The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 29, 2001, 02:01 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: December 29, 1998
Location: Dallas, Texas (United States)
Posts: 416
Designing Fixed Blade Custom Fighter from Scratch...Need Help Please!!

Hello Everyone,

Currently I am attempting to design a custom fixed blade knife and could use some experienced opinions as I am somewhat new to knife design.

First off I live in Dallas, Texas where the state law limits civilians to carrying a knife with a single sided blade of no more the 5 1/2 inches in length. I am not in law enforcement, but carry two firearms legally with a permit. In some cases the guns must be left behind and this knife will be my primary implement of deadly force.

The knife will be a pure fighter with no utilitarian tasks or second purpose. We are talking about a custom single minded machine that is to be optimized for fighting...nothing else. Further, I am not concerned with the appearance of the knife being "too aggressive" or "combat like" or other such thing. Texas seems much less concerned about such crap as other more liberal states. In fact, I would prefer a rather aggressive look to enhance the chance that the mere display of the piece might discourage hostilities altogether and avoid a messy legal entanglement.

Cost is not a factor. I want the best for this very critical mission.

Thus far I am very interested in making the knife with 1/4 inch stock for extra weight and cutting momentum.

The piece will either be carried inside the waistband on the weak side or in a special leather sheath added to my shoulder holster that carries my firearm in the cooler months. Please bear in mind that the knife will be used in some of the hotter months that can go as high as 110 degrees and near 100% humidity.

In my own cutting tests plain old 1050 carbon steel has been my favorite material from the standpoint of cutting power. Further, I have been very unimpressed by ATS-34 and its cutting power as rendered by a supposedly top drawer custom smith.

What custom knife maker(s) would you suggest for this project?

What material(s) would you use to fabricate the knife from?

What blade shape would allow the knife to be equally good at stabbing and slashing movements?

What blade shape would deliver maximum damage per wound?

What type of handle shape and material(s) would you use?

What type of guard would you use?

What additional features (e.g., skull crusher hilt, etc.) would you add to enhance the combat effectiveness and/or visual impact of the piece?

Lastly, I may opt to have the knife customized for appearance as well as utility...much as the fancy guns carried by the Texas Rangers of years past. Any input on features that are decorative, but do not detract from the utility of the piece would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for all of the help on this project.

- Anthony
Anthony is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 03:53 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: May 30, 2001
Location: Lacomb, Oregon
Posts: 1,393
While not a custom designed blade... what about a short Ka-Bar?

Baby Ka-Bar

They have a % 1/4 inch blade, leather ring handle, may not count as double-edged with the sort false edge, has a solid pommel, and is good looking.

You could then custom design an IWB sheath.
Molon Labe

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson
Don't Tread On Me!
"Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none" -- Thomas Jefferson

In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Seeker is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 08:50 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: March 25, 1999
Posts: 3,147

That would be TFL's sister-site, and would have all of your answers.

The axe bites into the door, ripping a hole in one panel. The maniac puts his face into the hole, cackling gleefully, "Here's Johnny...erk."
"And here's Smith and Wesson," murmurs Coronach, Mozambiquing six rounds of .357 into the critter at a range of three feet. -Lawdog

"True pacifism is the finest form of manliness. But if a man comes up to you and cuts your hand off, you don't just offer him the other one. Not if you want to go on playing the piano, you don't." -Sam Peckinpah

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -Robert Heinlein
Coronach is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 10:07 AM   #4
Joe Demko
Senior Member
Join Date: September 14, 2000
Posts: 1,143
In such a short blade, the extra weight from using quarter inch stock will avail you little in terms of chopping power. IMO, you end up with blades too "wedgey" to slash and slice really well when you use such thick stock in short blades; unless, of course. you are willing to pay for a deep hollow grind that will leave the spine that thick while thinning out the rest of the blade.
Since you are planning on dedicating it as a defensive tool, I'd go with one of the premium grades of stain-resistant steel like ATS-34 over a plain carbon steel. Since you aren't going to be doing routine tasks with it, edge retention isn't an issue. Resisting corrosion from sweat is. On a carbon steel knife, the edge itself will corrode away from the moisture it picks up from being carried close to your body even if the rest of the blade is coated with epoxy paint or similar.
Also, IMO, a fearsome appearance will gain you nothing. The first awareness your opponent should have of your blade is when you cut him with it. Brandishing it is asking for problems on all sorts of levels.
If I were designing such a knife for myself, I'd end up with a clip point blade (sharpened clip if legal in your area) that has the point centered rather than upswept. I'd use 3/8" stock from one of the higher grade stain-resistant steels and a single-side brass guard. If you picture something like a smaller version of a Randall #1 w/ full tang and single-side guard, that would be it exactly. I'd also spend a lot of time and effort on a sheath that would make carrying it easy.
Joe Demko is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 12:37 PM   #5
Join Date: May 7, 2001
Location: Murfreesboro, TN
Posts: 85
I second the site and also their "rival" sit eis Also check out -- it is a microtech forum and they could offer you some good advice. Good luck and post some updates--
Small Classic Sebenza -or- Mnandi & Jil UP 1.3w light
1998 BMW 328i 5-speed...Arctic Silver with Dove Grey leather
DPSproles is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 12:45 PM   #6
Jody Hudson
Senior Member
Join Date: February 16, 2000
Location: Near Rehoboth Beach Delaware
Posts: 1,140
I would also suggest that whatever knife you get, that the handle be made slim, such as one wrapped in paracord, so that it fits easily and flat against the body.

Also, I'd go with a thinner blade and one a bit flexible, not much, just enough to not break, such as Cold Steel makes.

Then, I'd put a Spiderco serrated edge on it so that it will cut through fabrics or rope, etc. as needed.

My friend Gerald Willey will put a Spiderco edge on the knife for you. He does it for custom Spiderco knives for the company and he can do it for you.

He is: Willey Made Knives
302-349-4070, Box 235-B Rd 1/14210 Sugar Hill Rd Greenwood, DE 19950
We help people relocate to Rehoboth Beach Delaware.
Our Site:
Jody Hudson is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 04:31 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: May 23, 2001
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 1,576
Anthony, How would YOU fight with it? Are there any fighting disciplines that you have practiced? This should be the principal factor in designing your fighter.

Generally, blade designs go around the particular forms of martial arts/defense training that will be employed. If you don't have any knife-fighting training, get some. Filipino martial arts have been particularly popular because of their no-nonsense "get the job done" approach.

For a short blade, 1/4" may be too thick and unbalanced. By the time you have it honed-down to a fighter's edge, you'll have a thinner blade anyway. Small fighters are supposed to be fast, and invisible. I'm not into flashy blades except on collectables. The knives I've carried (mostly folders) remain tactical, and I have no intention of letting anyone know I have it on me. Business blades usually have a beauty all to themselves anyways.

Skull crusher pommels are good, since it gives an additional striking area.
CWL is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 07:15 PM   #8
Brian Williams
Senior Member
Join Date: September 4, 2001
Location: Lancaster, PA
Posts: 1,280
The Randall #1 sounds like just what you want...

Also check out the Firemans model and the combat companion models here
Brian Williams is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 09:27 PM   #9
Jody Hudson
Senior Member
Join Date: February 16, 2000
Location: Near Rehoboth Beach Delaware
Posts: 1,140
Cold Steel Knives and Training

There is considerable strong opinion that Cold Steel has some of the best real life training available. I like the knives they have as well and that may save you a lot of time and money.

MOST martial arts training of any kind is better for the Dojo than for the street -- for the simple fact that on the street they don't practice the same moves and counter moves nor do they have the same rules.

The Cold Steel seminar is Cut and Don't Be Cut and runs $400 for two days. I have read MANY positive and unsolicited comments about the training from serious martial arts instructors and real life fighters, i.e. street fighters. I like what I have read and think they are likely the best. What I know is from prison and from the streets and what I know is that I would not go to a Dojo for training in real street and prison knife fighting.

(800) 255-4716 3036-A Seaborg Avenue, Ventura, CA 93003 is the site which is the slowest loading site I've ever seen and therefore nearly useless. It's a good thing they sell knives and not web sites.

You can see the knives easier here

Good luck in your quest and training.

Having a knife has nothing to do with knowing how to use a knife or keep one from being used on you.

The most proficient knife fighter I ever knew was a migrant laborer I worked with when I was 15 and 16. He was the only knife fighter I ever met with NO scars. I worked with a couple of dozen experienced knife fighters all of whom had lots and lots of scars but the one. I saw him fight one time. The other guy pulled the knife first and had a very large knife. He got cut over a dozen times, and badly, in about 1 or two seconds and when he first lunged the expert did not even have a knife out. The expert fighter used a $3 folding fishing knife that he bought at a county fair that had a little less than a 4 inch blade and it was fairly dull and rusty. He was fast, ruthless, repetitive and surprising. He messed up the far larger guy with the far larger knife very badly.

I heard the attacker got over 400 stitches and three weeks in the hospital, the hospital being because of all the facial slashes and that he lost both eyes -- I don't know if all that was true.

All I know is that about 15 to 30 seconds after the cutting -- where the expert did all that cutting in a second or two and then ran, that the big guy suddenly gushed blood from all over his face, neck, arms and chest.

It convinced me to never, ever, willingly get into a knife fight. I learned even more about such things from the other migrants and later when I worked in the prison system.

The worst thing of all about street fighters is that they are used to cutting and being cut badly. I had migrant workers who would come to work after a fight a night or two before, cut all to pieces, one after a hatchet and axe fight where he had a chunk cut out of his shoulder the size of an egg and he just laughed about it.

I don't want to fight a street fighter, they are used to it.

Concentrate on learning about real fighting and that is NOT in the Dojo -- unless you find one where they mop up blood... after the training session, and that's called a prison usually as that is where a lot of the training happens.
We help people relocate to Rehoboth Beach Delaware.
Our Site:
Jody Hudson is offline  
Old October 29, 2001, 11:33 PM   #10
Join Date: July 19, 2001
Posts: 58
Knife Material

1. Go to your local restarant supply store and ask for an 8 inch Wustoff Chef knife. Take a look on the side for the type of stainless steel it's made out of. Then use that as your primary metal.

2. Keep your design simple.

3. Get some sort of Escrima knife ( Phillpino)training or else you'll be dead in a fight involving a blade.

4. Most knife attacks nowadays are Sewing machine prison style stabbing attacks.

5. If you want to fight with a knife and think your not going to be cut. You've already lost the fight.
madgrad is offline  
Old October 30, 2001, 05:49 AM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: December 17, 1998
Posts: 479
I second the training idea--assuming you don't have any, of course. Filipino can be very good.

After buying, carrying and manipulating-to-the-point-of-muscle-memory a great deal of knives, I have come to the conclusion that there aren't really any "must have" features on a knife other than extreme sharpness. Anything else, you can just work around it.

However, I have found a big guard to be helpful. For saber grip, a serrated thumb ramp is nice. And a toothy gripping surface for the scales is also a big plus when keeping the knife in your hand is a primary concern.

All that said, many of my favorite knives are like poison to my friends--they hate them because they don't fit their hand or style. Just go to your local knife store and handle about 1000 knives. If you don't fall in love with any of them (and even if you do--hard not to), start picking out the features you like. As to makers, anyone who is willing to work with your ideas and knows how to really sharpen a knife is a good choice.
Mort is offline  
Old October 31, 2001, 03:05 AM   #12
Junior Member
Join Date: October 1, 2001
Location: southeast
Posts: 9
Since you only asked about the knife, I won't go into training.

David Dempsey crafted a custom fighter for me that I am very pleased with. My personal knife is forged 1095 steel with a cordwrap over rayskin grip. This grip is very secure in the hand. David will work with whatever steel you want, but I really suggest the cordwrap handle. He has a nice model out called the kozuda that you may want to look at. is the website or

[email protected] is the email to David.
If you are gonna be stupid, you had better be tough.
STUMP is offline  
Old October 31, 2001, 10:06 AM   #13
Brian Killing Tangos
Join Date: September 30, 2001
Location: North Texas
Posts: 21
These guys know knives!
Brian Killing Tangos is offline  
Old October 31, 2001, 11:40 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: October 5, 2000
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 559
All the advice above is good. The problem is that there are hundreds of styles that work...pick what's best for you. Don't go custom if you don't have to (although I'll be glad to have your money either way).

One comment: a "pure fighter" not only doesn't exist, but would be trash. In 16 years in the military (active and reserve) and travelling and working, I've opened thousands of crates, cut hundreds of branches, split bands, sandbags, etc, and have yet to cut a person. If you can ONLY fight with it (impossible, but for sake of argument), it's ballast.

A well-made knife will cut. It will also stab. It will also pry. Even in a fight, you will use it as a block, a ward, against hard targets, soft, etc.

You can get a decent quality one for around $30 -$50. You can get an excellent quality one for $100-$200. Beyond that, either you have unique needs, or you're showing off.

Cold Steel Kobun Tanto is good (might be a tad long, but can be shortened). Busse makes a 5" blade. I or any other maker can handily do you one that will be stronger than anything you'll need it for.

going cheaper, the short Kabar is excellent, as are Ontario cutlery. In folders, I _LOVE_ my Camillus Cuda or a Benchmade. Below that are CRKT and clones, inexpensive but quality. Buck has some fairly flat tacticals.

Below that, imports that hold up well enough, and are cheap enough you aren't afraid to either
A) lose them,
2) throw them away if circumstances dictate, or
c) have the cops proudly make part of their display of weapons taken from hoods (even if you are in the right, getting your possessions back can be an uphill fight. IPD has had my .45 for 2 months now, and there are no charges against me).

more info? Free, and you don't even have to buy from me.
3-8 weekdays at 317-882-3022 or online at [email protected]
FORGED IN BLOOD, (editor), Sept 2017, Baen Books
THE TIDE OF BATTLE, July 2018, Baen Books
madmike is offline  
Old November 2, 2001, 12:34 AM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: June 5, 2000
Location: Job hunting on the road...
Posts: 3,827
If you don't carry it, it's useless.

I _really_ like my CRKT Crawford Kasper... It's the shorter one, which fits much easier in my hand and my pocket, and dang, but it is FAST to open... The thumb flickit is in just the right spot.

FWIW, I also own a Spyder Endura, a CRKT M-16 (regular tanto blade), a CRKT Ryan, a CRKT Kiss (so darn cute for a money clip), and a few others... I carry the CK all the time...
Job hunting, but helping a friend out at - and learning the finer aspects of becoming a precision machinist.

And making the world's greatest bottle openers!
Bogie is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:38 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2020 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11078 seconds with 8 queries