Olamic Gambit: Serge Panchenko Strikes Again with Offbeat Design

“It’s kind of a love it or hate it design, which is cool,” Olamic Tactical Founder Eugene Solomonik told us. From the eccentric mind of designer Serge Panchenko and the custom production facilities of Olamic Tactical comes the Gambit, a collaboration that blurs the line between custom and production knives.

The Gambit’s unusual blade shape might look odd, but according to Solomonik the knife feels functional: “It’s super comfortable – it might look a little ‘weird’ but it’s great in the hand, and the swoop in the top of the blade is perfect to put your thumb there to get a ton of control. The design really grew on me. I’ve been carrying one for a while and I’m really excited about it,” he says.”We wanted a small knife, something with a 3 inch blade, because we thought it’d be a good fit within our product line. Everything we make is sort of big and tactical, whereas this is smaller and quirky,” Solomonik says.  Panchenko is known for imaginative designs – he also designed the Spyderco Roc, the first production folder with a cleaver style blade.

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Established in 2010, Olamic Tactical is a young company on a mission to make usable knives that stand the test of time. “The word ‘olamic’ is actually an old word meaning ‘something that can last through eternity,'” explains Solomonik. “Our slogan is ‘never the same.’ We make the knives one at a time, and there are so many things you can do on these knives that we can make a run of 100 or even 200 and each one is a one-off.”

The line between custom and production knives used to be much clearer. Production knives were made by machine; custom knives, by hand. Production knives were all the same; custom knives, all unique. Production knives were sold in stores; custom knives, direct from the maker’s shop. But Olamic Tactical is comfortable moving freely between the two categories. Some of their knives’ components are made by machines in batches, but blade grinding, scale contouring, lock fitment, final finishing, pocket clip, inlays, and carving are all done by hand. In fact, the Gambit doesn’t use any CNC machining whatsoever.

Some aspects of their designs are predetermined, but there’s still room for a huge amount of customization. With the Gambit, “Serge made the prototype, named it, specified all the features it must have, but gave us a lot of freedom in how we build them,” says Solomonik. “The steel on all these will always be S30V and the liners will always be titanium, but other than that a customer can specify absolutely everything else. We can do bolsters, inlays .. we work with just about any material and do different finishing.” Olamic Tactical knives are sold through dealers all over the world, but it’s just as easy to call up their shop in Visalia, California to order one for yourself.

Knife featured in image: Olamic Gambit