Alan Folt's Mantis......In Kit Form....

Nov 4, 1998
I am the lucky recipient of an Alan Folt's Mantis. This is a "pre-production" model, made out of 3/16" ATS34. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to assemble and finish the Mantis. I know that sounds like a long time for such a simple project, but I want to take my time and do it right. This is a nice looking piece, and I want to avoid rushing headlong into this project and mess it up. I am also financially strapped at the moment, so certain things I want to have done might have to wait. Another time adding expense will be the final finish that I am going to have applied. It is my goal to have the blade given a hot blue finish done to it. The effect I am going for when I am done, is to create a back-up companion for my OD green-gripped KelTec 9mm pistol. The grips on the Mantis will be OD green Canvas Micarta, with black pins. It may turn out that the pistol will need a re-blueing to match the knife

The specs are as follows...

O.A. length: 7 3/4"
Blade length: 3 3/4"
False edge: 3 1/4"
Thickness: 3/16"
Width (across Guards): 1 1/2"
Handle width (narrowest/widest): 15/16" / 1 3/16"

The knife came to me fresh from being heat-treated. I was glad to find out that the heat-treat was done by none other than Rob Simonich, so those of you who are familiar with his work will know that this knife is off to a good start. Lord knows that I am impressed with the way the Cetan I won holds an edge.

My initial impressions if the Mantis are extremely favorable. I had mentioned before that I thought it needed a index finger groove, but I take that back now. The handle flares slightly towards the butt of the grip, and it locks into the hand well, and feels quite secure. I must admit that the design was NOT ment for delicate utilitarian work. When holding it in my hand, I can feel that it was ment to slash first and stab second(or vice versa). Some initial underhand stabs into some wood demonstrated to me that the integral guards are helpful, and painless to the web of my hand. The blade keeps the bulk of its thickness almost up to the point, aleviating any concerns about tip strength. The flat ground blade feels really strong overall.

I like the overall shape of the Mantis. It is pleasing to the eye. It is a purpose-built design, definately falling into the defensive catagory, but it does not suffer the inhumanity of overuse militaristic features. Its lines are reminiscant of a fantasy blade, but unlike a Hibben, the Mantis's lines are efficient and functional. To me it feels like an extension of the human form, rather than a piece broken off of a machine. Heck, and I haven't even put the handle on it yet.

The thickness of this Mantis makes for a slightly heavy knife. It's weight is similar to the weight of a CSVG, but I do not have a scale for an accurate measurement. The weight is not a problem since the balance point is right behind the lower guard, making it slightly handle heavy. With the weight mostly in the handle the blade moves about like a much lighter knife. I do not think that it is heavy enough to cause any concern about carrying it concealed. Furthermore, future models will be made out of 1/8" stock.

As far as finishing goes, I am going to do my best to get a nice mirror polish on it, which will not be hard because the Mantis has no machine machine marks on it whatsoever. It appears to have been sanded to about a 200 grit before it was sent to be heat-treated. With a finish this smooth, polishing should be a minor formality.

I look forward to completing this project, and I hope that I can do justice for this unique design. For those of you who are interested, the price of the Mantis Kit is $60 plus shipping, and the fully assembled Mantis is $175. Alan can be reached by e-mail at . The Mantis kit will include the blade, Micarta in your choice of colors (if they are available/on hand) and pins necessary to attach the grips. Instructions and a tool list are also included. The blade will be unfinished, but for a fee of $60, Alan will be glad to give it a full polish. Kydex for sheaths is also available for $4 a square foot, but rivets will have to be purchased locally due to the tooling that they require.

As a side note, I must mention how cool of a guy Alan Folts is. My only contact with him has been through ICQ, e-mail, and BladeForums. Alan has put up with my incessant stream of questions, and is generally a real nice guy. Dealing with him has been an extreme pleasure, and I hope to have many more dealings with him in the future.

"Will Dremel for Food!!"
"No, it's a Vaquero Grande in my pocket, but I am happy to see you!"
MegaFolderians Unite!!
Dyslexics Untie!

[This message has been edited by Yekim (edited 19 March 1999).]
Just as another aside, I noted on some website or other (Kevin Wilkins?) that Kydex tends to scratch, so if you want a mirror finish on the Mantis (and it does look like the sort of design that a mirror finish would look really good on) you might prefer a leather sheath.

Paul Neubauer

I know...I have a real distaste for Kydex myself, actually. I have a friend who is quite an accomplished leatherman, who has aggreed to make a suitable sheath for the Mantis. The tenetive plans for the sheath are to make a leather IWB with a belt clip, preferably a reversable clip. This this is in keeping with the KelTec "theme" of the piece, since I carry my KelTec IWB with its clip.

Since this particular Mantis was originally intended to be left skeletonized, it does not have the 1/8" pin holes drilled. Since my plans are to put Micarta grips on it, what I am going to do it use the eight small holes to use as oversized pin holes. I will use a black polycarbonate rod of some sort for pin material. When done, my Mantis will (hopefully, I haven't checked on how willing my local gunsmith is to try and blue ATS, I am pretty sure it can be done...)) have a polished blued blade, OD green grips with 8 1/4" black pins.

First thing I am going to do is fit the handle. I am going to drill out all of the holes, and use wooden dowels as "sacrificial" pins for the shaping process. The reasoning behind this is that I am going to have to remove the grips when I send out the blade for blueing. The polycarbinate pins will be hand fitted and sanded s a final stage od assembly. After I make the handle, I will start on polishing the blade. This should not take too much time, it is pretty smooth already with no machine marks.

After polishing comes the sharpening. This is probably where I can screw things up the most. Being a nitpicker of grind angles, I want to avoid eating crow and have uneven angles on the Mantis. I haven't figured out what method I will use to put the final edge bevel in, so any input would be appreciated. I am also ebating still whether or not to sharpen the false edge. The bevel on the false edge will make getting a razor sharp edge impossible, but it could still be sharp enough to cut um....err....soft things...Input in that subject would be appreciated as well. I do not think thatsharpening the false edge will have too much of an impact on the strength of the Mantis.

After I gat it sharp, I will have the Mantis blued...I hope that this can be done. I do not plan on using this knife for any other purpose than defence, and that probably won't happen in my lifetime, so blueing is a viable altrenative to other finishing processes in my book.

After Blueing, I will assemble the knife using the polycarbonate pins, and an epoxy of somesort.

well, that is what I plan to do...hopefully it werks out that way.

You can't blue stainless. Sorry. You can get a black teflon bake-on paint from Brownells; that's about as close as you can get. Your gunsmith probably has some.

-Cougar Allen :{)

I have heard varying reports on how well ATS takes a blue....As far as I am concerned, the my jury is still out. I have to consult my local GunSmith and see what he has to say about it. If blueing does not work, hopefully he will be able to come up with an alternative. IF all else fails, ATS does have a real nice look to it when it is just polished.


I hope you post a photo of this knife when
your done. I'm sure everyone on the board
will be interested in seeing it. Sounds like it's gonna be a beauty.

Good Luck In Your Project,

If you have any luck bluing it please post details. ATS-34 is not as stainless as some stainless steels so maybe it can be done.

-Cougar Allen :{)

It appears that it can be blued, BUT, no-one up here has the "special" chemicals to do it. It was just a thought to try and have it done.


I am photographing the process, hopefully they come out well.


"Will Dremel for Food!!"
"No, it's a Vaquero Grande in my pocket, but I am happy to see you!"
MegaFolderians Unite!!
Dyslexics Untie!

Well I finally made some progress, but, admittedly, it isn't much. I had about 10 free minutes while I was at work last night so I drilled out the pin holes in the Micarta. I used a self-centering punch to mark the holes, and then taped the slabe of micarta together and headed to the drill press. It waseasier than I though it would be to keep all of the holes aligned. After drilling, I removed the tape and used a couple of 1/4" dowels to hold the blade onto the slab and I etched the shape of the handle onto the Micarta..

Yea, Yea, Yea, I know, it's been a month...but oh well...I DID make some real progress this time...

First things first...

I had etched the shape of the handle onto the slabs of micarta and used my Mother's Dremel JigSaw (Dremels run in the family
) and , leaving a little room for error, cut the rough shape of the handle out. I used some dowels to hold the slabs to the tang and ground the slabs to the sillouette of the tang...after that I took the slabs off and ground them to the shape I wanted. The Canvas Micarta is probably the homliest looking micarta I have ever seen, but it does feel good, and has a look sorta like lizard skin..I like just ain't fact it is ugly, no matter how smooth I make is a gawdawful blech color...But that is what I does match my Kel-Tec well....

I also did a little beltsanding on the blade as well, but with a better sander at the shop I worked at...I DID sharpen up the top edge, and the point I made has a very "stick me into something NOW!!" look to it...I am pretty proud of my beltsanding work...
...I didn't fully sharpen the edge(s), I just got them close enough so I can finish it at home...

I still need to find some black polycarbonite or similar pins, and I still need finish polishing the blade...I wanna be able to see my ugly mug in it. I know that shiny isn't the most tactical thing in the world, but a mirror polish offers the biggest enhancement in reducing resistance in cutting and stabbing that I know of. I think that blade finish has a bigger effect on stabbing resistance than most other variables, including point shape and blade thickness...Just my opinion(and it is greatly generalized for the purposes of brevity), formed from observation while stabbing things...feel free to argue...

I should be done with it later this week...I have been snapping pics as I go, and Sparky said I could post them...WOOHOO....Thanks SPark!!...


God is dead. -Nietzsche
Nietzsche is dead. -God
Well, as you guys can tell, I have a habit of dragging out projects, and well, I did finally get the knife completed. I did have a little help from Alan Folts completing it. Due to a move and a cross country trip and some other fortunate things, I was able to Meet Alan at the '99 Blade Show in Atlanta. After talking to him on the phone so much and our frequent chats on ICQ, It was like meeting up with an old friend. Alan agreed to finish the knife for me and took the partially completed knife (the handles had been shaped and the blade finished and acid bathed).

Due to a slight sharpening accident, Alan ended up giving the knife a mirror polish. I did not mind..and as you can see in the following pics, it is shiny.

the scratches on the blade are my fault in these...A little too eager with the diamonds...


The side Marked Prototype..


Alan's Dragon Logo..Sweet Huh?

The sheath Alan made up for it was sort of a spur of the moment thing...he put together in a pancake style and sent me the extra kydex to make my own attachments. This quickie sheath turned out to be one of the best IWB sheaths I have ever seen. All I did was put some snaps on it and attached some leather belt loops to it and I now have a reversable quick removeable kydex iwb sheath...fits perfectly and does not protrude no matter how I is sweet..


Now if only I had long gray hair and spoke with a french accent...I copied Fred Perrin's photo style..


It is not a matter of whether or not you are paranoid, it is a matter of whether or not you are paranoid enough.

AKTI # A000348

[This message has been edited by Yekim (edited 19 September 1999).]
Hey,Yek? Whats that ugly blemish in the blade in the 1st pic?

never a dull moment
Hey Yek!
Nice pictures, nice looking knife.I'm proud of you.As far as the scratches on the edge, don't sweat it, as it's going to be a user anyway, right? It's for sure not going to be a wall hanger, knowing you.
Course this isn't the first knife you've done, seeing as how you have made Ulu's.Hint, hint.Just kidding.
Good job.

Nicely done, Yek.


The blade! I meant the blade...!

Work hard, play hard, live long.