2/16/97 Chop/Saw test update

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Feb 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/16/97

What follows are the results of an updated series of informal
chopping/sawing tests that I did strictly for my own edification and
amusement. No attempt is made to sway anyone towards or away from any
particular cutting device. This is just something that I thought I'd
share with you all. (again)

The results below are the AVERAGES of (3) chopping sessions each with
the listed knives/saws. For consistency and some relationship to what
might actually be chopped in a survival situation, I chose pressure
treated 2"x2" pine. Each chopping test was done with the cuts directly
over the center of a pine stump. (To avoid the smash-through effect
that occurs if the cut is made with the work hanging off the edge.)
Each session was timed, and the time noted is the average of (3)
complete 'severings'. Also the number of chops to complete severence
were noted and below is the average of the three. All chopping/sawing
was done with simple elbow and wrist movements, (one-handed, except
wire saw!), and at no time were any really heavy over the head swings

I have no doubt that times/hits listed will vary from person to
person, and would expect some readers to be able to do considerably
better than these. For me, consistency, not raw aggression was the
goal. All results averaged up to nearest whole number.
New devices, not previously posted are marked with "+". All devices
contain new size/wt data!
1) US GI Machete ($13) 7 sec 4 hits
18" blade, 23 1/4" OAL, 1lb. 6.5oz (no sheath)

+2) Ontario SP8 Survival Machete ($30-$40) 6 sec 7 hits
7 3/4" cutting edge, 15 1/8" OAL, 1lb. 13 oz w/nylon sheath

3) 440 Stainless Kukri (Generic) ($22) 8 sec. 7 hits
8" cutting edge, 10"blade, 14 7/8" OAL, 1lb.1.5oz w/sheath

+4) Sandvik Camp Hatchet ($15) 8 sec. 10 hits
4 1/4"blade, 15" OAL, 1lb. 13.5oz w/rubber edge guard, no sheath

5) Generic "Rigger's" Hatchet ($12) 10 sec. 12 hits
3 1/2" blade, 13 1/4" OAL, 1lb. 15oz (no sheath)

6) Blackjack "Simba" ($55) 12 sec. 12 hits
10 1/2" blade, 17 1/2" OAL, 1lb. 7 oz w/lousy leather sheath

+7) Chinese Survival Hatchet ($3) 13sec. 24hits
3" blade, 13" OAL, 1lb. 6oz (no sheath)

8) Tramontia soft stainless Meat Cleaver ($13) 18 sec 27 hits
6"blade, 11 1/4" OAL, 12 1/2oz (no sheath)

+9) Nicholson "Prestige" rough cut saw ($8) 18 sec. 32 strokes
15" cutting edge, 18 3/4" OAL, 8tpi, 11.5 oz, (thin plastic guard)

10) Stanley Folding Saw ($8) 21 sec. 37 strokes
5" Sawzall wood blade, 7 3/4" OAL, 6oz w/3sp. blades & P38 opener

11) Sven Folding Bowsaw ($18) 27 sec. 37 strokes
21" blade, 23" OAL, 13.5 oz ( self contained--needs no sheath)

+12) Generic Hacksaw, w/USED metal blade ($5) 50sec 74 stroke
well worn 12" 32 tpi metal cutting blade

+13) Wire Spiral Survival Saw ($3) 75 sec. 71 strokes
18 3/4" blade, 22 1/2" stretched out, 3"coiled in circle, 1/2oz.

+14) Cold Steel Bushman ($12) 74 sec. 82 hits
7" blade, 12 1/4" OAL, 12 oz w/cheap leather sheath

+15) Wenger Mountaineer SAK saw blade 107 sec 122 strokes
4" wood saw blade, 5" closed, 6oz w/nylon sheath

16) USMC Kabar ($30- $35) 135 sec. 167 hits
6 13/16" blade, 11 7/8" OAL, 15.5 oz w/sturdy leather sheath

17) EK 1/2 Grind Commando ($25) 152sec. 276hits
6 1/2" blade, 12 3/8" OAL, 14oz w/nylon web sheath

18) Cold Steel "Thrower" ($15) 167 sec. 285 hits
5 3/8" blade, 10 3/4" OAL, 8 1/2oz (no sheath)
* Note relative size, wt. of Kukri to other items tested.
* Sandvik Camp Hatchet has forged German head in "Hudson Bay" pattern
and looks more like a frontiersman ax than a modern camp or 'scout'
hatchet. (Only tool actually bought just for this project!)
* Blackjack Simba handle failed immediately. Subsequent para cord also
failed. Sheath is trash.
* Chinese Survival Hatchet is cheapest, shoddiest item tested. Doubles
as hammer and pry bar.
* Tramontia Meat Cleaver got enormously, progressively duller with
* Stanley folding saw is only item tested that features storage of
spare blades!
* Wire saw tested is not the best, or most aggressive toothed one on
market. (More on that later.) Gave up trying to use as bow saw,
because it kept slipping on branch. Results shown are with two hands
pulling _up_ through work.
* Cold Steel Bushman did surprisingly well. Can double as spear. Gave
up trying to take advantage of longer leverage by using field
expedient shaft in handle, when (4) stick handles broke in a row.
Results shown are just with knife, not w/extra shaft inserted.
* Wenger Mountaineer saw bound repeatedly, and flexed to the point
that I worried it would break.
* Ek para handle and brass hilt also failed to stay on for this simple
Mike Swaim mi...@cphl.mindspring.com


Feb 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/17/97

jus...@home.com (justme) wrote:

Some things that I would really like to see tested in similar fashion
would include:
Cold Steel Kukri's of all sizes.
Cold Steel TrailMaster
Whatever the finest pocket wire survival saw is.
Tomahawks, and drywall hatchets
the Charter Arms ax/hatchet thingee that was made as a head only
several years ago
Mad Dog Attack
an appropriate Randall
any of the modern 'hunter's axes' that look more like a 'Ulu' with a
plastic handle (Gerber, Normark etc.)

anything else that you all can think of

I'll be getting a better wire saw sometime this week and will post
results, but for the rest of the stuff, I'd enjoy hearing from those
of you that already have this stuff.

Mike Swaim


Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97

jus...@home.com (justme) wrote:

Some conclusions about the chopping tests.
* The best chopping times (items 1-5) are all so close that any item
on the list would be a good choice. In fact, I'd expect there to be
some minor position upsetting if further testing was continued amongst
the same models. Nothing major, but these times aren't set in

*The overall utility of the machete and kukri is hard to argue with,
since either can also be used for easier brush clearing than the
hatchets and axes.

*There is some little merit to spending a _little_ bit more for a good
hatchet. One thing not noted, per se, in the tests was that the
Sandvik forged German head hatchet was more comfortable to use than
the generic hatchet, and seems to stay sharper longer.

*In regard to hatchet vs. machete or kukri, the hatchets seem to carry
a little better on the belt due to the weight being concentrated at
the belt level w/ only a relatively light handle hanging down, whereas
the machetes/kukris tend to have the heavy blade hanging down and
acting as a pendulum.

*It's probably worth pointing out that a _used_ very fine metal
cutting hacksaw blade out did the best of the conventional 'sheath'
knives tested so far. This means that it might make a lot of sense to
have some spare, new, coarse, (24tpi) hacksaw blades at one's
disposal. There're so light and slim, that one could easily tuck a
couple into or beside a packframe.

I'll be doing some more saw testing at some point in the psuedo-near
future, and am hoping to lay hands on a super aggressive wire survival
saw, as well as a Cold Steel Kukri. Perhaps I'll test some larger
'work' pieces, as well as some wood in a more natural state than
treated lumber.

Also coming soon will be a 'whittling/cutting' test that will
emphasize a blades ability to do things not related to

Mike Swaim mi...@cphl.mindspring.com

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