I've known John Shirley online for quite a long time, and met him in the flesh once or twice. We were both regulars on a couple of firearms forums. He gave up a promising civilian career to enlist in the US Army after 9/11, and went on to be commissioned in the Reserves. He's done his time in the sandbox, and seen combat. He's an impressive man.
John has always appreciated good knives, and during his service in Afghanistan used his knowledge of edged weapons to figure out a solution to a problem there. Let Spyderco's Web site tell the story.
The ARK—or “Always Ready Knife™—is a purpose-designed personal-defense knife conceived by U.S. Army combat veteran John Shirley and his friend Sam Owens. While deployed to Afghanistan, Shirley learned that an alarming number of U.S. personnel were falling victim to sexual assault, particularly while showering. Drawing from his knowledge of the Japanese martial arts and with the help of Owens’ skills as a craftsman, they developed the ARK as a lightweight self-defense tool that can literally be carried anywhere.
There's more at the link. Here's what the ARK looks like.
It's tiny (the blade is only 2½" long, and the knife just 5" overall), but that's quite big enough for its intended purpose - emergency, halitosis-range self defense when nothing else is available. It's so light one forgets one's wearing it around one's neck. Here's John and knifemaker Sam Owens demonstrating how to use it. I suggest watching the video in full-screen mode. (WARNING: The video is plain-spoken about how to hurt someone as a means of self-defense. It's not for the squeamish - but then, self-defense isn't exactly a tea-and-finger-biscuits discussion topic, is it?)
As soon as I heard about this knife design in mid-2015 (from an entry on John's blog), I wanted one; and Miss D., when she read about it, wanted one too. Trouble is, I don't think Spyderco did a big enough production run. The ARK was out of stock everywhere I tried to buy one - even on Spyderco's own Web site. With the aid of Internet searches I eventually came across the Bento Box Shop in California, which not only had (and still has) stock, but priced them a lot lower than Spyderco's MSRP. I ordered two, and they were waiting for us when we got back from Texas yesterday.
Miss D. and I are very happy with our new knives. They're literally as sharp as a razor; I shaved off some stubble with mine, with no trouble at all. In fact, if I hold the sheath in the wrong place as I draw the knife, I can see I might slash my finger to the bone. It'll take a bit of practice to make sure I keep my digits out of the way. (Of course, for emergency use one would simply rip the knife out of the sheath without worrying about holding it steady.) They'll make very useful additions to our defensive toolbox.
Also of interest is that the Bento Box Store is sponsoring gifts of the ARK to service personnel selected by John Shirley. You'll find details here. If you'd like to consider donating one to a deserving person, I'm sure they - and John - would appreciate it.
(A closing note: I paid full price for the two knives I bought for myself and Miss D., with no added discount or any other compensation for mentioning them here. I just wanted to tell my readers and friends about a really good idea, and the knife that resulted from it. It's a useful tool to solve a serious problem.)