The house has been cold and dark for eight weeks now. Everything burnable has been burned and everything edible has been eaten. Outside, there’s nothing left, while inside there’s no reason to stay. The last of your neighbors hit the bricks over a month ago and you haven’t heard from anyone since. Supplies have dwindled down to next to nothing: a can of beef broth and maybe a package of noodles — one of the bad ones. You’d kill to catch a stray dog even.
The sunlight hasn’t penetrated the clouds or fog or smog or whatever happened to the sky since it all started, and all of the plants around your house are dead in the acrid soil. Only a few small animals are brave enough to show themselves, mostly rats. You can’t stay here forever, and you’ve decided that long-hoped-for help that you were sure would arrive is not coming. You’ve got to leave. Roaming the house, you collect what few scant things are left: a bedroll, the last of the water from the bathtub, the can of beef broth and noodles, and your singular prized possession: Steel Will’s 13 inches of command and power, the Chieftain.
SMG, Inc., has been in business since 2008 producing replica air guns under the Gletcher brand. Last year, they decided to start offering knives under the brand Steel Will in three different categories: tactical, outdoor, and urban. The knife on these pages is their latest foray into the bladed tools territory, no doubt one of the only ones they offer that bleeds the lines between outdoors and tactical.
Huge and Hefty
At 17.14 ounces, this is by all standards, a massive knife with which comes a comforting heft when used. The full-tang 1095 steel blade runs the full length and width of the Micarta handles sandwiched around it. Held by three countersunk hexagon sockets, the construction is seamless, and the Micarta (basically a paper, fabrics and resins) has a tough but smooth feel, while providing a surface that is slip resistant and insulated against electric shock. There is an oversized finger guard which makes this a perfect knife to use while wearing gloves, and there are two areas of jimping on the handle: one over the bolster for your thumb if the knife is being held upright and another if it is being held downward. Each way, the jimping gives your thumb a very secure place to rest and provides needed strength.
The pommel is equipped with a hole adequate enough for a lanyard, while jutting from it, the tang protrudes out to form a pointed glass-breaker well suited for any type of smashing. Although the pointed glass-breaker feature limits your ability to pound on this knife with the palm of your hand if you need to drive it in further. It is a nice feature if you need to break something.
The clip-point blade is a monumental 7.48 inches long and nearly a quarter of an inch thick where the spine meets the guard. There’s no choil (finger or sharpening) to speak of at the base of the plunge line, so using this knife for fine cutting (like tinder or small carvings) will be limited. However, this really isn’t a “small carvings” kind of knife. This is a knife for limb chopping, batoning wood, and close-quarters self-defense. It is heavy and has the thrust and momentum needed to get work done, all while looking beautiful on your hip or in your hand. The Chieftain comes in two different colors: the 1620 in the copper handle (shown) or the 1610, which has a more subdued camouflage tint.
The sheath is ballistic nylon with a rugged plastic liner to protect the material from the blade (there’s no drain hole though). It can be attached to your belt or pack via webbing straps on the back, and the blade is held in place with two hook and loop fasteners. Included is a length of paracord to be used as a leg wrap. On the front of the sheath is a buckled pocket for a sharpening stone, specifically, or whatever you want to store there.
The true beauty of this particular knife is its weight. It fits well in your hand and provides a momentum unequaled in other knives, conveying a comfortable power just from holding it. It feels solid, well-built, and long-lasting.
This is a knife you will own for the rest of your life.
- Overall length: 13.11 inches
- Blade length: 7.48 inches
- Blade thickness: 0.24 inches
- Blade-HRC: 58-60
- Blade finish: Black traction coating
- Blade material: 1095 steel
- Handle material: Micarta
- Sheath material: Nylon
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.