The following exchange took place in the comment section of my Cold Steel Mackinac Hunter review. It seemed like it was worthy of bringing to the forefront of our discussion, so I am posting it here.
“A dozen other knives on the market easily match or surpass this folder. My pet peeve is “batoning.” This idiotic practice was invented by people who, in fact, have no real use for a knife, so had to make up a “use” that they think tests quality. It does no such thing, and not one woodsman, back to and before, the days of Daniel Boone would, or did, perpetrate such an abuse on their single most important tool. A 21st-century kid did not just suddenly discover some new task for a knife that had gone unknown for a thousand years hence. AXES carry a warning that they are not intended to be used as splitting wedges – how stupid do you have to be to think that a knife could stand up to pummeling without breaking? And they ALL break, kids. NEVER use your knife as a splitting wedge – unless you’re using your laptop as the hammer. http://www.tactical-life.com/author/lenmcdougall/ “
Len McDougall is a prolific author of books on survival, tracking, and related fields. He is a contributor (or more, I am not completely sure) at Tactical-Life.com. His credentials as a survival expert are bulletproof. That said, while I agree with his assessment of the Mackinac as a knife, I respectfully disagree with his position on batoning.
Thanks for checking us out. You have an impressive CV and a nice website.
I don’t disagree that there are better options at the price point than the Mackinac Hunter. The review is 3 years old, and as I have gotten more familiar with Cold Steel knives, I think that the Mackinac stands out as one of the few fairly good knives from CS amid a sea of mediocrity.
I do have to respectfully disagree with you when it comes to the utility of batoning. No one is arguing that it is more efficient than a hatchet or a machete. For extended use, either of those tools is vastly preferable. If you are car camping or around an extended base camp they are great. My CRKT Halfachance lives in my Jeep when it is not tagging along on a boat-fishing trip. However, most of my outdoor activity revolves around being a wade flyfishing guide.
I am already schlepping tackle, lunch, water, and a spare rod up the mountain with me. I don’t have space or weight available to be carrying an axe or machete up unless I know for sure that there is a tree I want to clear.
That said, I need a knife that can handle some wood processing in an emergency or survival situation. I might need to build a fire or cut poles to make a shelter or fasten a travois (pole drag stretcher) to move an injured client. I bush knife ought to be able to handle cutting a couple of <3″ staves or prepping kindling from larger stock.
I don’t disagree that this is miles from the Mackinac’s stated purpose. I used it for batoning to demonstrate the robustness of the tri-ad lock and the overall strength of the knife. The fact that the knife was undamaged was a testament to its strength, rather than recommendation for use.
Thanks for reading, I would love to interview you sometime.
Some readers, most notably Spencer (who hasn’t commented in a while…I hope all is well buddy), fall clearly in Mr. McDougall’s “No Baton” camp. Others have agreed with me when we have discussed the topic before, that batoning is not an unreasonable task for a bushcraft knife provided you are smart about it.
As far as when it comes to testing and review, I firmly believe that it is a valid test for the overall strength of a knife’s construction.
What say you?