The Becker BK21 is like the F-16 fighter jet, and not just because both are incredibly formidable. Allow me to explain.
From wikipedia, emphasis mine:
The F-16 was the first production fighter aircraft intentionally designed to be slightly aerodynamically unstable… [i.e. negative static stability]
Aircraft with negative stability are designed to deviate from controlled flight and thus be more maneuverable…
To counter the tendency to depart from controlled flight… the F-16 has a quadruplex, fly-by-wire, flight control system… The FLCC conducts thousands of measurements per second… to automatically counter deviations from the pilot-set flight path.
In a nutshell, The F-16 is inherently unstable by design to improve maneuverability. It is only through the flight computer, which is constantly adjusting the control surfaces of the plane even when the pilot is doing nothing, that the F-16 does not fall from the sky.
Like the F-16, the Becker BK21 is unstable… lets say “unbalanced”… in order to increase its effectiveness. Due to its weight distribution, the kukri feels like it wants to chop, even when standing still.
While this allows for a fearsome strike, your own computer, i.e. your brain, needs to be in constant control. If it suffers even a momentary lapse while maneuvering this beast, the blade will tumble to the ground. Ask me how I know.
This is a photo my index finger a week after reflexively trying to catch my falling BK21 last autumn. While absentmindedly flipping the handle over in my hands, I lost control and the blade went tumbling to the ground, much like an F-16 without its computer in control.
I was extremely lucky in this case. Despite cutting into my finger across the joint, I didn’t lose any range of motion or feeling in my fingertip. I’ve got quite the scar to show for it though!
I am very familiar with the full-size Becker handles and that led to complacence on my part. Motions that I could execute on autopilot with my BK9 resulted in a fiery crash with the the strong forward bias on the BK21.
But that is no excuse for pulling a Luke and switching off my computer. I had stopped paying attention, was not respecting the tool, and paid the price with a midnight trip to the ER.
To this day, I must admit I am still a bit intimidated by this blade, and it wasn’t until I added micarta scales and a forward lanyard that I finally felt in control again.
Hopefully my incident serves as a cautionary tale. Don’t be like me. Don’t be like Luke. Don’t switch off your computer.