Tactical/Battle Blades for 21st Century Spec-Ops. Meet Shiva Ki.

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by David Crane
[email protected]

This article contains a high-resolution photo (JPEG format) of three custom Shiva Ki Merc anti-personnel knives.  Click on photo to view it full-size.

Shiva Ki may just be the single best-kept secret in the custom knife world today. He makes what are arguably some of the sharpest tactical/fighting fixed blades in the world, and you can quote me on that. Every Shiva Ki custom knife comes to its new owner SCARY SHARP (and very durable). Perhaps this is why armed professionals all over the world carry and rely on his knives on a daily basis.

Anyway, I recently called Shiva to gleen more information about his knives, and he referred me to an interesting gentleman named Dominique Beaucant. Dominique, an authority on Shiva Ki knives, is described on Shiva’ website as a "world class knife tester". He’s the one who rediscovered Shiva and brought him back to people’s attention after Shiva’s roughly 18-year hiatus from the public spotlight. Dominique became aware of Master Ki in the fall of 2002, after he…

came across a 1986 "Gung Ho" Magazine article about him that featured a knife now known as the "Gung Ho" knife. Dominique became intrigued. When he dialed the number listed in the article, it still worked! (According to Shiva, he’s lived in the same house for the last 30 years.) Shiva picked up the phone and the two men started talking.

When Dominique told Shiva that he’d like to to try out one of his knives, Shiva told him that he was retired from knifemaking and wasn’t making them anymore. So, Dominique challenged him to make a new knife that could live up to the hype of the old "Gung Ho" magazine article. Well, it worked. To meet the challenge, Shiva Ki came up with his "Spirit Blade"–but more on that later. The most important thing about Mr. Beaucant’s challenge is that it essentially brought Shiva Ki out of his long self-imposed retirement (at least for awhile)–and now he’s back with a vengeance.

Dominique informed me that Shiva Ki’s knives have a magical quality about them, literally. Not only are they almost other-worldly sharp, but they are incredibly well balanced, and feel virtually weightless in the hand. He described one "Spirit Blade" that he took to France (where it now resides) that he says "felt like nothing" in his hand. He also made the statement, "You don’t feel it. You don’t feel the knife (referring to its weight). It’s like magic." Dominique told me that when one cuts a 1" free hanging rope with a Shiva Ki knife, he/she will not really feel any resistance–at all. From what I’m told, it’s a strange experience, at first. Dominique went on to tell me that all Shiva Ki custom knives also have remarkable edge retention, and can handle an extraordinary amount of cutting without losing their sharpness. By the way, Dominique didn’t just take that one "Spirit Blade" to France, he took 27 Shiva Ki knives to France, and most of them were sold to collectors before he got there! Master Ki apparently has a HUGE fan base among knife collectors in France, including well known knife maker/designer Fred Perrin.

Mr. Beaucant recently wrote an excellent and very informative article about Shiva Ki Custom Knives in the March, 2004 issue of "Tactical Knives". The four blade types on display in the article were the "Spirit Blade", the "Gung Ho" knife, the "Mercenary" or "Merc", and the "Paratrooper chute Knife". The double-stamped "Spirit Blade" on page 62 is the one described above.

The "Merc" is a pure fighter/killing knife, and a particularly interesting one. It was designed specifically for sentry removal/silent killing and CQB (Close Quarters Battle) applications. In designing the knife, Shiva received input from professional mercenaries, soldiers, and Army Rangers. Blade length on this knife is usually between 7.5 and 9 inches, depending on the customer’s preference. The "Merc" has an armor-piercing point and 3/4 sharpened back clip, making it look like a slimmed-down bowie-style fighter. The blade is very sleek and graceful looking, with flowing lines. It is hollow-ground. The "Merc" features a pointed pommel for non-lethal or lethal striking techniques. The "Mercs" I’ve seen in pictures so far feature either desert ironwood or African water buffalo horn handle scales. The two most common steels for this knife seem to be either clay-tempered 1095 or Shiva Ki’s "Samurai Steel". The clay-tempered 1095 version is $750. L6 "Samurai Steel" version is $1250.

The "Gung-Ho" is a larger knife than the "Merc." It’s basically a fighting bowie with a twist, and it’s a beautiful knife. You’ll see what I’m taking about if you visit Shiva’s website. The knife features an interesting finger notch that I assume is for added control. It appears that Shiva usually makes these blades with L6 "Samurai Steel" and ivory handle scales. Blade length, I believe, is 9.5" to 11.5", depending. The "Gung-Ho" knife is the kind of large battle blade that can chop an enemy combatant’s limb off with one strike, just like any true bowie. In order to make the "Gung-Ho" a true bowie, the purchaser must request a sharpened back clip. Remember, if you can’t back-cut with it, it ain’t a bowie! (You can definitely quote me on that.) Price on this knife is $1400.

The aforementioned "Spirit Blade" is the most recent offering, and is pretty neat as well. The "Spirit Blade" is another large bowie-style knife. It features a light cocobolo hardwood handle, and can be had with either rayskin or some other type of skin(like Anaconda–I’m not kidding) wrapped in raw silk (cord) in the Japanese style. For Spec-Ops use under adverse conditions, another handle material is most likely recommended, and I’m sure Master Shiva Ki can guide the customer toward a material that’s adequate to the task. This knife can also be had with a sharpened back clip, just like the "Gung Ho" knife. Clay-tempered 1095 steel version: $750. L6 "Samurai Steel" version: $1250.

The "Paratrooper Chute Knife" is made from clay-tempered 1095 steel and, according to Dominique Beaucant, is a "very fast, quick personal defense model." The "Paratrooper Chute Knife’s" handle appears to made of some kind of polymer or rubber, but I’m not sure about this. The knife is roughly 6" long. Price: $575.

Master Ki has one more knife design, called the "Ranger Stealth Kill Leg Knife." This knife was not featured or discussed in Mr. Beaucant’s March 2004 "Tactical Knives" article. The "Ranger Stealth Kill Leg Knife" sports an 8.75" double-edged stainless steel blade and is designed for, well…you get the picture (the name kinda’ says it all). Price: $575.

So, which knife should you choose? Depends on what you want to do. If you need a "sneak up on the enemy and quietly take him out" knife, the "Merc" is probably the way to go. It’s a technician’s knife, designed to be used with surgical precision when speed, surprise, and silence are all mission critical elements. If an operator just wants to be able to chop right through the enemy, the "Gung Ho" is the way to go. The "Spirit Blade" is probably the best choice if one needs an all-around/all-purpose chopper and camp/hunting knife that can also fill in as a defensive/combat blade. The "Paratrooper Chute Knife" is designed to be an all-purpose field knife/defensive blade. And, the "Ranger Stealth Kill Leg Knife" is, again, a self-evident knife.

In my opinion, all of Shiva Ki’s knives are priced very reasonably, considering their extremely high quality of workmanship. If you decide you’d like to have Master Ki build you a custom blade, you can choose between L6, 1095, 52100, and "Samurai Steel" as the blade material. Shiva can help you decide which steel is best for your intended purpose.

Shiva Ki can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 225-356-7274. If the reader wishes to learn everything there is to know about Shiva Ki’s knives from a source other than Shiva himself, I highly suggest he/she speak with Dominique Beacant. If the reader contacts me at [email protected], and leaves his/her contact information, I will try to have Dominique get in touch with them at his convenience, or I’ll ask Dominique if it’s o.k. for me to provide them with his contact information. Dominique’s a real character and entertaining to talk to. He’s also Shiva Ki’s biggest fan, and his passion for Shiva’s knives is contagious.

If you’d like to see Shiva Ki’s knives, you can view them on the Shiva Ki Custom Knives website (I suggest you do).

One final note: On Shiva Ki’s website, there is this quote from Dominique, "Every Shiva Ki blade I’ve tested, was incredibally sharp, dangerously sharp. How can this man make knives so sharp? Master Ki’s knives are the sharpest I’ve ever tested. Every one a flesh eater." There’s also a quote by Jim Shultz, the editor of "Gung Ho" magazine, who wrote this in 1986: "We tested the fighters against heavy dening cloth and meat. This knife cut so easily, we felt no resistance-the same for the meat tests. This is one very mean knife. It would be unreal in a fight; this knife would be a disaster to fight against. This very wicked and efficient fighter could easilly remove arms or legs in a fight. If you cut yourself with one of these knives you’ll need many stiches. This may sound corny but we found his fighting knife to be fun to handle. It cut like a breeze and strangley enough , it did feel somewhat magical in our hand."

Well, I guess that just about sums it up. If you’re a military or LE professional, a civilian CCW, or just a tactical knife enthusiast, I would encourage you to take a very hard look at Shiva Ki Custom Knives. I look forward to experiencing the "Shiva Ki magic" myself at some point–on the using end, not the receiving one.

Tactical/Battle Blades for 21st Century Spec-Ops. Meet Shiva Ki. by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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