Joe Caswell stunned the knife world this week when he posted a short video of his morphing karambit prototype on social media. Caswell has won multiple awards for mechanical innovations in the past, and brought all his self-taught engineering know-how to bear on this jaw-dropping design. With the excitement the knife has generated, there is little doubt we’ll see a major brand licensing the design very soon. Caswell is already working on a new version, better suited to large scale production.
How does it work?
In its closed position, Caswell’s karambit can fit on your palm. With a squeeze of the hand it slides open into a locked, action-ready position. Caswell tells us he designed the spring-assisted action to be strongly biased towards the closed position through the first half of its deployment travel, and then strongly biased towards opening in the second half. The result is a knife that wants to stay safely closed until it reaches a threshold, at which point it springs open, ready to go.
What are the benefits?
Caswell’s karambit doesn’t require the user to manipulate a thumb stud, opening hole, or flipper. “The karambit is a defensive tool, and deployment of traditional folding karambits has been an inherent weakness,” says Caswell. Like the Emerson wave, the morphing karambit is opened with a single, intuitive gesture; in this case a squeeze of the hand. The wave opener is a familiar feature on folding karambits like the Emerson Combat and the Fox Knives 599. If his knife’s design improves on the wave, Caswell says, it’s because it doesn’t require training or muscle memory to deploy reliably.
Another major consideration was lock strength. “The karambit, as a fighting tool, is often used to control,” Caswell tells us. “That’s a lot of pressure on a lock, and I’m not sure most regular folding knife lock styles are particularly well-suited for that kind of duty.” Caswell’s knife positions the projecting arm against a solid block of metal in the handle when open. This acts like a large stop pin that can absorb a lot of force.
When will it be available?
Despite the overwhelming response to the prototype, Caswell is already working on the next edition. Version 1 encompasses eight main parts and weighs 6 oz. According to Caswell, the next prototype will be smaller, weigh less, and have a lower part count. “LEOs favor karambits, and Version 2 will be optimized as a serious piece of duty gear,” he says.
Caswell has yet to partner with a major knife company, but wants this one-of-a-kind design to find its way into the hands of a capable manufacturer – so much so that Version 2 is being designed with full-scale production in mind. “A quality production piece will put the knife within the reach of more users and allow it to be used hard by the people it is intended to serve,” Caswell says.
> > Keep your folders awesome. Grab a Pack of 5 Microfiber Blade Sleeves for $8.99 < <
Caswell Knives is based in Newbury Park, CA. The 46-year-old knife maker began his career by making pattern-welded swords and knives. He quickly discovered he was more interested in the machinery and tools necessary to make the swords than the swords themselves. Caswell translated this mechanical fascination into an ongoing effort to bring new solutions to old problems with an engineering mindset. The morphing karambit’s clip and transforming action are patent pending.
Knife featured in image: Caswell Knives Morphing Karambit