Story by Jim Cobb, Photos by Jim Cobb, Tammy Cobb and Manufacturer
I’ve long been a fan of Flagrant Beard. Their practical and no-nonsense designs display no wasted effort. Every feature serves a purpose and is supposed to be there.
They do a fair amount of collaborations with other makers, teasing out the best qualities of every design and turning them into something that isn’t just noteworthy, but made for real world use.
I’ve owned both the ForeRunner and the HAVOC for well over a year now. Each has been carried off and on during that time, sometimes together, but more often singly. These are each very different knives from one another.
Let’s start with what the HAVOC is not. It isn’t made for cutting up boxes so your wife doesn’t see everything you’ve ordered from Amazon or DLT Trading. You won’t be using it in the wild to process firewood, make feather sticks, or slice up dinner. For darn sure, you won’t grab the HAVOC when you need to cut up cordage.
This blade has but one purpose – to get someone off of you. And it will do that effectively and efficiently.
The HAVOC is an instinctive tool. In both forward and reverse grips, the knife is incredibly comfortable to hold and deploy. I have fairly large hands and at no time did I feel as though my fingers were cramped in order to properly grip the HAVOC.
The ring has a little nubby on it, which is just screaming to dent the forehead of an opponent. I suppose, with some finesse, it could be used against a pressure point. But, let’s be honest, if you’re pulling this weapon from the sheath, you’re already committed to visiting serious injury against someone.
There is some jimping in a few spots along the handle, but I only really noticed it when I had the knife in a forward grip. In that instance, the jimping is exactly where you want it to be, right where the thumb naturally rests.
The HAVOC is constructed of a single piece of 1095HC steel, with a Rockwell of 56-58. There is a tungsten Cerakote finish, protecting the steel from rust. I’ve had it for over a year and haven’t had any issues at all with discoloration, rust, or anything else along those lines – even in the humid midwest.
It comes with a Kydex sheath that is equipped with two straps, as well as a beaded neck chain. The sheath is designed in such a way that it can fit onto a duty belt easily, as well as be carried in a variety of other positions. Normally, I much prefer leather sheaths, but with the HAVOC, using Kydex makes perfect sense. The knife locks into place, with absolutely no wiggle at all.
As I mentioned at the onset, I’ve had the HAVOC for some time now.
I’ve not yet had occasion to use it as truly intended, but out of curiosity I’ve slashed and stabbed inanimate objects from time to time – particularly ones that seemed threatening, or at least gave me too much side eye. One such offender was a telephone book I found in my dad’s basement as we were cleaning out his house.
After duly warning the phone book that things were about to get real, I began popping the blade in and out. Obviously, this was like stabbing the knife repeatedly into a block of wood. After probably 25 repetitions, I took a look at the blade and the point was entirely unaffected. And again, this is after a year of playing around with it, using it against all manner of threats, such as fruit, boxes, and boards.
Going out into the backyard for further testing, I set up a cantaloupe that had been giving me the stink eye lately and needed some attention. Using an icepick grip, I drove the HAVOC into the melon numerous times, to the point my arm was getting tired. Each time, the HAVOC drove deep into the melon, stopping only because my hand prevented it from going further.
Because why not, I then put the melon down onto a stump and began slashing at it with a forward grip. The fruit was reduced to fruit salad in short order.
I doubt that a chest, neck, or belly would pose much greater challenge to the blade.
The ForeRunner was inspired by Bill Coye’s Ridgeback knife.
They took that classic design and – with Mr. Coye’s blessing – gave it a few tweaks, primarily with thickening the spine. No doubt about it, when you pick up the ForeRunner you instantly know this is a heavy-duty knife.
This is a more traditional sort of knife compared to the HAVOC. It is very slicey, but still has a strong point. The clip point profile is great for most common tasks and chores. Something I find interesting is how the blade is longer than the handle (3.5 inches versus 3.25 inches), yet it feels perfectly balanced. This is common on large knives, but not as much with smaller ones like this. To put it another way, the ForeRunner punches way above its weight class and handles like a much larger knife in many respects.
The ForeRunner is available with either a plain edge or a partially serrated option. I chose the plain edge as it is easier to maintain. I don’t mind serrations when the knife is intended to be used primarily on meat, such as in the kitchen or for self-defense. But, for a do-it-all knife, I prefer a plain edge.
The handle is canvas Micarta with a Rocky Mountain Tread pattern. At first glance, some users might worry about hot spots, as this is an aggressive sort of finish to the scales. However, it is quite comfortable to use, even over long periods of time. There is absolutely no concern about loss of grip, as the pattern really provides a lot of traction – even in wet conditions.
In my hand, this is a three-finger grip handle. I typically shy away from short handled knives, as they sometimes feel awkward. However, the ForeRunner handle isn’t just some wimpy little thing. It is 0.625 inch thick and 1.25 inch at the widest point. It fills the hand and the knife feels solid in a forward grip. Turning the knife to a pikal style grip, it feels less comfortable, less sturdy, but only slightly so.
That said, one advantage of the shorter handle is that the butt seats perfectly in the heel of the palm when thrusting the knife forward. There is no danger of the fingers sliding up to the blade edge.
The Kydex sheath is rather similar to the HAVOC’s sheath – sturdily constructed with Kydex, and loops affixed with Pull-the-Dot fasteners. At 7.5 ounces – including the sheath (5.3 ounces for the knife alone) – this isn’t suited to be any sort of neck knife. But, it works perfectly for belt carry.
Over the last several months I’ve used my ForeRunner for a variety of tasks, including breaking down boxes, cutting cordage, and slicing leather. In each case, the knife performed flawlessly.
Strictly for testing purposes, a couple of days ago I pulled out a thick belt I keep around – strictly for situations like this – and quickly sliced off several pieces. The knife caught and pulled once, but otherwise sliced cleanly through each time. And I’m chalking up that one hesitation to just needing a quick strop after having been used for quite some time.
I then set up an old T-shirt over a board to see how well the knife did with slashing maneuvers. Within just a few swipes, the shirt was reduced to ribbons. Each cut went deep into the wood behind the fabric.
Moving over to the cantaloupe, I turned it over to a fresh side and began using wide slashes with the ForeRunner. Every cut was severe and it didn’t take much for the melon to all but fall apart. I can only imagine the damage that would be inflicted upon an attacker.
The HAVOC is an excellent option for a backup weapon. It is an instinctive blade that is easy to deploy with just a little practice, and is small enough to go almost anywhere, including a duty belt.
The ForeRunner is that rare design that works well as a general EDC knife as well as a defensive weapon. While the somewhat aggressive appearance of the knife might give Karen in Human Resources pause if you pulled it out to open a package, it is small enough that it’ll probably pass muster in most workplaces.
Overall, two thumbs up!
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Blade Material: 1095HC RC 56-58 Blade Length: 2.375 inchesOverall Length: 6.625 inchesCutting Edge: 2.125 inchesBlade Thickness: .25 inchBlade Shape: Tanto w/ false edgeBlade Finish: Tungsten CerakoteHandle Material: Skeletonized and recessed (1/8″ thickness in center)Sheath: Black KydexSheath Attachment: Loop with Pull the Dot SnapsMSRP: $139.99
Blade Material: 1095HC RC 56-58 Blade Length: 3.5 inchesOverall Length: 6.75 inchesCutting Edge: 3.25 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.1875 inchBlade Shape: Straight Clip PointBlade Finish: Tumble Finish (with clear Cerakote for rust prevention)Handle Material: Black Canvas Micarta w/Rocky Mountain Tread Weight: 0.35 poundSheath: Black KydexSheath Attachment: Horizontal loop with Pull the Dot SnapsMSRP: $159.99 – $189.99
Flagrant Beard(931) 994-4707www.FlagrantBeard.com
Jim Cobb is a recognized authority on disaster readiness. He has written several books and is also the Editor in Chief for Prepper Survival Guide magazine. He is a longtime collector of knives, EDC gear, and defense weapons. Jim lives in the upper Midwest with his wife, kids, and a motley crew of dogs and cats.
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