The Russian Combat Knife. The Concept of the Blade

Author: Aleksandr Travnikov

A combat knife is a fighting knife designed for military use and primarily intended for Russian hand-to-hand combat or close combat fighting.

The concept and traditions of the Russian knife generally and the Russian combat knife particularly is in organic combination of the best and important features of a classic knife (to cut and to pierce) and a dagger (to stab).

The blade of a knife usually looks like a metal stripe sharpen at one side. Its sides meet at the end of a rim and make an edge. The main purpose of the knife: to serve as an instrument for working with different materials. As a rule people use knives when working with wood and leather.

The main characteristic of the knife is his cutting qualities. The sharper the knife meaning that it can stay sharp (keep sharpening) for a long time the better. Each knife is unique. But all knives more or less follow the same pattern. In the first place it refers to its form. And what is more important it refers to its blade.

Of course everybody knows about such a key factor as geographical determinism. It has great influence on the shape and type of the knife. Climatic conditions, lifestyle, social environment influence the construction and shape of a blade and a hilt. It allows defining its national identity with the surprising accuracy.

Visible distinctions of different types of knives are so obvious that its national identity is difficult to confuse. For instance we can compare traditional bowie knife and kukri. The blade of the traditional for Eurasia knife allows using it as an instrument, hunting weapon, a device used for survival and in the last resort you can use it as a weapon in a Russian hand-to-hand combat.

General modern tendency in the knife production is to create universal knives (a tactical knife) and knives used particularly as civilian weapons or a knife for self-defence.

Actually any knife can be more or less suitable for different purposes. But they may be not quite convenient for all kinds of activities.

It is taken from the author’s personal experience. Once after a hunt we needed to skin a hare. On the one hand it appeared that main part of the hunters doesn’t have proper skills. On the other hand among the dozen of generously offered expensive knives of good quality there wasn’t anything suitable. There were knives that could cut the hare in two or easily or pierce it through. But none of them including various tactical knives with the variety of perfect systems of sharpening was suitable for skinning and dressing the carcass. A huntsman relieved the situation. He had a small knife made over from a kitchen (carving) knife.

This example points at the fact that hunting knives have very focused specialization. Its shape and size depend upon the task they are supposed to solve. For instance absolutely different requirements are set to the hunting knives. It is determined by national priorities and the tasks it solves.

There are great discrepancies between knives meant for a hunt for big animal which can be used for finishing it off, skinning and dressing it and knives meant for a hunt for small animal especially for a furry animal when the main task is to skin it.

It all speaks about the necessity to make the priority of the requirements set to ordinary knives, to their quality features meaning exquisite cutting qualities of the blades and its ability to stab and to pierce. The blade of a hunting knife can stab in a way that allows its penetrating to the necessary depth to affect the vital organs of an animal. Although this requirement is desirable for many blades but not obligatory.

The point about flexibility of the blade is omitted in this case. Sometimes excessive firmness of the blade is a negative factor when certificating the knife.

Thus we can formulate the main requirement made to the abstract civilian knife. It is the capacity to cut and to stab. Before we move on to discussing the main requirement and to discussing a combat knife in general and the basic concept of the Russian combat knife we need to look at the peculiarities of the dagger’s blade.

First of all the blade of a dagger is meant to stab. Particularly the stab with a dagger (stiletto, dirk) guarantees the sure defeat of manpower. There are two types of dagger’s blades: straight (Kama) and curved (Bebut) blades. Slashing and cutting hits with a dagger are considered for solving secondary tasks.

We can easily conclude that a blade of any dagger can serve as an effective weapon in the Russian hand-to-hand combat or in the close combat. It should provide sure defeat of the aim by stabbing the manpower. And only in exceptional cases it allows slashing, cutting, splitting and also serve as an object that helps to survive.

After considering several general theoretic propositions we can distinguish two main types of blades: a blade of the knife and a blade of the dagger. Now the most interesting part is starting. Having this information we can formulate the concept of the blade of the Russian combat knife. Its uniqueness is obvious.

The concept of the blade of the Russian combat knife combines both concepts:

  1. the blade of the knife
  2. the blade of the dagger

The blade of the Russian combat knife includes both constituents of the main blades of the short cold arms. The part of the blade that is closer to the hilt is an ordinary knife and a knife concept. Usually this part takes from 1/3 to 2/3 of the blade’s length.

The other part that is a combat part of the knife (an edge) is at the farthest end of the blade regarding from the hilt. It is the dagger type of the blade and it shouldn’t be longer than 2/3 of the whole length of the blade. The knives of this type are often used in the Russian hand-to-hand combat and the close combat.

The fighting (combat) end of the classic Russian combat knife is the construction of the part of the dagger’s blade (it looks like a dagger in miniature).

Besides the concept of the Russian combat knife’s end of the dagger type may be presented in both variants: with straight (Kama) and curved (Bebut) blades. The main thing is that during 150 years there is a tendency of making the fighting end of the Russian knife using this concept. It turns almost every knife into cold arms.

If we abstract away from separate specific images of combat and working knives and look at the matter from the point of view of working out conceptual approaches to the constructions of the knives we can conclude that Russian tradition of producing knives use its own unique concept of constructing a blade. It makes possible using the knife as a working equipment and a device that helps to survive as well as a combat end of the blade of the dagger’s type that allows stabbing the target with maximum efficiency. The knives of this type are often used in the Russian hand-to-hand combat and the close combat.

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