No one knows everything about subject as broad and multi-faceted as personal defense. From time to time we depend on subject matter experts for recommendations and guidance. This approach assists in getting us up to speed as quickly as possible when it comes to increasing skill sets. One place that keeps me grounded and well informed is Suarez International (SI). SI contains several separate operating entities, among them an industry-leading training division, a tactical gear store (One Source Tactical), as well as TSD Combat Systems, whose products are often based on the hard, learned experience of its sister organizations.

Gabriel Suarez is the owner and CEO of One Source Tactical, Suarez International, and TSD Combat Systems. Mr. Suarez is a controversial figure within certain circles for various reasons; some of which are his “out-of-the-box” thinking when it comes to personal defense methods and the tools that best serve this mindset. However, one can be sure that every one of the ideas generated by Mr. Suarez and manifested in his products are well thought out and personally tested and applied in the field under the most rigorous conditions. The newly introduced Bowie-style Universal Fighting Knife (UFK) from TSD Combat Systems is no exception.

Fighting Skills

The more I train with firearms, the more apparent it is to me that knife and open-hand skills are equally important components of a person’s self-defense skill set. A person proficient with knives and hands is better capable of defending him or herself successfully than a person who relies solely on firearms. Not every personal defense situation warrants a firearm. More importantly, a firearm may not be readily available, either due to close distances or the situational constraints in which one finds oneself. Someone proficient in open-handed skills can vary responses to different situations and can keep himself protected absent a firearm. SI has long put a great deal of thought into accommodating a multi-faceted personal defense. Naturally, when TSD introduced the Bowie-styled UFK, I immediately took notice.

The Bowie knife is as distinctively American as the kukri is Gurkhan. Since its introduction, the Bowie knife has come to incorporate several recognizable and characteristic design features. The Bowie knife was originally designed to fill the need for a wearable, convenient close-combat weapon that was not as long and conspicuous as a sword. The heavy Bowie blade has enough weight to provide sufficient force in a slashing attack, while permitting the use of cut-and-thrust fighting tactics. One significant characteristic of the Bowie knife is the clip-point, which brings the tip of the blade lower than the spine for better control. The clip point’s design goal is to maintain a sharp, stabbing point while also offering someone with advance fighting skills options for other forms of offense and defense. Most Bowie knives have a bevel ground along the clip, typically a quarter of the way, but sometimes much farther, even running the entire top-edge. This is referred to as a false-edge, as from a distance it looks sharpened, though in reality it may or may not be. Regardless of whether or not the false-edge is sharp, it serves to take metal away from the point, streamlining the tip and thus enhancing the penetration capability of the blade during a stab. Some versions of the Bowie have this false-edge fully sharpened to execute the maneuver called the “back cut” or “back slash.”

No-Nonsense Bowie

SI’s no-nonsense way of thinking envisions the Bowie-style knife as a useful and deadly instrument. After years of directing customers searching for a Bowie-style knife to outside sources, SI decided to make its own in the form of the Universal Fighting Knife. The UFK Bowie is made out of 01 tool steel with a 59-60 Rc. The use of tool steel makes for a durable knife capable of holding an edge that can nevertheless be sharpened in the field with any sort of stone or device. The UFK Bowie is 0.25 inches thick, 11.75 inches long and features an extremely sharp 1-inch wide and 7-inch long blade. The UFK’s sheath is being manufactured by Blade-Tech and will accept any of the various Blade-Tech attaching mechanisms, allowing for flexible mounting to gear. The knife is finished in black oxide, and its grip consists of grooved aluminum scales. This grip design not only provides secure purchase no matter the conditions, but also allows for easily disassembly and cleaning in the field. One can choose either olive green or black for the grip scales. I should note that the TSD UFK Bowie’s edge is left “blind,” giving users the leeway to add whatever edge they desire. The “false edge” along the clip is left unsharpened due to varying state laws concerning double-edge knives. The false edge is easy to sharpen.

The TSD Combat Systems UFK Bowie also features an integral cross guard, a full tang, choils on both sides, a sub hilt and a high saber grind. TSD Combat Systems touts the UFK as the “The classical fighter (knife) updated for the modern era.” Its current suggested retail price is $250.
My first reaction when I held the TSD UFK Bowie was surprise at how balanced it was, especially considering its blade length. You want a balanced knife, especially one the size of the UFK Bowie, to enable the user to employ it in a fashion that best suits individual skill. The user wants something light enough to carry but still heavy enough to slash efficiently, all the while maintaining size for fight-stopping thrusting ability. This is the main reason for the Bowie’s popularity as a fighting knife—it can slash and thrust with equal efficiency.

The TSD UFK Bowie is not convenient for daily carry in a civilian defensive role. The UFK is a fighting knife to be attached to existing tactical gear and used in situations where open-field carry is an option. Here it excels, thanks to the Blade-Tech sheath and attachment versatility. One often hears that skill will trump blade size. While there is a certain amount of truth to this, there is no substitute for size when it comes to a fighting knife. Judging by its design, the bowie knife The Bowie knife design early on recognized this aspect of the effectiveness equation for a knife.

Blade Test

One of my standard knife tests involves using a “porkman” to evaluate both slashing and thrusting effectiveness. I became aware of this simple test during a Mike Janich course I attended several years ago. During the course, Mike did a demonstration involving a bone-in pork roast butterflied around a broom handle, wrapped in plastic and covered in multiple layers of clothing. With minimal effort Mike proceeded to slice and dice the pork roast, showing how effective a small folding knife can be. While I am no Mike Janich, I do find the “porkman” test to be a useful way of gauging a blade’s effectiveness in a medium simulating clothed flesh.

After starting out slowly to get a feel for manipulating the TSD UFK, I was able to slash without hesitation all the way through the “porkman” and to the simulated bone broom handle. While the “porkman” simulator held firm, the TSD UFK had no problem splitting the broom handle when swung with power. The signature Bowie “backcut” technique slashed easily through the denim- and plastic-covered “porkman,” making a severe gash. The flick of the wrist with the UFK produced what would be labeled a serious wound. As could be surmised from the knife’s slashing effectiveness, thrusting with the UFK’s 7-inch blade made short work of the test subject. No real resistance was encountered penetrating the “porkman’s” layers of denim, plastic and meat.

The extra power and reach of the TSD Combat System’s Universal Fighting Knife is invaluable. It is consoling and a real morale booster to know that the TSD UFK outclasses any opponents’ knife in terms of utility, power, reach and lethality. For more information, visit or call 928-776-4492.

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