Ratweiler from Swamprat Knifeworks


A shot of the Ratweiler (after extended use), custom parang, Battle Mistress and Safari Skinner :

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The review consists of :

UPDATE : the Ratweiler has been discontinued, Swamp Rat is bringing out a new line.

Specifications

The Ratweiler is 7 1/2" bowie style blade made by stock removal out of differentially hardened 1/4" thick SR101, "enhanced" 52100. The spine is spring drawn to increase impact toughness and flexibility. The high flat primary grind tapers to an edge 0.032-0.037" thick and ground at 22.2 (2) degrees per side. The edge and the penetrator tip grind are asymmetric, wider on one side than the other. The Ratweiler weighs 540 grams and the center of mass is close to the guard giving the knife a very neutral balance in hand. The balance can be shifted blade forward by using a rear grip which gives a much greater heft in hand. The handle slabs are textured micarta.

Stock testing : main

New in box, the Ratweiler could slice newprint on a draw but not push cut. The blade had been inspected by customs and look banged around as parts of the edge were reflecting light. It was sharpened before any work was done to 18 degrees per side.

With a finish polish from 5 passes per side on the chromium/aluminum oxide loaded newsprint, the Ratweiler cut 3/8" hemp with 14. 0 (5) and 28.0 (5) lbs on a slice and push cut through two inches of blade respectively. With an extra five passes per side on the loaded newsprint the push cutting performance increased to 24.0 (5) lbs, but there was a noticable loss of aggression and it now too 15.5 (5) lbs to make the slice.

Carving birch hardwood flooring, the Ratweiler made a point in 21 (1) slices. This is strong performance for a knife of its size, however the ergonomics were lacking in a choked up grip using the index finger cutout for a few reasons and a heavy glove would want to be used for extended work.

Cutting television cable took 52-58 lbs and the edge was undamaged.

The point on the Ratweiler is 1.25" wide with a 1.325" taper at 5.3 (1) degrees. The point has fairly low penetration, it achieves only 74 (2) pages with a 50 lbs push, and 517 (16) with a hard vertical stab. The tip is clearly designed for a lot of lateral strength due to the heavy taper.

In general, as is often the case with larger knives which significant chopping ability, it is easier to chop with the Ratweiler rather than cut if that option is available. Many of the stock cutting is actually easier to do with impacts rather than slices, chopping wood to shape vs carving for example.

Food

Image hosting by Photobucket The Ratweiler is more of a heavy cleaver than a kitchen knife due to the stock thickness and general weight and handling characteristics. While it can be used for finer tasks such as peeling potatos, due to the width of the blade small pieces have to be sliced off rather than trying to make a tapered peel as would be done with an actual paring knife. The blade is simply too wide and the edge too thick to do such work well. Some cuts like removing the rind from a melon or similar is very difficult for the same reasons. Aside from the cutting issues the handle is also not very ergonomic in an overhand peeling grip. The knife is fairly heavy, much more so than a similar sized chef's knife, but the grip issues were more signifiant than the weight as the Heafner bowie was even heavier but peels potatos much better due to better guard ergonomics, specifically a lot more contouring.

Image hosting by Photobucket In regards to pure cutting performance, the Ratweiler has enough cutting ability to cut up small carrot scallops without breaking, even with 1/16" thick slices. However significantly more force has to be used compared to an ideal kitchen utility knife such as the South Fork. It is also problematic on thick vegetables, it tends to break turnips unless thick slices are made and a lot of force needs to be applied with the off hand to press the blade through the vegetables. Where it stands out in the kitchen is on heavy work such as cutting up frozen foods, hacking open coconuts and chopping through the backbones of cod. There were no significant issues with corrosion resistance even with the knife left wet during food preperation. At worse a patina was induced on the sections of blade which had had the coating removed when cutting very acidic foods like rhubarb. The Ratweiler was also compared in terms of cutting ability on rhubarb to a few other blades and in general didn't do well due to its stock thickness even with the reground edge.

Field

On grasses and other light vegetation, the Ratweiler cuts well. Unless the vegetation is extremely dense a lighter blade Leukos and other similar more slender blades are more efficient for extended use as they are just lighter so fatigue is lower, machetes are optimal due to reach, Martindale makes several nice patterns. The Ratweiler's grip is a strong positive as a grip towards the rear allows it to function similar to a knife with a 10.5" blade.

On barks, the Ratweiler worked well removing the bark from some birch, skimming off the outer loose bark or cutting straight to the wood, no problems with control. The loose bark can be readily pulled off by hand to gather tinder, but a knife makes it much easier to gather larger fresh pieces which are very waterproof and thus lend to many applications. If the bark is wet than it can be dried by storing it between layers of clothing as it doesn't tend to absorb water and thus dries readily and it can be scraped to better light from a spark. For trimming the bark from downed sticks, use as a draw knife tends to be preferred with one hand on the handle and the other on the back of the tip. This has a much lower fatigue rante than slicing off the bark one handed and gives a much lower fatigue rate. Any knots of course can be readily cut through with no concerns about edge damage and chopping as necessary on the thicker knots. The thicker barks on heavy pitch woods is also readily removed by chopping into the bark and then using two hands to rock the blade down the wood. This bark loaded with thick sap burns very well for an extended period of time. A few thick pieces the size of the hand will burn long and hot enough to even ignite fresh wood like pine if split to finger size portions. Image hosting by Photobucket
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To make glue the pitch needs to be combined with other materials to strengthen it because while very sticky it is extremely brittle when it sets and is very tacky. The pitch needs to be heated before it is combined and first separated from the bark. It can picked off the bark with the fingers or a rock but is much more efficient to cut or scrape off the bark with the Ratweiler when cooled and hard. Note it is fairly difficult to remove from the blade of a knife for the same reason it makes deent glue. The pitch is placed in a tin to heat over a fire with debris removed as the sap liquifies. It can also just be placed on a rock to heat next to a fire taking care not to use rocks which contain water as they can explode when heated as the water vaporizes. Ash is added which strengthens the sap, animal scat can be used as well. Traditionally the glue is stored by making pitch sticks. The Ratweiler easily makes fine splits, splitting shingles from rounds by batoning as note below and then splitting the shingles into strips using the main edge and lighly batoning the entire knife into the wood, this prevents the splits from running to the side. The splits are rolled in the glue, reworking as necessary to get a thick coating. It is necessary to allow the pitch to cool before recoating, similar to dipping wax. To store the sticks just let them cool fully. If the amount of glue on the sticks is thick then they need to be rotated a little if stored horizontally or otherwise gravity will tend to pull the glue off the stick. In the winter they can be cured very rapidly by just sticking them in snow. They can also be cooled in the summer by just dipping them in water. To use the glue the sticks are just heated next to a open fire and used as necessary. Care needs to be taken to not get it too close to the flame as the glue of course is just as flammable in this state as it was when it was sap on the tree and it burns very bright and makes a decent candle or torch. The bond strength of the pitch glue is decently high but not very flexible. To make it more elastic wax can be added along with the ash. Plant vegetation can also used and as a more modern approach, fine synthetic cords can hold the glue together even if it cracks under impacts. Image hosting by Photobucket
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As noted in the stock birch cutting, the Ratweiler is solid in regards to wood carving ability and can readily remove large amounts of waste wood, but generally it is much more efficient to chop rather than carve to shape. The Ratweiler easily turned a small stick into a sling shot, cutting the sapling down and popping off the limbs with single and efficient snap cuts. It rough chopped the wood to shape giving a rough profile much faster than even even the most efficient wood carving knives like an Opinel could carve off the waste stock. It also works well making various utility tools, it readily chops out the profile for a small snow scoop from a piece of lumber, shaping half of the handle in a minute. It chops out the side of the scoop easily in about another minute, care needs to be taken to lighten the impacts near the tip or it will just break off. For comparison the Blackjack Small which is again one of the best wood carving blades, takes eight minutes to do the same work on the other side by slicing the wood off. The grip was then smoothed and a hollow carved into the scoop with the Blackjack. The Ratweiler is difficult to use for such point work as it can't be held around the point readily due to its size and in general it is more efficient to use it as a chisel by batoning on the back of the point. The tip is also not acute enough to readily dig the wood out as it lacks enough taper. It can dig holes in thicker woods but induces a lot of strain on the surrounding wood and is more suitable for breaking a apart a stump for pitch wood than trying to carve a hollow for a bowl. Image hosting by Photobucket
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As a chopping tool, the Ratweiler was used alongside a custom Heafner bowie used to fell and buck some birch to benchmark its performance. No significant difference in performance was noted in regards to cutting ability or general handling. The pair were also used for extended chopping on well seasoned and frozen pine, fir and spruce. It was usually 0 C to -10 C during the work and some wood was fracturing during the impacts. As the wood broke apart under the impacts glances were a problem as the cut lines were not straight. On some of the harder and frozen woods the handles of both were uncomfortable for heavy chopping and a glove had to be used. In general this is more of an issue as the wood gets harder and can thus exert more force on the blades. Pretty much anything is comfortable cutting really soft woods like pine and alders, but seasoned oak or black spruce will readily show ergonomic issues with grips. The knives had similar chop and time ratios, however the custom Heafner bowie chipped frequently. After the birch chopping, a section of the edge one centimeter long had chips of about 0.2 millimeters deep. After the extended chopping outside (edges were freshly sharpened) the custom Heafner bowie had multiple small chips, about 0.1-0.15 millimeters deep and about 0.2 millimeters long at maximum and less than one chip per millimeters in the heaviest contact spot. These could be felt with the fingernail. The Ratweiler was smooth, no chips. Both blades were still very sharp, easily sliced paper. Image hosting by Photobucket
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ratweiler bucking The Ratweiler was also compared to Wildlife Hatchet on the same type of seasoned and partially frozen woods. Using both blades on 52 rounds each the Ratweiler had 72 (4) of the ability of the hatchet in regards to number of chops needed to cut off a round. The Ratweiler was also compared to a Zeta and the knife matched the speed of the saw bucking small sticks under five inches thick, but on felling the Zeta was significantly faster than the Ratweiler. When cutting low to the ground it is difficult to get power on the blade with the bottom waste removal cut, mainly because the swing has to be parallel to the cut. Through ten sticks cut with each, the saw only needed 60 (3) % of the time of the Ratweiler, the saw could zip through the smaller sticks in about ten seconds.

ratweiler limbing For limbing, the Ratweiler is many times faster than the Zeta, so much so that it can clear many trees while the saw still worked on one. The saws was however useful clearing limbs where there was no room to swing. Saws are also much safer in the hands of a novice and can also be used with a much lower physical effort and thus have benefits both to novices as well as experienced users when injured. However when healthy and strong the benefits of a long blade for limbing are very high, so much so that the Ratweiler wasily was ahead of the Wildlife hatchet clearing small limbs on saplings. The knife could sweep off more limbs through an arc along its the seven inch blade while the axe had half the effective edge length. However on heavier limbs which needed multiple swings to notch cut the thicker limbs then the hatchet pulled ahead due to the inherent greater chopping power.

On lumber, Ratweiler chopped some scrap faster than could be cut with a Zeta folding saw. The knife could often just directly section the smaller lumber almost instantly in just 1-2 chops. Of course many types of lumber respond differently, man made composites like plywood, OSB or MDF won't split as readily thus notches don't open as efficiently. The Ratweiler was used on those woods alongside a Timber saw from Tashiro hardware and a saw from a Rucksack. The cutting was done sitting down, with the wood on a stump so the knife was not at maximum power, the saws would not benefit significantly from being cut standing. MDF (1/2" thick), plywood (3/8" thick), OSB (5/16" thick) and spruce. Six cuts were made on each type/size of board with the Ratweiler and each saw. The results are shown below, a cut is a chop for the knife and the combined push/pull stroke for the saws. Image hosting by Photobucket
some lumber

Lumber comparisons between a Ratweiler, Timber saw and SAK saw.
wood Ratweiler Timber saw Rucksack saw
cuts time cuts time cuts time
spruce 2x3 17     (2) 21     (3) 27     (2) 10.5 (7) 110 (11) 38 (5)
plywood 5"   4.8 (3) 10     (1) 17     (1)   6.9 (5)   84 (  9) 25 (3)
plywood 8" 15.1 (3) 29     (2) 31     (3) 14     (2) way too long
3.0" OSB   1.8 (2)   3.8 (5)   8.5 (5)   2.7 (4)   35 (  2) 10 (1)
6.5" OSB   5.2 (5)   8.5 (8) 20.8 (5)   7.8 (5) 118 (11) 31 (3)
5" MDF cracked immediately 17     (1)   6.3 (3)   73 (  3) 19 (1)

The piece of spruce was cut to roughly gauge the performance of the Ratweiler and this is about half of its maximum ability. The chopping was done while sitting because when attempted while standing the much higher impacts from the knife would just crack the OSB and MDF readily as they are weak to impacts. Even while sitting the MDF would break readily so it was mainly used to show just how much more aggressive the Timber saw cuts compared to the SAK. The Ratweiler chops through the narrow OSB in basically a cut on each side. On the larger OSB a notch has to opened and then a final cut and then one on the opposing side clears a section. The time is low compared to the chop count because the blade wedges significantly. The Timber saw is more efficient from a time perspective however the knife has a lower fatigue rate. The Rucksack really slows on the wider piece because fatigue limits output, it has to be pushed a lot harder than the Timber saw to cut well due to the lower cutting ability of the tooth pattern.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting On the plywood, performance is similar for the smaller piece as on the OSB, but the larger piece the Ratweiler needs opening notches on both sides and thus the time increases much more than the width ratio and the Timber saw starts to pull ahead. This difference would increase as the wood got larger and the saw readily cuts up wide sheets that the knife would really have problems with. On really wide sheets and axe is more productive because the toe of the bit can be used to cut the material more directly. The Ratweiler was also used alongside a 18" Ang Khola khukuri on some wider OSB, mainly to check the difference in binding. Strips of 9.5 and 17.5" wide were chopped through with each blade. The power of the khukuri is much greater than the Ratweiler as it is both much heavier (920 grams) and the weight is distributed much more forward on the blade giving it a much higher dynamic balance. It actually cuts more than twice its blade width into the OSB even when sitting down. It isn't much of a surprise that far fewer chops were used by the khukuri, however what is more interesting is the time/chop ratio which shows the extent of binding :

Comparisons between a Ratweiler and 18" Ang Khola on wide OSB.
wood Ratweiler 18" Ang Khola
chop time time/chop chop time time/chop
  9.0" OSB 16 (2) 30 (1) 1.9 (2)   5 (1) 11 (2) 2.6 (2)
17.5" OSB 28 (2) 53 (2) 1.9 (2) 13 (3) 36 (3) 2.7 (2)

The khukuri moves ahead more than the width ratio on the OSB, similar to the Ratweiler in the first table because it also passes the point where it nequres notches on both sides. The khukuri also actually has a higher time/chop ratio, even with the thicker blade with convex primary grinds and a forged fuller because it wedges tightly because the khukuri chops so deeply the OSB actually wraps around the top of the blade. The best way to cut it with either blade is to use heavy torquing in the cuts to break it apart. The khukuri also can cut the OSB with the point on a chop which is much more difficult than attempting the same with the Ratweiler which has to basically stab to make the same cut.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Ratweiler was also used alongside a Fiskars hatchet which had been regound to a more efficient cutting profile to see if the hatchet, which has a much thicker bit would be more fluid in that type of wood and thus have a higher chop rate and/or fatigue rate. The Ratweiler and hatchet were used on four and nine inch wide 3/8" thick plywood and ten inch wide OSB. The hatchet had much more power on the swing but due to the more tapered profile of the Ratweiler the knife had more efficiency and could bring more of the chopping energy into the cut. The hatchet was more fluid however the chopping was done standing and it was easy to apply heavy force to the Ratweiler to free it so the chop counts were close as were the times per chop, however the fatigue rate is much higher for the knife. The knife falls behind in extended chopping with no breaks. The grip of the hatchet was also more comfortable for extended work.

Comparisons between a Ratweiler and Fiskars hatchet on OSB and plywood.
wood Ratweiler Fiskars
chop time time/chop chop time time/chop
  4.0" plywood   7 (1)   9 (1) 1.3 (1)   5.7 (8)   7 (1) 1.2 (1)
  9.0" plywood 17 (1) 29 (2) 1.7 (2) 13     (1) 18 (1) 1.4 (1)
10.0" OSB 19 (1) 21 (1) 1.1 (1)   7.5 (5)   8 (1) 1.1 (1)

The performance in terms of chops and time is similar on the plywood as both blades work through it in a similar pace, the OSB is however much softer and the hatchet didn't have to open up multiple notches and could just clear through the wood and thus it took a large performance jump over the Ratweiler. As noted in the above when ever a blade passes such a breakpoint in terms of width which moves it from clear chopping to multiple notches there is a big change in the chops and time required.

Image hosting by Photobucket For splitting , the Ratweiler works well with a baton though has little direct chop splitting ability. It can chop split most small lumber and even some of the softer woods like pine if the are small but it doesn't take much size for the wood to exceed the chop splitting ability of the knife. Even a three inch piece of spruce will ignore any efforts to chop split and need a baton to drive the knife through the wood. Wedges can be cut of course but generally batoning the Ratweiler is much faster unless the wood is really large in which case it can just be split in sections. The main concern in splitting is knots, generally wood should be split inbetween the knots, or the knots split directly. Rarely though the knots have to be chisel cut which is fairly demanding though the Ratweiler does it readily without harm to the edge unlike the Extreme Judgement which took damage to the primary grind. The Heafner bowie handled such work without major problems either though did take minor edge deformation a fraction of a millimeter deep. Both blades tended to be uncomfortable when taking heavy impacts with a baton near the tip as this is well ahead of the sweet spot on either knife. For really heavy batoning it is more comfortable to hit the Ratweiler in front of the handle rather than in the tip. In general for splitting it helps to have a blade which is thick enough to actually split the wood as otherwise too much work has to be done in driving the blade right through it. The Tramontina bolo can be batoned through bad wood wood without harm, but it takes a lot more impacts due to excessive side wedging. Thicker blades like the Ratweiler will induce wood to split which often allows them to naturally split around knots where the Tramontina bolo will tend to run into them. Wooden handled blades like the Tramontina bolo can also split in heavy batoning.

The Ratweiler worked very well to augment fire starting ability with the above described solid cutting, chopping and splitting ability. It also works well prying apart stumps for pitchwood and deadfall logs to quickly remove large sections for fuel. In really adverse conditions where it has rained for an extended period of time the Ratweiler readily can also be used to split the wood by using a baton as noted in the above to get at the dry inner core. In the winter after heavy snowfall it works well to chop away the top ice layer and cut apart the thick packed ice to enable the fire to be started on solid ground. Some thick bark or a split piece of wood work well as a platform to protect the growing embers and serve as a solid base for the fire. This hole also acts as protection from the wind and can be enlarged to serve as a shelter. Extending this use the Ratweiler also works well in general to cut show for blocks for shelter construction or dig through ice to reach water for fishing. In general a large machete works better at the ice blocks and a quality hatchet for chopping through the ice but the Ratweiler does much better than each of them on the other tasks which is a common ability of the long blade, the ability to do a wide range of tasks well without being too focused on one so as to perform too poorly on another. Image hosting by Photobucket
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Miscellaneous

Image hosting by Photobucket Moving beyond wood working, the Ratweiler readily chops up a few remotes which refused to work even after some deep conditioning. There was no effect on the edge, none of the metallic bits were contacted. In general the knife works well for cutting thick plastics due to the ability to chop because trying to slice or push cut through such material is extremely difficult and even very efficient cutting knives like the K2 have little ability. If chopping isn't an option then serrations are generally much more effective than plain edges. The Ratweiler is a bit large for most utility work, not to say it can't slice cardboard and cut ropes. It goes through 1/8" and 1/4" cardboard fairly easily, and breaking down a few boxes is fairly smooth. For such work it does well compared to other knives of its size and class however significantly more force is noticed as compared to other knives more optimally designed for cardboard and other light work due to much thinner blade stock and much more tapered primary and edge grinds.
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worms Moving just beyond cutting the Ratweiler easily chews through rooty soil to find a few worms for fishing. It also readily cuts sods which can be used for shelter construction. On really soft ground a stick can usually be pointed with the knife and it used to break the dirt apart which is then scooped out with the hands. However when the soil is full of roots they have to be cut and the Ratweiler does this efficiently. If the ground is also really dense and hard packed it can be competitative with time or even slightly ahead of a quality small shovel like the Cold Steel Special Forces due to the greater ease of working the slim point of the knife into the dirt and the ability to do so one handed while the other hand keeps scooping out the dirt. It also has no problems with prying up larger rocks. Digging is extremely abrasive and will readily blunt the tip, using the knife edge trailing minimizes impacts.

The Ratweiler's significant prying ability is useful for many types of wood working such as breaking apart deadfall and prying apart stumps for pitchwood as noted. It is also mentioned heavily for "tactical" uses, especially entry tools. In the winter it is especially useful because deadfall and most woods will be frozen together. The easiest way to separate such woods is to use a large maul because the impacts will readily shatter the ice which is sticking the woods together or to the ground. The Ratweiler can also be batoned into the end of a log which is then twisted to breaks the log free. Depending on the nature of how the wood is frozen together and the other materials available it may also be more efficient to cut a long pry bar and use that to attempt to separate the wood and for this the chopping abilit of the Ratweiler is very useful.

Edge retention

As noted in the above, the Ratweiler has excellent edge retention on woods as it has enough toughness and strength to resist deformation and chipping and easily enough wear resistance to prevent that from being a factor. It can easily handle an extended session of chopping and retain a razor sharp edge.

Ease of Sharpening

SR101 is a relatively easy to grind steel which is also hard enough so that there is minimal burr formation which is also enhanced by the fine grain. Ease of sharpening in general is very high outside of working in corrosive enviroments which would rust the edge significantly. The only issue significant concern is that the initial edge angle of 21-23 degrees per side is obtuse enough that many jigs and v-rods will hit the shoulder and thus without reprofiling the first initial sharpening will take some time unless the edge is freehanded to match the existing bevel. Before much work was done with the Ratweiler the the edge was adjusted to 18 degrees per side so it more closely matched the profile of a custom Heafner bowie which it was compared to as a benchmark.

After extensive use, a 10 degree relief grind was applied to the edge of the Ratweiler with a 12 degree sweep on the edge under 0.015" thick. This profile was induced by sharpening freehand on a 200 grit silicon carbide waterstone which hollows enough in use to induce such a light convex profile. With the reduced edge profile profile the cutting ability of the Ratweiler was significantly increased. The performance on birch hardwood doubled and there was a significant (but lower) increase in chopping which was especially noticed in the ability to sweep off small limbs with more of a slice than a chop which greatly reduced fatigue and increased speed. The ability to cut light springy brush like alders was also increased significantly. The edge was also still strong enough to handle heavy batoning through knotty wood without harm including chisel cuts through knots with no visible damage. The Ratweiler also was used for felling, bucking and limbing of about a dozen small sticks and chop splitting some of the bucked rounds and some harsh lumber. After several sessions with this profile, mainly concentrating on limbing harsher woods the edge tended to deformation lightly, only visible under magnification. To prevent this damage the edge angle was raised to about 14 degrees in the final last sweep, about 0.015" thick. Several extended sessions of limbing showed crisp edge retention and this was determined to be the optimal personal edge profile for this knife for local woods. splitting after edge mod
ratweiler mod lumber
felling splits

Handle

The grip on the Ratweiler is nice and contoured, in sabre grips it works well and the long handle allows a far grip to enhance the effective blade length and give it the reach of a much longer blade. However in overhand grips the top ramp digs into the palm readily which limits the force which can be applied before it becomes uncomfortable. Image hosting by Photobucket As well the guard is not well rounded in the front and comes to a rather sharp apex points which tend to hot spot readily against the index finger or center of the palm in side grips. The tip ramp is really a significant drawback when trying to reduce leverage disadvantages for heavy carving or other power cutting. With hammer grips as the index finger notch is really wide it tends to either split the fingers a bit or crowd in two and is better suited to working with heavy gloves. Note the micarta slabs are flush with the tang. In many of the pictures of the Ratweiler the top of the micarta is stained black with sweat and makes it appear to actually look like the tang is extended out past the slabs - this is not the case as can be noted by checking out a pair of unused Ratweilers.

A solid enhancement to the grip was implemented by SARHound on the Swamp Rat discussion forum who used a stopper and laynard to increase the grip length and allow heavier chopping with high security. stopper" stopper grip

ratweiler mod After months of carry and extensive use the handle was modified in several ways to increase ergonomics. The main issues were with forward grips as noted in the above. The micarta was tapered with a dremel at the front of the handle to blend gradually into blade at a gentle slope, this reduces contact pressure around the thumb and index finger. The hump of the blade above the guard was also ground off completely using a belt sander and cleaned up with a file as this was a major hot spot which was a critical issue for heavy wood carving. choil mods The index finger choil was also extensively rounded using a dremel as was the guard which made fine point work much more comfortable. cod steaks The spine was also lightly filed to smooth out dents from heavy impacts as well as being heavily rounded in the region above the index finger choil to improve comfort in side pinch grips as well heavy sabre grip cutting. With this grip the Ratweiler also became a lot more efficient in the kitchen as forward grips are common such as steaking out a cod. The Ratweiler easily sliced the fillet off the side and even worked the point to cut off the small sections of meat along the bone. The Ratweiler also easily whacked the remains into chunks for the local stray cats. It also worked better for paring and other similar work. It was still awkward due to the blade width, but the comfort was much higher.

Balance

The Ratweiler has a center of mass about 3.5 centimeters in front of the center of the index finger in a normal hammer grip, right at the edge of the micarta. The minimum vibration point for heavy impacts about 7.5 centimeters infront of the center of mass, maximum power is closer to the handle. Personal preference would be to have the optimal impact further out on the blade which can be done by tapering the tang to move the center of mass forward and then adding weight to the pommel to raise the moment of inertia. A large benefit would be in regards to batoning which frequently has the knife take severe impacts in the tip and tends to induce a lot of feedback with the sweet spot close to the grip. As noted previously one of the strongest points of the Ratweiler grip is that it allows a rear grip which gives much more reach. The Ratweiler works as a 10.5" blade basically with a far grip which shifts the center of balance about 7.5 centimeters infront of the index finger. This also more the sweet spot back and the knife feels most comortable when chopping about 3.5 centimeters in front of the center of mass, which is essentially right in front of the choil.

Overview

The Ratweiler is a seven inch bowie style blade, very similar to the Camp Tramp. It is a working blade with a high combination of cutting and chopping ability and overall durability and versatility. The handle is also very versatile howevever there were some issues with ergonomics in a foward grip which were addressed by some shaping as noted in the above.

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or by posting to the following threads :

More information can be obtained at the Swamp Rat Knives website. Some shots of a really well used Ratweiler can be seen on the Fire Rat webpage. Most of the pictures in the above are in the Ratweiler album at PhotoBucket.


Last updated : 03 : 01 : 2006
Originally written: 02 : 15 : 2005
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