Custom RTAK


May 14, 2000
The RTAK (Randall training and adventure knife) was designed by Jeff Randall, a highly esteemed survival expert who needs no introduction to this forum, and produced by Newt Livesay of the Wicked Knife Co. The RTAK was designed as a replacement for a machette and a fixed blade knife in a tropical jungle enviroment. Jeff Randall's writings on the RTAK can be seen here:
The original RTAK was designed as a comprimise allowing for brush clearing, trail blazing etc., yet still be able to perform finer tasks such as carving trap triggers and skinning and cleaning fish and game.
While I didn't require a knife for jungle survival, I have needed a large knife or machette on many occasion in connection with my duties as a Deputy Sheriff. While assigned to two units in the Patrol Services Division (Marine Safety and Parks Patrol) there were several occasions a year in which I was called on to perform Search and Rescue type operations, looking for small children lost in the hiking trails of County Parks and in the wetlands ajacent to inland lakes. I also spent a month supervising trusty inmates who were building/ clearing a mountain bike trail in one of the county parks in preperation for a race the county was hosting, this required substantial trail clearing. (I should note that these were persons incarcerated for failure to pay child support or traffic fines, civil offenses not criminal offenders, I would be clearing a trail for myself not them) A large knife would also be ideal for marijuana eradication operations(which I am not involved in).
For these calls I relied on an Ontario Machette (standard USGI 18") and before that an E-tool that's edges had been sharpened (which actually worked fairly well.) considering.)
I wished for a slightly heavier machette which was more capable of dealing with the trails found in primary and secondary growth forests, where the trail obstructions were more substantial (1-2" saplings, medium size branches, etc.) and which had a slightly shorter, more controlable blade and most importantly and excellent handle which provided a good grip when my hands were covered in sweat. As I ALWAYS carry a (O.K. several) smaller knives I was not concerned with the loss of fine task abilities. Newt Livesay was definitely the man to call.
The custom RTAK is the perfect tool for the job, it is pictured here with my Search and Rescue vest, which functions as a personal floation devise (USCG type II), attached to the excellent kydex sheath are a NGRS-EX and an Eze Lap type M round diamond hone, used to keep the blade sharp in the field.

While I am familiar with the excellent work done by the Wicked Knife Co. I was amazed by the job that Newt had done for me on this knife. It is constructed of 1095 differentially heat treated with a 59 RC cutting edge with a clip point design. The overall length is about 23 inches with a 2" wide, 3/16" thick, 14" long flat ground blade, which had a non reflective corrosion resistant parkerized finish. The grinds are flawless, the secondary bevels are exceptionally wide and mirror polished providing a razor sharp edge with superb edge geometery. The factory edge was hair popping sharp, scary for a knife this size. The handle is constructed of contoured linen micarta, which displays Newt's usual genius in ergonomics (Newt's knives have proven to be the most ergonomic knives I have ever seen. The pommel extends beyond the handle for use as a hammer or scraper, and has a lanyard hole.
I began my tests in a wetland area (the MI version of a swamp), clearing a path through long marsh grass and cattails using long, loping swings with the weight and momentum of the blade doing the work. The RTAK went through the grass and cattail effortlessly, I felt virtually no resistance.

I then used the RTAK to chop through several small saplings 1-1 1/2 " thick. The RTAK made clean cuts, severing all the sapling with a single blow. The weight of the blade, combined with the excellent cutting geometery and razor sharp edge made cutting the saplings a breeze. I could construct a survival shelter with little time or effort with this knife.

I then used the RTAK to slice through some hemp rope. The blade slid through, making a clean push cut with no effort.

Throughout my testing the micarta handle provided a very frim grip even when my hands were covered in marsh muck. The RTAK is truly a survival tool which showns an excellent design and the excellent craftsmanship I have come to expect from Livesay knives. This is a knife I have faith in and can depend on, it far exceeded my high expectations and is an excellent example of Newt Livesay's work.
Jeff Randall has an informative website at which also has a discussion forum. One notable member of the Randall Adventure Team is Jerry Van Cook a highly esteemed law enforcement trainer. Mr. Van Cook has written several books and magazine articles and trained many, many LEO's and Military profesionals. There are many of our countries finest alive today because of the training that Mr. Van Cook has provided.
Newt Livesay's products can be seen at the Wicked Knife Co. website which also features a forums for Livesay (all about knives) and a self defense forum hosted by Mr. Van Cook.
Be Safe,

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
George Orwell
"Those who hold the thin blue line keep order, and insure that anarchy and chaos will not prevail."

[This message has been edited by chad234 (edited 09-09-2000).]

[This message has been edited by chad234 (edited 09-11-2000).]
That is pretty much the exact geometry that I have discussed with Ed Schott for a medium class machete which would be used for exactly what you describe. Same length, width and thickness. The handle looks solid as well.

Nice looking blade.


Has the blade length of the RTAK changed? Mine is 10" long.
------------------- did write "Custom" RTAK as the topic.

[This message has been edited by K Williams (edited 09-09-2000).]
Originally posted by Cliff Stamp:
That is pretty much the exact geometry that I have discussed with Ed Schott for a medium class machete which would be used for exactly what you describe. Same length, width and thickness. The handle looks solid as well.

Nice looking blade.

Thanks Cliff. It really turned out perfectly,
the flat gring combined with the execptionally wide secondary bevels provided an excellent cutting geometery. The two inch wide blade makes the flat grind perform way better than any hollow or saber grind would have for light vedetation. The micarta handle is PERFECT. Newt really did do an incredible job on this knife, I am slightly pleased with it
(slightly=highly in this case)
BTW Cliff I enjoy your reviews as well. I know mine aren't very scientific and are entirely subjective but I sure have fun.
What are you thinking of for steel, 3V maybe? Now that would be cool (and costly).
Take care,


Originally posted by Shrike9:
Kick arse review, it's from a working perspective and those are the most valuable reviews possible. Really enjoy reading your reviews.

Thanks Shrike.
Take care,
Steel would be 3V yes, nice and strong with good toughness. Price is not cheap, but workable depending on who is doing the grinding. Ed Schott has decent prices.

I would like to try INFI in a similar thickness but that would be very expensive, the Busse Custom shop is like $100 per inch.

Hi... Nice looking knife, but why didn't you just get a Livesay RCM? Would be less expensive than what you bought, and functionally almost identical save for the pommel extension. Also, for the grasses and cattails, something like the Aki SBM would serve far better and be much lighter to carry and operate. I have a review comparing both at if you are interested. Includes pictures.

No criticism intended, but just curious why you went for real custom work compared to a standard tool from the same maker that looks made for the identical job?


At least twice in the last year, Mr. Livesay
has posted his "in stock" list and on it
there are knives which are different than
the catalog items.

The first time I saw the post, there was an
RTAK listed that was 12" or 14" in blade
length. It was for sale at the same price
as the regular RTAK.

I don't know Mr. Livesay's pricing structure
but his RTAK is a bargain. Not having to
pay extra for a longer version is even more
reason to check his knives out.

Best regards,