I have used big blades and small blades when out in the woods and I can tell you one thing I know for sure – A small blade cannot do what a big blade can. Can a big blade manage the fine work as well as dealing with heavy stuff.. The Parry blade attempts to fulfill both roles. Gunsandzen have taken it out and put that bold claim to the test…
A brief history.
The Parry blade is named after its designer Mel Parry who has a pretty extensive military background. After around 30 years, many of those in hostile environments I have no doubt Mel knows his stuff when it comes to tools that get the job done. Mel collaborated with Scorpion Knives which bought his experience and innovation together with their metallurgical knowledge and craftsmanship. Scorpion knives are produced by famous sheffield based knifemakers Samuel Staniforths who have been making blades since 1864.. These are not mass produced factory blades. Each knife is laser cut from a slab of steel and then worked by the hands of experienced craftsmen who inspect and quality check as they go.
I don’t want to get to deep into nerdery here (I will write a seperate article on steels for that..) but I will give a basic outline. Steels are a blend (alloy) of iron and other elements. The reason for this blend is that the other elements change the property of the steel. You might want a steel which bends easily but retains its shape for a spring. If you are making a knife, especially a do it all survival knife then you will have certain requirements. You want the blade to be hard enough to hone to a sharp edge but not so brittle it snaps. You want the blade to flex a little but return to original shape. You want the sharp edge to stay sharp for a period of time. In short it is a balancing act with many variables. Scorpion knives/Staniforths have selected x46Cr13 steel which denotes a carbon content of 0.46% and a Chromium content of 13%.
Combined with the correct heat treatment x46Cr13 offers good edge retention, endurance, strength and rust resistance yet remains fairly easy to sharpen with basic tools (a wetstone or a knife sharpener).
Lets have a think about what this knife is really designed for. It is a survival knife. It needs to be able to chop fairly large branches for shelter construction and fire wood. It may be used to pry or lever. You may want to hammer or crush with it. You also need finer jobs done such as cutting slivers of wood for tinder, prepping game, and making notches when building a structure.
I hear a lot of people mention survival blades being used for martial/combat situations. I know a lot of squaddies, some of them long serving and some SF. How many have I met who have had a knife fight? None. They are issued guns to fight enemies who also have guns. Could the Parry blade be used combatitively if needed? Yes. Not ever likely to happen though except in the minds of people who play Call of Duty online…
The first thing you notice about the Parry blade is the size. An 8 and 3/4″ blade which is 5mm thick. It looks like it will be heavy and it is substantial at 19oz. When I picked it up I was pleasantly suprised at its great balance. The front heavy blade is nicely counterbalanced by the rear pommel which has been fashioned into a block shape for use as a hammer/crusher.
The knife naturally feels like it wants to drop forwards in a chopping motion which is exactly what you want from a large blade like this.
The blade has a triangular cutout which functions as a puller for nails. Moving back from the curved front part of the blade you have a hollow ground section which is capable of taking on a very sharp edge. Between blade and handle are choil sections with deep jimping (notches). This allows you to position your fingers closer to that sharp cutting edge and control the blade for fine work such as making kindling.
The top side of the blade has a serrated section at the rear which is useful for heavy braids and rope.
The handle is a thick full tang covered with Micarta scales. Micarta is my favourite material for handles. It offers the best grip in a variety of conditions without ripping your gloves or hands to shreds..
The Parry blade has now been on several trips into the woods. I gave it a thorough work out. The first test was chopping. I set about some recently broken branches (felled in high winds) that were around the size of my forearm. I wrapped the lanyard around my wrist and held the handle at the rear snugged up to the pommel/hammer. This made the Parry feel front heavy which is just what you want for heavy chopping. I began cutting in at angles as you would with an axe. The heavy front weighted blade cut big notches and within a couple of minutes I was through. A couple more thick branches were soon rendered half their size and I must say I was very impressed. There is no doubt the Parry blade can do the work of a reasonably sized hatchet. I checked the blade and other than some scuff marks there was no damage to the cutting edge at all. Cheaper blades would roll (the fine edge turns inward) or show small fractures. None with this beasty probably due to the quality steel and correct heat treatment and quenching.
Battoning involves splitting branches or logs down the middle as you would with an axe or maul. With a large knife you use another branch to hit the knife on the spine and drive it down into the log. When you have sunk it in deep enough you then hit the end of the knife which is protruding from the side of the log and maintain downward pressure on the handle.
I picked some large beech halves that I had lying around for fire wood. They were aged (about 12 months) and very dense. Normally I would not consider logs of this size for splitting with a knife but the length and heft of the Parry made them a viable test option. Sure enough it split them in 3-4 hits each and pretty soon I had a small pile of processed wood ready for making a fire.
Prying is usually the last thing you should do with a decent knife. Digging the tip in and then exerting leverage is a recipe for disaster (broken tip or bent blade). I drove the parry into some dead wood and gave it a bit of muscle. The wood splintered and the blade felt strong. No sign of bending at all and tbe tip remained keenly pointed. This would be a real boon for military or LEOs in urban environments as it would make light work of opening windows and probably most doors as well..
After working up a sweat it was time for some finer work. You cannot start a fire with big lumps of wood.. You need small fine pieces such as bark or shavings. I delimbed a couple of larger branches and held the blade at the choils which allowed me to carefully cut slivers from the outside of the branch. The blade is large and not absolutely ideal for such work but it managed the task with relative ease. Care must be taken as their is a temptation to place the thumb of your free hand on the rear and press down. The rear edge is serrated and fairly sharp.. Not good news for soft thumbs. I applied the thumb further forward away from the serrated edge which worked nicely.
Not much to say on this.. The blade made short work of various ropes and braids with both the plain edge and serrations. Smaller blades which are a little dull struggle with rope but the Parry is neither small or dull. In fact it arrived from factory razor sharp. The area near the choil received a little touch up with a blade medic but that was just me being a little bit pedantic.
The grip and feel of the Parry blade is superb. This is mainly due to the excellent handle shape and pommel design. You would really struggle to lose hold even with wet cold hands. As mentioned already the weight is well balanced and never felt cumbersome to wield. I could happily use this all day without an issue (other than the inevitable blisters!) I used the Parry while wearing a pair of Mechanix gloves and it felt fine, plenty of handle for the bulkier gloved hands to fit on. Wearing the Parry in the Molle sheath was also no problem. The only issue for some may be overall weight but remember this is supposed to save you from needing an axe or a smaller knife. If you stick to that philosophy then you should actually be saving overall weight.
The sheath supplied by Scorpion knives is a webbing/molle type. I am a big fan of Kydex but webbing is the next best thing. I think a Kydex sheath would be a difficult proposition due to the belly of this blade protruding so much. The webbing sheath has a plastic insert which ensures you dont gradually cut the thing in half every time you put the knife back in it. The Parry blade is supposed to come with a sharpening steel. Mine did not so I cannot pass comment on it. The sheath does have a handy storage pocket ideal for a blade medic or mini steel. They are cheap items so I will just buy another and place it in there for use in the field when a quick touch up might be needed.
The sheath has standard molle fasteners top and bottom plus a press stud loop securing the handle. It rides comfortably on a belt or equally well strapped to a pack or plate carrier with molle loops.
The Parry blade is not cheap BUT you should consider it is handmade by craftsmen in a workshop steeped in heritage. This did not just drop off the end of a conveyor belt. Scorpion/Staniforths are selling the Parry for £227. I think that is very reasonable given the time and effort it took to create. It also represents a lifetime investment as short of losing this blade I cannot imagine it failing you.
The world famous Parry blade does indeed live up to both its name and concept. It can fulfill pretty much any survival type task. If I were going to be dropped in the middle of knowhere there are only a handful of knives I would put my faith in. The Parry blade is definitely one of them. Whether you need it for hostile environments or you just love to collect/own knives then I thoroughly recommend this. Probably a little big for home work such as opening the odd box or peeling apples but then it was never built to be that knife. This is a no nonsense save your ass kind of knife and I think it excels in that role.
The Parry Blade can be purchased directly from Scorpion knives here..