderson Cutlery - Pantera Claw
[view full size]

Now any true Wolverine fan should, at this juncture, be aghast. For many, many reasons. First of all, this set of claws bears only a passing resemblance to what they are supposed to be modeled after, and should not, in any form, have been made representative of the glorious splendor that are Wolverines retractable adamantium claws. Really. I mean seriously. About the only thing loosely linking the two are that they are claws of some sort. Aarrrgh!

And then look at the design. These are simple hand claws. Essentially a pair of fancy brass knuckles with claws attached. Not, by any stretch of the imagination, Wolverine claws. They would not exactly provide the most secure grip for any serious “clawing” action, probably tending to rotate out of the hand in that particular application, though they would make for a great stabbing weapon, much like how a set of brass knuckles make for a great punch enhancer.

Now being that I’m not *entirely* insane, I’ll readily admit that designing, fabricating and surgically installing an accurate, working set of Wolverine claws would pose some serious mechanical and physiological problems, since the average human lacks the kind of space in their forearms to house a set of blades internally like that without looking like a freak. Or Popeye.

There is also the issue of the appropriate physiological voids and guides (or lack thereof) required to allow for repeated deployment without the wholesale destruction of the various tissues of your forearm in the process. And I won’t even get into the strength, ligament structure or musculature that would be required to effectively deploy, use and retract the blades. But there are better solutions.

The closest and most accurate reproduction to a set of real wolverine claws I can think of would be a forearm mounted contraption, similar to the Tekko-Kagi hand claw employed by the Iga Ninja of Japan (see the item to the far left below )

Tekko-Kagi Hand Claw
Tekko-Kagi hand claw

Incidentally, according to the Iga Ninja Museum site, the middle two unassuming items were supposed to be examples of Kunai, an old Japanese garden tool turned ninja-super-implement, to which I will shortly devote a sorely needed post. I found out later that, in actuality, the two implements in the middle are more likely to be examples of a type of obscure medieval hand weapon called tekken (Japanese for “Iron Fist”), or tekko, a form of medieval knuckle duster. But I digress.

Much like the Tekko-Kagi pictured above, the hand claw design I would employ would be secured at both the wrist and around the hand/over the palm. In addition it would have a platform mounted rail that would be secured at the elbow. The blades would be mounted to a hinged sliding base attached to the rail. When retracted, the blades would be stored over the forearm, and when extended would be anchored at a hinge point just above the wrist, with the base of the blades above the hinge strapped to the back of the hand.

This joker had the right idea. I ran into his site(**see note below) about 4 years ago, (long before this blog was a gleam in my eye) and was suitably impressed. It doesn’t seem to have been built with longevity/durability under practical use in mind, but it is about as close to an authentic pair of wolverine claws as I think you could ever get. At least not without surgery anyway.

And yes. You read correctly. I said “durability under practical use.” in reference to a set of forearm mounted, retractable steel claws. No. You are incorrect. I did not, at any point, claim to be sane. I merely stated that I wasn’t *entirely* insane. There is a big difference. Get it straight. I am demented. But enough about me.

OK, my intention is not to totally dis these Pantera Claws the entire post. There are other examples of replica wolverine claws, like the ones here that are in fact practically useless for anything other than trying to look cool. The fact of the matter is that the Pantera claws they wouldn’t be in this blog if they didn’t have any intrinsically redeeming value.

Which, in this case, is that they are a set of real sharp steel claws of a very intimidating variety. My only real beef is that the really shouldn’t have tried to ride the X-Men/Wolverine gravy train, but on their own merits they are actually works of art. The simulated wood grain composite grips on these blades are beautiful. Even without the blades they would have made for a very attractive set of brass knuckles.

With the blades they are actually quite the intimidating piece. The blades have the right amount of menacing curve to them, and the recesses on the spine and below the blade just ahead of the grip add to the sinister stance of the brushed finished 440 Stainless steel claws as they rise from the grip. Altogether a very impressive and menacing design. Would almost certainly give your average opponent the heeby-jeebies to have to face something like that on the street.

Though I can’t think of many scenarios where one might be carrying something like this around when such an altercation might occur. Unless you decided to pick a fight for the sole purpose of testing out this bad boy. You did didn’t you. You Hooligan… Instigator.. Hoodlum. You better watch yourself there, bub… I’ve got an eye on you and and a very itchy claw…

Nates Wolverine Claw construction site is currently inaccessible. Fortunately, I have put together a guide listing some of the common wolverine claw replicas and memorabilia, as well as a link to a page with the relevant construction information in this post. Thought it might save a few Wolverine fanatics a trip across the entire intarwebs… Happy Hunting!!

Anderson Cutlery’s Pantera Claw – [True Swords]

PhyreBlades Ultimate Wolverine Claw Reference Guide – [Realm of The Dark Blade]


The Ubiquitous Dwarven Axe.

OK, This time around we are going back to one of the classic epics. Namely, The Lord of the Rings. But before I do, I have a question. As a fairly devout video gamer, I made an interesting discovery a long time ago. In almost every video or computer game I’ve played that featured a dwarven character, the dwarf was wielding an axe. My question is this: What’s the deal with dwarves and axes?

I don’t quite get it. Why would an axe be any better for your average, run of the mill, combat hardened dwarf than a short sword? Why not a ranged weapon, like a crossbow? Are axes better for shorter warriors? Better for kneecapping peeps who be disrespectin’? Easier to carry around without having to resort to dragging it on the ground behind you like a long sword? What? Anyone who thinks they have the answer, please let us know. ‘Cause i got nuthin’. Anyway we see this same interesting trend in many books, games and movies, the Lord of the Rings being no exception. In fact they exemplify the rule.

Gimli, our token dwarven character, favors the axe for battle. And, as luck would have it, for walking. And probably also for stoking the fire, as well as roasting rabbits and maybe even the odd marshmallows. In fact I dare say he probably even uses it to cut his hair, which would explain the “mountain man” style hair and beard. Tell you what, I’ll bet he has a whole slew of different axes for different occasions, including weddings and funerals. Yeah. Well hey, the dwarf has axes aaaiiight? OK, I’ll stop now.

The real reason why were here is because I found the design of one of his axes particularly interesting. His Double Bladed Battle Axe, to be specific, or what my underground homies like to call the B-DAX :). Here it is:

Gimli’s Double Bladed Battle Axe

Gimlis Battle Axe
[view full size]

I find this BAX (Yes, I am making up acronyms as I go along. What? WHAT? Bah!) interesting for several reasons. First off, it’s design incorporates a lot of rectangles and right angles. This is not very common in B-DAX design. Look at the handle. It’s cross section is actually a box rectangle or square, I’m not sure which, but certainly boxy. The metal bands around the handles are also rectangular.

Now look at the lug (sides) of the axe, where it is attached to the handle. It looks like it is made up of a bunch of cubes, as is the base of the blade itself attached to the lug. The eye of the axe, where the handle would show at the top, appears to be capped, but I’m willing to bet it is also square or rectangular. In fact the only curved part on this axe is the chopping blade itself, and that is attached to a trussed rectangular cheek. I’m almost surprised the designer didn’t go for a straight blade. But I love the overall effect. I wonder if this B-DAX would be appropriate for the dwarven graduation class photo…

Gimli’s Battle Axe – [Tolkien Town]


An Evil White Sword…

Today we step, once again, into the “way back” machine, and journey back in time to the 80s, when Saturday morning television wrought untold corny and cheesy carnage upon the youth of America. A surreal world in which brutal, unbridled war could be waged with weapons of mass destruction and gory dispatch, and yet, spill not a single red drop of blood. I speak of non-other but the scourge of 80’s Saturday morning cartoons, G.I. Joe!

OK, so I admit to waxing a *wee bit* dramatic with that intro, however it is not without reason. I have always found it amazing how Saturday morning cartoons seem to try to indoctrinate our kids of the nobility and honor of war, while obscuring it’s ugly truths. War is mindless, bloody and indiscriminate. Even when you win, you lose. And yet it is glorified in all manner of media, and in song, and deed. Absolutely mind boggling. But anyhoo, allow me to get of my soapbox and talk about weapons!! : P

I brought up G.I. Joe for a reason. While browsing one of my favorite sword sites I came upon a ninja sword belonging to one of the villains of the series, Storm Shadow. Much like the sword of his arch rival and all around good guy Snake Eyes, his sword possessed a sinister simplicity of design, which I found very aesthetically pleasing. In addition, it had the unique quality of being an all white sword!

An interesting side note is the play on color based roles that Storm shadow and Snake eyes adopted. The good ninja (Snake Eyes) wore all black and carried a black sword, while the bad ninja (Storm Shadow) wore all white and carried a white sword. This was a very interesting play on color role reversal. But I’m not going to go there. Instead I’m going to talk about Storm Shadows cool Ninjaken.

Storm Shadows Ninja Sword

Storm Shadows Ninja Sword
[view full size]

Storm Shadows sword is of a simple but effective design. It is almost entirely straight, but incorporates the mildest of curves, combining the compact form of the straight traditional Ninjato with the added cutting power of a slightly curved blade. The handle is equally simple. A white round guard, a snake skin styled check pattern handle, and an equally subdued rearing cobra pommel finish off the look. Simple, elegant and sinister all at the same time.

My only question is: Why white? For the kind of work you can imagine this guy does with it, the sword would never stay clean. And don’t even get me started on his clothes!! A White Shinobi Shozoku? You have got to be kidding me….

Storm Shadows Ninjato – [Medieval Weapon Arts]


Demon Slaying Inspiration?

Ok, in the demon slaying spirit of a recent post, I thought I’d share the discovery of yet another demon related weapon. An Axe. An inspirational Axe, no less, with a name that sounds like it was straight out of the old PC game Diablo:

Demon’s Axe of Inspiration

Demons Axe of Inspiration
[view full size]

Now much like the last “demonic” weapon I talked about, the nomenclature of this axe immediately begs a lot of questions. Is it a demon slaying axe, designed to inspire humans to greater acts of demon slaying bravado? Or a demons axe, designed to inspire the demon to more acts of human crushing treachery? Who knows. All I know is it is a very unique interesting design for an axe.

Notice that the cheeks of each blade consist of an open, truss-like design. I’d guess that it’s prima facie intention was to maximize strength while reducing weight. There are also 3 silver plated rivets at what would normally be the joints of each truss. Unfortunately, from a practical standpoint, I think this design would actually be detrimental to the overall strength of the blade, as trusses and rivets would introduce structural weaknesses where they need not exist. In normal double bladed axe design, the cheek or sides of the axe are solid, in order to provide the most structural support along the striking edge of the blade. But I suppose for some designers, artistic license trumps structural integrity any day.

Another interesting design point is the blade. It is an absolutely straight blade, placed at an angle to the handle. This is interesting for a number of reasons, the most salient being that functionally, I think that an angled straight blade would limit the number of different ways you could effectively strike with such a weapon, as well as minimize the effective striking blade area. When swinging an axe, you’d think that most targets would be somewhere at right angles to the handle. But then again, I could be wrong, and (as usual) I probably shouldn’t be applying practical combat considerations to an ornamental axe now should I?

From that aesthetic perspective, however, it is an exceptionally unique and beautiful design. The truss feature complements the straight blade beautifully, and the round handle rises into a ominous broad head point tip covering the eye of the axe. This axe does what it was designed to to very well, which is to look formidable, unique and ominous all at the same time. Now I’m still undecided as to whether the inspiration it is supposed to imbue is intended for humans or demons. And I’m hoping to never have to find out…

Demon’s Axe of Inspiration – [True Swords]


Black Widow… With Steel Booties?

Welcome to another edition of Phyreblades Beleive It Or Not!! A Black Widow Spider. Born with steel knives for legs!! You don’t ever want to be caught in this spiders stainless steel and super glue web!!

OK, ok, so it’s not a real spider. But it does have knife legs. Today we have an interesting example of something that simply makes no sense… unless it is purely intended to be a conversation piece, which (I’m guessing) it is. While perusing my usual blade haunts I came across this dark arachnoid beauty.

The Black Widow

The Black Widow
[view full size]

Now this is a weird piece because I could see no real reason to substitute blades for leg segments. It would make for a difficult weapon to wield, unless used as a last resort, but only because it would be still be better than nothing. But it seems to be excellently suited as a conversation starter, as it is indeed a well crafted and beautiful piece, and the leg blades do look very menacing.

Now if this were an autonomous combat robot, this design would make perfect sense, as it would have it’s quite formidable weapons ready at all times. I’d also sharpen it’s mandibles. Or have it secrete venom. Or climb walls. Or swing from the rafters like spidey! OK, that’s just wishful thinking. I suppose it would have the weakness that you could hear it coming from miles away on hard surfaces. And it would certainly leave some nasty divots in your mom’s hardwood floors. But it still looks good as a faux lethal ornament…

The Black Widow – [True Swords]

May 2007

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