BLURRING THE LINES
Max Venom Product Group is a company that is driven by its owner Colin Despins’ ideal that nothing is worth doing, unless it can somehow be done better. Not satisfied with doing what has been done before, Max Venom just does things differently. This can be seen throughout their entire product line, which reflects their passion for form, function, and unique capability.
As a student and teacher of the practical combative application of contact weapons, which includes both edged and impact weapons, I often find myself selecting folding knives based not only on their blade design and handle ergonomics, but also on their ability to be used as impact weapons when in their closed configuration. Typically, the use of a closed knife as an impact weapon plays no factor in a knife’s design, so finding a knife that has the qualities of a good impact weapon is pretty much incidental if not accidental. That is not the case with Max Venom’s Direct Impact Karambit.
The Direct Impact Karambit (DIK) is one of Max Venom’s innovative solutions to fill the gap between edged and impact weapons. This semi-custom/mid-tech folding karambit is equipped with several intentional design features that make it an excellent knife as well as an effective impact device. I’ll examine these features in detail in the paragraphs to come.
The karambit is a formidable blade originating from Southeast Asia. Its recent surge in popularity in the western world, may make it appear to be more of a novelty to the untrained eye; however, in the hands of a trained user, the karambit is a devastating weapon. Inspired by the claws of large predatory cats, the curved blade of the karambit is ideal for cutting and ripping. Unlike an outward curving blade which loses energy as the cutting stroke approaches the tip, the inward curving blade of the karambit compounds the energy transference to the tip so that it cuts deeply, often so deep that it must be twisted and ripped out of the target.
The finger ring is another feature that makes a karambit truly unique. Traditionally, the karambit is used in a blade-down configuration with the index finger through the ring. With a typical knife handle, it is the user’s thumb that locks the knife into the hand. Any compromise of the grip, whether through injury or other means, can expectedly lead to the loss of the knife. However, the ring of the karambit helps ensure positive weapon retention regardless of hand strength or grip compromise.
The Max Venom DIK has all the benefits of the traditional karambit with quite of few extras thrown in. The 1/8” thick hand-ground blade of the DIK is made out of Crucible 154CM, a very high-carbon stainless steel with the addition of Molybdenum (added for improved hardenability, tensile strength, and corrosion resistance). The blade is 2.4” long and has a grey Cerakote™ finish. An ambidextrous thumb stud allows for one-handed opening when deployed using a forward grip.
The DIK has some beefy, 0.09” thick liners and employs a liner-lock system. The liner lock system on this knife is actually built more like a frame lock, then covered with textured G10 handle scales. The finger ring is made of black anodized aluminum and forms a solid piece that runs ¾ of the way down the back of the handle in place of spacer bars. This eliminates any weak points in the finger ring attachment.
The right side of the DIK has a pocket clip with mounting points for either tip up or tip down carry. To give the knife a cleaner look, the left side is void of any pocket clip mounting points; however, the knife can be ordered with the ambidextrous mounting option to accommodate lefties or those who just wish to have a little more carry versatility.
At first glance, the DIK might appear to look like any other folding karambit on the market, but when you take a closer look, you will begin to see the impact tool features that were built into the knife. When closed, the spine of the blade gently sweeps out from the bottom of the finger groove and ends in what essentially could only be termed as an “impact hilt.” These features not only make the knife comfortable to grip in the closed configuration, but also enhance grip retention when delivering hammering strikes against a target.
I spent some time working the Direct Impact Karambit against a striking dummy and found it to be quite solid and secure when delivering hammering strikes, as well as ring strikes. The knife is very stout, which makes it feel even better when delivering these kinds of strikes. This knife is definitely designed for impact applications.
The portion of the blade that forms the impact-hilt and meets the thumb studs, can be used to friction-deploy the blade if drawn in a deliberate manner. When I deploy a folding karambit, I secure my index finger through the ring and then draw toward my centerline. Aside from its tactical applications, this motion allows the impact-hilt and thumb stud to catch the inside of the front of the pocket, opening the knife. This may not have been the original intent of the design, but it works that way none the less. If the knife is already being employed as an impact weapon and there comes a need to escalate, placing the index finger against the impact hilt near the large knuckle and quickly pushing downward will deploy the blade in an efficient manner.
The Max Venom Direct Impact Karambit is one heavy-duty beast of a knife and is as versatile as it is tough. I have several folding karambits from quite a few different makers and this one has quickly become my favorite. Plus, none of the others in my collection offer as many puns as this one. (Yes, that is why I spelled out the name so many times in this review.) Oh, and did I mention that the DIK is made in the USA? Well, it is! So, ‘MERICA!!!
The Direct Impact Karambit retails for $289.00 and can be purchased directly through the Max Venom website. Max Venom is constantly pushing the envelope with innovative products, so make sure you follow their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up on their lasted initiatives.
Photo Credits: Chad McBroom & Bill Bahmer Photography