The above picture is from Dwaine Carillo’s AirKat site that (I’m pretty sure) is actually a pic of my individual knife. How do I know this? Because this picture showed up on the website right before my knife was mailed to me after Carrillo had rebuilt his life and his shop from the tornado disaster.
Actually, let me back up a bit. Carrillo, an extremely popular custom knife maker suffered tragedy in 2014. His house and his shop were destroyed by a tornado and he himself almost didn’t survive. His dog almost died, impaled by debris but luckily was saved by paramedics. After Carrillo was visited by disaster, there were individuals on various knife forums who doubted that he could bounce back. However, Carrillo has been making knives for 16+ years and losing his house and his shop didn’t stop him. He bought a CNC machine, he built up a new shop, and he started making knives again. Pictures of his shop and his progress can be found at his website: AirKat
I used to own one of Dwaine’s older models, the Tripwire. At that time in my life, it was the best knife I’d ever carried and my first custom, art knife. I had to sell that knife while going through a divorce and I actually made money off of it – it had gone up in value from when I bought it three years before.. For those who don’t know, art knives generally appreciate in value, especially from popular makers like Carrillo who have limited time design runs.
Carrillo Design knives are not cheap; direct from Dwaine (if he can take your order) they currently cost around 900 dollars give or take, and can take the better part of a year to complete. Mine took almost 3 years from the time I ordered and paid until the time I received my knife because Dwaine got hit by the tornado right before my Scout was done. When Carrillo mails a knife out, it comes nestled in a small pelican case – a nice touch for the collector.
Knives sold by vendors are more expensive but there is no wait. It’s worth it to a great number of people to pay a premium for instantly receiving a Carrillo knife so finding one for sale is rare. Carrillo is currently selling more knives through retailers than before because he lost around 100 knives (already paid for) in the tornado that he’s had to remake for customers. Carrillo knives on Ebay are very expensive, especially rarer ones like damascus blades, etc. I have seen AirKat knives sell on Ebay for over $2,000 USD, some for close to $3,000 USD.
Carrillo is currently producing two main lines of knives: the Scout and the Cobra. Different handle scales, blade shapes, and steel types can be ordered for these knives. I personally opted for a black G10 scale and a pattern welded damascus blade. My choices made my original order more expensive. Dwaine buys Alabama Damascus steel which has a great reputation and which I personally really enjoy.
I chose the Scout model because I intended to actually carry this knife and for those who don’t know, AirKat knives are MASSIVE. I feel entirely confident using my knife as a prying tool – something I would not even attempt with most other knives. The blade is ridiculously thick at it’s widest point and the entire knife is overbuilt for extreme situations. Even the pocket clip is overbuilt.
The Cobra model has a more interesting handle shape than the Scout, but is even larger so I opted for the slightly more compact model.
Overall length: 10″
Blade Length: 4.25″
Knife type: Frame lock
Blade Material: High Carbon Alabama Damascus
Handle Material: Titanium
Weight: 12.6 oz
As seen in the pictures, Dwaine has added some flashy red spacers to the Scout and the Cobra. I think these look pretty cool and based on the pics on the Carrillo Design site, this looks to be standard now for both current models of knives.
One of the reasons I loved my old Carrillo Tripwire model knife so much was the balance; I could really easily transition to different grips in the hand. It seems a lot of people buy Carrillo Design knives as knife art, but for those of use who use them on a daily basis, the ergonomics and balanced weight are really nice. Granted, almost any Carrillo knife is going to be heavy and massive in the pocket, but for me this has never been an issue.
The grinds on my Scout and the knife’s bevels are all crisp and wicked. The Scout cuts like a dream. The addition of the damascus blade adds a level of microscopic roughness to the blade that makes it of the finest cutting knives in my collection. It truly is a work of art.
For a carry folder, I give the Carrillo Designs Scout a 4.85 out of 5 stars. There really isn’t anything I would change about this knife. The only reason it is not a 5 out of 5 is due to the blade length (illegal in many states) and the weight which is considerable. For an art folder, I think this knife is a perfect 5 and should be in every serious collector’s stash.
I absolutely love this knife and I plan to one day pass it on in my family as an heirloom tool.