Monday, March 9, 2015

Knife Review: Blackhawk TaTang 13.5"

A few years back, I was intrigued by the look and utility of this knife for a dual purpose. I needed a knife that would cut like a bushcraft knife, chop like a machete, and can be used as a last ditch fighting knife. All these options seemed to be addressed with this particular blade. The MSRP on this knife is near 100 bucks, but is available at a price point of 75 on several sites.

There were several options out there but the price point of the Blackhawk was too hard to pass up. I received the knife and immediately noted that the sheath for the unit was not going to work in the least. It was a cloth/cordura mix that is both hard to sheath and will not stand up to undue abuse. It looks as though they have updated the knife with a new sheath of thin thermoplastic, but at the time of purchase, mine was still fabric. I contacted a local Kydex Wizard to come up with a sheath that is MOLLE compatible and made to take some serious abuse. His creation is magnificent. Perfect spacing for MOLLE webbing.

The knife itself comes extremely sharp from the factory. The blade is two sided and comes to a rather fragile looking spear point. The top of the blade is ridged and flat for the first three inches and is then ground for the top edge from there. The grips are a little small for my liking, but sufficient for regular use. They used 3 screws to hold the thermoplastic scales in place on the full tang. the fitment of the scales is slightly off, but not enough to impair use. The grip is angled down at the rear with another ridged section at the top of the tang. There is a hole for a lanyard at the rear of the pommel. The rear of the full sized tang is exposed for use as a striking surface. The steel is advertised as 1085c High Carbon Tool Steel.

1085 is a simple carbon steel that has for years been used in many bushcraft knives, farm implements and an array of locations where heat treating is required for hardness and form retention is sought. This is the steel that was used before modern alloys created blades that were both hard and slightly flexible. Edge retention should be fairly good and with this steel and it is well served as a chopper. The main drawback with this steel is it's corrosion resistance isn't as good as I would like. I'm a bit OCD about my knives and like them to remain unmarked. This knife doesn't rust heavily, buy it does grey or turn a ruddy color depending on what it is used for. The D2 tool steel modern blade to the left is my HK Epidemic EDC knife that is reviewed Here.

Mine has gone along on several camping trips, a few training sessions and one hunting trip. I don't normally use a large knife for many things, but on occasion is comes in handy. This last trip I used it to chop my way into a rather dense section of brambles to recover game. It worked magnificently for this due to it's wide blade, sharp edge and forward balance. Having a 2 sided blade allowed me to cut going both directions, speeding up the task. When skinning a small animal, I can't recommend using this large of a knife, but for the sake of posterity I did so on one animal. It worked well enough, but the 2 sided blade becomes a hindrance at that point. Hunting and bushcraft isn't what the blade was designed for, but it will work for such in a pinch.

This is a fighting knife, made for slashing and jabbing at point blank range. For this purpose it works very well due to its design as a small Balisong. I carry it pointing down on the right side of my assault pack so it's readily available for use as a machete. My assault pack attaches to the back of my ruck so even when rucking, it's available for quick use. This knife can also be made into a spear for hunting if you are desperate. Should you ever need to go Rambo on a some wild bacon, this is a great option!

The blade coating has held up much better than anticipated, and the blade is displaying some mottling on both edges. I am very impressed for being a Taiwanese manufactured product. It's a great knife for it's purpose. Well designed and properly manufactured for the purpose of close quarters combat. Personally, I'd like a slightly larger tang and scales for better grip, but it works as it is. Another small issue I have is the screws that hold the scales in place rust easily. Over time I can see this causing some issues, but will still give many years of service for most users. Only the extreme users and those that spend considerable time in the field in moist conditions will notice the corrosion. The greatest detractor to the item is the sheath. It's  of little use for anyone that intends to use the knife regularly. If you choose to use this knife as a bushcrafting knife, the point will more than likely break at some point. You will also have issues splitting wood with it due to the double edge design.

If you are looking for a fighting knife, this one is hard to beat at it's price point. The durable steel and rugged edge will serve you well. If you are looking for a buchcrafting knife or a hunting knife, look elsewhere. This design is less than optimal for that use. I've had this knife for around 4 years now and it's been great! I see no reason to replace it for use on my assault pack/Ruck, it's does exactly what it needs to do for that use.

Other designs to look at if you want a multipurpose knife in a larger size:
1) ESEE Junglas
2) Ka Bar Black Fighter
3) Becker Magnum Camp
4) Buck Hoodlum
5) Cold Steel Marauder

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