Sunday, December 25, 2011

Review: Ontario Black Wind

Say hello to my little friend. This is an old faithful of mine. Let me introduce the now discontinued Ontario Knife Co.'s Black Wind.

It came into my collection when my parents moved to the coast in 1999. Their house was surrounded by tea-tree (which for the non-Australians, is a dense, scrubby tree) and they wanted a path cut to the beach. Sure I could have used a machete, but I'm a two-hand blade kind of guy. I could have used a chain saw too, but that might have alerted the neighbors to our plans. I had seen this in the display at a disposal store in the city, and decided to offer my parents to cut the path for the cost of the tool to do it. They were dubious. Dubious that I could clear them a path, dubious that I could do it by hand, and dubious that I could do it with a sword. It took me about 45 minutes, and I cleared a path wide enough for two to stroll down, with overhanging branch cover, for about 170-180 meters, in about an hour, through to a clearing which led to the beach.

The blade is a single piece of 1095 steel, 76cm from tip to end. It has a short cross guard built in, and a tightly wrapped paracord grip. The whole sword weighs 900g. It is both marked and was marketed as a "katana" and whilst it is a gently curved, single edged, two handed blade, it isn't really a nihonto it is however, more than a machete. I was cutting tea tree tree trunks and branches as thick as my wrist in single cuts. The entire piece is powder coated with black paint, except the edge, which was razor sharp when first purchased and appears to have been sharpened with wire brushes, as it had many micro-serration like lines along the whole length of the edge. It sheen many years now, and lots of chopping later, and I gave it a test cutting not too long ago and this is the result... Bamboo shinai slats, dry but very flexible. The one in the middle was shattered (hence why it was replaced) but as you can see they all cut very convincingly. It's weight fills the hand nicely, the balance is well suited for both one or two handed wielding, and whilst a little shorter than I am used to, this rigid and stiff blade makes short work of any gardening tasks I've used it for. It comes with me on every camping trip I go on.

The scabbard is kydex, and comes with a wide webbing belt loop, and several kydex loop fittings on the back and fed a length of himo to assist in tying it off. I moved the webbing from opening at the top of the scabbard to fitting it through the included eyelets around the middle balance point, so I can wear it on my belt in approximately the the right position for a katana, blade up. It has an odd scimitar looking pattern pressed into it, which was odd. The blade is held into the scabbard with a very secure and easy to fit by friction alone. It's never come undone inappropriately, and with the adjustments, sits on my hip very comfortably. I've found that when cutting through thick or tough material it can be a bit jarring, as the paracord doesn't provide much padding for shock resistance, but does give a good positive grip. This is the blade I leave by my bedside. I have far nicer swords, but I can trust the Black Wind to do what it does. It was marketed at battle ready and I have no doubt it would excel at that.

I call it my Tree Chopping Sword, and until I lay my paws on a Zombie Tools blade, this is the tool I'll be reaching for to cut my way to freedom and survival when the dead rise.

For Christmas. Zombie Christmas....

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