Cop Quits Force to Focus on Knife Making

Up-Armored Knives

Will Welling recently retired as a Police Officer to concentrate on growing his knife company Up-Armored Knives. His newest release, the Copperhead, signals the shape of things to come and embodies his user-oriented style.

The Copperhead looks like a straightforward working knife – and that’s part of its charm. “My designs aren’t very innovative, but they are proven workhorses,” Welling says. The knife has a 3.87-inch 1095 Cro-Van drop point blade and a simple, comfortable handle. This no-frills tool plays into Welling’s philosophy of what a work-ready knife should be.

Welling says the Copperhead, like all his designs, benefits from subtle, performance-oriented refinement. Many are familiar with 1095 steel, but Welling opts for 1095 Cro-Van. “I can’t think of many other custom makers using that steel right now,” he says. Added elements in the Cro-Van version impart more exceptional wear resistance and toughness – which Welling enhances further with a full convex grind.

Kydex sheaths can end up damaging knife blades if particles find their way into the sheath out in the field. “A little grain of sand will act like a diamond in there,” Welling explains. To absorb debris, he coats the interior of all Up-Armored sheaths with automotive-grade synthetic suede, which offers the added benefit of quieting any rattle.

Located in West Valley, New York, Up-Armored began as a blade coating service for Welling and his fellow officers. Eventually, he was fulfilling requests nationwide, even taking orders from the FBI. Years of coating knives helped develop designs of his own. “That’s how it all started. I looked at those knives and said, ‘This isn’t so complicated, I can make these.’”


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Earlier this year, Welling retired from the force to pursue knife making full-time. He signed on with KA-BAR’s new State & Union custom shop, which recently produced the Pacific Theater Knife. “They offered me a position that was hard to turn down,” he says.

Up-Armored Knives Copperhead

Welling continues to refine his designs alongside the work at KA-BAR. He even developed a new handle material (shown above) – a combination of carbon fiber, burlap, and copper that he calls ‘Dragon’s Breath.’ New products and ideas will continue to flow from Up-Armored. Several designs are in the works, including an emergency self-defense knife and (someday) a folder. “Eventually that’s the plan,” Welling says.


Knife featured in image: Up-Armored Knives Copperhead

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