The Cutting Edge: Extrema Ratio Fulcrum K9

One reason I’ve always been a big fan of Extrema Ratio knives is the company’s responsiveness to the needs of military and law enforcement users. Extrema works closely with Italian military and law enforcement agencies to develop knives that fit their special requirements. Of course, these knives also fit the needs of military and law enforcement personnel all over the world. A perfect example of these special-purpose blades is the Fulcrum K9, developed for Italian military dog handlers.

The K9 is based on Extrema Ratio’s popular Fulcrum, which is widely used among Italian and other special ops units. The Fulcrum is a combination fighting/utility knife that has proven itself with Italian troops in Afghanistan and has been used by troops of the United States and other nations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fulcrum K9 features well-designed blade and ergonomic handle.


One of the important features of the Fulcrum is its very ergonomic handle, which fits large or small hands and lends itself to fencing, ice pick or other fighting grips. The handle can easily be removed to clean the tang if blood, salt water or other corrosives have been encountered. The tang also incorporates a good-sized lanyard slot to allow the blade to be secured for rappelling, water ops, etc.

The Fulcrum K9 incorporates the same handle as the full-sized Fulcrum. However, the Fulcrum K9 has a five-inch blade, as opposed to the seven-inch blade of the Fulcrum. The K9’s blade has a tanto point and is serrated for 1.5 inches near the ricasso. The shorter blade still has the length to drive into the vitals of an enemy, but it allows the knife to be brought into action more quickly and used more effectively at close quarters.

The knife was developed in conjunction with the Centro Cinofilo Esercito, the command for Italy’s military canine units. It was developed to allow the handler to defend the working dog from attacks by stray dogs. The theory is that use of a firearm might endanger the working dog and/or bystanders. That makes sense.

Fulcrum K9’s sheath may be worn on the belt or affixed to webbed gear with M.O.L.L.E. straps.


It is important to remember that Italian dog handlers are often deployed on “peacekeeping missions” to Third World countries, where the likelihood of encountering strays—possibly rabid strays—is relatively high. Also, not all of the deployed dogs will be trained attack dogs. Many will be bomb, narcotics or cadaver sniffer dogs, which are from less aggressive breeds.

What I have not been able to determine is whether or not the dog handlers get any special training on use of the knife. Military special ops personnel generally get training on close combat against dogs in case they encounter guard dogs during a mission. My point is that the Fulcrum K9’s blade is long enough to reach the vital organs of an attacking dog, but are the handlers trained in methods of delivering a thrust to those organs?

Getting involved in dogfights is not a good idea either. I’ve had Airedales most of my adult life, and they seem to follow the precept my grandmother instilled in me for surviving the tough neighborhood in which I grew up—never start a fight, always finish one! Getting the Airedale to stop before it’s finished is incredibly difficult.

Italian military dog handler in Lebanon checks truck with his working dog. Missions in Third World countries, where there are many stray dogs, was an impetus to developing Fulcrum K9. Photo: Esercito Italiano


Another precept I learned early on when I was being trained in close combat with the blade is, “Everyone gets cut!” I’d say that when intervening in a dogfight, “Everyone gets bit!” I guess what I’m trying to say is that I appreciate the concept of the Fulcrum K9 and understand the need to protect the working dog, but if I were going to get involved against a vicious dog, I’d like more than a five-inch blade between us.

Oh, and one more point: if the attacking dog is a stray, that’s one thing, but if it’s not and belongs to a resident of this Third World city, a citizen who may be hostile anyway, killing his dog is not going to win friends and influence people. It might be useful to carry some type of spray or device to discourage the stray dog initially, such as pepper spray or ultrasonic dog repeller. If the dog still attacks, then the Fulcrum K9 or the pistol may be needed.

The Fulcrum K9 can serve other purposes. It is sturdy enough to act as a utility knife, and its serrated blade may prove useful for duties such as cutting the lead of a working dog that has become tangled in wire or other debris. It also gives the dog handler a close-combat weapon against two-legged “strays” who might attack. My own experience in some Third World garbage dumps is that silent elimination is preferable to gunshots, to avoid drawing a hostile crowd.

I’ve been discussing peripheral issues, so let’s get back to the Fulcrum K9. The sheath is very well designed. It has friction retention, a snap strap, and a snap flap, so the knife should stay put very well. This still allows surprisingly fast access to the knife. The sheath may be worn on the belt or affixed to webbed gear with M.O.L.L.E. straps. The leg strap will keep it in position very well.

I mentioned the handle and blade earlier, but I also want to point out that there is a half crossguard that will keep the hand from sliding forward during a hard thrust that hits bone. There is also a ridged area atop the back of the blade, which allows a non-slip thumb rest. The blade has a MIL-C-13924 black coating that is non-reflective and quite tough.

Extrema blades are manufactured using N690 Austrian stainless steel and then hand sharpened. I have a full-sized Fulcrum that I’ve used a lot over the last few years, and I’ve found it extremely durable and corrosion resistant. In fact, it is very hard to tell that the knife is not brand new.

I like the fact that Extrema Ratio has produced this knife to help Italian dog handlers protect their working dogs. USAF Security Police dog handlers used to be told they were armed to protect the dogs—that works for me. The fact that I have some reservations about using the knife against vicious stray dogs is not a criticism of the knife. Those are tactical concerns. I like the knife a lot and have recommended it to some military users as a utility/combat knife. As with every Extrema Ratio knife I have seen and handled, the design and quality are excellent.

Extrema Ratio knives may be ordered direct from Italy. The people taking the phone orders speak English, service is excellent and shipping is fast.

SOURCES:

Extrema Ratio
Dept. S.W.A.T.
Via Tourcoing, 40
P, Prato, ITALY
011-39-0574584639
www.extremaratio.com

Xtreme Knives, a U.S. distributor of Extrema Ratio knives, also has most of Extrema’s knives in stock and gives fast, efficient service:

Xtreme Knives
c/o DataForge
Dept. S.W.A.T.
P.O. Box 805
Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
(801) 770-4466
www.xtremeknives.com

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