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Thread: The Reverse S Curve vs. The Traditional Hawkbill in Self Defense with pictures

  1. #1
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Zac's Avatar
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    Post The Reverse S Curve vs. The Traditional Hawkbill in Self Defense with pictures

    So people are asking the differences in reverse S curves and traditional hawkbills in respect to self defense. I am posting this to show the differences and the advantages of this S over the traditional. I will use the Spyderco Civilian, Spyderco Matriarch and Spyderco Tasman Salt for comparison purposes.

    Part I: The Knives

    As you can see, sizes differ dramatically but for this demonstration, it will not be that important. This is just to get you fimaliar with these blades.





    Part II: Where the Knives Cut

    As you can see, the reverse S curve is going to cut where the hollow belly is, 'trapping' everything inside and cutting it. The hawkbill can cut anywhere, depending how it is deployed.





    Part III: Trapping

    This is where the reverse S curve starts to excel...notice how on both areas of the wrist there is coverage by the blade itself and no area is left uncovered. This is a 'no place to go' scenario. A limb caught in this moment is fully under your control.

    The even meaner trap of the Civilian


    Notice the Tasman leaves some to be desired on a trap. The tip is not at an angle for easy penetration and the wrist can easily be pulled off.




    Part IV: Blocking
    Notice the Matriarch leaves a lot more of its tip out and away from the user as does the Tasman. It is angled for a much easier and likely to be successful block.







    Part V: Cutting
    Notice how deep the Matriarch is in and how shallow the Tasman is. Applied to real life, an inch deeper cut can be everything.







    How deep did they cut?

    That is not a small difference at all...
















    Summed up:
    -Reverse S Curved blades give the user more control because of the belly design. It also allows easier penetration and quick and effecient cutting over traditional hawkbills. For blocking, trapping and passing, the blade design excelts and a paper thin tip makes penetration of flesh like materials easier than traditional hawkbills. Overall, this combination makes a vicious slicer which is what the Civilian and Matriarch are. An even smaller version would likely serve as well, given the paper thin tip is present. It also indicates beefing up the tip on the Civilian is a bad idea. This type of knife was born with self defense in mind and still today, it excels in protecting.
    WARNING: Sanity not guaranteed.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Puyallupknifegu's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Awesome!!!

    Zac, thank you for the great post and your first hand input!!!


    Tim
    God bless!
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Th232's Avatar
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    Very nice report!

    Although, I must admit that I twitched when I saw you demonstrating the trapping using your own wrist and a live blade

    On the up side, glad to see the cut on your hand is healing well. IIRC, that was the one with the dull knife, right?
    Will

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User cobrajoe's Avatar
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    Very great illistrations of the effectiveness if the civi! I can vouch a little bit for the reverse S. The little cricket has cut me more times than any other blad I have ever owned. I can't imagine what a civi would do to me if I slipped.

    I think one of the main benefits for the reverse S on a SD knife is the pointer tip and tighter curve you can get.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User cobrajoe's Avatar
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    Whoops, double post.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User uhiforgot's Avatar
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    Now THAT'S a great presentation of the functional use of a reverse-s! Last night when I read cobrajoe's post about a reverse-s cutting differently than a hawksbill, in all honesty I thought to myself "Ha! What a bunch of crap!"

    Cobrajoe, I appologise for even thinking such a thing. And thank you, Zac, for presenting it as you have! This is one for the archives!

    -Jeff
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Zac's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone

    Quote Originally Posted by Th232
    Very nice report!

    Although, I must admit that I twitched when I saw you demonstrating the trapping using your own wrist and a live blade

    On the up side, glad to see the cut on your hand is healing well. IIRC, that was the one with the dull knife, right?
    Yeah...that was a dull kitchen knife with a lot of forced use because it was dull causing a slip...if it was that Civilian, I wouldnt be typing now as it literally has the puncturing force to go in that side and come out the other...00 guage piercing anyone?
    WARNING: Sanity not guaranteed.

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    Arrow Intended purpose

    Zac one other thing I will add to the observation of the "reverse S" blade is that it is configurated to always be in a slicing position whereas the traditional Hawkbill design of the TASMAN has to be pulled with a bit more force. The Hawkbills in my opinion are a lot more "work oriented". Whereas the Civilian and Matriarch are solely for Self Defense.

    Now I will point out that both designs do their intended chore quite well.

    One other I would like to see a comparison of would be the Spyderhawk. I do think that the Spyderhawk by virtue of it's size and vast cutting surface might be another story all of it's own. But for the most part I concur with your observation.
    Long Live the SPYDEREDGE Spyderco Hawkbills RULE!!

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    I would like to see that done with the Sydie karambit. The tip on that thing is pretty narrow. Zac, great post. Man I know the strengths and the weaknesses of the Civi, but that is definately a formidable self defense tool. I am really falling on the side of obtaining one to have. I can see it doing real well in a rear pocket carry. That would be a plesant surprise instead of handing over my wallet!

  10. #10
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Zac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stonyman
    I would like to see that done with the Sydie karambit. The tip on that thing is pretty narrow. Zac, great post. Man I know the strengths and the weaknesses of the Civi, but that is definately a formidable self defense tool. I am really falling on the side of obtaining one to have. I can see it doing real well in a rear pocket carry. That would be a plesant surprise instead of handing over my wallet!
    If I can get my hands on the Karambit, I will compare it. The next thing I plan to do once my health upps a bit will be to demonstrate clothes tearing ability with a thick leather jacket.

    As far as rear carry, I carry a Civilian in my wallet pocket next to my wallet...I will soon be carrying a waved Civilian their. If anyone asks me for my wallet, they are going to get a little more than just nylon!
    WARNING: Sanity not guaranteed.

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    Nice work Zac. I appreciate how much work it takes just to get some decent pics.

    I'm not a fan of these types of knives for defensive use, maybe that gives me a good skeptical view overall. I have a few question , if you'll bear with me until after the next two paragraphs...

    First, on the trapping picture. I see your point regarding the extra space allow more room for escape. However, I also note that you carefully placed both knives in the perfect position for each picture. In defensive use, where your accuracy is greatly diminished, and worse yet, the darned bad guy is inconveniently moving himself, as likely as not you won't always get a perfect hit. It appears to me that on a hawkbill, if I hit close to the hilt, the arm is forced into the curve. Whereas on the S-shape, if the person is moving, the convex portion of the S-shape that's closest to the hilt could actually help bounce the arm away. Yes, it'll leave a nasty cut, but nasty cut on side of wrist does not equal stopping power and may not accomplish the objective of the trap.

    But that doesn't matter so much -- trapping shmapping, defensive survival is about offense. Again, I see your point about the S-curves greater cutting power when the tip is placed perfectly on the medium. In a dynamic environment, with an S-curve again I could see the convex portion actually bouncing an arm away, where a hit closer to the hilt on the hawkbill still forces the arm into the cut.

    So, the question is, to what extent do you think this matters? I am not aware of anyone who has tested this, and certainly not tested this on a moving medium that could be bounced. The tests tend to be done with perfectly placed cuts, and even when the cuts are more dynamic, they're done on a target this isn't very moveable and thus unlikely to be bounced. I think it's possible to put together a really interesting experiment, but we'd have to spend some time designing it first.

    In any case, my core concern is that you can't expect perfect placement in defensive use, and I wonder which format does worse when that happens. Again, all of this is academic to me, it's not the approach I take, but I'm a geek and can't help but wonder.
    Last edited by Joe Talmadge; 10-13-2006 at 02:40 PM.

  12. #12
    Spyderco Forum Registered User markg's Avatar
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    The real beauty of the Civilian is that it scares the snot out of someone when they see it. And don't discount that effect in a confrontation. However, then again it can work against you from a legal aspect. We have been down this road before I know...

    As much as I love the Civilian (and I do) I just don't feel comfortable giving up the "point" of a blade. Frankly, I can think of times when "stabbing" motions are important. Imagine a 320 pound guy has you on the ground and your only avaiable target is the right side of his rib cage. I want a strong tip and straight line penetration. What if you don't have access to your knife and all you have is a pen, screwdriver... et al. I for one, don't want to rule out using a stabbing motion.

    However, it was neat seeing the preformance difference between the hawkbill and the reverse "S" curve... Had never really given it that much tought before.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User zenheretic's Avatar
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    Thanks for the burrito review Zac. You raise some very interesting points...er curves.

    You are limited by what is available of course, but I wish we could evaluate blades that are closer to the same size. That would bring more validation to your examples.
    Follow the mushin, but pay it no heed.

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    Joe, I can understand everything you have presented. Conventional wisdom and training has kept me away from purchasing one before. I would not really make this my first line of defense, but I can see where it shines in its ability to cut. When facing the elephant, I want every tool in the toolbox to use and on a knife, a tip that penetrates is another. I think if it was my first line of defense, I would definately be displaying a civi with a broken tip because in the clinches, I would be rippin and stabbin(misspelled intended!) and moving! Good post still. Take care all.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Chucula's Avatar
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    thanks for the report Zac. I still dont know what i would do in an SD situation (stab or slice).

    Right now i carry a stabby knife, as it is more useful for edc stuff. I still want to see how a spyderhawk would hold up.

  16. #16
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Zac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Talmadge
    Nice work Zac. I appreciate how much work it takes just to get some decent pics.

    I'm not a fan of these types of knives for defensive use, maybe that gives me a good skeptical view overall. I have a few question , if you'll bear with me until after the next two paragraphs...

    First, on the trapping picture. I see your point regarding the extra space allow more room for escape. However, I also note that you carefully placed both knives in the perfect position for each picture. In defensive use, where your accuracy is greatly diminished, and worse yet, the darned bad guy is inconveniently moving himself, as likely as not you won't always get a perfect hit. It appears to me that on a hawkbill, if I hit close to the hilt, the arm is forced into the curve. Whereas on the S-shape, if the person is moving, the convex portion of the S-shape that's closest to the hilt could actually help bounce the arm away. Yes, it'll leave a nasty cut, but nasty cut on side of wrist does not equal stopping power and may not accomplish the objective of the trap.

    But that doesn't matter so much -- trapping shmapping, defensive survival is about offense. Again, I see your point about the S-curves greater cutting power when the tip is placed perfectly on the medium. In a dynamic environment, with an S-curve again I could see the convex portion actually bouncing an arm away, where a hit closer to the hilt on the hawkbill still forces the arm into the cut.

    So, the question is, to what extent do you think this matters? I am not aware of anyone who has tested this, and certainly not tested this on a moving medium that could be bounced. The tests tend to be done with perfectly placed cuts, and even when the cuts are more dynamic, they're done on a target this isn't very moveable and thus unlikely to be bounced. I think it's possible to put together a really interesting experiment, but we'd have to spend some time designing it first.

    In any case, my core concern is that you can't expect perfect placement in defensive use, and I wonder which format does worse when that happens. Again, all of this is academic to me, it's not the approach I take, but I'm a geek and can't help but wonder.
    Joe;
    Working with moving targets is hard. I have only ever cut someone intentionally with a Civilian once, and they were more of a stationary target in which the trap was not ideal.

    I have worked with a moving target wearing armor with a Civilian briefly to see how the cutting actually occurs. While obviously not in ideal conditions, this was a question I wanted to answer as it ansers on the nature of the cut of a reverse S curve. When the convex makes contact with the wrist, unless the user is bouncing the knife in a pecking motion (this is effective for the face), it will slide the wrist itself into the hollowed belly, cutting the entire time. Once the wrist is slid into the belly, it is a pretty good lock up with a deep 'traction groove' (meaning a deep slice) and the attacker has few options. They can pull away which will essentially "scalp" the entire hand. They can push towards the Civilian user, which will "scalp" the entire arm and sever a few major veins. They can submit allowing the completion of the trap if the Civilian user has not already completed this.

    Now, lets consider the bouncing. I was using in my experiments leather and Kevlar armor...which may have affected sticking, especially the leather (however, it would not be possible to test this theory with no armor and I do not reccomend it). The Civilian and Matriarch rely on being RAZOR SHARP. Many other knives can do more aggressive tearing when dull, but not these. So assuming the user uses the knife SOLEY for self defense, in the event the blade would make contact with the attacker's BARE or slightly clothed wrist hard enough to bounce, I can see two effects. If the bounce is off of the tip, there will be a puncture wound that will be considerbly deep (easily in excess of an inch). If it is off of the lower convex of the knife, it is going to cut. If we presume the force will be enough to cause a 'bounce', I would place money on a cut going down to the bone.

    A trap may not always be ideal but I see the possibility of a bounce rather low during a trap. I would see a trap not being fully successful and the result being a rather nasty tear to the person on the other end. Now in the case of a block when having the S curve held in a motion where it coutnours with my arm, I could see the odds of a bounce higher...however, this is a very defensive position and the idea is a pure defensive move...no skill and no controlled cut.

    If the teeth on the Civilian/Matriarch make contact with skin, they will cut. I will post a picture of my wrist this morning as I have a few cuts on it from just the weight of the Civilian.
    WARNING: Sanity not guaranteed.

  17. #17
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Th232's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zac
    If the teeth on the Civilian/Matriarch make contact with skin, they will cut. I will post a picture of my wrist this morning as I have a few cuts on it from just the weight of the Civilian.
    Seems like my twitching was justified. Please, post the pics, this should be interesting to see.
    Will

    "No one wants to look the fool. Everyone does the best they can. If they knew better, they'd do better" - old woman on the railway tracks to Sal.

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Mr Blonde's Avatar
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    Excellent review and discussion. My input is purely academic since I don't own a Civvie. I always figured the belly in the recurve S was useful for cutting in the forward plane. I could imagine, blocking low with the heel or lower part of the blade and then cutting/reaching forward to find a place for the tip to hook in.

    Wouter

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Zac's Avatar
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    My arm

    Poor quality, but I've highlighted to demonstrate where some cuts were made. None were minor, but they were enough to have a scab form on each. Shows how sharp these really are:


    WARNING: Sanity not guaranteed.

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    It's a nice piece of work, and the photography is excellent, but since you can cut to the bone with good straight bladed knives, and also thrust with them, I'm not clear what problem it solves.

    If you want that kind of knife, pruning knives look like they could stand the strain better. I still carry a well used one in my tool box for rough work. Example here.

    http://www.worldknives.com/type.asp?typeuid=6

    Linoleum knives are similar, but folding linoleum knives are not very common.

    Qship

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