American Survival Guide

A SUR­VIVAL KNIFE POW­ER­HOUSE

THE WC KNIVES WCSK MAY LOOK UN­USUAL BUT IT ISN’T AN OR­DI­NARY KNIFE

- By Mike Travis

The WC Knives WCSK May Look Un­usual But It Isn’t an Or­di­nary Knife

We live in the Golden Age of knife­mak­ing. Not only are pro­duc­tion knives of bet­ter qual­ity and va­ri­ety than ever be­fore, but there are so many cus­tom knife­mak­ers pro­duc­ing work of ex­cep­tional qual­ity that it can make your head spin.

One down­side to hav­ing a mar­ket sat­u­rated with so many solid prod­ucts and mak­ers is that they can start to blur to­gether. It’s dif­fi­cult to find de­signs and knife­smiths that stand out from the crowd.

En­ter Wil­liam Collins of WC Knives in the Repub­lic of Texas. Mr. Collins has worn many hats in his life­time, from that of a mil­i­tary vet­eran, to au­thor to com­mer­cial con­struc­tion fore­man. Since 2012, Wil­liam has worn the hat of a cus­tom knife­smith. One look at a sam­ple of his work will tell you that not only does Wil­liam Collins have ideas as big as the state from which he hails, but he has the skills and abil­i­ties to im­ple­ment those ideas. In a knife mar­ket sat­u­rated with same­ness, Wil­liam’s work stands out from the crowd.

Wil­liam’s de­signs are not just dif­fer­ent for the sake of be­ing dif­fer­ent; they are de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent. Wil­liam’s busi­ness motto is “Knives Made to Work.” His knives are de­signed with pur­pose­ful in­tent and their form fol­lows that pur­pose.

EN­TER THE WCSK

When I first saw the WCSK, I was skep­ti­cal. It looked complicate­d and ap­peared to have been de­signed as a prop for a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic movie. Hav­ing used some of Wil­liam’s knives in the past and be­ing fa­mil­iar with his high-qual­ity work, I set my skep­ti­cism aside and agreed to let him send me one for eval­u­a­tion.

Wil­liam Collins con­ceived the out-of-the-box de­sign of the WCSK. How­ever, he rec­og­nized that the WCSK was not a “nor­mal” knife and that he needed help to re­fine and prove the de

sign and trans­form it from con­cept to re­al­ity. To do this, Wil­liam en­listed the help of sev­eral trusted friends and cus­tomers. This group com­prised hun­ters, trap­pers, sur­vival ex­perts, crafts­men, cooks and out­doors­men. Over the course of many months and count­less pro­to­types, Wil­liam used the feed­back he re­ceived from his cadre to forge the WCSK from a pie-in-the sky con­cept to hard­core ul­tra-func­tional re­al­ity.

On the sur­face, the acro­nym WCSK stands for Wil­liam Collins Sur­vival Knife. How­ever, its mean­ing runs deeper and de­scribes pre­cisely what Wil­liam ex­pects from the de­sign.

Wood­lands: The knife must be able to per­form the du­ties of a hunt­ing knife as well as make shel­ters, craft tools and pre­pare fires.

Com­bat: The knife must be com­pact enough not to be bur­den­some and be rugged enough to not only with­stand the daily de­mands of a com­bat en­vi­ron­ment but to be use­ful as a last-ditch weapon if called upon to do so.

“WIL­LIAM’S BUSI­NESS MOTTO IS “KNIVES MADE TO WORK”. HIS KNIVES ARE DE­SIGNED WITH PUR­POSE­FUL IN­TENT AND THEIR FORM FOL­LOWS THAT PUR­POSE.”

Sur­vival: A sur­vival knife needs to be tough. It needs to not only cut, but to dig, pry and smash. A sur­vival knife needs to be a jack-of-all-trades and should be made of ma­te­ri­als that can be re­stored to ser­vice­able con­di­tion by the user af­ter those ex­treme de­mands have been met.

Kitchen: De­spite all of the pre­vi­ous hard-use re­quire­ments, the knife still needs to be able to slice meat and veg­eta­bles and be adept at pre­par­ing a meal.

While the WCSK might look like a belt knife for the next Mad Max se­quel, it is not a fan­tasy movie prop! When I first picked it up, I was struck by the com­fort of the han­dle. It felt good in

ev­ery grip po­si­tion I tried. The palm swell not only fills the hand but makes for a very se­cure grip when thrust­ing and stab­bing. No added guards or bol­sters are needed to pro­vide se­cu­rity.

My next im­pres­sion was that the knife felt well-weighted and very solid. The knife im­parts the feel­ing that it will be up to most any task you put it to. De­spite its size, the weight dis­tri­bu­tion al­lows the user to work with it for long pe­ri­ods of time without un­due fa­tigue.

One thing I dis­like about many knives in the sur­vival knife genre is that be­tween the ¼-inch steel used to make them and the thick grinds used to bol­ster dura­bil­ity, they be­come sharp­ened pry bars with lim­ited util­ity. The WCSK is made from 3/16-inch stock and can be had in ei­ther high-car­bon O1 tool steel or AEB-L stain­less steel. On pa­per, this steel thick­ness might make it seem like “less” of a knife than those pry bars I men­tioned but noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. If you can break a WCSK, even in ex­treme use con­di­tions, you have su­per­hu­man abil­i­ties.

The WCSK also has some­thing that very few true sur­vival knives pos­sess: a grind an­gle de­signed for ef­fi­cient cut­ting! The ac­tual cut­ting edge of the WCSK is a con­tin­u­ous 11 de­grees from tip to ri­c­asso. This makes the knife very easy to sharpen, while al­low­ing it to ex­cel at fine cut­ting tasks.

“NO SIN­GLE KNIFE DE­SIGN CAN EX­CEL AT EV­ERY­THING, AND THE WCSK IS NO EX­CEP­TION. HOW­EVER, IT IS CLOSER TO BE­ING A VI­ABLE ONE-TOOL OP­TION THAN ANY KNIFE I HAVE EVER OWNED OR USED.”

I would be re­miss if I didn’t dis­cuss the var­i­ous an­gles built into the WCSK de­sign. The Scandi grind por­tion of the blade clos­est to the han­dle ex­cels at fine wood­work­ing tasks. De­spite the size and strength of the knife, it han­dles small carv­ing chores like a much smaller blade.

The first point, just for­ward of the Scandi sec­tion, is a force mul­ti­plier when chop­ping and ba­ton­ing wood. It chops bet­ter than most of the hatch­ets I have in my col­lec­tion. The straight por­tion of edge, just ahead of the point, does a great job at plan­ing flat sur­faces and re­mov­ing large, thin sec­tions of ma­te­rial. It is also out­stand­ing for slic­ing and chop­ping veg­eta­bles.

The sec­ond point, closer to the tip, acts as a ful­crum for chop­ping and dic­ing in the kitchen and pro­vides a lot of con­trol when slic­ing and shear­ing leather. The short sec­tion of blade that ends in the tip acts al­most as its own small knife. Be­cause of the built-in an­gles of the other edges,

when en­gag­ing this small edge, all of the other edges are out of the way. This al­lows the use of this por­tion of the blade in small, con­fined ar­eas. This sec­tion of the blade also in­cor­po­rates the mod­i­fied tanto tip, which is built for drilling, dig­ging, stab­bing and pry­ing. De­spite its bru­tal strength, the tip is ca­pa­ble of some fine cut­ting and carv­ing.

As I write this, I have owned and used my orig­i­nal WCSK for over a year. In that time I’ve used it to pre­pare meat and veg­eta­bles for din­ner, chop down and limb small trees, split wood, cre­ate feather sticks, start fires, pry open stuck doors, build prim­i­tive traps and prac­tice my knife skills by mak­ing try­sticks and spoons. It has cut leather straps, sliced and chopped cordage and small-gauge wire, pierced sheet metal and even pro­cessed small game.

It is, hands down, the most ver­sa­tile knife I have ever owned. De­spite all of this, the knife has been easy to main­tain and sharpen and has taken no sig­nif­i­cant dam­age. No sin­gle knife de­sign can ex­cel at ev­ery­thing, and the WCSK is no ex­cep­tion. How­ever, it is closer to be­ing a vi­able one-tool op­tion than any knife I have ever owned or used. Some knives force their user to con­sider their lim­i­ta­tions. The WCSK in­spires its owner to rec­og­nize its po­ten­tial.

 ??  ?? Fire mak­ing is no prob­lem for this knife. Even in ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments.
Fire mak­ing is no prob­lem for this knife. Even in ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments.
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 ??  ?? Left: While the WCNK was de­signed to com­ple­ment its big­ger brother, the WCSK, it is an out­stand­ing knife that can stand on its own.
Left: While the WCNK was de­signed to com­ple­ment its big­ger brother, the WCSK, it is an out­stand­ing knife that can stand on its own.
 ??  ?? Near right: The hid­den lan­yard hole en­sures full use of the grip and the abil­ity to use the ex­posed pom­mel for strik­ing and crush­ing.
Near right: The hid­den lan­yard hole en­sures full use of the grip and the abil­ity to use the ex­posed pom­mel for strik­ing and crush­ing.
 ??  ?? Above: A hall­mark fea­ture of the WCSK is its hid­den lan­yard hole.
Above: A hall­mark fea­ture of the WCSK is its hid­den lan­yard hole.
 ??  ?? The WCSK is ready to tackle any chore, right out of the box.
The WCSK is ready to tackle any chore, right out of the box.
 ??  ?? Be­low: While the WCSK was de­signed to do heavy work, it is highly adept at fine carv­ing as well.
Be­low: While the WCSK was de­signed to do heavy work, it is highly adept at fine carv­ing as well.
 ??  ?? The abil­ity to split wood is im­por­tant in a sur­vival knife.
The abil­ity to split wood is im­por­tant in a sur­vival knife.
 ??  ?? Left: The WCNK was de­signed to be a smaller, more nim­ble com­pan­ion to the WCSK.
Left: The WCNK was de­signed to be a smaller, more nim­ble com­pan­ion to the WCSK.
 ??  ?? Be­low: The
WCSK is avail­able in ei­ther O1 tool steel or AEB-L stain­less steel, and the type of steel is stamped into the back of the blade. Both re­ceive an ex­pertly ap­plied, pro­pri­etary heat treat­ment.
Be­low: The WCSK is avail­able in ei­ther O1 tool steel or AEB-L stain­less steel, and the type of steel is stamped into the back of the blade. Both re­ceive an ex­pertly ap­plied, pro­pri­etary heat treat­ment.
 ??  ?? Far left: The WCSK comes stan­dard with Mi­carta han­dles but can be or­dered with the cus­tom grip ma­te­rial of your choice.
Far left: The WCSK comes stan­dard with Mi­carta han­dles but can be or­dered with the cus­tom grip ma­te­rial of your choice.
 ??  ?? Left: The out­stand­ing sheaths made by Stitched Gear Out­fit­ters can be cus­tom­ized and color-matched to your knife.
Left: The out­stand­ing sheaths made by Stitched Gear Out­fit­ters can be cus­tom­ized and color-matched to your knife.
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Right: The sheath sys­tem from Stitched Gear Out­fit­ters is fully cus­tom­iz­a­ble. It can be sim­ple and low-pro­file or con­fig­ured to carry an en­tire sur­vival kit.
Be­low: The bow drill bear­ing divot in the knife han­dle is not a gim­mick. It works ex­tremely well.
Be­low right: The Stitched Gear Out­fit­ter sheath sys­tem with a full com­ple­ment of tools.
Right: The sheath sys­tem from Stitched Gear Out­fit­ters is fully cus­tom­iz­a­ble. It can be sim­ple and low-pro­file or con­fig­ured to carry an en­tire sur­vival kit. Be­low: The bow drill bear­ing divot in the knife han­dle is not a gim­mick. It works ex­tremely well. Be­low right: The Stitched Gear Out­fit­ter sheath sys­tem with a full com­ple­ment of tools.
 ??  ?? Each WCSK car­ries its own se­rial num­ber. That num­ber is also stamped into the sheath when it is or­dered from Stitched Gear Out­fit­ters.
Each WCSK car­ries its own se­rial num­ber. That num­ber is also stamped into the sheath when it is or­dered from Stitched Gear Out­fit­ters.
 ??  ?? Right: The ac­ces­sory kit for the Stitched Gear Out­fit­ter sheath con­tains a large ferro rod, a di­a­mond sharp­en­ing rod, an Al­toids tin con­tainer and a Stream­light Mi­crostream flash­light.
Right: The ac­ces­sory kit for the Stitched Gear Out­fit­ter sheath con­tains a large ferro rod, a di­a­mond sharp­en­ing rod, an Al­toids tin con­tainer and a Stream­light Mi­crostream flash­light.

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