BIG- Modified AFCK Article and Kasper Review -BIG

Oct 8, 1998
Bob Kasper, knife designer, knife innovator and knife trainer.

This is a review of a Benchmade AFCK modified by Kevin Gentile to the specific requirements of Bob Kasper. Bob Kasper and Kevin Gentile call the resulting knife the Hi-Speed Folder, but I like to call it the Kasper AFCK, and so I will refer to it for the rest of this article. Also included is an interview of Bob Kasper.

Bob Kasper and I became acquainted when I made some comments about an article he had written. He disagreed with my conclusions and invited me to call him so we could discuss it. So, early the next morning we spoke at length. That began a pattern of contact that continues to today. As part of our correspondence he introduced me to Kevin Gentile and the Kasper AFCK. When Kevin Gentile found out that I was involved with the Forums he asked if I would do a review of the Kasper AFCK. After receiving the knife, while formulating my thoughts and collecting my impressions I decided to expand the article to include an interview.

Bob Kasper writes a column for Tactical Knives magazine called Street Smarts. In it and other articles he writes about the realistic study of combatives, especially the knife and the type of cutlery suitable to those activities. His articles are characterized by viewing confrontations from the standpoint of the criminal. This viewpoint prepares the reader for the type of attack perpetrated by today’s violent illegal class. In addition, he introduces a style of defensive movements that work nearly universally to get a person from the initial assault to a position where they can effect a resolution, into the resolution, and on to the rest of their life. In addition he writes reviews of other knives for Tactical Knives and Combat Knives magazines. In them, he factually writes about the practical use of knives and their carry.

Bob Kasper also maintains the Gung Ho Chuan Websitte at, as part of his duties as Director of the Association. This association is protecting the legacy of World War II Close Quarters Combat Methodology and Instruction.

As a natural outgrowth of his study of combatives, he has designed knives to more effectively coordinate with his style of combatives. This led to his cooperation with knifemakers on various projects, most noteworthy of those projects are his very successful collaborations with Al Polkowski including the Bulldog, Pug, Companion, Scorpion and Gaunt. He has also worked with Pat Crawford on the Kasper Folding Fighter, which led to various versions including a mini and fixed blade neck knife.


To begin this review portion, I would like to wax on a bit about the AFCK. It has been said that the AFCK was the first of the true tactical knives in production, and since it is a version of the Spyderco Police model, in a way that is true. It's design is very pleasing to many people, and the few who don't like it seem to be merely rebelling against it's popularity. The opening hole licensed from Spyderco ensures one hand operation. It's handle with index indentation and ergonomic curve fits the hand well. The high location of the attachment and the black color of the clip effectively keep the knife out of sight. It's full, dual titanium liners give it good rigidity and strength. The blade/handle angle, aids in efficient cutting and the shape and thickness of the blade make it a good performer. The AFCK has become the standard by which most people judge tactical knives. Some like it so much that they invest time into modifying it to suit their tastes. Sure it has some flaws, what knife doesn't? The liner lock itself is considered a flaw by some, the clip sits in your index finger, the clip is on the pivot end, the thumb hole is chamfered too much, the spacer is plastic and cracks regularly, but despite those issues, and probably some I don't see, the AFCK is an enduring design. And change is apparent, the newer models coming out of production have a different texture to the G-10, the clips screw into the titanium as opposed to earlier models that were screwed into the G-10. So enduring is the AFCK that Benchmade produced a limited number in a second steel, M2. The AFCK is even rumored to be coming out with the Axis Lock, a move that will most probably guarantee the AFCK a near perpetual existence. And choices, you can get the AFCK fully serrated, half serrated or plain, black or satin, even mini, and serration choices therof. As well, if you were to do a search here at, or over at, the rec.knives usegroup, and Edgy-Tools Forum, or if you were around during the RDK days I imagine you would find any number of threads containing a mention of the AFCK. If you were to drop by the Sale board, or ask your favorite dealer, internet or storefront, you can probably find one reasonably inexpensive, and there are almost a few floating around for sale from private parties. So, when you put that all together it comes as no surprise that someone is offering it modified to give greater performance. And if you don't trust yourself with a Dremel like thad, Steve Harvey, and Yekim do, maybe you want to see what Bob Kasper and Kevin Gentile have cooked up.

The standard Benchmade AFCK has been modified in the following ways:

1) The lock has been altered. The lock is cut to well below the edge of the scales, this is to prevent accidental opening of the lock due to the flesh of the index finger inadvertently cueing the lock. Bob Kasper's training group found when doing drills with the knife, that during extraction the torqueing of the knife in the hand, all to regularly cued the lock, freeing the blade to do it's work where no one wants it to, the user's hand.

2) A scallop has been added to the front side, this augments the grip of the index finger by reducing the circumference, it aids in extraction by giving an indent for the thumb to cue, and it also guides the thumb to the thumb hole. Originally this was added because some found it hard to hit the opening hole on a regular basis.

3) Filing has been added to the back of the handle just behind the bolster. This adds to the friction of the thumb placement in saber grip. With the unaltered AFCK, it was found that there was not enough friction for the thumb to adequately maintain saber grip during contact drills.

4) The clip has been bent to provide a better compromise between extraction and pocket retention. They like the clip a bit looser, so that when they practice and engage with their style of inertia opens, it will come out smoothly.

5) Grip tape has been added to the exterior of the clip, doing so aids in hand retention and extraction. A close associate of Bob's puts grip tape on firearms etc, and so it seemed natural to add it to the AFCK.

6) The pivot pin is polished for a smoother action and then lubricated with a high grade, mil-spec, synthetic oil. This gives the opening a very smooth feel, probably one of the smoothest actions in my experience. With the polished and lubricated pivot, one can inertia open this knife right out of the pocket, Bob Kasper's training group can go from the hand on the knife in the pocket to knife open on target in .73 seconds on average.

My very first thought was, "Man, this is smooth" The polished pivot and lubrication really do the trick, this knife is so very super smooth. In comparison, the opening action on some of my other knives are pretty tough. Not to mention which one, but it is a lockback, and after the Kasper AFCK, the other is like opening a rusty door. And my factory fresh M2 AFCK is smooth but there is definitely more resistance in it's pivot than the altered knife.

In my opinion the most important part of the modifications is the lock alteration. On regular models the flange of the liner lock that emerges past the scales really bothers me and irritates my index finger. The way the lock is altered, makes me feel very sure that I will not accidentally cue the lock during high stress or strenuous use.

The third thing that impinged on my awareness was how much the grip tape adds to the package. At first it irritated the palm of my hand, but after a couple of days I got used to it and realized the benefits. Instead of having a slippery anodized surface in your hand, you have a high friction, traction surface that will draw blood before it lets go, and that is good. This tape is really great, I am going to see if I can just buy this for my other knives. In fact, I drew blood with the grip tape, I had the knife in the screwdriver pocket of my Carhartt's, and my hand was on the arm of the chair, as I sat down, the knife brushed my thumb knuckle hard enough to remove a chunk of skin over the knuckle. And watch out, you may find yourself walking through your house or the library resurfacing chairs and walls, since you are wearing sandpaper. Finally, not only is there grip tape on the clip when it arrives, included are a number of replacement pieces pre-cut and ready to go on. Or if you prefer you can simply forego this feature since it is not permanent.

The scallop is a nice feature, the best part for me is how it gives your thumb some more topography to aid in extraction, as your thumb dips in your pocket for the knife, it stops in the scallop and out the knife comes. It also aids in indexing, the standard model always feel boxy in my index finger, with the modification it gives your index finger a better grip. And for those who don't mind a little guidance, it points in the direction of the hole for opening.

Now to the clip, they do the opposite of what I usually do, they loosen the clip to better deploy the knife in their inertia open method. I on the other hand, use the knife as is, until one day it starts walking out of my pocket, then I take the clip off and bend it so far that when re-attached it doesn't tap the scale when you pull it, it smacks the scale. I like a very tight clip, very tight. Did I tell how tight I like my clips? I like them really tight. As a matter of fact, when wearing loose shorts or sweats, putting my knife back in my pocket means that I have to hold my pants up.

So this seems like a good place to try to describe their inertia open method. So can you do an inertia open with the knife in your hand? If not, then this how you do it. Knife folded in your hand, spine of handle towards palm, spine of blade pointed across the front of your body. Now quickly move the knife in the direction the blade spine is pointed, about half across your body, move hand 75-80 degrees towards front in a kind of reversal of previous movement. Practice, once you can do that, do that in a way that the motion is forward towards a potential opponent. Bob Kasper's group does it right from the pocket. And if that description was not good enough, take his class......

Personally I don't use my knife hard enough to really see the benefits of the serrations on the spine, but I can extrapolate, that during hard use, in the saber grip, they would be a real boon. And after scrutinizing them, they seem to be a very good compromise between aggressiveness and comfort.

I have to say that this is a really nice package, at around $140 I think it is easy to justify the extra cost for the wealth of performance enhancing features. And not just performance features but customizing to fit you, a custom package at a bit more than production prices. As well, if you are worried about any functionality issues, liner lock quality, ball-bearing detent, etcetera, merely express your concerns to Kevin, and if he is not already inspecting those things, he would most likely be happy to accommodate you.

Oh, and I can't seem to work this in somewhere else, so... The knife also comes with an Allen wrench to adjust the pivot. Which is very useful, especially considering the hell I went through trying to find Torx apex for the CRKT S-2 I lost a couple weeks after buying it.... Maybe in the future more makers and manufacturers will include the tools to adjust and repair the product they sell. Walt Welch can tell you about that. Of coursde first manufacturers will have to let you open the knife up without voiding the warranty.

In closing my review remarks, I would like to put forth a few brainstorms. I don't know what the logistics of this would be but, maybe a bottle of the lubricant could be included. I think that various clip placement options could be offered, clip holes on the left side, clip holes at the butt, right and left, and those could screw into the liner opposed to the G-10. The scallop could be put on the left side as well. The corners and edges could be recontoured for greater comfort and ergonomics. A smaller scallop could be added to the rear to aid in reverse grip motions. To be clear, Kevin hasn't said that these things can't be done, they are just the products of my overactive imagination. And knowing Kevin Gentile, he would probably welcome most of these ideas, provided that you don't mind paying for the mods. One of the common complaints about the AFCK is the plastic spacer, maybe it could be replaced with Stop Pin Sleeves.

Prior to receiving the knife, I had a number of e-mail conversations with Kevin. He let me know that just about any knife can be modified. In the past he has bead blasted Delicas to get more grip, and he offered to modify a Stryker for me. I was planning on sending him a Spyderco Police model, and see what kind of "magic" he could do with it, but I traded it to my brother for a plain Mariner, which I gave to my friends wife. Now I am trying to figure what I want to have tuned up....

As an aside, and part of my experiences reviewing this, I have to tell you, that this knife is great in the kitchen. I have been preparing food constantly and with great pleasure, it is so convenient to have your kitchen knife in your pocket. And it cuts human flesh real well, I don't want to go into the details, but now I have no doubts of the efficacy of a knife for self-defense.


This interview was conducted by e-mail. MDP stand for myself, Marion David Poff, BK stands for Bob Kasper, not British Knights, remember, this is a KNIFE-related article not about sneakers.

MDP- How did you get into teaching combatives?

BK- I got my first taste of combatives in the Marine Corps. That was back in 1969. Since then I’ve always had an interest. I was stationed in Japan for 13 months and studied tai-ho jutsu from a Captain in the japanese defense force. When I got out of the Marines in 1973 I started studying ****o-ryu with Yoshisada Yonezuka. I stayed with him for nine years and was promoted to sandan in that style. During that period around 1977 I meet Charles Nelson a WW2 USMC close combat instructor. His techniques sparked my interest in combatives and I’ve been with it ever since.

MDP- Personal Defensive Measures is the school you teach at, Kni-Com is a program of instruction designed by you, and Sudden Violence Seminars are co-taught by you, what more can be said about them, and what is their relevance to the online community?

BK- Actually, PDM is the company I work for. It was founded by a man most people know as ‘Jim Grover’ from Guns & Ammo. Jim and I meet about five years ago. We slammed each other around for a weekend, became good friends, and he invited me to work with him teaching DoD, Government and corporate personnel how to survive in high risk environments. After we hooked up and consolidated our curriculums I changed my school name from Personal Combative Tactics to PDM since it’s all the same techniques.

Kni-Com, which is short for Knife Combat, is my idea of what knife fighting on the street should look like. Because of the personnel I train and the time I’m allotted to train them I can’t afford to have a complicated, time-consuming, hard-to-retain curriculum. It’s got to be simple and effective. When Mr. Grover introduced me to a special mission unit five years ago he told me, “These men are professionals. If they don’t like what they see they’ll get up and walk out.” That was five years ago and I’m still training them.

Sudden Violence is a course that teaches how violent attacks take place and how to effectively counter them. It’s a week long intensive course that is tailored for the client. The relevance to the on-line community is that everything we teach from unarmed combatives to high-risk off-road motorcycling is available for those who seek this type of training.

MDP- The teaching of civilians by military combatives instructors is an issue with some controversy attached to it, some people think that merely because an instructor worked with the military, they are to be highly recommended, others hold the opposite opinion. What are your
thoughts on the issue and what is your history with teaching civilians?

BK- I agree that just because someone taught the military it doesn’t mean they have the necessary skills to teach civilians. It depends on what type of combatives they are teaching. Not all military combatives are good. The former USMC LINE curriculum was a good example of that. A lot of elite unit’s main missions is CQB. Close quarter battle has no relevance to an individual operating alone in the street. For example, when I was teaching a SMU in Bosnia they wanted to know how to knife fight with their weak hand while holding a subgun with their strong hand. What does that have to do with civilians? You want to seek out the instructor who trains men and woman to work alone in high risk environments with no support. Just them alone in the street, like us the civilian.

I’ve been teaching civilians since the late 70’s. My first training center was opened in 1979. It was a self-defense school called Personal Survival Tactics. I currently run a training center in New Jersey where I teach unarmed, stick, knife and handgun to civilians. A lot of people are under the impression that we don’t teach civilians. This is false. Our main clientele is civilian.

MDP- What can military combatives bring to civilian training?

BK- Simplistic effectiveness.

MDP- What is the defining character of WW2 Close Quarters Combat and how does that effect the Gung Ho Chuan Association?

BK- Simplicity, effectiveness, easy to learn, easy to execute, easy to retain. It effects the GHCA in that it is a part of our American fighting heritage. After WW2 people were fed up with the violence of the war. Training in WW2 CQC literally stopped. A handful of men continued in the techniques but as time went by it was pushed aside because of the influence of the Eastern martial arts. It’s our belief that WW2 CQC is a real world, time-tested martial form. Our goal is to keep this great American martial tradition alive.

MDP- How would you describe the difference between WW2 CQC and the vast field of martial arts?

BK- The biggest difference is the time it takes to become combat effective. Because we only concentrate on few techniques the training cycle through competency is a lot shorter. Where most martial arts believe “more is better”, WW2 CQC believes “less is more.” We’re not saying one is better than the other. What we’re saying is that the combat effective training cycle is shorter because there is less to know.

MDP- What are the sources of WW2 CQC?

BK- Original instructors, practitioners, documents, training schedules, and videos of the period. We have two historians that seek the information needed to formulate working curricula. Our film, book, and document library is vast. One of our historians, Maj. Charles Melson was recently named the Marine Corps Chief Historian. He co-authored Col. Applegate’s last book published by Paladin Press. Charles Nelson, an actual WW2 USMC CQC instructor is our Patriarch and still teaches us at the age of 83. We consider ourselves one of the most knowledgeable organizations on the subject.

MDP- One would fairly quickly seem to notice the definite Randall flavor to the Kasper Fighting Knives Pug and Bulldog fixed blades made by Al Polkowski, does that coincide with WW2 CQC?

BK- My first custom fixed blade fighter was a 7-inch Randall Model 1 which I bought in 1980. It definitely had a role in the design of the KFK as did the Kabar Fighting Utility Knife. Since both knives were used during WW2 I guess you could say it coincides. I’m not one for reinventing the wheel. If it works, use it.

MDP- It seems to be fairly common knowledge that you have collaborated with knifemakers to see that your concept of the ideal tool is available. Your collaborations with Al Polkowski are fairly well known, the Bulldog and Pug are familiar sights, you have also worked together on the Scorpion, Companion and Gaunt, can you tell us a little more about them? And how did the collaboration begin?

BK- I had a hard time finding a knife that could perform the way my mind’s eye wanted it to perform. I started going to knife shows to see if there was anything close to my ideas. I kept stopping at Al Polkowski’s table and picking up his knives. I bought a couple at the next two shows and decided that he was the man who could do exactly what I had in mind. It turned out to better than expected because Al was able teach me about knife making and I was able to teach him about knife fighting. Al actually trained with me when we first meet. He learned why I needed certain design features and I learned how his knives are constructed and what parameters I had to work within. By both of us having a better understanding of what the other does we were able to design and then improve the KFF. To me Al Polkowski is in a league of his own in making concealed knives. No one can match him. I thought so five years ago, and I still think that way today.
The Companion was a designed that came from the request of a chief trainer of a SMU who wanted a low profile knife to carry concealed. The Scorpion is the latest evolution in my fixed blade series. For me it’s the most efficient fighting knife that I have designed. I see it as the ultimate balance between size and effectiveness. You have to carry it and use it to see what I’m talking about. The Gaunt is the results of some extensive neck knife evaluations I did over the past year. I came to the conclusion that a neck knife should be straight and flat to be low profile and comfortable, and it has to be designed that allows sure draws under stress.

MDP- You have also collaborated with Pat Crawford, on the Kasper Folding Fighter. How is that project going and, what is the story behind the Mini-Kasper and the neck knife?

BK- The project is going very well. Pat designed exactly what I wanted. To date the KFF has been his best seller so I guess we did it right. The mini-Kasper and the neck knife is strictly Pat’s idea. I was not involved in their design.

MDP- What other knife makers have you collaborated with?

BK- Randy Lee, Jim Siska, Mike Sakmar, and Rob Patton.

MDP- Are there any plans for a production Kasper Folding Fighter or other Kasper Knives?

BK- Yes, a folder. Hopefully you’ll see something in 1999.

MDP- What did designing the knives and working with knifemakers bring to your combatives?

BK- Because I’m able to work the knife more dynamically and closer to reality it builds confidence in fighting. I was always worried about losing a knife during combat especially with some of the techniques I do. That is no longer a concern thanks to the custom knifemakers I’ve worked with.

MDP- Speaking of the field of knives known as 'tactical', in your opinion are there any common errors in design or execution?

BK- I think the biggest common error is custom knifemakers that put black handles on any knife, subdue the blade, and call it tactical. I see this all the time at knife shows. “Here’s my custom model, and here’s my tactical model.” I don’t think so. Other than that I’m not aware of common errors. What might seem an error to me, may be ideal for someone else.

MDP- What has your executive protection experience taught you about combatives? What are the applicable lessons for civilians?

BK- Not to think from your muzzle out, but to think from his muzzle in. In other words, know what to expect from your enemy. And without a doubt, awareness. Living in condition yellow for up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 3 months at a time really enhances your awareness and avoidance skills. Awareness and avoidance will get you safely out of more jams than any amount of combative training ever will. And don’t think that way of thinking is being cowardly. It’s not. It’s about being street smart.

MDP- What would you consider to be the most often overlooked considerations in civilian tactical thinking, planning, and or preparation?

BK-The eminent physical and mental effects of danger, realistic scenario based training, the importance of simplistic perfection of technique.

MDP- The Hi-Speed Benchmade AFCK variant of your design, what is the story behind it, what led to the modifications?

BK- Just like the fixed blade, I was looking for that ultimate folder. The AFCK was the closest knife I could find to what I was looking for. Not being exactly what I wanted I came up with a few modifications that would make it more combat efficient. However, I also like the quality, feel, and function of EDI’s Genesis. I’m looking into ways of jazzing that one up for our kind of fighting.

Further information about Bob Kasper and his various projects can be found at the Gung Ho Chuan Website

If you would like to e-mail me, you can do so at but please keep the abuse to a dull roar.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at

"A journey of a thousand miles begins but with a single step" Lao-Tzu

Great post! Unfortunately, the link to GCHA doesn't work. I tried searching EarthLink for "GHCA", but it didn't find anything. Any ideas?
That was a really great review! Read every word. Quite envious at the stuff you folks got to do.

Great job! Every time I read one of your posts, I would wonder when your review and interview would show up. It was worth the wait. I have three "Kasper AFCKs" and like them a lot. I have right and left handed 800Ss and a right handed 800 which I had the blade edge and tip ground down on to use as a trainer. The tip is still thin so I can only use it for thrusts on a leather pad around my heavy bag. The handle has been drilled so that I can put the grip on the left side for left handed draws.

You had some very good observations on the AFCKs. I also really like the scallop. The knife almost pivots on its own to get into the ideal position for the opening. I took the tape off the clip because I found myself sanding the furniture like you wrote. When I first used my AFCK trainer, I made the mistake of using a saber grip to stab my leather pad. The aggressive notches drew blood from my thumb. I was told by Kevin to only use the saber grip for snap cuts.

I don't carry the AFCKs that much anymore because I have a Crawford KFF and Polkowski Scorpion now. The one mod that I would like added to the "Kasper AFCKs" is to have the finger groove deepened so that the knife would feel more secure for thrusts using the natural grip as Bob recommends. It may be just that I am spoiled by the deep groove on the KFF, but I think the AFCK could benefit from it. I think that Yekim or some other forumite used a dremel to enlarge the groove on their AFCK.

I like the clip adjustment on the AFCK. Draws don't wear my pockets as quickly now. I had Kevin adjust the clips on my KFF, KFF trainer and mini-KFF.

I noticed that the software censored the art that Bob studied after the Marines. Was that art S H I T-O-ryu?

I did meet someone who had the plastic back spacer replaced with an aluminum piece which he machined. I haven't had a problem with mine yet.

Do you know which company will be making the factory folder? Will it be a production version of the KFF or a totally new design?

I couldn't tell from your review whether you had taken the Kni-Com seminar. Have you had a chance to train with Bob? I would love to take the seminar at PDM which is about 100 miles from where I live.

Keep up the good work,

Great review, but next time put it in the Reviews forum. I'll move it there shortly.


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

Insert witty quip here
Great review MDP! Thanks!

Spark- How are those pictures coming along?

I posted it here too, because of the Interview portion.

Nakano2- Sorry to keep you waiting, hopefully Bob and Kevin will forgive me.

Axel- Good to know that you experienced the same stuff. I think it was ****o-ryu, I guess that is too close to feces for the computer to handle.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at

"A journey of a thousand miles begins but with a single step" Lao-Tzu