Pat’s Product Review: The Ultimate Knife – Karmabit

When we were all children and Christmas rolled around or our birthday, we would normally reach for the biggest present with our name on it. Of course, everyone just knew that the bigger the package, the better the present. Right? Well, not so fast

Did you ever hear that good things come in small packages? Well, quite often, the smaller the package, the better the item inside. I’m a big knife fan, and I don’t mean that I’m a big “knife” fan (although I am rather big). Instead, I like knives that are big. More often than not, a bigger knife can do more things better and quicker than a smaller knife. Not always, but most of the time that’s true.

Enter the Ultimate Knife and their interpretation of the folding Karmabit (pronounced “ka-rahm-bit”) self-defense knife. The Karmabit is based on an Indonesian fighting knife design. It is not a big knife; far from it. I received the 599 and 599 TK set from Lad Mandiola, who owns and operates The Ultimate Knife website and company. I’ll share more on Lad shortly. What we have is a Talon-style blade that is VERY wicked, but it’s only 2.25-inches long. That’s not big at all for a knife designed for self-defense. However, because of the curved talon-style blade, it is meant to rip, claw, and trap just about any part of a person’s body. Once again, these are designed for self-defense, not for opening letters or other utility chores.

The blade material on the Karambit is N690 Cobalt stainless steel, and it is black Teflon coated for that tactical/subdued look. The entire knife only weighs in at 3.5-ounces. Handle scales are super-tough G10 black composite material that’s almost bullet-proof! The blade locks open via liner locks– a proven locking design. You also get an orange handle “training” Karambit in this package; the blade is NOT sharpened and has a blunt point and holes in the blade, so you can’t confuse it with the sharpened version. I strongly suggest you buy the two-knife package, instead of just the sharpened Karambit alone.

There is a pocket clip that can be reversed from one side of the handle to the other for Southpaw users, and depending on how you carry the knife in your pocket, it will dictate which side of the handle scales you place the pocket clip. That’s something you have to decide for yourself. I choose strong side (right) pocket carry.

There is also a large ring on the butt of the handle scales. The ring aids not only in drawing the knife from your pocket, but is a place to put your pinky finger inside for a more secure grip, or (if using the knife in the reverse or ice pick-style hold) is a place for your index finger. The ring can be used several ways, depending upon how you hold a knife for self-defense. We also have an oblong hole in the blade for manually opening the blade, if you choose to do it that way. However, you’ll miss out on the neat little trick to the fastest opening folding knife in the world, and it’s NOT a “switchblade” either.

The Italian-made Karambit is made by FOX in Italy, and they produce some outstanding knives at great prices. FOX is something of a secret to many knife owners for some reason, but I’ve owned several of their knives and have not been disappointed in any of them. What the Ultimate Knife Karambit has is the Ernest Emerson, patented “Wave” feature on the top rear of the blade. Basically, when you start to draw the knife from your pocket, pull back slightly towards the side of your pocket and, when you have cleared your pocket, the blade will be open. Much easier done that said. There are several videos on the Ultimate Knife website that I strongly suggest you take the time to watch. If you’re not familiar with Ernest Emerson, Google his name. He’s a well-known custom knife maker and designer, who was in such demand that he opened his own shop, where his knives are carefully manufactured and precisely fitted by a highly skilled staff. I’ve written several articles in the past about some of Emerson’s knives.

I’ve talked to Lad Mandiola a couple times on the phone, and I’m here to tell you, Lad is totally excited about the Ultimate Knife Karambit that he is selling. He doesn’t hold back his excitement when you are talking to him, and for good reason; he has a great product that performs out of proportion to its size. I tested one of the Emerson Knives Karambits some years ago, and these Italian-made knives that Mandiola is selling are every bit as good. Mandiola went the extra mile and got Ernie Emerson’s approval to use his patented “Wave” feature.

What we have with the “wave” is a part of the knife blade that is machined in the shape of, well, a wave coming off the ocean. When you pull back on the knife a little bit, as you are drawing it, the “wave” catches the edge of your pocket and pulls the blade out of the handle scales. Once again, easier done than said. It opens just “that” fast, and there is no worry about the blade cutting you as it opens, either. In speaking with Lad Mandiola (in a long conversation the first time we talked), he directed me to his website where he has comments from a number of very happy customers. Everyone loves the “wave” feature. It doesn’t take any real training to whip the Karambit out of your pocket, and it is open. I know. I know that a lot of people think that an automatic folder is fast opening, and they are, sorta! First, you have to draw the automatic folder from your pocket, and then find the release button to open the blade. On the Karambit, you simply draw the knife out of your pocket, and when it has cleared the pocket, the blade is open. You do it with one smooth motion; it’s almost like magic!

Now, you might say, “What good is a 2.25-inch knife blade for self-defense?” Glad you asked. Let’s go back to the Talon blade design, and I’ve mentioned a number of times in my knife articles that most knife fights involve slashing rather than stabbing moves. If you slash at a person’s arms, legs, or wrists and cut a tendon, that body part is useless. If you slash at someone’s face and the Talon catches an eye, they can’t see you to continue their attack. If you happen to catch an artery in the neck, a person will bleed out in very short order. The Talon designed blade, although short, can reach tendons, arteries, eyes, and many other body parts. The Talon’s claw shape not only cuts, it also tends to pull the body part into the blade, doing more damage. Think of an Eagle’s claw. That is what the Karambit’s Talon blade is shaped like. It’s very, very wicked!

Also, if you are forced to use the Karambit for self-defense, the police would look at the short blade and wouldn’t think of this knife as a wicked self-defense weapon in the least. It would look better for you when you used this little bladed knife for self-defense as opposed to a larger knife or something that screams “tactical” because of it’s large shape or design.

The orange-handled training knife can be used for practicing your attack/self-defense moves against a cardboard dummy (or whatever you want to use as a training aid) without fear of harming yourself with a sharp blade. Also, the training knife can be used, quite effectively, as a pressure point weapon– a non-lethal weapon that can cause a person to break-off an attack. I originally trained in Judo as my first martial art, and then I moved on to Karate and Kung-Fu. We learned the importance of using pressure points and strikes to break-off an attack. Believe me, if you struck someone on a pressure point with the blunted blade of the training knife, they would break-off the attack. If an attacker has you in a deadly hold of some type, you could rapidly draw the training knife and apply pressure to cause them to release you. I honestly don’t know any place, other than an airport security check point, where the blunted tip training knife would be illegal to own and carry in your pocket. To be sure, it’s not a “knife” per se. It can’t stab or cut anything. However, with a little practice, it could easily be used as a self-defense weapon against an attacker. Think about it.

The Karambit comes in two sizes– medium and large. For most of us, the medium size will fit our hands nicely. If you have bear paws for hands, then you’d want to look at the large Karambit. Mandiola is running a special; if you buy the sharpened Karambit with the training knife, it is only $244.95, even though the regular price is $319.90. That’s almost a $75 savings. You can also purchase a Kramabit by itself or even a training knife separately. Check out the website for the various packages and prices. Be sure to take the time to watch the education videos before you decide which Karambit you want to purchase. There is a lot of information there that will help you. Also, if you have any questions about the Ultimate Knife Karambit, give Lad a call. His number is on the website, and he will be more than happy to help you any way he can. I honestly don’t recall when I’ve last talked to someone like Lad Mandiola, who was so “up” about his products. It was a pleasure talking to someone who has such faith in his products. He’s “good people”, too. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio