There are a few constants that define a good knife — it must be sharp, durable, large enough to accomplish its intended tasks, and small enough to remain controllable. But beyond these points, much of knife design is up to personal preference. What works for you may not work for others, and that’s why we see so much variation in the knife-making industry.

During his seven and a half years in the service, U.S. Army veteran Kelly McCulley developed his own opinion on what a good combat knife looks like. In 2010, he began putting these designs on paper, and eventually started producing them for fellow servicemen and women. Kelly’s latest design has reached an even wider audience through a new partnership with TOPS Knives.

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The TOPS Knives Missile Strike blends the piercing power of a combat knife and the practical slicing ability of a camp knife. Its most distinctive feature is its large forefinger guard, which allows the user to lock in a firm grip without concerns about slipping a finger forward onto the blade.

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The 6-inch spear point blade is clearly designed for thrusts and piercing, but the top edge is actually a swedge. This means it lacks a sharp secondary grind by default. However, TOPS offers an optional sharpened top edge at no extra charge. The spine of the 1/4-inch-thick 1095 carbon steel blade features jimping grooves for added control, and the entire 11.3-inch full-tang knife is finished in durable coyote tan Cerakote.

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The Missile Strike’s handle is slender, with tan canvas micarta scales and a tapered pommel that’s useful for overhand strikes and prying. The holes on the pommel and forefinger guard allow the user to weave a D-guard from paracord for an even more secure grip. This knife includes a tan Kydex sheath and molded nlyon belt clip.

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The TOPS Missile Strike is listed at an MSRP of $210, though the current price is $170 through the company’s web store. For more information, go to TOPSknives.com.

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