Bark River Knives owner Mike Stewart is once again diving into the history books for inspiration. Like with the Canoe, which debuted in July, Stewart found a classic design from the Marbles Knives catalog and gave it new life. The result is the brand new Bark River Ringtail, a narrow-handled knife with a stout blade made practical by the presence of a karambit-style finger ring.
The Ringtail is a reimagining of the Marbles Trout Knife, a pattern first introduced by the Michigan-based knife company in 1919 (shown below). The original Trout Knife was made with fly fishermen in mind, and had a simple but key innovation in its design: a ring at the butt end of the handle. Users could hook their pinky through the ring, or attached a cord to it, to keep the knife close by even when their hands were otherwise occupied.
Stewart made some noticeable modifications to the popular Trout Knife design when he drew up the Ringtail. The ring, which is centered on the original Marbles knife, is dropped and slightly off-center on the Ringtail. The Trout Knife had a thin, fillet knife-like blade, but the Ringtail has a more versatile 2.57” drop point blade shape. The steel has also been given a massive upgrade. The first run of Ringtails will be run in CPM-154, which Stewart says offers the best combination of toughness and corrosion resistance among today’s popular super steels.
The finger ring strongly resembles the ones found on many modern karambit-style fighting knife designs, but Stewart is clear to emphasize the Ringtail is not designed to be a tactical knife. “Most of what people call ‘tactical’ today is fairly useless,” Stewart says. “Real tactical knives are fairly rudimentary and stout, and made for a soldier to abuse.”
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Stewart says the Ringtail is intended to be an EDC fixed blade. “It’s a really nice neck knife,” he says. With a 2 oz. weight and an ambidextrous rare earth magnet sheath, the Ringtail can be carried easily under a shirt or on a belt. It also can serve as a low-profile hunting knife for those with the skill to use small knives for such tasks. “I would have no problem field-dressing a deer with this thing,” Stewart tells us.
Bark River says they are already pre-polishing the first batch of Ringtails. If you want to be the first to own one, KnivesShipFree confirmed the knives will hit their website sometime next week. The dealer is only a five-minute drive from the Bark River Shop in Escanaba, Michigan. The retail price is still to be determined.
Knife featured in image: Bark River Knives Ringtail