The ancient design of the Karambit (pronounced kah-rahm-bit) has been traced to the Indonesian archipelago as far back as the early 11th century AD. The Karambit was inspired by the tiger’s claw and functions in much the same manner. The vicious look of this blade could stop many a confrontation.
The Karambit has become a very popular backup knife for good reason. Its unique features make it the ideal knife for last-ditch self-defense at extreme close quarters. Modern versions of the Karambit are now available from a number of makers—including Emerson Knives.
Ernest Emerson and Emerson Knives need no introduction to anyone even remotely involved in the tactical arena. Mr. Emerson is an award-winning martial artist and knifemaker knives have established quite a following around the globe. His handmade custom knives demand premium prices from collectors. Emerson Knives’ semi-custom Karambits are among the very best of the breed.
Emerson Knives’ extensive line of tactical knives now includes five different Karambits. In addition to a Fixed Blade Karambit, Emerson makes four different folding Karambit’s the Combat Karambit, Commander Karambit, Bullnose Karambit, and CQC-7 Karambit. The Emerson Karambit folders differ from each other only in their blade styles. Emerson also makes a Training Karambit, which is a blunted and unsharpened version of the Combat Karambit. I recently received a Combat Karambit, and a Training Karambit, along with Emerson Combat Systems’ The Complete Combat Karambit™ series instructional DVDs for evaluation.
The blade of the Combat Karambit has the traditional Indonesian “tiger claw” blade profile. This provides some unique advantages that make it exceptionally effective for personal defense. It is very difficult to defend against a Karambit. It can be effectively employed at medium and close ranges without having to change the distance of the striking arm. Powerful thrusts can be made with jab-like boxing punches. It can be effectively utilized in conjunction with “empty hand” techniques to hook and control an assailant’s limbs.
The blade on the Combat Karambit measures 2.6-inches long and is .125-inch thick. The blade steel is 154CM, hardened to 57-59 RC. 154CM is one of the better blade steels, providing good corrosion resistance, along with excellent toughness and edge holding ability. The blade features Emerson’s trademark chisel grind. Due to its single bevel design, the chisel grind produces a razor sharp edge.
The Combat Karambit is available with either a satin-silver or matte-black finished blade. Emerson Knives now employs a durable, corrosion-resistant ceramic coating blade finish.
The Combat Karambit has an ambidextrous oval blade opening hole and Emerson’s patented “Wave” opening feature. Originally developed for the U.S. Navy SEALs, the Wave allows the blade to be automatically deployed as the knife is drawn from the pocket by simply catching the Wave on the edge of the pocket. No other folders can match the speed of deployment of Emerson’s Waved folders. Deploying the Combat Karambit is virtually the same as drawing a fixed-blade knife out of your pocket.
The Combat Karambit has an oversized, heat-treated stainless steel pivot pin for enhanced strength. Additional strength is provided by a large, heat-treated stainless steel stop pin. The blade on the sample knife pivoted very smoothly with a crisp and secure lockup. There was no wobble (side-to-side play) whatsoever.
The locking mechanism is the proven Walker liner lock (spring-liner tang block). The liners are made of aerospace grade 6AL-4V titanium. The handle is super-tough, textured black G-10 epoxy/glass laminate. Stainless steel, slotted-head and Phillips-head screws are employed for ease of maintenance.
The handle is designed for use with either a forward or a reverse grip. It’s exceptionally ergonomic. There isn’t any compromise in grip strength, control or comfort in either position. The knife literally becomes an extension of the user’s hand.
The Karambit user cannot easily be disarmed. The handle design and finger hole in the end of the handle keep the knife securely in the user’s hand. The finger grooves in the handle also aid in control. The spine of the Wave is grooved and acts as a thumb ramp for additional purchase.
The Combat Karambit is designed to be employed either with or without using the finger hole. The finger hole may be used with either the little finger or index finger, depending on whether a forward or reverse grip is being utilized.
The finger hole is an ideal diameter for the bulk of the population. However, it may be a bit small for individuals with unusually large fingers when used with the index finger for a reverse grip.
The design of the Combat Karambit eliminates any chance of the blade crossing through the finger hole in the handle—an important safety feature. The blades on some of the other Karambit folders on the market can act as a cigar cutter.
The Combat Karambit is equipped with a removable, blackened stainless steel pocket clip. The handle is drilled and tapped on both sides for mounting the clip in the tip down carry position. Tip down carry provides easy access and allows the knife blade to be instantly deployed.
The Karambit Trainer is identical to the Combat Karambit in materials, design and handling. The blade on the Trainer is blunted and unsharpened for safety. The blade has lightening holes to keep the weight and balance identical to the Combat Karambit. The Karambit Trainer has a blue handle for identification.
The Combat Karambit and Karambit Trainer are made in the United States. The workmanship on the sample knives was flawless, as one would expect with Emerson’s semi-custom, mid-tech knives.
Ernest Emerson considers the Combat Karambit to be “one of the best personal defense weapons ever developed.” Mr. Emerson has over thirty years of practical experience in hand-to-hand combat and the use of edged weapons. He’s also an internationally acclaimed combatives instructor.
Mr. Emerson has developed a complete system for employing the Combat Karambit. Short of personal, one-on-one training with Mr. Emerson, Emerson Combat Systems’ The Complete Combat Karambit DVD series is the next best thing. The Complete Combat Karambit is also available on VHS.
The Complete Combat Karambit DVD series comes in a two-DVD boxed set. The videography and editing are professional quality. All of the techniques on the DVDs are presented and demonstrated in an easy to understand, easy to retain manner by Mr. Emerson. The techniques taught in The Complete Combat Karambit are based on Mr. Emerson’s own system of fighting with a knife, modified to exploit the advantages of the Combat Karambit knife.
The training is presented in four progressive levels—Level 1 Training, Level 2 Techniques, Level 3 Advanced Skills, and Level 4 Knife Boxing. Total run time for the complete instructional series is approximately 318 minutes.
Level 1 Training covers the basic skills, drills and manipulations of the Karambit. Balance and coordination are also taught, along with instilling a combat mindset. Run time for Level 1 is approximately 94 minutes.
Level 2 Techniques teaches you how to use the skills and applications taught in Level one against an aggressive attacker. The techniques cover a wide range of attack scenarios and present a variety of responses that may be employed against different attacks. Approximate run time for Level 2 is 101 minutes.
Level 3 Advanced Skills covers double knife techniques, i.e., the tactical employment of two Combat Karambits, one in each hand. Total run time for Level 3 is approximately 101 minutes.
Level 4 Knife Boxing™ introduces the student to a unique way of fighting with a knife that was developed by Mr. Emerson. As with all of the techniques, the Knife Boxing techniques have been modified to take full advantage of the unique features of the Combat Karambit. Approximate run time for Level 4 is 77 minutes.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Combat Karambit is $239.95. MSRP for the Karambit Trainer is $109.95. As with all Emerson knives, the Combat Karambit and Karambit Trainer are covered by a lifetime warranty. The Complete Combat Karambit boxed DVD set has a MSRP of $134.95.
Emerson Knives, Inc.
P. O. Box 4180
Torrance, CA 90510-4180