Out­side the Wire is ded­i­cated to fea­tur­ing some of the best, most ac­com­plished he­roes out there—and this edi­tion is no ex­cep­tion.

Many of you may al­ready know the pro­fes­sional MMA fighter, Mikhail Venikov, un­der Team Al­pha Male with Uri­jah Faber. How­ever, Mikhail’s story of suc­cess and tri­umph be­gan long be­fore he be­came a MMA fighter.

After high school, Mikhail at­tended Air­borne School and joined the 2nd Ranger Bat­tal­ion. Over the course of four years, Mikhail was de­ployed three times, with two tours to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. When he fin­ished his ser­vice in 2006, he com­peted and won first place in the Best Ranger competition. Dur­ing the competition, Mikhail and his part­ner com­peted for 60 con­tin­u­ous hours, cov­ered more than 60 miles, and per­formed nu­mer­ous tasks and chal­lenges, all while run­ning on only a few hours of sleep.

His most re­cent ac­com­plish­ment was in 2015, when he started a non­profit char­ity called Ranger Road. He cre­ated Ranger Road to pro­vide vet­er­ans with the sup­port and tools needed to suc­cess­fully tran­si­tion back to civil­ian life after their mil­i­tary ser­vice ends. Ranger Road strives to con­nect vet­er­ans and civil­ians to­gether in a way that’s sim­i­lar to the ca­ma­raderie present within the mil­i­tary. If you’d like to be­come in­volved or learn more, visit Ranger­road.org.

I Ac­tive Duty

WHAT KNIFE DID YOU CARRY ON AC­TIVE DUTY AND WHY? Most of us car­ried Leather­man Mul­ti­tools be­cause they can be used for a va­ri­ety of tasks. You can fight with it, cut wood and wires, and use it to open bot­tles and cans. Most multi-tools have a screw­driver, wood and metal file, ruler, pli­ers, wire strip­per, and a mini saw. I didn’t have to carry a bunch of sep­a­rate tools when I had this with me.

The biggest use I had for it when I was on ac­tive duty was to cut zip ties. When we would hit the tar­get over­seas, we would of­ten use zip ties to hand­cuff the in­sur­gents. Since zip ties are no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to take off, we’d use a spe­cific cut­ter on the multi-tool to re­move them.

CAN YOU RE­COUNT A DAN­GER­OUS SIT­U­A­TION IN WHICH YOU HAD TO USE THE KNIFE? Most of the dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions we en­coun­tered in­volved firearms. Dur­ing a fire­fight, us­ing your knife wasn’t an op­tion be­cause of dis­tance. In Ranger School, they taught us how to fight with a knife, but I never found my­self in a knife fight. If you end up in one, then some­thing clearly went wrong be­cause your gun should be your main weapon.

One of my bud­dies was do­ing an air­borne jump when his equip­ment got tan­gled. He used a multi-tool to get his para­chute loose and re­lease the ma­te­ri­als that were stuck. When we jump out of air­planes, we have guns, ammo, a ruck­sack, duty weapons, tripods, and a lot of other things tied to us. For safety pur­poses, we tie the har­ness with a 550 cord, which is a re­ally durable and strong rope. The only way to get that off is to ei­ther have a quick-re­lease knot or use a multi-tool.

The multi-tool isn’t a re­quired item that we have to carry with us, but most Rangers and Spe­cial Ops have them.


II Civil­ian Life

WHAT KNIFE DO YOU CARRY NOW AND WHY? Cur­rently, I carry a Ger­ber 06 Auto. I got this knife right after I got out of the mil­i­tary, when I won the Best Ranger competition.

One of my fa­vorite fea­tures this knife has is the over­sized re­lease but­ton. This makes it easy to use, even when I am wear­ing gloves.

One day, when I was off duty, my dad and I were driv­ing and we came across a car ac­ci­dent that had just taken place. We parked and I got out to take con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion un­til the cops and am­bu­lance ar­rived. One of the cars had T-boned into the other car and a lady was stuck inside the driver’s seat. I went over to her to tell her to re­main calm and let her know help was on the way, but she just kept scream­ing and was com­pletely hys­ter­i­cal. I knew she must have been in a lot of pain and that this was very trau­matic for her, so I didn’t want to wait for the cops to get her out. I was able to pry her leg free, which had got­ten stuck un­der some metal and the cen­ter con­sole. I also used my knife to cut her seatbelt off. This was one of those mo­ments that I was very grate­ful to have my knife on me. The Ger­ber 06 Auto’s quick re­lease al­lowed me to get in there fast and not waste time. Then, the long blade al­lowed me to pry the metal away from her leg.

I later found out that her leg had been bro­ken in the crash, so I was happy I made the de­ci­sion to get in­volved and help. Even though these sit­u­a­tions don’t oc­cur of­ten, I al­ways carry my knife around me be­cause you never know what your day might bring. KI

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