Last summer I sold a cow whip to Matt and we struck up an internet friendship. He sent some photos of a paracord whip he was working on that he used a diamond plait throughout the entire whip, which really impressed me as dropping strands in diamond plait is a very difficult thing to do. Also, he had seen the article on the Bernie Wojcicki whip I had bought a year or two ago and he had mentioned that he had one as well, which, of course, lead to a long discussion of Bernie’s whips and videos. A little while later he mentioned that he was making a paracord copy of his (or at least I thought that was what he said) and of course I expressed interest in seeing photos of the finished whip.
We corresponded on and off over the next few months and then, last weekend while I was at work my wife called me to tell me that FedEx had delivered a package from Matt. My first thought was that something was wrong with the whip I had sold him-one of my biggest worries with wooden-handled whips is the handle splitting or breaking (fortunately it’s never happened, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about it,) so I had her bring it up to where I work.
In the package were two whips from Matt, one was the Bernie copy, and the other was the diamond plaited whip I had admired. I was gobsmacked! Turns out I had missed an email from him the week before when he told me he was shipping the whips to me. I’m kind of glad I missed them-the shock of seeing the whips was pretty cool.
So, here we go with photos and descriptions and impressions gathered over the last week of playing with these whips.
First is the Bernie copy. It wasn’t a copy of Matt’s Bernie, it was a copy of my whip! Matt had made it using the photos and descriptions of the whip from my post a few years ago. There are a few differences of course. One is that the original Bernie whip is kangaroo hide and this one is paracord, which brings us to the second difference; 550 paracord is approximately 4.5 mm wide (different manufacturers vary) and kangaroo strands can be cut to any width you want, so in order to match the diameter of the original whip he had to use 20 strands of the paracord to cover the same as 16 of the wider cut kangaroo lace, which means that the patterns aren’t exactly the same (not so noticeable, though) and he had 4 more strands to drop during the plait than Bernie did. Finally, most kangaroo hide bullwhips end in an 8 strand fall hitch with the strands being about 3mm thick. Matt ended this whip in an 8 strand fall hitch as well but since the paracord strands are still 4.5 mm wide, the tail of the whip and the fall hitch is slightly bulkier than the original. The difference is not that much, though.
Enough of the differences, now for the similarities. The whips weigh almost exactly the same. The fall is the same length but made of 3 layers of paracord threaded inside each other instead of white-hide. It has the same blue bailing twine cracker. The handle is the same length (9-inches), the balance is the same, and the feel is the same. It is a long (9 ft,) heavy, slow-rolling whip with a deep, resounding crack, truly a joy to use. Matt really did an outstanding job with this whip.
Now for the barber pole whip. First of all the plaiting is lovely, it starts as a 24-plait single diamond in a barber pole pattern. the pattern directions change where the strands are dropped. Also, at the drops, there are sections where strands go over 2, under 2 instead of O1U1, but it can’t be helped if you are going to maintain the barber pole effect. Unless you are specifically looking for them they aren’t that noticeable. the overall effect of the pattern of a moving optical illusion and very cool.
This is a shorter whip at 6.5 ft with a 12-inch handle that is quite thick and heavy. Because of the diamond plait throughout the length of the whip, it is also very stiff. The whip will definitely take a while to break in. Flicks are a little difficult for me to do with this whip, but that might have as much to do with my old, arthritic wrists as the whip itself. The balance is also a little odd to me, but, once again, is probably more because of my weak wrists than the whip and is something I expect to be able to adapt to as I practice with and break in this whip. It might not be fair to put this whip in the same post as the Bernie copy. I am so overwhelmed at the quality of that whip that I may be shortchanging the Barber pole whip. It’s Matt’s fault though, he sent them in the same package.
Now for the photos. Matt took these and included them in the package along with extra falls and crackers for both whips.