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Tactical Design Input-Update!

Aug 4, 1999
About 3 weeks ago, I posted a topic asking for input on a tactical knife design. Jim March, Steve Harvey, C. Rushing ,S. Douglas and Joe Talmadge were kind enough to offer many Ideas and thought provoking input! As a maker that mainly specializes in hunters, I appreciated all the ideas. As a result of one of the suggestions, I am now calling it something like a "Defensive Utility Knife"!!
I tried to use as many of the suggestions that I could and still come up with a knife that I could make with my style of grinding. This is what I came up with in the first three prototypes…..D2 steel, 8"oal,3-3/4 " recurved blade. One carries the hollow grind to the point, the other two go from hollow grind into a "tanto" point. (had to through in a radical factor). The hardest thing was to come up with the most comfortable top and bottom integral guards as possible. An Italian ergonomics engineer provided me with a "split ,two fingergrip" and a slight pinky catch at the end of the grip. He had designed fighter plane controls and all kinds of neat stuff!!!!
I am torn between the "split two finger grip" and the common single finger notch. I should be able to make both available. Everyone that has handled the "split" grip says it holds better but indexing takes some getting used to.
I would also like to thank Chiro for his help with the Kydex suppliers and helpful hints! I just finished sheaths for the 3 protos.
I will be taking some pictures and should have some ready to Email by the weekend or early next week. Let me know and I will be glad to show them off!!!
Thanks again for all your ideas and input!!!!!!
Neil Blackwood
Lemme see, lemme see!
I'd love to see what you've been working on. I, not being a knifemaker, have to live vicariously though others who have the skills.

My thoughts on the grip...ah, well I haven't worked with a double finger groove guard before. All I can say is that it would probably be one great grip (especially with an ergonomic-guy involved). The only downside I could see is if the user wanted to use the knife in the Reverse-Grip with the edge in; but hey you can't please everybody (that's what keeps custom makers in business). :)

Just My Two Cents....Can I Have My Change?
Actually, with that grip the lower gaurd is what feels funny!!! The "two finger Splitter" protrusion fits right in the center of the palm and isn't bad at all!!!!
My feelings on these prototypes is that I made the guards as large as I dared and still had nice curves to the knife. I have had several people compliment the guards as they are and others want some material removed! Since the guards are part of the blade they can be altered very easily!

[This message has been edited by Dr.Lathe (edited 08 September 1999).]
This sounds the same as what I call a "2+2" grip. Early Spydercos like the Police use it, as does this hunter:

I like the feel of this grip a lot, but I've had trouble with people of different hand sizes. It must be fit fairly well to work, or the "splitter" hits a finger instead of dividing them. A single finger-groove is more universal - it's possible to make a groove that fits nearly any size index finger, then just leave a lot of handle so the other three fingers will have room no matter how large. The downside is that small hands will have lots of excess handle. If you are using a pinky-hook anyhow, this won't work, as your handle will be specific to a certain hand width anyhow. Why can't people all be the same size and shape?
I'm trying to have folks send me tracings of their hands before I even start working on knives for them.

Thanks for putting up the picture! That handle shape is very close to what my first aluminum prototype looked like. After playing around with it, I made the finger spitter more pronounced and added the slight pinky hook. I tried to make the finger areas as large as possible within the size of the handle! I feel that if a utility knife is going to be used for self defense it should have a little more grip and blade retention qualities than monst hunting knives. My hands are pretty big, so if it fits me, I usually have that end of the "spectrum" covered. So far the handle seems the split the fingers of a small hand more,without causing it to feel bad! I had about 15 people at my full time job handling it yesterday, and trust me, they speak what's on their mind! They all liked the way the knife felt, but couldn't get over the "ugly" natural Micarta!! The are used to seeing stabilized wood or stag on my hunters. It IS hard to please everyone!!!!!!
Doc, I think I see where you're going and on a blade in this size class it makes sense. Given the sub-4" length you've got a "finess" piece no matter what. The grip type in question will offer the kind of "fine control" needed to put the minimal amount of steel in the places it'll do the most good.

(Sidenote: If you ever go way bigger into the 6"+ range you'll want to re-think this. "Chopping/smashing" power comes usually from the pinkie through middle fingers which is why they're usually "kept together".)

Back to this puppy: if the split bump is much bigger, you may need to ask your customers to provide a hand measurement. One possibility is, have them make a fist and then measure outside edge of trigger finger through inside edge of middle finger, measured halfway between knuckle and first joint. You'd then shape your grip based on that measurement, putting the "middle split hump" either on that point directly or a hair below it - you'd have to make a few more protos based on a couple of different people's hands so you understand the relationship between the measurement and a given hand.

This isn't a criticism though - being able to buy a custom knife exactly fitted to your hand would be one hell of a selling point.

Jim March
I love this recurring theme of practicality over frou-frou and "bells and whistles". I also agree with some of the comments regarding the split vs. single finger groove. A well-fitting split will work very well for the person it's fitted for, and a single will probably work better for a larger number of people.

As many of you know, a while back, through this forum, Trace Rinaldi worked up a TKK, or Tactical Kitchen Knife, which later evolved into the TTKK, the Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife, and then the TTTKK, or Talonite Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife. It's a practical, comfortable, and sturdy design, and it doesn't matter what you use it for, it's simply a great knife. I took my BG-42 TKK camping over the long weekend, and the TKK was universally and almost constantly used and admired by everybody in camp. It simply worked, because it was sharp, comfortable, and did the job. Would I carry it as a fixed blade for defensive purposes? You bet your socks.

Doc L's idea and design sounds like a great variation of this theme, and it sounds like a winner. D-2 is one of my favorite steels for small to medium sized fixed utility knives, and I'm waiting anxiously for pictures to be posted.

Don LeHue

The pen is mightier than the sword...outside of arm's reach. Modify radius accordingly for rifle.

Thanks Jim and Don! Don, your Ti. dippers are in the mail!!!
Right now, I have 5 aluminum templates for these knives. All of the blade shapes are the same. One has the single notch grip, the others are slight variations of the split grip. I have several people already wanting one of these so I will experiment with the measuring idea. First, I'll take some pictures of what I have so far.....
Dr Lathe -- dyin' to see what you've come up with!

It'll be interesting to see how that split-finger grip works out for different hands. If I may be so bold, you might consider sending a prototype "around the horn", to the folks who gave you the initial design input, and anyone else interested. By that I mean, send it to Steve, he'll check it out for a few days then send it to Jim, etc.

Looking forward to seeing what you've come up with!
I once bought a one-piece roadracing suit (motorcycle one-piece leathers with integral armor). It took 39 seperate measurements from a pro in an hour-long session...but MAN it fit right.

Don't discount custom-fitting.

Jim March
I will finish off the last prototype tomorow and get some pictures taken. Processing will be done ASAP! I would be glad to send knives around to you and everyone that helped with input. What I would like to do is send a pair, one of each style grip and blade.I think that would be a good way to compare how they handle. I think that the full hollow grind will be more of a useful, "finess" cutting tool. The one I've been testing is the "tanto" point and while Im sure it's point is stronger, it does give up some cutting ability. That is the first knife I finished and has been put through hell! I used a slightly different heat treat method than what I usually do on D2 so in addition to scratches There's a few Rockwell dings in the blade! Lets just say I have tested its temper several times!
Jim, If I can custom fit someone into my knives then a custom fit it will be!!!
I like the idea of a 2+2 grip, as I think I said already in the original thread. Index finger notches have to be done right to be really effective, I think. The have to be quite deep without making the handle too narrow for good grip. I like the idea of a simple but adequate guard and good anotomical contours to provide good grip. The handle design of the Black Cloud Knives is a good example.

The index finger notch is something that derived from the "snap-cutting" knife fighting school, where the saber grind is essential for maximum reach and snap. I do not hold knives that way any more, so I don't have any need for index finger cutouts. Pretty much stick with the basic hammer and "Filipino" grip. I like grips that distribute force over as much grip to handle contact as possible, rather than just the pad of the thumb and side of the index finger.

Looking forward to seeing some pictures.

I want to get the grip RIGHT on this knife!! Making mostly hunters, I never run into all the different grip methods. Once these protos start making the rounds I would encourage all of you to draw, sketch or even scratch on the handle of the knife what you would remove, add or change!! If a totally different shape would be needed for a specific grip I would be glad to do that too!
This has been a learning experience and I, again would like to thank all of you. I will put up a posting as soon as I have the pictures!!!!
Dr. Lathe,
First, I want to say the knives you sent me pictures of were very nice.
Second, being a full-time knifemaker I ofcourse have advise on handle shape. Make it as comfortable as you can, for the largest group of people. Then modify on request. You get into fancy shapes, and most people will not like the grip. Some will love it. Most however will not. Here is an example of very comfortable for most people.

You are a very talented knifemaker. I would like to see what ever you come up with. You may want to lower resolution though. I have very limited hard drive space.


Lynn Griffith-Tactical Knifemaker
Winner of "Best Tactical Knife" at 1999 PKA show
My website
See my award winning "Spec Ops Tanto" in Gallery 3 of my website

For me, the handle shape Lynn Griffith showed in the picture is extraordinarily comfortable. Sometimes if I want more security I have it curve back up at the end, then down again into a bird's beak. But that's a great all-purpose grip for me as-is.

A split-grip can be really comfortable as well, looking forward to trying it out!

Thanks Lynn!!!
I will cut down on the picture resolution, I am running out of hardrive space myself!!
The handle on your knife in the picture is similar to the one on my small hunters, yours is more rounded at the end though.
My design has more top and bottom guard, plus the slight crows beak. Everyone that has handled the split finger design says that the "splitter is just fine and not to reduce it!! But, it IS there and it IS pronounced!! I based my blade shape on trying to put the most cutting edge length into the overall blade length. It is very curved and has more belly than the one in your picture. Mine might be a better utility knife if it had more of a pointed blade. I am about 4 days from posting the first pictures, then hopefully it will all start to shake out!!! I have had two people tell me they want one just like the prototype I have been carrying for the past week and not to change anything!! This would be a great vote of confidence if either one of then was a kife expert!!! I can say that, one of them is my brother in law and the other is a long time co-worker. They both usually nit pic everything I make!!!!!
I have had two people tell me they want one just like the prototype I have been carrying for the past week and not to change anything!! This would be a great vote of confidence if either one of then was a kife expert!!!

They are both experts on what appeals to them. If you design a knife you and your customers like, then it is a keeper. Make what works for you. Time will modify your knives to what is best for you and your customers. My designs are constantly modified. Yours will be too. That is what makes us custom knifemakers. Not just one man factorys. You are doing great. Keep it up.

Lynn Griffith-Tactical Knifemaker
Winner of "Best Tactical Knife" at 1999 PKA show
My website
See my award winning "Spec Ops Tanto" in Gallery 3 of my website