Since the filming of the classic movie Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey has been the world’s most famous Marine Drill Instructor, “The Gunny.” He has had a great run with the TV show Mail Call on The History Channel and has a new show there called Lock N’ Load With R. Lee Ermey on the history of military weapons, including the latest and greatest. His website is Gunny will be with us now every issue to answer any questions on knives and the uses our readers and editors can throw at him. We caught up with him between his filming and visits to military bases and our troops…

TK: Back in your Vietnam days, what was your carry knife?
It was nothing to carry five to seven canteens in Vietnam. It was a hot, humid, hell. So anything else we could drop off, we did. ‘Course we kept knives. You couldn’t use the damn bayonet for anything because it was dull. So, we had to carry a knife and the bayonet—and a machete, in a lot of cases.

TK: Survival knives are a big subject on the Internet. Some people beat up on the Rambo-type knives, the hollow-handle kind. How do you feel about those?
Well, I think the one-piece hollow-handle knife does have its merits. If you put a sharpening device in there, you always have something to sharpen that knife with, and if it doesn’t stay sharp, you could be in trouble. And you can put a lot of gear into that hollow knife handle–sharpening tools,  fire-making stuff, some fish hooks and line. With the hollow handle, the knife becomes a survival tool.

TK: Don’t you have to reduce the strength of the tang to do that?
In some cases it does affect the strength of the knife. So, it’s a question of what you’re going to be using that knife for—chopping down trees or normal cutting chores like dressing out game. Anyway, knives today can be made with a hollow handle without weakening the tang at all. They just redirect the tang.

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