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When Christopher Doner met up with the infamous combat knife thrower Jason Johnson, he learned about Jason’s Sabertooth knife, soon to go into production with M3 Tactical Tech. We have a full breakdown of Christopher’s review of the knife in our print issue of Knives Illustrated, and it’s a great read!

Jason and Christopher were also good enough to explain the function behind all the different design elements and features of the knife. Jason designed the Sabertooth with every element to play a role, and we’re about to find out what they do, because, while a knife may look and work great, there’s good reason! —Editor

Here are the details, from Christopher Doner:

Thumb Recess

The Sabertooth has a recessed section along the spine, just above the ricasso, where the user places the thumb for better control when using the knife as a tool. This recessed section serves a dual purpose when the knife is thrown, from what Jason refers to as a full grip, with the thumb on the spine.

Every inch of the Sabertooth handle is purposefully built.

Jason said, “It retards the spin 20% more than a straight platform would.”

Handle Width and Taper

The width of the Sabertooth just before the ricasso, where the handle transitions into the blade, is 1 1/8″ wide. As you move back toward the finger recess, it tapers to 1″ then flairs back to 1 1/8″ just below that recess. From there, the handle tapers to 7/8″ at the pommel.

This feature was inspired by the shape of the human hand. It allows you to grip the handle completely and squarely. It also aids in throwing by allowing the handle to exit the hand with minimal resistance.

The Pommel

The Sabertooth’s pommel has some unique design features that are a testament to Jason’s years of experience, and the trial and error that come with that experience. His design includes two offset 45-degree angle corners; one on the edge side (1/2″ long) and the other on the spine side (1/4″ long).

Even the angles on the pommel have specific functions.

The offset angled corners help prevent steel mushrooming, should the knife impact on the pommel end when thrown. Mushrooming of the steel can potentially cause injury to your hand if you attempt to throw the knife again. The focused taper of the pommel can act as a hammer in bushcraft applications, as well as an impact weapon at close range. Jason designed the angled corners to assist with throwing applications, too. If the knife were to impact backward when thrown in combat, the pronounced pommel would hit with enough force to incapacitate the threat. Finally, the longer 45-degree corner on the blade side of the Sabertooth can potentially aid in turning the blade into the target should that corner hit the target first. In essence, a hit on that corner would spin the edge side around and into the target.

Handle Scales

Jason Johnson put a lot of thought into every detail of his Sabertooth design. Even the handle scales have purpose-built features.

To prevent damage to the handle scales if the knife impacts flat along the spine, Jason recessed the scales 1/16” around the entire perimeter. They are recessed slightly more at the pommel, where impact on a target could potentially break handle slabs.

The handle scales are also beveled at a 45-degree angle along the entire perimeter. This not only reduces hot spots when holding the knife, it purposefully allows you to feel the steel of the full tang blade.

The spine of the Sabertooth blade aids in penetration when throwing.

Jason says, “With the recess and bevel — a positive engagement of your thumb along the spine of the knife further aids in the sense of direction when throwing.”

The flat sides of the handle scales have strategically spaced recessions that act as index points for the index finger and pinky finger when holding the knife. This allows you to grip the knife by feel alone. The recessions enhance your grip without being overly textured. The flat G-10 handle slabs with recessions strike the perfect balance between grip retention and proper delivery when thrown.

The Spine

Jason designed the spine of the Sabertooth with a 30-degree crown, which he says aids in penetration when throwing, but is also useful in bushcraft. The tapered spine allows you to reduce or avoid prematurely dulling the blade while performing tasks around the campsite. The spine can be used to crack open nuts and other food sources, break small rocks, and to strike a ferro rod to produce sparks for fire making.