Raven Concealment Vanguard for the 5.11 Karambit
I have been carrying a karambit for several years as a defensive weapon to assist in weapon retention. The karambit I was carrying was made by Ram and had some design shortcomings. Two major design flaws were the length of the thumb studs on each side of the blade and the mounting position of the pocket clip. The thumb studs would tear holes in my pants pocket and the pocket clip was positioned at the pivot point of the blade causing the knife to be carried with the retention ring down. After ruining several pairs of jeans and having the knife move around constantly in my pocket, I spoke with Jay of Raven Concealment about creating a kydex pocket holster to hold the knife in place and cover the thumb studs. I kept failing to get my karambit to Jay so he could work on the project.
After attending Steve Tarani’s Defense Against edge weapons class in 2010 I decided that I needed to purchase a higher quality karambit. Tarani advised the class that an improved version of his 5.11 C.U.B. was being released in the near future and the redesign was done to solve issues with the original design. Shortly after the class the knife was released, but hard to come by. During 5.11 days I was able to order the knife and get their promotional pricing; a deal I could not pass on. The knife arrived in about a week and was encased in a box identifying the karambit as the C.U.B. Master 2.0. The knife is described as a 2.7” curved utility blade that is 5.15” closed and 6.6” open. The blade has a black Teflon finish and made with S30V steel. The knife features a backlock that was moved and redesigned to prevent the blade from unlocking when your grip is tightened. I had only handled the original C.U.B. a few times in stores and was not impressed with the knife, especially with the price tag it had. The design of the new knife seems thinner, however fills the hand for a secure grip. The retention ring is solid and the stops are deeply cut and very secure. The pocket clip is reversible and properly placed to allow the ring to set above the top of the pocket. The blade features a large opening allowing for an excellent purchase on the blade when opening it and a deep lock that features an audible click when the blade engages the lock. One drawback of the design is the proprietary screws used to hold the handles, secure the pocket clip and set the blade tension. A hex key is included with the knife, however if you lose it, you would be hard pressed to find a tool that works. To stave off the screws being lost or coming loose, I applied clear nail polish across the heads.
After carrying the knife a few times I realized that I needed a way to open the knife one handed when deploying the karambit in the retracted reverse grip. The RAM karambit I was carrying utilized thumb studs on both sides of the blades. When deploying the RAM karambit from a pants pocket you could catch the studs on the seam of your pocket and deploy the blade. After some brain storming, I came up with an idea that would allow a karambit blade with a thumb cut to be opened one handed. Due to the fact that I own several pieces of Raven Concealment gear I knew they would be the company to work on the idea I had. I shared my ideas with Jay during the Indy 1500 Gun Show and he took my knife with him back to the shop to experiment.
I met with Jay at the next 1500 and picked up my knife along with what I would say is a Vanguard for karambits. Jay advised that he had designed the Vanguard so that you could either tie a cord to your belt to remove it during deployment or it would fall away after a strike. After some experimenting I decided to tie a 550 cord fob and attach it to the Vanguard. The fob will either catch inside the pocket and retain the Vanguard or allow for easy removal of the Vanguard. I tied the fob with contrasting colors to assist me in finding the Vanguard if it falls to the ground.
I have been carrying the knife daily both on duty and off since May of 2010 and so far I have no complaints with the design. The only care I have given the knife is refusing to use the blade for any task. This knife is carried for defensive purposes only and I want to keep the blade as sharp as possible. The Vanguard has been on the knife since summer of 2010 and continues to hold its shape and retention on blade. A small patch of rust has developed on the surface of the knife under the Vanguard and I would account this to the Vanguard holding moister. I believe this an unavoidable consequence with this design; however with proper preventable maintenance I believe it will not be a major issue.
The design of the karambit Vanguard allows for deployment of the karambit as if it is a non folding model. Once out of the pocket or place of concealment the karambit can be manipulated as you have been trained. The Vanguard adds little weight to the karambit and does not affect the handling or function of the knife. The retention of the Vanguard is strong enough to stay in position during a draw, but weak enough to pop off during a strike or with a light tug. I believe this is important feature to make sure the Vanguard does not get caught in clothing or act as a stop on hard objects. As for cost, each knife Vanguard will have to be custom made due to the variety of knives on the market and price will be determined by the amount of time and material needed. Mine was received as a T&E.