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Miles Stair's SURVIVAL
INDEX & JET STREAM
The subject of
which knife is the best to carry can get very heated among
knowledgeable blade enthusiasts. Actually, no one knife
can do everything. I have well over a dozen fine knives,
several hand made to my specifications. But are they
better than an off-the-shelf design by a good custom knife
maker? To be honest, they are not, but I like them
It would be
very boring to get into a long discussion of the various steel
compositions used for knives today. 440C was the first
good stainless, but 154CM and AUS-8 are reputed to be
better...I have blades in both and can't tell the difference.
Schrade uses drawn steel, some blades are forged while others
are ground, all depending upon the method preferred by the
knife maker. You don't need stainless steel for a good
blade if you simply take care of your
Some time ago I
acquired an excellent hand made knife from Dale Sandberg - Dale's
knives are very unique, extremely strong, very sharp,
and the sheathes he makes are very durable. Dale
Sandberg of EDMF is pretty much retired and no longer
taking orders due to how hard it is for him to work in
the shop. He may still have a few outstanding orders
he is trying to fill, but after those nothing else
will likely be made.
A good folding knife with a locking blade is
almost mandatory because of their portability. Both Buck,
Browning and Puma (among many others such as Russell, Schrade, Case, Cold
Steel, Gerber, etc.) make excellent folding knives in a wide variety of
styles and sizes. The quality of folding knives is often reflected in
their price. If I'm just going to scrape some wood or do some real
work that might dull or scratch the blade quickly, I'll use a Case Sodbuster
at less than $20.00 every time instead of an Al Mar that cost ten times as
Knives are available in my
Knives I have owned for almost half a century.
Specific use means
specialized design for maximum efficiency.
Skinning knives are a perfect example. At left is an
"Alaskan Skinner" from Herter's, with a unique John
Ireland sheath. At right is an RH Ruana skinner with a
John Ireland sheath. The Ruana is now far too valuable for
normal use. I had John Ireland of Murder Lake,
AK, make the sheathes for me in 1971.
At left, an
Applegate/Fairbairn fighting knife. First shown
to me by the late Col. Applegate at his home near
Scottsburg, OR, in 1980. The originals were
unavailable then; this copy was made by Puma. Col.
Rex: 6.21.14 - 7.14.1998. At right, a knife I designed and had made by Ralph
Bone of Texas in 1972, in a John Ireland sheath.
edge of sheath, bottom right.
In the fall of 1971
I was managing a gun shop in Anchorage. We would
hold custom knives sent from the Lower 48 for John
Ireland to make sheathes to fit them; he came to town
twice a year. I mentioned to Mr. Ireland that he
should have a leather stamp to mark his sheathes and
offered to get him one. The sheath on the right
is for the Ralph Bone knife (above right) with the
"Murder Lake, Talkeetna, Alaska'' stamp on the back.
Mr. Ireland may have made knife sheathes until age 75,
in 1989. JOHN VINCENT HILARY IRELAND (born
3.12.1914), 88, died April 6, 2002.
At left, an original, exquisite Al
Mar folder I received personally from the late Al Mar
at the 1st SOF Convention (in Columbia, MO) in 1980.
Al Mar was from Tualatin, Oregon, very close to the
log cabin where I was born. (Al Mar Knives
founded 1979. Al Mar died in 1992. Al Mar knives made
now use the name only and are not made by G.Sakai in
Seki City, Japan, but are still fine knives.) At
right, an Outdoor Edge Whitetail Skinner, still
available and an outstanding design and high quality
Custom knife hand forged from an old file.
The knife and
sheath above illustrate that an outstanding and very
useful knife can be made with materials at hand.
A large file was annealed twice, hand forged to shape,
ground, sharpened, then hardened in a two-step
process, the back of the blade being spring temper and
the edge only being knife hard. The knife can
thus be used as a machete, clearing brush and chopping
down small trees, or be a fine combat knife if called
upon to do so. The sheath was made from plastic
cut from a thick blue 50 gallon barrel, glued and
riveted together. If the blade is kept clean and
oiled so that it does not rust, the knife and sheath
should last for the remainder of my lifetime and
another as well. This knife and sheath was made
for me by Chip Delyria.
Knife and sheath custom made
by Chip Delyria
hand forged from old files. The handles were made
from dry hardwood found in the forest, shaped and riveted
in place using nails for rivets and copper pennies as
for the sheath was from an old tractor implement power
belt found in an abandoned barn, hand riveted so the
knives all nest as shown above. The cost? Some
nails, rivets, and pennies.
Remember, I just scratched the surface with
this short article. There are thousands of knife makers
and tens of thousands of varieties of knives, and there
wouldn't be that many if just one design or maker had
the answer for every problem. My only objective
was to provide a little guidance. You can't go wrong with any
of the knife makers I have mentioned, but you can spend
a whole lot more for knives that are not any better.
UPDATE FEB. 21, 2019 - "BENCHMADE"
KNIVES DESTROYS GUNS AND EXCLUSIVELY SUPPORTS ANTI-GUN
DEMOCRATS TO THE TUNE OF $1.2 MILLION!!
It pains me as a lifetime resident of
the State of Oregon, but Benchmade knives has stepped
in it and are now on my personal banned list.
Benchmade Knife Company Helps Oregon
City Police Destroy Firearms
In a social media post that has since been removed,
the Oregon City Police wrote, “Thank you Benchmade
Knife Company for assisting us today by cutting up
guns that are ready to be destroyed.”
Worse, however, is what some investigative reporters
(EXCLUSIVELY) to Anti-Gun
Benchmade has spent $1.2 million in their
lobbying/political efforts...they’ve solely
supported Democrats...Ron Wyden has
supported every gun control legislation he has
been a part of...As of now, they have not addressed
their liberal political support except to deny that
they do it on their website.
Benchmade Knife Company is a knife manufacturer run by
Roberta and Les de Asis in Oregon City, Oregon, United