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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    301

    Default Small to mid fixed blades

    I will come right out and say it- I don't believe in folders. I personally feel they have no purpose in violent social interactions. Too many variables as far as deployment, not to mention risks of failure. I carry a benchmade bugout for utility purposes mostly due to the size and weight of the knife. The Spyderco Delica would also fill this role well im sure.

    I started with small fixed blades when I was a baby soldier because I found folding knives to be a pain in the ass to lock and unlock when I was wearing gloves. I picked up an Ontario RAT-3 in 1095. The sheath system was pretty good for the time and it did the job. Later I got a Benchmade Nimravus at Ranger Joe's and a couple of the Masters of Defense Massad Ayoob fixed blades. I thought I was cool. I was also 19. The RAT3 stayed on my gear the other 3 went in a drawer. Keep in mind I had no interest in using it as a weapon just general soldierly things.

    Fast forward more than a decade. I get out and go to work in law enforcement. While in the military I had a rifle, sidearm, and buddies with me. Now I'm down a dirt road with my rifle in the car and back up 20 minutes out. This is when I started taking edged weapons more seriously, initially as a weapon retention tool, and then as another option off duty. The Gang Unit is still what I consider to be the perfect knife for this role. I realize the GNS and GU are now things of the past.

    I have seen so many officers and deputies carry folders in their off side pockets, many of them not correctly set up for left side carry. My concern is them being able to access a folder, even if it is a super cool "switchblade" while fighting over their side arm. I think the small to medium fixed blade is the answer, since I unintentionally became the resident expert at my department on sharp objects and SI no longer does edged tools, I have handled, bought, researched or fondled several so I thought I would share my conclusions with the tribe.

    *sheath has to be kydex and well made- this is not really an option with the exception of the Winkler series which is kydex wrapped in leather.
    *it needs to support or come with an attachment system that allows it to be carried where it can be accessed with either hand or that necessity can be negated by carrying 2 but we all know ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. I prefer horizontal just left of the belt buckle, but your preference is fine as long as it can be accessed with either hand.
    *anything that has to be manipulated to access the knife makes it an immediate no for me.

    Some of the better choices I have found, this is my no means extensive, but I either have these or some one I know has them and let me use them for a day or 2. I took into account weapon and utility purposes.

    Spyderco Street Beat- I personally hate the supplied belt attachment, but others may find it serviceable. The newer plastic handled version with rubber insets is my preference over the older fancier version. It offers more grip. The VG-10 steel is a great all around performer and sharpens up easily, with relatively basic sharpening equipment. It can also be had for around 100 bucks.

    RMJ tactical UCAP- This one comes in an excellent sheath and the supplied horizontal carry loops are pretty good. I would replace them with a large tek-lok for duty use. The 52100 steel will rust if not properly maintained, but the toughness it provides more than makes up for having to wipe oil on it occasionally. The handle scales are where this model really shines. The don't feel super rough or tear up clothing but once you grip tight they lock in. Right at 240 most places

    Bradford Guardian 3, 3.5, and 4- I grouped these together because they are pretty similar. The steel choices for these models are exhausting. M390, 3V, Vanadis4E, N690, AEB-L, Nitro-V and I know I'm missing some. The handle design is unconventional on the 3 and 4 but once you get used to it they are pretty awesome. The 3.5 has a more traditional handle design. Wharncliffe, sheep's foot and drop point round out the blade shape choices on the 3. The 3.5 has a drop point and tanto option. The 4 only has the drop point option. Handle options abound and there are even options for the grind The biggest downside is making sure you get kydex. Some of them come with them, and some don't, kydex is available for all models and this is good because the factory leather sucks. Like severely sucks ass. Price range is all over the fucking place from 120 to 300 depending on options.

    ESEE 3 and 4- Same knife , different blade lengths. Comes with excellent sheathing, a tek-lok or some molle clips and its ready to rock. It is available in 1095 or 440c. I'm partial to this knife because I spent a lot if time with an old school 3. The handles may not be comfortable for people with big hands, but that can easily be remedied with after market scales or going with the HM series models. They are also bargains that can easily be had for less that 100 bucks.

    RMJ Tactical Unmei- The is a very pretty knife. Same bad ass scales as the UCAP, more upswept shape and slightly longer. Nitro V steel which I will admit to being obsessed with. Tough, very high corrosion resistance and easy to sharpen. Sheath is very similar to the UCAP. About 250 most places.

    Winkler Knives Blue Ridge Hunter- Somewhat scaled down version of their famous belt knife that is issued to every cool guy unit in the whole world. The rubber handle option is kind of ugly but super functional. The 80CRV2 steel is a little bit of a bitch for me to sharpen, but its tough. The sheath is what really stands out. It is very nice looking, its leather over kydex and very well executed. The attachment is well done and allows for multiple angles to be used. Around 350

    Tops Street Scalpel 2- Less than a hundred bucks 1095 and doesn't have that stupid fucking TOPS rotating spring clip. This is the smallest knife on this list, but the handle is large enough to get a secure grip on it. I took the stock belt loops off, installed an Ulti-Clip and carry it inverted clipped to the interior pocket of my jacket. It is much improved over the original generation of the Scalpel. More secure in the hand and the blade stock is thinner making it live up to being a scalpel much more so than the original.

    Spyderco Ronin 2- Janich designed weaponized wharncliffe I guess would be the way to describe it. The sheath is good although not at good as the original Spyderco ronin. The price is fair at around a hundred bucks. I personally don't care much for this particular shape but it is well made and thin while still filling the hand. Around a hundred bucks with CTS-BD1 blade steel which I don't know much about

    Emerson PUK- Police Utility knife. I like it, the chisel edge is very easy to resharpen in the field. Sheath is serviceable and its comfortable in the hand. At 250 in 154cm would I buy it? Probably not, but it does seem well made and would probably do a good job.
    Last edited by HeavySmoke; 01-03-2020 at 11:43 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    9,954
    My primary is a GU but as you pointed out they are hard to come by. My 2 follow ups for "get off me" blades is an ESEE izula with micarta scales, Boker Magnum Raccoon, or Ka Bar TDI.

    I've never considered folders to be more than utility tools, not fighters.


    ETA: Boker has a number of selections that will fit your needs in sizes and blade profiles for everything. I also have one of the older versions of the "Real Steel Mini" that I use as a hide away, total length is only about 2.75"
    Last edited by Greg Nichols; 01-03-2020 at 12:13 PM.
    Greg "Hyena" Nichols
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    339
    Great list, with some excellent alternatives to the now-unavailable GnS and GU (both of which I am fortunate to own and which are my go-to fixed blades for EDC). I'll actually forward this on to a buddy who is looking for a knife to fill this niche.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
    Posts
    5,827
    If I had a job where I regularly go into harms way, absolutely I'd carry a fixed blade. I do not, and there is a limit to how much I can conceal and comfortably carry. With a pistol and extra magazine on my belt, there is just not room to conceal more (at least not in a way that I'm willing to do on a regular basis). I carry my Heretic on my left side...a tool I designed specifically for close quarter problems where you're fighting for access/retention of your pistol. It's not a blade but is close enough for the intended purpose.

    Folders are a compromise because they are easier to carry. Most people are going to find successfully accessing and deploying most folders under pressure is...challenging. Some are better than others but they are all a compromise. I carry a folder because a folding knife is a very useful tool and it's easy to carry. Mine is set up for much faster access than most, but I'm under no illusion - as a weapon it is tertiary.


    The biggest problem with fixed blades is the sheath. Some blades are of course better than others but to me the blade is less important than accessibility...it's all about how easily and quickly you can get the blade out under pressure. How the blade attaches to you is important. Personally I despise tek-loks...yes they are convenient but they are also clunky, bulky and stick out way to far from the belt for my purposes (concealment vs. duty is a totally different context). My favorite is the soft loops just like my pistol, but I have found a metal clip that works well when a shirt needs to be tucked. (I don't recall what it is at the moment). The 550 cord loops work great for concealment but when you are really in the shit I have found that they don't necessarily stay in place. So I have taken to using both a metal clip AND the 550 cord...the clip keeps it in place and the 550 is there just in case.

    The other thing I consider more important than the blade is the handle. Knives should be set up so they work from different grips (we have our preferences but the bad guy doesn't always let us have what we want). Some knives really only work with one grip and that's not ideal. Finally, rounded edges on the grip conceal better than sharp edges.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Close Range Gunfighting 3, Oregon
    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
    Posts
    5,827
    When I choose to carry a concealed fixed blade, it's either a GU or a Vixen by Echo Delta Charlie Knives. The latter is a bit bigger but actually conceals a little easier for me based on the shape and grip.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Close Range Gunfighting 3, Oregon
    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    339
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Yamamoto View Post
    When I choose to carry a concealed fixed blade, it's either a GU or a Vixen by Echo Delta Charlie Knives. The latter is a bit bigger but actually conceals a little easier for me based on the shape and grip.
    Ooh, sexy—I like that design.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    339
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Yamamoto View Post
    Personally I despise tek-loks...yes they are convenient but they are also clunky, bulky and stick out way to far from the belt for my purposes (concealment vs. duty is a totally different context). My favorite is the soft loops just like my pistol, but I have found a metal clip that works well when a shirt needs to be tucked. (I don't recall what it is at the moment).
    Ulticlip makes a clip that would work pretty well that attaches just to the waistband but kinda grips the belt; I plan to put one on my GnS sheath and on my GU sheath, just haven't yet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
    Posts
    5,827
    Quote Originally Posted by Faramir2 View Post
    Ooh, sexy—I like that design.
    Yeah, it's a well designed knife. If I were to design a knife, the Vixen is really damn close. I'd have no compunction to do so but I'm friends with the guy that designed it and I just don't want to go there. It's spendy but it's a great knife and I'm very happy with it. The sheath is also very well done.

    I don't have it handy at the moment. I'm familiar with the Utiliclip but what I have on there is different. It's tuckable and conceals reasonably well (though not so well that I carry it everywhere).

    I have a titanium clip on my GU...again I forget what make. I'm quite happy with it...but it's not tuckable.

    In general I'm a big fan of carrying a knife so that I can access with either hand. And I really gravitate towards by left hand because if it comes to a fight, it's most likely that I'm going to guns. So my right hand will be busy...if not drawing and firing then focused on retention. The left hand must be good at access and use with the blade.

    How many of you practice knife work with your support hand?

    The knife guys I have worked with (and I've done much less knife than I have empty hand and pistol) all say to train knife with only your primary hand; that we have limited training time and while training both hands is nice it is not a priority. In general I am much more of a train both hands equally guy, but I can see where they are coming from.

    I'm a gun guy, not a knife guy. For me, using a knife is just karate with something stabby in my hand...so my hands are pretty equal. But I submit that if you're a gun guy, maybe it's a good idea to devote most of your knife training to your support hand.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Close Range Gunfighting 3, Oregon
    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    996
    Would add Spyderco Enuff to the mix, but only Leaf and Trailing point as the Sheepsfoot has no tactical value in the role

  10. #10
    Hideaway Knives
    Clinch pick
    Gang Unit
    KaBar TDI
    Colonel Blade
    Sog Instinct

    The fixed blades I use.

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