If you know much at all about the world of the 1911 .45 ACP pistol, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Wilson Combat. An instantly recognizable name in high-end pistolcraft, the company has been one of the foremost makers of top-quality 1911 variants for competition and carry for nearly three decades, and many proud owners feel there’s nothing better on the crowded 1911 market today. Bill Wilson has extensive competition experience, and when he made the decision to go into the gun business full-time in 1977, the determination was that if the product was going to have his name stamped on it, that product was going to be built to certain standards or it just wouldn’t leave the shop. Bill’s son, Ryan, inherited the same professional attitude and incorporated it into his own business model when he founded Wilson Tactical in 2000, producing handmade knives. Today, Wilson Tactical (knives) is a subsidiary of Wilson Combat (guns), with Bill as president and CEO and Ryan as vice-president of the combined operation.
The knife side has expanded and now includes several quality-made in-house tactical folder designs, along with a new one in collaboration with Allen Elishewitz (Texas), the Star-Light; made for Wilson Tactical (Arkansas) by Hogue Tool & Machine (California), a part of the Hogue Grips organization formed to offer production versions of several Elishewitz designs under the Hogue Knives brand in 2009. Confused yet? Ryan Wilson explains the multi-player situation, “We have had a working relationship with Hogue over the years on various projects and have always been impressed with the quality of their finished products… We have also worked with Allen Elishewitz on various limited-run, Custom Alliance projects, so this was a perfect fit for us from a collaborator perspective.”
Wilson offers a total of four Star-Lights, actually: two with 3.5-inch blades and two with 4-inch blades, both in either tanto or drop-point styles. All four use the same premium U.S. 154-CM cryogenically tempered stainless steel hardened to HRC 57-59 for blade material, all four use Hogue’s proprietary black G-Mascus G-10 laminate as the handles. They also share the blackened steel “spoon” pocket clip, ambidextrous thumb stud for opening, button lock, and sliding “safety” on the left side. Other common features include coarse jimping on the top rear of the black-coated, flat-ground blade, an unsharpened swedge, four large, broadly spaced slip-resistant notches in the top of the handle above the lock and four more on the bottom toward the rear end, index finger dish-outs in the lower forward handle area, lanyard post and slot, and the winged Wilson Combat logo medallion in the left panel. The clip comes attached up front on the right panel for tip-down carry, and the Star-Light has sturdy brass threaded inserts in the opposite end on the same side so you can re-locate the clip for tip-up carry.
Elishewitz is known for rugged, high-quality knife designs, and you wouldn’t expect anything else on the Star-Light. You also don’t find anything else on it. The heart of any knife that gives it a soul is obviously the blade. Since cutting is the primary reason for a knife’s existence, everything else follows after and a knife is judged (by those who know that “mean” and “wicked-looking” are always secondary attributes) for its ability to cut, and to keep on cutting. The two blade designs were chosen he says because, “I very rarely make clip points; I find that the design causes the tip of the blade to be more fragile. We wanted the knife to be used in a broader range and to be more durable, that is why we chose the drop point and modified tanto,” says Wilson. The 154CM? “With proper heat-treating and tempering it is a very good stainless steel. It is easy to re-sharpen, has good stain resistance property and retains an edge fairly well.” Reflections off a brightly polished blade can be distinctly un-good in certain situations, and the black blade coating is used for glare reduction and abrasion resistance. The only real exposed “brights” on the Star-Light are the thumb stud, the lock button, the hinge pivot head, the blade-stop pin, and the sliding safety button head, and those shouldn’t call in any hostile air strikes.