TCT Lite Fighter: The Tough, Do-All, Fixed Blade
The first thing you need to know about TCT Knives is that the man behind the scenes really knows what he’s talking about. Owner and knife maker Darrin Sirois has been around the world and back as a Ranger, a Green Beret, and with the 7th Special Forces Group. On the phone he’s somewhat reserved and chooses his words carefully, but when we got to talking about knives he was eager to share his considerable knowledge. I think Darrin lit up most vividly when we were discussing Purple Heart Homes USA, but we’ll get to that later. He passed selection and joined the 75th Ranger Battalion in 1989, and since then he’s had a long career of deployments in places like Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. During his career he logged 11 deployments just to Iraq: that’s over 1,000 days in Saddam’s old stomping grounds alone. Darrin is a highly qualified source on both knife design and philosophy of use- but he wasn’t interested in designing one until 2008.
His unit made a habit of gifting Strider knives to brothers in arms on their way out of the military, but the tradition was getting tough on the wallet. One day, Darrin mentioned to a friend that he’d rather just make the damn things himself. Despite the joking doubt of his buddies, Darrin set his mind to designing a knife that he’d like to have handy in the field. Crafting knives started as a hobby, but slowly turned into a passion. Like many successful small businesses, passion gave way to production- which filled the specific demands of a community for whom knives are essential tools.
These two words accurately describe Darrin’s design philosophy. He set out to build knives that fit the needs of soldiers based on their input. It seemed that everyone had knives of varying price and quality, though there was a universal complaint: “if only it had…” Darrin noticed that knife makers were doing the right thing most of the time, but that he had yet to encounter knives that fit his needs perfectly. Clearly there will never be a knife that satisfies everyone, but that’s his mission nonetheless. He’s a dedicated perfectionist who routinely reworks his designs to include improvements based on his own experience and the significant feedback he gets from the community. He was kind enough to send us one of his Lite Fighters, a mean looking fixed blade that’s built like a tank.
To be generally classified as a “fighter,” a knife is ordinarily 10 inches in length, or longer. They are usually fixed blades. Though the definition is debatable and the term is used loosely, there are a number of other elements that make a knife more suitable for combat or self defense. Ordinarily they will employ some sort of hand stop- whether they be aggressive finger grooves or an actual guard. Fighting knives also benefit from point styles that make stabbing or thrusting easier, like drop-point, spear, or harpoon. Reducing friction during combat (although gruesome to contemplate) is another essential aspect of design. Effective wounds often involve deep penetration, which is why daggers are intended to be used as weapons: since they are double edged, they are easier to free from a wound cavity in order to create new wounds or to withdraw. Some of the most well known fighting knives include the venerable WWI trench knife and the Bowie.
The TCT Lite Fighter Stats:
- 9.4″ OAL
- 4.25″ Blade Length
- 4.5″ Handle Length
- Hollow Grind Blade
- Tip/Point: Harpoon
- Upper Spline Wedge
- G10 Grips
- CPM-D2 Steel
A High End Fixed Blade in an E4’s Budget
Darrin’s design for the Lite Fighter really started with Bill Harsey. That is to say; it’s difficult to design a modern fixed blade without thinking of Harsey and his legendary knifemaking career. He brought us the Yarborough (Green Beret) Knife, and countless collaborations with giants like Benchmade and other famous knife makers like Chris Reeve. Darrin wanted to ensure that his Fighter was his own, but took elements of Harsey’s design philosophy under consideration as he moved forward with his sketches, notably in the Harpoon style point. The wider harpoon point increases wound diameter while adding some weight to the front of the blade, which can be helpful for bushcraft tasks like batoning. In smaller knives, the shape can create a helpful place to put your thumb for better purchase during certain cutting chores.
The blade is constructed of CPM-D2 steel. Manufactured by Crucible, CPM stands for Crucible Particle Metallurgy. The idea behind this blade steel was to create a material that had a fine grain structure, was very tough, but was also soft enough to machine and sharpen easily. Slightly less tough than D2 tool steel, CPM-D2 has what is referred to as a “toothy” cutting edge because of increased levels of chromium and vanadium carbide making it ideal for cutting meat or flesh. Darrin considered this steel to be more suited for the Lite Fighter, which was previously produced of D2 Tool Steel. It’s worth noting that D2 and CPM-D2 are both a bit harder to sharpen than other common blade materials, but they hold an edge longer. This is a benefit for extended periods of use. Another consideration for this choice of material was affordability. In keeping with his objective of supplying soldiers, Darrin wanted to keep the Lite Fighter within an E4’s budget.
“G-10 FR-4 is a thermosetting industrial fiber glass composite laminate consisting of a continuous filament glass cloth material with an epoxy resin binder.” For readers asking themselves what the hell they just read, G10 is a material that’s constructed of woven fiber glass that’s soaked in an epoxy (resin), compressed, and then baked. The resulting material is great for grips much like Micarta, which is a similar material to G10 but which is produced with paper or cloth rather than fiber glass. G10 can be a bit slicker in wet conditions, which is why it’s often textured. It’s also much less absorbent, which makes it much easier to clean and extends durability. Basically, G10 vs. Micarta is a toss-up for an ordinary knife (in my book) but since this knife is meant to be a hard-use tool that doesn’t get a lot of TLC, G10 seems to be the right choice. It also sounds cooler.
Imagine a flat head screwdriver. This is the shape of a hollow grind: convex hollowing creates a sloping point, sort of like cleavage. Hollow grind blades tend to be very good cutters, but to dull faster as a result of chopping or cutting tough materials. For example, straight razors are hollow ground. This means that a well sharpened Lite Fighter is well suited to, well, fighting. However. The Lite Fighter is a thick blade made of very tough steel. I had absolutely no problem beating the crap out of it, and would easily choose it as a field knife for camping, hunting, or fishing.
Fit & Feel
Impeccable. That’s it. Every detail is beautifully rendered, and balance is perfect. The knife sits still lying across the index finger at the base of the blade. This is a full tang monster of a tool, and feels like it. The G10 is textured to grip aggressively, and the finger grooves are comforting and accommodating. The ridges on the base of the blade give the thumb a secure hold. The wedge on the back of the blade creates the effect of a dagger, but remains unsharpened to allow for knock-around bushcraft tasks. I expected to write a lot more about my experience using the knife, but I don’t have anything else to say. It just works. I have zero complaints, and feel confident that this knife satisfies all of my requirements for “mean, effective, tough as nails fixed blade.”
The knife comes with a nylon sheath designed by Darrin himself. It’s MOLLE compatible can fit onto just about any piece of kit you have save a 1913 rail. TCT doesn’t do its own kydex anymore because Darrin would rather spend his time making knives. If you really need a kydex sheath made up, make sure to drop him a note as he has providers that he recommends. The nylon sheath does have a kydex insert that’s felt-lined to protect the blade, though. Also, everyone and their uncle makes kydex in their basement.
Red Hatchet Says…
The Lite Fighter brings it all to the table at a price point that undercuts the competition. It’s a truly hand made knife that’s built from the ground up featuring thoughtful design elements that make it an effective tool. We made tinder, split logs, cut meat, whittled, pried, and cleaned this knife up with zero problems and no noticeable dulling of the “factory” edge. Darrin is cranking out quality tools that should be somewhere on your list if you’re knife shopping within a certain budget. His well-known PEC (Perfect Everyday Carry) fixies are next on my list because of their reputation as, well, perfect every day carry fixed blades. EDCing the Lite Fighter would be something like cramming an AR15 and a chest rig down your pants.
Tactical Combat Tools & Purple Heart Homes
When I asked Darrin whether or not he’d taken advantage of any programs that help veteran small business owners, his response was something that I hear frequently. “No.” Like other veterans I’ve spoken with, he’s a ferociously independent and driven person who’s interested in succeeding on his own. An intriguing paradox that comes with the territory is that the veteran community can be one of the most loyal, supportive, helpful, and vibrant support groups that I’ve ever encountered. For the VOSB owners I’ve spoken with, their comrades are their assistance program. The input, experience, and support of their brothers is the only help they’ll ever need.
It all comes down to taking care of one another. Darrin shared with me that he’s passionate about helping a charity called Purple Heart Homes USA. This phenomenal organization helps Service Connected Disabled Veterans with housing solutions that fit their needs. This cause is worthy of every single American’s attention, time, and support. That’s why we’re raffling off the Lite Fighter pictured here and donating all of the proceeds to PHH USA.
Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) picked up Darrin’s “Sangrador” dagger as part of their Forged by War program. Basically, they reproduced his knife and donated 10% of all the proceeds to PHH USA, so if you see a new one for sale, consider 10% of that purchase a good deed (and 90% a smart choice). You can see that video below.