I have held back on this review for a while now. The Specwog knife (stands for Special warrior operation group) is a straight up “martial” blade. It was designed for martial application and as such has no real use for EDC. In my opinion there are two markets for this type of knife – collectors of knives and those who wish to use it for martial application. We have readers from all over the world. In some countries the environment or job may require you carry a martial type blade. In other countries the law does not allow people to carry defensive weapons of any sort. My review of this knife is therefore as a collector and a specific interest in the design which I will share later. I will not be espousing the knifes martial ability as I have no experience of knife fighting nor do I ever wish to. I am guessing 99% of humans fall into that category so most of you reading this will be collectors or just people who thought “damn that looks cool”.
Design and Features.
The main thing that attracted me to review the Specwog is the designer. Dean Rostohar was and maybe still is a high level student of Bujinkan. Bujinkan is a Japanese martial arts system. I study under a very accomplished Sensei (Peter Brown) and happened to notice the Bujinkan reference while browsing through the Fox military division catalogue. I was interested in seeing how some of the Bujinkan martial philosophy had tranferred to the design of this knife. It certainly differed from the Tanto blades usually associated with Japanese arts.
The Specwog original was a fixed blade. This Alfa is a beast of a folder weighing in at 8.64oz. This is not designed as a super light multi use blade but rather an all out tactical option. The lockback mechanism is very sturdy and about as near to fixed blade strength as a folder could get. The only slight negative to that is the spring is very tight and takes a great deal of pressure to close the blade. It certainly won’t close on you accidentally which is a bonus if you were using in a tactical manner. There is a button lock which when in the forward position prevents the lockback mechanism opening but I doubt it would be required!
The handle is nicely shaped to fit the hand with sculpted sections for your fingers. The rear of the handle juts out significantly and is clearly designed to be used as a striking surface. The section running up the curved rear has heavy jimping which provides superb traction for the thumb when holding the knife in a reverse grip – commonly used in martial arts as the preferred grip. If you use the classic grip then fear not, the Specwog Alfa provides more jimping and a steep thumb ramp which really enhances grip. The sculpted forefinger section further adds to the grip ensuring your hand will not slip down the blade during hard use.
The G10 scales provide a chunky textured feel. I like G10 scales when they are done well and Fox knives make them superbly. The shape and texture are just right and feel great with and without gloves. The scales and liner are drilled to accept multiple carry options when using the clip. Right handers can carry tip up or down while leftys only have the tip up carry option due to the locking button position. The clip itself is very strong and in combination with the rugged G10 scales will rough up your pants pretty fast. If you need to avoid that then you could simply sand the scale section under the clip providing a smooth area for quick non friction access.
The rear section of the handle features a lanyard hole which is always appreciated.
There is no doubt this blade looks the part. It has an unusual shape with a deep belly which curves back in. Many heavy choppers have a similar shape placing weight to the front of the blade. The Specwog Alfa is obviously not designed to chop wood. I would guess the designer had soft tissue in mind. I have no idea about blade shapes in a tactical role and as such I cannot comment as to whether it is a good or a bad thing. What I can say is that my esteemed Sensei would likely suggest that any sharp sturdy blade would suffice for tactical application. He is not a believer in special shapes or unusual designs. If your martial arts training focuses on the use of highly specialized kit then you may be at a loss when that piece of kit breaks or is not available to you..
The negative side of a cool looking swooping blade shape is sharpening. Sharpening a blade is an art in itself. I am a reasonable sharpener but I would not fancy my chances here. My usual choice of a whetstone would be useless and it would have to be a rod type sharpener allowing you to reach all areas.
The blade is 4mm thick at the spine which accounts for the Alfas weight and sturdy feel. The blade length is 9.2cm which is more than enough for the designers purpose. Steel is N690Co which I have experience with. N690Co holds a good edge and is fairly easy to work. The PVD coating provides good rust protection and adds to the general “badassery” of the Specwog. There are some cool white inscriptions across the coating which will appeal to collectors.
The blade has a thumbstud either side. This should make one handed opening easy but the spring is so tight that it is quite a strain. A flick of the wrist and a push on the studs will swing the big blade out with a secure snap. To be honest martial blades shouldn’t need to open ultra fast. If you think your in a situation which may call for a blade then open it and keep it open until your back to a safe area. Even better draw your pistol 😉
Although I cannot vouch for the blade in use I can vouch for its sharpness – razor.. The spine of the blade features more jimping which the designer suggests could be used as a place to push with your free hand to increase cutting pressure.
As a collector I really appreciate this blade. As a practitioner of martial arts I am not totally sold on the concept. The Tanto blade has been battle proven over hundreds of years and I see no reason to change it. Of course new and exciting designs generate interest and money but we should be aware that new does not necessarily meen “better”. If I were going to a place where a tactical knife application were relevant I would be holding a rifle and carrying a sidearm. Knife fighting is no longer a skill that war fighters need unless they are in a movie. The internet fanboys will say differently but that is because they learnt there “tactics” via a computer game..
The price point on the Alfa folder is around $200. For a knife of this build quality and ruggedness that really isn’t a bad deal. The interesting design and general badass vibe will ensure this blade remains popular and will likely hold or increase in value when Fox finish producing it. I will be holding onto mine and admiring it for many years to come.