OUTSIDE THE WIRE
FORMER RANGER VENIKOV DISCLOSES WHICH TWO KNIVES SHAPED HIS PAST
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.
“I ALSO USED MY KNIFE [GERBER 06 AUTO] TO CUT HER SEATBELT OFF.”
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