AMER­I­CAN STRONG

THE ALFA KNIFE PA­TRIOT OF­FERS STOUT RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY AND PER­FOR­MANCE

Knives Illustrated - - News - STORY BY MICHAEL JANICH, PHOTOS BY MICHAEL JANICH AND SALLY JANICH

Pur­pose-built with de­sign cues from a re­tired Green Beret, the Alfa Knife Pa­triot is not the only tank on the bat­tle­field. BY MICHAEL JANICH

Icould tell right away that he had some se­ri­ous martial arts ex­pe­ri­ence (I later learned that he’s a black belt in Gra­cie Barra Brazil­ian Jiu-jitsu and a com­bat­ives in­struc­tor), and that he was very fo­cused on the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of ev­ery­thing we did. He also has a knack for ask­ing hard ques­tions that chal­lenged me as an in­struc­tor. I liked that.

“IT’S THERE­FORE NOT SUR­PRIS­ING THAT PART OF THE IN­SPI­RA­TION FOR THE PA­TRIOT DE­SIGN CAME FROM A LENGTHY DIS­CUS­SION HE HAD WITH A RE­TIRED GREEN BERET.”

I first met Da­mon Lusky about five years ago at a Martial Blade Con­cepts sem­i­nar I taught, right be­fore the BLADE Show in Atlanta. At the end of the sem­i­nar, he ex­plained that he was a cus­tom knife­maker and asked if I’d mind tak­ing a look at some of his blades and of­fer­ing my opin­ion. I agreed, and though I liked the nonon­sense heft and clean work­man­ship, I felt they could be stream­lined a bit to im­prove their edge ge­om­e­try and cut­ting per­for­mance.

A year later, I re­turned to teach again and there was Lusky, front and cen­ter.

After a few hard hours of train­ing, he again pulled out his knives and asked me to take a look. To put it bluntly, I was pretty im­pressed. This rit­ual has played out ev­ery year since then and, with­out fail, ev­ery time I see his work, it has taken a quan­tum leap for­ward in both de­sign and crafts­man­ship. The knives he’s turn­ing out now un­der his busi­ness, Alfa Knife, of­fer out­stand­ing per­for­mance and hell-for-stout re­li­a­bil­ity. My per­sonal fa­vorite—and the sub­ject of this ar­ti­cle—is his Pa­triot model.

De­sign Ge­n­e­sis

As I men­tioned ear­lier, Lusky is not shy about ask­ing ques­tions. It’s there­fore not sur­pris­ing that part of the in­spi­ra­tion for the Pa­triot de­sign came from a lengthy dis­cus­sion he had with a re­tired Green Beret. Based partly on my in­flu­ence, Lusky likes Wharn­cliffe blades when it comes to cut­ting per­for­mance, as their straight-edged pro­files main­tain cut­ting pres­sure all the way to the tip. How­ever, his per­sonal de­sign style and the in­sights of the Spe­cial Forces vet­eran em­pha­size the need for a stout point that will not break, re­gard­less of how it’s used. It also needs a han­dle de­void of hot spots that is com­fort­able in any grip and al­lows good con­trol when used with gloved hands.

Start­ing with his own well-formed de­sign con­cepts, Lusky re­fined them with the real-world in­put of the Spe­cial Forces vet­eran, and ex­per­i­mented to at­tempt to cre­ate the per­fect com­bat knife. He started with a very gen­tly curved cut­ting edge to keep the point low and en­sure max­i­mum cut­ting power; how­ever, he also made the flat pri­mary bevels rel­a­tively short. This thick­ens the edge and the point to

“DA­MON LUSKY’S PA­TRIOT DE­SIGN IS 10.75 INCHES OVER­ALL—BIG ENOUGH FOR VERY SE­RI­OUS USE, YET SMALL ENOUGH TO BE EAS­ILY CAR­RIED.”

en­sure greater strength. Since thicker blades with more ob­tuse edge ge­om­e­try tend to cre­ate a lot more drag dur­ing cut­ting, he de­cided to grind a deep, full-length fuller on both sides of the blade. Mea­sur­ing al­most half the width of the blade, the fuller not only re­duces weight and cre­ates a strong I-beam-like cross-sec­tion, like the ridge (shinogi) of a katana, it also causes drag to lit­er­ally dis­ap­pear after the depth of a cut reaches the top of the bevel. A sub­tle swedge (un­sharp­ened bevel) near the tip en­sures an acute point and com­ple­ments the blade’s thought­fully ra­diused spine.

The Nitty Gritty

Da­mon Lusky’s Pa­triot de­sign is 10.75 inches over­all—big enough for very se­ri­ous use, yet small enough to be eas­ily car­ried. Its 5.5-inch blade is ground from 0.214-inch 5160 spring steel and clay, tem­pered to achieve a hard­ness of RC 58-60 at the edge, while be­ing softer and springier at the spine. The edge fea­tures an old-school con­vex grind and the en­tire blade is fin­ished with an acid etch that suc­cess­fully high­lights its ha­mon (tem­per line) while giv­ing it a durable post-apoc­a­lyp­tic-look­ing fin­ish that is both non-re­flec­tive and in­cred­i­bly at­trac­tive. Lusky sharp­ens the edge to 400 grit, then strops it to a mir­ror-like pol­ish that of­fers an ex­tremely keen, shav­ing-sharp edge that is also toothy enough to cut ag­gres­sively on fi­brous ma­te­ri­als.

Its han­dle scales are made from G-10 with con­trast­ing color layers over a base of thick black G-10 lin­ers. They are per­ma­nently bonded to the knife’s full

“THE PA­TRIOT EA­GERLY TACK­LED EV­ERY TASK I THREW AT IT AND PER­FORMED EQUALLY WELL IN BOTH UTIL­I­TAR­IAN AND COM­BAT­IVE ROLES.”

tang with solid fiber­glass pins, us­ing marine-grade epoxy. Its beau­ti­fully con­toured shape of­fers a com­fort­able, hand-fill­ing grip—with and with­out gloves—and al­lows in­stinc­tive tac­tile ori­en­ta­tion of the blade. Its curves com­ple­ment the blade’s sub­tle in­te­gral lower guard to keep the hand se­curely in place dur­ing use. Like the han­dle of a good bushcraft knife, it has no hot spots or sharp edges and can be used for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time with­out fa­tigue or blis­ter­ing. A lined lan­yard hole al­lows the easy at­tach­ment of lan­yards or se­cu­rity cords and the butt end ter­mi­nates in an un­der­stated “skull crusher” pom­mel.

Tip­ping the scale at 11.2 ounces by it­self, it weighs 15.6 ounces when housed in its very well-ex­e­cuted hand-molded Ky­dex sheath. The knife snaps au­thor­i­ta­tively into the sheath and stays there un­til needed, with­out a hint of rat­tling. Its de­sign of­fers a solid three-fin­ger grip on the draw and re­leases the knife with the proper ten­sion for ei­ther a straight pull or a stealth­ier thumb push-off. The sheath’s sym­met­ri­cal style also al­lows at­tach­ment of the pro­vided Blade-tech Tek-lok to ei­ther side to sup­port a wide va­ri­ety of carry po­si­tions on a belt. Large eye­lets in the sheath also al­low it to be eas­ily lashed or zip-tied to MOLLE plat­forms or other gear.

Field Test

The Pa­triot ea­gerly tack­led ev­ery task I threw at it and per­formed equally well in both util­i­tar­ian and com­bat­ive roles. It came to me with an in­cred­i­bly sharp, pol­ished edge and seemed de­ter­mined to stay that way no mat­ter what I cut with it. Although pol­ished edges some­times tend to slide, the Pa­triot’s edge bit ag­gres­sively and had no prob­lem pow­er­ing through fi­brous ma­te­ri­als like sisal rope.

Although the knife ini­tially felt a bit han­dle-heavy in my hand, on closer in­spec­tion, I found its bal­ance point to be per­fectly cen­tered right where the index fin­ger grips the han­dle. This gives the knife a neu­tral bal­ance that pro­vides ex­cel­lent con­trol dur­ing all ap­pli­ca­tions. The matte-fin­ished G-10 scales of­fered just enough tex­ture to en­sure a se­cure grip with­out com­pro­mis­ing the com­fort of the han­dle’s con­toured shape. The re­sult is a han­dle that of­fers the dex­ter­ity and deft­ness of a great bushcraft knife and al­lows it to work very well with many of bushcraft’s lever­age-based cut­ting meth­ods. The blade’s smooth, ra­diused spine—one of my fa­vorite fea­tures on the knife—pro­vides a very com­fort­able pur­chase for the sup­port hand, mak­ing two-handed cut­ting strokes and drawknife-style ac­tions a breeze. The more I used the Pa­triot, the more I dis­cov­ered and ap­pre­ci­ated Lusky’s ex­treme at­ten­tion to de­tail in the de­sign and his near-flaw­less ex­e­cu­tion of it. From a com­bat­ive per­spec­tive, it was im­pres­sively quick in the hand and al­lowed easy ori­en­ta­tion of the edge and plane of the blade dur­ing bal­lis­tic cut­ting. Its lack of “belly” and near-wharn­cliffe blade pro­file main­tained cut­ting power all the way to the point, mak­ing ev­ery cut a po­tent one.

The blade’s deep fullers def­i­nitely min­i­mized drag dur­ing cut­ting, yet en­sured that there was plenty of “meat” be­hind the point to keep it strong. Thrusts into a foam man­nequin dummy con­firmed that the Pa­triot will in­deed pen­e­trate with the best of them, and that the un­der­stated lower guard does its job well.

Out­stand­ing Work­man­ship

The Alfa Knife Pa­triot is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of Da­mon Lusky’s out­stand­ing work­man­ship and deep un­der­stand­ing of func­tional knife de­sign. No mat­ter what you need a knife for, the Pa­triot has what it takes to serve you well. KI

This photo shows the beauty of the Pa­triot’s tem­per line and the blade’s acid-etched fin­ish.

Right: The Alfa Knife Pa­triot is an ex­tremely stout and well-de­signed knife that works equally well in gen­eral util­ity, bushcraft, and com­bat­ive roles.

Left: The Pa­triot’s unique blade de­sign com­bines a slightly curved cut­ting edge, with short, flat pri­mary bevels, deep fullers, and a swedge to cre­ate an im­pres­sive bal­ance of strength and cut­ting per­for­mance.

Although made for hard use, it’s also a truly beau­ti­ful and col­lectible piece of cut­lery.

Alfa Knife’s sheath work is ev­ery bit as good as the knife it­self. Fit, fin­ish, re­ten­tion, and draw are all ex­cel­lent, and a Blade-tech Tek-lok pro­vides a solid, ver­sa­tile belt at­tach­ment.

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