Ray Laconico and Sanford Owen’s MBK Brand Readies First In-House Design

Monterey Bay Knives, the production knife company started by custom makers Ray Laconico and Sanford Owen, is hard at work on the Old Guard, the first knife designed by, and exclusively for, MBK itself.

The Old Guard is all about simplicity. From tip to tail, the knife aims to be fill a classic, utilitarian EDC role. “We wanted something really functional…that will perform well in whatever you need to cut,” Laconico explains. “Our idea or topic when we started was: ‘simple and timeless design with thumbstuds and washers.'”

The flat ground drop point blade measures about 3.5 inches in length, which gives it the flexibility to handle a wide swathe of reasonable folding knife cutting chores without pushing it too far into more specialized chores with exaggerated dimensions. The no-nonsense blade shape is backed up by M390 steel, which offers reliable performance across the board, with particularly high marks in edge retention and corrosion resistance.

In their drive for utter simplicity, Laconico and Owen are eschewing a flipper design here, opting for the tried and true thumb stud instead. Additionally, the Old Guard will be adhering to tradition in terms of its pivot mechanics, with washers instead of ball bearing runners in the assembly. “It’ll be going a little back in time to something more original and long-standing,” Owen tells us. “Thumb studs and washers will always be cool.”

The handle, too, is pure simplicity. The designers created a profile that is familiar in its contours and overall shape. A single, shallow finger groove is the only element approaching a flourish, and it pulls double duty as an access point for disengaging the titanium frame lock. Like virtually all titanium frame locks today, the Old Guard’s has a steel interface insert, and for the front scale users will have a choice between Micarta or carbon fiber.

Monterey Bay Knives was started in 2017. While the Old Guard is the first knife designed together by the in-house team, it is not MBK’s first release. Previously we’ve seen the Sprocket, a Gerry McGinnis design, as well as the VLD from Peter Carey. Laconico himself has brought two of his custom designs over in the form of the EWC and the XLC as well. “MBK only works with people we know and are close with in the industry and we do this strictly for fun,” Owen says. And Laconico adds that for the near future anyway the focus is likely to remain on their own work. “I would not rule out collabs with other makers but we have nothing planned. We are sticking with in-house designs as far as I can see.”

According to the MBK team, the Old Guard is expected to release later this year and there is much more to come. “We have some fun stuff coming up we can’t share just yet, but you can count on a few versions of the EZC in the future,” Owen hints. “We have a lot of energy between the two of us and we’re motivated so I think MBK will be doing cool stuff for a long time,” Laconico adds.

Knife in Featured Image: Monterey Bay Knives Old Guard