What’s a Karatel Knife?

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There are many Russian knives known to the whole world. While some are available to all for use, a few are reserved for special purposes. Karatel is one such knife reserved for security personnel.

It refers to a set of knives that the Federal Security Service (FSB), the descendant of Soviet KGB has adopted. These tools come in a couple of versions, each differing in blade shape, handle material, and sheath.

Also known as the Punisher or Antiterror, Karatel is designed for the arsenal of FSB’s special units. It is the brainchild of the designers working at the NOX company. Its design is based on the models from the famous enterprise, Melita-K.

Karatel comes with a few design features that attract those who admire tactical tools. Its different models tend to fulfill the requirements of armed forces mainly. Sounds interesting, right? So, let’s explore Karatel in detail.

In 2005, Vladimir Putin, the honorable Russian President, had once visited the FSB’s headquarters where he was first introduced to the special armor, called the Punisher. The knife was made by the order of law enforcement agencies. This is also the reason why some of its versions are unavailable to the public.

This knife is the latest addition to the series of innovations for Spetsnaz, a privileged unit of the FSB as well as one of the elite units of special forces on the planet. Spetsnaz refers to the special Russian forces. Its literal translation is ‘unit of special designations’.

Overview of the NOX and Melita-K Brands

karatel punisher knifeThe NOX company is known for designing cold weapons as well as special gear for security. A few of them are now an integral part of the special forces in Russia. Its fight weapons have proved themselves in terms of performance at the time of military operations.

Knives are also among its renowned weapons. The company designs a huge number of knives for travelers and hunters. The Melita-K firm also designs and manufactures a variety of cutting tools, ranging right from knives having a single blade to the gear meant for the military.

Traditionally, the blade material was exposed to heat treatment followed by an abrasive sharpening of the edge and the grind. However, at the time of milling or using an abrasive disc, the microstructure did not remain intact and the properties of metal used to degrade.

This persuaded Melita-K to use the cold pressure methodology for metal processing. Herein, the untempered blade material is exposed to cold deformation in a dedicated device to give shape to the knife. The structural features then get a boost with the plastic deformation of steel due to the reduction in the metal’s grain size.

Even the cutting edge is forged by this deformation by using the procedure of ultrasonic forging. Later, this forging technology formed the basis of forging knives and scalpels of medical grade. These patented improvements render edges with better wear-resistance as well as durability than those made using conventional means.

Melita-K uses a variety of high-grade stainless steel as well as carbon steel for making blades. The hardness of carbon steel measures 58-60 on the Rockwell scale and 56-58 for stainless steel. The measurement of 60 HRC is believed to be the best for a durable knife.

Thus, a Karatel knife, if made using carbon steel, is comparatively harder. Anything higher than this point indicates a very hard but fragile build. Most cutting edges have a hardness level of 52 to 58 HRC.

Interestingly, Melita-K is an expert in making almost all types of knives, including one-edged or multifunctional pocket knives, machetes, combat knives, self-defense knives, tourist knives, Finn knives, and support knives. A Karatel belongs to the collection of combat knives.

Karatel Knives

karatel knifeThe Karatel series knives are available in three major versions namely, Punisher, Maestro, and Wag-1/Wave. The Wave features an edge that is partially serrated at the root, while the Maestro has the same on the top. The blade surface of a Karatel can be layered by black chrome or anti-glare finish.

Distinguished by line form, two-sided handguard, and blade with anti-reflective finish (black or camouflage), the Karatel has a light and firm design. This firmness or rigidity comes from the bilateral reduction of the cross-section of the blade.

The blade is typically made using a specially made steel, 70H16MFS-Sh or 70Х16МФС. This steel is known for its sharp edge and high durability.

The wide, asymmetrical blade is ideal for digging and facilitates using a knife as extra support on inclines holding loose soil. The concave, petal shape of the blade gives an edge that can cut well.

The cutting part has a high penetrating ability and features a crescent cavity due to which the length of the cutting edge can be increased without compromising the linear length. It facilitates maximum use of the cutting area and boosts its cutting ability. The butt lightly tapers to the front.

The overall design was made considering the requirement to interrupt the blade regularly. It also gives a boost to the knife’s usability while handling with a thumb on the guard’s bevel.

The top of the handle facilitates a firm grip in your hand while using it for traumatic blows. The handle is made up of either thermoplastic elastomer or pressed leather.

Cutting the sharp section of the butt is troublesome because of the increased handle weight and undulating shape. The knife is not meant for working with trees and ice-creams although it works well for cutting meat.

Stable steel keeps the fracture risk at bay. You can sharpen this knife but it will not last long. The best use of this knife is thrusting.

There are civilian versions of this legendary knife as well. They differ only in the sense that they do not have a guard. The remaining characteristics of the knife stay intact.

A Karatel typically comes with a high-quality leather sheath that you can mount on the shoulder, foot, leg, belt, hand, or any other element of marching or combat gear.

It is recommended using a Karatel featuring a small cross in its combat-apt design. Herein, the cross’ ends are warped towards the tip. The design keeps the risk of slipping at bay.

Wag-1 differs from the standard Punisher in terms of serration at the blade’s root part. The presence of sharp serration aids in swiftly cutting a rope, which is a bonus benefit. This version is identified by its strength.

Physically comfortable finger restraints ensure efficiency while working with this knife. Even this knife comes with a sheath. However, it is not available for civilians.


A Karatel knife is made for the special FSB units in Russia. They are available in three varieties namely, Karatel, Wag-1, and Maestro. Regardless of the type, you get worthy features but none of them is versatile. They all are confined to making throws and thrusting.