Knifemaker Shane Barefoot has crafted a set of knives that is in the running for the second-most badass use of repurposed steel ever. The title still is held by the Gaston Knives Tirpitz, which is forged from armor plating from the German WWII battleship. Shane has turned retired barrels from the GAU-8 Avenger rotary-cannon into beautiful knives.
For those of you who do not know the A-10 Thunderbolt, better known as the Warthog, it is essentially a flying tank designed around a massive Gatling-gun capable of spewing 4200 rounds of Freedom per minute down upon the heads of our nation’s enemies. It is beloved by both those who fly it and those infantrymen whose lives have been saved by what may be the ultimate Close Air Support platform ever devised.
The barrels are long past their prime by the time Barefoot gets his hands on them. Once a GAU-8’s barrels have seen about as many bullets as they can be expected to handle, they’re ripped out and destroyed before being scrapped. “They basically cut ’em in half so they can’t be used again,” Barefoot told me over the phone. “But it’s still an immense piece of steel.”
Growing up I used to spend Spring Break in Tucson, AZ watching the Cleveland Indians Spring Training. There was a wing of A-10’s stationed nearby, and I used to watch them fly over my grandmother’s house. It has always been my favorite fighter plane. It will be a sad day when money grubbing politicians and techno-obsessed Air Force Generals finally succeed in getting it scrapped in earnest in FY2018. Soldiers and pilots will die because unlike the F-35 Boondoggle, the venerable Hog provides insufficient opportunities for graft.