by Anthony Winegar
What if I told you that you could have a knife that looks equally at home in a buckskin sheath on Magua or Hawkeye’s beaded woven belt as it does on a nylon MultiCam plate carrier flying through a warzone on the side of a dark-skinned Little Bird?
Such a thing exists.
I select knives based on looks and manufacturer. Yep. I am unabashedly that shallow, and although it seems contradictory I am also that end user who needs a blade to accomplish simple tasks but to remain unnoticeable when not in use. I need different blades for different tasks, and when one blade can accomplish a few tasks and has the classic American style that I love so much, I’m in.
Enter the Winkler Operator, a short bladed belt knife with a classic American design for the modern era.
The Operator was designed by an actual operator; a guy who wore the official title as it was originally coined. He has seen action as a Navy SEAL, a law enforcement officer, and an Army Special Operations soldier at the highest level. More importantly for Winkler Knife end users, however, is that the designer not only understands knife and tomahawk designs but he also chose to work with Daniel Winkler. Winkler, of course, is the is the guy who can make it all happen. The four inch distal-tapered Operator are born from their joint expertise and love of classic knife designs (the Operator’s blade shape is similar to some early British trade knife shapes of the 18th Century).
The shorter blade makes it less cumbersome, lighter, and quicker in and out of the sheath. It is an ideal blade length for most knife uses because it has plenty of depth for gutting and skinning while also having plenty of spine for stabbing and cutting heavier materials. The shorter length allows for a multitude of carriage options as well, from horizontal or vertical belt mounting or for mounting on kit.
Like any good operator, the knife is equally at home on the belt of a hunter or the plate carrier of a warrior; it transitions into any situation with ease. The blade is designed to cut and stab, making it useful as both a cutting tool and a self-defense knife, which is where the blade and handle design really shine for me.
As a law enforcement officer, having a large dagger handle sticking out of my tactical kit doesn’t always fit the situation. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I have to be concerned with my image. The shorter handle of the Operator fits right in as anything from a useful flex-cuff cutting tool to the covert self-defense edged weapon described above. You can get a sheath from Winkler Knives for any of those purposes. The knife also comes standard with a no-glare finish and a choice of wood, rubber, or Micarta handle material. (I chose wood. The designer told me one time that it was his favorite handle material because it felt like home, which has always resonated with me.)
Take this opinion from a person who is not a knife guy. I bought all of my knives with my own money, including this one. This article is short because I can’t tell you about carbon composition, ideal tang length, etc. I sharpen my knives with stones and hone them with the bottom of ceramic coffee mugs. I gut and skin deer, cut rope, flex-cuffs and seatbelts with my knives. I trust the craftsmen and experts to tell me what will work for my needs. The Operator does all of what I need in a fixed blade; it is an everyman’s knife that effortlessly melds into the everyman persona.
If you’re in the market for the same, try it out. You can find Winkler Knives online here.