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Thread: Tracker Dan Bloodshark Article

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    Tracker Dan Bloodshark Article

    Tracker Dan on the Bloodshark.



    While not a well known name in the blade world (yet), few people could have a better background to go into knife making than Tracker Dan. From an early age, Dan has learned a thing or two about survival, and using edged tools and weapons. While most focus on Tracker Dan’s time spent in the Navy SEALs, his interest and experience with edged weapons came much earlier.

    Since Tracker Dan was a child, he loved knives. Dan got his first pocket knife at age 6, and made his first knife in high school shop class (something that had to be done a little at a time, while the teacher wasn’t looking). Tracker Dan has been using edged tools through his time spent working as a carpenter (maintaining and modifying chisels, saw blades, and knives) and through his time spent as a wilderness survival instructor for Tom Brown.

    Dan used to teach for Tom Brown at his Tracker School in New Jersey, teaching students the means of survival though fire building, game tracking, tool making, and various other wilderness survival skills. A good sharp knife is critical in shaping tools to create fire, to separate bark and fiber to create cordage, to kill and skin game to eat, and to shape and harvest materials for shelters and snares/traps. Long before Dan graduated BUDS, he had a solid handle on wilderness survival.

    While Dan was teaching for Tom Brown, he met Tom Kier and started training in Sayoc Kali, a Filipino martial art that is best summed up by the phrase “all blade, all the time”. Sayoc is a military system which dates back to the 1400’s, different from some the agricultural Filipino Martial Arts (which got their name due to farmers using these systems to defend their land/farms). Sayoc is different, it is a military system - it was created by warriors for use in battle. It’s a very aggressive system, where violence of action is paramount, and blades are almost always in play.

    Dan trained extensively in Sayoc, then left to fulfill his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL. Having trained with Sayoc before making it to the SEAL Teams, Dan was always looking for ways to be a more effective warrior. He noticed shortcomings in the kit they were issued, especially with knife sheaths, so Dan got involved in learning how to make kydex holsters and sheaths. Dan immediately started modifying his issued sheathes, wire stitching issued kydex sheaths tighter to make them smaller and lighter on his rig (trimming away the excess), replacing leather sheathes with kydex…speeding up the draw by eliminating pesky retention flaps common on nylon/leather sheaths.

    Upon leaving the SEALs, Dan got back to teaching, this time with 2 of the most respected shooting schools on the market today, and also teaching for Sayoc Tactical Group (STG) – the Sayoc sub-group responsible for instructing various military, law enforcement and government units in edged weapon and combatives techniques. STG specializes at delivering tailored instruction to groups interesting in integrating edged weapons into their use of force options. STG’s techniques are specifically designed to function as seamlessly as possible with pistols, carbines, edged weapons and empty hand combatives.

    Tracker Dan and the STG cadre had long felt that there weren’t many blades on the market that they felt were well suited to concealed carry, and optimal deployment as a weapon. So, Tracker Dan put his experience as a Survival instructor, Sayoc instructor, and a Navy SEAL together to come up with the Bloodshark. A blade that is easy to always have on you (because of its size and ease to mount) and is fast to deploy and resheath. Tom Kier was consulted throughout the process to make sure that nothing was added that might hinder optimal functionality.

    I first heard about the Bloodshark through some of the STG cadre when training with them. I knew they liked the blade, but I didn’t know why. When I recently took a pistol class with Kyle Defoor, I learned even more about the blade, as he carries one.



    For those not familiar with Kyle Defoor, Kyle is a veteran SEAL who is well known throughout the firearms training community. Kyle served in the most selective and specialized Naval Special Warfare units, then went on to be the director of training for Blackwater USA’s facility in North Carolina. After leaving Blackwater, Kyle was the lead firearms instructor for TigerSwan’s training program before starting his own company Defoor Proformance Shooting, which currently provides full-time instruction to shooters deploying around the world from the special operations community, as well as from other units and organizations who are involved in the war on terror.

    When I asked Kyle why he preferred the Bloodshark, he had this to say:

    "The Bloodshark is the thinnest, most concealable fixed blade there is period. The combo of blade and sheath is from a brother of mine Tracker Dan, and it is very well thought out. From the blade design and finger grooves to the sheath which is second to none. It's the only blade I carry constantly. Good thing about Tracker Dan is he makes the blades and is a Sayoc instructor to boot, so it's an easy package to put together."


    As soon as I got home, I contacted Tracker Dan and put my order in. I recently received my Bloodshark from Dan, and I’ve been carrying it since. I asked Dan if he would be willing to explain how the Bloodshark came about, and he recently took the time to sit down with me and do so.

    Before the Bloodshark was around, many STG cadre had favored carrying the Cold Steel Culloden, a blade now discontinued, and not without weaknesses.

    “They were all stainless steel, and hollow ground. The tips just didn’t have enough strength, they broke too often. Also, there was no way to ID which way the edge was facing (if it got turned around in your pocket, etc.), without looking at it. You couldn’t put your thumb on the back, safely, without looking down at it. They made a carbon steel, 5” bladed version also, and that was great, it was stronger…but it was harder to conceal… and they’re both discontinued anyway.”

    Upon designing his own ideal blade, Dan wanted to make sure it had a good strong tip, but something that was plenty pointy and suited to thrusting:
    “So many blades out there, like the KaBar, have a hunting/skinning type tip on them…so they’re not really meant for thrusting. And whether it’s used for fighting, utilitarian stuff, any kind of medical tasks, or any kind of survival stuff, it’s really nice to have a sharp tip to get in and do things you can’t do with a broader profile. “

    “The 1” profile allows you to get into tight places. It allows you to access the brain through the eye sockets, something you just can’t do with a wider blade. But it’s not as pointy as the mini Cullodens, so it gives the tip more strength. The false edge on the back helps give it a spine down the center making it stronger. Also, removing the metal from the backside allows the tip to go in easy.”
    Last edited by Jim D; 07-05-12 at 17:42.

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    “The main thing behind this was concealing it, so minimizing the length as much as possible was key.” “It has to be able to fit in a front pocket or in appendix carry without inhibiting active movement.”

    “No choil, that way you’re not going to get hung up on anything. Even back when I was working on a farm, cutting hay bail strings… any kind of a choil would just stop you dead in your tracks. Any kind of emergency, say you have to cut loose from your parachute… if you have a choil, you’re not getting through that as fast as you want. Any kind of emergency situation, it can hang up on a seat belt. Any kind of fighting situation, it can hang up on clothing, on a bone…and it can strip it right out of your hand.”

    “Also I try to get the edge as close to my hand as possible. The further out the edge is, the more leverage you have working against you when you’re trying to work with it.” “ No choils…choils suck.”



    From just looking at the knife, you can tell it’s not “big” in virtually any direction…this was very much intentional.

    “[You need to be] able to access targets in the body, but it doesn’t need to be much longer than that [approx. 3” of blade]. The longer this blade is, the easier it is to disarm. You see it all the time in stick fights. Just like being stripped out here [from the handle] it can be stripped out from the blade, there’s a lot of leverage for taking it out this way, too.”


    Note the minimal handle extension past the top of the hand

    “The longer it is, for guys who run them on a chest rig, the closer the edge is coming to your own throat…and if it’s too long, you have more time and distance till you are clear from the sheath. There are times where a longer blade is good to have, it’ll give you more reach… but in close [where things are already tight and you’re going to the blade because of that]…the shorter, faster blade is nice.”

    Everything about the design is purpose driven:

    “As far as the finish, I’m worried more about the design, a sharp edge, and good steel than I am… as far as having everything nice and smooth and polished…that is not what I need. I’m looking more for function first, form second.”

    Some of Dan’s .mil/.gov customers are wearing full kit one day, and going concealed the next, so Dan wanted to make sure his sheath could be removed from a chest rig and put into a concealment role, rapidly. The spring clip with the hook will snag on a belt, MOLLE, or even the seam on a pair of swim trunks or sweat-pants. Dan even offers a pocket holster add-on that snaps into place under the spring clip, snagging on the pocket corners when drawn. This sheath is designed so no matter what you are wearing, you can have a blade on you. And even if you are naked, you can clip it to your watch band!



    The sheath uses some of the smallest rivets I’ve ever seen, keeping the footprint of the sheath as small as possible, giving the user more carry location options while reducing needless weight and bulk.

    The blade will sheath in either edge orientation, so the user can rig it for deployment with either hand, or return it to the sheath after switching hands, changing grips, etc. Dan makes these sheaths for a few different blades, too…all are just as well thought out, tight to the blade, and easy to use.

    The back of the sheath is cut in such a way, that the blade can be returned to the sheath without looking at it. One simply finds the metal clip, taps the side of the blade against it, slides the tip across the clip until you feel it drop down, then you’re ready to go back in. The large tab on the back of the sheath acts as an open mouth for the tip to contact during this process.

    Moving into the handle, it was particularly well thought out.

    “The guard and the finger grooves, they can’t stick out too far, or they can grab on stuff and disarm you.”

    The handle is minimal in length. It sits so that just a hair of steel protrudes from the hand in reverse grip. It’s angled to accept a thumb cap well, or to rest against the palm (for power assist) riding under an extended index finger.


    Palm assist


    Thumb cap

    The lack of any sharp or angular handle features allows the user to not only thumb cap the blade, but also power assist it using the other hand’s palm, a knee, etc. to add more driving force to the thrust. A pointy handle design with a glass-breaker or something designed for striking would prevent the user from performing these techniques (unless they don’t mind hurting themselves in the process.)
    Last edited by Jim D; 08-21-11 at 16:46.

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    “If the handle is too long, it can get stripped out of your hand easy. We wanted something long enough to do what you need to, but not long enough to allow it to snag and get stripped out. I’ve seen it happen. There are uses for having a longer handle, for trapping, for hooking…but the main thing for this was concealment.”

    The end of the handle is flared out, giving the user a ramp to hit when they access it with their thumb and fingers, aiding in reliability of the draw. The meat of the handle is tapered as well, enlarging as you get closer to the blade, like an ice cream cone. This cone shape helps provide the user with more friction as they thrust with the blade, preventing one from riding forward onto the edge if they strike a dense object with a thrust.


    L-R:Standard single ridge wrap, double ridge wrap, reversed/rounded wrap, flat wrap. Lanyards and pocket sheath also shown.

    “As far as the wrap, a lot of guys like this single ridge wrap. But, it can be done a lot of different ways. A ridge on both sides…which won’t be as concealable, but will have a lot of good grip to it. I can reverse the ridges, so it’s more rounded. If you’re going to be doing a lot of carving, it’s not going to be as hard on your hand. I can also do a flat on both sides wrap, for folks who want it more concealed.”


    L-R:Flat wrap, flat wrap with lanyard, single ridge wrap (current "standard" production).

    The standard single cord wrap helps identify the orientation of the edge in the hand, and the finger grooves help with this as well. The finger grooves help provide more purchase on the grip, and that combined with the taper allow the user to safely and confidently free up their thumb and index finger to negotiate objects in front of them. Whether it’s opening a door knob, reloading a pistol, searching an adversary, or dialing 911 on your cell phone…it can all be done without needing to sheath the blade.

    The thin profile (1/8") of the 154CM steel, and single gutted cord wrap help keep the blade concealed on the body. The double ridge wrap is an option, for guys who want to run them on kit, possible with gloves on as it provides some more bite. Dan offers the Bloodshark in different colored cord wraps, but noted that the OD green cordage is narrower than the other colors, so it will be tighter in against the blade. Speaking of tight, Dan gets the cord wrapping SUPER tight. There is no way you’re going to feel it shift on you, unless it gets cut somehow…the wraps are just rock solid.

    In addition to the live blades and the sheaths, Dan also hand makes the Bloodshark trainers from stainless steel – supplied with an almost polished finish to help differentiate them from the live blades. These trainers are the exact same dimension as the live blade (see the picture below for reference), so they use the same sheaths and deploy identically. The choice of stainless steel allows the weight to be nearly identical, while not needing to make the blade any wider to do so. The blanks are cut to the same dimensions as the live blade, then the tips are rounded off on the trainer, and the edges are rounded and polished. The handles are wrapped in bright blue 550 cord so there will be no possible mix ups.


    Look closely at the tip, the live blade is resting beneath the trainer. Dimensions are identical otherwise.

    When I asked Dan what he would prefer a different blade for, it took him a second to come up with a response.

    “Well, if you were facing multiple opponents…in a mob situation, something that gave you more range would be good, in forward grip.” “And for projectiling, a longer heavier blade will be easier to judge your rotation on, and will penetrate deeper or hit with more shocking force. You can throw these blades too of course, some of the guys love them for that…but it’s harder to judge the rotations of a shorter blade. I might want a thicker, longer blade if that was my main goal.”

    Dan has done a full flat grind on the Bloodshark before, which he uses for more fine tasks, such as carving and wilderness survival tasks. He has also done a partially double edged version, where the top half of the back edge is sharpened for making back-cuts…but both increase the time it takes to make the blade, and the full flat grind reduced the tip strength, so his military customers have been opting for the standard grind as shown. The other grinds are offered upon request for an up-charge.


    L-R:Two standard grinds, two flat grinds, Greymatter Trainer and Greymatter Tomahawk.

    Dan also makes a nasty tomahawk, “The Greymatter”, as seen in the above picture along with a trainer for it. The Greymatter was a collaboration with some tomahawk “end users” who had been using Tom Kier’s original Sayoc hawk for a while, and had some ideas for a modified version. This is a very light, fast hawk, built for one thing – combat. Dan is currently finishing a survival/utility driven version of the Greymatter, which should be available soon. I’ve been told that a Jungle Bolo developed with influence from Atienza Kali (for use by some elite .mil elements) is also in the works. Also a thicker, longer version of the Bloodshark for folks who want a larger blade for more overt carry (which is supposed to throw much easier) is in the final stages of development.

    Considering how well thought out the design is, the quality of the steel (154CM), the time it takes Dan to grind and wrap each blade by hand, the sheath design and how ground-breaking it is…it would be a bargain at twice the price (the standard blade with sheath is currently $220).

    Even with hundreds of blades on the market, I can’t think of any other designs which incorporate half of the features the Bloodshark does…features which allow the Bloodshark to be carried, deployed and used in most any fashion imaginable.

    The beauty of the Bloodshark is in its function and simplicity. If you are looking for a pretty knife with elaborately machined scales, a mirror polished or airbrushed finished blade, and an embossed leather sheath…this isn’t for you. However, if you are looking for a concealable blade to carry with you into harms way, look no further.

    Anyone interested in info on the Bloodshark can contact Tracker Dan through email at: TrackerDan@NorthernRed.com
    Last edited by Jim D; 08-25-11 at 15:47.

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    wow, great thread!

    I take it he doesn't have a website?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_s View Post
    wow, great thread!

    I take it he doesn't have a website?
    Hey Rob,

    Not yet. I know he wants to put on together, though.

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    Excellent review! A few weeks ago, through email, Defoor recommended to me the Bloodshark and I have had my eye on it since. Pretty pricey, but like you said, plenty of well thought out features.

    I believe you said the blade was 3" correct? How long is the handle?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironman8 View Post
    Excellent review! A few weeks ago, through email, Defoor recommended to me the Bloodshark and I have had my eye on it since. Pretty pricey, but like you said, plenty of well thought out features.

    I believe you said the blade was 3" correct? How long is the handle?
    The handle is about 3.5" from the top finger extension to the end tip of the handle. Where your fingers can rest is a touch shorter.

    Spot on with the blade length. It's 3" on the money.

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    Thanks for all of the great info!! Very well put together.

    What is the price on the t-hawks?

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    Looks good, I emailed him about them. As per August 1st he was waiting on another batch. If things have changed I have not been emailed back.

    Seems like it might work for a particular application I have quite well.

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    I met him at Tiger Swan this spring. I got to finger **** a few of his tools. He is a nice guy and his tools are top notch.
    Keep your faith in God, but keep your powder dry. (Oliver Cromwell)

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    Dan and I have been working together for a while now (well after this article was initially released) and since then he's had a few guys ask about how he got into blade making. He took the time to write it all up, so I figured I would share it here in case anyone was interested.

    It's listed now on his website too (TrackerDan.com), but I thought I'd post it here in case anyone found it useful.

    Thanks,
    Jim

    As my blades and other products continue to gain a strong following (thank you!) and I get to know more of you through the classes I teach, I’d like to share with you my background so you can better understand how my blade designs and philosopophy came to be.

    I am Tracker Dan, I have been a wilderness survival and tracking instructor since 1995 and a Navy SEAL since 2002, I am currently serving in the active reserves on SEAL Team 18. When at home, I teach survival and tracking, marksmanship and tactics, and hand-to-hand combat and provide personal protection for celebrities, business men and politicians (those who are worth their salt). One of my major activities is designing and making sheaths, holsters and edged weapons/tools.

    When I was working on farms and as a carpenter in the 1980's, teaching survival/tracking in the 1990's and operating as a SEAL in the 2000's, the importance of sharp edged tools was a necessity, in fact I knew how to make a knife “shaving sharp” by the early age of 14. This turned out to save my ass many times when being inspected by BUD/S instructors! This skill led me to sharpening 80% percent of my classmates knives which helped keep us from getting “beat” as a class.

    Based on that 30 year’s of experience, I learned that a knife that is thin, light and convenient to carry will be with you when you need it, as with most gear. The Cold Steel Mini Culloden has always been a favorite because it’s thin, short and light, can fit in a front pocket, on the hip, forearm, in a sock or as a neck knife, etc.. However, the blade has drawbacks: the sheath is sub-optimal, the tip is too weak and if it flips around in your pocket or under your shirt (as a neck knife) there is no quick safe way to know which way the edge is facing, especially in the dark and/or under duress. I knew I could design something better.

    I started sketching a seven inch blade (about the longest for front pocket carry) that had a stronger tip, finger grooves (for edge orientation and retention) and a butterfly pommel for gripping and ripping type deployment (similar to the Culloden). Once I was happy with my drawing, I made a wooden shape to see how it felt in the hand and at the same time ordered steel and a professional grinder so I wouldn't be limited by the basic Sears model I’d been using. This design would come to be known as the Bloodshark, all this happened in June 2009 about a year after my second deployment as a SEAL Operator.

    Up until then, my specialty was modifying and creating holstering systems for edged tools/weapons and sidearms using the skills I’d learned from making leather, rawhide and wooden sheaths since the age of 6. I’d gained additional skills when I was an instructor at Tom Brown’s Survival and Tracking School during the 90's when, over the camp fire, I started to modify kydex knife sheaths for a friend, also in the SEAL Teams, who was there taking a Tom Brown class. As with what ended up happening in BUD/S, I sharpened and modified tracker school students’ blades when they showed up with "crow bars" instead of knives!

    Once I made it to the SEAL Teams, I continued modifying carry systems to streamline them so they worked for my needs. This included sheaths, blades, holsters, plate carriers etc., many SEALs do this but I was one of the perfectionists who would stay up all night before a mission (whether training or real world) to make sure everything was just right. Once I’d tested it out in the real world, I’d make any additional tweaks that were necessary so it would perform optimally next time out. This is the attention to detail I pride myself on, and believe I pass on to others through my designs.

    A major lesson I soon learned on the Teams was if you can’t quickly and safely put away your blade or sidearm you might have to ditch it so you can quickly get your primary back online. If you can’t do this in the dark, on NOD's, under duress, then lives can be lost. This lifesaving principle, from my real-world experiences, is what spawned my kydex sheath and holster designs that I use for all of my products, including my Bloodshark.

    I started out on my mission of producing the most optimal low-viz sheaths available today by modifying Cold Steel Culloden sheaths. I’d painstakingly stich them with wire (which at the time was narrower than any rivet I could find) close to the blade profile then remove all the excess kydex and the huge rivets. I went through that time consuming process because whether you are concealing the sheath or wearing it on battle gear you don't have space for the excess width, thickness and weight. Additionally I smoothed out the shoulders by the guard so the tip can glide in without catching, this enables you to re-sheath without looking which I found was necessary in the dark or when I needed situational awareness.

    Anyway, I could go on and on, I hope this gives you a view into how and when my designs came about. And for anyone who wishes to own my blades, I thank you for your business.

    Hopefully my tools and weapons will be used to save or defend lives and remove the cancers of our society.

    Tracker Dan

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    Good stuff, Jim. And thanks for the update. I'm happy to see Dan expanding his line and getting an online storefront set up.

    I'm sure he's still crazy busy, but any idea where he's at as far as email catchup? Last update (from about a month ago) was that he was at 40 days or so just for a confirmation of a spot in line. I completely understand (have some friends here with the Teams in SD, myself), but would love to hear from someone who talks to him more regularly.

    Thanks!
    Life is full of choices. I choose Noveske.

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    Quote Originally Posted by krisjon View Post
    Good stuff, Jim. And thanks for the update. I'm happy to see Dan expanding his line and getting an online storefront set up.

    I'm sure he's still crazy busy, but any idea where he's at as far as email catchup? Last update (from about a month ago) was that he was at 40 days or so just for a confirmation of a spot in line. I completely understand (have some friends here with the Teams in SD, myself), but would love to hear from someone who talks to him more regularly.

    Thanks!
    Hey, yeah Dan really is mega-behind on emails. Sitting in front of a computer just isn't what Dan does best.

    We're working on changing the whole order entry, confirmation, wait list setup, because we certainly understand that it's an issue and we know we can do better. That said, it's going to take at least a few weeks until we can transition into the new method/system, but once we do it will make things a WHOLE lot easier on both sides.

    Sorry I don't have better news for you right now, but good things will be coming soon.

    If I can help in the mean time, let me know.

    Thanks.

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    Thanks, Jim. I'll be in touch if for some reason I fall through the cracks, but I'm not sweating it. Between Northern Red stuff and the Teams, Dan already has an extremely full plate. It's great you're helping him. Funny, I'm working with another Teams' guy at the moment on a training business site, etc. and he's behind/hard to pin down, too. Go figure. Anyway, good luck with the set up and transition over to the site/storefront.
    Life is full of choices. I choose Noveske.

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    I've been following the silliness over on Lightfighter. I hope that I get around to placing an order here soon.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~ Paul Howe

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonconsiglio View Post
    I've been following the silliness over on Lightfighter. I hope that I get around to placing an order here soon.
    Roger that, Jon.

    Dan doesn't take any deposits unless it's something really custom, so there is little harm in sending an email request for an blade early.

    He's still months behind on orders so you'd have plenty of time to cancel if you want.

    We're working on a new order entry method that should be up within the next few weeks, but there is nothing wrong with getting in line now. I believe that once the new system goes live, we're going to see a flood of orders as it's going to be much easier to get in line.

    Cheers,
    Jim

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    I'll get in line for a set. I do appreciate the this thread, it's full of good knife advice, not just limited to the Bloodshark.

    Thanks for the time you took, Jim, and best of luck in your efforts.

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    Thanks Jim, I'll look into it. All of my knives now are mostly utility and are mostly Striders. My EB/DB is more defensive that the others, but I like the idea of the Bloodshark. Also, I'd really like the Grey Matter, if I got the name right.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~ Paul Howe

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonconsiglio View Post
    Thanks Jim, I'll look into it. All of my knives now are mostly utility and are mostly Striders. My EB/DB is more defensive that the others, but I like the idea of the Bloodshark. Also, I'd really like the Grey Matter, if I got the name right.
    Hey, yeah, love that pic you took of the Strider with the busted door frame. Good to see people using them the way they're built for!

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