Check out the second part of this exclusive knife review on the Ontario Blackbird. If you missed Paul Granger’s review, be sure to check it out.
Mark Allen Prince is a professor of Law Enforcement Technology/Special Operations at Central Ohio Technical College, a former USDOE SRT operator, and he’s spent 18 years in local law enforcement special operations and training. He has developed and teaches courses in homeland security and special operations for military, state and local special operations personnel and organizations. He’s an instructor trainer certified by the late Colonel Rex Applegate.
MARK ALLEN PRINCE WORKS THE BLACKBIRD:
The Ontario Knives Blackbird SK-5 arrived at the “castle” in an unassuming brown cardboard box. Along with the blade came a very basic but nice and functional single-retention-strap and earth tone, Cordura/MOLLE-capable scabbard equipped with a hardened protective insert.
After a very long weekend of spending many hours keeping the Bass Islands of Lake Erie safe for democracy, I began my field evaluation of the Blackbird on a Sunday afternoon. As this is the day in which I carve and cook flesh on the grill over seasoned indigenous chunks of local hardwoods, I commenced fire preparation operations.
First, I began ribboning long strips of cardboard. The Blackbird’s factory edge was found to be sharp, sharp, sharp. Next I began to baton hard chunks of maple wood. As I was groggy from fatigue, I slipped and carved a third of the way through my left index finger. Once again, I found the Blackbird to be sharp, sharp, sharp!
Luckily my wife, who’s a nurse by training, helped to put my finger back together so that I could continue grill operations. No kidding, the factory edge on this knife, even after completing the oftentimes blade-dulling task of cutting cardboard, was still dangerously sharp. The near amputation of my appendage is an excellent testimony to the knife, albeit a bit painful.
Throughout the course of a month, I completed the standard field evaluation that included the steel hammer test (pounding each non-edge side of the blade 100 times), hammered the knife into the ol’ poplar stump like a spike (I took a small chunk of the Micarta off the left scale doing this), coated the handle with cooking oil and stabbed violently underhand, then overhand or “icepick” style into the ol’ poplar stump with 100 repetitions. I carved beefsteaks, both rib-eye and strip, carved corn off the roasted ear, and drilled holes in wood. I also batoned a bunch of wood with this knife during this time and carried it many, many days.
BASIC AND BEGUILING
When at first you look at the knife, you see a very, very basic design that includes a 5-inch, spear-pointed blade with an integral finger guard and basic grip with a lanyard slot. The blade is shiny and stainless. The knife’s appearance is beguiling.
Its performance is amazing—it’s sharp, lithe and incredibly comfortable. Its design for survival cannot be emphasized enough. So many survival knives are complex in their design. The Blackbird is, in designer Paul Scheiter’s words, “less complicated,” and will “achieve maximum function delivered through pure simplicity.” I could not explain the Blackbird SK-5 any better myself.
AFTERMARKET HEDGEHOG SHEATH A WORK OF ART
An additional treat delivered to the castle was the Hedgehog Leatherworks’ leather sheath, custom built by Paul Scheiter’s crew in St. Louis, Missouri. This sheath is a true work of art. It’s the equivalent of a custom-built pair of boots designed specifically for the Ontario Knives Blackbird SK-5.
Seriously, this leather sheath is amazing! The sheath is designed “function first,” and can accommodate any Blackbird knife exterior carry needs. It comes in two different options starting at $225. On top of all this, the company boasts a 25-year warranty. It’s important to mention that Paul Scheiter owns this company as well.
The price of the knife is right down any operator’s alley. It shows at $117.95 at the Ontario Knife online store, and $122 at Hedgehog Leatherworks. I highly recommend the Blackbird SK-5 to anyone who desires a highly functional and simplistic tool for wilderness survival tasks.
By Jim Weiss and Mickey Davis
Photos by the authors