Thanks for the great discussion and your enthusiasm for the SzaboHawk.
We're currently gearing up for the SOFIC Special Operations trade show and Kristi and I were discussing models that we wanted to feature in the full-page ad in the show guide. After taking a hard look at all the new and soon-to-becoming Spyderco stuff, we thought the SzaboHawk might be the best fit. Through a bit of begging, I was able to get one production sample without a sheath that I could beat up for some in-use photos for the ad.
The interesting thing about the SzaboHawk, for me, is the curved handle. By gripping it at different heights, you can incrementally change the angle of contact of the cutting edges. Gripping at the end so the head was higher than my hand allowed me to chop with the full length of the primary edge hitting parallel to the ground. For chopping and splitting kindling, this worked really well. For lighter, more detailed work, like notching or putting a point on a stake, choking up on the handle put my hand more on the same level as the primary edge, shortened the lever, and gave me more control with the same angle of edge engagement. Choking up all the way allowed me to work with the primary edge like a wood chisel--push cutting for detailed work.
Where the difference comes in from a chopping perspective is when you do more of an extended, combative swing. The arc of the handle causes the point of the two cutting edges to impact first, creating shearing forces in both directions. An old galvanized trash can allowed me to play with this aspect of the Hawk's function. Piercing the sheet steel of the can was ridiculously easy and both the edge and the TICN coating held up very well. Combatively, this type of chop will be the most likely strike to be delivered by the SzaboHawk. Suffice to say that it does it really well.
The hammer surface is small but very functional. I wouldn't use it for nails, but hammering tent pegs and aiming stakes was no problem. The reverse curve of the handle is a little awkward at first, but I found choking up closer to the middle of the curve easily mitigated that.
With photos successfully shot, I had to satisfy my own curiosity to see how it throws. With the exception of a few custom Tru-Balance throwing knives handmade by the late Harry McKevoy that I have in my collection, I don't typically throw high-dollar stuff, but if I was going to speak authoritatively about the SzaboHawk, I wanted to speak from real experience. I can honestly say that the SzaboHawk is one of the most fun-to-throw hawks I've ever used. The reason is that its curved handle and heavy, solid tang give it a much more "centered" balance and a faster spin. Throwing distance for a single spin was about 12-13 feet, versus the 20+ feet I typically need for a traditional straight-handled hawk. Despite the flare at the handle butt, the release was smooth and easy and, after one failure to stick on the first ranging throw, it stuck beautifully every time.
I really enjoy my job, but sometimes much more than others. This was one of those times...