One of the best and most enduring designs in the world of knife combatives is the karambit. There’s no disputing its capability, and even one with minimal training can master the basic movement drills. Doug Marcaida is one of the better known karambit guys, and as a personal note I’ve found the drills to be some of the simpler mechanics of a defensive fighting knife. But the Karambit design is really only good for one thing- combative use- and it wouldn’t be my first choice for really any use other than combatives. I’m more of a general purpose gear kinda guy and that’s often a challenge, usually resulting in compromises at best.
That said, my EDC blade has usually always been a folder, with a smaller fixed blade as part of my field kit. I’ve bounced between a lot of knife designs over the years but my basic go-to has always revolved around simplicity of mechanics and the ability to make deep cuts without getting bogged up in material. Full flat and sabre grinds have worked well for me, and when it comes to the basic layout I’ve always gravitated towards a drop point. The Ontario RAT folder is my current EDC with a Rat 7 or Ranger RAK on my belt in the woods. But after working with Dave Lauck’s Palm knife, I just might ditch them all.
With a three inch blade, it may be on the smaller side but that’s a major advantage. Its fast on the draw and nimble in the hand. All of the basic grips are effortless and that owes entirely to the handle design. To me it looks like a broomhandle mauser…but that’s just me. But with the finger ring that’s indexed on the draw it is impossible to disarm someone armed with this knife. One of the big selling points was watching two ladies work through the basic defensive forms that I was working with them on. They’re both no stranger to real-world fights but this blade’s ergonomics was as natural in their hands as it was mine. Even with minimal training, just as with the karambit, this blade excels as a defensive weapon. But unlike a karambit, the Palm Knife is no one trick pony- this is a simple blade to keep an edge on, lending itself well to any other cutting chores.
Onto the steel- Dave selected S35VN which is a top-tier steel. Its overkill for a blade like this in my opinion, but, S35 holds a razor edge for nearly forever as it is. The design itself is a tanto, which I haven’t favored in the past but evolved in Japan for armor penetration without risking damage to the blade. In a modern context, it’ll easily punch through heavy clothes in a stabbing motion. Further, the sabre grinds work well to make a deep slashing cut, pushing away flesh with its short length making it perfect for follow-up strikes.
To me though, the best part is the versatility of the sheath. The knife itself has a large bulb on the side of the blade that locks it into the kydex, ensuring positive retention. This is a hard knife to draw when its not attached to something- which means there’s little risk of it deploying when you don’t want to. But the versatility of the mounting options are really the best to me- it’s as much at home on a belt as it is on the webbing of my UW Swamp Fox chest rig as it is on a run of 550 cord as a neck knife.
My opinion is that Dave knocked it out of the park with this design. Its not only a jack of all trades, its a master of several and it might just be the best design I’ve come across for not just a defensive blade but a general purpose one.