Combat knives: weapon or tool?
One of the important elements of the combat equipment of a modern soldier is a knife. And although now his role in the battle is small, in the era of local wars, he acquired a new function - he became a universal survival tool for fighters of small maneuverable groups operating in isolation from supply bases in difficult climatic conditions.
Even during the Vietnam War, American troops unexpectedly found out that their equipment, firearms weapon and even knives are poorly suited to local conditions. A similar problem faced the Soviet army during the war in Afghanistan. The role of the main combat knife in it was performed by a bayonet, the design of which was unsuccessful. Generally speaking, attempts to create universal weapons are rarely successful. A knife and a bayonet have different tasks, and solving them requires different constructive approaches.
The bayonet is mounted on the weapon. In this case, the strike is inflicted with two hands; both the body mass of the fighter and the mass of the weapon itself participate. With such a blow, the blade enters the target deeply, if it is well sharpened, then, in addition to damage to the cutting edge when in contact with the bones, it can also become stuck in the tendons. Therefore, strange as it may seem, the bayonet should not be too sharp. An example of a successful design is the bayonet to the SKS karabiner. But for a knife, a dull cutting edge is a serious drawback. The desire to turn a bayonet into a universal tool reduces its reliability and reduces the combat characteristics of the weapon. The closer the knife to the tool, the less it is suitable for combat, and vice versa. Therefore, when developing a new combat knife, it is always important to understand which qualities are preferable.
The development of the combat knife ideology as a universal tool led to a passion for survival knives.
In particular, the Basurmanin knife was adopted by the Russian army. It is a hybrid of the Aitor Jungle-2 knife and the HP-2 knife. "Elf" is another design used by the GRU special forces. Both samples are similar, but the first one is more knife-tool, and the second one is closer to the combat knife. Despite the fact that "Basurmanin" and "Elf" adopted for use, use them in small quantities. So, "Basurmanin" was cumbersome, heavy and expensive, on its basis began to produce a commercial model. Now it is supplied as a survival knife for border guards who serve in regions with difficult climatic conditions. But even in such twisted models, the functions of the weapon and the tool are not fully combined. The easiest way to separate these functions. And use a combat knife complete with a small multifunctional knife. The latter is usually foldable. An example is the famous Swiss army knives.
Another approach is possible. The Polish Army developed an interesting folding knife, still used in special forces. His blade has dimensions sufficient for combat use, and in addition, the knife has high instrumental saturation. He came out quite powerful, and for this he had to pay more weight. The Poles themselves call it the first “Tul”, which appeared much earlier than the development of Lazermann. However, he did not have pliers, so this question is quite controversial.
The appearance of the bodies largely solved the problem of an auxiliary knife, but civilian models lacked strength and combat capabilities. Special army versions began to appear; they differed from civilians in black coating and the presence of a swage for detonators. Their plus is low weight, small size and not too high price, because the base is a serial civilian model. In Russia, too, army versions of such tools with advanced combat capabilities began to appear, because no one has canceled such use of the product. And this immediately imposes restrictions on the dimensions of the blade. It can not be less than 90 mm, and it is better if it is larger than 100 mm, with a solid width and thickness. But for the classic Lazerman scheme the blade of such length does not fit. Attempts to perform an army tool, with the required blade dimensions on it, were made at TsNIITOCHMASH. They developed the Crag tool, but it turned out to be too large and heavy. The model has not received further development.
The company "NOX" commissioned by the FSB has developed a combat knife Sapper "Wag-3", which is officially adopted. This tool is made according to a completely different scheme, which made it possible to increase the length of the blade to 110 mm, with a thickness of 4 mm. The knife was tested on the possibility of combat use and was found fit. His baptism of fire "Wag-3" passed even before official adoption. A prototype was used in the liquidation of Chechen terrorists at the Nord Ost. This product is used by other power structures, such as FSO. “Wag-3” is an optimal instrument in its parameters for use as a city combat knife. Another area of use is the survival knife. But for military use it is too expensive and complicated.
CAPO has attempted to create an army version of the Varan sapper tool. But the resulting sample does not fully suit the military - the blade length is small for combat use. The desire of the developer to create a reliable sturdy tool led to the fact that the knife has large dimensions and excessive weight. And the quality of performance leaves much to be desired.
The already mentioned firm “NOCS”, on its own initiative, developed the Biker mini-tool for civilian use. This lightweight (90 g), very flat (8 mm) tool can be placed on the sheaths of the main combat knife (some Western companies do this by offering the consumer a set of combat knife and a knife tool). The military version of the "Biker" is equipped with a crimp for detonators. But the role of a knife for serious work, he does not fit - small in size. The military needs something like a reduced and simplified version of Wag-3. Therefore, for a promising set of combat equipment issued a technical task for the development of both a combat knife and a folding knife tool. In fact, the military does not seem to know what they want. So, “Wag-3” does not satisfy them in terms of size and weight, but in the technical assignment for a new instrument, figures are given that almost coincide with its parameters. Of course, one cannot but agree that the dimensions and weight should be reduced, but within reasonable limits. For a combat knife, the main criteria were always strength and reliability.
But back to the bayonet. According to GRAU, in modern combat, the use of the bayonet is so limited that they can be neglected, you just need a good knife. The length of its blade was determined in 170 mm, which is quite a lot, although it corresponds to the parameters of combat knives of Western countries. Such a length, for example, has the knife blade of the American marines "Kabar". Some other parameters have been set, limiting the developers. In the technical assignment, for example, there were two small points that nullified the idea of a simple army knife - this is the placement of nippers on the sheath and the possibility of attachment to the machine gun, independently or through an adapter. These requirements automatically complicate the design of the knife. However, there are several solutions to the problem. The simplest thing is to follow the path of the construction of a conventional bayonet, making a blade, as indicated in the technical assignment, of a dagger type with a one-and-a-half sharpening. Place a ring on the barrel of the machine gun on the guard and a lock button on the handle. The result is the same bayonet, the only difference is the placement of the nippers on the sheath. It was in this traditional way that some companies, such as CAPO, for example, launched the Bumblebee bayonet, very reminiscent of the existing bayonet to AK74.
Another way is to simplify the construction due to the sheath. After all, the placement of the nippers on the sheath turns them into a product, in its complexity almost equivalent to the knife itself. This problem can be solved in different ways. The easiest way is a removable lever that was used on Todorov's knife, which became the ancestor of bayonet knives for Kalashnikov assault rifles. It allows you to get the most simple product. The sheath for such a knife can be made of textile materials such as cordura, and the lever should be placed on the sheath in a special pocket. In this case, on the blade of the knife it is necessary to make a hole for joining with the lever. And it weakens the blade. In addition, the use of the lever is not too convenient. It is not by chance that the lever was simply combined with a scabbard on bayonet knives to the Kalashnikov machine gun. This is also not the most correct way, since the removal of the pliers to the front of the sheath increases the size of the entire product. There is, of course, an interesting solution - to move the nippers up, there they can be placed more compactly. But such a scheme has its drawbacks, the most important of which is the need to fix the pliers in the hole of the blade. To do this in conditions such as low light is problematic. The fastening to the machine is easiest to transfer to the adapter. This will simplify the knife itself, as the attachment to the adapter will not create problems associated with the dimensions of the machine itself. For example, the mount on the trunk already affects the dimensions of the guard, on which it is necessary to place a ring. It is impossible to reduce this dimension, but it goes beyond the parameters specified in the terms of reference. Therefore, the presence of the adapter is preferable to the placement of fasteners on the knife itself. In addition, not every knife such an adapter needs to be attached, because its use is very limited.
After analyzing all these options, the firm "AiR" came to the conclusion that the design of a modern combat knife should look different. The blade can be shortened without problems to 160 mm. This will reduce weight, increase maneuverability and will have virtually no effect on combat or working qualities. They can even be increased by increasing the thickness of the blade. Sharpening one and a half. Differentiated lower edge for cutting, upper for cutting. The front part of the blade is reinforced, for this the upper edge is sharpened in the style of tanto. The blade is made of steel 95X18, hardness 56-58 units. An antiglare treatment of the blade with glass balls has been carried out, which not only reduces the gloss, but also strengthens the outer surface of the metal due to work hardening. There is also a minus of such processing, although it is determined by the customer. The operation reduces corrosion resistance, even when using corrosion-resistant steels. Therefore, it is much more practical to use a similar treatment in combination with a durable antiglare coating - titanium carbide or silicon carbide. Garda is made of the same steel, but its hardness is 45-48 units, which gives the guard good mechanical properties. This is important, since the guard during the operation period has large mechanical loads, for example, when throwing. The knife handle is made of PCB, a durable and resistant to external influences material. There is also an option made of rubber elastron. The choice of material of the handle makes it possible to use the knife in a variety of climatic and geographical conditions. On the handle caused corrugation of two kinds. The lateral ribbing in the front of the handle provides an emphasis for the thumb, which allows for good control of the knife. Next are the longitudinal grooves that serve to drain moisture, if the hand is sweaty or wet. The shape of the handle is not symmetrical, it allows you to touch, by which side the knife is held. On the handle - metal pommel. It can play the role of a hammer, serve to deliver shocking blows and is used as the second fastening element. There is a groove, which includes a cap rubber ring. This mount is usually used for underwater knives, where the reliability of retaining the blade in the sheath is of particular importance. The sheath is made of two parts. The inner part, on which the pliers are located, is made of stainless steel. It is located on the lever pliers. Their design is largely borrowed from the pliers of the knife of the swimmers "Sea Devil", developed by the company "NOX". There is a flathead screwdriver on the sheath nippers. Plastic shells are provided in the sheath to protect the blade from dulling when removed. This is an important issue. For example, in the HP-2 knife in a plastic sheath there is a metal insert that is positioned so that it interacts with the cutting edge of the blade. It is enough to take it out of the scabbard a couple of times, as there is no trace of sharpening. In the new knife, this deficiency is eliminated. The elasticity of the steel sheath is also used to fix the blade itself. For carrying the knife and placing it on the equipment there is a cover made of durable camouflage fabric with a soft lining that prevents the appearance of unmasking noise. On the case there is a pocket for the universal “Splinter” tool and a grinding bar. Loops on the cover allow you to mount it on the various elements of equipment. Loop for fastening on the belt detachable. The liner is fixed on the cover with a protrusion that falls into the opening of the cap pocket. Such fixation is simple and reliable.
It is impossible not to talk about how the development of the knife tool for the Russian army was organized. This procedure was very unusual. The GRAU convened a meeting of manufacturers of cold weapons, issued a technical task and a month for the development and manufacture of samples. The R & D stage was simply laid on the shoulders of manufacturers. Not surprisingly, only three firms submitted real samples. They went to the test. If for an army knife, the problem of ultra-fast development could be solved (with preliminary developments, for example, CAPO simply reworked its “Maple” knife), although all the samples appeared at the very last moment, then with a knife-tool it turned out more difficult. The only claimants - the knives "Wag-3" and "Varan" - in their parameters did not satisfy the military, they needed something in between these samples. The finished model was from the company "NOCS", but its customer was one of the special services. The product received the characteristic name "Vzryvotehnik." Outwardly, it looks like Lazerman products, but only at first glance. This product is a “changeling”.
The biggest trouble with conventional sapper bodies is that the presence of the crimp for detonators reduces the performance of the pliers themselves and their durability. In "Vzryvotehnika" this problem is solved. So, pressing at folded "tula" is located on the pliers from the reverse side. This part of the tool is quite massive and can be used as a hammer. It also has a carbide protrusion for breaking glass, which can serve as a glass cutter. When turning the arms, the pliers themselves “appear”. They are of normal design, but with the presence of interchangeable cutting edges on the nippers. This is a plus, as you can make the pliers themselves more durable and maintainable. If the nippers are part of the pliers, then they should be rolled to high hardness, and this may affect the strength. In the presence of interchangeable cutting elements, the problem is eliminated. Passatizh kalyatsya to hardness, giving optimum strength, and cutting inserts (much greater hardness) with breakage just change. A blade of increased strength is installed in one of the tool handles; with a length of 85 mm, its thickness is 4 mm. You can open it with one hand using the protruding peg. The blade in the open position becomes a rigid retainer. Nearby is a universal holder. It is possible to fix a replaceable saw from the electric jigsaw, which expands the possibilities of the tool, as the saws can be very different. Damaged during work file just replaced with a new one. In the holder can also be installed and a special blade for fine work. It is made in two versions - with conventional and lateral sharpening.
Special tools include a light alloy pin for making holes in explosive packs when installing detonators. Other tool kit is quite common: an awl, a can opener, a file, and scissors. Scissors are quite dimensional and do not have a spring, which, as a rule, becomes an element of insecurity. It is replaced by a handle with a slit, which allows them to open and manage them during operation (like ordinary scissors). There is a holder for changeable bits, it can be completed with an extension cord. The presence of interchangeable bits increases the possibility of using the tool, since it is not necessary to have a whole set of different screwdrivers and special socket wrenches.
Unfortunately, with all the advantages, such a tool is poorly suited for military use. It should be much simpler, more comfortable, and not have replaceable parts that can be lost (one of the requirements that always applies to such products).
The tool "Vzryvotehnik" - part of the kit, which, in addition to him, includes a universal working knife under the same name. It is manufactured by AiR. Despite his appointment, he gives the impression of military weapons. This is due to the dagger-shaped blade widening in the front. This is done to shift the center of gravity forward. The blade was designed as an army knife for heavy work. Therefore, the dimensions of the blade are impressive enough - the length is 180 mm, the thickness is 6 mm. Such massiveness allows you to chop this knife and use it as a lever. The blade width makes it possible to dig. Of course, this is not a shovel, but it is quite suitable for digging small holes. Sharpening is differentiated: on the one hand, it is ordinary (used for cutting and cutting), on the other - a sawtooth sharpening with a fine tooth, which plays the role of a drill, and in some situations it can even play the role of a saw.
In spite of its working mission, the Explosivesman is also a weapon. The length and thickness of the blade, its shape, type of sharpening allow you to use the knife in this quality. The handle is made of PCB, this material was the most acceptable for use in difficult conditions. Pommel of steel, can act as a hammer. Cordura sheath with plastic liner, they have a pocket in which you can place a diamond grinding bar and a survival kit. Knife "Vzryvotehnik" is of interest not only for the sappers, but also for other types of troops. Now there is a stage of trial operation of this product. On the basis of combat samples, the manufacturer is about to begin producing civilian versions, making the necessary changes to their design.
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