Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) is always on the lookout for new knife designs. Rod Bremer, the owner often asks me to keep an eye out for a hot knife design, and I’ve directed him towards a few over the years. Several of these were from custom knife maker, Brian Tighe. I wish I could take credit for directing Bremer towards James Williams, and his Hissatsu fighting knife, but I can’t.
James Williams is a former army officer, and a martial arts practitioner and instructor, with over 45-years experience. Williams knows cutlery as President of Bugei Trading Company, producer of fine Samurai swords. Williams is also an instructor of law enforcement and military personnel. The Hissatsu was designed for law enforcement and military personnel as a back-up weapon to the handgun. I must emphasize that it was designed as a back-up to your main weapon. Remember, don’t take a knife to a gun fight, if you can avoid it.
I really like the Hissatsu, I own several versions of the fixed blade design, as well as their folding version. The Hissatsu can be had with a black blade, shiny silver blade, or one with desert tan blade and handle (as well as a matching sheath). I have a background in the martial arts – more than 35-years actively involved in teaching and as a student. I’m proud to lay claim to Black Belt rank in several different styles of martial arts, and I used to operate several martial arts schools. So, I appreciate a knife designed by someone like Williams, who comes at us with a martial arts background, and not designed by an armchair commando, or a mall ninja.
The fixed blade Hissatsu has a 7.125″ long blade made out of 440A stainless steel. The blade steel can handle a lot of abuse and neglect, too. However, keep in mind that stainless steel can still rust, however, it will stain less than carbon steels! I’ve also found that 440A stainless is easier to re-sharpen compared to 440C stainless steel blades are. The overall length of the Hissatsu is 12.25″ and blade thickness is 0.2″ with a Rockwell hardness of 55-to-57. The blade grind is dual, and if you go to the CRKT.com web site, you’ll see what I’m talking about instead of my trying to put it into words. Rest assured though, that this type of grind is more deadly when using a slashing motion than most knives are.
The handle material on the Hissatsu is double injection Zytel/Kraton, and it is fused to the knife, no chance of it working loose, and I’ve tried my best to separate the handle from the blade in testing – all to no avail. There is also a Zytel sheath for carrying the knife, and you can attach it to web gear or MOLLE gear, or to the belt on your trousers.
CRKT states on their web site, on the Hissatsu link, that the knife is “…intended for us only by trained law enforcement and military tactical team professionals.” Okay, sounds good, but I personally believe there’s a bit of hype there. It’s okay, all knife and gun companies hype their products, and when claims are made that a product is designed for military and law enforcement use only – civilians want it. And, there are no restrictions from CRKT as to who can purchase the Hissatsu.
Make no mistake though, the Hissatsu is not designed as a wilderness survival knife. Nope! This knife is designed for one thing and one thing only – plain and simple, it’s a knife to be used against another human being in close quarters battle (CQB)! Now, I’m not hyping the knife, but I’ve been around knives all my life, and I design knives, and I know what this knife was designed for. The dual-grind on the blade is outstanding as a slashing knife. The Tanto-style blade is also an excellent stabber, and I can easily see the point of this blade penetrating regular body armor, too. I did some penetration tests using the Hissatsu against a large pot roast – it easily penetrated up to the handle of the knife without much effort – just imagine what it would do to a human body?
The fixed blade Hissatsu is one deadly knife, make no mistake about it. I don’t see ordinary law enforcement personnel using this knife, however, specialized SWAT teams and the like might carry this as a back-up blade. As for military personnel, I think the same goes – your regular solider probably wouldn’t have much use for the Hissatsu on a daily basis. However, Infantryman and Special Operations personnel would find this knife very appealing if they got into a hand-to-hand combat situation. I know I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this knife – no way, no how!
If you want to train with this knife, CRKT also offers a rubber training version, and I highly recommend this, instead of using the real thing. You’ll save yourself some grief down the road.
For any of the three different Hissatsu fixed blades, the full retail price is only $109.99 – and that is a great deal, on a knife like this. I would imagine, that if James Williams offered a custom, hand made version, it would easily cost $350+ for one. I’m totally impressed with this blade, and wouldn’t hesitate carrying one into combat on any battle field on earth.
There is also a folding Hissatsu knife from CRKT as well. Of course, it’s not quite as large as the fixed blade version, however, with a blade that is 3.75″ long, it’ll sure get most self-defense jobs done in short order. The folding Hissatsu can be had with an assisted-opening blade, or a manually opening blade. The steel is AUS8, which is one of my favorite blade steels, too. Price on either the assisted or manually opening blade is the same: $99 each. [JWR Adds: Consult your State and local laws before ordering an “assisted opening” or other automatic knife. Unlike here in TUWS, some localities in the slave states deem these useful tools a felony to possess!]
If you’re in the market for a no-nonsense fighting knife, take a close look at the fixed blade or folding Hissatsu…just keep in mind, these knives are not designed for opening packages, or ammo crates or other chores around the base camp. These knives were designed with one thing and one thing only – saving your butt when the chips are down. They are a worthwhile addition to your survival battery. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio