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Not long ago, I received a knife from Darrin Sirois over at TCT (Tactical Combat Tools) Knives. Darrin is a retired Sergeant Major with 25 years active duty with the United States Army. Darrin spent most of his military career in Special Operations and served with a Ranger Regiment and Special Forces. It should be no surprise that an individual with Darrin’s background would take pride in making quality knives worthy of fielding by our nation’s finest.
The knife that Darrin sent me to review was the TCT Lite Fighter. The Lite Fighter is a 10” hollow-ground tactical fighting knife made from D2 Tool Steel and hardened and tempered to a Rockwell Hardness of 59. The 4.25” drop-point blade has a harpoon-style upper spline wedge designed for optimum penetration. The handle is skeletonized and covered with black textured G10 handle scales.
The Lite Fighter comes with a custom-made nylon sheath with belt loop and MOLLE attachment points. The hard protective sheath insert is felt-lined which protects the blade from unnecessary scratches, but also eliminates the ominous unsheathing sound that is made when a blade slides against the inside the sheath. When stealth is important, silence is everything. A hook-n-loop backed retaining strap is used to secure the knife in the sheath.
Upon opening the box from Darrin, I was immediately taken back by the overall beauty of the knife. It is always awe-inspiring to behold a beautiful piece of steel while knowing the capacity of violence for which it is capable. The wonder of how something can be so beautiful, yet so deadly in the right hands.
The Lite Fighter is perfectly balanced—a tribute that no doubt comes from the skeletonized handle. The deep thumb groove on the back of the spine is ideally placed for thumb-supported cutting and handling. Because of my knife fighting background, I personally use the thumb-supported grip sparingly; but there are times when such a grip is beneficial, such as when performing precise cutting tasks or when extra structural support is needed along the spine. When such a time presents itself, the Lite Fighter is ergonomically designed for optimal handling in this grip configuration.
The Lite Fighter came razor sharp out of the sheath. There was no need for me to do any touch-up work on the bevel. As you can see from the photos below, sharpness was definitely not something this blade was lacking. Notice the clean slice on the paper and the clean fibers on the rope after a single chop. D2 can be hard to take an edge, so the fact that this knife is as sharp as it is is impressive in and of itself. D2 also tends to wear well, so chances are this knife will retain its edge for quite some time.
The Lite Fighter is very tough too. I did a some levering on a 2x4 in a vice. The tip held up well and showed no signs of damage. In fact, even the blade itself showed no wear or scratches after several penetrations into the 2x4.
The blade of the Lite Fighter has a baked enamel finish (aka powder coat) between the grinds, which adds to the aesthetic beauty of this knife. I have never seen any other knife makers do this kind of coating/bare steel color scheme. To my knowledge, it is quite an original technique by TCT Knives.
Functionally, the cutting edges of a knife see the most wear, so leaving the grinds uncoated helps preserve the beauty of the knife by eliminating the unsightly wear on the coating in those heavily worn areas. The high Chromium content of D2, roughly 12 percent (440C Stainless Steel is roughly 17.5 percent), gives it pretty good corrosion resistance properties, so flash rusting is not a huge concern for the bare metal portions the Lite Fighter. D2 will corrode, but it is much more forgiving in this department than other high-carbon steels like 1095 or 5160.
Darrin started making knives around 2007 while he was still active duty. He told me that he told his boss at the time, a fellow Sergeant Major, that he wanted to learn how to make knives so that he could give them as gifts when guys left the section. His boss told him, “Ya, why don’t you go home and learn how to make a knife. Let me know how that works out for you.” Well, I’d like to ask that SGM how those words taste because he is definitely eating them now.
TCT Knives are hand made in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Lite Fighter can be purchased directly through the TCT Knives website. If you would like to stay up to date on what’s happening with TCT Knives, you can follow them on Facebook and/or Instagram.
If you happen to be in the Fayetteville area and would like to learn how to make a knife yourself, you could sign up for one of Darrin’s knife-making classes. He will teach you how to make a knife via the stock removal method and let you take your completed knife and sheath home with you at the end. You might also want to dig up the April 2015 edition of Blade Magazine and read the piece they did on TCT’s PEC (Perfect Everyday Carry) knife.
Stay bladed and drive on.
Photo Credits: Chad McBroom