In Akita Tactical we say "Tactical and practical". This not only means that we make camp and kitchens knives as well as fighting knives, but it also means that we also put a lot of thought into the handles — after all the handle is what connects us to the blade! As our Design Officer Kevin Carr likes to say "the angles of the geometry are complimentary to the application of intent."
The problem to be solved defines the intent. For example, though it certainly can be used as a weapon, the intended tasks of a camp knife will call for a blade and handle distinct to its intent. Similarly the knives and other cutlery of a chef will reflect their distinctive purpose.
In the case of fighting knives, it is not enough to say "Fighting knife? The pointy end goes in the other man." Is the problem to be solved a duel? Speed, reach, deceptive angle changes will be key. Or keeping a pack of jackals at bay and/or breaking through that pack of jackals? Or having to close on a physically far superior man?
How will the adversary be dressed? The clothes of a cold weather environment call for a different knife than tropical clothing.Clothing will also affect how the knife will be carried when it is not in use. If we are wearing shooting gloves and need to go to knife when the gun goes click or we are in an environment gloves are part of the equation, the handle requires taking these variables into account as well.
How will it need to be accessed? If the answer includes during a fight already underway, making sure the handle can readily be grabbed in the high adrenal state of a life and death close quarter
Though there are plenty more, for ease of conversation we can begin by saying there are four basic grips:
Hammer Grip reverse edge
Ice Pick reverse edge
Some knives have handle and blades equally applicable to some or all of these grips. Others specialize.
People are different and no one way suits everyone. As our friend Craig Douglas says, it is a matter of "A way, not THE way." With that in mind we'd like to share with you the logic, the design intent of our top of the line knife which we call "The Akita" after the legendary Samurai dogs famous for their courage and efficacy — which includes hunting bear and loyalty (click here for story of Hachi Ko).
Though the handle readily allows for hammer grip, its' primary focus is Ice Pick.
The natural primal motion of this grip is the "hammer fist thrust". The natural maximum power of this motion has the advantage of allowing us to impose impact as well as insert the pointy end — even through heavier clothing. This matter of impact is important — except for exceptionally well placed wounds, blood loss can take a scarily long time to be a fight stopper and there is much advantage to a stab being a powerful hit as well.
A knife intended for thrusting needs to have a handle that can honestly keep the hand on the handle and off the blade when a stab hits something hard! You need to have complete confidence that you can stab/throw full power — even if already there is blood on your hand and / or the handle!
Hammer / saber grip knives have their responses to this question (which we will discuss elsewhere) Right now we'd like to focus on Ice Pick grip though.
The typical ice pick grip solution is to cap the butt of the handle with the thumb. This is very good, but we think we can do better. Our solution with our Akita and Shiba knives is to use the ring of the kerambit knives of southeast Asia (southern Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc).
For those of you not familiar with karambits, this is an example of a karambit. It can be held in either of two ways. Its' talon like blade design has tremendous cutting power, which makes it an outstanding tool for many tasks. For example, when I have to cut down many cardboard boxes to fit into the recycling bin, I use a karambit.
As a fighting knife the karambit's cutting power makes it a formidable weapon as well as a tool, but for thrusting the nature of its talon shaped blade makes for dramatically different ergonomics from those with which we are familiar. Thought thrusts oriented with the tip of the blade are possible, in our opinion these are not nearly as powerful or as intuitive as the hammer grip straight blade thrust and even less so when it comes to ice pick grip straight blade. If you want a fighting knife that allows for intuitive full power thrusting, in our opinion the talon blade karambit is not your best option.
Before going into our use of the karambit ring, a few words here about some knives currently on the market that seek to use the karambit ring on straight blade knives.
In our opinion there is a problem here — "the angles of the geometry" are NOT "complimentary to the application of intent."
Should a full power thrust hit something hard, the primary thing keeping the hand on the handle is the lateral ligament of the index finger! In our opinion this presents a real problem and in our opinion is actually a solution inferior to thumb capping.
Akita Tactical's solution (Patent Pending) is to offset the ring so that there is a pommel for the thumb that IS complimentary to the application of the thrusting intent.
Peak primal power is yours!
Notice some additional advantages to our solution:
Ease of access (ring size, two draw methods, minimal choil means less risk of snagging)
Test for yourself. Pour oil on the handle of a drone and have at it. If you want to use a real blade put on some anti-cut butcher gloves and go for it.