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I was put on to this by Hardbark McLoughlin, who is as crazed about good knives as I am. It’s the work of Owen B. Baker, Jr., who is a retired Air Force light colonel, and has been in the custom knife biz for eight years. His trademark is Bakr-Bilt Custom Knives and leather, and his work is immaculate. This utility-survival knife is called the Phantom. It’s a drop-point made of 154-CM steel tempered to Rc58. A Rockwell of 58 is a little on the soft side for 154-CM, but Mr. Baker anticipates that you will be unkind to his knife, and softer stands up better than harder. It also makes the knife extremely easy to sharpen.


The Phantom is designed to slide almost all the way into its sheath (which, by the way, is immune to water immersion) and stay there without a snap or keeper. The black lacing was added by Hardbark. You can do the same, or you can leave the steel bare.

Owen Baker has no website; he has been working from a backlog ever since he started, and he likes to talk to his customers anyway. His address is 410 Loren Lane, Newport, TN 37821, (423) 625-9625.

There are a great many wonderful craftsmen making knives these days, and Owen Baker’s work measures up to any of them. The price for the Phantom with a 5-inch blade as shown here is $220.