Archive for May, 2008


Back to Mondo Sword Basics…

Having not done a piece on an oversized sword for a while, it thought it fortuitous that I should run into this:

Giant Odachi

Giant 69" Odachi

[view full size]

Under normal circumstances regular polished blades are not my forte. However there are exceptions. And this one happens to be a rather large one. This beast is a good 69″ long… He He He… 69… LOL… *solitary cricket chirp*… *cough* what? I can’t indulge a little juvenile humor every once in a blue moon…? C’mon, there are soo many possible innuendos I could slip into this post… Aw… Fine, whatever… Pfft… Y’all are no fun…

Anyway, This odachi is just a big old sliver o steel. And I like big pieces of steel. They are cool. And this one doesn’t look half bad. There isn’t much really to say about it. I like the black cording in white rayskin same-kawa that was used for the rather abnormally long tsuka. The added length is probably intended to allow greater leverage, and also act as a counterbalance to the weight of the blade.

And the blade itself is simple, unremarkable even, except for being really, really, large. Even the tsuba is a simple cut out shape. Other nice touches were the cord wrapping on the top half of the Saya, as well as the chain on the buttcap and sageo for wearing on the belt. All small simple details that come together to make a great not-so-little sword…

69″  😛  Odachi – [True Swords]


The Phantom Movie Knife Maker Strikes Again!!!

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember a few posts I made that talked about the unique knife niche of “movie knives” that actually never appeared in the movies they are supposed to be from, such as the Punisher Sword, The Spider man Sword and Dagger, and, of course The Batman Sword

Well, our enterprising movie knife creator, not content with laurel resting of any kind, probaly looked at the success of the Spiderman sword and dagger and thought “Well lessee here… What’s the latest greatest superhero movie that I haven’t fully exploited yet…?” Well… I’ll give you one guess what it was… Here’s a hint: The Joker is wild…

Yep, none other than the latest incarnation of the BATMAN franchise, The Dark Knight! Except for one little problem. They had already pimped a sword, Batman style, in his “honor”. There was nothing for it but to go all out and hope for the same “success” the had with the Spidey set… (or so I’m guessing) And thus was born…

The Batman Dagger!!


[view full size]

Yes, ladies and germs, what we have here is the 100% bona fide reproduction of a dagger from the vault of Dark Knight himself, based on a movie weapon… That never was. Yeah… Kind of anticlimactic eh? Yes, I know…

Sadly, the pics do not show the blade itself, but the hilt is actually kind of interesting, if maybe a little too busy for my tastes… The guard is more or less a fancy, scaled down version of the Batman sword guard motif. The rest of it…? Heck If I know… The pic didn’t exactly give me much to work with… And Let me apologize in advance for the rant that must follow.

In all honestly, I think the aesthetics, (or lack thereof) of this piece (of “you know what”) is of little relevance compared to the sacrilege being committed here. Seriously. I can understand if someone creates a blade, calls it something unique, and says it was inspired by something else. But to blatantly put a big name on a nondescript blade? WTH!?!?

I mean, it reminds me of a couple of times when I bought what I thought was supposed to be the soundtrack to a movie on CD, only to discover that it didn’t have any of the actual songs from the movie on it. NOT ONE!. What kind of addle brained, dunder headed, cannabis induced nonsense is that? Last time I checked a soundtrack to a movie was supposed to actually have TRACKS FROM THE FREAKIN” MOVIE!!! Yes? OR am I taking crazy pills?!?! And what killed me was that this has actually happened to me more than once!!!

It might have been tolerable if any of the tracks on the stand ins were any good, but Noooo… They all had to be some garbage I really didn’t want to listen to… And blades like these are no better. There are a few that are actually not bad, (like the Punisher blade) but they were still not “the movie” blades, and should never have been called such.

Do so, and you are a blasted bald faced liar who should be strapped to a rack, and flayed with your own movie swords… (Perhaps you can tell that whole CD incident had me rather miffed…) Anyway, please people, If you’re gonna make a movie blade, either make an accurate reproduction of a BLADE THAT WAS ACTUALLY IN THE FREAKIN’ MOVIE, or call it something else…

Ok… I’m done. Dunno if the insurance is gonna cover all the flame damage that resulted from that rant, but it had to be done… My apologies, again, to the sensitive among you… 😛

The Freakin’ Batman Dagger – [Realm Collections]


Rogue Native American… Samurai…

LOL. Yes. The title above is the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this:

Black Ronin Tomahawk

Black Ronin Tomahawk

[view full size]

In keeping with names that make little contextual sense, someone saw fit to call this otherwise quite interesting little axe a Black Ronin Tomahawk. Because clearly, masterless Native American Samurai needed a very specialized weapon for their… Samurai War parties… *cough*.

Just on the off chance you don’t get what I’m ranting about, a tomahawk is a small axe or war hatchet native to early North Americans. A Ronin is a rogue, or masterless, Japanese Samurai warrior. Under normal circumstances, a melding of these two cultures, both continents and worlds apart, might seem unnatural. But not in the knife industry! Here we have Beverly hills ninjas, Spear heads masquerading as fantasy axes, and… Native American Japanese weaponry… It’s all kinds of WIN rolled into one…

Black Ronin Tomahawk

Black Ronin Tomahawk

[view full size]

But back to the identity compromised hatchet at hand. It’s actually not a bad looking piece of steel. Hatchets are generally always useful tools, and this one certainly looks the part, with some sinister to spare. In addition to the prerequisite hatchet bladed head, we have a bladed spike on the rear of the head, which, very reminiscent of the German pick-axe design I blogged about a while back, seems like it would be a very useful multi purpose tool, and an even better weapon, incorporating both a point and a bladed edge.

The cord wrapped grip has a short finger guard protrusion up front, with a similar one in the back, though I can’t for the life of me think of any practical purpose for it. It does however add to the menacing look of the weapon, as does the similar point at the top and at the butt of the grip, giving this think lots of menacing points. All the better to throw this with, though the added point don’t seem like they’d provide any additional stickiness…

But nonetheless, the overall design, with it’s points and the very necessary flat black finish, lends it a kind of no-nonsense air that I kind of like. As I said, lots of sinister to go around… Even if it is a multi-cultural intercontinental hybrid of sorts…

Black Ronin Tomahawk – [Realm Collections]


Da Killah Crossbow…

One of my friends and automatic knife fanatic Sinza, has an interesting thread going on in his forum “Exotic Automatic”. It’s centered on the unique question of how one might create a retractable, wrist mounted, automatically operated bow.

Now there’s quite a lot of back and forth going on about the topic, (you can visit the forums here to check it out, or throw in any ideas you might have) but I thought it interesting because I happened to also run into this little puppy in my archives:

Conver Guard Crossbow

Conver Guards Crossbow

[view full size]

While not anywhere as cool or exotic as an automatic wrist mounted bow, I thought this would be a a cool weapon to post about. Crossbows are fairly simple weapons. In essence what you have is a short bow, attached to a long stock that had a trigger attached to a pin that was used to either directly hold the string, or push the string out of a slot in the rear of the stock into which the it would be pulled in order to “cock” it.

Then a crossbow arrow or (which is actually called a “bolt”) would be placed in a specially designed groove in the long rifle like stock just ahead of the string. The crossbow was aimed, the trigger was pulled, and the bolt was fired. Simple as 1, 2, 3. However as an advancement in weapon technology, it was a huge step forward.

What is interesting about this weapon was that, in comparison to it’s predecessor, the longbow, it could be made to fire much heavier projectiles, it was easier to aim, and thus easier to learn, and you did not have to “hold” the entire time you were aiming, making it possible to fire much more lethal projectiles, using prods that could develop quite prodigious quantities of force.

Medieval long bow were generally designed to develop anywhere from 50 to 200 pounds of force at their desired maximum draw. Heavy siege Cross bows could have prods generating in excess of 1500 lbs! Now seriously, what would one fire at with a 1500lb crossbow? Elephants?? … Oh… Nevermind… Anyway, siege crossbows with draw weights like this would not exactly be a breeze to use…

Now To be fair, I should also point out that crossbows required a more compact prod design, since the bow  sat sideways, and soldiers poking the soldier next to them in the eye during loading was frowned upon by the military brass. As a result, they had shorter bows, and obviously had a much shorter draw length, and therefore needed to have a greater draw weight in order to fire any given projectile at the same speed as a comparable Longbow.

However the fact that one did not had to actually hold it, and could draw it using equipment that gave the user a mechanical advantage, spawned crossbows of massive draws such as the 800lb monster draw, that could fire equally massive bolts. And with the lighter crossbows, all this could be done by a hastily trained infantryman who might never have picked up a longbow in their lives. Talk about a strategic advantage!

Anyway, I suppose I’m blathering on about stuff already know, so before some General Weisenheimer tells me I’m telling you all something you already know, I’ll just point you to the pic above, and say ogle away…

Conver Guard Crossbow – [Realm Collections]

Retractable Crossbow discussion – [Exotic Automatic]


2 Special Ninja LOLsticks for the price of one…

OK, so I’m cruisin’ my regular spots, lookin’ for cool blades when SHAZAM! This set of swords hit me. Twice. In the head. Yes. It happens. Your truly, every now and then, gets smacked down by something so absurdly funny, (to me anyway) that for short periods of time, I have difficulties forming coherent thoughts. It all happens so fast… WHAPOW! Seriously… It’s like KRAKOW!!… Like that… and it hits ya…


Ninja Strike force - black blades

[view full size]

Aaaaawwwwwww Yeah…! That’s right… It’s the Ninja Strike force, Comin’ at you live and in color (in black, of course) from the heart of feudal Japan G… ‘Cause them Ninja’s, you know they got it all on lockdown, they be packing double gats shanks n stuff yo… And they stuff be all black and stealthy and stuff yo… They ain’t playin’… And stuff… Yeah..

OK… So that was a bit over the top… I’ll admit it. It’s just that the whole Ninja thing, well it hit ridiculous years ago and is now cruising at ludicrous speed… 😛 The name “Ninja Strike Force”, it just triggers all kinds of corniness in my head. Notwithstanding the fact that I’d kinda think that dual ninjaken wielding ninja would be pretty much as rare as, say, a US Navy SEAL running around with two M4A1 SOPMODs strapped to his back… well… You get the picture…

OK, so the swords aren’t entirely worthless. I like the black treatment of the blade… And that’s about it. The highly polished guard and pommel really kinda kill the whole “Shinobi weapon” concept… (Even If we ignore the fact that there are two of them). And the black wrapped grip is a little large and cylindrical, which would kill any orientation feedback you’d normally get from a traditional Japanese Tsuka.

Ironically, I really didn’t begin this post with the intention of totally mocking the set… I saw the black blades and (after the initial laughing fit had subsided) I thought “This might be cool to blog about…” But after taking a closer look at it… it just sucks sooo bad… I can’t help it… 😛

Ninja Strike Force *snicker* – [True Swords]


Fun With Damascus Steel

Today, I have a special treat for you. You may or may not know this, since it does not come up particularly often, but one of my favorite blade materials is Damascus steel. For two reasons. First, barring unfinished or tarnished steels, it is one of the only true “dark” finished steels that I know of.

The next reason is that, even though I have a great love for all dark weapons, (to me they have more character than most) the truth is that, most dark weapons are not inherently dark, and require special finishes, most of which rarely do any more than provide an aesthetic touch to a blade.

Damascus steel on the other hand, has an inherent dark aesthetic beauty that requires no artificial colorings or preservatives. Ok, so maybe there are some forms of Damascus that have artificial colorings. Some shades of Damascus require chemical treatments or the usage of special alloys or metals to achieve the desired effect.

But in the grand scheme of things, these are no worse than the coatings used to enhance the appearance of monosteels. Nonetheless, it is still the only type of steel that I know of, whose aesthetics are also functional, and whose enhanced cutting power does not really require any special finishes / treatments / coatings. Damascus steel has an inherent beauty all it’s own.

But the cool thing is that, in the hands of true metalworking artists, using these various other methods, Damascus can be made into patterns and colors of amazing beauty. I was quite thrilled to find a site that featured such beautifully wrought Damascus blades, each one uniquely and excellently finished to a level of detail that, much like J. A. Harkins work, totally blew me away…

I present to you a taste of the blades of Kevin and Heather Harvey of Heavin Forge. First up:


The Zulu assegai – In Damascus

Zulu Assegai in Gaboon Viper Damascus

[view full size]

Now obviously, as one of my favorite African weapons, this Damascus Assegai caught my eye. Definitely a thing of beauty. Due in no small part to the very eye catching Gaboon Viper Damascus pattern on the blade:

Zulu Assegai – Close up of Blade

Zulu Assegai Blade Close Up

[view full size]

Now this is a very unique spear, first because of the shaft style, which appears to have been carved to appear like a dark horn grip at the bottom, and smooths out the rest of the way up. Very cool. And the head sports a cool damscus pattern they have appropriately called called “Gaboon Viper”, as it emulates the characteristic diamond pattern found on the back of the aforementioned reptile… I’ve got two words for the head on this spear: Absolutely Awesome…


Persian Fighting Blade!

Persian Fighting Blade

[view full size]

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, I needn’t explain to you why I like this blade… It’s all about the points and curves… (I’m sure you can figure it out… 🙂 ) And it doesn’t hurt that it has a Damascus blade. Which is actually appropriate since Damascus steel is reputed to have been developed in ye old Persia and was also called watered steel at the time. No surprise, as Damascus does look like Steel with waves in it…


Next we have a piece i like to think of as from the West. The Wild West. California gold rush and and all that jazz… It should be self explanatory why:

Gold Rush Bowie

Gold Rush Bowie

[view full size]

Yep, we have a bowie knife, perhaps almost the trademark of the wild west, (besides the ever ubiquitous revolver), in an amazing gold and almost cobalt blue Damascus hue… I’ve always like gold accents on black blades, but this just takes it to another level altogether…

Gold Rush Bowie – Close up of ricasso and top of hilt

Gold Rush Bowie - Ricasso and Hilt

[view full size]

There’s gold in that thar bowie!… I seen it with my own two eyes!!


Finally, but certainly not least, we find a weapon harking from the dark continent of Africa, an interesting little dagger that reminds me of an insect for some reason. A long wasp maybe? I dunno. But here is it, in all it’s insect like glory…

African Dagger

African Dagger

[view full size]

Now this particularly dark brand of Damascus is one of my favorites, perhaps the only true dark steel in existence. And this sample is particularly beautiful, complementing the overall theme of this dagger very well. Between the African styled hilt, and the really very cool horn sheath, it’s perhaps one of the most intriguing implementations of a Damascus dagger I’ve seen to date…


And that’s all I’ve got for today. You can see more of Kevin and Heathers’ work at Heavin Forge. Perhaps what really impressed me was not only the creative use of color in the steel, but also the overall attention to detail, fit and finish on every weapon. Absolutely beautiful. Make sure you swing by their page.

As much as they were all great works of art, after looking at them all, I discovered I had a favorite. Probably because I tend to gravitate towards more dark colors and organic shapes, I liked that last waspy dagger best. It just spoke to me. We had a grand old chat.

I think I’m gonna give it a name. I’m calling it the Black Stinger… Yeah… In fact I think i’m gonna have to make myself similar blade one of these days. It won’t be nearly as cool as this one, but If it has half the personality, I’ll be looking forward to quite a few great conversations with it…

P.S. I’d like to point out, for the record, that I am not insane. Just a *wee bit* loopy when it comes to certain blades… But I’m totally harmless, I assure you… No really… 😛

Kevin and Heathers Damascus Blades – [Heavin Forge]


John Rambo and the Art of Knife Survival… Pt. 2

While looking for pics for the knife from my previous Rambo IV survival/homicidal knife post, I came across quite a few pics of the knives from previous Rambo movies. Now interestingly, as survival knives go, most of these are actually not what I’d consider the ideal survival knife design, however as movie icons, these blades are legends in their own right, so I figured what the heck, might as well do a post on them… So hang on. The ride starts now:…

RAMBO: First Blood – Survival Knife

First Blood Knife

[view full size]

This is the design that started it all. What we have here is now commonly viewed as your stereotypical survival knife. It’s got a nice large, long blade, a mild drop point, and the trademark of 13 (oooh scary!!) little saw tooth cut outs in the spine. The blade on these is usually fastened to the hilt via a rather short push tang. Not the best design (for reasons I’ll go into in a bit), but there it is.

It also has a cool cross guard with a Phillips style screw driver tip on one side, and a flat screwdriver tip on the other. It also features the neato (and now fairly ubiquitous) little hollow cylindrical grip, wrapped in green paracord, in which all manner of cool survival stuff is usually stored, with a compass set into in the pommel/cap, with a rubber O-ring to (supposedly) keep out the elements.

So far so good. But the Rambo II knife did this one better…

Rambo: First Blood II – Mission Knife

Rambo II Knife

[view full size]

The Second Rambo knife followed the same pattern as the first, except for some minor, but nice visual upgrades, including a non-reflective black finish, 15 saw tooth cut outs instead of 13 (Pffft whatever) , a black cord wrapped grip, a slightly deeper belly to the blade, a deeper clip point, and the addition of an extended lanyard stub on the pommel. All very nice improvements if you ask me. Especially (of course) the black treatment.

Now these first two blades are pretty cool looking, but alas, as I mentioned in passing before, they are actually not the best survival blades. I think they a little bit too large and bulky, the saw spines on the back really aren’t really as effective as they should be (the saw blade on my swiss army knife bites 10 times better), and the push tang construction is a really, really bad idea. Add to that the fact that hollow handle storage is rarely ever truly waterproof, then I think it becomes a rather poor implementation of an otherwise good idea.

Fortunately, the Rambo III blade suffered from very few of these flaws, and among the three blades in this post, is probably the one I’d be most likely to use for long term survival purposes…

Rambo III – Survival Knife

Rambo III - Mission Knife

[view full size]

With the Rambo III blade we finally see a much needed departure from the handle storage, and into full tang, contoured wood grip, total survival knife domination! As you can see from the grip, the tang extends all the way to the pommel, which, in addition to being super strong, would provide yours truly with some truly epic cranium cracking action! Yeah…!! Errr… Don’t ask.

Anyway, we also see that the saw tooth serrations on the spine have been abandoned in favor of some even more useless divots. And a slot has been added into the side of the blade. Which was originally designed for some fancy schmancy spring loaded wing blade insert:.

Rambo III Knife With Wingblade Insert

Rambo III Knife Wingblade Protoype

[view full size]

Which is cool for a designer/fantasy blade, but is basically pointless in a survival knife. From a survival perspective, this blade is still a little on the large and heavy side, but in the grand scheme of things, I would rather have this, and a ziplock bag with my matches/flint, compass, mirror, string, needle, etc., etc., etc., than any of the prior two knives.


So there you have it. Phyreblades abridged guide to Rambos survival (and wannabe survival) blades. Obviously, these knives were made to impress the movie going audience, as opposed to actually being useful for survival, so their flaws are understandable, just don’t be fooled into thinking these are the stuff that ideal survival blades are all about.

Now that I think about it, I think It might be fun to make a post (or a page maybe), specifically about what I think the characteristics of a good survival blade are (as well as what they are not) in the near future, so stay tuned, ye wild folk of the Dark Realms… 🙂

May 2008
« Apr   Jun »

Subscribe The Dark Realm!

Add to My AOL