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Dustar Model 1 - Testing

Testing and Evaluation.

For all my testing I used the Model 1 ARAD with the black-T coated blade. Out of the box, both of Meir's knives came what I call "dangerously sharp". It is a step down from razor-sharp. Neither knife shaved the hair on my forearm. I told Meir. He answered that not everyone wants a razor-sharp edge on a fixed blade utility/combat knife. He deliberately left the choice up to the individual purchaser. "Professionals can finish the edge to their liking and appreciate being provided an opportunity to do so."

I found a wood pallet leaning against a dumpster. It was 47x32 inches, relatively new and clean, made out of planks of solid wood. First I used the blade to pry off a cross plank so I had room to work on the three 1x6 inch planks below. One by one I chopped, hacked and cut my way through 6 inches of each. Then I pried off the next cross plank and chopped, hacked and cut through the next set of three 1x6 planks.

And then I repeated the process a third time. In all I cut through nine 1x6s. The ARAD's D2 Steel blade was as sharp when I completed dismembering the pallet as it was before I started. The blade's Black-T coatings was unaffected, but for a small scuff mark or two.

 Palm Branches

I collected a dozen of the thickest, meatiest branches I could find. I chopped each into 2-inch pieces using the knife, unsharpened since I used it to cut up the pallet. Palm wood is pulpy and made for a nice change from hardwood boards. I used the top of a 5-inch diameter, 3-foot-high hardwood log as my chopping block. The work went quickly and when I was finished, the ARAD's blade was a tad less sharp than when I'd started, and the black-T coating was showing some wear. On one side of the blade, by the edge, at the spot that had repeatedly come into contact with the branches, an inch-long, shallow, pale white crescent was developing.

Being embarrassingly truthful, up through this stage of testing, my knifework was not especially efficient. Over a number of days, I had worked for several hours. I estimate I used a couple thousand knife strokes. This was getting into the area of serious work. Before proceeding further, I decide to employ the old "Tom Sawyer Whitewashing the Fence" ploy. I asked Brooklyn-born Moshe, friend and long-time member of the knife Collectors Association, if he had ever destroyed a quality knife. He was over at my place the next morning.

The Ammo Can

From our unit's last trip to the range; I brought back one of the metal Israeli ammo cans in which our issued ammo comes. The can is standard, no different than a USGI one. The test was to cut it in half, lengthwise. I allowed Moshe the honors. He laid the can on its side and, with a two handed icepick grip, he plunged the knife down and into the ammo can. In rapid succession Moshe repeated the motion another dozen times. These were forceful blows and several missed the can, smashing the tip of the knife into the porch's hard, polished stone floor tiles. The ARAD's blade easily penetrated the can and was cutting it in half, if not with precision. During the next dozen strikes, the knife blade pounded down into the tile rather than the can a few more times. The knife tip also plunged into the very edge of the ammo can where the lid overlapped the can's side, reinforcing it. A half inch of false edge of the blade's tip broke off along the grind line.

Using the true edge of the knife tip, Moshe and I continued severing the ammo can. We cut completely around and through all four walls.

But for the half-inch of missing false edge, the knife was not that "worse for wear". Eighty-five percent of the blade still had an edge that could cut, if not slice your finger. It had neither nicks nor gouges. The back of the blade showed evidence of being pounded with a hammer. My hammer's head showed worse. The Black-T coating showed scratching and marring, but held up impressively well. The handle was impervious to everything we did to it.

The Cinder Block

From time to time Israeli snipers may need to fire through loopholes in walls. If there are none where one is needed, the sniper must make his own. Walls are often constructed of cinder block. I used the blade's point to chisel, chop and scrap a hole in a standard cinder block. Then, using my trusty hammer, I pounded on the knife's handle, driving the blade's point, sans false edge, into the cinder block next to the hole I'd already made. I planned to work the blade back and forth, eventually getting to the hole, thus widening it. However, I had pounded the blade a bit too enthusiastically. It stuck. Levering the blade back and forth and side-to-side in an effort to free it, the tip finally broke off along a line with the missing piece of false edge.

I was ready to return the knife to Meir, in pieces, as he had requested.

Moshe was not. He wanted a turn with the cinder block. He figured, how often do you get to beat the living crap out of a knife? So Moshe started chopping.

The knife blade showed no damage, little additional dullness. Moshe did not have enough adjectives to describe how outstanding a job he thought the knife handle had done of cushioning the blows.

And Last But Not Least

Jerusalem's winter arrived midway through my knife testing. Heavy rain turned the dry earth in the planters on my porch into soggy, sandy mud. Perfect! I plunged the blade of the ARAD without the Black-T coating up to its hilt in the pot containing my Dizygotheca elegantissima. There it would remain for 48 hours. As noted, this knife is not made of stain-resistant steel, and the blade evidenced stain, pockmarks and etching after the mud was cleaned off.

The Bottom Line

No way in hell would I ever treat one of my own knives the way I treated the test knife. Only under real combat condition and lacking a more suitable tool to perform the task that needed doing (meet brother Murphy) would I ever subject a knife to such extreme abuse. I did what was asked of me. The test knife was returned to Meir in pieces. It held up remarkably under this Cro-Magnon warrior's operational testing.

(Special thanks to DUSTAR for a true torture test of a knife.)

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