Sheathless Fixed Blade Ready for Release After Year of Testing

Last February we were introduced to a prototype knife called the Raider Creek, first effort from a new outfit called Badfeather Knives.

The Raider Creek was a “sheathless fixed blade,” where the single piece blade/tang component moved through a titanium handle piece, and locked into place with a lever bolt. The entire knife could also be disassembled and reassembled without any tools. At the time, Dan Vorhis, Badfeather founder and inventor of the Raider Creek, was still weighing his options when it came to a production run of the Raider Creek. Now the time has come, with the Raider Creek EDC (as the final production version is officially known) releasing later today.

The Raider Creek EDC will be available for purchase today, November 20th 2023, at 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern. The initial run consists of 500, individually serialized pieces. The design is very similar to the prototype we saw in February 2022, albeit benefiting from a year of refinement and testing (see interview below for more details). One important addition is the option to purchase the Raider Creek “Blade-S” replacement blade; this blade has a small spring arm that provides tactile feedback when the Raider Creek is in the fully open and fully closed positions, at the expense of some of the smoothness in deployment.

We spoke to Vorhis about the Raider Creek EDC and his other plans last week; here is our full interview:

Tell me a little bit about the year since we first wrote about the Raider Creek; what has the process to make this knife a production reality been like?

We used 2023 to fine tune the design. Most people wouldn’t notice much difference, though. For example, the Lock Nut design used to have an even number of teeth. There are now an odd number, and a few more teeth. This provides for much finer adjustment. I’ll buy a beer for the first person at the 2024 Blade Show in Atlanta who can tell me why the odd number improves adjustment options. A few other tweaks – the pocket hanger is now on the side opposite the spine of the blade, the neodymium magnet is a little bigger, things like that.

A lot goes into getting a new product ready for production. Fine tuning the engineering drawings, sourcing the best vendors and getting things squared away with them, acquiring the right equipment to do the in-house work, talking to the bank, convincing your wife to talk to the bank, taking care of the intellectual property, and on and on. I’ve done similar projects as a designer as an employee in another life. Trust me, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go south at every step, especially for a product that breaks new ground. But (knock on wood) things have gone pretty smoothly for this project so far. This is mostly a tribute to the vendors, who really are pros. Hats off to them, I list them on our website:

Now that the RC has been around for a bit and has made its way to some users, what has the feedback been like; how does it feel to see your design out in the world, doing work?

As a designer, you love to see your designs out there and people happily using them, of course. Had I launched with our first prototypes, it could have been ugly. That is one thing I learned at a former employer (MSR Inc., Seattle, WA). At MSR, we generally did a pretty thorough job of testing innovative product before offering it for sale. “Test and redesign” feedback loops were usually built into the design process. We used the gear before our customers did. Design mods were expected. That testing saved our ass sometimes, and blunted the edge of a catastrophe other times. I learned that not every company tests like that! 

We don’t have the space to go into detail here, but one of my early key design conceptions exhibited sporadic problems in function for the first round of prototypes. Once the problem was understood, the solution was simple, and the resulting mechanism was reliable and robust. But had we launched with the first version…not fun.

Three guys who are familiar with this knife let me do a short video of their thoughts – you can find those videos website under “Testimonials”. I hope to add many more videos to this page over time.

Have any major changes been made to the design or materials in preparation for this release? As far as I can tell it’s pretty close to the prototype I handled, if not identical. 

The blade/tang of this production version of the Raider Creek is entirely US made. Six different companies were involved in its manufacture, no kidding. I am pretty excited about the quality, knowing what went into it.

Most likely, only someone would had been working with and caring for this knife and its earlier versions for a few months would recognize and, perhaps, appreciate the changes of the past year, though.

The Blade-S provides feedback in the fully open and closed positions

After this first batch sells out, how long will it be before another batch is ready?

Well it shouldn’t take a year! Key vendors will know this knife now, so we should be more efficient. One thing I probably will NOT do again is engrave consecutive numbers on HRC60 powder metallurgy steel with a CNC mill and carbide bits! It looks nice, and I’ve gotten pretty good at sharpening those bits by hand, but I have to change the bit out every 5 knives, and my wife won’t do it.

What’s next after the RC? Are there solid plans now for a follow-up using the same sheathless sliding design?

The sheathless fixed blade concept has a bunch of applications – Raider Creek just scratches the surface. Not everybody can afford a working pocket EDC with a titanium handle and an awesome powder metallurgy stainless blade – I’d like to serve those folks, too.

Beyond that, there are knives for tackle boxes and tool boxes, picnic and travel knives, infant proof knives – tons of ways this idea can make itself useful.

Knife in Featured Image: Badfeather Knives Raider Creek EDC

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