We spoke to four knife designers about why they devised their blades...
If you look back at the history of military weapons, you'll notice that many early combat knives were based on the double-edged dagger design. This was effective as a close-combat tool against armored opponents, since its sharp tip could penetrate between plates and defeat chain mail. However, as equipment evolved and guns became more common than edged weapons on the battlefield, the dagger began to fall out of favor. By World War II, the Mark 1 trench knife dagger would be replaced by a sturdier single-edged knife — the Mark 2 combat knife, which you probably know as the Ka-Bar.
The transition to a heavy-duty single-edged knife was significant because it made the combat knife a much more versatile tool. It could now easily be used for cutting wire, opening cans, and other utility tasks. However, its sharp tip and protective guard still made it an effective piercing weapon. A fuller in the blade reduced weight while maintaining strength. These days, when someone mentions a combat knife or fighting knife, it's likely to resemble this style.
TOPS Knives recently introduced its latest take on the classic American fighting knife, dubbed the TOPS Operator Seven. With an overall length of 12.5 inches, a 7.25-inch blade, and 0.31-inch-thick full-tang construction, it's a hefty one to say the least. The knife is composed of 1075 high-carbon steel hardened to RC 56-58 and finished in a gunmetal-grey stonewash TOPS calls Acid Rain. This steel is differentially heat-treated for a durable hard edge and more flexible spine.
True to its inspiration, the Operator Seven has a sharp piercing point, fuller, and prominent double guard. There's also a large finger choil in front of the guard, designed to allow the user to choke up on the blade for precise whittling or skinning. The 1-inch-thick handle is flanked by scales made of tan canvas micarta bonded to textured black G10. TOPS says this design will “fill out the user's hand much like an ax or hatchet handle would”.
The TOPS Operator Seven includes a black kydex sheath with dangler belt loop, and is available for an MSRP of $190. For more info, go to TOPSKnives.com.