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"Stay 'unreasonable.'  If you don't like the solutions [available to you], come up with your own." 
Dan Webre

The Martialist does not constitute legal advice.  It is for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.

Copyright 2003-2004 Phil Elmore, all rights reserved.

Clawed Arm of the Law: The Spyderco Matriarch

By Lawrence Keeney


Drug Task Force Agent Harry Barker was glad to get home from his three- day assignment in Southern West Virginia. The information he and his team of undercover Sheriff's deputies and state troopers had collected would go a long way toward bringing down a group of Methamphetamine dealers that were ruining the lives of a lot of good people. 

Being by nature a cautious man, Barker took no chances where his personal safety was concerned. He carried a nickel plated Series 70 Colt Commander in 45ACP. This gun, while being more than powerful enough for the job, didn't scream "COP" like a Glock or a Sig-Sauer would. He could get away with drawing and pointing that weapon at a perp to make a point and it wouldn't make those people think he was anything other than another drug dealer -- albeit a well-armed one. Also, the Mother of Pearl grips with naked ladies on them would not be tolerated on the sidearm of a cop, would they?

The third thing Barker did on arriving home, after disarming his burglar alarm and petting his dog, was to set his 45 down on his coffee table. He grabbed a cold beer, sat down in his recliner in front of the TV, and quickly fell asleep. The cop was so fatigued he didn't even take off his shoes.

Stirring around 3 a.m., Barker starting looking for his briefcase. Remembering it was in the car, he ran out to get it from the trunk. It was a decision he would soon regret. Bending over to put the key into the lock of his trunk, he was slammed hard in the back by what had to be a baseball bat. 

"April fool, motherfucker, you didn't think we would forget, did you?"

He had put so many people in jail over the past year. This attacker could have been any of them, or related to any of them.

Falling to the ground, the cop realized a huge weight -- probably the attacker, -- was on his back, trying to choke him out. The attacker's hairy forearm was around his neck and he could feel himself slipping away. If Harry allowed that to happen, it would be all over for him. Frantically, the cop clawed in his pants pocket for the familiar clip of his Spyderco Matriarch, a wickedly sharp hawk-billed folder. He was able to pop open the knife and, with some difficulty, found his attacker's forearm. With all his might, he sliced across the man's hairy skin. The assailant rolling off of him followed a sickening scream and the warm feeling of blood across his face. 

"Mother Fucker! You CUT me," the attacker screamed. "Oh Jesus, Oh holy Jesus."

Harry clawed at his ankle holster for the ever-present Smith and Wesson 442 Airweight 38 special. He drew the last-ditch weapon and pointed it at the attacker. He recognized the very surprised and gravely wounded assailant as a member of the Detroit Crips. The man's sidekick, who probably thought this was going to be an easy murder of a cop, tugged at a Ruger 9mm pistol he had in his waistband. 

"Don't do it man," the cop urged, I don't want to have to kill you." 

Fear, good sense, or a combination of the two caused the sidekick to drop his gun on the ground and throw his hands into the air. The cop's neighbor, a retired deputy, heard the screams and came into the yard with a cell phone in one hand and a snub nosed Colt Diamondback in the other. 

"Cops are on the way, and so is an ambulance," the neighbor noted, "but I can see you have everything under control as usual."

This scenario, based on an actual incident related to me by an undercover officer over a year ago, is the very situation for which the Spyderco Matriarch was designed. This knife evolved from its big brother, the Spyderco Civilian. 


Spyderco Matriarch, little brother to the Spyderco Civilian.

Both are unique knives. They were designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone: last-ditch self defense for cops, undercover operatives, and the people to whom the staff at Spyderco refers as "the White Hats."

The Matriarch and Civilian differ only in small ways, mostly in the length of the blade. The Matriarch has a slightly shorter blade and is also lighter. It was initially marketed in South American and South African markets as a self-defense weapon. After great demand, the knife was released to American knife consumers who needed such a device but were put off by the additional weight and cost of the Civilian.

The company rightly points out that the Matriarch is not a "killing knife," per se. According to company literature, "The knife is not designed to kill. In fact, it would be very difficult to use it for that purpose. The shape of the blade does not permit straight penetration. It is designed to 'hit and run' in a self defense situation."

The knife has a 3.5 inch blade of ATS-55 steel and a nicely textured 4.75 inch handle that provides great traction.  The metal pocket clip is reversible and removable but configured for tip-up carry only. The rocker-bar lock is strong and there is no play when the blade is locked open.

The Matriarch is truly a unique tool. Tto learn properly the manual of arms needed to use the Matriarch correctly takes some thought. To that end, users would be well advised to pick up the Spyderco Civilian training video by Master at Arms James Keating. The tape provides some in-depth instruction in the use of the Civilian (and therefore of the Matriarch). 

Keating stresses some important points in the video, foremost of which is the fact that it cuts on both ends. "The user needs to know that they can injure themselves severely if they don't take this knife seriously," Keating noted. He pointed out that he had cut himself with the knife too, so care needs to be taken with it. "The Civilian doesn't just cut, it rends," he emphasized.

Keating demonstrates a number of easily learned moves that can allow the user to free himself in a deadly situation. I hesitate to list all of them here, but take my word for it: if you watch this tape, pay attention to what he teaches and you will have the rudimentary skills needed to make it home alive.

[Editor's note:  Other viewers of the tape, rightly impressed by Keating's skill with the blade, have wondered if the moves shown are too complex -- mechanical skills that perhaps only someone of Mr. Keating's skill could make work.  We leave it to the individual viewer to decide.  If you own the knife, you really ought to obtain the video.]

Keating also notes the uses of the Civilian/Matriarch series in situations that may be life threatening but not based on violent actions. The curved blade is quite helpful to safely cut accident victims loose from jammed seatbelts, as well as for several other highly possible scenarios for avid outdoorsmen. The Spyderco can cut a whitewater rafter loose from an overturned boat on a raging river, for example.  Keating pointed out the knife's utility if a parachutist becomes entangled in his chute, too. The deployment of the Matriarch can easily mean the difference between life and death.


Please keep in mind the reasons James Keating outlined the rescue uses of the Matriarch/Civilian. Of course, saving a life is of paramount importance. That goes without saying. There is another reason, however. 

Imagine you come into contact with a law enforcement officer and he asks why your carry that dangerous looking curved pocketknife. A reckless and stupid response would be to say, "well, officer, I carry it because I need something to defend my life." Many if not most officers will either take you to jail for carrying a concealed weapon or, at the very least, confiscate your $100 plus knife. Now, the intelligent answer would be, "I just got back from a whitewater rafting trip and this is my rescue knife. I'm sorry officer, I meant to leave it in the car when I got home. I'll put it in the trunk right now."

That's the difference between being a savvy street warrior and being a stupid poser.