Bad And Beautiful


Few Patterns Are As Stunning And Audacious As Daggers And Fighters. These Four Makers From Around The World Show What Elite Craftsmen Are Creating Today.

Knives with attitude always have been popular among many makers and cutlery enthusiasts, and, if you’ve ever been to a BLADE Show, chances are you’ve seen some eye-popping examples. Many have in-your-face themes, with daggers and fighters getting lots of love among them.

Wardog Fighter By Samuel Lurquin

The Wardog Fighter by Samuel Lurquin includes a handsome leather pouch sheath with logo by Jeremy Guillaume, a sandblasted-then-blued blade, a tight-waisted bird’s beak handle, and a dog tag with appropriate verbiage and logo. Overall length: 12.8 inches.

If Samuel Lurquin’s Wardog Fighter looks familiar, that’s because it is—it served as one of three cover knives for the June BLADE®. However, due to space requirements, we were unable to give the knife its just due in that issue, so we correct that oversight here.

Sam is an ABS master smith from Belgium who makes bullet-proof tactical fixed blades ticketed for extreme “rough ’n tumble” use beyond the call of duty. Sam’s English is somewhat limited, so we turned to Dave Ellis, proprietor of Exquisite Knives, who specializes in upscale cutlery from around the world. Dave is California’s first ABS master smith who has since retired from hammering steel to become a purveyor of fine custom knives. Dave’s overview of the Wardog is insightful. 

“Sam’s combat knife was designed to be very concealable, nothing flashy that sticks out! Twenty years discussing the needs of end users helped him design a knife to be used hard in the field,” Dave observes. “Rather than taking credit for the knife’s design, Sam instead deferred to the many experts when it came to ergonomics, concealment, and design to ultimately come up with this sleek fighter.”

The beefy clip-point blade is 7.5 inches to go with the 5.3-inch black G-10 handle. 

“I asked Sam if he considered this to be the perfect combat/field knife,” Dave states. “His response was quite sincere. He said, ‘There’s never just one perfect knife.’ Use dictates the design of each piece, and this design Sam hopes is one that he could stake his own life on. This is very important to Lurquin—that if all else fails, his knife will prevail.”

Dave explained the Wardog’s finish process: “The blade was sand blasted then cold gun blued. The bluing produced a forced rusting [patina] that Sam removes with steel wool. The blade is stonewashed for the final finish, one that will stand up to hard use.”  

Sam designed the thick, all leather sheath and had his friend, Jeremy Guillaume of 8 Ball Leather, make it. “It’s double welted and has double latches to keep the knife secured on many media—belts, backpacks and the like,” Dave concludes. “Sam felt that Kydex is too noisy, thus the use of leather.”

Commando Dagger By Joe Israel

Joe Israel offers his Commando Dagger with the smaller Shrike EDC knife. A big fan of the Fairbairn-Sykes dagger of World War II fame, Joe patterned the handle on that of the F-S classic. The Kydex sheaths are by Harry Savage.

One of this issue’s cover knives, Joe Israel’s Commando Dagger is born out of Joe’s intense fondness for the armed forces knives with a double edge. 

“I’m inspired by all the great military daggers like the Case V-42, Fairbairn-Sykes, Gerber Mark II—these knives have always fascinated me,” he observes. “I wanted to create something both beautiful and a bit sinister which, after all, is what I think daggers are.”

Though very stylish, Joe’s knife is meant to be used. 

“For the Commando Dagger, I start with 3/16-inch CPM 154 stock that I flat grind by hand and heat treat myself, including a liquid nitrogen cryo. The blade is 6 inches long and the overall length is 11 inches,” he states. “It’s then hand sanded to 3,000 grit and mirror polished.” 

The blade is sharpened on both sides. If the curvaceous handle smacks of a certain famous World War II combat knife, it is purely intentional. 

“I always loved the shape of the Fairbairn-Sykes handles and I try to emulate their elegant shape in my Commando Dagger,” he comments. “The knife is full tang with a brass guard that I pin and solder in place old-school style.” The scales are black linen Micarta® with blood-red G-10 liners secured with brass pins.

Joe supplies his knives with no-frills, all-business black Kydex sheaths, and also offers them in leather. “Harry Savage makes the sheaths for the daggers and he’s just great to work with,” the maker opines. “His work is always top-notch. The small knife in the picture accompanying this story is my Shrike EDC. It’s available in a variety of steels and handle materials. I offer Kydex and leather sheaths for my other knives, too.”

The Toothpick By Matthew Roberts

Matt Roberts chose ladder-pattern damascus for his Toothpick dagger because it complements the symmetrical blade profile, and the coffin-handle design for its simplicity and flowing lines.

Matthew Roberts is an ABS journeyman smith with a passion for forging. 

“I modeled the Toothpick after the Gold Rush daggers and Arkansas toothpicks of the 19th century,” he explains. “I have no knowledge whatsoever of historical knives and their dimensions. I made this because it looks vicious. Utility was an afterthought for this build.

“I forged the blade from 15N20 and 80CrV2 steels,” he continues. “I chose ladder-pattern damascus because it complements the symmetrical profile. The blade geometry is very acute with a full distal taper—the point is ground to near zero.” The Toothpick has a 7.25-inch blade length and is 12 inches overall. The blade is 1.2 inches wide at the widest and has about a .165-inch maximum thickness.

Matt chose a coffin handle design for its simplicity and flowing lines. The radius of the handle profile mirrors the blade profile. The handle material is African blackwood that Matt faceted heavily. 

“Blackwood seemed to be an appropriate choice because I wanted the blade to be the focus of the piece,” he notes. “Also, blackwood is a very heavy wood which helped bring the point of balance well into the handle.” The guard and spacer are 416 stainless. The spacer fluting is mirror polished.    

Matt chose a simple sheath to reflect the clean lines of his dagger. “It’s buffalo hide over bridle leather,” he states. “The hide has a matte finish and is very soft.”

Coffin Dagger By Julian Sacco

Julian Sacco’s Coffin Dagger features a W2 tool steel blade made via the stock-removal method and an unusual smoky hamon he chose for an “ominous feel.” The African blackwood handle is configured in what the maker calls an “old-school-coffin” style.

Julian Sacco’s dagger redefines the word sleek—and that only begins to describe the distinctiveness of his take-down-construction Coffin Dagger. 

“The inspiration for this piece came from seeing a lot of other makers do coffin-style bowie knives,” Julian relates. “I felt a shape like a coffin would fit really well on this dagger, as it’s an entirely mirrored piece all the way around. Essentially I wanted it to have an old look and feel to it and I think the coffin style fit that profile perfectly.”

The blade is ultra-slim and has a notable hamon.

“The blade is W2 tool steel and is done in the stock removal method,” he notes. “I don’t have much experience with hamons but, as per the theme of this dagger, I tried to create a smoky pattern to give it an ominous feel.” The knife has a 7-inch cutting edge and is 13 inches overall. “I wanted this to be more of a nimble and easy maneuvering piece,” Julian states, “somewhat like a stiletto dagger, but not quite.”

The grip’s modified wasp waist exudes creativity as well. 

“The handle is shaped entirely to look like an old-school-style coffin, which I think it resembles quite well. I wanted to have an aggressive look to the overall construction, which is why I shaped the pommel with such sharp lines,” he remarks. “To match the guard I kept those similar shapes and lines on the outside while smoothing the areas that would be gripped in order to make it comfortable for the user. The brass pommel and guard were an excellent choice as I knew they would patina in a way that would fit the overall rustic look and feel I was going for, while the African blackwood handle complemented that look exactly how I hoped it would. It perfectly fits the profile of an old coffin with its rich lines and bold grain, tying the entire theme of the piece together.”

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