Close Contact Fighting Knife Design

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by warshard, Nov 23, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. warshard


    Aug 23, 2006
    Finalizing a design for a close contact fighting knife as a gift to a friend's son who will deploy on his initial tour after the first of the year with his special ops outfit. 1) Would like a recommendation for the length of blade; initially, I have designed it at 7 1/4 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches wide. This initial length I determined when checking some theater knives in my collection; to me, the length seems to be a little long for the intended purpose, but it may seem too long due to the narrowness of the blade. 2) Also would appreciate a recommendation on the type of scabbard: ease of carry/accessibility (I have never made sheaths for the purpose of fitting in with all the gear currently carried in the field): should material be leather or Kidex and what type(s) of attachment method(s) should be used ie. d rings--or possibly, belt loop;I would appreciate any links to appropriate types of knife sheaths/scabbards that I could use as a base line for carry design. Thank all in advance for any shared information/suggestions to complete this personal defense outfit for this troop...
  2. Will52100


    Dec 4, 2001
    Unless he's in the SEALs or Delta Force, forget about a "fighting" knife, and instead think more along the lines of a "field craft" or "utility" knife that in rare instances might be called on to kill. Something along the lines of a K bar, but made a lot tougher. Instead of stacked leather, mycarta or G10, preferably a thick kydex sheath with molle attachments, maybe a kydex liner with a ballistic nylon outer shell made to fit on a web harness? Not up to date on the gear, kinda after my time. Figure on a blade length of 5-6", no more than 7", remember that's extra weight he will have to hump, and after a few miles every ounce counts. The reason there are a lot of good condition big D guard bowies from the civil war is the suckers were heavy and most got left in camp or at home.

    Just my .02 cents, like I said, I'm out of date on the latest and greatest gear, what we had was left over Vietnam era web gear and such.
  3. Gaston444


    Oct 1, 2014
    1.5 inches is not narrow for a combat knife: It is very wide, and would draw a lot of attention to itself, with its burliness, compared to what most military people want... 1.25" is much more like it.

    Unless a 7" blade is a pointy and heavily-tapered in profile, like a slightly "bulged" triangular double edge dagger profile, a 1.5" blade that is as short as 7" will be too blunt in tip profile for a fighter, simply because such great blade width belongs on a much longer knife than 7", or it would have to have a huge clip that takes up the whole blade length...: The lack of belly that is desirable would also mean that the clip would have, in addition, to drop the point very heavily to avoid an edge belly...

    7" is not bad, but 7.5" would be better...

    One thing a proper military fighting knife design should always consider, and this is usually ignored by most, is that, on a medium size blade design meant to favour fighting, any deep edge belly is to be avoided at all costs, if the penetration and tip slicing is to be any good for fighting: An acute belly-less tip is closer to a "hook", so it tip-slices better, even in dagger form (contrary to what most people think)... Less edge belly obviously penetrates better as well. Avoid the Kabar look and low sabre grinds...

    For the sheath, consider what makes a handle-down attitude secure, as that is a common military carry. Remember that a blade much over 7" will tend to draw poorly with the opposite arm, because the mechanical reach is awkward when reaching across the chest: 8" is a maximum even for a huge guy, or the edge or tip will be rubbed and dulled on every draw from curving out of the sheath...

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  4. Greenberg Woods

    Greenberg Woods Wood Fanatic and Rosewood Addict

    Dec 27, 2013
    Here is how I see it. Chances are this guy isn't goino to be knee deep in blood fighting men off with his knife. If he is, he is going to want a knife of the highest caliber, a knife from someone who has made true combat knives for years and wouldn't need to ask advice.

    Chances are Will is right. The knife will mostly be used for cutting food, opening things and showing off a handmade knife. Even a kitchen knife can kill. And we'll made general use knife will work perfectly for him. Not everything has to be 100% lethal tactical.

    And again, if he is in some sort of elite part where it's expected a knife is going to be a main lethal tool, you don't want that being made by someone who needs to ask advice on how to make it.
  5. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    This subject comes up often. The knife of the movies is not the knife of reality( sorry Rambo).

    Things to know about knives and soldiers.
    Many service members are not authorized to carry large fixed blade knives in field. A sturdy 4" blade folder is very useful and fits standard molle gear pouches.
    Most don't want an extra couple pounds added to their 70+ pounds of gear they carry as it is. Weight is an enormous factor, don't add any that isn't needed.
    For close up fighting, knives are useless ... guns work quite well. I have talked to many soldiers and except a few spec-ops and seal types, not one ever had hand to hand combat. Even the special forces guys thought a knife was silly in a fight, a 9mm slug is far more effective.
    Most service members never get within 100 yards of an enemy in combat. That is a bit far for a knife to be useful.
    Rambo style knives would never get packed, or would be left behind at the barracks. Even K-bar style knives are a bit large and heavy for modern soldiers.

    The truth about knives and soldiers:

    Almost all use of a knife by a service member in-field is to open boxes and crates. It needs a sturdy 4-5" blade at the max.

    Other uses are cutting clothing when there is an injury, and for cutting rope and line. A large knife is not what you want for these tasks.
    I had one serviceman say my knife saved his life over and over again ... by opening cases of MRE's.

    Look at the standard "chute" style knife - that is what will be used. A sturdy 3/16" thick, 4" long, 1.25" wide blade with a sturdy neoprene, Micarta, or G-10 handle. A kydex liner in a nylon "Combat Master" style sheath with Molle attachments and a sharpening stone pouch.
    This is the knife I and many others make for servicemen, and the people I have made one for have all said they used it.

    Here is a chute knife by Phillip Patton that is the type you want:

    This is similar to the sheath I use:
  6. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    It is true that the usual soldier's knife will mostly be used for utility, and heavy is bad-my load was 120# as a "light" infantryman, and still 80something as a contractor later.
    I will say that a knife is "useless in combat" right up until it isn't, and then it's exactly what you need. However at that point any fixed blade will do just fine.
  7. warshard


    Aug 23, 2006
    Appreciate suggestions/concerns; this young man is fluent in Arabic and Russian and will certainly find himself in precarious situations unlike a grunt who will be opening crates, hence, special ops. From the collective information, I am on the right track: "asking advice" is one of the opportunities afforded by this forum and should not be misconstrued as a cry for help from the inexperienced; still seeking information, if it exists, for design of carry; Gaston444 did provide some insight...
    Thanks to all
  8. Gaston444


    Oct 1, 2014
    None of this is relevant if the soldier wants a fighting knife: What a soldier is allowed to carry is entirely dependent on his local commander, there is no set rules as to what that may be... Any good commander understands this is essentially a morale-building item, so all this sensible-sounding advice is irrelevant, and in fact counter-productive...: If you want a utility knife, the primary concern is low cost, because any high value item will likely get lost, as you lend it or leave it unattended for a while... By that measure, a great soldier's utility pair is a butter spreader and a boxcutter... Can't go wrong with those... Break the tip off a boxcutter with pliers, and you have a makeshift screwdriver...

    The OP specifically stated he wanted a fighting knife for a soldier, and you are basically telling him: "A soldier shouldn't want a fighting knife". This is like telling people "you shouldn't want what you want"... Well some people who actually are soldiers want a fighting knife (there was one asking for precisely that on Bladesforums, not one week ago), and any wise counsel as to why a handgun is more effective is of no help.

    Using a fighting knife as a utility item should be left only for emergencies, because any knife whose edge is regularly used, no matter what the steel, will inevitably be in non-optimal field-sharpened junk condition that could get you killed when you really need it...: That is hardly significant compared to the simple fact that using the edge for common tasks will ruin the morale-building aspect of any slightly fancy knife, which is after all the primary purpose of such an item...

    As for the weight aspect, if you are truly serious in your concern about the weight of a morale-building item, then you would look into double-edge daggers, because, with synthetic handles, those around 1" wide and 3/16" thick can be up to 8" in blade length, sturdy and strong tipped, and still under 7 to 8 ounces, or around the weight of the Buck 110 (!): A weight to blade length ratio that is unique to daggers, because of the way they are ground. Not only that, but the lack of edge belly makes the point a superior slicer compared to a bellied knife, being closer to "hooking" flesh...

    I have no doubt many soldiers are not interested in knife fighting, at all, and don't want a fighting knife, and for those your advice is perfectly valid, but it is a long way from there to telling people what they should or shouldn't want... People have long brought into battle items that were not functional proportionately to their size or bulk, and I don't think that most of them would have rather done without because this would have been more "functional"...

    A really "functional" thing to do is to avoid battlegrounds that can get you killed...

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  9. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Make sure to post photos of the final product.
  10. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    I'm just going to assume you don't know what "grunt" means and bail out now. No harm, no foul.
  11. warshard


    Aug 23, 2006
    The term "grunt" is probably not much different than it was when I was in active military service '66-'70; however with gear, no doubt, being more battle specific today is what prompted me to type out my initial query; now with some information, I can continue to finalize the blade and go on to method of carry...

    Thanks again to the contribution of useful information...
  12. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    I make Culinary knives for the most part but made a couple in this format for two different soldiers that wanted a "Fighting Knife"
    The Thick Double edge was what they wanted and I used this proven knife as a base for my design. I lost the pics of Mine in an computer crash but I had the larger version of one of these Fairnbain Applegate fighters. I had someone do Kydex rig for them.
    Good luck
    with your design and I wish the Soldier God's Speed on a Successful deployment.
  13. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Sorry I got you riled up. The OP said he was asking for recommendations and information. I merely re-capped what has been said here before, since he did not appear to be familiar with in-field knives or their normal use.

    I don't know what experience you have, since your profile has no info, and your posts seem mostly on commercial knives and edge maintenance. I didn't see any threads or posts of knives you have made.

    I posted my thoughts for the OP to take into consideration, and will drop out of this thread now.
  14. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    To my limited knolledge the last and probobaly most intence time knives were used as weapons in a war was in the WW1 trenches.
    So if you want real close combat, look at what the men fighting there favored.
    Most blades were 6" long and under an inch to an inch max wide.
    6inches was considered short enough to manuvre well in narrow trenches but long enough to reach the hart from under the ribs.
    The Germans were the first to officialy supply the foot soldiers with knives, but they were used by all sides. (many bought privately)
    Many long bayonetes were shortened to 6" to be used as trench knives.

    Just an example:
    Look up Grabendolch for more trench knives
  15. cubegleamer


    Feb 3, 2011
    I'm going to chime in here with an answer to your original question. I was never in the service so I don't know how often a knife is used for combat so I won't discuss that. I've been a practicioner of the Filipino Martial Arts for 20 years. I train with a blade in my hand. If I had to have 1 knife that I was going into to combat with it would be something like the United Cutlery V-42. I would change the round handle to flatter Micarta scales. The reason for this is because this particular blade allows me to use ALL of my grips. Tip up, tip down, the pommel... The sheath should be Kydex for easy deployment. The sheath should have a Molle compatible system so it can be attached to different things and even upside down.

  16. Will52100


    Dec 4, 2001
    Reading more of the replies sheds a little more light. I still maintain that your focus should be more on field craft rather than fighting. That said, it's hard to beat the basic design of the Applegate knife, or a modified version of the V-42 like pictured above. On both knives I'd want flattened handle of mycarta or G10, the round handle makes it hard to know which way the blade is pointing without looking at it, don't need to explain why that's bad. Other good designs are Daniel Winkler's WK 2 knives, basic, solid, hard working knives, though most I'd prefer a pretty substantial guard on.

    For pure fighter, or ego boost, or moral boost, or simply a lucky charm, it's hard to beat the double edged Applegate or V42 style dagger.
  17. moparjake


    Jul 8, 2012
    While I am a relative novice in the knife making arena I have been active duty going on 11 years now and have 3 deployments under my belt. I have nothing to offer design wise but my suggestion would be to build him something cool that still remains functional, something he can wear and show off to his buddies but something that can still be used to "fight". Maybe a tactical take on a big Bowie or a dagger or something. Chances are he will have another knife for the purposes of spreading MRE peanut butter and cutting open care packages. This knife will obviously be different. When i was on my second deployment we all carried tomahawks for no other purpose than to stand out and look badass. Most of us had the cheap SOG or Gerber ones but one of our LT's had a brother or dad that made knives and whatnot and forged him a nice hawk from an old ballpeen hammer...needless to say we were all very jealous. There are plenty of off the shelf options he could have chose from but he came to you for something unique, handmade and custom. What ever you create will be cherished by the young soldier for a very long time.

  18. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment

    Jan 12, 2005
    I happen to know someone who, long ago, ended an encounter in wartime with a knife in his hand, and that knife happened to be a Randall Model 14. For the record, that knife also saw duty as a utility knife, which was used to do a variety of things such as building shelters, opening crates, etc.

    There have been numerous excellent suggestions presented in this thread, but much of it hinges on your ability to deliver a tool which will deliver on the promise it offers. That's a VERY heavy burden. Creating a tool which someone might be banking their life - or the lives of others - on, is serious business. Something to consider!
  19. Lycosa


    Aug 24, 2007
    The late John Moore, founder of Mission Knives, was a WW2 infantry soldier, and he designed the Titanium combat knife. This is a very versatile tool that can handle many applications and it will never rust. This is my recommendation.
  20. J W Bensinger

    J W Bensinger

    Mar 26, 2009
    I know I bowed out earlier, but this is important enough to mention. Make sure the carry rig doesn't make it easy for someone to snatch the knife if they're up close-the old upside down front carry is a prime example-my deployments involved a lot of local nationals milling around, and that carry especially puts you in a very bad position.
    My first time out i carried a punch dagger in a position that made it really awkward to snatch, and a 6" single edged belt knife (and the obligatory leatherman).
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page