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FOG HORN GEAR REVIEW 01, March, 2010

Kershaw’s Outcast -1079

By: Sal Palma

The concept of survival is quite subjective. If that, in the absence of all else, helps us
you ask 100 people for a definition, I am secure the three basics.
fairly certain that you would see 100 It is very easy, especially with today’s
different answers. My definition of survival, technologies, to look at survival skills as a
wether in combat or recreation, is self lost or antiquated training doctrine. This
preservation. Survival, especially in hostile thought process, I think, comes from 8
environments is not intuitive; it requires years of fighting the global war on terror
knowledge, acquired through training, (GWOT), where the combatant is relatively
discipline and a cool head. unsophisticated and technologically
inferior. We need to break that train of
thought and once again focus on developing
a core set of skills to carry us through if and
when we lose air superiority over an AO, or
if our communications satellites are
destroyed, or if our net centric command
and control is denied through cyber attacks.
In my travels, I am always amazed at the
number of individuals that cannot shoot
bearings with a compass, properly orient a
map, or plot a magnetic course. They rely
soley on their GPS receiver!
Therefore, to me, survival is more aptly
defined as self preservation when all of
your support mechanisms have failed.
Following that logic, a great survival knife is
one that you can dig, chop, cut and kill with;
An innocent looking bush ladden with these functions are fundamental to any
berries can kill you, for example our own knife calling itself a survival tool. More
Florida native Abrus Precatorius; so, it’s specifically, what I look for in a survival
important to understand what you are knife is a fixed blade with extraordinary tool
doing and it is equally important to be strength, a blade length between 7 to 10
prepared. inches, blade thickness of .15 to .25 inches
What drives your choice of survival tools? and a handle that provides a secure grip.
Once again, there are many opinions based The ideal survival knife should also be
on the broad number of paramaters balanced forward of the handle so that
influenced by your own definition of there is heft in the blade for chopping.
survival, but I submit that self preservation These charateristics are essential in my view
requires three basic things: shelter, and everything else is secondary.
nutrition and defense. Therefore, when we
select a survival knife, we look for a tool

Copyright, 2010, Sal Palma, dba Twobirds-Flying Publication. All rights reserved.
FOG HORN GEAR REVIEW 01, March, 2010

With this criteria in mind, let’s take a look at For our test sample, we selected a Ken
Kershaw’s Outcast-1079. Onion design, the Outcast -1079.


The Outcast is a fixed blade design made

from D2 tool steel.
When the Sniper Cutlery project was
D2 steel , UNS Number T30402, is a high
conceived, our objective was to present our
carbon and high chromium air cooled steel.
readers with a three part expose’ of tactical
It is used extensively in the manufacture of
folding knives, fighting knives and survival
tool and dies, because of its toughness. D2
knives. We intentionally avoided exotic
steel has excellent rust risistance due to its
designs because we saw them more as
12% chromium content; making it an
collector pieces rather than working tools.
excellent choice for hard outdoor use.
With that in mind, we contacted a group of
The Outcast has a 10 inch flat ground blade
companies who are industry leaders,
that is .18 inches thick giving this knife
Kershaw is such a company.
tremedous heft.
Kershaw was founded in Portland, Oregon,
Although some survival schools prefer
in 1974, by Peter Kershaw. Pete brought to
shorter blades, usually in the range of 6 to 7
Kershaw not only his own designs but a
inches, I like the Outcast’s 10 inch blade
world of experience gain from his work with
because it made batoning through a small
log very easy. If I were in the cockpit of an
In 1977 Kershaw knives became a wholly
aircraft I would probably opt for a shorter
owned subsidiary of KAI.
blade; however, the Outcast can be easily
KAI is a Japanese group that began as a
carried on your belt or attached to your
small pocket-knife company in Seki Japan.
Today, KAI has a global presence and
The Onion designed blade is finished in a
manufactures, imports and sells more than
black Teflon and has a slight “s” shape,
10,000 pieces of cutlery serving a variety of
producing a very nice belly and a concave
applications and markets.
edge towards the handle. When combined
KAI, USA is responsible for Kershaw Knives,
with how the knife is balanced, about 1.5
SHUN Cutlery and ZT Knives.
inches forward of the handle, all of the heft
is forced on to the blade’s belly making the

Copyright, 2010, Sal Palma, dba Twobirds-Flying Publication. All rights reserved.
FOG HORN GEAR REVIEW 01, March, 2010

Outcast as good as any axe for taking on a attaches to your vest, pack or patrol belt so
log or small tree. that it can be carried in a number of
different ways. Kershaw also provides
linend holes along the periphery of the
sheath that will accommodate mil-spec 550
paracord as an alternative fastening

The grip, made from Santropene, has a

curved shape that fits the hand very
comfortably. The designer also included
finger grooves that are simply outstanding
in terms of ensureing a secure grip, and
greatly contributing to comfort. This was
evident when chopping through a small log. Conclusion
The combination of the grip’s shape and the As a survival tool, the Outcast satisfies all of
use of ribbed Santropene does an excellent our basic requirements. Everything about
job of insulating the user from hand this knife is down-to-earth and well thought
fatigueing shock; an extremely important out. Its D2 steel construction makes it
feature and well worth the emphasis. vitually impervious to breakage, and offers
A good knife is a system where all of the very good to excellent corrosion resistance.
components interact, and an excellent knife The flat ground 10 inch blade lends itself to
without a good sheath is less and not more. chopping, cutting and digging; combine that
Here, Kershaw, once again, does it right. with a blade thickness of .18 inches and you
have a knife with some serious tool
strength. I cannot forsee a practical use that
would result in breaking the blade or its
Finally, when you combine all of those
attributes with an excellent Kydex sheath,
at an MSRP of $125, you walk away with a
It’s not hard to see why Kershaw received
five awards, in 2005, at the Blade Show in
The Outcast ships with an excellent Kydex
sheath that is MOLLE compatible. It -SP

Copyright, 2010, Sal Palma, dba Twobirds-Flying Publication. All rights reserved.