Some years ago, Ken Warner of Gun Digest, American Rifleman, and the Knives annuals fame, acquired the rights to the Blackjack Knives trademark. Since that time, he has introduced a number of interesting new designs. Over the last couple of years I have been field testing and working with a variety of the new Blackjack knives and have been very favorably impressed with these blades.
One of my favorites of the new breed of Blackjacks is the Blackjack Kukri II, a modernized rendition of the classic Gurkha kukri of Nepal. I am a long time admirer and user of kukris. This dates back to the early 1970’s when I was in the 10th Special Forces Group, the Army’s top cold weather unit. That’s where I learned what a great field knife they can be, particularly in heavily wooded areas. You could not find a more efficient tool to make a shelter, cut poles for a litter or tent, make a bough bed, or to help build a fire. I still have a small collection of authentic original and modern production kukris that I use on occasion. Indeed, my current “grab and go” emergency kit has a kukri in it.
In profile, the Kukri II is accurately shaped like one of the many classic kukri patterns. Its blade is a foot long with the typical kukri down-turned front blade section. The blade is made from tough AUS-8 stainless steel in Seki, Japan, and came with a convex edge capable of dry shaving my forearm cleanly.
The Kukri II is much lighter and handier than a typical authentic Gurkha kukri of the same length. Part of the reason is its light, injection-molded Krayton handle. This handle has most of the excellent ergonomics of the better authentic kukri handles but with a more secure grip thanks to its rubbery Krayton construction and its fine-grained pebbled surface. While this is generally a significant advantage over an original kukri handle in use, the extra friction will raise blisters on your hand if you do extensive chopping using the original Gurkha technique of letting the handle rock front to rear in the hand. I strongly suggest that you wear a glove when doing extensive chopping with this knife. The handle has a lanyard hole, always a good feature on a field knife, particularly when operating over water or snow.
The other thing that makes this kukri light and handy is the fact that its blade is thinner than most traditional kukris. The blade is less than 3/16 inch at its thickest and it thins toward the point considerably. What this knife loses in the weight side of its blade in momentum, it makes up for on the speed side. This knife is a really efficient chopper. I tested it out on some of our ever-present brambles, on many small tree limbs, and on some thick English ivy vines that were threatening to choke out several of my myrtle trees. It performed beautifully. Lighter than a typical hatchet, the Kukri II is an excellent and versatile substitute for the latter and is easily one of the top production kukris on the market.
The Kukri II is sold by itself as well as in a two-knife set called the “Safari Kit” that also includes a Blackjack Grunt knife. The two knives share one high-quality sheath. This set gives the carrier the primary tools to survive most outdoor survival situations. As its name suggests, it is also an excellent thing to have along on a Safari or other expedition.
The Grunt has been covered in TK in the past, but deserves a brief review here. It is a 5-1/2-inch-blade knife that has a broad blade with a dropped point and lots of belly. This makes it particularly good for butchering and skinning as well as a versatile utility knife and weapon. The Grunt’s blade is made from the same tough AUS-8 stainless steel as the Kukri II. It has a black synthetic rubber narrow tang handle with a pleasant-feeling fine pebble surface that makes for an extremely secure grip. The handle shape has a nice drop in relation to the blade that is extremely well thought out ergonomically. The handle is very comfortable and secure in the hand and is large enough to accommodate a large hand or a regular-sized hand wearing heavy gloves. It too, is made in Seki, Japan. The Grunt arrived with an extremely sharp, polished razor-like convex edge and is a superb all-around field knife for civilian or soldier.
Yet another tactical knife in the Blackjack line, the Quick is a little harder to categorize. Also made in Japan from AUS-8 stainless steel, the Quick has the same handle as the Kukri II, with no crossguard, and it is mounted at a mild downward angle to the blade. The blade is just shy of 10 inches long. The blade’s edge is one long shallow curve terminating at a narrow and extremely sharp point. It is not a heavy knife. As a tool, it is a surprisingly efficient light chopper applied against light vines, limbs and shrubbery. It also whittles and carves well and works well for food preparation like peeling, slicing, and the like. As a weapon, it is a wicked slicer and chopper as well as a superb stabber.
The Quick is moderately strange looking, but it definitely grows on you. Light enough to be carried by a backpacker or camper; it would give a person a decent weapon in areas where firearms are forbidden. It would give a soldier a useful tool that would also be an extremely effective emergency weapon. This is a versatile piece of kit!
The Black Panga
The last Blackjack blade I will cover here is their Black Panga machete. It is made in the U.S. from 1095 high carbon steel finished in flat black. It has a 13-1/2-inch narrow blade with an extremely sharp fine point. It has the same full tang handle scales as were once used on the old Blackjack Black Mamba series. I think of the Black Panga as a “fighting machete.” This is due to several factors. First, the blade is thicker than most machetes, giving it more strength and stiffness than is usually seen. Even more important, the blade has a high flat grind that extends from the edge all the way to the back of the blade. I have never encountered a machete with this type of grind. This gives the blade the unusual ability to slice and carve while still chopping with the best of the machetes. On top of that, thanks to its sharp point, this machete stabs like a very good sword. Here again is an efficient tool that can serve as a devastatingly effective weapon in a close combat situation, be it in military combat, civilian defense, or attack by a vicious dog.
Right out of the box the Black Panga was just shy of forearm shaving sharp. One swipe on each side of the edge with an EZE-LAP M diamond rod and it shaved hair. The Black Panga pretty much stands alone as a particularly effective weapon in the world of machetes.
One of the weak points of the original Blackjack knife line was that many of their knife sheaths were marginal at best with regard to design and construction. All of the new Blackjack knives evaluated came with an extremely high quality, form-fitted, pouch-type leather sheath that has a thick welt that protects the blade’s edge extremely well and protects the user from the edge and point even if he should take a bad fall.
The above constitutes just a few of the Blackjack Knives line. The entire line is worthy of your attention. This knife line is handled by many dealers and is easily purchased online. Blackjack Knives is a division of Knifeware, Inc.
Some years ago, Ken Warner of Gun Digest, American Rifleman, and the Knives annuals…
by Tactical-Life.com / Jul 1, 2008