When Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical found that forging steel helped military veterans cope with post-traumatic stress, he and Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) launched the Forged by War program to train bladesmithing vets, who draw on combat experience to craft the mission-ready tools they once needed. Veteran-run manufacturers have long produced high-quality blades, producing a roster of notable new offerings built from the hardest-earned knowledge.
1. CRKT Freyer
Elmer Roush, a Vietnam vet-eran and 50-year blacksmith, created this tactical ax drawing upon hand-to-hand combat experience and a deep knowledge of ancient Norse weapons. The Viking belt ax is as useful on the homestead as the battlefield. Choke up on the Tennessee hickory handle; the deep beard of the carbon-steel head provides fine control with wood, or a useful way to disarm an opponent.
[$100; crkt.com]Get it
2. RYP Design Demo
When Green Beret Billy Waugh arrived in Southeast Asia in 1961 with his Special Forces A-Team, his Army-issued, knockoff Swiss Army knife barely served its purpose. Robert Young Pelton, noted war journalist and knife designer, took its poor quality to task, honoring Waugh’s legendary service with an up-grade. This beefy folder has a 4-inch steel blade and a wicked marlinspike for loosening knots, poking fuse holes in C4, or silencing an enemy behind lines.
[$438; ryp.design]Get it
3. Winkler Knives Operator
Master bladesmith Daniel Winkler collaborated with vet Kevin Holland, who served on both the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force, for this rugged, multi-use knife. Function is key. It acts as a dagger in close combat, but incorporates the utility of a light cutting drag to slice when needed. Though carried by Holland on several high-level missions, the Operator is compact enough for personal protection, hunting, or everyday carry.
[$350; winklerknives.com]Get it
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