BlackHawk Blades is the brainchild of Mike Noell and Michael Janich. Noell, a combat-decorated Navy SEAL, is the CEO of BlackHawk Products Group. He started the company because some of his equipment failed during a mission, and he believed he could make better products.

Hiring Michael Janich to make edged tools for BlackHawk is evidence of how serious Noell is about making those great products. Janich is an internationally renowned knife expert and closequarter-combat instructor. He also has operational experience with the NSA, Army Intelligence, and with teams that searched for Vietnam POWs in Southeast Asia.

Janich’s BlackHawk Blade designs are meant for the operator who needs a quality knife but who lives on a limited budget. The knives are produced by Seki of Japan, a company known for making high-quality knives at an affordable price.

The first product from BlackHawk Blades is the Crucible knife. Many readers may think the knife is named for the last week of Marine Boot Camp, “The Crucible.” This knife would survive that endurance test, but it’s actually named for the Crucible Training Center, a division of Kroll Security. Crucible Training Center is headed by S. Kelly McCann, a former Marine who wrote tactical defense books under the pen name “Jim Grover.” McCann is a been-there-done-that operator who is regarded by many as one of the most versatile instructors in the world. He has also delivered a keynote at TREXPO West.

BlackHawk Blades’ Crucible comes in two versions: a fixed blade and a folder. The Crucible folder is more suited for daily use by most folks in uniform or for daily off-duty carry. For this reason, let’s look at the folding version of the knife.

The first thing I noticed about the Crucible folder was its weight. At a little more than a pound, this is a beefy knife. But that can be good. The weight allows the Crucible to be used as an impact weapon, if need be. It can also be used to break a window.

When you pick up the Crucible folder, you will notice it fills your grip, giving you a feeling that it belongs in your hand. The frame has finger scallops that your hand cradles and grips fully. These scallops work well no matter the grip you have on the knife.

To ensure you have a firm hold on the knife, the Crucible’s grip is made of textured G10. This material is virtually indestructible and impervious to most chemicals you’ll encounter on duty. The grip is enhanced by serrations on the spine, the heel of the frame, and under the finger groove portion of the blade. Under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t lose your grip on the Crucible folder. However, if you work in a high-risk environment, such as waterborne operations, the knife’s lanyard loop could come in handy.

Take a close look at this knife, and you will notice four sets of holes in the grip frame. These holes allow you to place the clip to accommodate how you place and carry the knife. That may seem like a minor thing, but most knife designs don’t allow you to choose the mode of carry. For example, I prefer to have the clip opposite the blade’s pivot point; this puts my index finger on the thumb stud when I draw the knife. Most clip-it knives have the clip at the pivot point, and I have to flip the knife for smooth opening of the blade.

The Crucible’s blade is made of ATS 34 stainless. This steel is corrosion resistant, takes and holds a sharp edge, and is easily sharpened when dull. Since this is a working knife, the drop-point blade is hollow ground to give it additional strength. Lastly, the blade has a matte finish to reduce glare and give the metal additional corrosion resistance.

If you’re going into harm’s way, the Crucible folder would be a good choice to add to your kit. It’s a heavy knife, but it offers you a lot of flexibility and versatility. The Crucible folder is available in plain or serrated versions, and it will survive whatever you put it through.

Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active-duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.