Tuesday, February 16, 2016
The Sting is the Thing! - The Age Of The So-Called "Super-Knives"
In this the age of the so-called "Super-Knives", the do-it-all, ultimate blades that will chop down a forest without re-sharpening, skin a herd of bison and ward off a legion of terrorists, I have found the understatement of A. G. Russell's advertising for the STING to be refreshing. For truth in advertising one need look no further than the name that identifies these sturdy, compact knives.
Boot, hideout or concealment knives are generic terms for small defensive blades. These knives cannot be considered primary weapons or survival tools but rather last ditch lines of defense. This is not to belittle these knives but to merely point out that the prudent individual chooses the correct tool for the job. The concealment knife when chosen by the professional, be he in law enforcement or the military, is a backup system. It may be the final defense after a service revolver is emptied, strapped to a narc's calf or worn in a soldier's boot. The Russell STING epitomizes a knife designed for such carry.
To substantiate this position a look at both a historical viewpoint and the physical characteristics of this knife are in order. The double edged knife would be an ideal place to begin.
I refuse to be an apologist to those who abhor the thought of edged steel used to defend its owner and mention this at the outset as double edged blades are most efficient when applied to defensive use. Simply put, they are weapons. It is common knowledge that single edged patterns such as the bowie or kukri have demonstrated themselves on the battlefield but a study of battle weapons, particularly among the western peoples, reveals a favoritism for the double edge extending to weapons as diverse as swords, daggers, spears and projectile points. Why? The work.
The advantage with the double edge is that it cuts on both sides, during extraction as well as the penetrating thrust. If the user desires he may do fine cutting activities to one edge keeping the other razor sharp. These blades will have greater sharpened edge surface over a comparable sized single edge. It is also arguable that the symmetrical point of the double is more effective for penetration but other manufacturing or design features may mitigate this. In fact many daggers have had the dubious distinction of being exceptionally well or brittle at the tip. In modern times the design most typifying this weakness is the Fairbairn-Sykes British Commando dagger. This is one of those knives that looks very wicked but in reality is structurally flawed and very limited in application. On the other hand the STING is a textbook example of how to design a dagger point, being both stout and broad.
For a knife to be of hideout length, the blade should not exceed 6" and 5" or under would be preferable. This is not to say that larger knives cannot be concealed but most writers and users tend to classify these bigger blades as legitimate fighting knives. The smaller knives are also more readily concealed under light clothing.
Not only must the concealment blade be compact in length but ideally it must hug whatever part of the body it is worn near. Here is a second point where the STING excels, for both the original and the 1A are flat and have no protruding guard tines to snag during draw or poke the wearer. When carried on leg or at the waist these knives are remarkably unobtrusive.
A third criteria is a trusty sheath that will also be as compact as the knife itself. Both STINGs meet this requirement in their design with a black Cordura sheath that uses a pair of rubber welts to lock down the knife. It will not jiggle or come loose during strenuous activity. I am a staunch believer in synthetic sheaths if correctly designed for they are less adversely affected by wetness. Since a concealment knife may be worn close to the body and be exposed to perspiration the use of Cordura works nicely.
The original model was designed and manufactured in 1976-1977 and fitted with the wood handle. Today's model may be had with either rosewood or black rucarta, a very rugged synthetic. Specs include a blade of 400 series stainless steel measuring 3-1/4" with an overall length of 6-1/2". The design uses a full tang, integral hilt and bolster and has bour hollow grinds production its shaving sharp edges.
The STING is made in the German cutlery center of Solingen using the drop forged method where dies are struck into the steel to produce the blade. The Rockwell RC rating is 58-59, providing a knife with excellent edge holding and field sharpening properties but without being brittle.
In 1978 another version, the STING IA was released. This knife is one piece of steel, having no added handle slabs. Generically such knives are referred to as "skeleton" knives. The Russell knife was one of the first skeleton knives and may have been the first from a commercial source. Specs are identical to the original although hollowed contours are used in the handle to provide something for the meat of the hand to wrap into. It provides excellent purchase considering the short length of the handle shaft. The IA is available in four finishes, mirror polish, shiny black chrome and green or black teflon for reduced reflectivity.
The presence or "feel" of a knife in the hand always provides keys to its performance yet these findings will vary depending on the hand size and grip style preference of the user. I will note that the STING is equally comfortable in the handle whether held in either horizontal or vertical mode. My hand is of average size and I find the fit to work remarkable well for the compactness.
The ultimate intangible is aesthetics for beauty, as they say, lies in the eye of the beholder. These knives contain flowing contours that are in now way superfluous to practical application. I for one, find the STINGs to be classical blend of form and function.