James Bond has Q and I’ve got Eddie White. I’m the lucky one. Now, Eddie can’t make a belt buckle that fires a grappling hook or design a car that you can drive by remote control, but from his location in the backwoods swamps of South Carolina, he can draw upon his 30 years of experience to design just about any kind of knife you can imagine. Whether it’s a fighter, dagger, hunter, or just an everyday blade for the average, everyday person, he can do it. Not being the average person (perish the thought!), recently I was given the mission to review a group of Eddie’s knives. But, before those details are disclosed, the first order of business is a background debriefing.
Eddie and I first established contact six months ago in a remote North Carolina location. We crossed paths when he was conducting a hand-off of materials to another individual, who will remain nameless. The un-named subject facilitated our introduction, and I learned of Eddie’s pedigree. After getting out of the Navy in 1974 and taking some business classes, Eddie started searching for his life’s work. He had a friend named Danny Thornton who was a knifemaker and that particular pursuit intrigued Eddie. He asked Danny to show him the basics, and from then on, he was addicted to grinding steel.
Long List of Big Names
Since that time, Eddie has been working production by grinding blades for multiple makers including Blackie Collins, Case Knives, Gerber Knives, and more recently, he has been doing work for Paragon Steel. For the vast majority of his career, his work was provided by different contractors. While he obtained a tremendous amount of experience working for these companies, he began wanting to make his own custom designs. Eddie finally made the leap a couple of years ago and started his own custom knife company, aptly named Shadow Knives.
Upon our introduction, I had the chance to view Eddie’s wares for the first time. Good fortune occasioned him to have a couple of extra blades on hand. The first one he drew out of his case called to me instantly. It was his drop-point hunter Model IX, and it was a chunky little handful of steel. I instantly wanted it! After scanning the area for onlookers and possible intrusions on our transaction, we quickly conducted business and made our exchange. We then went our separate ways with the promise to keep a back channel open for future contact. It wasn’t too long afterward that fortune intervened once again.
The Evaluation Knives
The knives I received for review from Eddie included a modified Model XIII fighter, a Model XII clip-point (eight of which are currently in the hands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq), and a large Model IX drop-point. All three knives are 5/32 of an inch thick and were heat-treated by the maker, as are all of his knives. These three models exhibit the same high quality lines and exquisitely sharp edges that I saw in his previous work earlier in the year. Eddie favors a hollow grind for his blades since that was the process he was taught originally, and he executes it flawlessly.
Hollow-ground knives, if done right, have an extremely sharp edge and are to be used for cutting purposes only. They aren’t meant to be used as choppers, for batoning through wood, or to be used as sharpened pry-bars. As the saying goes, use the right tool for the job. That same principle holds up for the blades found in the inventory of Shadow Knives. Though varying by design, they are all intended for fine cutting tasks. His models include hunters for cleaning game, push-daggers for self-defense, and his fighting knives for the more aggressive response to danger. As cutting tools go, these knives are superb.
Eager to get to work, I immediately picked out the Model XIII fighter to play with. Constructed of 154CM steel and incorporating green G-10 grip slabs, this knife has a different look and feel with the indented thumb rest, but I warmed to it immediately. The balance point is about 1.5 inches behind the forward edge of the G-10 scales. That rearward balance makes the blade portion feel very nimble and quick in the hand. I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with it, and then began looking for something to attack. The first target of opportunity was an old Alice pack that I was getting ready to trash since I had recently stripped it for parts.
I suspended the pack from a tree limb for the slashing trials. I was surprised by how well the Model XIII zipped through the pack material. Because the pack was free-hanging, that allowed for a lot of give and movement in the material during strikes. In fact, there was so much movement that I ended up with some skinned knuckles from the rivets, rings, and buckles on the pack. Even with that, not only did it slice through the material with ease, it also easily split open the interior foam back-pad (near the bottom) as well. Not bad at all! During this experiment, the blade also impacted the metal parts of the pack as well, but after about 80 cuts, it was still shaving sharp. It only took a few quick strokes with the blade to make a patch of my arm as slick as a baby’s bottom.
For the stabbing test, I put the pack against a tree stump and the Model XIII proved very effective in this area as well. The balance and handle materials allowed for an easy and natural pivot into a reverse grip for downward stabs. With each stab through the pack, the knife penetrated into the wood quite nicely and required a good pull to extract it. The point held up extremely well under dozens of impacts. After each of the last 10 or 15 thrusts, I wrested the knife back and forth to see if any damage could be done to the point. None was found. In fact, the only thing that I could find at all was a mark along the blade edge about one millimeter long. That actually appeared during the slashing exercise when it struck against some metal parts of the pack. I examined the spot closely and can’t say for sure that it was actual damage or even any kind of edge-rolling. It was just a fairly insignificant mark and nothing that couldn’t be easily remedied with a ceramic rod.
In short, the Model XIII did exactly what it was designed to do—efficiently slash and stab while holding up under stress and adverse conditions. Short of taking it into combat, real-world conditions were used to test the fighter. No, I did not slip a pipe over the handles of the knives and try to bend the blades around 330 degrees. That’s just silly. These knives are designed for specific cutting tasks and perform those tasks in phenomenal fashion. In a short period of time, I’ve had access to quite a few of Eddie’s models and the high quality found in his blades is consistent from piece to piece—surely a result of his three decades of experience.
Sold On Shadows
Personally, I don’t think there is a truer testament to a person’s faith in a product than when they actually purchase and use that product for themselves. Since April, I’ve acquired two of Eddie’s knives, and one of those is used on a daily basis. That’s how much I like and believe in his products. For those of you wanting an ink pen that fires poison darts or a C-4 packed wristwatch, get in line behind 007. As for me, I’m sticking with Eddie White of Shadow Knives!
James Bond has Q and I’ve got Eddie White. I’m the lucky one. Now, Eddie…
by Durwood Hollis / May 10, 2009