My new Wally Hayes tanto

Mar 8, 1999
I will gt set up to post some pics later, but just a few first impressions:

I designed this knife to be a large Japanese style tactical tanto. It is similar to many of the popular Americanized tantos popular today (Martin, Hartsfield, JSP, etc) except that it is much more traditional. It has a double ground (to zero edge), traditional pointed, edge hardened O1 blade that is 3/16" thick. The handle has a black diamond wrap over natural rayskin with a silver dragon menuki on the right side. The handle is about 6" long, including the turk's head knot. It came with a leather sheath that has a couple of diferent carry options and is serial numbered with a certificate.

I want to say right off that I am very impressed with Wally Hayes as a knifemaker. This is my second knife from him, the first being a similar styled tanto purchased at the Blade '99 show. Wally is a true gentleman, an ABS master smith, and truly interested in giving you what you want. I only had to wait 3 months from the submittal of my design specs to the receipt of the knife. I think that is pretty good for an MS. I won't tell you what I paid for this thing until I post a pic, but let me tell you, it was a bit underpriced.

I just got it today, and after unwrapping for a bit, I took this baby out. The sheath is pretty well made, with a thick welt going all the way around it to prevent cutting the threads upon resheathing. I can play with this thing and find a few more mounting options than I had originally thought. Wally made some extra "lashing" holes in a couple of places to run cord throught to rig up some across the back rig or a traditional carry slung on the side, maybe. Unsheathing the blade was a treat. This is one good looking and big piece of steel. It is very light in the hand, with a balance point maybe 1.5" - 2" in front of the knot (in motion, it feels even closer). It has a nice polish to it, making for a pretty intimidating weapon when whipped around in the light. It is very sharp, but I am going to touch it up just a bit. I have become used to my RJ Martin and Sebenza, both of which stay extremely sharp, but for as big a knife as it is and with it's superb edge geometry, it is plenty sharp enough.

I have done only a little cutting with it as yet, but it did an impressive job on the cardbord box it came in when I rolled it up and stood it on end! I will post more later, so get your appetite worked up. Let me know your thoughts, and feel free to email me. Thanks.

See Wally's work @:
WOW, thanks for posting the link to his site. Now, I have the 'WANTS' really bad. Wonderful looking stuff. I cant wait to see your pics.

Congratulations on your new knife!
I look forward to seeing your pictures and reading your review. I agree completely with your high opinion of Wally and his work. He's a wonderful guy and a great knifemaker. He truly is a Master of forging and traditional style, but he just gets better and better. I understand he spends much of his time now doing incredible swords; I've handled one or two and they are amazing. For those of us whose budgets are more modest [or whose wives can hit like Tyson] it's a great opportunity when Wally can fit a knife into his schedule. They're easier to hide
Wally's damascus is superb. He also forges 52100 and his 52100 camp knife may be the best performing knife I own [ I don't have the heart to beat up on a damascus]. I also have a very simple O1, which performs extremely well, but it's not all the way up there with the 52100 in terms of performance. Then again, it wasn't up there in price either. Why did you choose O1? Considering another Hayes in damascus or 52100? I'm looking forward to seeing more on the tanto. She must be beautiful. If you can, please also show the sheath, which sounds very interesting too.

Sounds like you are familiar with Wally's work. He is a great guy and makes really good knives. I chose O1 because this thing was originally intended to be a low cost home defense weapon. I don't really care if the edge holding is only 87.93524478% of what the same knife out of 52100 would be. I think it will be great for the purpose. I'll write more later.

I am glad to hear you are happy as I just ordered a sword from him! :) He was great to correspond with. He answered all my questions and sent me pictures till I snapped. This will be my first real sword. My first forged blade as well. The next three months are going to be long ones...

I got a certificate of authenticity for this blade today. I think that is a real nice touch to the knife.

Also, I have done a little cutting with it as well. I can cut a rolled up single sheet of newspaper pretty easily with it. Can't leave the bottom half standing yet, but maybe I can touch up the edge some more and get close. I did pass the edge over a white Sharpmaker stone a few times and it will pop some hair now. So the edge was there, just needed touched up a slight bit.

Again, I would give my higest recommendation for Wally if any of you are looking for a good knife at a great price!


I contemplated a Hayes sword at one time. Can you tell me what kind of sword you ordered? I understand he makes 3 kinds of katana, forged blade in simple fittings, blade in full fittings, and folded cable blade in full fittings.

I've wondered what kind of steel he work with and what is the simple fitting about. Thanks