U.S. Military Special Operations Forces operators needed a purpose-designed knife for urban close quarters battle, based on their experiences with house-to-house fighting in the Sandbox. Special Forces Combatives Program (SOCP) developer Greg Thompson made it happen.
Thompson, a trainer of SF soldiers for over 12 years and Director of Training for the XVIII Airborne Corps in Ft. Bragg, NC, collaborated with the Benchmade Knife Company, Inc. to produce what he felt was the solution to an edgy problem.
The Benchmade 176BK SOCP dagger is made for low profile carry, ease of accessibility on a combat load-out, and pure function in CQB. Sounds like something useful to domestic SWAT operators and street officers, as well.
Unique to this double-edged, skeletonized dagger is the “finger loop” or ring at the end of the handle. It allows for a quick draw of the knife, but gives it low visibility, as the ring is the only part of the handle to protrude from the thin injection molded sheath.
With an overall knife length of 7.25”, the bladed portion takes up 3.22” of the 440C steel. Of this, only about 1.37” of the blade is actually sharpened. That is not a concern because this dagger is made to penetrate people, not perform utility chores.
To facilitate a solid grip, the finger loop works in conjunction with jimping on the thumb shelf of the ring and in the middle of three sets of scallops in the handle. All of these combine to make the SOCP dagger immovable in the hand.
The short length of sharpened blade, finger loop, and thumb shelf keep the operator’s hand from sliding down on to the edge in a thrust. At a thickness of 0.185” and weighing in at 2.2 ounces, the dagger is a very svelte piece of steel.
Carry being as important as blade design, the 1.0 ounce sheath is made to slide snugly into MOLLE webbing. On the sheath are four lashing holes, two drain holes, and a subdued steel deep carry clip, which can be used to help in mounting options. The sheath can be purchased in black or sand color.
One of the most important attributes of the knife, according to Thompson, is the ability to draw the knife in a critical situation and still be able to transition to your handgun when the moment presents itself.
Thompson grips the knife between the first and second joint of the index finger, not all the way up at the knuckle. This lower hold keeps the ring from jamming up against the gun and exerting unwanted pressure on the finger’s bone and tissue. When drawing the knife, I found that angling the index finger into a J shape while pulling up at the ring keeps the blade’s alignment proper.
I mounted the Benchmade SOCP dagger on a pair of vests. I placed it in the MOLLE webbing of my rifle plate carrier, at about the appendix. It was easy to deploy the knife with either hand. I also put the sheath in the straps of my concealed body armor. It clipped into the straps nicely. I was able to access the knife under my uniform shirt, though I do not prefer having to try to get at a knife through the front zipper.
The SOCP knife fit in the shock plate pouch of my concealed body armor. In that position, I could find the ring through the neck opening of my shirt and take the knife out from there. Be gentle withdrawing a sharp edge near your own throat!
The knife and sheath combo are thin enough to clip into a pants pocket, but drawing the dagger’s finger loop can pull the whole sheath out. With a little practice, I found I could push off on the top of the sheath with my thumb and withdraw only the blade. The sheath stayed put better in the pants waistband.
This dagger is employed in the reverse or hammer grip thrusting style. If this knife fighting method is foreign to you, seek proper training and practice.
I ordered my SOCP dagger with the optional red training knife, which came with its own sheath. Added in the Benchmade box were four two-foot lengths of 550 cord for lashing the knife sheath. I like the bonuses for the $130.00 MSRP. Yes, I paid less from an on-line retailer. The dagger itself can be found for around $75.00.
The Benchmade SOCP 176BK dagger is Made in the USA and fills a niche unlike other boot, neck, or belt knives. It is constructed to be situation-specific, so if your AO includes hostile environments where an emergency fighting knife may be needed, then give this one consideration.