TSD Combat System Grab-n-Stab

By Todd Burgreen

While it would be optimum to be a trained martial artist with years of dedicated effort emphasizing hand to hand or knife work, unfortunately this is not the case for most of us. With that said there is nothing to say you cannot still be effective with a knife as a weapon using aggression, force, and commitment to task at hand guiding the action. Our gun based culture cultivated by numerous magazines and other marketing seems to insinuate that the “bad guy” is the one with the knife with the “good guy” is reacting either with firearm or empty hand skills. TSD Combat Systems with the introduction of the Grab-n-Stab (GNS) knife refutes this perception. The TSD thought process for developing the GNS treats the knife as the blade world’s sucker punch, coming from nowhere and deciding the matter in one violent thrust. You don’t announce it (the knife), or wave it (the knife) around, you keep it hidden and out of sight. You give the bigger, stronger opponent the illusion he is that – then strike hard and suddenly without warning.

An interesting article interview involving blade guru James Keating was discovered online some time ago. The date of the conversation is unknown. There was an interesting point made – no pun intended – how East and West could be defined by knife method; East with the edge/slash and West with the point/thrust. What is said next may be both politically incorrect and gross over simplification: the point/thrust as perfected by Western culture tracing roots to Greek/Roman traditions went on to control the world. What is this rambling about and how does it tie into an article in this magazine? Keating went onto describe how this macro emphasis on the point/thrust can be focused on in the micro of a personal defense encounter. Keating stated, “…to stop someone who is trying to kill you, you must access one or two vital organs, and damage them, there's no way you can stop…or kill someone fast who is trying to kill you by slashing….”. This brings us back to our article focus; the TSD Combat Systems Grab-n-Stab (GNS) knife.

Gabriel “Gabe” Suarez is the owner and CEO of TSD Combat Systems, Suarez International, and One Source Tactical. TSD Combat Systems often produces items based on hard learned experiences from its sister organizations. Mr. Suarez is a controversial figure within certain circles for various reasons; some of which are his “out of the box” thinking when it comes to personal defense methods and tools that best serve this mindset. For Gabe, there are no sacred cows immune to slaughter and ruthless efficiency trumps any preconceived notions/opinions put forth by others. Any ideas presented by Mr. Suarez and then backed up with products are well thought out and proofed during numerous training cycles and personal application in the field under the most rigorous conditions. It is with that mindset that TSD developed the Grab-n-Stab knife.

The Grab-n-Stab’s graphic name describes its use and application. You grab, you stab, repeat as necessary. There is a certain purity in the GNS’s simplicity. While not discounting benefits of formal martial arts training, individuals get caught up in the complexities of certain systems forgetting the end goal of effectiveness in personal defense. The Grab-n-Stab is made for proactive/aggressive knife fighting. It is the quintessential small combat knife. As TSD states, “Its use is Paleolithic – intuitive. No art or clever knife drills are needed, just aggression, violence, and a point.” The GNS’s blade is a modified Wharncliffe type. It is designed to cut as it penetrates. This grip is hard anodized aluminum and textured to stay in your hand. Those who know how slippery blood can be will appreciate this attention to detail. The TSD Grab-n-Stab is not meant for repelling or pushing away; it is meant for stabbing and ripping.

The GNS has an overall length of 8.25 inches and blade length of 3.95 inches. The blade is made from 01 Tool Steel with 59-60 RC. A Blade Tech Kydex sheath is provided with the GNS with Tek Lock belt connection allowing for a user to configure carry style as they see fit. The TSD Grab-n-Stab can be viewed in the same way as a combat shotgun; a no non-sense weapon supremely effective in the realm of close range encounters. While the GNS handle facilitates saber grip, ice pick grip, edge in, edge out, the Grab-n-Stab is designed primarily for reverse grip edge-in methods. This gives the user a considerable advantage in disabling an opponent no matter proficiency or lack thereof. A dedication to reverse edge methodology requires a knife that can be drawn with the edge on the inside. The GNS’s handle profile is conducive to working reverse grip edge-in compared to most other knives that are not. Most knives have a handle configured with edge to the outside when used with an ice pick grip and are not comfortable to grip with the edge facing inside.

Reverse edge methods should not be labeled as only for the unskilled. More and more reverse edge methods are being recognized for efficiency and effectiveness in real world situations. Each knife grip has advantages and disadvantages. Holding the knife in one of the forward grips allows for more finesse and a longer reach, while a reverse grip allows for more power. Double-edged knives may work for reverse edge methods, but in many areas, carrying a double-edged knife is illegal. Knife laws are more convoluted than firearm regulations in most areas. The GNS design accommodates these laws with its single edge and blade dimension.

Anyone interested in further study of reverse edge methods would do well to consult training and literature of Suarez International, James Keating and a trainer going by the name of “Southnarc.” Southnarc is a great resource and leading proponent of reverse edge. From a background in the Pekiti-tersia branch of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Southnarc views knife usage through the prism of street reality, based on many years’ experience as an undercover narcotics officer in a southern U.S. jurisdiction. Reverse edge methods are typically more instinctive and natural in use compared to other knife methodologies; thus, favoring individuals who are not immersed into a martial art system, yet aware of the benefits/advantages of pursuing a certain level of familiarity with knife usage. This well rounded personal defense approach is what I have encountered most with fellow students in the numerous training courses attended over the years.

The TSD Grab-n-Stab’s modified Wharncliffe style blade keeps the cutting edge in contact with the surface longer than many other blade styles. The Wharncliffe style of blade is typified by a fairly straight cutting edge with the spine rounded convexly downward to meet the point. This makes and creates a strong point design for bearing down and applying pressure. Understanding based on research for this article is that once the blade makes contact, it stays there regardless of whether initial contact was at the tip or midway down the blade. In addition, the large “wedge” that is apparent on the top forward edge of the GNS blade enhances the penetration of the blade when stabbing. As the blade enters the “wedge” forces the cutting edge down as it moves forward, shearing along its length and penetrating extremely well. For personal defense, this allows the knife to penetrate very effectively, even through heavy clothing. It’s kind of like being a “large caliber” knife – a bigger cut means a more significant wound channel. The large “back” or “wedge” also allows better placement of the thumb, which enhances one’s ability to apply downward pressure. With the wrist at a natural angle (approximately 135 degrees), it allows the user to apply full force to the cut and maintain it until the substance being cut reaches the tip and the blade releases contact. With a Wharncliffe style blade, one can dump power into the cut regardless of whether they are stabbing, slashing or chopping with the knife – it doesn’t matter. It should also be noted that the straight Wharncliffe style blade is very easy to sharpen, even with a basic sharpening stone.

Some will question the extremely pointed tip of the GNS blade, in that it is too fragile. If they intend to pry with the blade they would be right. The GNS is not a general purpose knife. The TSD Grab-n-Stab’s blade is designed to penetrate soft objects such as tissue. Testing has shown that the force required to penetrate tissue is directly related to the sharpness/fineness of the tip. The sharp tip combined with the extreme ramp-like shoulder results in the GNS penetrating deeply very quickly. It also allows the knife to be removed easily instead of binding-up in the target thus facilitating rapid multiple strikes.

The Grab-n-Stab was carried in various positions during evaluation thanks to its adjustable Blade Tech sheath. Strong side and weak side was possible along with vertical and horizontal orientation with stops in between. Further methods of carry are possible by removing the Blade Tech Tek Lock belt connection and going inside the waistband with lanyard method used to unsheathe the blade as it is deployed. A considerable amount time was spent proofing if a fixed blade the size of the GNS was practical for discrete carry while maintaining ability to access for use. The GNS is capable of both stand-alone personal defense in its own right as well as in conjunction with a handgun. User preference and discretion will decide what best suits their environment and perceived threat level. There is no doubt that the GNS would be at home on web gear or chest rig of any soldier, law enforcement, or security conscience civilian with a chance of coming into direct action contact with a foe.

TSD literature featuring writings of Gabe Suarez sum up the purpose of the Grab-n-Stab, “No matter how strong you are, there will be someone stronger. No matter how big you are, you will find someone bigger… the knife evens the odds. Grab it tight… like a pissed off and scared monkey with a sharp spike. Attack fast and hard and repeatedly… Pain and rapid blood loss will serve as the vehicles of stopping power here. Think tearing and ripping not stabbing.” Choosing a knife is probably even more of a personal decision than a firearm. Some will question veracity of the GNS with its focus on reverse grip/edge-in use; others will appreciate its simple design methodology based on what TSD Combat Systems’ experience dictates as a solid design.

TSD Combat Systems
1616 Iron Springs Road
Prescott, AZ 86305

This article first appeared in SmallArmsReview.com on February 14, 2014


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