Information is circulating in law enforcement circles about a knife that allegedly has a metallic compound for a blade which might be undetectable by current security scanning machines. The whole knife folded is about the size of a credit card. The blade is housed and surrounded by a credit card sized piece of plastic. The blade folds off of the plastic while the plastic folds over itself into a multi-layered handle locking the blade into shape.
The agent that sent the information was worried about this new knife and its possible threat to security because of its ease of carry and hiding it. My first thought was, “cool, another plastic folding knife, but poor blade design.” In the pictures I saw it looked like a dagger design. I guess everything is a matter of perspective! I didn’t like the blade design; the agent is worried about hidden carry.
My interest was piqued and I went on a web search. I was wondering about this composite blade that the knife was made from. If the stories are accurate, what materials were used in production? I found the knife.
In my investigation, what I was told is what happens in the telephone game. One person says something and tells another. As the saying goes around from one person to the next the story itself changes. What starts out as a red cart with a white horse becomes a purple dragon pulling a gilded chariot. There’s no intent to mislead or tell an untruth. We say what we thought we heard or read and fill in our own details. Let’s get this particular knife discussed and move on. Here’s the tech quote from the web site.
RAZOR SHARP – Surgical blade technology with extra long 65mm cutting edge ensures longer lasting sharpness (Stanley® utility knife blade edge is only 25mm long). Blade made from high quality rust free stainless steel. Independent testing laboratory; CATRA awarded Cardsharp penknife; VERY GOOD status for sharpness (ICP mm) and life (TCC mm). Blade color choice: Teflon Black or Natural Brushed Stainless Steel.
The black blade I saw in the information pictures and clip (the same one the agent assumed was composite) turns out to be a black Teflon coating on a regular single edge stainless steel blade. Stainless steel is stainless steel and good grade or bad it’s still steel. That means it can’t hide from detectors.
LEGAL – Blade is less than 3” (76 mm) and is visible when closed so easily identifiable as a knife (optional clear body versions show blade from both sides – P.O.A). Note: legal restrictions vary internationally.
Another oops; the knife is not quite what was stated or perceived. It’s not a “hidden knife” per se. The knife is designed to be safely carried in one’s wallet or gear bag. It is clearly designed and able to be seen as a knife even when closed. The company makes a see through plastic model as well. If this knife is being carried by a suspect, they’d have to take it out of their wallet to use it. This is not a simple task. If the suspect is in custody or being handed over to corrections personnel, their wallet and contents go into a collection bag until reclaimed. The knife is not going to sneak into a plane or courtroom because of its steel blade which will set off the detectors.
The agent that sent this in has the right idea for sure. However, he is a bit behind the reality of hidden knives and composite blades. They have existed for many years previous to this wallet knife. Keep in mind that just because something exists or is available doesn’t mean bad guys know of it or are willing to buy it. Actually, some are so simple that it’s actually easier to make them rather than to buy them. If you want to find out about hidden or undetectable knives that can cut, stab or poke ask the head of your local corrections department’s security teams. Corrections staff encounter hidden knives constantly.
The manufacturer’s of “credit card” knives were never contemplating bad guys or terrorists misusing or abusing their tools. They were designed to give the average citizen, EMT, or officer a small, easy-to-carry pocket knife.
Spyderco makes a credit card knife with a modified Wharncliff blade. Boker makes a card with a modified utility blade. SOG makes a Wharncliff blade. Tool Logic makes a credit card tool kit with a mini knife that pulls out for use. Channing Watson’s Credit Card Knife features a steel chisel-ground blade. Crawford Knives makes a reverse-grind credit card knife out of titanium. Microtech Custom Shop makes the Assailant II, a multicolor tactical Credit Card Knife with two sharp cutting edges. Nemesis Knives NK-3 Titanium credit card knife has a thin, straight cutting edge on two sides of the card. Warren Thomas makes a titanium credit card knife with a rounded corner blade. Wenger makes a Swiss Army makes one with a concealed pull out knife.
There are a lot more credit card knives out there. I just gave you an idea of their scope. With all of these knives available, almost none have been used to commit crimes of any kind. Why? They just don’t fit the profile of what a hidden knife is to the regular bad guys. The exception to this is in corrections institutions. The concept of these credit card knives appear daily in any corrections institution in the USA.
Composite knives or non metallic knives are another story. I’m not talking of ceramic blades. I’m talking of plastic or industrial resin being used to make the knives and the blades. Many companies make them. Several companies list these non metallic knives made out of plastic or fiber glass resins as “letter openers” or office knives.
G 10 and Zytel are the industry standard material. They’re both glass fiber bonded into resin and it’s incredibly strong. G10 is the usual material on tactical knife handles due to its toughness and wear ability. G10 can be ground like steel and it will hold an edge and work almost like metal for a short time. Jerzeedevil, Knife Dogs, KISS, Blackie Collins, Roadside Imports, Saphire Blades, Fight products, and Szabo knives all make different versions of G10 or resin knives with all types of blade shapes.
Laci Szabo, the owner and designer of Szabo knives is a good friend. I’ve used and cut with Szabo G1o knives since 1997. They are incredibly sharp and strong. However, they won’t hold an edge for very long and are most effective against flesh not clothing. Just like the credit card knives, they are seldom used for crimes or terrorist attacks. These knives are undetectable, easy to conceal, and carry. They existed for many years before 9-11. They just aren’t popular with the regular mainstream knife world or the dark side of that world. The reason probably is that the material is hard to work with. The material is hazardous to breath in when grinding the blades or making the knives. It is very expensive to purchase. The kissing cousin to these knives appears in our corrections institutions where inmates will convert anything into a tool for poking, stabbing or cutting.
With the rise of China and its manufacturing capabilities and cheap pricing, some of these plastic knives are getting easier to purchase. The main point is they’ve existed for a long time. They don’t appear in many crimes or terrorist attacks. Most likely, they won’t become the great threat they are assumed they’d be. If the threat was real, they would have already been in use. Becoming aware of them now when they existed for years is fine, as long as one doesn’t try to translate that into panic or knee jerk legislation.
How can you deal with the undetectable knife or a hidden knife? The same way you deal with a steel bladed knife be it openly carried or hidden. Search the suspect properly and thoroughly. How do you deal with the undetectable or hidden knife in an attack? You deal with the attack like any other knife attack with stepping off line, body shifting, and awareness that the bad guy is trying to harm you.
What a knife is made of is no consequence once it’s drawn to be used. It might only be plastic but you still have to be aware, knives cut flesh.
Bram Frank has studied various fighting arts such as Arnis, Wing Chun, JKD, and American Freestyle Karate for over 40 years. Currently, Bram is Director of Edged Weapons training at the S2 Law Enforcement-Security Institute. He is the SME (subject matter expert) on knives for the Hialeah Police Department and the State of Florida. Bram was Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame Weapons Instructor of the Year 2007. He trains LE, military and others in Europe, Israel, the Philippines, and the United States.