A new contender for the survivalist’s dollar is the C.A.S.T. (Counter Attack Survival Tool) from Meyerco. The brainchild of legendary knife designer Blackie Collins, the C.A.S.T. is intended to meet the demand for a pure-blooded, full-featured fixed blade survival knife that can satisfy the stringent requirements of a hard-core survivalist, but at a price that will make it as affordable a health insurance policy as money can buy.
The cornerstone of any knife design must be its blade, and for this one Blackie Collins elected to use 440A stainless steel, in lieu of one of the more exotic and expensive alloys. When I asked Collins what had induced him to choose 440A over even the better-known 440C, the knifemaker cited a litany of good reasons, making me believe that he’d been asked this question before.
Collins’ argument is convincing. Being one of the straight-chromium, stainless alloys, 440A offers superior shear strength, tensile strength, and wear-resistance when compared to lesser 400-series alloys. Low surface carbon helps to keep away rust, without the added step of a nitric-acid “passivation” bath that is a necessary part of the process for outdoor blades made from slightly harder 440B and 440C. With careful heat treating 440A can be hardened to a very respectable 57-60 HRC (usually lower in practical applications), which enables it to take and hold a hair-splitting edge. It isn’t the easiest steel to work, being hard on blanking dies and mill cutters, and heat treating it is an exacting process, but Blackie Collins told me, “If I could have just one knife to use in the real world, I’d choose one of the 440 series.”
C.A.S.T. Specs and Impressions
Steel preferences aside, there’s no denying that the C.A.S.T.’s 6-1/4-inch hollow-ground blade, hardened to an edge-holding 56 HRC, is nicely crafted. My sample was shaving-sharp, right out of the clamshell package, with no tool marks on its high-satin finish blade to mar the cleanly etched Meyerco logo or the facsimile of Blackie Collins’ signature. Two inches of index finger traction grooves cut into the spine above the choil ensure positive point control for skinning game or drilling holes. A gently arced drop of 8 degrees from hilt to point puts the blade tip on a center axis with the hand gripping the handle, maximizing penetrating power from the stiletto-ground tip. This knife would perform well for the tried-and-true (and usually illegal) survival tactic of knife-fishing.
Extreme high carbon component coupled with an Rc 66-68 hardness makes this pricey but...
by Durwood Hollis / May 3, 2010