THE HIDEAWAY KNIFE
"The knife you can carry when you can't carry a knife"
There is very little new in the knife world. While new knives are announced every week, actually they tend to be a reworking of existing designs, with a different mix of materials.
It has been said that all blade shapes and design-profiles can be found in India. With their rich history of edged-weapon manufacture and use, going back thousands of years, just about every type of straight, curved, and radical blade was tried on the sub-continent.
We have new blade steels, such as ATS-34, but the swordsmiths of history developed steels which have been lost to us today.
New handle materials, such as G-10 are great, and corrosion-resistant finishes, such as Black-ti make life easier; but the fact remains that you can take a dagger from the 1700s, and it's every bit as good for the purpose as the latest model from the knife magazines.
Really significant advances are rare. The first breakthrough for decades was the introduction of the Spyderco "tactical folder" in the 1980s by Sal Glesser. Now we have another, and it was created by a woman with no background experience in edged weapons.
That is amazing.
The Hideaway Knife [HAK] evolved through one woman's search to find a viable self-protection system. In this article we will examine that process, and discuss the knife design that it produced.EVOLUTION OF THE HIDEAWAY KNIFE
A few years ago a young American women was the victim of a severe, violent assault. She recovered, and resolved never again to be a victim. She equipped herself with a pistol, and the training to use it. Following numerous courses with such experts as Mass Ayoob and John Farnham she was good to go as regards firearms. Realising that pistols are just one component of an overall self-protection strategy she signed up on a now defunct internet self-defence board, using the username Frontsight,..and to maintain her privacy that's the name we'll use here.
Frontsight had no confidence in unarmed combatives. Having experienced male violence she didn't rate her ability to prevail against such disparate force and aggression. However, the pistol is a fine weapon when used at the correct range, which is from about five yards and further; at contact range it can be vulnerable. Also, the ability to even get the pistol into the fight can be severely compromised if the violence is initiated within arms length.
Board members then suggested the knife. A blade is it's own force generator, and like the pistol, is an equaliser. Frontsight accepted this, and with the advice of such top experts as SouthNarc, Don Rearic and Belisarius started an intense online think tank.Original context of requirements as described by Frontsight:
She begins by describing a covert-carriage consideration....
1) During the week this almost always includes a badge holder. I have 3 proximity badges inside a vinyl badge holder for access to various buildings and a badge outside a badge holder for the parking garage entrance and elevator access. The vinyl badge holder is attached to a clip with a handy retractable cord. This clip with a retractable string enables me to move the badge near the badge reader without taking the entire thing off the waistband of my pants or skirt. That is a significant convenience.
2) Knives don't feel as secure in my hand as a gun does. I have this fear of my fingers moving under the blade or otherwise dropping it or not having a good grip on it. This could be because I have no special skill or training with knives, but it feels like a real possibility.
I was thinking about a design as something that would meet the following 4 requirements:
a) Be good as a self-defence knife.
b) Be concealable behind my badges, perhaps except for the very top part.
c) Provide a positive good grip. For a very small knife, my definition of a positive grip = both a trigger finger hole as well as surface area for pressing against the opposing side of your palm under your thumb.
d) Not add so much weight to my badge holder that it would start pulling down the retractable cord.DESIGN ELEMENTS
Frontsight was already an innovative thinker on the concealment of personal weapons. I had started corresponding with her about a unique under-the bra holster, which I thought our female bodyguards might find relevant for some tasks.
The knife think-tank generated lots of ideas. Everything from SOE-type lapel daggers to folders. Almost immediately the superb Fred Perrin La Griffe design was suggested. FS [Frontsight] tried it, liked the finger-ring idea, but thought it could be improved, and ultimately came up with the two-finger capsule handle, which became the hallmark of the emerging knife. As we will see later, this capsule provides several tactical advantages.
Blade profile, grind angles, finishes were all debated. I was overseas during the final part of this process, so missed the key points. Originally FS wanted the knife to be called The Badger, because of the original carriage method. However, this name had already been registered. Belatedly, I suggested the Honey Badger, after the fearsome small South African animal, which, when attacked, usually goes for the groin., but FS had already announced that the title would be Hideaway Knife, [HAK] so let's take a look at the features: HAK TACTICAL APPLICATION
As mentioned above, I kind of missed out on the launch of the Hideaway concept. I was aware that the knife was in production but the unique attributes were not apparent to me until I was talking to Marcus Wynne on the phone and he put me wise. What he told me he later wrote in his newsletter, so here it is.
"FS, is an absolutely brilliant engineer/designer who turned her talents on the design of a combative tool that could be with you 24/7. I've always been sceptical about so-called innovations in personal combative technology, especially when knives are concerned. I've always thought it's the operator, not the weapon, that makes the difference, and I've been overseas in, well, "difficult" situations armed only with a kitchen knife and I don't think I'd necessarily have been better served with a $200 Emerson or $500 Strider.[Marcus shows the versatility of the Pistol/Flashlight/HAK system]
That being said, I think that the Hideaway Knife (HAK) is one of the most brilliant and genuinely innovative tools to come along. It's small enough to be legal, can't be taken away from you while you're still breathing and able to move your hand, will deal lethal injury without a problem, and can be concealed anywhere on your person with any kind of clothing choice including skimpy bikinis or swim trunks. Using the tool effectively doesn't require massive training - just willingness. However, the HAK has some splendid applications for the handgun user in CQB or concealed carry, especially when used in the off hand as a weapon retention tool for extreme close quarters or when working in confined areas. Some of my pals who among other things take back ships and oil rigs and airplanes are experimenting with the HAK to protect the handgun in those confined scenarios. With some success, I might add."
After that I just had to have one, and FS very kindly offered to send me one of here top production models, together with a package of ancillaries that are an absolute treat. I'll be discussing these goodies in detail, so let's start with the knife itselfHAK ADVANTAGES
The capsule is the heart of the design, and permits the following:
1] Strong, natural grip, which allows both thrusts and slashes.
2] The weapon hand can be used for grasping, opening doors, or striking.
3] You can utilise a flashlight, or, even another weapon in the weapon hand.
4] Weapon retention is impressive. The knife won't be dislodged if the hand is slippery with sweat/blood, or, even if you are stunned. This is of particular importance to the female user.
5] Access from the various sheath configurations is easier because of the positive index afforded by the capsule.[Den with SIG, flashlight and HAK]UTILITY
With most self-protection knives it's the doctrine to keep the blade immaculate, and employ a second, utility knife [such as a Swiss Army/Leatherman] for routine cutting tasks. For example, my Spyderco Civilian has never cut anything, the edge has been kept untouched. Also, flourishing a Civilian, or similar blade, when a work colleague needs a thread cut is unwise.
Frontsight takes a different view. She wants you to be using the Hideaway for routine domestic, workplace and garden tasks. She recommends that you become accustomed to accessing the knife, cutting and re-sheathing it, so that it becomes completely natural. She has designed the blade grind to allow lots of cutting and ease of sharpening. Also, this small blade is unlikely to alarm non-tactical colleagues as it looks very much like an industrial box cutter when in the hand.EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS
The HAK has several employment options:
1] As a primary self-protection weapon. If you rely on the HAK as your main battery, then it is wise to choose one of the rapid-access methods of carry, such as the belt-wrap, or, J-hook.
2] As a backup to your primary weapon. If you carry a pistol, or edged weapon, the HAK makes the ideal offhand backup. If your master hand is baulked [as in a weapon-retention situation] then you can easily access the HAK carried ready on the support side.
3] Multiple options. Two or more HAKS can be carried to be accessed by either hand, when in a variety of unorthodox positions during a violent encounter. This "layered defence" can position blades on, or, off the body. One HAK can be carried as primary, ready for quick access, then others can be in deeper concealment. Police officers can clip the sheath to their body armour, or behind equipment pouches on their belt-order. Again, the variations are numerous.[Belt-wrap option]
Whatever your HAK employment system, it is essential that you practice accessing the knife.....and not just in relaxed solo training in your living room. To have any chance of prevailing in the face of predatory violence your training must provide you with the experience of high stress confrontations.COVERT CARRIAGE OPTIONS
As soon as Frontsight created the Hideaway she started considering various ways to carry and conceal the device. The ideas she generated [with some input from various advisers I would guess] are as brilliant as the knife itself. Among y favourites are the BELT WRAP, which uses a sort of super-Velcro, to attach the sheath to the belt, for a wickedly fast draw.
Another option I love is the BELT CLIP which attaches by J-hook, providing a very stable platform for weapon access. This is my primary choice when training with the HAK.
[Top US instructor Nick Hughes with his force options, including a HAK]
Consistency is the key to smooth, rapid access of any concealed weapon. The weapon should be in the same place for every drawstroke. Most of my belts are double-thickness horsehide gunbelts from Kramer, so there is no problem, the wrap, or the J-hook tend to stay in place. However, with a narrower belt the sheath can slide along the belt, making a consistent location difficult. My remedy is to simply figure-8 a rubber band around the sheath/belt. This adds enough friction to prevent movement.
FS designed the highly innovative SHEATH STICKERS. They allow the placement of a sheath behind the collar, lapel or pocket. They are the modern version of the SOE lapel dagger, and allow women to carry a knife when they otherwise couldn't.
The RIPP-CORD permits attachment of the sheath within the pocket, jacket, purse etc. In fact, the options here are limited only by your imagination. My favourite is to clip the jaws within the waistband, and with a shortened cord, have the sheath concealed completely below the belt line.
For deep concealment a neck sheath/chain is available. The ground-breaking BRA-CLIP attaches the sheath to the bra, or, other lingerie item. The male equivalent is the BRO-CLIP.
When my HAK package arrived, with all the carriage options, my first thought was "this removes any excuse for not carrying a knife". One of the goodies in the pack was the training DVD, and I was delighted to see Southnarc say the same thing when introducing the HAK. So, having the knife, and having no excuse not have it with you, let's now look at the final part of the equation, training with the HAK.TRAINING WITH THE HIDEAWAY KNIFE
Frontsight has emphasised the importance of training by offering two essential items, the training knife and the DVD. If you are considering ordering a HAK, include these training items in your package. If you have an HAK and don't have the trainer and DVD, then all I can say is you need them. Even if you are highly skilled in edged weapons, you will still get a lot from the DVD. The HAK is a very specialized weapon and the training needs to be highly specific. Southnarc, who is a top firearms/blade/empty hand instructor, has developed a superb training program on this disc.[Slacky showing the use of the HAK trainer while grappling
As already mentioned consistency is the key to rapid access. Analyse your lifestyle and find a core carriage methodology. I wear pants with a belt whenever I’m out of the house. I don’t always wear a jacket, so for me, the belt mounted systems provide a consistent carry system.KNIFE ACCESS SEQUENCE, FROM J-HOOK
The J-hook clips the sheath to the belt very firmly, with a fairly low-profile.
The draw technique comes from our experience with the pistol, and emphasises a smooth, reproduce-able action…”smooth is efficient; efficient is fast
Once the decision to draw the blade is made, the master-hand locates the knife handle, and the first two fingers hook inside the capsule. [Note, the support hand will be coming up to guard the head/neck, or, to strike the enemy].
As the knife comes free from the sheath, the thumb starts to lock down…….
….the knife is stabilised at the high-pectoral retention position, just as in the pistol draw. This gives a platform to allow the full grip to be acquired, which is essential to the optimum use of the HAK for full-on stabs and slashes, with full retention capability if the hand is struck. This full grip is achieved by using the thumb and the third finger to seat the capsule deeply and firmly, as the hand closes into a fist.
The high-pec position also provides consistency for the strikes. All the stabs and slashes are launched from this same start position, so the repeated reps build up very deep motor programs.
When broken down step-by-step in static photos this sequence may seem slow, but it is actually quite speedy. Using an electronic timer, sub one-second draws-to-a strike are regularly achieved.COVERT DRAW
If I need a deeper level of concealment, then the Rip-cord/pocket method will work.
Here the HAK is carried internally within the waistband. The clip of the Ripcord is snapped to the d-ring tab of my strides, with the strap looped under the belt. The small LED light is attached as a plausible visual distraction. [Actually, the clip can be attached within the waistband for a totally invisible option]
...to access the blade the thumb hooks inside the waistband and fishes the capsule up, until it reaches the full extension of the ripcord, and the blade starts to come free from the sheath…….
……..then the two first fingers hook through, as in the standard draw….
For both of the above draw methods, if a covering garment is worn, then an initial clearance move must be added to the sequence. So the first training requirement is to be able to access the primary HAK
Commonality is one of the constituents of consistency. So, we endeavoured to make the HAK draw stroke consistent with the pistol draw, which we have already invested countless thousand repetitions.
Having gained proficiency in a relaxed training environment, the access-stroke must be worked in all situations and conditions; standing, kneeling, prone, supine, sitting. In various hot/sweaty/cold/wet conditions. After exertion, while being aggressed, pushed, pulled. In short, be realistic. Then, when you can confidently perform to the desired level, repeat the training using the support hand.
We have taught the use of the HAK on many courses. For example, while training South African police instructors...
or, in Scandinavia...
This group on an American course proudly display their HAKS...THE TWO HANDED FIGHTER
It is an established tactic to use the pistol together with the tactical flashlight for room clearance/combat in adverse-light situations.
A few years ago I was working with members of a South African police reaction team, and they showed me a technique they used for co-ordinating a pistol with a knife, for use in house-penetration [what we call room combat] The two weapons become mutually supportive, the knife can clear away anyone grabbing for the pistol. The pistol can take longer range threats, and the knife can be used on targets where the background isn't safe, and a shot would perforate and hit a team-member or civilian.
Now with the HAK, we can use the pistol, the flashlight and the knife together...[Den firing the Glock G-30, while holding Surefire and HAK]
We can also use HAK/flashlight/impact weapon, or, other combinations of tactical tools.
With the HAK in hand we can open doors, search drawers, control suspects, all while keeping the master hand free to operate the pistol, or other primary weapon. In the event of a stoppage on the pistol, the operator can perform the necessary immediate drill with the HAK still available....
The HAK is more than a knife, it is an entire weapon system; and it provides the operator with an array of tactical options from weapon-retention through counter-grappling to escape & evasion. It surely has a place in the toolbox of all protection minded people.
Here's Frontsight's personal kit......
.....the epitome of lethal elegance!
We have put regular updates about the HAK online here[This is "The Claw" by Joe Brum. The leather sheath is by Micky Yurco, and is the equal of any custom holster I've seen
Many thanks, obviously, to the lady FS for sending me all the goodies, and for creating
such a terrific weapons system. Frontsight would also like Mika [of Sweden] acknowledged for his continued support of the HAK
Thanks to Marcus for providing the insight, as well as photos. Also Nick Hughes, Phil W and Peter Slacky
Morgan for invaluable support.
Copyright ©Dennis Martin