The Southern Comfort


By: “SouthNarc”



Around '97 a buddy of mine who was a fellow Pekiti-Tirsia guy showed me a folder that I fell in love with made by Kershaw called the Talon. It was small and lightweight with Titanium scales. The knife had an interesting opening mechanism. In place of the usual thumb stud, hole, or disc, it had a bottle opener. I thought this was pretty trick but the main thing that attracted me to the knife was it's reverse S curvature that put the edge on the inside when held point down. This was the Pakal folder. It was oriented tip down. The model number on the knife was the 1421 ST modified. Here is a picture of it in its original factory configuration.



I really didn't think about it from any other standpoint than it fit the bill of an edge in folder so I set about doing some research.


I found out that Kershaw made the Talon in three different configurations. A Ti handle with a thumbstud, the Ti handle with the bottle opener, and a G-10 handle with the thumbstud. I wanted the bottle opener as I felt it offered a surer opening than the stud, but I wanted the G-10 handle. So I called Kershaw and asked them if they could put the bottle opener blade on the G-10 handle. They said that was no problem. I hung up, my question answered, and kinda forgot about the whole thing as I had a million irons and projects in the fire. I'd get around to ordering one sooner or later.


Well, low and behold, the woman that I love was listening to my conversation and called the guy at Kershaw back ten minutes later, after I had left for work, and ordered me that knife, the way I wanted it. She gave it to me Christmas morning of '97. I was ecstatic; especially that she had been so attentive about a piece of gear. Here is a pic of that knife. 



So here I was with my new toy, a Pakal terror! One thing that puzzled me though was that my knife was oriented tip up. Hmm….wonder why that was? Didn't see any holes on the opposite side of the handle. Apparently, for whatever reason, Kershaw made the two Ti handled knives tip down and the G-10 model with thumb stud tip up. Huh. I had a hybrid that was the only one of its kind. That was kinda neat.


Anyway I began to carry it and would be careful to kinda palm the bottle opener as I was withdrawing it from my pocket, and then hit the opener with my thumb or little finger depending on whether I drew it point up or down. I never thought about it any other way.


Then around the end of '98 I started seeing all the hoopla about the Emerson Commander. I didn't think much of it as it really wasn't to my tastes, but it looked like a solid albeit big knife. The thing that intrigued me was the "Wave" that I kept hearing people rave about and how fast it was. I finally saw some pics of how it opened and realized that my knife could open on the pocket also. So I started playing with it.


The more I worked with it the more refined it became. One thing that I noticed was that all the Emerson pics showed the knife being opened on the rear seam of the pocket, which required a real radical rearward pull. My knife however, because it had a deeper and longer cutout, only had to be pulled straight forward to open it, thus it was faster. I had discovered a better mousetrap.


I called Kershaw around March of '99 to discover that they had discontinued the Talon. It never was a real big seller. I spoke to a gentleman there and told him what I had found out about the bottle opener feature with my knife and that I felt that it was more efficient than the Wave. He didn't seem to interested in the idea and felt like there was too much liability in putting out a knife that might accidentally open in the pocket. I hung up somewhat non-plussed.


I began to scour dealers everywhere for the bottle opener Talon. Hardly any were to be found and now they are just about impossible. I just bought four of them from a guy that had them stuck back in a corner. He was more than happy to get rid of them because they had sat on his shelf for years and had never moved. Just to unconventional.


Here's a pic of an unmodified 1421, my G-10 hybrid, and a 1421 that I reversed the clip on for tip up carry.



I have a drawer full of folders. I haven't found anything faster to deploy than the tip up Talon, with the bottle opener. I did an exercise with a PACT timer and balloons a while back. I averaged about a quarter second draw to cut, starting with my hand on the knife in my pocket and hold a personal best of .17. Here are some pics of a point up draw sequence followed by a point down draw sequence. Notice that unlike the Commander, all the draw mechanics are forward and into the strike. 



I've modified my grip a bit in the pics so you can see the bottle opener hooking the pocket. As long as you maintain pressure on the scale with your thumb against the pocket, it's gonna open. Way faster than the Wave. Even Ernie thinks so! Here is the draw and opening into Pikal (reverse grip).



If you want the fastest opening folder out there the Kershaw Talon model 1421 ST, modified for tip up carry is it. I've dubbed it "The Southern Comfort.” If you can find one buy it! If you find one and don't like the whole thing, then e-mail me and I will!  


Further thoughts and the Method behind it


By Don Rearic



SouthNarc and I had conversations months ago about this knife and I let two or three of them slip through my grubby paws. That won’t happen again. This is a solid little knife. Could the liner be thicker? Yeah, probably so, but there are more important things to talk about that overshadow that as well as negate the fact that the liner is not incredibly “beefy” and thick.


It simply does not matter because of how we use the knife.


The Body and the Grip


If you look at this knife in full profile, it looks like someone at Kershaw heated the whole thing up and then bent the blade in one direction and the body of the knife in the other direction. Ever so slightly, that is. Then it looks like they bent the body on itself again before it cooled off.


That is part of the reason it feels so good and has a lot of the power the way it is used…the way SouthNarc and I use the knife.


I remember something he told me the day I received it in the mail from him, “If they ask you why I call it ‘The Southern Comfort,’ tell them I said it’s because I’m Southern and it gives me comfort!”


That explains it. It’s cold comfort to have an excellent tool and this knife is rather special, as it seems to be designed around a specific blade methodology even though it was never intended to be! Totally by accident they created a great knife…


Cold comfort in knowing you have a viable, lifesaving tool, but it feels very comfortable in the hand as well…that’s very important especially when you consider how SouthNarc and I tend to use edged weapons in reverse grip. Otherwise known as “icepick” or “Pakal.” The spellings change, it remains the same.


That would be, reverse grip in extreme close quarters and with the edge of the blade facing IN and not out.


Critical Thinking and Application


I know some people vehemently disagree with edge in reverse grip methods. That’s fine. If you do, keep reading and maybe you will agree, if not and you think it is B.S., that’s cool too. See ya in the next life friend.


If you have no opinion either way, you can keep reading and see if this makes sense to you.


At one time, it made no sense to me until I learned what to do…


I have heard people say that this is a totally unnatural way to hold a knife and use it. To them I say…what is “nature?” What is "natural?"


Is it “natural” to drive a car? All of these things we learn to do in daily life…typing on this keyboard too, all are by their very nature…unnatural acts for a human being to do. In fighting, in my personal opinion, anything other than a clubbing hammerfist coming vertical down onto another caveman is basically unnatural. Gross motor movement is natural, but you can overcome that tendency to freeze up and I guess some never will because they have convinced themselves they never will.


It has been stated as fact that you cannot strike in a non-telegraphic manner with a knife in reverse grip, meaning the thrust. This is absolute nonsense.


Added to that, the nature of extreme close-quarters engagement negates a lot of the “controversy” over that anyway. The blade does not have to travel very far at all…and it is sunk in the target.


It’s a twitch…and it’s over. And it can be non-telegraphic.


Illustration of a concept


Many people know that you can jab [punch] in a non-telegraphic manner and this can set up the person being hit with the other, more powerful punch/strike from the other hand.


How much power do you need to sink a knife into someone? Even if the knife does not hit exactly straight on, it won’t take much and it will be inside of the target.


I guarantee you, if you take the simple drill Keating put forth in The Legacy of Steel tapes, that of non-telegraphic hitting by using the palm of your training partner and your training knife…


And you have your partner stand in front of you with his hand in the STOP position. You want to thrust his hand with the tip of the trainer. You have to move the weapon first, before anything else, so that by the time the partner perceives this, the knife is already touching his palm and he cannot pull his palm back in time to stop the knife from entering them.


A Pikal Jab, a modified Boxing Jab done with a hammerfist…that’s the way this works…knife hand hovering around the sternum, point down. Knife shoots out with the point directed at the target…


You try it and you will see that once you understand that, a new door opens to you. Remember, we’re not talking about this being superior in a long-range engagement with edged weapons, it is a close-quarters engagement.


How do we arrive at this? Very simple. People spar a lot with training knives and they then conclude that what they are doing is going to be street effective because they are winning their sparring matches.


That is TRUE! It WILL work for them on the street. With the caveat, then the engagement MUST then take place in the MANNER in which the sparring match did. If it does NOT, then the data is invalid.


They use this as “fact” and “proof” that what they are doing is “street effective” and that it is “superior” to reverse grip. But it’s not because the sparring match with training knives is an incredibly poor example of how knife assaults happen…


Please, if you square off with someone and you both have training knives, please tell me what this looks like. Come up with a one-word descriptor for it and you tell me.


It begins with a “D.” Come on…it resembles a Duel.


Now, there is nothing wrong with playing Largo Mano, long range, with a knife. Nothing at all! If you have the time and whatnot, it probably is safer in the long run. Especially for Military folks who have access to machetes, if you have it, USE IT!


Knives are not Sniper Rifles, as so many people want them to be, however. No, I’m not saying they literally think they are going to hit someone hundreds of yards away, but they think the knife in some way is not a close quarter tool. It is and there is no getting around that fact. Knives are not remote controls; Andy Stanford placed that little observation out there for everyone to see. You cannot turn your problems off.


The Crutch


For years now, Col. Jeff Cooper has been preaching the Good Gospel of tactical awareness through the use of his Color Code, modified from the USMC WW2 Color Code, this is solid. However, so many people are using this as a crutch to play certain games, even in the knife world. They believe fate or simple bad luck will never intercept their awareness.


Added to that is the fact that some predatory human beings are very talented at ambushing people. It’s really that simple. I think a lot of people are fooling themselves that they will always be able to see trouble coming and then head it off at the pass.


Some people live that Code and I try to as well, I try to stay alert all the time, but let’s face it, we’re human beings and sometimes we are going to find ourselves behind the curve. Something has already happened and we have to play catch up and we must do it quickly or all is lost.


People that speak in absolutes that they will never be caught off guard are simply involving themselves in a game and hopefully, they will never be proven wrong. You would be a fool to not have “Tactical Awareness” just as you would be a fool to think your Tactical Awareness might fail you.


To base your draw and your knife skills on the opinion, because that is what it is, it is far from fact, that you are always going to be able to engage at long range, in your favorite grip and that engagement will be the norm and what you are doing is superior, is sheer folly.


I could continue on with this but I honestly think that if you have not received the message by now, it is not likely you will at all. If someone gives you a shove into your vehicle and you are stuck in the fatal funnel with one or more people and they then move to draw, it makes no difference, the supposed “superiority” of forward grip is nonsense. It makes no difference. Forward grip WILL work; it’s just not superior to reverse grip in such a confined area.


I’m not saying reverse grip is superior in this instance, I’m saying there are others like myself who prefer to engage that way because we fight a certain way and we base that on real world engagements instead of sparring matches. That’s all.


If that offends you or shakes your view of things, I’m sorry for that. I’m sure some people will sit and read this and think to themselves, “Don is a damned fool for discounting results from sparring…”


I’m not discounting the results, I’m saying that once you set parameters for the altercation, in this case squaring off, your results are “proof” only in engagements that have those parameters. Since the street is unpredictable, I find little value in sparring except for developing attributes of speed, timing and other important things. That is ALL it is good for and it proves nothing unless the engagement on the street closely resembles it and in many cases experience has shown that the street does NOT resemble that.


There has been a boatload of controversy lately about thrusting versus slashing. Things have become heated but the basic thing is, in this method, there is alot of thrusting and ripping cuts. Thrusts with a knife, a knife, are cuts on the inside of the body. They are deadly. Anyone that discounts multiple thrusts with a knife simply needs to go back and think some more.


Some more on the method


Hopefully this will spark some meaningful debate on the knife, the drawing of it and the method.     


Actually, if you go back to the first Drawpoint Tape by Keating/Comtech, where was the edge oriented on the Gryphon knife James carried?


It was oriented edge in. He also showed edge out, but the basic method was edge in.


Why edge in?


Why, why, why? Eh...


Understand that a good single edge knife can thrust as good as a dagger, a double-edged knife.


So, what makes a double-edged knife so deadly when it comes to FMAs?


It is basically in reverse grip, it is the ability to cut on the pull as well as the push.


Pekiti and similar methods simply make a choice.


Which is more effective in extreme close quarters? Pushing someone away so they can get a parting shot or so you can start all over because they are wearing some sort of improvised armor, they're chemically fueled or just enraged and pissed?


If someone slashes at you, you can fade back. Just like you can hollow out the midsection if they thrust, right?


If they fade back with this method, which is a natural, instinctual reaction, they just peeled themselves and opened themselves up far worse than if I, theoretically, had been in reverse grip edge facing out.


If it is going to be a close quarters engagement, it is best in our view to get it over with as quickly as possible, that dictates ripping/peeling cuts and multiple thrusts that become a reality from the ripping and peeling cuts. The multiple thrusts are ripping cuts themselves as the person jerks back or you jerk your hand back.


There are alot of people out there that think they need a double-edged dagger to get ease of penetration on the thrust. People die from screwdrivers; it's a non-issue in many ways.


Some people promote the double-edged knife as being "easier" to use because they can slash both ways... What is THAT about? They apparently do not understand the concept of wrist rotation. You don't need a dagger to cut "both ways." I can cut fast both ways with a single-edged knife…it is a non-issue.


So, this method makes a choice, and the choice is what I wrote above.


If you have to have a single edged knife and you are using it in reverse grip, which is better?


The interception can be palasut. Understand regardless of edge in or edge out, or if you have a single or double-edged knife, when you intercept there is the very real possibility that you will impale the limb with the point. In most cases, you want to do that.


When you are in reverse grip edge facing out, the only way you can cut on first contact, which is incredibly important because you injure the person on the first beat of the encounter on your response to them, is to impale their arm and go from there.


In edge in, this is also a reality, but if the point does not go in their arm in edge in, they still get cut.


Imagine the power of edge in, you try to impale the limb and you end up with a pass, but the edge is against them and you then check their arm with your live hand as you pull out.


Now apply that to all of the basic cutting and thrusting angles of the incoming attacker and you begin to see what we are talking about.


It is a vicious style of cutting.   



Written by “SouthNarc” & Don Rearic


All Photographs by “SouthNarc” and protected under ãDonRearic.Com


Composed by Don Rearic


(“SouthNarc” is a Police Officer in the Southern United States assigned to a Narcotics Task Force. – D. Rearic)


copyright DonRearic.Com


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