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Brock Tactical Blades

Written by Mick Williams

It is rare to feature a knife for law enforcement from a one-man custom shop, but Brock Blades is worth the exception. Owner Ken Brock is a full-time police officer and SWAT cop who makes customs knives between work, callouts, and family. Brock has been a cop since 1991, a firearms and defensive tactics instructor since 1995, and a SWAT operator since 1996. He has a long history in the martial arts, as well.

To put it concisely, Brock is one of us. He starting making knives in 2002 to address the needs he saw for his work and those of his friends. In six short years, Brock has developed a following in the knife world for his well-made, practical knives. His designs are built for function, and it is truly an example of how form follows function.

Brock currently makes all of his knives in 154CM, but he has done knives in S30V. He prefers 154CM for a combination of performance, price, and ease of manufacture. The 154CM hybrid stainless steel has excellent corrosion resistance, hardness, toughness, and edge retention. This alloy is also very field serviceable; it is easier for users to sharpen and maintain. There are steels that are tougher but harder to field sharpen, there are steel that are easier to field sharpen but are softer. The 154CM strikes the perfect balance at a reasonable price.

One of the knives reviewed here is in 154CM, while the other is S30V. S30V is the en vogue steel for custom knife makers. Like 154CM, S30V is produced by Crucible Steel, and S30V was designed specifically as blade steel. The higher end S30V is excellent steel and is slightly tougher than 154CM, but it is also more expensive. Subjectively, S30V is harder to field sharpen than 154CM.

Combat Options

One of Brock’s base models is the Combat Options. Like most of his knives, it can be ordered within a certain length range, handle preferences and options. The particular Combat Options reviewed here is a variation that will no doubt become popular. While these custom options change pricing, Brock’s pricing for a full custom knife built to your specs is very reasonable. If you want the knife a bit shorter or a bit longer, with or without a swedge, or something specific on the handle, he will do all of these things. Each knife is built by Brock, so customizing is easy to do.

The 4.5-inch blade is S30V with a unique profile. The blade has an Americanized Tanto point with a false top edge, making for great penetration. It isn’t as stout as most Tantos for prying and digging, but it probably does better at penetrating. Unlike most Tanto pattern knives, this Combat Options has a nice belly to the edge for slicing and cutting. It is a closer to a true Japanese Tanto design. The blade profile gives you the best attributes of a Tanto and a drop (or spear) point blade.

All Brock knives are done in a satin finish on the blade because that is all that is necessary on working knives, according to Brock. The satin finish protects against abrasions, and it looks good. Brock doesn’t use any coatings at this point, but we hope at some point it does become an option. While 154CM and S30V are corrosion resistant, a coated blade is aesthetically pleasing to many.

The handle is completely done by Brock. The rounded G10 handle is scalloped and contoured by hand. The scallops give your fingers grooves wherever you grab the handle. The grip is rounded at the pommel and sloped to fit the palm. The handle fits the hand very well and works with gloves. Brock’s G10 handles are some of the best in the business. Everyone instantly comments on the feel.

The Kydex sheath is tight fitting and formed to the particular knife. The sheath has an open mouth funnel for safe resheathing. It comes with a TekLok belt clip that is removable. The sheath was carried on a static line system. This is a loop of 550 cord tied to the bottom of the sheath and looped to the belt. The sheath is tucked in the pant.
When you pull the knife out, the sheath comes with it until the cord runs to the end and the knife snaps out. This is a comfortable and concealable way to carry a fixed blade. It can be carried behind a duty belt or behind a magazine pouch as well. The corrosion resistance of 154CM and S30V is a key quality if you are going to carry a knife inside the waist band due to the close contact to the body.

The Combat Options is an affordable fixed blade that allows users to customize many options. It is rare for under $300 that someone can choose the grind of the blade, the blade style and length and communicate directly with the knife-maker.

Another Version

Brock continues to make new designs and work with folks on their design needs. One example of this is the knife Brock built for fellow tactical operator Scott Oldham. He wanted a utility knife, lightweight and flat to carry for when he is teaching and traveling. And he wanted it to be inexpensive in case it was lost during travel. Brock came up with the Traveling Utility Knife.

This fixed blade uses a para cord wrap to reduce cost and provide a flat carry. The 154CM drop point blade is a chisel grind and is easy to sharpen, which again reduces the cost.

The blade is 3.5 inches long, making it compact and easy to carry on a static cord system or as a neck knife. A 3.5-inch blade easily handles the cutting tasks on ranges, at work and on training sites. The blade is stout enough to handle small digging and prying tasks, and the drop point with a chisel grind gives it a strong spine from tang to tip. The blade has the same satin finish as the Combat Options. The TUK comes with the usual Ken Brock Kydex sheath, which is outstanding.

These are just two examples of Ken Brock’s work that I have personal experience using in the real world. And they really show some—certainly not all—of the depth and scope of Brock’s knife-making ability. The Combat Options is built as a primarily defensive tool with utility as a secondary function. The Traveling Utility Knife is built primarily as a utility knife with any defensive application being secondary.

Form follows function. Brock builds his knives with this idea. He doesn’t try to build a “do it all” knife or put useless features on a knife built for specific purpose. This is possible because of his practical experience using edged tools in the real world and understanding the dynamics of design. Besides these two examples, Brock has many other models such as Tantos built as breaching tools, Persians, the Sgian Duhs, recurves, and more. The fact that Brock uses his knives every day as a cop and his teammates depend on them speaks volumes to their performance.

Mick Williams is a sergeant with the Bloomington Police Department. He is a member of the department’s tactical unit in addition to his assignment as a patrol supervisor. He is a certified instructor in firearms, defensive tactics and emergency vehicle operations. He can be reached at mick.williams@comcast.net.

Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2008

Rating : Not Yet Rated


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