Vagnino’s Convertible Dagger a “No Brainer” for Kizer

As Michael Vagnino wraps up work on just his seventh Convertible Dagger, he says a production version may be in the cards. This wild design drops jaws, with a mechanism that toggles the knife between a straight back knife and a punching dagger.

With prices that start around $2500, most custom Convertible Dagger owners probably keep the knife on display or in a safe. But if it were taken into the outdoors or used in a tactical role, Vagnino insists that it would be more than a conversation piece. “It’s made well enough that you could use it for those things.” Fans of the design who can’t shell out the big bucks will be happy to know that Vagnino, a frequent collaborator with Kizer, hopes to see them roll out a production version. “This would be a no brainer for them. It might just be something I pitch their way.”

Vagnino Convertible Dagger

In its standard ‘open’ position, the Convertible Dagger looks like a 3.5-inch bladed lockback folding knife. But instead of folding closed when users disengage the lock, the Dagger moves into a second open position, turning the knife into a punch dagger. This configuration extends the reach of the blade to 4.5-inches overall. Because it doesn’t fold closed, users can carry the Convertible Dagger in a leather sheath made by Paul Long.

The high-end custom knife comes from surprisingly humble origins. Fellow maker and Visalia, CA resident Ray Laconico found a cheap, poorly-made production version, and brought it to Vagnino’s shop. “I thought it was cool, but not very well-made,” Vagnino tells us. But he saw potential in the rickety design and took it apart to see how it worked. He discovered that the loose tolerances, poor workmanship, and cheap materials hindered what could have been an interesting knife, so Vagnino decided to do it right. “I didn’t re-engineer it, but I improved the quality of the mechanism,” he says.

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Michael Vagnino got his start making knives in the early 90s. “I started by just hammering on steel and trying to make stuff, and I fell in love with it,” he tells us. According to Vagnino, his tinkering streak didn’t begin with the Convertible Dagger. “Most of the knife types I make – like slipjoints and lockbacks – I learned how to make by taking apart other knives and seeing how they worked.”

Vagnino’s latest Convertible Dagger will be available to purchase at the USN Gathering in September.

Knife featured in image: Vagnino Convertible Dagger