Field Trial: Flat Rock Forge Kwaiken

Field Trial: Flat Rock Forge Kwaiken
By M. Willson Offutt IV

The Kwaiken model was designed and crafted by Joe Israel – trading as Flat Rock Forge (in this instance, stock removal, not a forged blade) – who brings us a modern interpretation of a classic Japanese design. Contemporary materials do not detract from the historic architecture. The 13th century kwaiken was the back-up knife for samurai, and there is some evidence and much speculation it was a personal defense weapon for women. The Flat Rock Forge version is among the kwaiken reproductions currently offered. In Shogun times it was discreetly concealed, like today’s “Saturday Night Special” revolver. I like the compact size, and I like the utility, subject to one qualification: smooth handle with no guard. More on this shortly. Style-wise, I see a lean fixed blade knife appropriate to carve a baked ham, or walk a dark city street. It is a proficient tool to slice, and a fair weapon to slash or stab.

The plain edge distal taper blade, with a hint of belly, has a flat ground main bevel. The wide mirror-finished, uncoated blade tapers to a narrow sharp point. The blade is unmarked. The ricasso is stamped Flat Rock USA and AEBL (steel type is AEB-L). No serial number. The handle slabs are almost rectangular – tapering slightly front to back – amber brown canvas micarta sized for my medium hand, attached to the fully exposed, un-tapered tang by two large shiny Torx head Gulso bolts. It is smooth and symmetric with no notches milled on top or bottom and no finger grooves or other texture for hand orientation or grip traction. The butt and exposed tang are flush. There is no hole; a lanyard would interfere. There is no guard, and insufficient handle flare to retard forward hand movement…

This article appears in the July 2023 issue. You view the flip book below…