working on a new book on special ops weapons and their
deployment and am doing the chapter on knives right now. Of
course, the REMFs who make decisions regarding weapons issuance
have periodically decided that troops don't need bayonets or
fighting knives. Generally, however, troops like the idea of
cold steel as a final arbiter of battle. In discussing blade
choice with some deployed troops, I have learned that the Army
(and possibly other branches; I haven't checked yet) has banned
the use of double-edged fighting knives. I find this ironic
since the SAS, one of the world's premier special ops units, has
just adopted a new double-edged dagger from Blackhawk. I mention
the orders about double-edged blades primarily to make a point
about decision making with little regard for combat troops. To
be honest, most of the knives I consider the best choices for
military usage are not double-edged, though a few are. Working
on the book chapter and e-mailing with some troops did get me
thinking about the issue, however.
often get asked for recommendations on knife choice and a good
portion of the time I recommend a blade from Extrema Ratio in
Italy. Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of excellent knives
made in the USA, but Extrema specializes in military and law
enforcement knives which are used all over the world. As a result, I thought GunBlast might be a good place to
discuss Extrema's line of military knives since it can be
accessed from all over the world, including by deployed U.S.
in 1997, Extrema Ratio is a relatively new company.
Originally, Extrema made sporting knives but they were
approached by the Italian armed forces to make specialized
military knives and now military, law enforcement, and rescue
knives are their specialty. Many of Italy's special operations
and anti-terrorist units now use Extrema knives. In fact, I
first saw an Extrema knife on a visit with some members of one
of Italy's anti-terror units.
the beginning I was sold on Extrema Ratio quality. ER knives are
produced on NC machinery, but each knife is hand finished. The
Austrian steel used is N690 which is enriched with chrome,
vanadium, molybdenum, and cobalt. The steel is cut by laser to
form the blade, then vacuum thermo heat-treated, and finally,
sand blasted. To
hold up to military usage, the blades are burnished and
carbon-nitrated. Despite the high-tech production procedure,
each blade is hand sharpened.
handle is produced using Forprene injection and is resistant to
a wide range of temperatures. The handle is extremely ergonomic
with a hollow which fits a variety of hand sizes and allows use
with tactical gloves. It also allows a wide variety of combat
holds (i.e. fencing, ice pick, etc.). A feature I especially
like about Extrema Ratio handles is that they can be quickly
removed to allow thorough cleaning should the knife be exposed
to blood, salt water, or other corrosive substances.
Ratio knives are all tested to NATO standards including
puncture, flexibility and resistance, drop tests on point and
tang, oxidation, etc. Ergonomics are tested by the same
engineers who test Italian high end vehicles such as Ferrari. Extrema has extensive data about their production process,
materials, and testing on their website for those interested in
Ratio offers an excellent warranty on its products and my
experience has been that quality control is outstanding. I've
heard from U.S. troops who have used Extema Ratio knives in
combat and they agree that quality and service are outstanding.
was a quick overview of Extrema Ratio, but what I really want to
talk about are the ER knives I have found especially useful for
let me discuss two full-sized fighting knives. The Col Moschin
is the issue knife of the 9th Incursorui Regiment "Col.
Moschin", a highly regarded Italian special forces unit.
Note, by the way, that Col Moschin refers to a mountain
not an officer. The
Col Moschin is available as a double-edged or a single-edged
fighting knife. The blade is of drop point configuration. The
Col Moschin is designed as a fighting knife with the balance
towards the hilt. There is an integral handguard and a lanyard
ring cut into the full length tang. Blade length is 6.3 inches
and overall length for the knife is 11.4 inches. The Col Moschin
regimental crest is etched onto the blade. The Forprene handle
may be readily removed for cleaning.
sheath is well-designed for special ops usage. It offers
friction and snap retention and allows the knife to be worn low
on their thigh or affixed in other ways.
may be my favorite Extrema knife, though there are other
competitors. It is very fast in the hand and lends itself to a
variety of fighting styles.
other full-sized Extrema Ratio knife I've used quite a bit is
the Fulcrum. While
the Col Moschin is primarily a close combat knife, the Fulcrum
is a multipurpose military knife which can be used effectively
as a fighter but also as a utility knife. The Fulcrum has seen
extensive use in Afghanistan among Italian troops and some
others (including some U.S. troops) and has proven very tough.
Among those who especially like the Fulcrum are Italian Alpine
troops who are issued this blade. In fact, Italian troops like
the Fulcrum so much that ER was asked to develop a Fulcrum
bayonet. I am not covering the bayonet here, but I will say that
I have extensively tested it and am quite impressed.
Fulcrum blade has a tanto point which gives it excellent
penetration, no doubt a consideration for the Alpini who by
definition will likely be fighting those wearing heavy clothing.
The center of gravity for the Fulcrum is further forward which
makes it more effective for chopping and other general tasks.
Blade length for the Fulcrum is 7.1 inches and overall length is
12.2 inches. It is a big, tough knife which still handles
quickly in the hand. The handle is the same used on the Col
Moschin and some other ER full-sized fixed-blade knives. For
military units that adopt the Fulcrum, Extrema offers a very
useful accessory set. Handles and sheaths are available in
black, white, tan, and green. As a result, a unit can issue the
knife with the various colored sheaths so that it can be
tailored to the area of operations--black-tactical,
white-alpine, tan-desert, green-jungle.
Currently, my Fulcrum is set up in green.
interesting variation of the Fulcrum is the Fulcrum K9 which was
developed for Italian military and police dog handlers. The
knife was designed for military dog handlers who may be deployed
to third world countries on "peacekeeping missions".
There is often a problem with local stray dogs attempting
to fight the military dogs.
Since shooting the dogs could endanger the working dog or
bystanders, the Fulcrum K9 is designed to be quickly deployed
against an attacking dog. I'm sure some of you reading this have
been near dog fights--maybe attempted to break them up--and have
the same reaction I do--"Good Luck!" I have a 110 lb
Airedale from the group bred to hunt lions in Africa.
If I have him in the park and see another good-sized dog
coming I always go the other way.
the Fulcrum K9 is an interesting knife. It has the full-sized
Fulcrum handle but only a single crossguard and a shorter 4.9
inch blade. Overall length is 10 inches. The tanto point allows
a very deep thrust to vital organs. The blade is also partially
serrated which should prove useful if it is necessary to quickly
cut the dog's lead or something in which he may have become
entangled. The sheath is well-designed for quick one hand
deployment of the blade.
use and recommend one other Fulcrum--the Fulcrum C.
This is the compact "boot knife" version of the
Fulcrum. The C has
a compact handle and a 4.3 inch blade.
Overall length is only 8.25 inches. The blade, which is
partially serrated, has a drop point/tanto configuration. The
serrations give it some utility for general tasks, but it is
basically a fighter and the serrations can make close quarters
Z-cuts and other slashes even "uglier". My blade has
what Extrema Ratio calls their Geocamo finish (see the photo).
Fulcrum C uses a more compact sheath with a tek-lok designed for
concealed carry. Due to the tek-lok retention system, the C may
be carried upside down if so desired. The Fulcrum C is a wicked
little close combat knife and is another one of my special
favorites among ER's line.
Ratio also offers a full line of military and law enforcement
folders. I will discuss three of my favorites.
start with the MPC (Multi Purpose Compact) which is a very
serious folder. I have, in fact, carried it as backup on some
overseas security jobs where I was limited to one pistol or in
some cases when I was not authorized to carry a firearm. It is
also an excellent choice for a soldier who wants a folder which
can serve as a close combat knife if needed. For those issued
either the M9 bayonet or Marine Multipurpose Bayonet, the MPC
makes an excellent utility/close combat backup.
length is 4.3 inches, about half of which is serrated to allow
for cutting lines, hoses, etc. Its point could be called a clip
point or a drop point as it resembles both to some degree. Its
handle is of anodized anticorodal (a Swiss aluminum alloy) and
offers a full hand hold. The lever lock is very sturdy,
and a heavy duty crossbolt lock makes sure the blade will
stay open even under heavy usage. A lanyard ring at the rear of
the handle allows paracord or some other type of retention line
to be readily affixed to the vest or webbed gear. I rate this
one of the best military folding knives in the world if the user
wants a blade which can be used as a serious fighter if needed.
introduced their MF (Medium Folder) line recently. These knives
retain the quality of larger ER folders such as the MPC but will
fit in a pocket. The one I use is the MF1. About 5.1 inches
overall with blade folded, I find the MF1 very easy to carry in
a Levis pocket or clipped to a pocket when I chose to carry it
that way. The blade length is 3.6 inches. The blade has a drop
point which is almost a spear point. Ridges atop the rear of the
blade allow for a thumb or forefinger bracing point. Dual
opening studs allow it to be operated with either hand. This is
a feature I consider important since I sometimes carry a knife
on the left side as an aid to handgun retention (i.e. lock the
hand of someone trying to snatch my pistol down with the right
hand and slice their forearm with the left hand!). The liner
lock is of conventional type. The MF1 incorporates a glass
breaker, which I consider an important feature for a military or
law enforcement knife. It also has a reversible pocket clip.
There is also an MF1 BC which incorporates a belt cutter and
final Extrema Ratio folder I want to discuss is a specialized
knife for helicopter crewmen. The TFS Pilot was developed for
Italian helicopter crews but it is also used by other military,
police, and civilian pilots. Some airborne troops like this
knife as well. This is a big rescue/survival folder designed to
be carried in a belt sheath. The most noteworthy feature is an automatically
deployable cutter "beak" which may be operated to cut
lines, ropes, belts, etc. The
design allows this scissors type blade to be used in very
confined spaces safely. There is also a 3.4 inch knife blade
which has a tanto style point and which is partially serrated.
It may be used for a variety of survival tasks. It locks
in place with ER's sturdy lever lock. A saw blade designed
primarily for cutting wood is incorporated as well. Opposite the
cord cutter "beak" is a glass breaker.
A folding lanyard loop is located near the glass breaker.
The belt sheath is made of tough ballistic nylon with a flap to
keep the knife from jabbing into the side of the owner in a
crash or when performing normal flight operations.
Ratio offers an array of other knives which are useful for
military or law enforcement duties. The ones I have evaluated
here are those which I feel are particularly applicable to
military users. I have been using some Extrema knives for some
years and have found them extremely well designed and extremely
take an edge and hold it and they stand up to hard usage. When
asked by military or law enforcement agencies or individuals to
recommend a knife I almost always include one of more Extremas
in the choices. They are not cheap but for the quality they are
excellent values. I will note, too, that I have received e-mails
from troops in Afghanistan and Iraq (not just U.S. either) who
have read articles I've written about specific Extrema Ratio
knives noting how well theirs have served.
Ratio in Italy is extremely responsive to orders from all over
the world and they ship quickly. My experience has been that
service to the USA is very fast.
To order or get more information see their website:
Knives in the USA has an extensive stock of Extrema Ratio knives
as well. Their website is:
are very fast and efficient at supplying knives to military
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