Archive | Knives

Amtac Gear Teases New Knife – Northman X

NOTE: See below for the latest information and images.

Amtac Gear recently shared a tease for a new knife in the Amtac Blades line – the Northman X. This knife splits the difference between the Minuteman and the original Northman dimensionally. It appears to be an amalgamation of the larger Minuteman/Magnus grip with the Northman-like blade which should make for a knife that is equally at home in a pocket sheath or on the belt, especially for those who find the Northman handle to be on the small side.

You can read our review of the Northman to get a taste of why this is an exciting development. Like all Amtac Blades, I am sure this new knife will be supported with all the sheaths users need to squeeze every last ounce of versatility out of it.

UPDATE: The NorthmanX is now confirmed and available to pre-order.

Review: Amtac Blades Northman

I’ve been using the Amtac Blades Northman for more than a year now. It’s time to unpack what I’ve learned.


Steel: M390
Blade thickness: 5/32
Blade length: 3.5 inches
Overall length: 6 7/8 inches
Blade weight: 4.3 oz

The Northman’s spear point blade tapers to a very acute point, has a high flat grind, and a sharp 90 degree spine for striking a ferro rod. It features textured G-10 handle slabs. While the handle slabs are flat, the handle itself is heavily contoured featuring a deep first finger groove and a large punyo.

The knife is delivered as a package that includes the Northman knife, the Pocket FireSheath, a storage sheath, and an aluminum trainer version of the Northman that fits all the same sheaths.

Observations from Use

I want to start my observations with the Northman with some thoughts about the uniqueness of this knife because a lot of the rest of my thoughts will start from this foundation. The Northman is one of the most unique knives on the market in my opinion. I don’t mean from the standpoint of the design or the actual knife, though it is unique in that way. I mean it is unique in capability and the completeness of the entire package.

Belt version and Pocket version of FireSheath (Pocket version included)

There are other defensive or EDC or outdoor-oriented fixed blades on the market, but few that move so effortlessly through all three spaces. There are few (maybe none) knives that have so complete of a sheath eco-system available directly from the maker. I don’t know of another maker that includes a storage sheath that promotes mindfulness in preventing training accidents. The Northman is actually more than just the knife itself and it is unique. This sounds cliche but much of what I just mentioned is the key to what makes this knife truly useful.

I use my Northman a lot of different ways. This is made possible thanks to the variety of available sheaths and the useful blade shape. The knife’s compact dimensions and easy pocket-carry make it a fine EDC fixed blade. It is easy to carry and easy to access when using the included Pocket FireSheath. The useful point and long, slightly curved cutting edge is useful for a wide variety of mundane tasks.

The Northman works great in places a normal fixed blade wouldn’t like in a bee suit.
Carpentry? Check!

The Pocket FireSheath is also excellent for outdoor use as it allows you to place the knife out of the way of a pack hip-belt and keeps it accessible while wearing a pack. While Amtac Blades offers a number of sheaths for this knife, the FireSheaths (Belt and Pocket) are particularly well-suited to outdoor use with their integrated ferro rod. Carrying a Northman in a FireSheath means you are never without a fire starter which I find handy.

As a support to a concealed handgun, I prefer to carry the Northman on my belt using the Belt FireSheath that I purchased seperately. The Northman manages to pack a lot of blade length into compact package and it is very comfortable to carry on the belt either near the wearer’s centerline or pushed out toward the non-dominant side hip.

Some words on the sheaths available for the Northman: There are 5 of them and all are completely ambidextrous meaning the knife can be inserted either way. All but the storage sheath (included) make use of Discreet Carry Concepts (DCC) clips which is a very good thing. This ecosystem of available sheaths does a lot to drive the usefulness of the Northman. The knife comes with the Pocket FireSheath – a sheath with a long DCC clip meant to sit the knife deep in your front pants pockets with the punyo exposed for an easy draw. The Belt FireSheath, Minimalist Belt Sheath, and Deep Concealment Sheath are all belt sheaths with various capabilities that can be purchased as accessories.

Northman shown with both versions of the FireSheath

The inclusion of a storage sheath is particularly interesting to me and I think it speaks to the fact that this knife is sold by a man, Bill Rapier, who trains people to use them. The training sheath gives you a place to store your live blade while training with the training drone. This is so clever. It requires purposeful action to prepare for training. The trainee must place the live blade into the storage sheath and then place the drone into their sheath before training can begin. This mindful action, like the safety on a gun, can help prevent training accidents.

The handle of the Northman works for me and my hands (medium or large glove size depending on brand). The handle is very compact and might feel a little cramped in a basic hammer grip for very large hands but, for me, this is the feeling of being locked into a handle. This handle, with its deep first finger groove and punyo, sort of grips you while you grip it. I find it especially comfortable in a reverse grip with the edge out. The handle does allow for a variety of grips despite the heavily contoured shape.

Shown with my hand for scale

The handle does allow you to get very close to the edge. Some users will love this for the fine control it allows and some will worry about it. As mentioned above, this grip locks you in. I have never had an issue with this even when striking hard surfaces with the drone.

Finally, because I know it will come up, this knife is not inexpensive at $450… but it is a good value. If you spend much time looking at knives, you’ll know that knives with premium stainless steel and textured G-10 handles aren’t cheap to begin with. You’ll also know that sheaths with centerline mounted DCC clips aren’t cheap. You’ll know that 1 to 1 replica aluminum training knives aren’t cheap. You’ll also know that sheaths like those described above with an integral ferro rod and training knives so precisely made that they fit the same sheath as the live blade aren’t just expensive, they are just about non-existent. There is value for money here.

Always up for adventure

Wrap Up

The Amtac Blades Northman reminds me of the venerable, long-serving AR-15. Follow me here. The AR-15 itself is useful because it is versatile and easy to live with much like the Northman. AR-15s become more specialized and useful in more specific roles thanks to a plethora of available optics and the ease of mounting them – much like the plethora of sheaths for the Northman.

What I am trying to say is the Northman has inherent usefulness built into the knife itself which is enhanced by the completeness of ecosystem that Amtac Blades has built around it. This is unique and useful in a way that I don’t think is matched anywhere else. This is a tremendous knife.

And more adventure…
Fire prep? Check!

Review: Offensive Industries Custom Kydex Sheath

Offensive Industries makes a number of cool things including custom kydex sheaths with centerline mounted clips. This type of sheath, in my opinion, is about as functional and versatile as any sheath can be. So, when I needed a sheath for a kind of rare, kind of weird, and kind of cheap knife, I turned to them.

The knife in question is an old Ka-Bar TDI Medium which I think is probably the best of the TDI line but it was discontinued a long time ago. It is much slimmer than the current TDI offerings which works well in this kind of sheath. Even though this knife is somewhat rare today (you can barely find mention of their existence on the web) and it used to be super cheap… it still felt right to shell out for a sheath that probably costs about 4x as much as the knife did originally.

The sheath is excellent and Offensive Industries had to work some magic to make the weird bent handle knife functional in this type of sheath. Starting from the front, you can see that they use small rivets to keep the sheath’s footprint as small as possible. They also centerline mount a Discreet Carry Concepts clip which is basically the heart of this sheath. This configuration is slim, light, and can be attached to almost any pants or shorts regardless of if the user is wearing a belt. It is also extremely comfortable as it is somewhat free to cant side to side with the wearer without ever fully slipping below the waistline like you might have happen with a sheath on a static line.

The back of the sheath is lightly molded to the shape of the handle such that the knife can be inserted and retained ambidextrously. This molding works with an internal friction pad to provide some light retention. This type of sheath often does not have a solid “click” when inserting the knife. Instead, it uses its depth and friction to keep the knife in place. This setup works well.

Looking inside the sheath, we see that Offensive Industries uses a piece of industrial adhesive backed loop side Velcro as a friction pad. This is ideal because it is durable, the adhesive is very ternacious, and it is easily user replaceable. I have used the same material to tighten loose sheaths before and it lasts for years. If it ever needs to be replaced, it is available in the craft section of any big box store.

The sheath that Offensive Industries produces allows you to carry a knife in basically any situation in which you are wearing pants (which is hopefully most situations for most of you). They are extremely comfortable, completely ambidextrous, very well made, and priced competitively for this type of sheath. On top of all that, their turnaround time was fairly quick. If you have a defensive fixed blade knife that want to carry in a way that actually makes sense, Offensive Industries can help.

Heads Up: New Get Off Me Tools from FLC Knives Dropping Soon

FLC Knives will release some variants of their Get Off Me Tool No.6 sometime this weekend. The drop will include the Stubby and Reverse Edge Stubby versions of the No.6.

These tools are extremely compact, which coupled with their excellent sheath, makes them easy to carry in a number of ways. They go from belt line carry to plate carrier easily.

If you are familiar with these drops, you’ll know they sell out quickly. The best way to get an edge in securing one is to get on the FLC Knives newsletter.

You can learn more at the FLC Knives website and their Instagram where tons of info about this upcoming drop has already been posted.

Regiment Blades

Colonel Blades designed knives are back in the form of a new company, Regiment Blades! Colonel Blades was known for their distinctive, self-defense knives touted as being very intuitive to use. The designs featured a generous index finger ring for retention and a dagger blade that is angled in relation to the grip to promote a strong wrist position. In short, these are well-regarded, purpose-driven knives.

The new company has initially listed non-metallic versions of their knives for purchase with several new versions coming soon. Interestingly, Regiment Blades appears to be based in Hartland, WI which is also the home of one of the largest original Colonel Blades distributors, BCM.

Look for more information as it becomes available.

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