Extrema Ratio Military Knives: Among the Best in the World


by Leroy Thompson

photography by Leroy Thompson

June 23rd, 2009




I'm working on a new book on special ops weapons and their deployment and am doing the chapter on knives right now. Of course, the REMFs who make decisions regarding weapons issuance have periodically decided that troops don't need bayonets or fighting knives. Generally, however, troops like the idea of cold steel as a final arbiter of battle. In discussing blade choice with some deployed troops, I have learned that the Army (and possibly other branches; I haven't checked yet) has banned the use of double-edged fighting knives. I find this ironic since the SAS, one of the world's premier special ops units, has just adopted a new double-edged dagger from Blackhawk. I mention the orders about double-edged blades primarily to make a point about decision making with little regard for combat troops. To be honest, most of the knives I consider the best choices for military usage are not double-edged, though a few are. Working on the book chapter and e-mailing with some troops did get me thinking about the issue, however.

I often get asked for recommendations on knife choice and a good portion of the time I recommend a blade from Extrema Ratio in Italy. Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of excellent knives made in the USA, but Extrema specializes in military and law enforcement knives which are used all over the world.  As a result, I thought GunBlast might be a good place to discuss Extrema's line of military knives since it can be accessed from all over the world, including by deployed U.S. troops.

Established in 1997, Extrema Ratio is a relatively new company.  Originally, Extrema made sporting knives but they were approached by the Italian armed forces to make specialized military knives and now military, law enforcement, and rescue knives are their specialty. Many of Italy's special operations and anti-terrorist units now use Extrema knives. In fact, I first saw an Extrema knife on a visit with some members of one of Italy's anti-terror units.

From the beginning I was sold on Extrema Ratio quality. ER knives are produced on NC machinery, but each knife is hand finished. The Austrian steel used is N690 which is enriched with chrome, vanadium, molybdenum, and cobalt. The steel is cut by laser to form the blade, then vacuum thermo heat-treated, and finally, sand blasted.   To hold up to military usage, the blades are burnished and carbon-nitrated. Despite the high-tech production procedure, each blade is hand sharpened.  

The handle is produced using Forprene injection and is resistant to a wide range of temperatures. The handle is extremely ergonomic with a hollow which fits a variety of hand sizes and allows use with tactical gloves. It also allows a wide variety of combat holds (i.e. fencing, ice pick, etc.). A feature I especially like about Extrema Ratio handles is that they can be quickly removed to allow thorough cleaning should the knife be exposed to blood, salt water, or other corrosive substances.  

Extrema Ratio knives are all tested to NATO standards including puncture, flexibility and resistance, drop tests on point and tang, oxidation, etc. Ergonomics are tested by the same engineers who test Italian high end vehicles such as Ferrari.  Extrema has extensive data about their production process, materials, and testing on their website for those interested in more detail.

Extrema Ratio offers an excellent warranty on its products and my experience has been that quality control is outstanding. I've heard from U.S. troops who have used Extema Ratio knives in combat and they agree that quality and service are outstanding.

That was a quick overview of Extrema Ratio, but what I really want to talk about are the ER knives I have found especially useful for military purposes.

First let me discuss two full-sized fighting knives. The Col Moschin is the issue knife of the 9th Incursorui Regiment "Col. Moschin", a highly regarded Italian special forces unit.  Note, by the way, that Col Moschin refers to a mountain not an officer.   The Col Moschin is available as a double-edged or a single-edged fighting knife. The blade is of drop point configuration. The Col Moschin is designed as a fighting knife with the balance towards the hilt. There is an integral handguard and a lanyard ring cut into the full length tang. Blade length is 6.3 inches and overall length for the knife is 11.4 inches. The Col Moschin regimental crest is etched onto the blade. The Forprene handle may  be readily removed for cleaning.     

The sheath is well-designed for special ops usage. It offers friction and snap retention and allows the knife to be worn low on their thigh or affixed in other ways.  

This may be my favorite Extrema knife, though there are other competitors. It is very fast in the hand and lends itself to a variety of fighting styles.

The other full-sized Extrema Ratio knife I've used quite a bit is the Fulcrum.   While the Col Moschin is primarily a close combat knife, the Fulcrum is a multipurpose military knife which can be used effectively as a fighter but also as a utility knife. The Fulcrum has seen extensive use in Afghanistan among Italian troops and some others (including some U.S. troops) and has proven very tough. Among those who especially like the Fulcrum are Italian Alpine troops who are issued this blade. In fact, Italian troops like the Fulcrum so much that ER was asked to develop a Fulcrum bayonet. I am not covering the bayonet here, but I will say that I have extensively tested it and am quite impressed.

The Fulcrum blade has a tanto point which gives it excellent penetration, no doubt a consideration for the Alpini who by definition will likely be fighting those wearing heavy clothing. The center of gravity for the Fulcrum is further forward which makes it more effective for chopping and other general tasks. Blade length for the Fulcrum is 7.1 inches and overall length is 12.2 inches. It is a big, tough knife which still handles quickly in the hand. The handle is the same used on the Col Moschin and some other ER full-sized fixed-blade knives. For military units that adopt the Fulcrum, Extrema offers a very useful accessory set. Handles and sheaths are available in black, white, tan, and green. As a result, a unit can issue the knife with the various colored sheaths so that it can be tailored to the area of operations--black-tactical, white-alpine, tan-desert, green-jungle.  Currently, my Fulcrum is set up in green.  

An interesting variation of the Fulcrum is the Fulcrum K9 which was developed for Italian military and police dog handlers. The knife was designed for military dog handlers who may be deployed to third world countries on "peacekeeping missions".    There is often a problem with local stray dogs attempting to fight the military dogs.    Since shooting the dogs could endanger the working dog or bystanders, the Fulcrum K9 is designed to be quickly deployed against an attacking dog. I'm sure some of you reading this have been near dog fights--maybe attempted to break them up--and have the same reaction I do--"Good Luck!" I have a 110 lb Airedale from the group bred to hunt lions in Africa.   If I have him in the park and see another good-sized dog coming I always go the other way. 

Nevertheless, the Fulcrum K9 is an interesting knife. It has the full-sized Fulcrum handle but only a single crossguard and a shorter 4.9 inch blade. Overall length is 10 inches. The tanto point allows a very deep thrust to vital organs. The blade is also partially serrated which should prove useful if it is necessary to quickly cut the dog's lead or something in which he may have become entangled. The sheath is well-designed for quick one hand deployment of the blade.

I use and recommend one other Fulcrum--the Fulcrum C.    This is the compact "boot knife" version of the Fulcrum.  The C has a compact handle and a 4.3 inch blade.  Overall length is only 8.25 inches. The blade, which is partially serrated, has a drop point/tanto configuration. The serrations give it some utility for general tasks, but it is basically a fighter and the serrations can make close quarters Z-cuts and other slashes even "uglier". My blade has what Extrema Ratio calls their Geocamo finish (see the photo).

The Fulcrum C uses a more compact sheath with a tek-lok designed for concealed carry. Due to the tek-lok retention system, the C may be carried upside down if so desired. The Fulcrum C is a wicked little close combat knife and is another one of my special favorites among ER's line. 

Extrema Ratio also offers a full line of military and law enforcement folders. I will discuss three of my favorites.   

I'll start with the MPC (Multi Purpose Compact) which is a very serious folder. I have, in fact, carried it as backup on some overseas security jobs where I was limited to one pistol or in some cases when I was not authorized to carry a firearm. It is also an excellent choice for a soldier who wants a folder which can serve as a close combat knife if needed. For those issued either the M9 bayonet or Marine Multipurpose Bayonet, the MPC makes an excellent utility/close combat backup. 

Blade length is 4.3 inches, about half of which is serrated to allow for cutting lines, hoses, etc. Its point could be called a clip point or a drop point as it resembles both to some degree. Its handle is of anodized anticorodal (a Swiss aluminum alloy) and offers a full hand hold. The lever lock is very sturdy,  and a heavy duty crossbolt lock makes sure the blade will stay open even under heavy usage. A lanyard ring at the rear of the handle allows paracord or some other type of retention line to be readily affixed to the vest or webbed gear. I rate this one of the best military folding knives in the world if the user wants a blade which can be used as a serious fighter if needed.

Extrema introduced their MF (Medium Folder) line recently. These knives retain the quality of larger ER folders such as the MPC but will fit in a pocket. The one I use is the MF1. About 5.1 inches overall with blade folded, I find the MF1 very easy to carry in a Levis pocket or clipped to a pocket when I chose to carry it that way. The blade length is 3.6 inches. The blade has a drop point which is almost a spear point. Ridges atop the rear of the blade allow for a thumb or forefinger bracing point. Dual opening studs allow it to be operated with either hand. This is a feature I consider important since I sometimes carry a knife on the left side as an aid to handgun retention (i.e. lock the hand of someone trying to snatch my pistol down with the right hand and slice their forearm with the left hand!). The liner lock is of conventional type. The MF1 incorporates a glass breaker, which I consider an important feature for a military or law enforcement knife. It also has a reversible pocket clip. There is also an MF1 BC which incorporates a belt cutter and screwdriver.

The final Extrema Ratio folder I want to discuss is a specialized knife for helicopter crewmen. The TFS Pilot was developed for Italian helicopter crews but it is also used by other military, police, and civilian pilots. Some airborne troops like this knife as well. This is a big rescue/survival folder designed to be carried in a belt sheath.  The most noteworthy feature is an automatically deployable cutter "beak" which may be operated to cut lines, ropes, belts, etc.  The design allows this scissors type blade to be used in very confined spaces safely. There is also a 3.4 inch knife blade which has a tanto style point and which is partially serrated.  It may be used for a variety of survival tasks. It locks in place with ER's sturdy lever lock. A saw blade designed primarily for cutting wood is incorporated as well. Opposite the cord cutter "beak" is a glass breaker.     A folding lanyard loop is located near the glass breaker. The belt sheath is made of tough ballistic nylon with a flap to keep the knife from jabbing into the side of the owner in a crash or when performing normal flight operations.

Extrema Ratio offers an array of other knives which are useful for military or law enforcement duties. The ones I have evaluated here are those which I feel are particularly applicable to military users. I have been using some Extrema knives for some years and have found them extremely well designed and extremely durable.   They take an edge and hold it and they stand up to hard usage. When asked by military or law enforcement agencies or individuals to recommend a knife I almost always include one of more Extremas in the choices. They are not cheap but for the quality they are excellent values. I will note, too, that I have received e-mails from troops in Afghanistan and Iraq (not just U.S. either) who have read articles I've written about specific Extrema Ratio knives noting how well theirs have served.

Extrema Ratio in Italy is extremely responsive to orders from all over the world and they ship quickly. My experience has been that service to the USA is very fast.    To order or get more information see their website:


Xtreme Knives in the USA has an extensive stock of Extrema Ratio knives as well. Their website is:


Both are very fast and efficient at supplying knives to military personnel.

Leroy Thompson

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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Col Moschin knife produced by Extrema Ratio for one of Italy's most elite military units.



Italian special forces martial arts instructor instructs Col Moschin operators in combat with the Extrema Ratio Knife (Extreme Ratio).



The Extrema Ratio Fulcrum, a multipurpose military knife which may be used for combat, survival, or general tasks. Note that the handle and sheath may be switched out to fit the Area of Operations.



The Fulcrum K9 which is designed for use by Italian military dog handlers.




Leroy brings in an expert to help evaluate the K9!



The Fulcrum C is a compact "boot knife" designed for concealed carry and close combat.



The MPS,  Extrema Ratio's heavy duty military folding knife.



The MF-1, a medium sized folder from Extrema Ratio which may be carried in the pocket.



The Extrema Ratio TFS Pilot designed for use by helicopter crews.