Keating's Comtech Stinger and Spyderco Chinook


The Comtech Stinger


Have you ever been in the checkout line at a grocery store and spied people’s keys? Some people just have this huge mass of keychain fobs. Informing anyone within sight who is paying attention where they like to vacation, stay at San Francisco hotels or Chicago hotels, their favorite rock band or country singer, what kind of car they drive or loudly proclaiming they are a sarcastic person (if you can read this, you are too close to me…)


Sometimes even the type of handgun they own. Too much information (TMI), right?


Well, you can do that too, or you can have something pretty cool on there that can, as advertised, enable you to punch like a “Karate Master.” That seems rather far-fetched until you realize how powerful this thing really is.


What is this magical thing?



A small, indestructible and incredibly powerful, Defensive Impact Tool parading as a keychain that can be passed off as some sort of massage device? You think it’s too good to be true? Well, I touched on the Stinger in the “Cheapskate” as well as the “Fistloads” articles but I hope this can go a little more in-depth and give the Stinger some more coverage.




I am coming from the point of view that I don’t think punching is something that should be the focus of extreme hand to hand combat. It is not that the punch is ineffective. Punching can be very effective! With that effectiveness comes a higher risk of injury. Boxers tape their hands to protect them; they do not tape their hands to protect their opponent.


And Professional Boxers still occasionally break their hands even though they take a lot of precautions…their hands are their money and they take care of them. You should value your life as much as they value their money. You cannot walk around with your hands taped up in daily life. You should take this as a warning sign that perhaps punching should not be the focus of hand techniques when we are talking about Self-defense.


I know, I know, people are going to say, “You don’t know how to punch Don!” Well, think what you want, I was not really talking about me, I was talking about Amateur and Professional Boxers who have broken their hands.


I’m a realist, I think, simply, if a Professional Boxer can break their hand I most certainly can! Then there are all of the horror stories of people in Karate who have conditioned their hands; they have weaponized their hands…conditioned them for what? So they cannot write or do any fine movements with them anymore? They sure do have awesome weapons, but taken to an extreme, that is what your hands are going to be and that’s all they are going to be, weapons. They’re no longer hands; they become clubs that cannot serve as the delicate and wonderful gifts we have been endowed with.


I have broken knuckles in the past that’s why people can claim I’m too “stupid” to know how to punch “correctly.” I don’t look at it that way, I look at it like this, bad things happen. I don’t care who you are or how good you are, bad things can happen. Since we have to reside in the real world we have weapons and other things that we should be carrying. You don’t want to break your hand(s), as that can be a deadly deficit in a fight. Especially when we are talking about the very real possibility of multiple attackers…


This is not Okinawa, we don’t have to condition our hands to punch armor and have a telling effect on a Samurai.


So, I have basically discarded the clenched (closed) fist punch as a primary tool for my Self-preservation for all of these reasons. Does that mean that I won’t punch in a fight? Of course not! I punched so much in the past that it might very well come out in a panic on the street! That’s my own realistic self-assessment of what I might do under stress.


As a primary natural weapon, I advocate the hammerfist. Which is a clenched (closed) fist. Instead of striking with the knuckles, you strike with the bottom of the hand, like a hammer. So, there is the possibility that I might end up firing a punch at someone as well in a fight when my head turns to mush and I don’t have time to think, my hand is already in the closed position and I only react. I might very well resort back to something I have done a lot in the past. Old habits are indeed hard to break.


I am a firm advocate of open handed hacking, chopping with the edge of the hand. Also the Tiger Claw and Chin Jab, palm heels…you get the idea. The hammerfist, all of these are more geared to what I need for modern Self-defense.


Now that I have basically condemned the punch, I’m going to tell you how to really protect your hand if you know how to punch and you believe that the closed fist in your personal repertoire is simply so valuable that could never think of discarding it.


The Comtech Stinger is an incredibly effective force multiplier for someone who wishes to punch.



Understand that this website is not about you following me, it is about you finding things here that help YOU to survive. I don’t want to be your Pied Piper of Self-defense, I want you to take certain ideas and concepts and then run with them. You should grow with what you learn here! So, if you are a puncher, this is the keychain device for you.


I’m not so arrogant that I am going to sit here and pontificate and tell you not to punch if you are really good at it and comfortable with it.


This was my segue into an awesome tool, “The Push Dagger that is not a knife,” The Comtech Stinger.


James Keating & Comtech


It’s been about ten years since Comtech created their “Weapon Specificity” Series of training videotapes. In that Series was the excellent material on the Spyderco Civilian, Automatic Knives and Balisongs, Axes and Tomahawks, Combative Whip and the Push Knife or Push Dagger tape.


This little Series was great! Well, in the Push Dagger tape, there was this little section on the Stinger, or as James called it at the time, “The Walla-Walla Stinger.” Walla-Walla is the general area where Comtech was/is located.


All of the positive attributes of the Push Dagger were extracted and the result was The Stinger. The negative aspects of the Push Knife or Push Dagger are:


1.     Legalities. Push Knives and Push Daggers, because of their configuration and unique appearance, have been the targets of many deadly weapon statutes in various jurisdictions. These were fighting knives for Gamblers and other people in The Old West. The Push Dagger earned its nefarious reputation during this time and it has never been able to shake that reputation. The Push Dagger, when you look at it historically, is very similar to The Bowie Knife in that respect. It was legislated against because it was popular and effective.

2.     Attitudes and Opinions. Punching someone with a Stinger is much more likely to be looked upon as “legitimate Self-defense” than literally punching holes in someone with a Push Knife/Dagger.

3.     Exposure. While striking someone with a Stinger might draw blood in cases of striking them in the head and face…there is no doubt a knife will draw much more blood. With that drawing of blood comes the possibility of exposure to infected blood. The Stinger is so effective; you can defend yourself without even hitting to the face or head.


The Stinger is much more “legal” in a wider variety of areas, much more “Court and people friendly” and carries with it the added bonus of not having to draw blood when targeting the limbs and trunk of an attacker.


The Stinger using Push Knife methods…


So, what do you lose by using a Stinger instead of a Push Knife in some form?


Well, you lose the ability to cut the other person and poke holes in their internal organs. That is a deficit, but it is a deficit that modern day realities might dictate to you whether you like it or not. All depends on where you live and what chances you wish to take.


Like the Push Knife/Dagger and excellent Self-defense knives like Fred Perrin’s LaGriffe, with a Stinger, you can still carry a bag of groceries and have something in your hand that is effective should you be attacked. If you have a bag of groceries in your hand and you are confronted and you see that there is going to be an altercation, you can simply swing the bag up and let it slip into the other person’s face then strike them, straight, direct and powerfully. By all means, you should practice this so you develop that clenching power of squeezing your fingers together while they are outstretched so you do not lose your Stinger and then practice clenching them quickly to strike.


Hand strength is a very important attribute for all aspects of Self-defense. Practice carrying a bag of groceries with your lower two fingers (Ring finger and “pinky.”) and over a matter of a few weeks, it will seem less of a task and your fingers will become stronger. A gallon of milk carried in the same way. Get used to utilizing your hands as a human being. Quit thinking, “strength and power comes from a fist” and start to examine just how strong the curling power of just a single finger can be. You might be amazed after a few weeks…


If you are carrying a bag of groceries and you do this when you are attacked, the other person is going to have to do something and it is that momentary distraction that you must capitalize on. If their hand(s) goes up to swat the bag of groceries away, you can blast their centerline and really “put the hurt” on someone with a Stinger.


You can grab onto the other person’s clothing. All of these things are a reality with the Stinger. These things are important because violent conflict in close quarters is totally unpredictable.


Double Trouble


Now, if you some skill at Boxing, Karate or any number of Martial disciplines, you can really take advantage of the Stinger. Why not have one on your keys and one in your pocket? Why not have one in your pocket and one in a neck sheath? They are small and they weigh nothing.


I am so “corrupted” when it comes to unarmed combat, that’s a fact. If I have two Stingers, one in each hand and I get one hand in the attacker’s face and start “aggravating” him with that hand and pushing him backwards or something, that other hand of mine with a Stinger in it can take his air from him, solar plexus shot. If I think the situation only warrants some sort of minimal-damaging, “pain compliance” or something, I can push the Stinger into the sternum as I do this and run someone backwards into a wall or car. I’m not a big believer in “pain compliance,” but there are certain things that you can really cause tons of pain with and the Comtech Stinger is one of them. You could just push, grind and shake the tip of the Stinger right into the bone and really inflict massive amounts of pain on someone.


Double punches and double, “U” punches in some traditional styles of Karate would be “fight ending” follow up techniques with two Stingers. The fight would be over.


What about a novice?


Let’s say that a Father somewhere is really dreading the day that his little girl goes off to college. He has never really “raised” his little girl in a “tactical” manner but she is now going to be miles away from Daddy’s protection.


What if the college has a stupid, “Zero Tolerance Policy” on “anything that is designed to be a weapon?”

I’ll tell you what I think. If I were that Father, I would tell my child to break that Campus Rule, even if it were the law. The reason being, they have no right doing this anyway. Just because you want a better education does not mean you should have to sign away your right to life and that really is what we are talking about here.


I would instruct her as to how to break that law in a very covert way, however. This might appear “criminal” to some people; it might appear to be “dishonest” or to teach young people the “wrong way to go about life.”


What lesson is taught by disarming people, especially women, and making them more subject to rape? What about maiming and crippling injury and death? How can you be teaching that this is the wrong way to go about living when the alternative might be death? Why do we do this? It’s a philosophical question better left to some other venue. I’m just telling you that I think anything that restricts people from effective Self-defense is abysmal.


Instructing a young person in how to do this is very simple. Following the Government Rule of “Need to Know.” No one should know about anything she carries, not her boyfriend or best friend – no one that could turn on her in the heat of a disagreement, etc.


The Campus Police cannot protect people on campus; it’s that simple, it’s not like rapists are running around with a placard that says, “Hey! I’m a rapist! Arrest me!”


It’s absurd. Those people lurk in and around campuses all the time because they know the pickings are easy! Ted Bundy immediately comes to mind, doesn’t he? They know about “Zero Tolerance Policies” and they know this gives them a lot of protection from an irate young Lady that they might want to rape.


The only woman that escaped Ted Bundy’s Volkswagen Beetle was one that fought back. It’s documented, look it up. I don’t “think” this is true, it is a fact.


Teach your child to keep their mouth shut and to be secretive about such things. Teach them tactical awareness and to always have things like this on hand, on their person.


Now, how would you teach them to use it?


First of all, strength. Knowledge and demonstrable skill is very important, but you do have to have some strength. Simple exercises with dumbbells, focusing on the triceps muscles and any High School age young woman can develop awesome ability in three to six months if they have a Father that has some experience in fisticuffs.


Depending on how “serious” and dedicated the young Lady might be, it could take up to a year and this should be the focus along with hardcore hand to hand combat tactics. But with the Stinger, it transfers so much power from your body and focuses it on a very small spot. It is a fast road to power, after one month of simple weightlifting; almost any woman would hit with stunning power if at the end of that punch a Stinger is present. The power to break bone and damage internal organs is always present when you can punch hard; the Stinger is a fast road to that sort of power. For those that already have power, the Stinger is not only effective, it is devastating.


The thought of being hit with one of these things full-power makes me cringe.


What else?


A friend of mine has a Stinger and he showed it to his Instructor. The Instructor was of the opinion that he could do more with his hands, not just punching, but a host of other things.


As I explained to this friend of mine, this is the problem with Martial Arts. People do not understand that sometimes you are going to be behind the curve and you are going to be playing catch up from the beginning of the fight.


The truth is, you might already be knocked half senseless.


What you can do on the mat when you are at the top of your game is impressive, what you can do when you’re seeing stars and wondering what the hell just clanged you is even more important. Watch a Pro-Boxer really get belted and how they hit back when they are not at the top of their game, the punch they launch is not quite as powerful when they are covering up and trying to get their own strike in. This is where something like the Stinger can make a huge difference in who goes home. The Stinger can make up for the diminished strength you might experience.


Nice Choices



The Stinger comes in many different colors, this is only a small sample. So, E-mail James Keating and see what he has if you are interested in them!



Also, these sheaths, suitable for neck, pocket or keyring carry were made by Knifemaker Mickey Yurco and they are absolutely top notch sheaths! They are well executed, minimalist and 100% secure and I highly recommend them.



The Spyderco Chinook


I eagerly opened the package sent to me by a friend. Greedily, I then slipped this Chinook out of the Spyderco box.


In case you have not noticed, I really like knives and gadgets, right? Some people like coins and some like stamps (both of which I appreciate but I am hardly a Numismatist or Philatelist, respectively. Although I have been called other big words by much smaller people…).


I remember handling a Chinook months ago at a local Dealer. I remember hefting it and being surprised at the weight. I have heard a lot of people going on and on about how heavy it is. And that’s a valid criticism. I don’t know that this is the knife you want to wear in an Armani suit, but most people that are saying these things are wearing Dockers or jeans or something and then, it gets strange to me. Heft used to mean “quality.” Titanium has taken away the heft equals quality feeling to a lot of people.


If you wear your jeans Gangsta Style, well, go ahead and carry a pocketknife bonehead! (You’re gonna get it confiscated, you’re gonna get it confiscated!) In the immortal words of Denis Leary, “Pull up your pants.”

So, to recap, if you wear a suit or pants worn with your crack showing, a Chinook in the pocket might not be your first choice.

The Spyderco Chinook Specs:


Blade Steel CPM(T) 440V


Blade Thickness 5/32"


Diameter of Blade Hole 9/16" 


Hardness (RC) 56-57


Length Blade 3 3/4" 


Length Closed 4 7/8"


Length Cutting Edge 3 5/16" 


Length Overall 8 9/16" 


Weight 7.25 Oz. 


The Blaster


The first thing I did after hefting the Chinook, opening and closing it several times, letting it roll and spin to reverse grip and back to forward, edge out to edge in – all of the neat little manipulations I like to do to get an overall feel for a knife… I grabbed a focus mitt.


I just slipped my left hand into the straps of the mitt and proceeded to blast the mitt with my other hand, with the butt of the Chinook. While this might seem rather silly to some people, if you think about the dynamics of violent altercations, sometimes you end up grabbing the person and pounding on them. You know, real fighting, no B.S.


The focus mitt being retained through the straps on the back of it becomes the clothing of another person, or perhaps the back of their neck or their arm. You’re grabbing them and blasting them with the other hand.


You can hit very hard with the Chinook and you have a really excellent grip to do so, it is secure in the hand. The loud POP! of the focus mitt tells the tale.


Using hammerfists and reverse hammerfists on my other arm, lightly, provided some excellent feedback as to what could be expected if I were to strike flesh and bone with the same power as I did with the Chinook on the focus mitt.



A lot of things are paid lip service when it comes to using knives for Self-defense. We hear a lot about pommel (butt – punyo) striking to knock people out and that’s all true, you can damage someone with the butt of a knife. It is, after all, metal and whatnot. The Chinook just has a lot more “authority” when it comes to that.



The Tank


After the weight and the overall feel of the knife, you notice that this knife is built like a tank.


Sort of like a spin on the Oldsmobile commercials of yesteryear, “This is not your Father’s Spyderco.”


No, the blade thickness on this knife is not like your average Spyderco, this knife is massive. Personally, the Bowie blade profile of the Chinook reminds me a lot of the famous USMC Kabar. But that’s just me. So, if the idea of a strong – folding – Kabar is attractive to you, this might be the pocketknife for you. It’s shorter and the profile is a bit stubbier, but it reminds me of the Kabar and you don’t get any more “American” than that.



You look at the spine of the blade and you tell me, fairly heavy-duty, wouldn’t you say?


The Spyderco Chinook has a massive blade and locking system. When you open this folder, it has a SNAP! That is usually found when you handle large, Custom, liner locking folders.


The SpyderHole on this folder appears to be larger than your average Spyderco’s thumb-opening device. The Chinook’s is more like the Spyderco Military that makes it easier to open in my opinion. The G10 scales are scalloped so the thumb can easily reach the SpyderHole, another very nice touch.


The Tank has treads


The Chinook is very secure in the hand. The G10 scales offer a good purchase, grippy.


The Chinook almost has a bird’s beak pommel (in effect) to make sure the knife will withdraw well and keeps the knife in hand on a hard slash or chop. The front of the Chinook flares a bit to inhibit the hand sliding up on a hard thrust. Combine those two attributes with the slight palm swell and you have quite a grip.


The grip, although it has those attributes, still feels generic enough to be used in reverse grip with either edge facing out or in.


The “What if?” Game


So many people like to do this. That’s fine. Use your imagination because your brain is the most powerful tool and weapon you have at your disposal. Understand, as Kelly McCann points out in some of his excellent material, that you can paint yourself into hopeless situations. Don’t wallow in negativity, just create real-life scenarios and respond to them naturally. There are no set “Kata” or “Sequences” per se, there are ideas and concepts of movement that will work. But sometimes people write me and they say, “Well, I was reading your article and what if someone did this?” Or that, or the other… Don’t get bogged down by that sort of thing.


Understand that when I give you a “problem” in the form of a scenario and then I give you an “answer” in one of these articles, that is not set in stone. It is YOU who will decide the conflict’s outcome in most cases and if YOU do not take an active role in deciding the outcome, the attacker will.


So, when I give you a scenario and present that as a problem then give you an answer, don’t take that and practice that as the only answer because every situation will be different. It’s only an example of how something could happen.


A simple scenario


You are walking to your vehicle. You have your handy Stinger in your left hand with your car keys and you have a bag of groceries hanging from the lower two fingers of that hand and a bag of groceries hanging from the other hand.


You see this person coming around the back of the car out of nowhere and I promise you this, don’t buy into too much “awareness” propaganda, OK? I am 100% in favor of proper mindset and situational/environmental awareness to avoid danger – or to see it coming in time to respond to it. The important thing is, you see it coming if at all possible. It does not mean you will see it coming every time. Criminals go to great lengths to attack when Police are not around and to be treacherous in other ways.


The person comes right up between your car and the one next to it. Watch how they move, you won’t have long to make a decision. Surely, some people move fast and perhaps “predatory” to get to their vehicle, but I think you will know if they mean you harm. Before they can possibly reach you, glance back quickly and make sure his friend is not behind you. If there are mirrors or the angle is right and you can use the glass on the cars to “Check your Six,” do that instead of glancing back and practice this every day in real life so you know how to do it instinctively.


So, now you have this bag of groceries resting on the roof of your car where you were then going to unlock the car (your car was locked, right?) so you reach up and grab a can of vegetables with your right hand and throw it right at his face. Then the left hand sweeps the whole bag and that goes in his face. Just bombard the cretin, don’t try to figure out fancy solutions to simple problems – simply FIGHT HIM. Do you have any idea how stunning it would be to be hit in the face with an 8-ounce can of food? I’m not kidding, it seems rather silly, but if you think about it – it’s not.


When he covers up, straight left punch with the Stinger to whatever is available. Might be his right or left arm as he is covering up from getting hit with a can of vegetables, etc., or you might straight blast him in the sternum with the Stinger. Where you hit him doesn’t matter, the fact you start hitting him effectively is what counts. If you can punch hard, I believe you could break someone’s bones with a Stinger quite easily.


Just remember that anything else around you can be used in a pinch and everyday objects can add even more effectiveness to the devices you carry for Self-defense.

So, now the guy might be half doubled over, might be leaning on your car or another and you see him reach frantically into his pocket or for the waistband. Both of these are the warning signs that he is going for a weapon. Inside pockets, inside the jacket, movement to waistband.

So, you pull this folder out and you simply hammerfist this attacker at the nape of the neck, on the upper arms, on the lower arm, HIT HIM. Make it impossible for him to do anything meaningful against you because he is being beaten down. I know this sounds horrible to some of you, but this is the reality of street survival, none of it is pretty.


Lowline kicking to get him down to size, see what he was reaching for and act accordingly. If you see the butt of a handgun, step on it and make it impossible for him to grab it, knock him out. Grab him by the lapel with your left hand holding the Stinger and pull him into a strike to the head with the butt end of that folding knife.


If the person is still viable or his friend shows up after all of this, now might be the time to open the folder and prepare for the worst. Furthermore, if you are licensed to carry a concealed handgun, you may have already done so when the attacker started going for the pockets or waistband of his clothing.


But the reality is, not everyone lives in a jurisdiction where concealed carry of a handgun is an option. So, I don’t think a valid criticism of all of this would be, “But I would just pull my gun.” Yeah, you might, if you have one.


Now, this is all very realistic and it can happen in seconds and it takes a thinking person to be able to do all of this. You don’t have to go up on a mountain for eight months until you figure it all out, but you do have to be a thinking Human Unit. You don’t have to be a Karate Master or anything else, you just have to have situational awareness, a thinking mind, be clear and deliberate in your actions and be ready, willing and able to survive.


The Chinook is a wonderful expedient Yawara Stick. It is rock solid in the hand, people complain about the weight and it is a very heavy folder – but there is strength in that heaviness. And it is only really “heavy” when you compare it to knives like a Spyderco Endura with a Zytel body, etc.


It packs quite a punch and even with my wide hands, there is enough sticking out of both sides of the fist to make it quite attractive as a “pocketstick.”


And the Spyderco Chinook is not the only folder that can be used this way! But this happens to be an attribute of that folder.


I was speaking with James the other day, wishing him and he remarked that there might be a lighter version of the Chinook coming out soon, about two ounces lighter as a matter of fact. That sounds friendlier to some people out there. Pretty good, innovation and listening to Customer Feedback, etc. Spyderco is a good company and James is a fine Designer. As you can see by these tools. (Spyderco does not make the Stinger, for the record, but it was designed by James Keating.)


There are so many pieces of junk being sold on the market; the fear factor is quite real. Everyone has some twist on a weapon for Self-defense. Marketed to a scared public that is eager to eat that up. Little screaming sirens (“Personal Alarms”) marketed as Self-defense items when everyone knows that no one even pays any attention to a screaming car alarm anymore.


“Oh look at this, Marge! I have my Personal Alarm, I’m very safe now!”


Get a grip.


Get a Stinger, get a few of them, they don’t cost that much. And maybe even the Spyderco Chinook. They’re both tough.


Don Rearic


copyright DonRearic.Com

Back to the Main Index