WTW: Double-Sided Daggers, Axes, & The Art of Utility


Apocalypse Josh

DJ Urbanovsky, the knife and axe-maker extraordinaire behind American Kami has had some great successes recently, two more of his knives have been put into production by Boker (check them out here) . I have had  the pleasure of fooling around with a couple of the American Kami blades, in my tactical kitchen knife, the Super Colubris, and the Boker Mid-Tech Colubris which was part of a pass-around review.  He is a maker of fine, dangerous and finely crafted blades, and recently, he’s been making daggers. Pondering these as he grinds, fits and finishes these, he had some thoughts, which he was good enough to share:

Since I am in the middle of assembling a ton of them as I type this, one of my thoughts on daggers: So, obviously most people tend to look at a dagger and think “That right there is some man-killing-as-shit,” or that it is a single purpose design and good for nothing other than making holes in bad guys. Granted, daggers certainly are excellent for the anti-personnel application where their design originates. But after much thought on the subject (they have been a lifelong obsession) and also staring at a whole mess of them for the last several weeks in my shop, I feel like I need to effect a shift in that paradigm. 

American Kami - daggers

Let us look at a double bit axe, for example. It has two independent cutting edges just as the dagger does, and so most people look at it and think that the axe has those two bits so that the user can alternate cuts from the left and the right. This is actually incorrect. A double bit axe has two bits because one of them is used expressly for clear, clean wood, while the other one is your grubbing bit. The grubbing bit gets used any time there is the potential for the the bit to make contact with things that might damage a fine cutting edge, such as dirt, rocks, the ground, etc. You would also use that grubbing bit to clear bark, as when trees grow out of the ground, they tend to pick up bits of rock, sand, and grit, which then becomes trapped in the bark. Bill Harsey has even told me tales from his time as a lumberjack where they would sink the good bit of a double bit axe into a stump, lay a cable over the grubbing bit, and then wail on it with a sledge hammer to cut the cable and effect their repairs. 


So I say to you that one can apply this same principle to a dagger. I know a lot of guys who carry two (or more) knives. They’ll have the knife or knives that are their go-to cutters for any utility tasks, and then they’ll have a dedicated meat cutter that never cuts anything unless they are in a deadly force encounter. Every knife that you carry is more added weight. So with a dagger, less is actually more. You have two cutting edges. One cutting edge is dedicated to every day cutting tasks. The other cutting edge is never used except when you need to seek blood in defense of your life or that of your loved ones. Because it is your one knife, every time you access it is another positive rep ingrained into your muscle memory. All you need is a way to denote your grubbing edge from your defensive edge. This can be visual or tactile. 

 American Kami - daggers2

With my personal M92 that I have been carrying, I have filed a little flat into the guard so that I can feel which edge is oriented which way. And while the knife itself is symmetrical, the sheath is taco style – a fold on one side, grommets on the other. When I resheath the knife, my grubbing edge is always facing the fold of the sheath. And if I happen to screw that up, I will know right away when I place the knife back in my pants, because then I will feel the guard without the flat filed into it poking me in the side. Easy peasy. Hope you guys find this useful.

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Furthermore, if you are going to carry a knife that you have dedicated for the defense of your life or the lives of your loved ones, does it not make sense to select a design that is most optimized for that application? It’s all about selecting the best tool for a particular job.

 There you have it. Some very concise thoughts on double-bladed knives and tools.  Where I live, double bladed knives are listed as Prohibited Weapons.

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So, know your local laws (even if you consider them silly), and collect, train with and use the tools that best meet your needs and applications. Thanks again to Mr Urbanovsky, and be sure to check out his work!

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