Kingdom Armory Mini Rogue Mid-Tech Marks the End of an Era

David Rydbom of Kingdom Armory is transitioning back into custom only work after finng up what he says will be his last production project, the Mini Rogue mid-tech.

The Mini Rogue, as the name implies, is a shrunk-down version of the full-sized Kingdom Armory Rogue. It brings the length of the modified drop point blade down to 2.75 inches from 3.5, which makes it more widely-legal here in the US, although Rydbom says that fact is a bit of a happy accident. “I suppose it was less of a decision regarding the 50 states as it was about my own personal preferences toward the best EDC-sized folder,” he tells us. “Every time I’ve shrunk a design down…ie: the Samaritan, the Unagi, and now the Rogue…I end up setting the full-sized version down and only carrying the smaller one.”

Every Kingdom Armory design, even one destined for a production run, starts out as a custom prototype, hand made by Rydbom in his shop. He elaborated on the particular difficulties in doing some knife shrinking by hand. “Going through the ‘honey I shrunk the knife’ exercise always requires taking the hardware and now custom-making it to a smaller scale, reducing all the materials in thickness, and finding all the other parts in equivalents that look like their bigger brothers. It’s a fiddly thing, shrinking it all down…smaller parts to fumble with, tighter tolerances, and now harder things to see.”

The Mini Rogue’s blade shape is a Kingdom Armory classic

In the end, Rydbom manages to get those fiddly details right and, with longtime OEM partner Chad Nichols, produced this batch of 200 Mini Rogues. The knife is produced in Nichols’ shop, then sent to Rydbom for hand-sharpening and tuneup. They are, in other words, classic mid-tech style knives, which are kind of a dying breed – a fact that Rydbom is acutely aware of. “This project has triggered a lot of self-reflection and hard lessons learned regarding the new realities of this industry,” he disclosed. “I’m proud of the product Chad Nichols turned out here. I personally like the design, and carry one myself daily. But, this will be the last production project I do.”

So, for 2023 and beyond, Rydbom will go back to his roots. “Moving forward, I’ll be focusing on dropping back into solely building customs. Unique, one-off, and/or one at a time is where my focus remains and my skill set is best-suited.” He also wants to create “teaching module” videos for other aspiring custom makers. “Being self-taught, I believe I developed unique ways to build, market, and sell knives that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Rydbom explains. “There’s probably some interest and value there to new makers, and I think true wisdom is being willing to learn just not from your mistakes, but from others’ mistakes before you have to make them for yourself.”

And just because Rydbom himself will not be turning out production stuff, doesn’t mean he won’t be partnering with full-fledged manufacturers to do so when opportunities arise. He points to his recent Spyderco collaboration, the Stovepipe, as an example. “I’d like to see that relationship grow, and new designs make the jump into the Spyderco lineup like the Butcher [the custom knife that the Stovepipe was based on] finally did. There are a lot of well-run companies out there that are set up to balance the production game better than I am, and if I can provide them with designs that get to market without burning my fingers and hitting a build cost I couldn’t… well that feels like a win, win.”

If you want to grab the historic last Kingdom Armory production piece, the Mini Rogue is available now.

Knife in Featured Image: Kingdom Armory Mini Rogue

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