By: Warren Gray
Copyright © 2023
“Blade Brothers Knives are Ukrainian-brand knives, specially designed
for combat and conflict situations that arise during military operations,
or for situations of armed violence in everyday life…(We are) instructors
of Special Forces within the Armed Forces of Ukraine and…participants
of the Russian-Ukrainian war. We were inspired by our own combat
experience…creating knives that prove to be excellent in street fighting,
and would be a survival tool for self-defense and military actions.
We fight with knives, so we do know what a combat knife should be!”
— Blade Brothers Knives website, 2023
Blade Brothers Knives (BBK), of Kharkiv (Defenders of Ukraine Square, 7/8), Ukraine, was founded in 2007, initially as a martial arts club for teaching methods to confront a knife attack, and it has since evolved into a leading manufacturer of tactical and combat knives, especially since the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, which began the Russian-Ukrainian War. Club members actually fought in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine from 2014 to 2022, and in the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine from February 24, 2022, to the present day, gaining invaluable combat experience.
The company was founded, and is currently led by Oleksandr Vorobey, who has personally defended Kharkiv as part of the “Knifefighters” volunteer platoon, comprised of Blade Brothers Knife Fighting Club athletes and combat veterans. Vorobey told me in an April 6th email that, “After the first missiles hit the city, my production was halted, and my workers were evacuated to safer places, because the city was filled with street fighting as the Ukrainian defenders battled the invading, enemy forces.
“After three months of fighting within and around the city, we repelled the Russian invaders. And after that, I immediately returned to work on restoring knife production, knowing that this type of weapon is much needed by our brothers-in-arms on all front lines. After restoring the business, I joined the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and now serve as a close-combat instructor.”
Accordingly, their website states that, “We know how to use a weapon, so we have profound understanding of what a good knife should be. All models of (BBK) knives are handmade, manufactured by our own facilities based in Kharkiv, Ukraine.”
They candidly add that, “Now, due to the war in Ukraine, we have stopped sending knives abroad, but they can be purchased in Ukraine. The founder of the Blade Brothers Knives, Oleksandr Vorobey, is fighting in defense of Kharkiv. We hope to resume exports soon.” There’s definitely a very bold statement that you don’t see on most manufacturers’ websites!
Vorobey told me in excellent English that, “The full-scale invasion completely destroyed logistics in the country, and we completely lost part of our sales to other countries. However, domestic demand for knives has increased, as the number of Ukrainian military personnel has significantly increased, and has reached nearly one million…Our soldiers need quality knives. And despite all the difficulties, we produce such knives. We don’t have government contracts. Many units purchase batches of our knives, but this is a private initiative of fighters for their own funds, not government orders…Currently, our main customers are Ukrainian defenders. We maintain constant communication with them regarding the use of our knives.
“Unfortunately, at the moment, we cannot send individual orders to the United States and EU countries. I hope to solve this problem soon by creating our own warehouse in these countries. We have plans to enter these markets, but everything is complicated by the war in our country. However, we are still able to export our knives, and would be happy to receive wholesale orders from the U.S.”
BBK produces knives in a variety of categories, including 11 everyday carry (EDC) knives, five types of kitchen knives, one hunting knife, six multitools, various accessories, two machetes, two small axes, and especially 15 tactical knives, and four combat knives. They’re all hand-made, from either high-carbon steel in the axes and machetes, or premium, German stainless steel in the knives, and come with a lifetime warranty. Their website proudly states that, “The Ukrainian army uses knives made by BB Knives.”
Vorobey advised me that, “These (Russian) missile attacks are still ongoing, but thanks to God, none have landed in close proximity to our production buildings to this day…We face a huge number of problems that would have never arisen in peacetime. The first problem is the lack of skilled workers…because of the high level of danger in Kharkiv. Currently I have 15 workers, and highly-skilled workers are training beginners…It is difficult, but we are Ukrainians, and we can handle all challenges.
“The favorite knife of recon troops is the Yamato, with an American Tanto blade. Infantrymen choose the Stormtrooper, Revenge, Hirdman, (and) Nessmuk models. Military medics mostly choose Vendetta and Raven. Snipers prefer (the) Sniper and Chernobay. Currently, we have an order to produce commemorative knives Elven Promise.”
One of the most popular tactical knives is the Vendetta dagger ($66 + $17 international shipping), with a full-tang, 5.51-inch, stainless-steel blade with black polymer coating, and ABS plastic, non-slip grips. Due to Ukrainian law, it is only sharpened on one edge, but it’s much more effective as a stabbing, combat dagger.
A more-rugged, utilitarian choice is the Infantry combat knife ($71 + $17 shipping), specifically “designed for utility use (clearing foliage, chopping branches for cover, opening ammunition crates, etc.), in addition to their original role as close-quarter combat weapons…a sturdy, battle-proved, combat knife for professionals.” The Infantry knife features a stout, 6.89-inch, black stainless-steel blade.
A particularly interesting model is the Needle tactical knife ($55 + $17 shipping), a modern derivation of the famous, OSS sleeve dagger of World War Two fame, usually strapped to an agent’s forearm beneath their shirt sleeve as a last-ditch, concealment weapon. The Needle features a very slim, 4.72-inch, natural-finish, stainless-steel blade, .46-inch (11.7mm) wide, and sharpened on only one edge, like the Vendetta dagger. Also, it has just been redesigned, with a false grind, or bevel, near the tip.
Among the desirable attributes of BBK’s vast array of practical knives is the fact that each knife comes with a highly durable, one-piece, full tang, all the way from the tip of the blade to the back of the handle. All knives have fixed blades for strength and reliability, “which makes them ideal for combat or survival situations. Fixed-blade knives are ideal for duty, survival, and hunting, because they are dependable and strong.”
Blade Brothers Knives use 1.4116 Krupp stainless-steel blades on all combat knives, and high-carbon, 66Mn4 steel blades on their axes and machetes, all with a hardness of 57 HRC on the Rockwell scale of tensile strength, rated as “very hard steel.” There are no-nonsense, ABS plastic, textured handles for a positive grip, and each knife comes with a custom-fitted sheath for a perfect fit. For handmade, custom knives, they are surprisingly affordable, when you can get them.
Vorobey specifically mentioned the Sniper military knife ($74 + $17 shipping), which “was developed together with snipers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, based on combat experience.” According to the BBK website, “This knife can be extremely helpful for arrangement of a sniper position. Its wide blade can easily remove turf, and, if necessary, can be used for digging. An efficient, sharpening angle makes it possible to cut springwood and branches. The handle is equipped with a mini-hammer, which enables hammering a nail and other fastening equipment. A sharp tip of the blade is good for adjusting the sight…A sharp blade is designed for a heavy, chopping stroke…The knife is made of stainless steel, hardened up to 57-58 HRC to improve sturdiness.” The blade is 7.4 inches long, and this is an extremely rugged knife.
One of their more-unusual knives is the Flamberg tactical knife (from the German words “Flamme,” meaning “flame,” and “berg,” meaning “mountain,” $69 + $17 shipping), with a wavy, flame-like blade shape. The sharp blade is 5.2 inches long, of black stainless-steel, and is designed as a thrusting dagger to “deliver devastating damage during dynamic cuts…they leave a wide, jagged cut with several parallel incisions inside.”
The city of Kharkiv, where their factory is located, has been directly assaulted by Russian forces within the past year, but the Ukrainian troops valiantly pushed them back, and still have three mechanized brigades (the 72nd, 92nd, and 93rd) and an SA-10D Grumble surface-to-air missile battery defending the local area. Two Russian armored regiments (the 237th Tank and 752nd Mech) and the 84th Reconnaissance Battalion are currently headquartered 70 miles to the northeast, and the war in Ukraine is still far from over.
These are just a few significant examples of the superb knives produced by BBK. Most of their current production runs are purchased primarily by Ukrainian soldiers, but also by Ministry of the Interior troops, paramilitary groups, and ordinary civilians for self-defense. Oleksandr Vorobey states that, “No matter what knife you choose and what your hand-to-hand combat skills are, the knife won’t let you down in a conflict, whether it’s war or self-defense on the street.”
As you may have guessed by now, I’m a collector of knives, particularly military, tactical, and survival knives, after a 21-year, military career. I’ve since given most of them to my sons, an Air Force pilot and a police sergeant, but I still have about a dozen knives of various types. Blade Brothers Knives aren’t fancy or engraved, not fussy or adorned with exotic, hardwood grips, but they definitely are very rugged, reliable, functional, affordable, and combat-proven in the most high-intensity war of the 21st century so far, and that speaks volumes for them. Hopefully, we’ll be able to import them again very soon.
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Warren Gray is a retired, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with experience in joint special operations and counterterrorism. He served in Europe (including Eastern Europe) and the Middle East, earned Air Force and Navy parachutist wings, four college degrees, and was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Operations Specialist Course, and the USAF Combat Targeting School. He is currently a published author, historian, knife collector, and hunter. You may visit his website at: warrengray54.vistaprintdigital.com