Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Zombie Tools - The Deuce

 "It's beginning to look a lot like fishmen"and what with the world not having ended with a Julian/Gregorian leap-day miscalculation on the 7th of December and with the 21st rapidly approaching, I wanted to get this message out there before the Mayan calendar starts blinking 12:00.

On December 31 1999 I took my Ontario BlackWind sword along to the "end of millennium / Y2K party. I wanted to have some trusty steel on-hand in case infrastructure went to poop.

I gave you a sneak peek at this a little while ago, and did a Wish-Lust write-up of it ages ago, and when I did some freelance work and had some spare cash, I placed an order for my very own ZombieTools DEUCE.

This arrival filled me with more joy than almost any arrival that wasn't my own blood, for some time. This is 1.36kg (3lbs) and 89cm (35") of singing steel.

No bones about it, this is a serious blade.

Here is me taking a few of my favourite kendo stances with it:

chudan no kamai
hasso no kamai
jodan no kamai
jodan no kamai

The back of the sword is a substantial 5.2mm (0.204") with a beveled edge to keep it snag and resistance free. The full tang of the blade fits neatly and tidily beneath a set of aircraft grade aluminium scales that have been machined to match the tang smoothly. There is great craftsmanship in this piece, and this is just one example of it.

The entire blade has been given a "distressed look" but don't let this fool you. The only distressing thing about this blade is the lack of legitimate targets that it hungers for.

The top of the handle shows off both the aluminium scales, and the very fine leather wrapping. There is a "bump" under the wrap, giving a very positive grip between index and middle finger. The fore-handguard and blade catcher give good geometrical cover for your grip.

The narrowness of the neck might have worried me, had I not seen Zombie Tools own "Destroying the Deuce" video  No fear of this being the cause of failure, for me.

The tail end of the Deuce features the ZombieTools logo nicely laser-cut through the pommel, which again shows off the blackened aircraft grade aluminium scales under the tough leather wrap. It would be simple enough to fit a retention lanyard through here, if desired.

The geometry of the whole of the hilt is really good, and allows both single and double handed grips with confidence and comfort. In my test cuts on some overhanging vines and shrubbery, I felt little or none of the shock that the BlackWind often offers with its single-piece cord-wrapped handle, far more akin to my "really-real" Japanese sword.

Speaking of "really-real" the Deuce has a full-tang blade made of 5160 spring steel, hardened and tempered. I wanted to measure it up against my other two go-to swords, the BlackWind, and my Hanwei Shinto. Going to basics, I put them side-by side with the Deuce and measured the balance points against both. Is clearly shows the differences in both the blade and handle geometry, as well as the fabled "balance point" which a swordsman will tell you governs how the blade feels in the hand, it's responsiveness, control ability, and cutting power.

Not wanting to go into the esoteric points of bladesmithing of which I am only a fan, and no expert, I can tell you as a swordsman, with 15 years of kendo and growing up with real swords that the balance of e Deuce is beautiful, both single and dual handed. Shorter than the Shinto, but with a similar handle, the kukhri-like forward swept head of the Deuce offers a chopping and hacking potential that the slicing Shinto does not. These are different swords, and act and feel different.

Both are vastly better crafted than the BlackWind, as the handling and use clearly tells.

The kydex scabbard the Deuce comes with is fitted with eyelets all the way down its length, at at it's tip, but I found that the throat of it was quite loose over the guard of the Deuce, and when running, or if inverted, the sword slips out easily. This was problematic, as having flailing razor-sharp steel slipping about when you are albeit ally maneuvering is a bad, bad thing. I plan to wear the Deuce on my hip, as I would a katana, or lashed to my back for over-the-shoulder storage, so in order to keep the blade secured, I opted to add some shock-cord to the eyelets, crossing it over the hand-guard which keeps the sword snug, but not so restrictive as to make it impossible to draw. Simple Iaido-style sword control with the left thumb is all that is needed to keep the Deuce snug, or free it, to do what it was made for.

I am thrilled to have the Deuce in my armory, and repertoire of steel. I look forwards to having it on hand for all my adventures, working out the best ways to wear and carry it, and putting its keenness, and it's ruggedness to whatever tests the world throws at me.

Riddle of Steel
The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, little Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one, no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. [Points to sword] This you can trust.
Conan's father


  1. We need to roll up some tatami omote and try out some of your toys on them. We did a test cutting session for the end of year and I still have a few mats left over. Maybe in early Feb

    1. TOTALLY! i have a variety of things to cut with, if you've the mats and interest ... id love to see how kukris to, too...

  2. Hi there... I was just curious if you've found a way to carry or wear your Deuce. I just purchased a Hellion and have been trying to find out how to do this as well.

    1. i like it mounted on my PALS equipped MAC plate carrier, directly, or on my Young Guns belt ... see it here:

      I've also just got on load a Platatac FFE holster I am going to trial too ....


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