As cutlery can come in very handy in survival situations, it makes sense to look at makers and products -- Tiger McKee handles that for us today.
Pretty much all the gun people I know who grew up around firearms are all blade guys too. Most of us grew up with knives; being trusted with your first blade was a major milestone in your life. Knives are one of those things you establish a relationship with, just like your firearms, and we're always on the look out for good steel. When I saw Walter Sorrells
had launched his Tactix Armory line of knives there was no question about it. I had to have one.
Walter has been making Japanese "style" blades for over a decade. He doesn't claim to make "Japanese swords," but modern swords inspired by Japanese sword-making traditions. He got into making blades after participating in martial arts for about twenty-five years. I asked Walter about his martial arts experience. "As far as my background goes," Walter told me, "I have a third degree black belt in a Japanese karate style, a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu, a rank in Shinkendo (a Japanese sword art) that wouldn't mean anything outside of the style but that's probably a rough equivalent of a black belt, and have also trained in aikido and some other things." Studying these martial arts gives one a well-rounded education in fighting, and Walter applies this experience to his blade making.
Sorrells is also a shooter. Which came first, I asked, the gun or the knife thing. "My interest in guns goes way back," Walter said, "though I didn't get into the competition side of things until my aging body started telling me that my days of slam-bang martial arts were numbered." A lot of us can understand this one.
My introduction to Walter came through his YouTube videos on knife making. He made his first videos in response to inquiries about heat-treating blades. Now he has a variety of educational videos covering everything from making a blade using only hand tools and hardening with charcoal, to advanced instructions using high-end equipment like milling machines and ovens. (He's also a well-known writer, having published around 30 novels under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms.)
The Tactix Armory knifes are a set of standard styles he offers, with prices ranging from $145 to $315. I purchased one of the "Operator" blades. This knife is made from 1095 carbon steel with canvas micarta scales, a Cerakote finish and it comes with a Kydex sheath. This is one of those blades that as soon as you handle it you know it's a keeper. The knife is lightweight, feels good in hand, and is sturdy and made to be used.
In this day and age everything has a logo on it, but the knife didn't come with any. I asked Walter about this. "I'm kind of at the beginning phases of the Tactix Armory project, so I'm testing the market as well as the manufacturing to see what sticks." Etching a logo that will show up well after the Cerakote process is difficult. "I had one approach I was using that I wasn't happy with so I've had to produce a few of them with no logos just to get them out the door." Walter likes carbon steel, but – and I know this from what little knife making I do - it does require extra attention when it comes to final finishing of the blade and scales. "I may be going with stainless for that model as I move forward."
Walter still offers custom blades, but if you can't afford one of these or don't want to wait a long time I highly suggest checking out his Tactix Armory blades. These are custom knives at an affordable price. I guarantee you won't regret adding one of these to your collection or putting it in with your tactical/survival gear. And if you are interested in knife making check out his videos; I've learned a lot from them.
Until next week, stay safe.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org