A shot of the Chris Reeves Knives Green Beret or Yarborough from the side :
and top down showing the handle swell :
The review consists of :
The Green Beret or Yarborough from Chris Reeve Knives is ground from 0.220" thick S30V stainless steel uniformly hardened to 55-57 HRC. It weighs 370 g and has an overall length of 12.4". The seven inch blade has a neutral balance with the center of gravity about a quarter inch behind the guard. The blade is 1.3" wide at maximum with a 3/4" high sabre hollow grind which tapers to an edge 0.025-0.030" thick and ground at 18.3 (1.1) degrees per side. There are an inch of serrations near the base, chisel tipped, ground on both sides and in line with the plain edge.
The low dropped point has a top swedge, also shallow hollow ground (the flat is about 35 degrees per side) which starts 4.3" back on the blade with the grinds meeting about 1.75" from the tip. The tang extends above and below the Micarta slabs by about a millimeter (1/16") and to the rear forming a triangular pommel. The grip is highly indexed using three large scallops to focus hand security and retention in a basic hammer grip. Where the curves meet at the apex the points are fairly sharp, especially the second which has no rounding or curvature.
Fit and finish on the blade is high with extensive radiusing, the spine in particular is nicely rounded. There is however glue visible between the tang and handle slabs and some spacing evident towards the front, playing card can be fit under the slab. The initial sharpness is also low (see below for details).
Push cutting 3/8" hemp it required 32-34 lbs through the tip.
On hardwood dowel the Green Beret could form a one inch tip in 20.3 (1.5) slices using a full grip choked up next to the serrations over the guard. The performance was low due to heavy edge cross section and the large leverage disadvantage, seven and a half centimeters from the point of contact on the wood to the center of index finger on the handle. Gripping forward on the blade over the guard reduced the cut length to three and a half centimeters which was used to achieve the noted performance, but the top portion of the guard was then an irritant and a heavy glove had to be used. More details on leverage and carving are discussed below.
With a full grip the Green Beret had 18-20 % of the performance of the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife hatchet on soft scrap wood as well as felled 2-3" pine and fir. On harder pieces of scrap and timber, the Green Beret increased to 36 (1)%. With a two fingered grip on the back of the handle the chopping ability maximized at 39 (5)% on soft to hard felled woods. More details on the chopping ability are discussed below.
The point on the Green Beret is rather acute in profile given the swedge. With a 50 lbs push it sank 149 (5) pages into a phone book and with a hard vertical stab reached 764 (26) pages. The point was also used to dig through a 2x4 with 22 (4) stabs in 2.2 (4) minutes. Due to the more symmetric point profile, the Green Beret could be used to drill a hold in a 2x4 much more readily than something like the Camp Tramp, taking 35-40 seconds to drill trough some one inch board.
For perspective on the stock testing here is some info on the ability of the Green Beret compared to the Camp Tramp and a Buck 119:
|Green Beret||33 (1)||20.3 (1.5)||39 (5)||149 (5)||764 (26)||22 (4)||2.2 (4)|
|Buck 119||33 (2)||10.1 (6)||11 (2)||148 (3)||701 (35)||cracked readily|
|Camp Tramp||31 (1)||7.9 (1.0)||55 (5)||NA||910 (10)||28 (5)||3.0 (5)|
The Buck 119 is a classic version of the same basic type of blade, the Camp Tramp provides a reference to a flat ground blade of similar design. The Camp Tramp was also much sharper sharper initially than the Green Beret, the Buck was bought used so no comments could be made on its initial sharpness. Comparisons to other blades can be made through the various reviews, the CU/7 is a decent place to start for an economical priced quality blade of that class.
Trimming fats and slicing meats the Green Beret did well as this reflects simply sharpness, similar for soft fruits and vegetables. However it is very awkward for tasks such as peeling potatoes due to the size and more so the guard. The thick blade also fractured stiffer vegetables preventing thin slices and requiring more force to be used on the cut.
Specifically, the Green Beret cut medium sized carrots with 7-10 lbs while a Japanese style utility knife takes 1-3 lbs. On some onions, the Green Beret took 10-11 lbs and the Japanese utility knife a much reduced 4-5 lbs. The performance on small new white potatos was 5-6 lbs and 2 lbs respectively.
The serrations on the Green Beret were found to be of little use in the kitchen unless the plain edge was let get so blunt that the serrations were needed to make a starting tear, they could not make smooth cuts due to the chisel points.
Carving and shaping wood, the Green Baret was outclassed by the Mora 2000 and well behind the Camp Tramp. The Green Beret was in general hampered by a too narrow primary grind, the serrations also interfered with most work of this type as they are in the region where most cutting would be done. Using the serrations does eliminate the leverage disadvantage to a large degree however serrations take more force to be pushed through the wood which reduces the performance. Using both regionsof the blade to make two dozen points on some soft pine the serrations had 74 +/- 4% of the carving ability of the plain edge and were a lot less demanding on the wrist.
In regards to leverage, while more power could be applied readily when the blade was gripped forward, the upper portion of the guard is such a high contact point that this force can not be readily applied for extended use without thick padding. Even though there is a large leverage disadvantage it was in general more effective to use a regular hammer grip for extended rough carving or similar cutting due to said ergonomic issues. The Heafner Bowie also has a dual guard but has a much more ergonomic design which works well in forward grips.
As a chopping tool, The Green Beret worked well limbing small wood trees about one to three inches in diameter and could cut small alders and other softwoods like pine saplings faster than a quality pruning saw such as the Felco. It was however radically outperformed by the other blades of a more optimal balance and primary grind such as the Camp Tramp for such work. The low chopping ability of the Green Beret is due to the neutral balance which reduces power on the swing and the very thick wedge design which lowers cutting efficiency. The serrations are an issue because the most productive section of the blade to chop with while using a full grip was in the area which was serrated and there are in general few serrated axes for good reason.
On cutting thicker woods, the Green Beret has only a fraction of the chopping ability of a quality hatchet. It worked best relatively on hard woods where the penetration is shallow and thus the wood only "sees" basically the edge. On soft woods as more of the thick primary wedge grind makes contact with the wood the performance falls behind rapidly and it is outperformed by more than two to one by blades like the Ratweiler. The chopping ability of the Green Beret is so low that it is is readily outperformed by a small saw. Cutting through 2x6's took 90 (10) chops not counting the ones used to widen the notch compared to a Felco which zipped through the wood in about 13 (1) seconds. Felling wood sticks two to four inches in diamater the Green Beret had 21.2 +/- 2.7 % of the ability of the Felco, through eighteen sticks, on average it took about fives times as long as the saw.
Splitting woods the Green Beret had little direct chopping on its own outside of clear pine lumber, however it could be used effecively with a baton. The thick wedge design worked well here as there was no concern about the blade flexing in the wood and it could chisel through knotty sections of spruce and oak. The only drawback to the design is that the swedge does tear up batons readily which lowers efficiency as lots of the energy of the swings is lost in cutting up the baton rather than driving the knife through the wood. The handle is also fairly uncomfortable when the impacts are heavy especially due to the raised tang.
Digging and prying in woods the Green Beret was exceptional. The tip is thin enough to allow deep penetration while being robust enough not to break under heavy strain. Shorter blades like the Fallkniven H1 are more precise and accurate on the stabs but the shorter blade lacks the leverage of the Green Beret and thus fatigue sets in faster. A much larger blade like the Battle Mistress has lots of leverage and easily breaks out the wood, but is harder to place stabs with such high precision. The only downside of the Green Beret for heavy wood digging/prying are the poor handle ergonomics, the grip was altered to address some of these issues, details are given below.
The Green Beret generally had problems with stiff material due to the overall thick wedge profile. While it could cut thin 1/8 inch cardboard well it was significantly behind the Buck 119 on 3/8 inch cardboard and was vastly outperformed by the Mora 2000. The serrations did little to enhance the cutting ability on ropes, fabrics, webbing, foods, and light vegetation, similar to what was seen with TUSK which has a similar pattern.
However when the materials were under heavy tension, 25+ lbs, the serrations did well on 3/8" hemp, 1/2" poly and 3/8" poly. The greater the tension, the more force could be applied. With 50 lbs of tension, the serrations could rip through the hemp in about two back and forth passes (two forward and two back). Again though, a coarse sharpened plain edge was more effective and did not require excessive tension to be able to cut the rope as demonstrated by Mike Swaim on rec.knives.
The serration pattern did however outperform the plain edge directly slicing hard plastic banding and on metals as the chisel teeth could rip through tin and aluminum. However a lot of force was required and it was easier to simply chop, stab and pry with the plain edge than to try and saw with the serration pattern. Similar for cabling, the serrations sliced through some tv cable readily, where the plain edge did little except slip, however the plain edge could simply chop said cable much easier.
The edge held up well in regards to knotty wood, even sloppy heavy hacking into thick knots (3-5 mm thick) did not damage the edge visually. This was much better than the Project I from Reeves which tended to take damage readily cutting woods, however the the Project had a much more acute edge angle. The Green Beret did exbit poor edge durability during some utility however however as prying some standard 3/8 inch stables out of some 2x6, taking care to do the prying with the top edge, the primary edge still had some visible dents from the light contacts, under magnification the edge was dented.
To benchmark its performance on abrasive materials the Green Beret and Buck 119 were used on cardboard. Before the cutting the edge of the Green Beret was made more acute for ease of resharpening on the Sharpmaker and to allow a more direct comparison to the Buck. The knives were used to push cut cardboard through two centemeters of edge with the cuts made on a 45 degree angle. Before each cutting session the edges were recut with a 200 SiC waterstone and then polished using 800, 1000 and then 4000 grit AO waterstones. The final edge was applied with the fine rods in the Sharpmaker set at 20 degrees. the knives were first compared on 1/8 inch ridged cardboard :
|Model||Steel||Hardness||Force on thread|
|Green Beret||S30V||55-57||150 ( 5)||242 ( 4)|
|Buck 119||420HC||58||125 (10)||262 (37)|
At the end of the short round of cutting both knives were still cutting the cardboard well, just a little harder to cut. No significant difference noted. A more extended run was performed on thicker cardboard to see if the performance would separate during more extended cutting. On the second round 3/8" ridged cardboard was cut in the same manner :
|Model||Steel||Hardness||Force on thread|
|Green Beret||S30V||55-57||136 ( 5)||388 (47)||243 (15)|
|Buck 119||420HC||58||143 (15)||419 (33)||217 (24)|
After about sixteen meters of cardboard was cut both blades were having difficulty starting the cuts, both responded very well to steeling. The edge on the Green Beret was reduced in angle further and it was checked against theBuck 119 on 1/8" cardboard on a slice over five centimeters of edge. Sharpness was measured by slicing light hemp rope 500 grams of tension. The initial sharpness of the blade was near idential and very high. Both blades would readily shave smoothly and push cut into newsprint. Details :
|Model||Steel||Hardness||length of edge|
|Green Beret||S30V||55-57||0.26 (2)||1.0 (3)||0.66 (24)|
|Buck 119||420HC||58||0.27 (6)||1.2 (4)||0.54 (19)|
After the fifty meters of cardboard both blades were blunted down to a quarter of their intitial sharpness, after steeling this sharpness increased significantly and the blades were about half of their initial sharpness. The large variance in sharpness after blunting is due to the blunting not being uniform along the five centemeters of edge as it is difficult to get even wear on a slice, this can be reduced with repeated trials. To reduce the effect of this variation a running average of the relative performance was taken at specific points along the edges of both blades and Green Beret was slightly sharper at the end though not statistically significant.
UPDATE : in short no significant advantage was noted for either blade in edge retention either push cutting or slicing cardboard, however recent work has shown benefit to checking the sharpness at multiple points vs at the start and finish which allows examination of blunting in more detail and can often separate the performance of fairly close steels.
With the initial edge profile the Green Beret and a well used Buck 119 chopped up some TV cable. The Buck had a more acute edge, 24-26 degrees included compared to 35-39 for the Green Beret, but the greater heft of the Beret allowed it to chop through the cable readily. Through six chops into the cable, the Buck only made partial cuts and the edge dented up 0.3-0.4 millimeters deep at maximum, most damage was 1/2 to 1/3 as deep. The Green Beret cut through the cable with no edge damage with heavy chops but when the energy was reduced to reproduce the partial cuts seen on the Buck, the Green Beret also took similar damage, 0.1 to 0.2 millimeters deep and about 0.5 millimeters long.
Both knives chopped through 1.7 millimeter plain copper wire more readily. The Buck reflected light in a few areas, damage was less than 0.1 millimeters deep. The Green Beret was undamaged. Both also chopped into the lip of an empy can of peas and achieved two centimeters of penetration. Through three chops, the Buck 119 took a maximum dent of 0.1 to 0.15 millimeters deep. The Green Beret took less damage, barely visible. Stabbing the knives into the side of the tin and leveraging them down to make cuts, the Buck again dented 0.2 millimeters deep and the edge on the Green Beret was just reflecting light in a few places.
Both knives were chisel cut through the 2.5" nails with a 1x3 inch piece of pine a foot long used as a mallet, eight cuts into the nails were made, about half way through each time. The nail was on piece of sheet metal to prevent it from twisting. Both blades readily took dents about 0.4 millimeters deep and 4-5 millimeters long. On the last attempt with the Buck the edge jammed in the nail and cracked away when the nail was removed, the edge was 0.6 millimeters deep at the base of the crack.
Overall, both took damage readily in the metal contacts. While the Green Beret was in general less effected it had a much more obtuse profile. With the both knives ground to 10 degrees per side they readily chopped up the TV cable. The Buck took less damage than the previous cutting as the lower angle allowed it to cut through the cable. Again the greater heft of the Green Beret was obvious, it cut two inches down into the food can on both sides while the Buck achieved less than half as deep a cut. Both blades saw visible damage less than a millimeters in depth. In short, with similar edge profiles there was no significant difference in durability seen.
As a check on accident high stress impacts, both were chopped into a concrete block, even light swings by an 11 year old nephew induced visible damage through fracture and deformation. The Green Beret took more damage, losing the edge up to 0.015" in thickness, the Buck was about 0.010". With heavier full powered chops from the shoulder, the damaged increased and the Green Beret edge was lost up to 0.025-0.030" at maximum, the Buck was limited to fractures 0.015-0.020" thick. The damage on the Beret was simply due to more energetic impacts, it was removing much more concrete. After 50 chops the Green Beret had the following notch :
while the Buck 119 removed a much smaller amount of material :
Attemping to cut a tension bar in half, the cut was stopped after six hits with both blades with a wooden mallet used to drive the blades into the bar, as the edges on both blades were simply cracking off in the bar. A TAC-11 had been used previously to cut sections off a tension bar readily, however the edge was significantly more obtuse on the TAC-11.
The Green Beret was also chopped into a 3.5" nail which was hammered half way into a 2x4. The hits were powerful enough to bend the nail down past a 45 degree angle. Only shallow penetration was achieved into the nail, the edge on the Green Beret fractured in half moon cresents, of 0.030-0.035" in thickness. The breaks were predominately on one side similar to pressure flaking in knapping. The Green Beret was also dropped tip first from 12 feet onto concrete. After six drops the tip was only blunted, no significant fracture, another six drops fractured the tip readily, less than half a centemeter of tip broke away, the steel was 0.070" thick behind the break.
The serrations were checked for accidental impact by light wrist chops into the rock, no arm movement, the serrations broke away readily, the entire tops fractured. Similar chops into the plain edge induce little visible compaction. Heavier chops, such as would actually be used in brush cutting induced the edge to fracture readily. After six such chops the edge was missing large pieces up to 0.045" in thickness. The damage had exceeded the edge grind and moved up into the primary. A shot of the blade, the large impacted region in the center was from the concrete chops, the larger chips near the base were from the impacts into the rock.
As the edge angle on the Green Beret was very acute during the above, it was reground to 25 degrees per side to check the ability with a really heavy edge profile. With the more obtuse edge angle the Green Beret chopped into the food can with no edge damage, but only made a shallow cut, less than half an inch and a lot of the can crumpled. A dozen chops into the nails produced only one significant spot of edge damage, significantly shallower than before.
A large ham bone was hacked into pieces, the Green Beret was able to readily cut it into pieces with a lot of bone fracture. After a dozen chops and the bone completed fragmented, there was only one section of the edge damaged, about 0.3 millimeters deep and about 5 millimeters long. Back to the concrete block chopping, the edge cracked to a similar extent as before, 0.025" in thickness, however due to the more obtuse angle, this thickness was achieved at a much lower depth. On the rock impacts, the edge cracked away promptly as before, with just six impacts the edge was completely removed in the areas of impact with the damage again up to 0.045" thick.
The tip on the Green Beret is one of the most balanced designs for heavy utility work. The swedge enhanced the pentration which is limited by the lack of distal taper and thus the knife is readily able to do even fine tip work readily, much more so than the Ratweiler for example. The Green Beret was also capable of very heavy tasks with no problems, deftly tearing chunks out of even dense lumber with deep penetration (more than half an inch).
The tip was pounded into a piece of 2x6 with the knife reaching a depth on one half an inch between two large knots. The blade was pulled to the side and them pressed down until the force applied exceeded the ability of the off hand to stabilize the wood. The 2x6 was then placed on the ground on kneeled on and the prying continued under very heavy force until the wood crack through the knots, the tip remained undamaged.
On the really extreme a more robust point design has its benefits. Under very energetic impacts such as the dropping onto rock/concrete as described in the above, the Camp Tramp took far less damage, the steel is also inherently tougher which is a significant factor as well. Outside of such very severe impacts however, the tip on the Green Beret was very robust while retaining a high level of ability to penetrate both soft and hard targets.
The swedge was also useful as a heavy chopping tool. Being very obtusely ground it readily can hack into harder objects and thus save the primary edge from harm. While not sharpened, it could easily be made so, and even in the initial state still has the ability to chop wire and cabling. It can also hack cuts into sheet metal (car door) though for such cutting the handle starts to be come problematic as it isn't well suited for reverse grips.
There are a few downsides to the swedge on the tip though, it limits grip versatility, holding on the knife in that area for use as a draw knife for example, gets uncomfortable fast due to the high pressure. Also when using the knife with a baton to split wood, the swedge readily cuts into and chews up the baton so a lot of the energy of the impact is wasted in cutting up the baton and not splitting the wood.
In general highly specific shaped handles which focus the grip in one orientation are prone to limitations in versatility due as they limit the range of grips and the Green Beret handle is no exception. Reversing the handle so the grooves face inward puts the point between the index and middle finger groove right into the meaty area at the base of the thumb, this gets uncomfortable quickly. Choking forward or rear is also problematic due to a poor fit of the hand around the finger grooves.
Specific to forward choked up grips, while the blade is well rounded through the choil, the upper guard jams readily into the base of the thumb generating a hot spot quickly. Similar issues were found using a thumb on spine grip for point control and precision work. The guard top is actually pointy and in stabs this generates discomfort when that region contacts the side of the palm. The Heafner Bowie has a dual guard which has vastly superior ergonomics which even enhances comfort in certain grips.
As for general ergonomics, the extension of the tang above the handle slabs was found to be very abrasive when chopping as the contact pressure was high against the under side of the index finger and the recessed pins abrasive as well. In addition, during extended carving similar problems were noted with the raised tang against the fleshy area inbetween the thumb pad and index finger.
Handle modifications : during the 2x4 digging, the pointy guards were filed down and rounded as were the tops of the finger grooves. About ten minutes were spent with a large bastard file removing the sharp intersections and adding smooth arcs. This greatly increased ergonomics with no loss to security. Grip versatility was also significantly enhanced.
The Green Beret is fairly hard to grind due to the high vanadium content and the low hardness tends to induce floppy burrs. The edge was initially also uneven, one side was 14-16 degrees and the other 18-20 degrees. With a Sharpmaker set at 20 degrees one side had a micro-bevel induced immediately while on the other more obtuse side the scratches simply honed the entire edge bevel, this uneven grinding also tends to enhance burr formation.
A 200 grit silicon carbide waterstone was used to initially set the edge followed by a 800, 1000 and finally 4000 grit waterstone. The edge was then stropped lightly on 0.5 micron chromium/aluminum oxide loaded leather, five passes per side. This produced solid shaving ability and the knife would also readily slice newsprint requiring just a hint of a draw. Total freehand sharpening time was about thirty minutes mainly as care was taken to match the existing bevel closely.
The Green Beret was later thinned using a belt sander to allow a more direct comparison to the Buck 119, as well allow faster sharpening via v-rods for edge retention comparisons. A few passes on a 40 grit zirconium oxide belt lowered the bevel on the right side, the edge was 0.035-0.038" thick and ground at 12.9 +/- 0.4 degrees per side. Compared to the resharpened Buck which was 0.025-0.028" thick and ground at 11.6 +/- 0.3 degrees per side.
The edge was later thinned further to speed up resharpening on the Sharpmaker and give a profile which closer matched the edge on a Buck 119 mainly for direct durability comparisons. The new edge on the Green Beret was 0.035-0.038" thick (on the left side), and ground at 9.9 +/- 0.2 degrees.
The sheath is the seven inch Airborne DeLuxe model from Blackhawk Industries made from 1000 denier ballistic Nytaneon nylon with a TalonFlex liner which is attached with a screw through a drainage hole in the bottom. The Green Beret fit well with no rattle and drew smoothly. The sheath comes with a pouch with an adjustable Velcro containment flap. There are multiple rigging options and the sheath switches from high to low ride. The low ride configuration :
which converts to high ride :
First the belt loop and leg tie down velcro flaps are peeled back.
The the belt loop is folded down and attached to the leg tie down flap.
The the leg tie down flap is folded up and attached to the back of the belt loop flab (which is double sided).
The the top of the belt loop folds down securing the leg tie down flap in place which is further cross secured with another strip of velcro. A comparison of BlackHawk vs SOE sheaths was covered in the the TAC-11 review. Some problems with liner fractures for BlackHawk sheaths have been noted on line as well as issues with stitches fraying . This sheath has one significant problem in that the nylon extends over the top of the liner and when the blade is sheathed and the knife often mashes into the nylon preventing it from being placed in the sheath and/or cutting into the nylon.
After posting this review another user dropped information on work done with a Green Beret which had similar performance to what was described in the above, low edge durability with respect to even light contacts on soft metals and damage even from light chops into Micarta. The blade was broken by bending in a vice and snapped at a very low bend, 10-15 degrees. A shot of the two Berets :
The red tape was put on the lower Beret to prevent it from sharding, which it did when it broke.
In general the Green Beret had low cutting and chopping ability, poor edge retention, ease of sharpening, grip ergonmics and overall durability. The only two standouts of high performance are grip security and point versatility. The steel was especially disappointing it could not even outperform a Buck 119 in 420HC. In general underhardening or over tempering martensitic stainless to drop the hardness is problematic as there are issues with corrosion resistance, carbide precipitation (specific to over temper) and carbide tearouts as the softer martensite can't hold the carbides. In general it is much better to choose a steel which is designed to run at a lower hardness.
In regards to modifications, there is little to start with as the steel choice, heat treatment and basic design is problematic. A thick blade with a narrow profile and shallow sabre hollow grind has a very low cutting ability combined with poor edge durability. All it does well is pry and this steel has low ductility and impact toughness. The handle also has a host of problems; the tang should be flush with the Micarta slabs, the pins should be flush, the guard should be rounded, and the apex of the finger grooves should be more rounded. On the sheath, the stitching should be reinforce, at least duel runs, with periodic cross stitching to prevent unraveling; changed to a more durable liner, adjust the liner so it isn't covered by the nylon.
Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or by posting in the following thread :
More information on the Green Beret can be obtained at the webpage on the Green
Beret by Chris Reeves Knives. Also see some comments on a Green
Beret by Owen McMurrey. The designer of the knife, Bill
Harsey has heavily critized this review.
|Last updated :||02 : 15 : 2006|
|Originally written :||Fri Oct 8, 2004 12:27:02|