First Mad Dog -- Suggestions

Oct 12, 1998
Ran across a buddy who owed me a modest sum of money last night. Having all but forgotten about it, I now consider it discretionary income. So, I figure it's time to buy some knives!

I intially thought about getting a bunch of Spydercos and a couple from AG Russell that I have been wanting, but I decided that maybe I should put the sum toward a larger purchase and save the little ones for one-at-a-time acquisition.

I got a Sebenza last month through a beneficial trade, so with a super high quality folder in tow, I thought I should look toward a fixed blade. In particular, I would like a Mad Dog.

I am still trying to figure out what to get. I don't need a fighter, so one without a sharpened false edge would be good. Big on full-flat grinds and partial to smaller blades. Pretty much for utility use only. Taking hiking, yard work, and alot of playing around cutting things for no reason (as I do with all my knives)

Thinking along the lines of a:

1. Pygmy ATAK
2. Baby Mako
3. Lab Rat
4. AZ Hunter

Not sure what widths most of these are in (I know most are in 1/4" but not sure what other widths are available) Also not sure of general availability.

Any thoughts, suggestions, recommendations? Would love to hear them!

Thanks much!


Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"

I have the Wombat (a Mongoose with a tanto blade) as a neck/utility blade. I am waiting for the Lab Rat to come in. I also got an Operator from Phil ( more for its high "Gee-whiz" factor. I do like it though. My Mirage Hunter is too big and probably will be traded off. I also have a Voodoo Child on order, but don't expect it soon. I do like the looks of the Lab Rat and think it will be THE Utility Knife.
CD, the Lab Rat is 1/8", the pATAK and Arizona Hunter can be either 3/16" or 1/4".

Since you have a decent small blade for most light cutting tasks (the Sebenza) go for the Arizona Hunter, in 1/4" if you want to do any chopping/prying and in 3/16" if you don't.

If you don't plan on carrying the Sebenza as a daily work knife then the choice gets a lot more difficult.

On one extreem you have the Lab Rat which is nice and slim so it will slice really well but is too light and short to chop with and does not have the strength for prying. On the other side you have the 1/4" Arizona Hunter which can be used for prying and chopping, and is much worse at most slicing tasks than the Lab Rat due to it being much heavier (more strain to work with) and just so much thicker. And of course all of the inbetween models. As you move upwards in thickness/weight you basically get more chopping/prying ability but lose the ability for fine work and ease of light work. How much of a trade off to do depends on what kind of cutting you do mostly.

Personally I tend to like extreems so if it was me I get the Lab Rat or 1/4" Arizona Hunter. If I want to pry with it then I want it to be able to take all that I can give, and if it can't then just make is as thin as possible without it getting too "floppy".

The 1/4 Pygmy ATAK is the perfect daily carry companion to the Sebenza. It will handle the heavy stuff and is small enough not to get in the way while on your belt.
IF you can deal with the 7" blade length, get an ATAK. It's an amazing piece, a single edge utility knife that can fight like a cornered cougar. On any Mad Dog most of the blade weight is at the spine due to the flat grind that starts right at the top; by doing a cut from mid-spine down to the tip a *lot* of blade weight is shaved and you get something light and balanced for combat but giving up *nothing* in utility.

The 1/4" Pygmy ATAK often strikes people (including me) as "truncated" somehow, "abnormally stubby". In tracking sales of used pieces this model comes up for sale more often than any other MD, not a good sign. 3/16ths might work better. The Lab Rats and AZ Hunters seem to be *far* better "pure utility pieces".

I own an ATAK variant and I *love* this piece.

Jim March
I owned a Pygmy ATAK2 for about 6 months. The handle was great, so was the sheath, so was the knife. But it never go used much. Why? Because it was to heavy, my folders were much smaller and easier to carry around and I never really beat up on knives that much anyway.

I liked it and would recomend it to anyone looking for a MD but you night want to go with 3/16. I went with 1/4 and trust me, thats really thick for a small belt knife.

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. I am looking away from the pATAK. I am very focussed on a 3/16 AZ Hunter. I like the Lab Rat, but the AZ Hunter seems like alot more knife for the money.

Does MD even make Makos anymore? Hadn't heard much about them but really like the drop point design.

Hmm... Still not completely decided, but I will let you know when I am and what is my choice.

Thanks again for all the comments. And please keep them coming.


Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
One of the Makos was discontinued, IIRC, but I don't remember which.

Email Shannon Lew, or Tim Lau, for details and pricing.


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

Insert witty quip here
The full size Mako was discontinued. Kevin said it didn't sell well (only 5-6 actually sold). It seems to be reborn as the Vodoo (Mako with a false edge). I have an AZ Hunter and Mako and both are great knives.
Like Cliff Stamp, I like extremes, especially since I never carry just one knife. I have a full size Sebenza and have ordered a 1/4" Arizona Hunter to accompany it. My situation has indicated this to be the best combination for me.
Bruce, who carries one knife. I have seven on me now at I had to leave some at home as I am at work.

Do you have an ATAK? I like to know how the Arizona Hunter and it differ in feel.

Question for all Mad Dog owners. How easy are these knives to sharpen? Since they are Hard Chromed, it seems that they may be tougher than normal to sharpen. Also, does the Hard Chrome provide better edge retention in your experiences?
Cliff, like you, I never carry one knife. I carry two to church, three to work, and have others close at hand if necessary (in the car, closet, kitchen, desk, etc.) Seven seems like a lot--hope you don't fall in the pond!

I don't have an ATAK. In fact, when I get my AZ Hunter I will have a total of one Mad Dog. I chose it because in the minds of some Army commanders, large fixed blade knives are unnecessary. As a Lieutenant Colonel, I can usually get away with one but I decided to not push my luck with a 7+ inch model, opting for 6 inches instead. If I made a mistake, I will rectify it by buying another--I'm sure someone will guide me through the thought process if I have questions.

I supported an armored brigade commander (colonel) who carried a Randall #14 on his web gear. I asked him what a colonel used a 7 1/2" bladed knife for. He said, "to get the attention of my lieutenants!"

ATAK vs AZ Hunter...

The ATAK blade is all of 3/4" longer than the AZ's. However, the AZ' blade is somewhat broader in the belly. For me the balance of the ATAK (mine is a DSU2) is very neutral and the AZ'z is just a tad blade heavy (makes for great snap cuts).

I have about 12 Mad Dogs now, if you count the Mirage-X knives too.

Of all of them, I like the ATAK2 best. I have the AZ Hunter, the Wild Thing, all the more popular models. Every time I fall back to the ATAK2 as having the best balance and feel. The balance is so good that it feels like the blade doesn't have any mass, until you chop with it.

Sharpening. As much as people will hate to hear it, I can make any of my Mad Dog knives REALLY (*#%(*#% sharp using a plain 'ol Spyderco Sharpmaker. My ATAK2 bang-up knife that has been through hell (and halfway back) is easily as sharp as my brand-new Chris Reeve Mountaineer, thanks to the Sharpmaker. The MD knives are very, very easy to sharpen on the Sharpmaker, I don't know why you would use anything else. Given how hard it is to dull the blade I was a bit suprised at how easily it is touched up on the sharpmaker (using the tri-angle rods on the edge, not the flat sides).

The hard chrome doesn't affect the blade edge at all, since the edge is actually cut into the O-1, not the hard chrome.
You have to be careful, however, as one of the guys on the forums ended up at the hospital when the heavy weight of the MD blade slipped off the stone and into his hand.

The Pygmy series is a great shape and size utility blade, but I would think that a thinner version would be the real cat's meow on that size.

The AZ Hunter has a beautiful blade shape but for me it feels a little blade heavy. You feel like you could lop someone's hand off with it easily, and people really like them a lot, but my first love is still the full sized ATAK2.

I have a 3/16" mini-shrike that is a box and letter opener. :)

Isn't the Arizona Hunter supposed to be a heavy utility based knife instead of utility/combat like the ATAK. If so it would make sense for it to be a little more blade heavy. Is the TUSK a big Arizona Hunter?

Anyway has anyone actually compared the two (Arizona Hunter, ATAK) in terms of chopping, splitting, prying, heavy point work etc.

Doug, thanks for the info. I was just wondering about sharpenning, since hard chgrome is usually quite hard and holds up to abrassion very well, which would mean that it should be harder to sharpen. But I guess not.
I decided not to decide. I have both a 3/16 AZ Hunter and a Lab Rat on order.

Thanks very much to all those who replied. I really appreciated your input!

Take care,


Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"