A look at Survival and Preparedness, Firearms, Ham Radio, German Shepherds, Photography and other related stuff! 73 Later, ZombieAxe :-)


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ramblings on my working blades...



RTAK by WKC Newt Livesay
Woodsman's Pal
Buck Intrepid commercial copy of the Kit Carson design
Cold Steel Recon Tanto
Gerber LMF II


RTAK (Randall Training and Adventure Knife) made FIRST by Newt Livesay of the Wicked Knife Company. I read an article in ASG (American Survival Guide) and was really impressed with it. I took me about a month to get it shipped and I suspect that is why eventually RTAK production went to Ontario Knife to meet demand. I have both but IMHO the Origional slightly edges (pun intended) out the Ontario version. Currently the ONLY semi custom blade I own. This blade is a awesome chopper. It easily and quickly can help you blaze a trail, clear brush, construct a shelter, split wood and defend yourself if need be!


Next up is the Woodsman's Pal. This was designed in WWII and I even think there is an technique for using it as weapon. I found a local source that carried these for $35 (at the time) so thought I'd try one. I was impressed. It equally chopped wood well and functioned as machete. The brush hook will easily handle small brush, saw briars, and blackberry bushes with ease. I prefer to use this over a axe or hatchet, for to me, it seems much safer.

I use this also to split wood by driving it through the wood by striking the tip with a handy sized chunk of wood. I actually use this on a test for the RTAK's, Recon Tanto and WP to make sure my knives are up to my needs!

The example shown above is my PRISTINE one as it has never been used but resides in my work bag (I have bush axes, axes and pruning saws on my truck and use them because I have to chop poison vines with them, mine is for survival use).

The one on my 4 wheeler has seen a hard life, but other than the wood handles graying, and some shiny spots on the blade, it is good to go!

Bottom line, if I had to have only one blade to survive in the wild, give me a Woodman's pal!


Next up is the Buck BUCKMASTER. Back in the mid to late 80's when the hollow handled survival knife craze was going on, this was the pinnacle of mass produced knives. I later came to find out, that this design was vastly inferior to full tang designs. HOWEVER next to a Chris Reeve hollow handled knife this blade is the only hollowed handle design I would carry.

At the time I liked the idea of having an all in one survival kit in the handle of your knife. I mean it was a cool concept, but blade and handle seperation is a bad thing! Better to have a superior blade and a survival kit in YOUR POCKET!

The BUCKMASTER is a big piece of steel. The handle has agressive checkering and well IMHO is one of the prettiest knives of the 80's.

Unfortunately I lost one of the spikes while on a camping trip. I suppose the idea is to use this knife as a grappling hook or such in the sheath... I don't like that idea but it is there if I need such. The screw off handle has a place to attach a rope or carabiner as well.

Great knife, but it was a "I wanted one when I was younger" thing. It resides in one of my vehicle kits these days as a backup...


This is the Buck Intrepid. This blade was designed by Kit Carson. The knife is very well made and has a full tang. The handles are removable for cleaning zombie blood or when immersed in salt water.

I prefer a straight edge knife to serrated one because it is easier to sharpen. I do however think the combo blades with partial straight and serrated edges are great. I think serrated blades really shine in cutting nylon, rope and similar materials. So got the best of both worlds there!

I also like the chisel edge on top of the blade as this knife has lots of cutting area, which is a nice option as well

This blade has a Tanto point which is also a plus in my book as it makes the tip very strong as well as great piercing characteristics. They also made this blade with a chisel tip, but it was not for me

This knife resides in my work bag in case I run into a survival situation @ work and need a great blade to get me out of a survival situation.


Above is the Cold Steel RECON Tanto. This blade wins in the economy department. As you can see from the pics, I have used this knife, lovingly but HARD! I love this blade and can not say enough good things about it!

Funny thing is a group of three of us went on a camping trip. When we pulled out our knives, EVERYONE had a RCON Tanto. This said a lot being that we were from varied backgrounds and had come to the same answer in a fixed blade knife!

One of the fellars showed me a technique to split wood with the RECON Tanto, that when I first saw it, I honestly thought he was gonna break it. I mentioned it above about striking the tip to drive the Tanto through the wood with a baseball bat sized piece of wood!

I use the RECON Tanto to split pieces of wood for kindling just like I described above and it works great! The Woodman's Pal beats the RT in this method mainly because the WP is a bigger piece of metal!

Overall one of the most affordable, durable and SHARP (holds and edge and is easy to sharpen) knives I have ever owned/used.

I don't know if the RECON Tanto's are still made in the USA, but if I had a choice, I'd go American, this one is.


Finally we get to the last blade and the one that has the honor of residing in my BOB/GHB, the Gerber LMF II. I hated Gerber Knives in the late 80's and early 90's. The reason is that the blades broke to easily. I am hard on a knife, so either it breaks and I hate it, or it doesn't and I love it.

So even though Gerbers were not cheap, I considered them POS blades (except the origional LMF) and after a bad experience I wrote them off.

A friend of mine is a Gerber freak and I noticed ,that to me, the blades seemed better made. So when the LMF II came out I was impressed. Impressed enough to lift my ban on Gerber blades.

I like the combo edge (as I talked about above) and I find that the shorter overall length makes this a practical knife that does small and large chores easy. IMHO this is a perfect length for a tool knife. It does everything well except for the chopping power of the larger blades.

The blade and hammer pommel are electrically isolated so if you need to you could chop a live wire (one sniper in Iraq used this knife to do such a thing). Not plan A, but a plan none the less!

The steel is easy to sharpen and it is extremely well ballanced.

Overall it has passed all my tests and it reminds me of an updated version of the 'USAF pilot survival knife' expecially in its size and handiness.

So there you have it, my fixed blade arsenal. Thanks for reading!


more than you really want to know said...

I was send a link to this page and noticed that you own one of the Original Livesay RTAK knives. That is a nice one from the photograph. I appreciate you kind words on the blade and hope you are enjoying the knife. I wish I had a few dozen of the original RTAK knives with early date stamps as they seem to be bringing upwards of $200.00 too $300.00 USD each anymore. Anyway again nice to see one of the kids in a photos. My best, Merry Christmas and a Great New Year and wonderful Holiday.
My Best Regards,
Newt Livesay, maker

WarriorShaman said...

Holy cow you have a Buckmaster?

I'm half jealous and also half tempted to suggest you trade it for something else. I used to have one, and the Buck Bayonet if you ever saw that. They are heavy to pack in the woods..... my feet hurt thinking about it. Those were so cool back in the day! I got tired of the weight and got something else. It's pretty decent steel as long as you don't pry rocks from the ground. A buddy of mine had a 1/2" of the tip pop off when He dropped it camping.
dura cles

ZombieAxe said...

WOW thanks Newt :) I love that RTAK! Take it easy and keep making those great knives that you always do :)

ZombieAxe said...

Thanks WS aka duracles for the comments :)
Yes the Buckmaster is a beautiful blade but I will never trade it. At one time it was my 'serious survival knife' but then I learned about blades. I always wanted that bayonet as well. We were stuck with the older ones in my unit and I wanted one of them Buck Bayonets SO BAD!!! LOL

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