The MAP Knife Report: Great News for the Soldiers, Bad News for the Enemy!!

by: Major Ian Humphrey

The  Military Award Program (MAP) Knife!

I have the distinct honor of testing the new MAP knife before they head into harm's way with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq.  This knife started as the old Aviator model from Relentless Knives, but soon Dan Certo created an entirely new model.  Once anyone handles this knife, they will soon notice the biggest feature about this knife: everything with the new MAP knife has a purpose, in other words, no "fluff" on this knife!  Many knives claim to be for "tactical" purposes, but the new MAP knife proves it.

First Impressions

     The MAP knife is not a dainty knife.  It is 1/4" thick and heavy in the hand.  The blade length of five inches was chosen to optimize carry comfort while still being long enough for most cutting tasks.  The handle length of five inches was also well thought through to allow plenty of handle for gloved use, and long enough to allow the user to choke up on the knife despite a double cross guard.  There is an exposed pommel for pounding, and also a wire breaker that turned out to be very effective in breaking different types of wire (even concertina wire).  The double cross guard prevents the hand from accidentally riding up onto the blade, and includes two holes to aid in lashing the knife to a pole for a makeshift spear.  There is almost three inches of serrations along the top of the knife that are extremely effective on green and dry wood, and should be able to saw through light metal with ease.  The upper two and a half inches of the blade is flat to allow for a baton or similar object to pound the knife for chopping wood, wire, etc.  There is even a cord cutter built into the choil of the blade to save the blade's edge when you need to cut a lot of 550 cord for Air Assault missions, dummy cords, etc.  There is also a lanyard with each knife, which came in handy when chopping wood and using the "snap cut" technique. 

In The Field

     In order to get a true feel for the new MAP knife, I decided to test it during a survival outing in the woods.  Using only the MAP knife and a Pocket Survival Pack (which I will review in the future), I created everything I needed to survive the night in a cold, windy New York climate in March.  I carried the knife the entire time in the included Spec Ops sheath and found that despite the weight of the knife, I never noticed it until I needed the blade for a task.  The knife was used to trim branches and cut wood for a shelter, as well as cutting wood for a fire.  The serrations were used for making fuzz sticks
to aid in starting the fire, as well as notches in a pole to help in lashing the knife for a spear, as well as creating a makeshift fishing pole.  The serrations also came in handy for making start cuts in wood to help split bigger branches, and a heavy stick was used to strike the top of the knife to split wood.  While doing all of this, I wore standard issue black work gloves and found the handle ample in length and comfortable to grip.  The included lanyard was used to help in snap cuts as well as preventing the blade from flying out of my hand during chopping.  I tested the exposed pommel by pounding in some sharpened stakes I made and found the one-inch long length more than enough for effective hammering.  I tested the wire breaker on some old rusty wire I found in the woods, and once I got the hang of how to use the breaker, I could break the old wire in less than 10 seconds per strand.  I even found some concertina wire (current “barbed” wire used by the military) in the field and was pleasantly surprised to find that with a little more effort, the wire breaker was able to break this heavy-duty wire.  The double cross guard protected my hand during chopping, and the two holes proved really handy in lashing the knife to a pole for a makeshift spear.  I also liked the cord cutter that is cleverly built into the choil since it can save the blade edge when you need to cut a lot of cord.  I also found the cord cutter to work effectively with the blade edge pointing away from you, as well as towards you. 
 

Sheath

     The MAP knife comes with a well-made Spec Ops brand sheath.  These sheaths are made in the United States and include a ton of features.  The sheath has a kydex insert that keeps the knife secure in the sheath and protects the user from the blade.  The lip of the kydex insert is expanded to help guide the knife into the sheath.  The handle strap is adjustable to allow you to choose how securely you want the strap around the knife.  One of the best features of the sheath are the split loops for attaching the sheath to belts, MOLLE vests, etc.  They are backed with Velcro to allow a custom fit to whatever it is being attached to, as well as snaps that allow the user to attach and take off the sheath without removing your belt, etc.  The split loops also "move" with a person and allow the sheath to flex and not move along your belt (a real plus in my opinion since I have had several sheaths ride all along my belt).  There are also several loops along the back of the sheath, as well as grommets and plenty of 550 cord, to allow for more attachment options.  The sheath I tested was there survival sheath model, and features an expandable pocket on the sheath.  While the pocket is too small to fit a Surefire flashlight or spare 9mm magazine, it is large enough to hold survival supplies, sharpening stone, etc. 

Dislikes

     There were only a few minor issues that I had with the new MAP knife, and Dan intends to fix them before the final MAP knives are made.  While the handles are more rounded then some of the models I have tested, they could still be more rounded to improve long-term comfort.  I would also suggest using 550 cord instead of leather for the lanyard.  After hard use, the leather started to fray.  My only other issue with the knife would be to have some more space between the wire breaker and the handle slabs.  Currently, the handle slabs stop right at the wire breaker and I found they got in the way while trying to break the concertina wire.  In terms of the sheath, my only two complaints were the small pocket in the front, and the Velcro on the adjustable handle strap tended to get caught as I sheathed the blade.  Since I like the idea of being able to adjust how tight the handle strap is, this is a minor annoyance.

Overall

     Dan Certo has created an incredible knife that will be treasured and well used by deserving Soldiers in harm's way.  This knife is not some showpiece that is "tactical" in name only.  The new MAP knife is designed to offer a lifetime of service and to be used in the field.  Every item on this knife has a purpose and the included sheath is a perfect compliment.  The knife performed every task I did without a problem and was a perfect balance between size and weight.  Soldiers could not ask for a better knife then the new Relentless MAP knife!

.............................................................

These reports,tests and reviews  are the result of lots of hard work by Capt' Humphrey.
They are objective, and unedited by me.
Their purpose is to give you an unbiased opinion of the product, and for me to,  through test and reiew bring you the best product available...

Take it with you on your next adventure. It's built to withstand extreme conditions, and waiting to become your faithful companion.

Also remember to send photos of your adventures for our "ABOUTYOU" webpages.

I'm sure you'll be pleased. . Thanks for your interest, Dan Certo.




     
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Ian's tests and reviews  are the result of allot of hard work on his part. The results
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The opinions expressed in these tests and reviews are mine alone and not the official opinion of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or United States Government.