As my blades and other products continue to gain a strong following (thank you!) and I get to know more of you through the classes I teach, I’d like to share with you my background so you can better understand how my blade designs and philosophy came to be.
I am Tracker Dan, I have been a wilderness survival and tracking instructor since 1995 and a Navy SEAL since 2002, I am currently serving in the active reserves on SEAL Team 18. When at home, I teach survival and tracking, marksmanship and tactics, and hand-to-hand combat and provide personal protection for celebrities, businessmen and politicians (those who are worth their salt). One of my major activities is designing and making sheaths, holsters, and edged weapons/tools.
When I was working on farms and as a carpenter in the 1980's, teaching survival/tracking in the 1990s and operating as a SEAL in the 2000s, the importance of sharp-edged tools was a necessity, in fact, I knew how to make a knife “shaving sharp” by the early age of 14. This turned out to save my ass many times when being inspected by BUD/S instructors! This skill led me to sharpen 80% percent of my classmate's knives which helped keep us from getting “beat” as a class.
Based on that 30 years of experience, I learned that a knife that is thin, light and convenient to carry will be with you when you need it, as with most gear. The Cold Steel Mini Culloden has always been a favorite because it’s thin, short and light, can fit in a front pocket, on the hip, forearm, in a sock or as a neck knife, etc.. However, the blade has drawbacks: the sheath is sub-optimal, the tip is too weak and if it flips around in your pocket or under your shirt (as a neck knife) there is no quick safe way to know which way the edge is facing, especially in the dark and/or under duress. I knew I could design something better.
I started sketching a seven-inch blade (about the longest for front pocket carry) that had a stronger tip, finger grooves (for edge orientation and retention) and a butterfly pommel for gripping and ripping type deployment (similar to the Culloden). Once I was happy with my drawing, I made a wooden shape to see how it felt in the hand and at the same time ordered steel and a professional grinder so I wouldn't be limited by the basic Sears model I’d been using. This design would come to be known as the Bloodshark, all this happened in June 2009 about a year after my second deployment as a SEAL Operator.
Up until then, my specialty was modifying and creating holstering systems for edged tools/weapons and sidearms using the skills I’d learned from making leather, rawhide and wooden sheaths since the age of 6. I’d gained additional skills when I was an instructor at Tom Brown’s Survival and Tracking School during the '90s when, over the campfire, I started to modify Kydex knife sheaths for a friend, also in the SEAL Teams, who was there taking a Tom Brown class. As with what ended up happening in BUD/S, I sharpened and modified tracker school students’ blades when they showed up with "crowbars" instead of knives!
Once I made it to the SEAL Teams, I continued modifying carry systems to streamline them so they worked for my needs. This included sheaths, blades, holsters, plate carriers, etc., many SEALs do this but I was one of the perfectionists who would stay up all night before a mission (whether training or real-world) to make sure everything was just right. Once I’d tested it out in the real world, I’d make any additional tweaks that were necessary so it would perform optimally next time out. This is the attention to detail I pride myself on and believe I pass on to others through my designs.
A major lesson I soon learned on the Teams was if you can’t quickly and safely put away your blade or sidearm you might have to ditch it so you can quickly get your primary back online. If you can’t do this in the dark, on NOD's, under duress, then lives can be lost. This lifesaving principle, from my real-world experiences, is what spawned my Kydex sheath and holster designs that I use for all of my products, including my Bloodshark.
I started on my mission of producing the most optimal low-viz sheaths available today by modifying Cold Steel Culloden sheaths. I’d painstakingly stitch them with wire (which at the time was narrower than any rivet I could find) close to the blade profile then remove all the excess Kydex and the huge rivets. I went through that time-consuming process because whether you are concealing the sheath or wearing it on battle gear you don't have space for the excess width, thickness, and weight. Additionally, I smoothed out the shoulders by the guard so the tip can glide in without catching, this enables you to re-sheath without looking which I found was necessary in the dark or when I needed situational awareness.
Anyway, I could go on and on, I hope this gives you a view into how and when my designs came about. And for anyone who wishes to own my blades, I thank you for your business.
Hopefully, my tools and weapons will be used to save or defend lives and remove the cancers of our society.