KA-BAR Drops First Special Release from State & Union Custom Shop

KA-BAR is opening the doors on its State & Union custom shop with the Tuko fixed blade. The new knife comes from stalwart collaborator Ethan Becker, and like the company’s recent documentary series it is intended to celebrate KA-BAR’s 120th year in the knifemaking business.

Ethan Becker’s Tuko takes its name and inspiration from the Japanese Santoku knife. KA-BAR’s Joseph Bradley points out that Becker’s mother and grandmother authored the world famous The Joy of Cooking, and he’s no slouch in the kitchen either. “Ethan is also a world-class chef,” Bradley says.

We see most KA-BAR fixed blades sporting their signature 1095 Cro-Van, but the Tuko’s 5.1-inch blade comes outfitted with premium S35VN steel. The handle scales are unusual bone linen Micarta, and the Holstex sheath features finger grooves to allow for easy extraction. The Tuko fills the role of camp kitchen knife for adventurers. “We envision this as a camp cooking knife, and camping and cooking align with everything that is Ethan Becker,” Bradley says.

In addition to celebrating KA-BAR’s 120th anniversary, the Tuko also marks the first full run from their State & Union custom shop. State & Union will operate as a platform for individual makers to hone their skills on small batch runs of high-end knives. “The goal is to create cutlers, much like in the early years of KA-BAR,” Bradley explains. “The biggest difference between State & Union and KA-BAR is the amount of work done by hand on the products.”

In 2017 State & Union had its test flight with the Pacific Theater knives, and since then KA-BAR has been growing and stabilizing the new operation. “The biggest challenge was obtaining the knowledge to get a shop up and running,” Bradley tells us. “KA-BAR is a factory of mass production. State & Union is a small, nimble shop that we hope will provide the flexibility mass production does not allow for.”

The first 120 piece run of the Tuko is available now, and Bradley says we can expect other State & Union projects to surface later this year. A standard production version of the Tuko isn’t out of the question, but KA-BAR will need to see how well this first batch performs. “We will have to wait and see. Once they sell out, we will see how folks like them.”

Knife featured in image: KA-BAR Becker Tuko