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"Lil Blue" Neck Knives by Ray Kirk


hovering overhead
Staff member
Super Mod
Oct 2, 1998
Wednesday of this week I received two neck knives from Ray Kirk, a friend and knifemaker from Tahlequah, OK. I had the pleasure of meeting Ray at the Blade Show this year and purchased a very nice damascus bladed neck knife from him. Ray's knives are completely handmade and carry the RAKER stamp.

I asked Ray to keep me apprised of any new knives that he might make and he recently told me about some that can be seen on his new website, www.tah-usa.net/raker .

Ray asked me if I would take a look at a neck knife he had designed called "Lil Blue" (don't ask me how he came up with the name, he hasn't told me) and see what I thought.

I noticed that the knife is offered in both ATS-34 and 52100. (Lil Blue and Lil Blue II).I asked Ray if I could check both out as I have lots of ATS knives, but none of 52100.

Let me start off by saying that the knives are a bit different in shape and edge geometry so they can't be compared to one another in an exact manner. I prefer the look of the ATS-34 knife cosmetically, but the 52100 fits my hand slightly better.

Both come in at right about six inches total length and are approximately 5/32" stock. Ray uses stock removal on both of these knives, though he normally forges 52100. The cutting edges are approximately 2.5 inches long.

The knives are very flat in profile and with the included kydex sheath and elkhide thong, are essentially invisible under a polo shirt.

Both knives were delivered with edges beyond shaving sharp, something I noticed is a trademark of Ray's. I expected the 52100 to be the sharper of the two, but surprisingly, the ATS-34 actually had the "cleaner" edge. It sliced magazine paper more cleanly, and also when I used the Razor Edge Tester on both blades, the ATS version had a smoother edge and also bit into the tester slightly more emphatically. This by no means denigrates the 52100, which makes my arm hair fly off when the blade is in the neighborhood, but rather shows me just how keen an ATS edge can be profiled. (In fairness, the ATS' secondary bevel/relief is a bit thinner which probably accounts for the performance enhancement.)

Aside from cutting several magazines to shreds and some paracord lying around, I used the 52100 blade on a red oak 1x2 that I keep around the house for a variety of knife related tasks. I used the blade to cut on the edges of the oak which had no appreciable effect on the keenness of the edge. I then thrust the point of the knife hard into the oak several times and got a very slight deflection, but one that would only be noticeable if you were looking for it.

As I said earlier, the ATS wins (for me) in the "looks" department, but the 52100 was the more comfortable in my grip. Depending on your wants/needs either one would serve well as either a primary or backup blade.

Ray and a friend have recently used these knives cleaning/dressing a calf and Ray was happy to report that the two knives did their job splendidly. Perhaps he will chime in here and tell more about its performance.

I know Ray is going to be attending a knife show in Tulsa, OK this weekend, hopefully some of the listers will get a chance to attend and meet Ray themselves.

I think they will come away impressed.

Live Free or Die

Both the Lil Blue and the Lil Blue II have finger and thumb notches for ease of use without slipping as much. The drop point tip is background to give less resestance in penetration. I haven't weighed them but they are fairly light. For any one in the Tulsa area that may be going to the G&K show, The knives can be seen at 12-B-2. That is on the upper level between the snack bars and bathrooms. Please stop and visit as I would be glad to see you. Ray Kirk RAKER Knives