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The Rat Blade

The Rat Blade from headhunterblades.com, became one of the premier blades in the training industry shortly after coming out in 2014.  The Rat, as it was when it first came out, was hand made and exclusively available only to MIL/LE.  Per their website "The Rat was designed by Harley Elmore, Tuhon in Sayoc Kali and Full Instructor under Dan Inosanto.  It was designed and created after years of working with the highest level of Military Operators and is the result of their direct feedback and Tuhon Harley's lifetime of training.  The Rat is specifically designed for ease of carrying, concealment, and deployment.  The length lets the user achieve the thrusting depth needed to reach deep arteries and internal organs.  The width allows for the blade to fit into tight openings in the bone.  The narrow spear-like point configuration is designed for maximum penetration through web gear and clothing.  The unique finger choil allows for quick, dexterous changes in direction and prevents riding up onto blade’s edge"  I believe I purchased my first Rat blade sometime in late 2015? Then I got a contoured handle version.

The specs are:

OAL  7 1/8 inches
Blade width 3/4 of an inch
Blade length 3 1/4 inches
Blade thickness 1/8 of an inch
Handle length 3 7/8 inches
Blade AUS 8 Steel
Blade coating Titanium Nitride
G 10 Handles
Custom Kydex sheath

Typical retail is around $520.

Reason for purchase
The Rat blade has been a proven choice for IWB and horizontal belt carry for many years.  The overall size to the function of the blade is better than the majority inside the waistband every day carry type blades in the industry.  It has been a go-to for many in the MIL/LE circles who are "in the know" as it allows varying modes of implementation.  For the size of the Rat blade, it is in the premiere blade category by a wide margin, designed specifically around cutting flesh and training to that end.

As the Rat blade was one of the only production type blades that came as a training package, I knew it was something I needed to get.  The blueprint which blades like the Rat helped develop (a live blade, training blade, and two sheaths), has been emulated effectively with newer blades that have since been released.

When I purchased the Rat blade I had two other types of blades I was using for off/on-duty work, I still have one of the full-size SOG pentagons somewhere.  The Rat blade filled a very niche position for me, a smaller blade than I've used IWB blade which fit my hand well, had vastly better ergonomics and came with a full training package out of the box.

First Opinion
Out of the box, you get a live blade, a precision cut and light blue colored training blade, an ambidextrous kydex sheath, and a live blade sheath.

The live blade is thin, small, and naturally fits in the hand.  The tail of the blade allows for easy deployment, retention, as well as, a positive thumb cap for force assistance.

The training blade is nearly identical to the live blade in terms of weight and grip, however, the blade length is slightly shorter which is done purposefully to install proper intent during training.

The kydex sheath is ambidextrous, allowing the Rat blade to fit inside in either direction.  It has small brass eyelets that slim down the profile significantly.

In the Field
I have carried the plain handle Rat blade for the better part four years and trained with the trainer for just as long.  That's at least 8-10 hours a day of carrying, 7 days a week, for those four or so years, including on/off duty.

As you can see by the discoloring on the blade, the finish has worn down after a few years.

The handle is still in decent shape, even though I've dropped it a few times and it's been chewed up through various circumstances.  The blade tip has seen better days, I did have to get it recontoured at one point.

The kydex sheath is just as functional as it was when I purchased it and still has the same level of retention.  There are no issues with the sheath that developed through use.

Ownership and Usage
After the Rat blade came out there were some developments made in kydex clip technology, namely the Discreet Carry Concepts Clips, and while I am not going to be modifying the sheath which comes with the Rat blade package, I am constantly wishing that they came with the Discreet clips.  I believe there are a few kydex-smiths who make Rat sheaths in this configuration.  As far as the Rat blade handles and feels overall, I would not change a thing about it.  The stock grip is just as good as the contoured grip texture, they both work really well and it really comes down to a preference of design in the end.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations
The Rat blade fills a very specific role.  It is very small compared to many other options, which may be good or bad depending on your hand size and body type.

If the Rat blade is too small for you, then consider looking at the Dirty Blade which is a step up is, essentially, designed for a larger hand.  If you want a dagger to carry, get yourself a Kryptos.

If you are looking for an IWB EDC blade that also doubles as a utility blade, this is most definitely not it.  The Rat is a very capable blade that does a lot of things well but utility is not one of them.  I would highly recommend checking out the amtacblades.com Northman for an EDC utility blade.  With that said, the Rat blade has a very specific primary purpose and that is penetrating flesh.  It does that extremely well, better than most blades I have used or seen used.  I have had numerous opportunities to use this blade against live tissue and it has performed well each time.

The Rat trainer has been my preferred IWB trainer for a long time.  Specifically, it is very small compared to other blades I have owned in this time period and is very much unforgiving if I make a mistake (a bad rep), this allows me to learn faster.  The Rat was designed for application of the numerous Sayoc Kali blade templates which require various grips and angles.  Utilizing the concept of Paglaban, which literally translates to "preparing to fight", the Rat was developed as part of the overall Sayoc blade training / live rig setup.  For this purpose, and the purpose of concealed IWB carry, the Rat stands in the top tier of blades.  Even now that it has been around for so long it is still an easy blade to pick up and have confidence in.  The Rat's pedigree is one that will be referred to for a long time in the real world applicable blade arena.

Tuhon Harley Elmore runs Warrior's Way Martial Arts Academy in Witcha Falls, TX and Headhunterblades.com.  You check out Harley's Instagram Page and an interview with The Pressure Project on youtube.