This one arrived with a bunch of blades that I was really interested in trying. After a few chops that didn't impress me too much I left if for a while, until I could get down to reprofiling it. I've come to expect that Wandi's blades have more than a little thought put into the design so I wanted to see what this one was all about by fixing it up first. What little time I did have, I was anxious to spend on the other blades.
the SX is less tip heavy than the small horn golok, and quite a departure from the typical golok shape. It came very sharp in terms of paper cutting, but as I said, it didn't at first impress me very much with its chopping ability. I expected things to get quite a bit better with some reprofiling, but I wasn't expecting it to match the small horn golok due to lack of tip weight. To say that I was in for a shock, is putting things mildly. I've become a fan of the horn goloks because of their performance as well as their good looks, but they have their drawbacks simply because of their length. A longer blade can be made to hit the material much faster due to the increased arc of swing. This leads to a much higher level of performance in cutting saplings which are flexible. As you'll see from the pictures, saplings have to be hit at a pretty acute angle with a shorter blade: while this overcomes some of the material flexibility problem - much more material has to be cut through. The following pics are of a sapling of 1 1/2"
Since it was raining, I wasn't too careful with perspective and so the cut is shown at an angle and makes the sapling look thinner. But.. I've come to mistrust easy cuts on saplings and like to meaure them with my trusty Leatherman. I'll get some decent shots later. Today's interesting lesson was that firstly I would have bet on this particular blade not making the cut. I had to try a bunch more cuts, and each one got easier as I angled the blade more - in the end the edge was approaching the material with the tip back 45 degrees. You can see the clean cut through the sapling, and with the draw cut the blade didn't slow. Later I did try some thicker saplings, and it doesn't take much more radius to make a lot more material to cut through. In the end I was taking a special stance and really going at it. Then I realized that I was just getting silly, and went and got the SGXXL which snapped through 2" saplings with no effort , no special stance and workup, and no silliness. The HornSX is an effective 9" blade, not a big working tool. Pushing to limits leads to accidents.
Hm - well now the blade becomes interesting. How does it do what it does? Let's have a comparative look...
Some people have suggested that I'm too much of a fan of Valiant blades to write about them objectively. For my part I say it's the same sort of interest that I have in guns. Only accurate guns are interesting - but every accurate gun is interesting: simply because they're often accurate in different ways. With these blades, I'm always surprised by what they can do - and I'm interested to know just why they can chop through stuff that I don't believe they should be able to get through. Unlike the Cold Steel ads, where a person is left with the impression that all they have to do is get an LTC to be slashing through all kinds of improbably difficult material, anyone can take a similar golok, sharpen it properly following Jean Marc's advice, then learn the draw cut - and chop such saplings. You can bet that all three things are necessary.
I've gone over reprofiling and sharpening in other articles, and in a few weeks I'll have all of Jean Marc's pages mirrored too. It took a while and two zirconium belts to do the job on the horn SX, so while it was a bunch of work, I won't be worrying about the steel being soft, or wearing out. This blade is hardened to the tip unlike the other goloks.
I was at first tempted to think that the increased chopping potential over what I'd expected was due to edge curvature. Unfortunately, as you can clearly see, the edge curvature is exactly the same on the small horn golok as the SX. As you can also clearly see, the SX has far less distal taper, so it isn't as tip light as one would think while handling it. Both balance 1 1/4" in front of the handle.
The small horn golok that I have is an older model. I'm not sure if it's that or just variability - but the actual blade weight is 370grams. The SX blade weight is 315 grams. That's quite a difference when comparing the two blades -and it's very surprising that the SX matches the performance of my shg very closely on green wood.
I'm looking forward to lots more experimenting and changing my views - but as of now I'm forced to believe that the handle being angles down has a huge impact on cutting potential. I'm just not seeing why, as I've become reasonably adept with the draw cut and modifying my grip. One thing is for sure and that is that I've got years of puzzling and learning in front of me!
Small Horn Golok on left, Horn SX on right:
You'll have noticed right away that mine are different. my small horn golok has a wider blade at the junction with the handle - and the SX has a narrower blade profile at that point. The other thing worth pointing out in my second picture is the lower jaw of the tiger. Notice that it has a concave notch for your pinkie. This makes for a comfortable handle in chopping when you discover that you have to get your little finger in the notch. I believe that the handle on my small horn golok is no longer available. Since the tiger head handles are so great, I wouldn't worry too much!
At first I was wondering about the logic of a pointy end. The blade comes up in a wide sweep, so it'd be more suited to skinning and butchering large animals - as with a leuko. It's be a pretty long and heavy blade for most butchering, but the tip does offer a lot more utility, than the regular golok design - for those of us not brought up with that design. The tip is a little far out on that long blade for whittling fuzzy sticks for fires - but it does work well, and it works on wood too. The really special features of the design that will appeal to many outdoor people are that the tip is fully hardened, and there is no false edge. A knife with this blade profile works very well with a baton! Given the way the blade chops, a person probably wouldn't need a baton to drop most saplings, but a baton will really help with splitting firewood.
The horn scabbard is very pretty - just as with the other horn goloks. This one being curvier is even prettier! Of course it does require some hand fitting after everything has settled in, and the blade has been ground on. It's not a big deal to cure any looseness by gluing in a couple of pieces of thin leather. A lot of people like high tech sheaths, but for me a sheath like this one fits in out in the bush.
This blade in hand, rather than in the pictures on the Valiant website, reminded me of another blade. I just couldn't think what that blade might be. Because of recent discussions on Knifeforums outdoor forum, I finally figured things out. Many of us outdoor types have read and loved George Washington Sears' (Nessmuk) book, "Woodcraft and Camping". In this book are pictures of his strange double bitted hatchet and knives. The sheath knife was made from an old butcher type blade and was very thin. Despite a very different blade thickness and profile, some similarities are noted...
You'll notice the oval cross section of the handle, with the boss of the antler at the butt. This is very similar to the carved horn of the SX, being quite curved too. Then there's the continuous sweep of the blade edge... For sure the SX doesn't have the hump of a butcher blade, and is a much heavier blade - part of the essence of Nessmuk's knife being thinness and lightness. Overall, though, the flowing lines of the SX, and the great utility of the curved back to the handle, with curved blade edge too - set it apart from most blades. The SX properly profiled is some incredible slicer for a chopping knife, and feels very well balanced in the hand, despite being necessarily forward balanced.
A quick look at most 9" knives will show slab sided handles, straight edges, and all sorts of secondary and tertiary bevels. As I started off, I wasn't greatly impressed with the chopping ability of this blade because of such bevels. With this blade though, it's easy to put things into good order - unlike many knives which could never be modified to a continuous convex profile.
Here it is as a field knife. You'll notice that I haven't finished reprofiling and started polishing the blade yet. The stuff on top is water hemlock so as you can imagine, I'll better be cleaning the blade before ever getting a cut from it or using it for eating lunch! Since the truck was right there, I used a steel bar to dig up the hemlock - otherwise I'd have used the blade to quickly shape a digging stick. No digging with blades for me!
The cicutoxin is the orange stuff starting to exude from the chambered root. It's a highly neurotoxic unsaturated alcohol, and naturally I love the smell of it... Among the many things I wonder about is how animals know not to eat it - it's not as though they can learn by experience with that stuff. Getting back to the blade - well for a while it was "the deadliest blade around"! More to the point, quickly shaping digging sticks out of hard wood is tough for small blades, or large ones with steep bevels - but trivial for this one.
I'm having the darnedest time deciding whether I prefer this blade to the other horn goloks. This one has lightness, a more useful tip - and no false edge. The ability to better use a baton makes up for some of the lost chopping power of the large horn golok. Given the price, though, it's no big deal to get both to see which a person prefers. About the same goes for comparing it to the small horn golok. So it's yet another winner!
If you have questions, criticisms, or things to add - email me please.