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Dear Customers & Functional Physcopaths,
In life you meet few real friends and if you are very fortunate some of them are "Dragons". I have several such friends. One of them is Steve Van Voorhees. This guy is a dragon of the first order. He is the real thing, adventurer, author and inventor. He practiced Law for over thirty years in the Florida Appellate system, taking on some of the most diffucult criminal cases. He is one of the very few Lawyers I ever met that actually fought for what was right and fair and stood steadfast for the rights of the individual. He worked on several major weapons systems for the military; invented the 22 cal conversion kit for the MAC 10 machine gun.
Steve has worked on the design and developement of several unique bullets and weapons delivery systems. He has hiked the Appalachian trail and written a couple of novels. He learned to sail a sailboat by leaving Florida in a small sailboat headed for South America. He managed to see a lot of islands and return to tell the tail. Steve has been in and around the martial arts community in Florida for over thirty years. He has written papers for environmental protection with reason not emotion. He also is very involved in the protection of the second amendment rights of Americans. Steve is a methodical thinker and one hell of a good rifle shot.
Just ask any of the knifemakers in Montana, he hates the computer age. When Steve developed the "Slim Fighter Knife", I agreed and was honored to put it on my web site. It is a marvel of complex ideas boiled down to bare bones excellence. This is the knife I choose to carry for defense. It is also the choice for many experienced martial arts people in Florida. He has been researching and working on this design for several years and it has finally come to fruition. This is a handmade, limited production, top of the line, no nonsense fighting knife. The carry system he worked out with a little guidance from Bob Dozier is nothing short of marvelous simplicity. The "Slim Fighter" is best described by the maker.
Photo by Point Seven
Observations regarding the design and use:
- The only important knife is the one you have with you. The knife back home in a drawer or display case can't help you.
- The knife is designed to be carried comfortably concealed so that it would be practical to carry it everyday if necessary.
- It is meant to have the smallest practical footprint, but still have enough blade and handle to be an optimum fighting knife.
- Point to hilt the blade is 6 1/4" long. This is minimal, but enough.
- You need just enough blade to penetrate anatomical structures buried beneath 3 or 4" of fur or clothing, tissue and bone. More blade is unnecessary for this application.
- Fairbairn made his original knives with 6 1/4" blades. If anyone ever really knew the proper length of blade for a fighter, it was probably him. His knife is superb, but not configured for civilian carry.
- This design keeps weight and bulk to a minimum by use of a 1/8" blade thickness which weighs less than an equivalent 3/16" or 1/4" blade.
- Any strength which might have been lost in thickness is regained by making the blade broader. Yet the thin blade penetrates better. Why? Because the extra metal in a thin double-edged blade has curring edges to cut it's way in, rather than having to wedge in like a thick blade.
- This design employs narrow grinds which leave a reinforcing spine of full blade thickness up the center almost to the point.
- The grinds are hollow to provide the acute angle necessary for a keen cut. As such they are similar in some respects to two old-time straight razors stacked back to back.
- Hollow grinds cut well, but they are more fragile than flat or convex grinds. Think about it for a while before you chop, dig holes or open cans with this knife.
- The steel used in this knife is 52100 ball-bearing steel, a material known for it's toughness and edge-holding ability.
- It is thought by some experts to be the nearest modern steel to the fabled Wootz Damascus used against the Crusaders in the Holy Land and only recently re-discovered.
- The fine material natural qualities of 52100 are enhanced by precisely controlled heat treating in salt baths to produce a crystalline structure known as tempered Martensite. This primary heat treatment in salt is followed by a secondary procedure known as differential tempering. By this process the cutting edges of the blade are retained at a hardness of around 58 Rockwell while the spine and the center portion of the blade are drawn to a spring temper. The result is a tough blade which has enhanced resistance to breaking, but still has hard cutting edges.
- 52100 is a carbon steel with no stainless qualities. It makes wonderful blades, but it rusts. That is the trade off you make when you go for function and skip shine.
- When you see oxidation starting to form on the blade, take the first opportunity to scrub the area with a fine steel wool and wipe it with light oil if available. Chapstick is a good substitute for oil in a pinch.
- If the knife has been exposed to salt, wash it in fresh water, dry it and then apply oil.
- Most of the time the knife will probably be dry of oil and over time A mottled appearance will develop. Think of this as a patina. A patina on a working knife should not dismay anyone. This knife is not intended as an ornament.
- The knife is constructed around a center line which runs from point to butt straight down the center of the blade.
- This enables a straight penetration to the anatomical structure being sought during thrusting, and eliminates any tendency of the blade to slew off to one side due to an off-center design.
- Examination will show that the blade is trapezoidal in shape with both edges tapering toward the center line at the point. The edges if carried out, would meet about an inch out from the existing point, but the tip of such a blade would be fragile. So the extended tip has been eliminated and a short radius capable of lateral cutting has been provided . With this shape the blade has many of the same penetrating characteristics as a dagger, but retains strength and cutting capabilities at the tip more similar to a Bowie.
- Unlike many of the new-wave dedicated fighters, this knife is fitted with a significant hilt.
- Adding a hilt is time-consuming and labor intensive. There is also a slight increase in weight and bulk, making the knife marginally harder to carry and conceal.
- A knife cuts equally well without a hilt, so why fit the hilt at all? Because this is a fighting knife, not a kitchen knife. Cutting is not all there is fighting with a knife. Lethal confrontations with say, a bear, or a drunk intent on doing you harm are not always settled by a few deft slicing gestures.
- Consider that if you ever face a dangerous adversary with a knife you may have to work it through him, in a sense, as if you were chopping down a tree. You may have to slug the blade home repeatedly, very hard, in order to save yourself. You can not assume ideal conditions for this. The haft of the knife may be slippery with sweat, blood or rain, and the vital areas of the adversary may be sheathed in unyielding substances such as matted hair, bone, cartilage, sinew, leather, wool or webbing. Such conditions tend to stop the knife suddenly, encouraging your fast-moving hand to slide forward. Half way through trying to cut and thrust your way clear, you do not want to find that your hand has slipped forward onto the cutting edge of your own blade.
- A choil 1/4" deep is provided at the terminus of the long edge of the blade so that repeated sharpening can be accomplished without changing the geometry of the blade.
- Balance has been carefully considered in this design.
- Study of serious fighting designs shows that, with the exception of dedicated chopping configurations, each of the sophisticated fighter designs has provided a counter weight to the blade so the weapon is weighted toward the handle and sits frankly and securely in the hand, rather than tending to flip free of the fingers when the hand is opened.
- Balance of this type allows the knife to be rotated freely from the sword grip to the ice-pick grip depending on the exigencies of the situation without spending any time on the floor.
- Since this design is meant to be light enough for daily carry, light micarta is used for the handle, and the necessary balance is provided by a steel counter weight at the end of the handle where it has the best mechanical advantage in balancing off blade weight. This steel butt is drawn to a blunt point to serve a secondary function as a force-multiplier.
- The handle is made symmetrical and smooth with no projections or irregularities of any kind. You can readily shift this type of handle from the sword to the ice-pick grip and hold the knife equally well either way. This would not be possible were the knife equipped with a sub hilt, finger grooves or a curved handle.
- Because the knife has a symmetrical handle, but an asymmetrical blade, a feature has been provided which allows the user to determine which way the long edge is facing by feel alone, even in the dark. On the left side of the handle 1/4" above the hilt is a small silver bead let into the handle. The thumb (or forefinger in the case of a left-handed grip) naturally finds this bead, and notifies the user which way the edges are oriented. This bead fulfills the same function as the menuki images which were inserted under the wrappings on samurai sword handles to enable their users to instantly tell which way the edge was oriented.
- The handle is of the concave coffin-shaped configuration because the designer believes that this is the smallest and lightest design which still allows a powerful grip and rigid support of the blade. Taking the knife in the hand using the sword grip, it will be apparent to the user that the tip of the thumb abuts naturally against the curved rear surface of the hilt, where outward pressure can be exerted, while the fingers can draw back strongly against the swelling rear portion of the handle so as to capture the knife in a rigid grip capable of supporting the blade firmly even when held at arms length.
- Naturally, many would prefer a bigger handle such as is found on bayonets, Bowies, and on most fighting knives designed for military purposes. Before a final decision is made as to how big a handle the man wants, he should carry a bayonet concealed under his clothing for a week while going about his normal daily business. Then it will be easy for him to make an informed decision as to how big he wants the handle of his personal-defense knife to be, and how much he wants it to weigh.
- The Kydex sheath delivered with the knife is kept as small and thin as possible while still protecting the wearer sufficiently from the blade. A retaining collar into which the knife clips when placed in the sheath will retain the knife firmly even when it is worn point up on the belt while the wearer jumps around like Mickey Mouse. This enables the user to carry the knife in what has been termed the "Daytona Carry".
- For this, put the belt through the sheath loop in the conventional fashion, but with the point of the knife pointing up instead of down. Now position the scabbard about three inches behind your hip. You will find that the blade portion of the sheath rises into an area of your side where it interferes with nothing, and the handle does not project downward far enough to touch a chair when you seated.
- Sitting in a car or chair, standing, doing violent calisthenics or even wearing a broad-belted back pack, you will find that you soon forget the knife is there. If you put on a jacket or even a tee shirt over the knife you will see that the handle does not project downward far enough to be seen by passers by, and that the knife does not interfere sufficiently with the normal drape of the garment to be noticed.
- Now, with the knife in this carry, reach back, grab the tip of the handle between thumb and forefinger, and pull smartly down. You will find the knife instantly in your hand in the ice-pick grip with the long edge back; an ideal grip for close confrontation and a good starting point for any disagreement with man or beast.
- Enjoy this knife. I wish you happiness, health and long life.
Steve Van Vhoorhees.
If you would like to order one of these knives, send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject line of VanVoorhees Slim Fighter