THE ALFA KNIFE PATRIOT OFFERS STOUT RELIABILITY AND PERFORMANCE
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.
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.
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.
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.