Test/Review AG Russell Combat Knives

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Mike P. Swaim

Jul 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/8/97

Part 1
AG Russell recently loaned me several knives to test. Three of them
represent his combat, fighting, utility style knives. They are the :

AGMK-1-- 12 1/4" OAL, 7 3/8" of 1 29/32" wide, 3/16" thick, bead
blasted AUS8A, bowie shaped blade with rakish unsharpened false edge,
& finger groove, flat, checkered, double guard, Zytel handle, 11oz.
(on my inaccuarate postal scale), comes with one of the best black
thick leather sheathes that I've seen on a knife costing less than
$150 for an MSR= $59.95

AGMK-2-- same as above but a whopping 14 1/4" OAL, 9 3/8" blade, 13
oz., with same sheath done larger, for MSR= $69.95

AGCM, (Combat Master)-- very similar to MK-1, but with mirror
polished,Swedish Stainless Steel blade, up turned point and false
edge, and semi "S" curvature to blade, same sheath as MK1 for

Initial Impressions--
These are really BIG knives. Their extreme width makes them dwarf
other knives of similar OAL or blade length. They all remind me of
Bowies on steroids. The thin, (21/32") glass filled nylon finger
groove grips are very hand filling. They are quite deep enough top to
bottom to make up for their thinness. The blades are embossed with a
none-too-subtle whopping 2 3/8" x 3/8" stamping of A.G. Russell's
name. The sheaths are very good quality. They feature a metal tab for
easy thumb opening, but I notice that two of the samples face down and
one faces up. (AG said he was sending me cosmetic 2nds, so this in no
way indicates anything about quality control, one way or the other.)
It did make me wonder which way they're supposed to go. I think I like
down, for easy index finger snap popping. The sheath for the MK2 was
noticebly thinner, and not as good quality as for the MK1 and CM.
Again, that is probably due to it being a reject. In any event they
are MUCH better than any sheath, leather or cordura that I've seen
from CS. Nuff said.

The mirror polished Combat Master is so shiny that you could very
easily use it as a signal, or to put your contacts in, or to put on
makeup, or to telegraph your every move to troops miles away. Pick
one. It also features a blade that rises into a semi "S" curve, making
flat board cutting very difficult. The MK1 & 2 do not have this
feature. ;-)
Initially, these knives were tested with the edge they were shipped
with. Because the results proved to be so poor, I resharpened them
with a DMT coarse diamond hone, and retested during the initial phase.
Thus you will see two different results printed for the initial rope
test. After re-honing to my spec.s the knives were not re-sharpened
for the duration of the test. (After my re honing all the knives would
split flesh with just the slightest slicing pressure.)
3/4" Manilla Rope Test
I cut through 3/4" manila hemp rope (5) times each with each knife,
and averaged the times and number of strokes for each knife. As in
previous rope tests, each "stroke" was a pull towards me, with the
rope on a 1x4. Times and strokes are the averages of (5) complete
severings with each knife. I've included selected data from a previous
test for comparison purposes. (** = previous test data)

**CS BushRanger-- 1.2 cuts/4.4sec.
**CS Bushman-- 2.4cuts/ 6.8 sec.
** CS SRK-- 3 cuts/ 7.8 sec.
** Kabar-- 9 cuts/ 15.6 sec.

AGMK-1-- Factory edge-- 9.6 cuts/ 15.8 sec.
AGMK--1-- DMT edge-- 2 cuts/ 7 sec.
AGMK--2-- Factory edge-- 7.5cuts/14.5 sec.
AGMK--2-- DMT edge-- 2.4cuts/ 8.4 sec.
AGCM-- Factory edge-- 4.2 cuts/13.2 sec.
AGCM-- DMT edge-- 10.2 cuts/ 23.2 sec.

(Notice the CM, the #'s are in the right order. Comments to follow.)
Steel Belted Radial Test
Once again, none of the knives would penetrate more than just the
tread of an unmounted Toyo radial tire, when stabbed from above.
The MK-1 and MK-2 slashed and penetrated the sidewalls with vigor. The
size of the cuts was most impressive. The Combat Master, just barely
punctured the sidewalls, and mostly bounced off, due to having an
upswept point.
1/4" Luan Plywood Penetration Test
The tire was put flat on the ground, and a piece of 1/4" plywood was
laid across the tire. The knives were then stabbed, reverse grip, with
one hand down into the plywood from ~12" above and the penetration
depths recorded. This was done (3) times for each knife, and then the
results were averaged for the results below.

AGMK-1-- 2 3/4"
AGMK--2--2 1/2"
**CS BushRanger-- 2 1/8"
**Kabar-- 1 3/4"
**CS SRK-- 1 5/8"
AGCM--1 3/8"
**CS Bushman--3/4"
Wood Splitting Test
The knives were beaten through 12-15" 2x4 scraps, using a beater stick
to beat on the spines. None of the knives exhibited noticeable damage.
The AG knives split the wood very, very fast. (I'd thought they'd be
thin enough to get stuck, but they didn't.)
1" Oak Dowel Chopping Test
Using some 1" Oak dowels, placed on a pine stump, I chopped completely
through the dowels with each knife and recorded the results. The data
below, is the average of (3) complete severings, per knife.

AGMK--2-- 12.3 chops/16.7 sec.
AGMK--1-- 13.7chops/13.3 sec.
AGCM-- 23 chops/ 19.3 sec.
**CS BushRanger--32.3 chops/26.7 sec.
**Kabar-- 33.3 chops/ 19.3 sec.
**CS Bushman-- 39.7 chops/ 28 sec.
** CS SRK-- 49.7 chops/ 29 sec.
3/4" Bulk Poly Rope Cutting Test-- Dry Hands
Using 3/4" poly rope made to look like hemp rope, the knives were
again put through the series of (5) complete severings. The data below
is again, the average of the (5).

**CS BushRanger-- 2.8 cuts/7.8 sec.
** CS BushMan-- 3.6 cuts/ 9.2 sec.
** CS SRK-- 7.8 cuts/12 sec.
AGMK-1-- 8.2 cuts/16 sec.
AGMK-2-- 9.4 cuts/15 sec.
**Kabar-- 9 cuts/ 16.6 sec.
AGCM-- 30.8 cuts/40.4 sec.
3/4" Bulk Poly Rope Cutting Test-- Oily Hands
Because I had this theory that you should be able to measure handle
efficiency by comparing a very slippery handle to the same knife's
performance while dry, I then put on a 100% Kevlar glove, and then a
disposable vinyl lab glove over top of that. Then I put about 1 tsp.
of mineral oil in my palm and worked it all over the knife handle and
the glove, prior to repeating the above rope cutting test. I refreshed
the oil for each knife, and tested each knife (3) times and averaged
the results. Since all (3) of the AG knives have the same handle I
only tested the MK-1.

CS BushRanger-- 2 cuts/6 sec.
CS BushMan-- 7 cuts/16 sec.
AGMK-1-- 8.7 cuts/17 sec.
CS SRK-- 12 cuts/18 sec.
Kabar-- 14 cuts/21.3 sec.

(As an aside, the MK-1 had, what was by far the easiest to hold
handle, but the blade was so dull by this point, that it couldn't keep
Oily hands Slip test
I re-oiled my already quite oily vinyl & Kevlar coated hand and
gripped each knife in a reverse grip and plunged it into the cut end
of a large pine stump from a distance of about 18 inches. I did this
primarily to see how much protection each type of handle offered the

Kabar-- very slippery-- hand hit guard so hard I let go of knife

BushRanger-- Good control and shock absorbtion

SRK-- VERY DANGEROUS-- vestigal single rubber guard barely even slowed
hand down-- hand ended up on stump-- vinyl glove severed on 3 sides of
little finger, slashed through ring and middle fingers of glove-- DAMN
glad I was wearing Kevlar glove inside, (which, like my hand was
totally uncut or hurt ;-)

AGMK-1-- very good control, but tip of blade broke off--- In fairness
to this knife, I think that the good grip and the total lack of shock
absorbtion actually worked against it, because the knife plunged into
the wood and then went over sideways, with the tip still stuck in the
wood, and my thrust force coming down on it. Lateral force is tough on
any knife, but especially one with this fine a point.
Comments to follow,

Mike P. Swaim

Jul 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM7/8/97

Part 2

mi...@cphl.mindspring.com (Mike P. Swaim) wrote:

>AGMK-1-- Factory edge-- 9.6 cuts/ 15.8 sec.
>AGMK--1-- DMT edge-- 2 cuts/ 7 sec.
>AGMK--2-- Factory edge-- 7.5cuts/14.5 sec.
>AGMK--2-- DMT edge-- 2.4cuts/ 8.4 sec.
>AGCM-- Factory edge-- 4.2 cuts/13.2 sec.
>AGCM-- DMT edge-- 10.2 cuts/ 23.2 sec.

>(Notice the CM, the #'s are in the right order. Comments to follow.)

I've seen lots of other knives that were shipped with a smooth honed
edge that wouldn't catch on your thumbnail that could be substantially
improved by a few strokes on a coarser hone, stone or file. The
Swedish Steel Combat Master is one of the exceptions that prove the
rule. I think the steel is a little soft, but to give credit were
credit is due, it really didn't do all that badly with the factory

Overall the blade shape of the AGMK series makes for an impressive
machete. In fact, after the tests were done, I used the MK--2 around
the yard for exactly that. It got totally covered with pine sap, but
the bead blasted finish cleaned up easily with dishsoap and water.

As mentioned, the leather sheaths are pretty nice for this price range

I'm a little hesitant about a knife that seems to be somewhat delicate
and limited of purpose. On one hand, the geometry of these should make
them excellent slicers, but they just didn't show the level of edge
retention that I would have expected, and they are absolutely not
prybars, etc.

The handles are good, but I'd have wished that they came without the
stupid finger grooves. While they initially gripped fairly well, I
became very concsious of the blasted finger grooves several times, and
they really only serve to make switching grips more difficult. (Bear
in mind, that I don't like finger grooves on other knives or pistol
grips either, and realize that it's a personal choice type thing.)

The one aspect of the handles that I just could not figure out, was
that they have one single screw on the left side that does not
penetrate. The screw is not electricly conductive with the blade, and
removing it, only shows a brass ferule. I could not figure out the
purpose of this screw, if it was not blade retention. So I asked AG.
He said that if I backed it out 4-5 turns, and put firm pressure on
it, there would be a secret compartment revealed on the other side.
Frankly, I figured that he was pulling my leg. I tried it, and sure
enough, there it is. Why, on this earth any sane adult would want a
small, hard to access chamber hidden inside a knife handle is totally
beyond me. It's too narrow for bandaids, and wouldn't hold much beyond
a rolled up bill and some matches. It did give an interesting view of
the tang. Turns out it's a hollow tang. Don't know that it really
diminishes the strength of the knife, in any meaninful way, but it it
kinda weird.

Well, he said call it like I saw it, and I've seen it and called it.

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