When retired U.S. Navy SEAL Commander Richard Marcinko decided to design a series of next-generation combat knives that would be the choice of special operators worldwide, he knew the knives had to have a number of features that would address operational problems he had experienced in the field himself.
As the founder and first commanding officer of SEAL TEAM SIX (today known as DEVGRU) and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, “Rogue Warrior,” Marcinko believes things like extreme durability; piercing power; edge-retention; a non-slip handle; and, yes, stealthiness are essential.
The result is the new Rogue Warrior Brand fixed-blade combat knife series – including Marcinko’s namesake, the Sharkman (which we review here); Black Frog; and Brass Balls – all individually handmade per individual order.
These weapons are not cheap by anyone’s standards. But custom and made-on-demand knives are always expensive.
The Sharkman – which was just put through the paces for Guns & Patriots by the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team a few weeks after the new series was introduced this summer – retails for $650, which (in addition to the fact that they are brand new and made-on-demand) is why there are currently fewer than 10 in the world. And the knife’s design features are why those few carrying it are primarily combat soldiers; special operators; Lt. Col. Tom Mullikin, a S.C. Military Department officer who also serves on the Counterterrorism Advisory Team; and me (The Rogue Warrior Brand company asked us not to reveal who or which units have operators armed with the Sharkman. We complied.).
This is a warrior’s knife to be sure. It cuts wood like an axe. It’ll saw, hack, slash, break bone, penetrate layers of clothing enroute to flesh and bone, and hold an edge. I’ve personally used my Sharkman as a small hatchet, cutting firewood, fashioning a walking stick out of length of birch, and other utility work, and the edges are still razor-like without sharpening.
The Sharkman is built around a piece of 8A-grade extraordinarily tough, corrosion-resistant steel (tempered with a cryogenic – extremely cold – process) and coated with a non-reflective polymer chemical bonding known as Black-T, which is used on nuclear submarines. The blade features a sharp spear-point. It is double edged, and has shark-like teeth on the lower edge, which cut like a small saw, and – according to the company’s data sheet –allows “for smooth insertion and retraction from the target.”
What the data sheet doesn’t allude to is the grim factor; that being when the blade is twisted in the target, the teeth will hasten the onset of shock thus killing more quickly.
The knife handle – nearly impossible to damage – is as impressive as the blade. Composed of two thick pieces of Phenolic laminate secured with three steel pins, the handle is rough-ridged to enhance the operator’s tactile “feel” of the weapon, whether or not his hands are wet, cold, gloved, or even burned. And it is porously designed to constantly drain-away water, oil, and blood.
At just over 10 inches long from stem-to-stern, and with a two-inch wide and 5.5-inch long blade, the knife is big, but not huge. In fact, its size is a stealth-design feature, as is the unique shape designed into both the weapon and its hand-made kydex (thermoplastic) sheath. I experienced this stealth on several conditioning hikes (the knife strapped to my belt) and a short five-mile hump with 50-plus pounds of equipment on my back. The Sharkman sits high on the belt, which allows for easy access at various angles, and amazingly lays flat on the hips and waist. This low-profile prevents it from snagging on vines and undergrowth when the operator is forced to move fast through thick brush.
This knife is tough. I’ve banged it around quite a bit with other gear, and once dropped it on concrete. Not surprisingly, not a scratch.
How does the Sharkman perform in a fight? Impossible to know for sure without actually using it in a fight. But the handle and hilt are certainly big, rugged, and heavy enough to crush a man’s skull. And thanks to our friends at the Ole Timey Meat Market in Columbia, S.C., I was able to stab, twist, recover, slash, and generally work-over a huge beef shoulder, and found the overall knife’s action to be both strong and quick.
In terms of aesthetics, the Sharkman is wicked-looking enough (forgive the trite expression) to keep the natives restless.
What about the Sharkman’s design-progenitor? Last week I chatted with Marcinko, who says his next book is at the publisher. He’s providing contract security analysis. He’s raising a family. He’ll be 70 in November, and he’s still designing great tactical gear and weapons.