Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Crovel Elite: More Than Enough Tool For The Job







It’s quite likely that everyone reading this has firsthand experience with the old-school military-issue entrenching tools. In fact military digging tools have been with us since the Romans were in diapers. The dedicated trenching tool formally entered the soldier's loadout in WW1 as trench warfare ran the battlefield. And that is where the entrenching tool also entered service as a weapon. From there the e-tools got lighter, smaller, stronger, and more feature filled compared to the WW1 ancestors. The wooden-handled screw-collared three-position tools of much of the last century are fine for Boy Scout campouts, but in today’s serious survival world something better is needed.

 



The e-tools evolved along with battle weapons from crude shovels, to combo bayonet/trowels, to non-folding spades to folding diggers. Handles moved from none to wood to folding wood to metal to plastic all with varying degrees of success. But in way too many cases, the handle/blade connection was a weak point. My last two ex-military tools disintegrated at just that point. The wood rotted out like a fence post where it was wedged and bolted into the metal collar. And in both cases, I was out in the woods and the shovel snapped off without warning. Sure, one was my dad’s and he probably brought it back from Korea, but I am so done with wood.

Crowbar + Shovel = Crovel

The US-made Crovel Elite is a the latest member of the enormously successful and functional multi-tool family. The Crovel Elite is an arm-length tool with a hand-sized and very slightly dished shovel-shaped head of 4130 Chromoly Alloy steel. Depending on the temper, 4130 can have a Rockwell hardness of 90-96 or roughly twice that of a basic survival knife or half-again more than a high-end super steel blade like the Benchmade in my pocket. This is not your grandma’s garden spade.

 

The Crovel name (pronounced crow-vole not crov-all, but personally I prefer the latter) combines crowbar and shovel which is exactly where name and the thing for that matter came from in the first place. Inventor Tim Ralston once had a bad experience with a shovel and the solution he came up with was to replace the broken handle by welding a crowbar onto a shovel head. The idea caught fire and the Zombie fans poured more fuel on the Crovel fire. Demand outpaced supply and today the Crovel is a highly sought after solution for those whose preparedness needs has matured beyond The Walking Dead. You know, like survivalists, preppers, soldiers, outdoorsmen, 4-wheelers, and smart urbanites. As the Crovel product line diversified targeting more users and uses, it was inevitable that a smaller, more packable version would be made.

The Crovel Elite is considered the backpacking version, but as an avid backpacker, I would consider it more a Bug Out tool since my backpack errs on the lighter side. But then again, not everyone agrees with my definition of backpacking in that I often forgo such comforts as the tent, stove, and occasionally even the sleeping bag (think bivy sack, down coat, hat and thin foam pad). Hey, I didn’t say comfort, I said light.


 


Look Ma, No Thumb!

By the way, Tim Ralston might look familiar. Yes, he’s that guy who shot off his thumb in a Doomsday Prepper episode. Here’s a quick video about the incident:










But like all creative and ambitious inventors, stuff happens along the way, both good and bad. And on the good side, Tim’s company sold a million dollars worth of Crovels in its first year!




Coming Through!

The 4.5 x 6.5 inch shovel/blade/saw-end of the Crovel Elite is for more than just digging and trenching. It has a sawtooth edge, a knife-blade edge, a wedge-tip, and a general flatness making it an effective prying and lifting surface. The hammerhead is quite effective and performs much like a framing hammer, and quite a good one at that. However, if you find yourself building your bug out cabin in the woods, I’d recommend completely removing the shovel blade if ever you have more than a small handful of nails in need of pounding.


 

A tubular foot-long shaft connects the shovel-end to a handle that triples as a pry bar and hammerhead as well. Actually, it is more of a pry bar that has finger grooves and a flat inch-square hammering surface. One thing I would like to see is a hole in the pry bar end so a carabiner could be snapped into that end for various reasons. As a storage and anchoring solution, a hole would be welcome, but also the shovel end at 45 degrees makes an excellent hook that could sustain plenty of weight.


 

The Crovel Elite’s bigger brothers have been used as grappling hooks, and the Elite would work as such. Remember, this is a true survival tool so conventional uses are almost hardly worth mentioning. For example if I wanted to use the shovel at 90 degrees as a step, well then by gosh I need to anchor the pry bar and use the shovel as a step. And of course, if you flip it over, you now have a stool to sit on. I’m looking forward to spending hours on it later this fall during hunting season.

I could also envision using the Crovel Elite as an ice axe for crossing the unexpected snowfield or frozen water main leak. Having a handy lanyard hole will make the Crovel just that much better. Thirty feet of black 550 paracord provides the gripping surface on the handle shaft, but that amount could be doubled by a fancy paracord weave providing a more textured and contoured shaft. There are two small holes on the blade flanking the handle and opposite the shovel point. They make the Crovel Elite slingable should you want to wear it on your back like a rifle.


 

Lock and Load

A 2.5 inch detente pin with spring loaded ball bearing allows easy switching between the four different locking angles of shovelhead deployment over 180 degrees. In addition to full closed and full open, there are locks at 45 degrees and 90 degrees. A 5/8ths inch bolt with a nylon-threaded nut anchors the blade in its overbuilt swivel housing. Polished steel washers smooth the adjustable tension, and the whole mechanism is reversible for a preferred right or left orientation of the pry bar/handle jaw. Since the detente pin is not permanently attached to the Crovel, there is always the chance it could get lost. While the detente pin is the most versatile removable locking mechanism, in the off chance it is lost pretty much any 3/8ths inch or smaller bolt or shaft will also lock the shovel/blade in position. The pin comes from the factory with a three inch-long loop of black paracord. My first change to the Crovel Elite was to swap out the small paracord loop for a larger one in bright orange and of smaller diameter, 300 pound test I think.


 

Since the action of the detent pin is horizontal or perpendicular to the shovel tip, all is well when the Crovel is uses along the traditional up-down shovel motions. However, when you transition to using the Crovel as a chopper or saw, your side-slamming motions might now be in line with the pin’s release motion. Chopping can cause the pin to fly free of its home so you want to keep the pin’s direction in mind when you chop with the Crovel. Since most chopping will take place with the non-saw side of the blade, entering the pin from the saw-side will help prevent knocking the pin free when chopping.


 

Detail Shop

Fully deployed to it’s overall 22 inch length, the head points away from handle with the blade parallel to the handle. Fully closed, the blade folds against the handle shaft shrinking the overall length to a touch over 17 inches. The max width of the shovel end is four-and-five-eighths inches, and the width of pry bar grip is about four and three-quarter inches. Even under three pounds, the Crovel Elite does make a small dent in your bug out kit weight, but provides a massive upgrade compared to a old-school military entrenching tool or EDC prybar.



 

The edges of the shovel head are sharpened like knife blades, but not way too sharp. That extra filing is up to the user since it would be a bit of a liability to have 270 degrees of razor sharp edge wrapping the blade. The longer lanyard I attached to the pin helps when it gets stuck. I’ve even used my foot through the lanyard to pull out the pin because even the factory sharpness of the shovel is plenty to inflict some serious injury if accidentally drawn across skin while you’re fighting to pull the pin free. Of course the sharp shovel also makes a great edged weapon as it was designed.

 

The crovel is not a complete substitute for a shovel, or a saw, or a hoe, or a pry bar, or a knife, or an axe, or a hammer. But add up the weight of all those other tools and even if you only get one-tenth of the dedicated performance of each of those tools from the Crovel you will be far ahead with a 2.5 pound multi-tool that does each of those tasks even if not perfectly or at the volume of leverage of the dedicated tool. Further, you have all those tools in one hand at any moment. And for those who have done some deconstruction, or emergency rescue, having a reversible or rotatable tool that serves many functions may actually have an advantage compared to a whole shed of single-use tools.


At the end of the day...

Since any evaluation of a tool needs to be compared to other reference tools, I chose to put the Crovel Elite up against the Glock e-tool and the Ontario Spax. The Glock is a metal shovel/plastic handle with added saw blade, and the Spax is like a hatchet with small pry bar where the poll (or butt or hammer face) would be. I’ve carried a Spax for years in my truck and the Glock tool since my last wood-handled e-tool broke.





The Coval Elite is by far more beefy and utilitarian then either Glock or Spax. While the Spax does work well as a hatchet (but not much of a splitter due to its thin profile), I carry it mostly for its pry bar capabilities. Its shortcoming is found in the relatively short lever arm especially compared to the Elite which is a good third longer (but I’d recommend gloves when using the extended Croval Elite blade as a handle).

Where I live, ancient river sediments are the honest topsoil which means the dirt is mostly rock. After digging and bashing my way through the rocky dirt or dirty rocks, the Crovel showed some wear and dings, but nothing unexpected or that a few minutes of filing wouldn’t remediate.





 

Chopping wood with the Crovel was surprisingly effective. While hardwoods are rare around here and mostly only found within dining rooms and offices, I found I could blast my way through any chunk of wood I came across whether log, stump or branch. Sure, I’d rather have my Gransfors Bruks, but there’s no efficient way I could dig a hole with the fine Swedish iron. Nor would I want to.



 

The scoop size of the Crovel Elite is smaller than the Glock and about half the size of conventional spade so don’t expect to dig as fast as a garden variety shovel. But I’ve yet to meet anyone in the backcountry carrying a full-sized spade unless on a mule train or they work for the Forest Service or CCC.

 

The pry bar end of the Crovel Elite has finger notches to aid in holding it secure when digging and chopping. But the grip also makes the Elite a formidable weapon since control of twisting, pushing, pulling, and striking is made easy by having a firm grasping point.

Miller Time

It wouldn’t be a Crovel if it didn’t include a bottle opener. While the opener is not obvious, and in fact not deliberately included according to what Tim Ralston told me. However, I found that the Crovel Elite was as adept as a frat boy at opening beer bottles. From a blade-stowed position, just pull the pin and open the blade to about 30 degrees off the handle. Then kiss your brain cells goodbye since the leverage on this monster opener makes popping tops way too much fun!


 

And speaking of fun, I guess it’s a sign of success -and a dash of innovative design- when your product shows up as a weapon in a violent video game. In the Killing Floor2 an early generation but wickedly enhanced Crovel makes a cameo as the right tool when you need to lop off a mutant’s limb or head.

 

DIg it!

Having a large multi-tool in your kit is an obvious choice, but which one? The family of Crovels has grown from a practical dual-need to an engineered and refined design with ultimate survival in mind. I don’t expect the Crovel Elite to be sold at Costco or Sam’s Club, or included in entry level bug out bags because the Crovel Elite is a professional-grade survival tool with a three-figure price. It’s not under-built or for the faint of heart. The Crovel Elite is the lightest weight brute force survival violence tool whether your immediate need demands digging, chopping, prying or fighting. Leave Grandpa’s wood-handled trenching tool for the masses who just want a feel-good entrencher to pencil-off their bug out checklist.






















The Sawzall: A Survival Lightsaber (almost)




Created in 1951, the Milwaukee Sawzall has been destroying wood, metal, nails, bolts, pipe and stone ever since. With it’s few moving parts, fast blade changes, variable speed, and a near unlimited number of blade options, the Sawzall is first and often only choice when speed and results are more important than precision and stealth.



The Milwaukee Sawzall is a reciprocating saw of which there are many brands. Most major power tool manufacturers sell a reciprocating saw, but the Milwaukee Sawzall is the original. Lately battery-tool options have pushed the reciprocating saws well beyond the extension cord, outside the construction site and into the hands of fire/rescue personnel. And from there it was a short hop into the survival kit for those who are a little more prepared than most.



The real breakthrough came with the high-capacity Lithium-Polymer batteries that give the battery-powered Sawzall near-corded performance. With 18 volts and 9 amp-hours of run time, the ability to swap blades and batteries will keep the Sawzall in the destruction fight until the job is done. Using a corded saw, here’s a video showing 73 seconds of saw time to cut a car in half.

Reciprocating saw blades come in many lengths but three main flavors of cutting prowess: those for wood (mostly), those for metal (mostly) and those for both. There are a few less common options for cutting cast iron, stone, trees, and plastics, but the survival/rescue side usually leans towards the combination blade or metal cutters.



Much of the cutting magic is found in the dance between number of teeth per inch and the reciprocating speed of the saw. For instance, a popular general purpose survival choice might be the six-inch 18-tooth metal cutter, or perhaps the nine-inch 12-tooth combination blade. But luckily, you can have both. And others. And more. By finding the cutting sweet-spot of blade type and blade speed, the ideal recipe for slicing up whatever you’ve got can be found quickly. Full speed is always an option, but it might just dull your blade faster and heat up your workspace.



Some specific uses include using the five-tooth Sawzall Axe blade to cut through windshield glass and reinforced protective plastics. Or the 14-tooth Sawzall Torch blade to slice through chain link fence like butter. Need to go through a wood door with metal hardware, the Sawzall Wrecker blade is a good choice. Slicing bolts and rebar is child’s play for the right blade, and cutting your way into a vehicle or out of a building is a powerful breaching option camouflaged as a common power tool.



If I had to choose only one blade, it would be the nine-inch 8-teeth per inch Diablo Steel Demon carbide-tipped thick-metal cutting blade. A few companies even make specific “rescue/demolition” blades in bright emergency yellow color and averaging 12 teeth per inch in lengths from six inches to 12 inches.


Some of the best blade choices regardless of length or teeth is bi-metal technology. Bi-metal means that the blade is actually a composite of two metals, a harder high-speed steel for the teeth, and a durable and flexible spring steel for the blade body. The two metals are welded together creating a stronger blade that stays sharp longer.



When using the Sawzall, eye protection is a must, and ear pro is highly recommended. Gloves are also a good idea because there is nothing subtle about the way the Sawzall cuts. It’s violent, aggressive, and permanent. Once the jackhammer-like action of the Sawzall starts up, the blade strokes back and forth at hundreds to thousands of times a minute, or if the blade jams, the saw starts slam dancing, the blade bends or snaps, or usually a combination of the above. A key element to successful and safe Sawzalling involves keeping the shoe tight against your workpiece. The shoe is the adjustable metal plate between the blade and the saw body. By pushing the shoe against what you are cutting, the reciprocating motion is only with the blade. But if you loosen your grip, the saw will buck violently. Because the Sawzall cuts with impunity, you must because take care around electrical and gas lines, and the heat generated by the sawing friction can start a fire.



If rescuing a person, don’t forget that the jabbing blade on the far side of cut can do serious damage to flesh so apply the necessary safeguards and distance when operating the saw. Additional protection should be provided when glass and hot metal flakes can rain down or fly around in the wind. Pulling metal shards out of an eyeball is hard enough in an emergency room.



Adjusting the depth of the shoe keeps fresh blade in contact with the material to be cut while allowing a firm saw placement. The Sawzall can behave like a small chainsaw as well when using one of the pruning blade choices. The heavy tooth design is similar to bow saws and camp saws and cuts with the same speed and flying sawdust. Another area where the Sawzall excels is with large game butchering. If metal presents few problems for the Sawzall, then bone and gristle will do little but wet the blade and dampen the noise.

Packing an 18 volt Milwaukee Sawzall in your kit might be on the advanced side of preparedness, but many of the battery-powered tools and lighting solutions popular in shops and construction sites can make important contributions to your initial survival options.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe: Perfectly Proportioned for the Bug Out


Growing up we had a what we called a “kitchen axe” that was bigger than a hatchet, but smaller than a felling axe. It was used for everything from making shavings and small kindling for fire starting, to larger kindling, to splitting small rounds and quarters for fire. The kitchen axe lived just outside the kitchen door, but even found duties with meat prep and game butchering. In fact, the kitchen axe was an all-round indispensable tool that made its way onto camping trips as well.




Kitchen Axe

I hadn’t thought much about the kitchen axe until I needed just such a tool. In my stable of axes and hatchets from the short handled Gränsfors Bruk Hand Hatchet with a 9” handle, to my Gränsfors Bruk American Felling axe with a 35” handle. While the extremes in size are nice, what would also be an excellent option is something right down the middle. A axe that behaves as an axe while also behaving as a hatchet. Or perhaps a hatchet that does hatchet things but jumps up to two-handed axe chores when needed. It turn out that there is a class of chopping tools known as the small forest axe that runs double duty as both a small axe and large hatchet. And does both with finesse, skill and elegance.


 

The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is an ideal compromise when you need to carry your own tools or space is a premium. With a 19” handle and a two pound head, the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe will swing two handedly to fell small trees and chop and split firewood, but you can also choke up on the handle and shave wood, carve softwoods, and prep kindling of any size.


Like many of my kind, bug out kit is always on my mind. So having a great dual-purpose chopping tool that picks up where my big knife leaves off lands near the top of my bug out list. Sure, it would be ideal to have the perfect tool for every job, in reality if you are carrying you own load, you want to maximize the utility, and minimize the quantity. So packing the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is an ideal choice.


Forged with Love
Gränsfors Bruk is known as one of if not the best axe maker in the world. Each tool is handmade by an expert blacksmith with years of experience forging custom axes, hatchets, and other edged tools to the point where each Gränsfors Bruk axe and hatchet has it’s maker’s mark stamped into the head. And unlike those axe makers that leave the final sharpening to the end user, Gränsfors Bruk axes are shaving sharp from the factory with the understanding that anyone desiring to own the world’s best axe is certainly capable safely using a razor sharp chopping tool.


Being a smaller axe, the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is also a perfect size for those smaller in stature including kids mature enough to use such sharp swinging tools and women who are more comfortable with a tool of proportional size to muscles and swing radius.


The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe has  a gracefully curved handle of perfectly oriented grain Hickory. Lesser axes have seem to care less of the direction of the wood grain orientation. Ideally the grain visible at the base of the axe handle should be parallel to the axe head. If you check out the inexpensive hardware store axes, you will see grain orientation in any of the cardinal directions. 


Routinely you can find axe handles showing grain orientation closer to perpendicular to axe head direction than to parallel to it. And even some a perfect 90 degree off the direction it should be. That’s 100% bad. Striking wood with that kind of low quality is just asking for a catastrophic failure.


Value Added
Compared to other axes, this Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe is on the expensive side with a street price north of $130, but that’s actually on the lower end for Gränsfors Bruk in general. You could easily spend twice that on another GF axe, but spending half that amount will only get you a Gränsfors Bruk ceramic sharpening puck.


The generous palm swell knob on the far end of the handle is plenty to hang on to, but hardly noticeable when ignored. The shoulder of the handle just below the bit is streamlined but strong. And the lugs under the axe head cheeks add strength and orientation during the strike. Chopping cylinders and trees uses both the wedge to slice and the wedge to split all in the same move. The initial angled strike of the axe on the tree cuts into the wood while the triangle of the wedge forces the wood chip from the tree body sending it flying out of the way.





The blade cover is the classic bikini Gränsfors Bruk uses for most of its axes. It's little more than a riveted leather edge covering with a wrap-around snap strap that doubles as a belt carry loop. But this sized tool really pushes the limits of waist-carry.


Real Life
In the field the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe preforms like a champ. It hardly takes up any space and weighs little, but does all the work you throw at it. The minor weight the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe adds to your kit is more than made up by this tool’s talents. Wrapping your hands around the axe smooth linseed-dipped handle gives you feelings of superpower. Any bug out wood needing work can be handled by the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe even if the tree is only be nibbled away at by the medium size of this striking tool. Any smaller jobs are quick and painless. So much so that might wonder how the rest of the world gets along with axes too big or hatchets too small.


A true bug out kit has only one chance to do things right. The axe is a tool with thousands of years of evolution, but one common mechanical purpose. So refining the size and shape of an axe to capitalize on the middle proportions necessary to stretch its capabilities deep into felling axe territory while retaining hatchet-like nimbleness is necessary in preparedness. The Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe should be on your shortlist of go-to bug out kit regardless of where you live.


Friday, September 1, 2017

The Fällkniven MB Modern Bowie: A Muscle Blade that would make Jim Proud

Trigger Alert: This article is about a very big knife. If that scares you, then click here.



March 6, 1836 was a bad day for Jim Bowie. In fact the two weeks prior weren't much better since the small mission building in which Jim and a hundred others took a stand was under attack. Remember the Alamo?

But long before that fateful Sunday morning James Bowie was famous for his knife prowess whether true or not. In 1827 Bowie (pronounced BOO-ee) was involved in a skirmish known as the Sandbar Fight where Jim Bowie essentially won a gunfight with a knife. A very large knife. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Modern Sporting Knife
The Bowie Knife is a pattern much like the AR15 is a pattern. The so-called Bowie Knife is general form with some characteristics, but there is no one type of Bowie, nor any particular feature that makes or breaks a Bowie Knife. In general a Bowie Knife is a large blade, something eight or more inches, an overall length more than a foot, a crossguard separating the blade from the handle, and a clip point blade tip. Finally, there is the appearance of a false edge running along the top of the blade from tip through a curve ending at the spine proper. The false edge may or may not be sharpened, and thus the Bowie might cut both ways. Today, however, most Bowie Knives are not sharpened on the upper portion of the blade due to weapons laws in many jurisdictions. But originally as a fighting knife, that was the point.


The origin of the Bowie Knife is a little tangled in lore and opinions. Even the facts depend upon which story you subscribe to. But in the end, and even with all the unknowns, the Bowie Knife is one of the most recognizable and famous blades in the world. And just as the initial Bowie Knives were evolving and upgrading as each one was pounded into existence on the blacksmith’s anvil, the Bowie is evolving even today some 187 years after James Bowie brought a wooden model of his ideal knife to an Arkansas blacksmith named, of all things, James Black who then pounded Bowie Knife life into an old file. So a blacksmith named Black made a Bowie for Bowie. Even more, David Bowie, the famous rock star, took his stage name “Bowie” from the knife because, as David noted in an interview, the Bowie Knife “Cuts both ways.”

 


Rambowies
In addition to the famous Rambo blades of Hollywood fame, the silhouette of the Bowie Knife can be found in real life in the popular Buck 119 hunting knife, the famous leather-handled USMC KA-BAR fighting knife, and in a smaller form factor, the SOG Seal Elite, Seal Pup and their multitude of versions. However, the rich history of Bowie Knives and its variants are pretty much still using historical designs and antique blade technology. Until now, that is. At the moment, the most modern, the most durable, and the sharpest Bowie Knife in the world is the Fällkniven MB or Modern Bowie. 

Although Jim Bowie did not travel much beyond the southern territories of a fledgling United States, the Bowie Knife is a worldwide phenomenon and therefore fair game for all knifemakers. But with that fame comes a majority of so-called “Bowies” that are more art than substance, or those versions that substitute size for quality. For Fällkniven to produce such a monster knife rich in American history and then to openly name it a Modern Bowie takes guts. And confidence. So I’m very happy to announce that the Fällkniven Modern Bowie truly honors Jim Bowie and adds yet more cutting magic and lore to the never ending supply of tall tales that Bowie Knives generate. I certainly intend to add my own Bowie adventures to the storyline.


The MB version is not completely new for Fällkniven, but in fact building on both their large Northern Lights series of knives crossed with their professional survival knives. An NL1 crossed with an A1 Pro to be more specific. And the result is bigger, thicker, and certainly badder. The Modern Bowie, abbreviated MB by Fällkniven, is a true Muscle Blade (abbreviated MB by me) . Borrowing heavily from the Survival Pro series, the MB including cobalt steel, a convex edge, a protruding tang, and a Thermorun handle. Even the presentation box and included DC4 diamond sharpener are straight out the Pro playbook. However, three notable deviations with the Modern Bowie include a larger, thicker handle, a double sided guard, and a mild index finger groove just aft of the stainless steel crossguard.

The lone finger groove provides orientation and stability, but most noticeable compared to other Fällkniven Thermorun grips is the added beef in the middle of the MB’s handle. The size of the grip on the A1 and A2 is always noted in reviews as something either good or bad. I like the size, but when waving around a 20 ounce knife, it’s nice to have a grip closer to that of a 20 ounce Glock.

Dynamite in the Hand
The balance of the Fällkniven Modern Bowie is exceptional. The grip provides both the comfort and control necessary to wield such a large blade with elegance and precision. This is especially important since a key feature of the Bowie concept is a sharp and deadly point effective for stabbing and piercing. In reality the point of the clip point blade is to move the blade point lower and more line with the grip when thrusting the knife like a sword. Unfortunately the clipped nature (almost like a bite (clipped) was taken out of the spine of the blade) causes some limitations in daily work. Fällkniven preserved the spirit of the Bowie clip point but tempered it with the wisdom learned from the A1 Pro blade. The original Bowie was from a time before multi-shot handguns existed. Once a holster full of bangs replaced a sheath full of large fighting knife, the Bowie spirit moved on to embrace the rest of its original list of tasks. 

Those other chores, by the way, include work as an axe, a machete, a sword, a razor, and even a canoe paddle. Some add being a mirror to the list since a variant of Bowie Knives had a huge girth of shiny steel. But also notice on many of those deep shiny walls of metal in that they often have spine covering of a softer metal like copper, bronze, or aluminum. The metal blanket covering the back of the blade is not for trapping an opponent's blade during a fight, but rather preventing one’s own blade from breaking during a strike due to brittle or poorly forged iron. The mirror polish on those knives is, at best, lipstick on a pig.


The brute thickness of the Fällkniven MB is a staggering 7.4mm or a few hundredths shy of a third of an inch! The blade length is a full 10 inches and the overall length of the Modern Bowie exceeds 15 inches. Fällkniven’s laminated cobalt steel uses an incredible edge steel sandwiched between durable and stain resistant stainless steel faces. Laminated steel can be much stronger than solid steel. Fällkniven also uses its famous convex edge profile adding further strength and sharpness to its world class supersteel composition. Add a beefy stainless steel crossguard that is effective without being a tripping hazard, a swollen Thermorun grip, and a full tang that is bigger than some knives and you have a Muscle Blade worthy of proudly wearing the name Bowie.


Bring It On
The Fällkniven Modern Bowie cuts with dangerous impunity whether a small task or massive challenge. While the Modern Bowie sadly lacks as a canoe paddle, it does chop wood like a beast, and behaves very well when batoning. You can shave arm hair with care, and clear brush with reckless abandon. You can lunge and slope and long point without embarrassment, but when the MB is sheathed on your belt you will be conspicuous.


The Modern Bowie is a vastly different experience than carrying the Fällkniven A2 Wilderness Knife. In fact the MB is almost as large as the A2 is when inside its overbuilt leather sheath. And the MB is certainly longer. The A2 seems a perfectly reasonable camp knife when compared to the Modern Bowie, yet in proximity of popular knives the A2 is eye-openingly large on its own.

Pack’n
The sheath the Fällkniven Modern Bowie sleeps in is a four-layer double stitched leather dangler would double as a canoe paddle. Perhaps that’s what Mr. Bowie wanted given that swinging a two pound sharpened steel blade back and forth in the water might be a dumb idea. The blade slides into the sheath in either edge direction, and the single leather snap strap is reversible by rotating it vertically. The stern end of the sheath has two grommet holes that are necessary for using a leg strap which is not a bad idea for field work since the Modern Bowie dangles just north of my knee. On the A2 sheath, there are also two grommet holes on each end of the insertion slot of the sheath. On the MB sheath, east and west of the insertion slot are removable screw bolts opening similar holes but without grommets presumably for some more creative mounting options.

The Third Century
Knives claiming to be Bowies range in price from $10 to $10,000 with the extremes for show only. To get a Bowie that actually performs like the Bowie you will need to spend something much closer to four figures than two.

The Fällkniven MB Modern Bowie is a brand new knife with deep and rich history. If you have a weakness or need for a Bowie-class knife, then the MB should be your starting point. And for everyone else, the Bowie Knife will be waiting right here for you just as it has for the past two centuries.