Virtually from the time the first blade was chipped out of a flint shard, double-edge daggers have ruled fighting knife designs around the world. Early bronze daggers looked much the same as the stone weapons that came before them, and later on, steel blades varied little from the bronze. During World War II, the Fairbairn/Sykes commando dagger gained a near cult following among elite raiding units of several allied armies. Even today when someone sets out to design a knife purely as an edged weapon, nine times out of ten it will still be easily recognizable as a dagger. With about 100,000 years of field-testing behind them, it is pretty hard to question the effectiveness of the straight, double-edge blade as a weapon.

Close Combat MK-II

Ray Ennis’ of Entrek Knives new “Close Combat MK-II” is a classic representation of this millenia-old technology. The place to start with any discussion of this knife would probably be an upfront statement that this is not a combat/survival, wilderness bushcraft, backpacking, hunting, fish cleaning or any other everyday kind of utility blade. Daggers are weapons first and tools last. While there are times when one piece of sharp steel is as good as another, daggers are seldom any knowledgeable person’s first choice for normal uses. What they specialize in is creating deep, penetrating wounds in close-quarters combat. Blade length is the cold steel version of firearm stopping power, and Ray’s 7-inch blade is a magnum in its field.

As all the armchair commandoes are quick to point out, the British F/S daggers were reported to have several flaws. The first was the round handle that makes it difficult to orientate the edges by feel in the dark. Ray’s design corrects this by having what might be called a flat saber grip pattern Micarta slab hilt. Anyway you grasp it, the knife will still provide a cutting edge on either side of your hand. The next supposed flaw of the Brit knife was that the blade and point were weak. Frankly, this was not as much of a problem on the early military issue Fairbarins as it was on the mass-produced post-war copies made for civilian sales. The Birmingham Small Arms version is actually 3/16-inch thick at the hilt and tapers to relatively heavy point. In any case, the 1.25-inch wide blade of the Entrek model is a full 0.25 inches thick with a broader point better suited to slashing attacks as well as thrusts. Like the Brit commando, the MK-II is a fairly handle-heavy design (13 ounces), something many knifefighting instructors consider desirable in a thrusting weapon.

The Sheath

The one weak feature I see on the Entrek Close Combat is its Kydex sheath. Its only blade retention system is a molded projection at the mouth that snaps into a dimple on the handle of the knife. The body of the sheath does not come in full contact with the blade so there is a certain amount of play in the blade that leads to rattling against the inside of the hard thermoplastic. I would not trust this scabbard against the opening shock of a parachute jump or when scrambling around rough ground on a night patrol. Another little negative for a few of us is the fact the retention system turns the scabbard into a right-hand-only unit. The good news here is that custom and aftermarket scabbards are not that hard to come by, allowing the user to tailor his carry system to his own personal needs. I tried the knife in a Spec Ops brand “Combat Master Long Utility Knife” nylon sheath and found that, while it wasn’t a perfect fit, it was adequate for most field uses. It is also ambidextrous and jump safe!

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