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BAS in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by Sylvrfalcn, Aug 1, 2002.

  1. Sylvrfalcn

    Sylvrfalcn

    Jun 4, 2002
    It took a while of being teased, and being asked silly questions, but people are starting to get used to seeing khukuri totin' Americans over here. I and my motor sergeant wear ours openly on our belts (where IMHO they rightly belong), the more bashful of my guys carry theirs in their packs with the handles poking out where they can grab 'em easy.

    My daily carry knife? The BAS, I'd just as soon go roaming around without my "bullet launcher" as not have it with me. The constant carry and constant use has taken it's toll a bit. My military style frog fell apart, but I was able to make a new one out of some cowhide I had the foresight to pack in my footlocker. The HI "super frog" is an absolute masterpiece in simplicity, easy to copy, and now my BAS rides just a little higher and tighter. Nice. It would take me several paragraphs to detail all the uses I've found for the BAS and it's accessory knives, but let me just say if I gave away every other knife I own, I'd get by just fine. Now, don't go thinking I'm going to be giving away all my knives. The Bura made WWII that Rusty gave me will have to be surgically removed from my carpal digits post mortem:D

    I've got a feeling the Pen Knife will become my blade of choice for low-impact camping in more peaceful surroundings (can't wait for the wee devil to get here and start testing it). But, over here where things can get ugly in an eyeblink, the BAS is big enough to hold it's own, and small enough to not get stuffed in a rucksack, or worse, left behind. There is some practical wisdom in; "what's good enough for the Ghurkas....."

    Sarge
     
  2. beoram

    beoram

    Nov 27, 2001
    I like the idea of a U.S. 'Gurkha' company (regiment?) :)
     
  3. Daniel Koster

    Daniel Koster www.kosterknives.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 18, 2001
    ***LONG POST***

    Sarge = consider this story grabbed off the internet:
    (author - [email protected] 1996)


    MY CAMPING KNIFE SET

    When I was growing up, and even after I was grown, it was common knowledge among Western hunters and outdoorsmen that "a huntin' knife with a four-inch blade is dang well big enough." It was also well known that a man didn't need more than one knife for all his camping chores.

    There was a touch of belligerence in those opinions. I think that we were reacting against any hint of flamboyance in our hunting gear, because we were the real Western manly types, and we didn't go huntin' except to lay in our winter meat, by #@&*! No Hollywood showoff Bowie knives around our camps!

    I lived and roughed it by that ethic for more years than I care to count. At the same time, I indulged a fancy for owning (not using!) various big and exotic kinds of knives. I collected or made quite a number.

    Over the course of many years, as I hunted less (I don't hold with killing animals when you don't have to) but spent more time in the out-of-doors, I found increasing need for specialized cutting tools. Sometimes I was inconvenienced by having only a small belt-knife in my gear; sometimes I faced real emergencies.

    Gradually it began to soak into my skull that

    a) four-inch blades are NOT always enough, and
    b) you need more than one kind of knife when out in the
    wilderness.

    The above is now common knowledge among outdoorsmen West, East, and everywhere else, and I suspect that a man who made a point of getting by with only one small knife would be considered kinda peculiar, even a bit of a showoff.

    When you're at home, you can hoard tools to your heart's content, if not your wallet's, and it's not a bad idea to do so. Many a time I've faced a fixup or handycraft dilemma and exclaimed "If I ONLY had a pot-fid! WHY didn't I buy that scrimgag riffler when I had a chance?" Then I add one or two #@&*!s and head for the hardware store.

    But on a backpack or even a canoe trip, things are different. You can take only a minimum number of tools. Every ounce has to be justified. You must weigh the chances of needing a particular implement against the burden of lugging it wherever you go. You must face the fact that some things can't be improvised.

    Experience has taught me to pack a basic set of four knives on wilderness trips. If I don't take all four, I face the possibility of needing one (badly) that I don't have. I seldom require a tool that these four don't supply. But these I need:

    1) A Swiss army knife
    2) A Finnish puukko
    3) A Buck Special
    4) A kukri

    The Swiss Army Knife

    This is cheating a little, because Swissies are small tool kits, not just knives. That's right, I'm cheating a little. When I first went camping with a Swiss army knife, I thought, What the heck, maybe this little thing will come in handy. At the end of the first four days, I'd used every implement on it, in earnest. Any make or model of Swiss army knife big enough to include scissors and tweazers is adequate. I can get along out in the woods without hobby saws or magnifying glasses, but I've got to have those awls, scissors, tweazers, and so forth.

    Like any combination tool, the Swiss army knife is a compromise, but it's sturdy enough to answer most purposes. Also, those two small blades can be sharpened and honed to delicate razor edges and kept for fine work that bigger knives can't do.

    Because it's often used to prepare food, and may have to do service in minor surgery, it's important to keep a Swiss army knife clean. I soak mine frequently, with all the blades open, in hot soapy water, finishing with a rinse in boiling water. Then I sun-dry it, still open, to discourage bacteria.

    Needless to say, I carry my Switzer on a three-foot leather thong lanyard that never leaves my belt. That way, I always have my best tool close at hand.

    The Finnish Puukko

    Finnish what? "Small belt-knife" translates the word puukko nicely, and a nice little tool it is. The Finns and Lapps have been toting knives through the subarctic wilderness since before there was iron, and they've worked out a nearly perfect pattern for a utility knife and scabbard. Mine is a slightly modernized version adapted for mass production by Tapio Wirkkala, the Finnish designer. It was made in two models by the Hackmann company, and sold well until, for some reason, it was discontinued in December of 1987. It has a three and one-quarter inch blade with a straight back. The cutting edge features a subtle combination of straight and curved portions which suit it to slicing, skinning, and chipping. If you can't get an example of this dandy little Hackmann, invest in one of the many similar puukkot imported from Finland.

    The knife is carried in the full-length open-throat leather scabbard characteristic of Finnish knives -- even Wirkkala couldn't improve on that design, except to substitute a hardened nylon liner for the traditional bone. The beauty of this type of scabbard is in its simplicity: no keeper to fumble with, just drop your knife in when you're done with it. Because the handle of the knife and the mouth of the scabbard have matching tapers (always design your knife and scabbard as a unit), gravity is enough to seat the knife securely; mine has never dropped out. The scabbard originally came with a twisted thong belt-loop. Time and use eventually wore that away, and I replaced it with a foot of leather thong, one end tied firmly to the
    scabbard and the other end knotted in a loop. When I need my puukko with me, I simply slip the loop down through my belt, pass the scabbard through the loop, tug the thong tight, and thar she be.

    Like all old-time Westerners (and Finns), I carry my knife behind my right hip with the scabbard tucked in the pocket of my jeans. This is far and away the safest place to wear a knife. When I want to use the knife, I start it out of the scabbard with thumb and forefinger; many puukkot even have a German silver horsehead on the pommel to assist in drawing it this way.

    I must do fifty percent of my camp chores with my lovely little Finnish belt-knife.

    The Buck Special

    Everybody wants to own a Buck knife. Everybody should. Buck makes just about the best line of folding and belt knives in the U.S., if not the world. However, I've always found one fault with most of their models: the handles are too small in diameter. This is the weakness of practically all American hunting knives of the older generation, and was my father's chief complaint about the Marble, Western, and other brands we carried -- that and the cheapness of the scabbards. Well sir, Buck has fixed all that. Their Special has a six-inch blade and a generous, gently finger-notched handle that together suit it to just about any job a medium-sized knife can do. The thick spine of the blade gives plenty of strength, especially for woodworking, while the deeply hollow-ground edge cuts efficiently and can be sharpened to a keenness that does your heart good.

    Because I'm picky, I'm not entirely satisfied with the shape of the Special's blade: the last two inches of the edge curve steeply upward to an almost flamboyantly raised point. Mr. Buck no doubt intends this for skinning; well, maybe you could use it for that in a pinch, but as you and I know, a skinning knife is a specialized tool, and needn't find a place in your gear if you're not going hunting. If the point was located nearer the centerline of the blade, this would be a handier knife for certain kinds of fine work; but I'm not yet ready to hold a $40 dollar knife against a grindstone, so I'll continue to use it as is.

    The guard of the Special is just big enough to prevent your hand from slipping onto the blade, and not so big as to interfere with your work. The handle is made of that lovely black synthetic that Buck has used for many years. This can get slippery in use, but because the handle is fairly large and well-contoured, you won't lose control.

    The scabbard is a heavy leather proposition with a big snap keeper. The bead or cut-strip is made of a rubbery synthetic. Because the blade of the knife flares slightly at the beginning of the curve, there's a pronounced hangup at the mouth of the scabbard just before the knife is fully drawn; it takes a deliberate effort to pull the Special all the way out, or to resheath it. This is a dandy safety feature and I'm all for it, but it makes this an awkward knife to carry behind your hip. For that reason, I usually haul my Buck in my gear rather than carry it around on my belt.

    Perhaps someday I'll 1) modify the blade and 2) build a full-length throated scabbard for it; the pommel is the familiar single-lobed shape that would suit the knife perfectly for drawing from a Finnish-style sheath.

    Take care of a Buck knife and your great-grandchildren will still be using it.

    The Kukri

    What in the Sam Hill is a feller from Wyoming doing with a chopper from Nepal? Answer: using it to clear brush, cut grass, freshen blazes, trim poles, gather fir tips for bedding, fell good-sized trees if necessary, and do a lot of other things that an ordinary slasher will do only half as well. I've even been known to turn
    it over and drive tent pegs with the back of the blade, an unwise procedure with most knives, but one that's never damaged any of my kukris one bit.

    A good kukri is much safer and more efficient than a hatchet, and smaller and more versatile than a machete. It's no accident that the British Army and the RAF issue kukris for jungle service.

    I'll admit that I first tried one because I'm partial to exotic blades, but now a kukri seems as homey as a coffee-pot on my camping trips, and almost as vital.

    Some knife-makers in the U.S. currently offer their idea of a kukri for sale, and while these may be good designs, the price is wrong. Indian-made kukris are available at modest cost from mail order outlets in this country, or you can send one dollar to the folks at Doon Steelworks in Dehradun, India (that's all the address you need; the Indian Postal Service is wider awake than ours) and receive their catalog. It lists several models of kukri for staggeringly low prices.

    Doon may still be able to offer you a World War One-era Indian Army surplus kukri. If so, order two, one to hang on the wall as an antique, the other to polish up and carry on wilderness journeys. These are big kukris with thirteen-inch blades, the best ones can be beautifully balanced and finely ground; after seventy-odd years, the edges are still keen. Equally important, the hardwood handles are large and well proportioned. They did these things right, in the days of the Raj.

    Alternatively, my choice for a packing kukri is the ordinary modern enlisted man's model, preferably with a wooden rather than a horn handle. This is a hefty enough knife for almost any job: a foot long in the blade and over a pound in weight.

    The heavy-duty imported kukris frequently offered in this country are a bit too bulky for my arm, and the edges are not ground for efficient cutting. If you acquire one of these, consider regrinding the blade to remove a LOT of metal. Be prepared also to reshape the handle, since these are often crude and over-large. In the main, the modern Indian-made heavy-duty kukri gives the impression of being more raw material than finished knife.

    I carry my kukri lashed to my pack, never on my belt; the scabbards are light but bulky, and too much trouble to wear. (They look a tad Hollywoody, too.) In camp, the sheathed kukri can stay with my pack or travel with me when I walk into the timber to cut a pole. For safety, I keep that heavy, sharp blade sheathed unless I'm actually swinging it.

    The handle of the modern enlisted man's kukri is a bit small in diameter (that old shortcoming!) and may tire your hand and/or become slippery with extended use. A good trick in this case is to wrap the handle with a strip of towel. This will increase the diameter for better control, cushion your hand against shock, and soak up sweat without growing slick.

    Besides Those Knives

    When I was a boy, we all learned this lesson early: A dull knife is no knife at all. During hunting season, every male in Big Horn, Wyoming sported a shaven left forearm from testing the edge of his knife, except my father, who was left-handed and therefore kept his north forearm smooth.

    If I'm travelling farther than the mouth of the driveway, I take a pocket carborundum stone with me. This is very light and very small, and many people would find it inadequate for keeping blades sharp on a hiking trip. After a lifetime of use, I've learned to make do with these little stones by using them frequently to touch up an edge, rather than for heavy-duty sharpening of a badly dulled knife. In other words, I've learned that I have to maintain my cutting tools.

    The same kind of attention should be given to your scabbards, since a knife and its sheath are in fact a unit. Examine your scabbards frequently, looking for wear and damage. Dress the leather the way you'd dress your boots. Give particular attention to your scabbard's security; if it doesn't seem capable of keeping your knife snugly at home, improvise or make repairs on the spot. If your knife-sheath lacks an efficient keeper, don't hesitate to tie the knife in place with twine or thong; it's better to put up with a little inconvenience of this sort than to reach for a blade that's lying on the ground miles down the trail.

    But don't overdo the quest for security with your belt-knives. A lanyard for this type of tool is a bad idea, first because it constantly gets in the way of your work, and second because, if a tethered knife slips out of your hand or scabbard, it at once becomes a swinging, whirling lethal menace.

    A wrist-loop, however, can be very handy, because it allows you to release your knife without having to put it down -- a labor-saving wrinkle when you're cleaning fish or cooking. But don't carry your belt-knife in an exposed scabbard with the wrist-loop attached. Sooner or later, a branch will get caught in the loop and hook the knife right out of the scabbard, and you'll walk off and leave it dangling in the wind, perhaps in the middle of a tangle of chokecherry bushes where Jim Bridger himself could never find it.

    With the four tools described above, I'm equipped with a suite of small implements including two delicate blades for fine tasks, a handy light knife for the majority of chores, a robust medium blade for rough jobs, and a powerful whacker to deal with the drastic stuff. I know that these aren't enough to deal with Mom Nature's ultimate tricks; nothing man-made can do that; but I feel ready to face the old girl with a smile and a few tricks of my own.
     
  4. Pappy

    Pappy

    Mar 1, 2002
    that, that is too many knives for the average person to be carrying around. If you are carrying your gear on a four wheeler I guess it would be OK. My BAS has a good karda and one other knife smaller than the BAS should be enough. Some of the tools on the Swiss Army Knife would come in very handy on a long haul. I have found an ice pick handier than the awl on most knives. Any way it works for me. I made mine from a small phillips screw driver that finally wore out. Snap on made theirs out of some good steel. I know that they are backed with replacement guarantee but, I needed an ice pick at the time worse than I needed another screw driver. I still use it a lot.:)
     
  5. Bill Martino

    Bill Martino

    Mar 5, 1999
    If you're humping a pack and taking incoming I think it's probably way too many.

    Sarge, I never did like that mil style frog. I think it is more for show than go. When things get hot and heavy for the Gorkhas it's not that BAS rig that goes to war. It's generally some favorite from back home made by the old village kami that does the real work. The HI superfrog is made to stay and make your rig stay with you.
     
  6. Pappy

    Pappy

    Mar 1, 2002
    Uncle Bill, if the one he made is anything like the work I've seen he does on everything else, he's got one now that will stay around for a while.

    I have one that I made out of some Oak tanned leather that makes the khuk ride up high without all the swinging. It laces up the fromt so it can be adjusted to almost any but the widest sheath.
    It works a lot better on the 20 Sirupati than I thought it might.:)
     
  7. JUSTRIGHT

    JUSTRIGHT

    819
    Aug 10, 2001
    I always get that funny look,like "What the hell is that?"65:D
     
  8. JUSTRIGHT

    JUSTRIGHT

    819
    Aug 10, 2001
    I always get that funny look,like "What the hell is that?"65:D
     
  9. wildmanh

    wildmanh Part time Leather Bender/Sheath maker

    Jul 9, 2000
    pendentive, that list sounds real simaler to the list of knives I plan to carry on my next few campouts. Well, here is mine including where I will carry them:

    SAK (in butt pack on webbed belt)
    Buck Special 119 (on leather belt left side)
    Buck 110 folding hunter (On leather belt right side)
    HI Khukuri (on webbed belt left side or lashed to my pack)
    SOG Government (on webbed or leather belt ride side)

    Edited to add--

    Being 6'4", 160 and in really good shape helps.:) Plus I probably won't be carring everything at once.
     
  10. Ferrous Wheel

    Ferrous Wheel

    May 16, 2002
    ..although I'd switch out the Swiss army for a Leatherman or Gerber Multi-tool, jsut so I could have the files and hacksaw on my MultiTool. I'd carry these two kits with me anywhere outoors, as thy cover it all:

    YCS & Multi tool:
    1. YCS - Big, heavy blade for chopping, two kardas for everything else, and the awl is for serious drilling/puncturing.
    2. Gerber Multi tool - has oodles of good tools, hacksaw blade, files, can&bottle openers, screwdrivers, ultra sharp blades, strong pliers, etc.

    "left-handed and therefore kept his north forearm smooth." -- mee too!

    Thanks fer sharing!

    Keith
    En Ferro Veritas
     
  11. Hibuke

    Hibuke

    317
    Mar 28, 2002
    You could get away with losing one, but you'd need at least 3. As for what I'd carry;

    Tsume No-Mouko = 20" Chiruwa Sirupati: Great Khuk, undoubtedly *THE BEST* General Purpose (GP) Khuk, taking account weight, indestructability (is that a word? :footinmou ) and abilities and suitability to my size and strength (of which I'm lacking! :D )

    SOG Paratool: Infinately better than any multitool, save the much more costly Leatherman Wave.

    A choice of CRKT Point Guard, Crawford/Kasper Fighting Folder or a Kasper-Polkowski Companion: You can't go any better than CRKT folders in terms of durability and quality. CRKT's use of the LAWKS makes their folders as good as fixed blades. Plus, you don't get any better than AUS-6A for ease of sharpening & maintenance, edge holding price and performance...

    As for the Swiss Army Knife, that's optional, but it would be very handy...
     

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