Lofty Wiseman Tool
By: Graham Allen
A very interesting chap introduced himself at the Gun Mart stand a couple of years back at the Midland Game Fair; his name was Ivan Williams and he had something very interesting with him.
It was a prototype for the survival tool that he’d been developing with John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman. If you’ve not heard of Lofty before, he’s a survival expert who has appeared on numerous TV programmes over the years, demonstrating how to live off the land, construct shelters, light fires etc. He gained this knowledge during the 26 years he spent in the SAS and was in fact the youngest person to be selected for this elite unit and was involved in the operation to storm the besieged Iranian embassy in London. He’s spent decades passing on his skills to service personnel and really knows what works and what doesn’t. If your plane crashes on a deserted island, just make sure Lofty is with you! If he’s not with you, ensure you’ve read his best selling manual, the Ultimate SAS Survival Book.
Ivan is a fine art lecturer, inventor (check out his multi-purpose, all-terrain wheelbarrow at www.busybarrow.com), sculptor, knife designer and all round clever bloke, so was the ideal man to produce just what Lofty envisaged. Lofty wanted a single tool that could be used to fell trees, cut branches, prepare kindling for fire starting and skin and prepare game for the pot. The inspiration is the parang, a type of machete used in the jungles of Indonesia.
The Production Version
Ivan was back again at the GunMart stand at last year’s show (it must have been the prospect of more wine and chilli) with the production version of the Lofty Wiseman tool that is being made by Samuel Stanforth of Sheffield, who’ve been making knives since 1864. The tool is laser cut from BS EN9 carbon steel and later hardened to Rockwell RC54 near the hand ground cutting edge, making it perfect for prolonged usage whilst still remaining sharp. The main body is left un-tempered however, as a degree of flexibility is necessary in an item such as this, so that it doesn’t snap during hard usage. The one-piece full-tang construction encompasses the elegantly curved, 11 inch blade and is ¼” (6mm) thick, which is more than enough to impart strength and weight. Overall length is 16 inches and a black nylon lanyard is supplied, threaded through a hole drilled in the base of the tang. The blade has Lofty’s signature etched into it and a serial number. Ivan’s design flair really shows in the shape of the blade, the grip and the flowing lines which are almost organic. Most tools of this type are usually quite utilitarian, so it’s nice to see something so stylish yet practical.
The ergonomically contoured beech grip scales are CNC milled by master gun makers Boxhall and Edmiston, and are held in place by epoxy resin and Torx head screws. The pronounced finger groove may look a little OTT, but it’s there for a reason, as we will see later. The grip angle ensures that the blade arrives at its destination before the user’s hand. Overall weight is 24 oz, which I think is just about right; light enough to be carried all day, but heavy enough for serious work.
The sheath is also a truly tough affair, made from black Cordura, with the two sides riveted and stitched together. There’s a belt loop at the top, a lanyard hole at the bottom and three press-studs to keep the blade secure in transit. As you can tell from the photos and description, this is one well thought out piece of kit, but the only real test is to actually use it.
I thought I’d see what sort of cutting and chopping jobs needed doing at home and at work. The first task was to cut up some branches to make them easier to chop up for firewood; I could have used a saw, but this was much more fun! The branches had recently been cut from an ash tree, so were still pretty green but the test survival tool made light work of them, taking off large chunks with each blow. It’s best to cut larger stuff with the fatter section of the blade about 4” from the tip, and for tasks such as feathering twigs for kindling, the part nearer the grip is better.
The next task was to remove epicormic growth from the bottom of various hawthorn trees at work and I soon had a huge pile of brushwood. I’d already seen how well the tool chopped through seasoned fence posts, so the 3 X 2 off cuts I had lying around in the garage soon had huge lumps out of them. The shape of the grip really came into its own and the ridge near where your forefinger lies is a bonus, as it positions your hand correctly and allows the tool to pivot, thereby imparting extra momentum to the cutting action.
Slice and dice
I then decided to see how the blade fared on some chicken breasts and vegetables ready for a stir-fry, and despite all the heavy duty work outside, the blade sliced through them as well as a kitchen knife. I also used the upper front portion of the blade and it would be possible to save this section for delicate work in a real survival situation.
The blade kept a very good edge throughout the tasks I put it to and it would be simple to keep it razor sharp with a stone. I do think some sort of sharpening stone should have been included with this tool, held in a pocket on the sheath, as it would make the owner completely self-sufficient. It’s no big deal to keep a stone in with outdoor gear, but having one on board would mean you’d never leave it behind. I mentioned this to Ivan, but it looks like he’s ahead of me…
I doubt I’ll ever be in the position where I’ll need a tool such as this to keep alive, build shelters etc., but if I were, I’d be very well equipped if I had a Lofty Wiseman Signature Survival Tool with me. It just goes to show what can be achieved when two experts in their field come together. For general chopping and cutting duties it’s second to none and I’ve got a feeling I’ll have to invest in one.
The Lofty Wiseman Signature Survival Tool is available from Scorpion Knives and costs £166. A slightly smaller version with an 8 ½” blade costs £138.
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates