I’ve been writing about knives for more than 18 years. However, I’ve only been to one knife show in all those years. I attended the Blade Show-West, at the invitation of a large knife company here in Oregon. I’ve been to a lot of gun shows, where there were custom knife makers displaying their wares, but I never attended an actual knife show, until about a year and a half ago. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the knife show – there were less than 100 tables there, and my oldest daughter and myself, were done looking at knives in short order. However, there was one custom knife maker who’s wares caught my attention. I like fancy, artsy-type knives, just like many folks do. However, when it comes down to it, I’m more of a meat and potatoes type of guy – I like working knives! Brian Wagner, hails from Puyallup, Washington, and operates under the banner of Okuden Knives. Brian is a one man operation – he does it all himself, including making his own Kydex sheaths, with a quick detachable belt clip, that will fit on military belts or MOLLE gear. How many times I wished I had some kind of quick on/off sheath for my knife – I’ve lost count! Wagner’s table caught my attention for the simple fact, that the knives he was displaying, were working knives – nothing fancy at all. If you’re in the military or into survival, then you want a no nonsense knife strapped on your side. I spoke to Brian for a while, along with his lovely wife, and told Brian who I was – at the time – the West Coast Field Editor for Knives Illustrated magazine, and that I’d like a couple samples of his knives for test and evaluation and a possible article.
In short order, several knives arrived at my home, and the one I really fell in love with was the Okuden Knives “Ammo Daddy,” Alpha Pattern. This is a fixed blade combat knife, make no mistake about it. Of course, it could also be used as a field knife for a hunter, however, I believe the main purpose of the Ammo Daddy is as a fighting knife. We have a 5-3/4″ blade made out of A-2 tool steel – super tough stuff, and it holds an edge a good long time, and it’s actually easy to re-sharpen. Only thing is, tool steel rusts easily – and living on the wet side of Oregon – we have a lot of rain, and things rust – even when you take care of ’em – guns and knives included. Brian puts a heavy coat of Kal-Guard on his blades, if you want it. The sample I received has an OD green colored blade, full-tang. We’re talking a super, super strong rust-resistant finish.. The overall length of the knife is about 11″- and there is plenty of handle to hold onto – something I demand in a knife like this. Some custom knife makers short-change people with handles that I don’t think are long enough.
The blade itself is a bit of a drop point in design, but realistically, it has it’s own design. I like the upswept portion on the top rear of the blade, for a good thumb placement in the fencing position, and there are friction grooves on the upswept portion of the top of the blade. Check out the Okuden Knives web site for photos, so you’ll know what I’m talking about. The handle material is called “Tero Tough” and is made in Oregon. It looks a lot like G-10 material and it’s just as strong if you ask me. There is a pattern in the Tero Tough handle scales, which allows the meat of your hand to sink in – for a secure grip under all sorts of weather conditions. The handle scales are secured by three Torx head screws – a lot of knife makers would only use two screws – and that’s a mistake on a large fixed blade knife. The handle design itself has finger grooves, which I normally don’t like – I want to place my fingers – well, where I want to place ’em. However, on the “Ammo Daddy” the finger grooves are just placed perfectly. There is also an extended pommel that has a lanyard hole, for attaching a 550 paracord lanyard. Lastly, my sample “Ammo Daddy” was heat-treated by the legendary Paul Bos – who knew what he was doing. The heat-treatment process is still carried on – but Paul has now retired. I’m not sure who’s doing it for Okuden at this point, but rest assured, the heat treatment is being done “right.”
I knew from the onset that this sample wouldn’t be going back to Brian Wagner. It sits on my desk as I’m writing this review – and it stays in one of the cubby holes on my desk, should I need it in a hurry. If you’re in the market for a custom made fighting knife, then take a look at the Okuden Knives “Ammo Daddy” or one of the other knives Wagner produces. Full retail price for the “Ammo Daddy” is $350 and that includes first-class shipping and insurance. That’s a good deal for a custom fighting knife of this quality.