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Author Topic: Blade Lore  (Read 4143 times)

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Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #125 on: June 24, 2018, 11:01:25 AM »

One of the most known weapons from Japans martial culture is the shuriken, or throwing star. Technically the shuriken concept covers a range of throwing weapons but the star shape is the best known today - many of us with casual access to metal working tools have made a few! But they are readily available for purchase, provided that you live in a country or state where they are legal.

The key features of a classic shuriken is the flat body, the sharpened steel tips and the hole in the middle. A throwing star will function without the hole but it gets harder to keep in your clothes without a bulky pouch.

The actual shape, as in number of tips and various fancy details, does not really matter as long as the steel is precisely evened out along the blade. As with any throwing weapon the precision comes down to balance and weight.

Contrary to what ninja and wuxia movies claim, a shuriken is not really a killing weapon and was not designed to be one (onless you wield it like a knife and actually stabs with it). Like a Roman Legionaire's throwing spear or a sikh's chakram the shuriken is used to distract the enemy and get off balance for a few seconds, which might be enough to close in on him with your main weapon and do the real job.

As with all martial arts there's no end to what people have come up with of creative use for what was once a reshaped farming tool. A shuriken can be used as a foot caltrop, or as a knife, or be poisoned.

Online Liam Dale

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #126 on: June 24, 2018, 11:43:06 AM »
Everything is a weapon. And everything can be made into a weapon. Today's post is somewhere behind fiendishly clever and an impractical gadget. Behold the coin knife.

Several models of this type are readily available on the market. Some of them even have more than one function.
Oh, I'm in love with these... Never seen them before!

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #127 on: June 25, 2018, 11:04:09 AM »
In the military world things go in and out of fashion and style more than you would think. Weapons, gear, uniforms - if a successful nation has something, it gets copied. Hence why China made a copy of the M16 rifle, for instance. In the category of military bayonets there is a similar pattern. One such style were the Yataghan bayonets. They were first put into use by France in 1840, and over the next 60 years became copied by many other countries including USA and Japan.

The Yataghan is said to originate with a North African tribe which had a sword of similar fashion. And this is possibly the bayonet style that more than any mimic an actual sword, with its very long blade and proper grip. The key feature is the wave-like blade that would not be out of place on a saber.

I own one Norwegian bayonet of this type and it is easily mistaken for a sword; I have several 'normal' swords of the same length and solid design. It is easily a better weapon than a grenadier saber.

Offline Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #128 on: June 25, 2018, 11:07:40 AM »
I'm having trouble seeing how that would get mounted onto a rifle?

Offline Thorne

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #129 on: June 25, 2018, 11:18:53 AM »
A careful look at the upper guard (the lower image shows it better) shows it has a hole in it where I am assuming you poke the end of the rifle through. Not sure how one secures the blade so it doesn't fall off in use, but I get the impression that it isn't all that complicated.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #130 on: June 25, 2018, 11:23:40 AM »
I'm having trouble seeing how that would get mounted onto a rifle?

The upper end of the crossguard has a hole big enough to push a barrel tip through. In the pommel is a lock that fits on a latch right below the barrel. It varies from rifle to rifle though; some would have the bayonet side or even top mounted. Hole-and-lock is probably the most normal configuration from 18th to 19th century.

I have some trouble finding a good picture of this bayonet mounted on a rifle. Probably because the sheer length and narrowness of the combination makes for a bad online picture.

What eventually killed the Yataghan was probably the new bolt rifles. The infantry man no longer fired his shot and charged with lifted bayonet, but simply reloaded. Also the machine guns were entering the battle field, which made the old bayonet charge rather more suicidal - and remember, in some wars the enemy would simply give up when charged by a unit of superior size. With sustainable rifle and mg fire the need to carry along a huge lump of heavy expensive steel was reduced and smaller and lighter designs took its place.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2018, 11:29:01 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #131 on: June 27, 2018, 05:38:14 AM »
Here is a weapon and tool that I bet everyone has heard about but few have actually touched. It was often popular in crime stories - and in actual crime - and has the distinction of being one of very few household items used frequently in murder. Today we are looking at the ice pick.

Before the advent of freezers and refrigerators, many homes relied on primitive means to keep things cold. One such way was to bring home a big block of fresh water ice by sled. Wrapped in straw or other insulating material and kept in a box in the cellar, this was both a storage place for fresh goods and a source for delicious ice for all kinds of drinks and icecream. (Incidentally, this is still a practice among Mongolian nomads.) In order to chip out a nice suitable piece, and hack that piece into smaller splinters, a sharp steel stick came in very handy.

An ice pick looks very similiar to another common tool, the awl. But whereas the awl is normally used by being hand pushed into material like wood or leather with millimeter precision and not much force, the ice pick is literally made for violence. The steel pick is considerably longer too. The similarity to the French Nail is obvious, but this is rather sharper and slimmer making it far more lethal.

Among known murders done by ice pick is the liquidation of Soviet politician Leon Trotsky, but the ice pick is also a familiar mafia weapon.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #132 on: June 28, 2018, 06:56:34 AM »

As civilian tools can be weaponized, so can military tools. One somewhat unlikely proof of this is the e-tool, aka entrenchment tool, aka personal field shovel. These mundane work tools were first issued near the end of the 19th century. Up till then full sized shovels had been a part of the general equipment train of any military unit and handed out to work parties as need. But warfare was getting more dangerous as rifle fire was getting not only much more precise but also disturbingly faster and standing bravely on the battlefield having a smoke and mocking the enemy was getting positively lethal. At the same time warfare was expanding in size, the equipment trains were just getting bigger and more bogged down on roads which had not expanded since Napoleon used them and ever bigger artillery pieces were testing the same roads - when they were not shooting them to pieces. Something had to be done. At first, shovels - still full size - were issued to the soldiers, but only 1 in 4 or even 1 in 8 got one. The others were dragging along heavy cooking implements and other camp equipment of the past. In some countries, soldiers were becoming mules.

Russia and Germany were among the first countries trying a new approach, giving every soldier a small but strong shovel each. Now every soldier could help with the big digging jobs, and get himself out of sight too before enemy bullets and artillery homed in on him. The usefulness of this was soon tested. Russia was embarking on a vicious war with a Japan that had started to arm its forces with machineguns. Germany had issued its own spade after the Franco-German war so the first major conflict their was tested in was World War One. Here, the shovel would not only prove to be the perfect digging tool but also a combat weapon.

In the trenches, which were shot to pieces and so narrow that a man could barely walk straight, the unwieldy rifles with their long bayonets were coming up short against weapons better suited from close combat: pistols, revolvers, knives, clubs, spikes - and shovels. Germans soon found that their sturdy one piece e-tools were highly suitable for having their edges sharpened, which essentially made them the hand axe of their era. Russians on their side of the conflict were quick to do the same. England had chosen a different type of e-tool, a pick with a loose handle, but soldiers were also sharpening this although this seem to have been less frequently done. France were still hanging on to the concept of work party shovels and French soldiers had to find other improvisations. USA were coming in late in the conflict but their spades were also suitable for the job.

The e-tool seemed to have found its shape but it was not perfect. Anyone running around with the old type in the back of their belt will know the problem; shovel handles have a fantastic way to find the inside of your knee when you are running. Germany had been looking into this and right before WW2 they had come up with a new solution; a collapsible or folding shovel. This reduced the total length of the shovel with almost a foot, yet the clever screw lock retained all the necessary strength - and even made it possible to turn the shovel into a 90 degree pickaxe. The new design was given to all new forces and was an instant success. So much that USA immediately copied it as well and issued a near identical version to their own forces. During the war, Germany and Russia would still be sharpening their e-tools for bloody close combat warfare and I can only assume that the same happened in the Pacific warfare.

In modern times, the e-tool of the western world has been folded yet again and now fits into a pouch on the belt. It is still a handy digging device but the short total length and the off-center weight makes it an awkward weapon. Russia has chosen to hang on to a field spade that differs little from the 19th century one, and train their special forces to use it in combat still.

It is certainly one way to faster a martial spirit.

There are also civilian versions, and some obscure or experimental military versions which typically add more functions of varying usefulness: saws, hammers, knives, axes, picks.

I keep one of those neat triple folders in my car for emergencies. It's on the heavy side for carrying around needlessly though.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 07:02:44 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #133 on: June 29, 2018, 05:20:07 AM »
The folding knife is a derivative of the classic rigid blade knife, not a development. This means that although the folder takes the knife concept and adds to it, it isn't necessarily better - just more suitable for certain functions and purposes, like being kept in a pocket. The Swiss Army knife is again a derivative of the folding knife. So now I have a problem of definitions. Is the multi-tool folder primarily a child of the knife, the folding knife or the Swiss Army knife - or something entirely different?

The original Leatherman multi-tool, now much copied, was barely intended as a knife. Primarily it is a tool kit considerably stronger and bigger than the Swiss Army Knife, intended as an everyday tool for many types of workers. After 30 years on the market functions have been developed and improved.

The tong is the main tool in the kit, and to the best of my knowledge had not been available in anything but tiny size in folders up to then. The rest of the tools can be found in many other multifolders, but the Leatherman offers them in bigger sizes.

The full size Leatherman is usually carried in a belt pouch as it is a big slab of metal, but there are smaller versions that will fit in a pocket. Copies can be found at high and low prices, and the quality tends to reflect this. The original brand alone is one of the most sold multitools ever. One thing you will get only with the original is the guarantee; Leatherman repairs or replaces anything that breaks (I don't know if there is a fee).

A multitool kit of this size is a great resource in an emergency. I would still prefer a conventional tool kit. While everything in the set works, most of the tools are by necessity placed where they fit rather than for optimal handling.