Showing posts with label karambit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label karambit. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2019


A recent episode of the “The Rookie’ shows one of the characters showing his last resort knife to his training officer.  It resembles a Benchmade 175BK push dagger.  It’s a short story arc that helps support the longer main arc.   

Still, one can see why real LEOs will carry a last resort weapon.  They don’t have a room of script magicians to write them out of the problem.  These weapons are usually very simple to use.  Any tool that requires year to learn and five years to master will fall outside the definition of ‘tool-of-last-resort.’

Karambits have this tool potential.  The ordinary user can slip his little finger onto the loop and hold it in a hammer fist and simply claw his way out of danger trouble.  Placing your thumb on the back of curved spine will give you a little more feedback.  Are we not trained to touching things with our thumb?  The same almost autonomic reflex helps guide the blade.

Held in the reverse grip, the blade juts out of our fist like a prehistoric claw, perfectly situated for close infighting moves. Small wonder folding karambits are so popular.  Closed, they are easy to conceal, a basic impact weapon and open, it becomes so much more.

In the hands of someone with more training than I, the karambit has multiple applications.  The dull spine can be used use to trap and control opponent’s arms and balance, making a range of other physical responses available.  The razor edge lets you transition from physical control to higher levels of force almost instinctively. 

Folding karambits have some problems.  Opening isn’t always easy and fingers can get in the way of the edge.  Lock and pivot points wear and fail from applying load on the spine or side of the blade.  All knives direct the load into the handle but the twisting load generated by using the blade as a control device can cause handle failures.

Joe Caswell, karambit
CRKT's Provoke, designed for LEO and people in dangerous places

Many of the devices used to open the blade as you remove it from your pocket don’t assist you opening the karambit if you are holding it in your hand as an impact tool.

CRKT has taken Joe Caswell’s design and produced the Provoke It is a unique knife that may change how we open and close folding knives.  Your fingers are never in the path of the blade when opening or closing.  The blade is firmly locked in place by two stout arms.

closed Provoke, knife, karambit
The front of Joe Caswell's innovative folding karambit 

The problem is opening from the pocket draw.  The optimal opening has the index finger through the ring and the dull spine against the palm of your hand.  The thumb presses the back pivot point and the blade pops open.

Caswell, folding karambit
Back side of the Provoke.  The clip holds the knife deep in the pocket.  What you see doesn't look like a clip.

Here’s a right and left hand draw with opening showing the finger movements I use.  It looks clumsy when shone slowly to reveal finger movement.  It’s not.  Practice for ten minutes and it will feel completely natural to you.

Left side opening.  I needed to pivot out of the camera view to show the opening.  You really don't hold it like a soiled tea bag. 

Right side opening.  The knife must slide from the thumb to the index finger

It’s not an inexpensive knife and has limited general application.  Its cutting edge design and manufacturing has built in a high degree of reliability.  It is last-chance-tool to claw your way out from under the casket lid. 

Find yours at  MSRP is $200.00.  Cheap at that price.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tiger, tiger....

Karambits are popular right now for a variety of reasons.  Like so many weapons from South East Asia, they trace their origin to some animal attribute or farm implement.

And why not?  Nature shaped a bears claws for specific purposes, just like the teeth of a shark.  If you need to accomplish a similar purpose, starting with successful examples is not a bad idea. 

It should be self-evident that all invaders strip the conquered of their weapons.  What does the resourceful farmer do?  He learns to defend myself with farm tools and everyday objects. 

I can almost hear the conversation: “Oh no Master, Officer, Governor, Police, that’s not a weapon, but two sticks chained together that I use to thresh grain so I can pay my taxes.  I’d never think of breaking bones and heads with it….”

The karambit or kerambit as it’s known in Indonesia, comes from humble beginnings as well.  It was an agricultural implement used to rake roots, thresh grain and plant rice.  Folklore claims it was inspired by the claws of a tiger.

Slip your little finger in the hole and slash.  Most of the blocks I know work really well with a karambit in one hand! 

Wikipedia has a romantic tale of Indonesian women who would tie a karambit in their hair for self-protection.  I like this tale as a karambit has been described as an instinctual weapon.  More than 15 years ago a self-defense instructor told me “…put your thumb on the back of the blade and simply wipe your thumb on your target.”  He was talking about a classic straight blade; the same applies to the karambit. 

I recently got my hands on a karambit from the We Knife Co.  We is a Chinese company that has been making knives for the last 10 years under the name Wayeahknife.  In 2014 they had the opportunity to expand and changed their name to We Knife Company. 

Their mission statement?  "Building the highest quality knives and tools and giving you plenty of choices in our products."  Sounds pretty good.  They’re using equipment like CNC machines, CNC grinding machines, precision stamping machines, as well as EDM machines to produce high quality knives which they sell in the US and Europe.  These knives aren’t aimed at the Chinese market, as locking blades are illegal.

My karambit is model 708A and the specs are pretty impressive.

The blade has a linear measurement of 2.8 inches, but the curved edge gives you more cutting surface.  The steel used is CPM S35VN with a Rockwell hardness of 59-61.  The blade rolls open on ceramic ball bearings.

We claims the blade is flat grind, but I believe it is better described as a saber grind.  The knife is a frame lock and the locking bar has what appears to be a small steel insert that wedges against the steel blade when open.  Many of the better aluminum and titanium knives utilize a steel insert to protect the softer metal of the locking bar from excessive wear from the back of the blade.  It’s a nice touch.

The handle, metal clip, metal screws and cap are all TI6Al4V.  This alloy is the most commonly used titanium alloy used outside of the aerospace industries.  Wikipedia claims “…. It has a chemical composition of:
  • 6% aluminum,
  • 4% vanadium,
  • 0.25% (maximum) iron,
  • 0.2% (maximum) oxygen,
  • remainder titanium.  

It is significantly stronger than commercially pure titanium while having the same stiffness and thermal properties.  Among its many advantages, it is heat treatable.  This grade is an excellent combination of strength, corrosion resistance, weld and fabricability.”

I like the flipper on the blade.  It really pops the knife open and serves as guard to prevent you sliding onto the blade.  I would have preferred the flipper to be used as an assist to open the knife as you draw it from your pocket.  I’m also disappointed the clip isn’t reversible.  The knife is set up for right hand, tip up carry.  It’s my favorite carry mode, but in everyday life the karambit might best be, as Doug Marcaida described it, as a “back-up weapon”.  The ability to adjust clip for your carry mode would have made this knife a much better product.

I know very little about fighting with a knife.  Watching someone who knows how to use a knife sends shivers down my spine.  But if you are like so many people who look at a knife and ask “Could I defend myself with that knife?” you should take a look at We’s karambit.  The answer is yes!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Shadow Tech’s Claw

ST Folding Karambit
The large prototype folding Karambit
Originally, like so many martial art weapons, the karambit originated in southeast Asia. Inspired by the claws of big cats, the natives initially used this design for mundane activities, like raking roots, gathering threshing and planting rice.  Over time. circumstances forced the development of farm and every day implements into weapons of self-defense.

“The karambit is held with the blade pointing downward from the bottom of the fist, usually curving forwards however occasionally backwards. While it is primarily used in a slashing or hooking motion, karambit with a finger ring are also used in a punching motion hitting the opponent with the finger ring. Some karambit are designed to be used in a hammering motion. This flexibility of striking methods is what makes it so useful in self-defense situations. The finger guard makes it difficult to disarm and allows the knife to be maneuvered in the fingers without losing one's grip.
The short Filipino karambit has found some favor in the West because such proponents allege the biomehanics of the weapon allow for more powerful cutting strokes and painful "ripping" wounds, and because its usability is hypothesized as more intuitive, though there continues to be debate about this matter.”
It takes hardly any effort to find self-promoting YouTube videos of how to use a fightin’ karambit.  Any of these complete videos can be purchased, …our operators are standing by…

The problem with fixed knives is they are not easy to conceal, a necessary condition of modern society.  Shadow Tech has been making fixed blade karambits for some time now.  They are currently, in a secret laboratory/dojo, developing two folding karambits.  And joking aside, they look pretty great.  I’ve only seen prototypes but they were very close to production models. 

Two almost ready for manufacturing prototypes
Make that 2 to go, please.
I expect a there will be a little tweeking before and possible after release.  After all it is only mythology in which Venus springs forth from the ocean in all her perfection.  I do know the knives will be made from Crucible’s 154CM steel.  Some of the best knife companies use 154CM steel for their blades.  ST is using it for liners, liner lock and clips also.  The clip will be reversible and the knife rides tip up.  At least that was the plan when John and I talked about it.

liner lock has full thickness of lock behind the blade
Many knives, many fine knives have only a portion of the liner lock behind the blade

The liner lock will throw its complete thickness behind the blade spreading out the force of folding over a wide surface.  My limited experience suggests that may require a little more effort on your part to unlock the knife.  Pushing the liner lock over may require you to dig your thumb a little deeper in the lock, but you can image the painful consequences of having the lock fail.

ST tells me they will have two sizes, a large aggressive blade,
Large size

And a smaller blade. 

The small size

John tells me there will be several ways of snagging the blade’s opening stud and/or geometry to open the blade as you draw it from your pocket.  That’s very cool.  

Still remember what one veteran told me:
“I carry in my pocket.  If there could be trouble I move the knife from my pocket to behind my belt.  If I think there is going to be trouble, the unopened knife is carried in my hand.”

A karambit has the potential to increase even an unskilled person’s survival potential.  Give that and Shadow Tech some consideration.

Find your Shadow Tech at