Hi everyone. Let’s start fresh and clear the air. I'm William (aka Will), the owner of Vulture Equipment Works. I would like to straighten out a few points that have been brought up about the knife and properly convey the back story of myself, my Company, and ultimately the product being offered.
I started Vulture Equipment Works shortly after my recovering from a near-fatal accident that entailed many years of rehabilitation. Prior to that point in my life, I was a Government/Military contractor running a multi agency/state force-on-force training facility, which was formed in the months following the 9-11 attacks. As such, I had assembled a group of highly skilled individuals and started the long process of finalizing a series of curriculum that was later implemented and used throughout the industry and government training. My entire team and I had only one mission: to produce a level of training that would ultimately save lives no matter the engagement scenario. Throughout this process, our demand was very high for specialized gear that worked the way it should and held up the way it should.
The first product I introduced with Vulture Equipment Works was a set of adventure straps used in aviation photography. The product grew out of a personal need for a piece of serious gear for a job I was doing. There were no rigging platforms at the time that would do what was needed without "frankensteining" them out of several other platforms. Such “frankensteining” in this particular application could ultimately prove fatal as aviation photography involves hanging out the back of a speeding airplane with another following tightly behind. If anything gets unattached in this scenario, it will probably find its way into the engine of the other plane. Due to their specialized construction, these adventure straps proved to be capable of many other critical tasks.
When it came time to launch the knife and tool division of the Company, I instantly went to the design I had personally built for myself and carried throughout my years hunting and working in Central America. This first knife model became known as the Cholera. While the name does get a fair amount of rejection, I thought that keeping a solid “Vulture” branding concept was more important. Likewise, we just finished final production samples on our new axe and have named it Drigung after the Tibetan monastery that still practices sky burials. I believe that product quality and the Company behind that product matters much more than a product name.
Cost is something that is always a critical point in both the purchasers’ eyes and the manufacturing process. While several other knives on the market might cost less and probably serve a similar purpose, I do have to point out that we employ several design elements that others just choose to omit, such as a G10 liner or real linen Micarta. While such design elements may not matter to all users, they matter to me. Since my personal reputation and my Company’s reputation are at stake, I will always produce a product that I can proudly use myself and proclaim that it has been tested and proven.
I could have manufactured the knives in China to bring down the cost, but I feel it is my duty and honor as an American to make my knives proudly in America. Furthermore, the men and women who depend on my products can be proud to know that I chose to manufacture entirely in America rather than overseas.
My choice of steel for the knife being offered on Massdrop has been accused in these discussions of being of lesser quality, when in fact that is entirely false. While high carbon steel is a great steel for blade making, it oxidizes and rusts really quickly if untreated. As such, I chose to use 154CM for a few different reasons: (1) It is made in Pennsylvania and not overseas; (2) It is a cost effective way to offer my customers a proven stainless steel without the increased costs of higher end powdered steels like S35VN; (3) When you look at where 154CM sits on the hardness scale, edge retention scale and corrosion resistance scale, it is found right in the middle of those charts; (4) I spoke with several steel mills and their engineers (metallurgists) who supply steel to some of the more well known knife makers like Mick Strider, Chris Reeves, Spartan and others and these engineers all confirmed these facts. Sure I could have made the knife out of S35VN or even CTS-XHP with no problem, other than boosting the cost of the knife to around $650.
My knives are used by so many diverse customers as a critical piece of equipment like on Trans-Antarctic & Arctic Expeditions, in military units, by SWAT teams, as well as by hunters and explorers who value a product from one of their own. I refuse to ever let these individuals down with subpar quality.
The Mk1 knives were produced under contract with TOPS, which did a marvelous job of working them in their base steel of 1095 with a differential heat-treating process. As such, any comments about the quality of my knives not being as good or as proven as TOPS are just unfounded. Plus, TOPS doesn’t just make knives for anyone who walks off the street. There is also a considerable time and money commitment involved. I had a great and successful time working with the TOPS team in bringing my knives into the production world (which is far different than hand made knives).
With the Mk2 I decided it was time to bring things back home. I was looking to upgrade to a stainless steel and ultimately change the machining by implementing 5th axis work for the bevels. I also strived to achieve repeatability locally as well as tweak my design based on feedback from users in the field who were using the the Mk1 blades for other-than-intended purposes. I took this feedback to heart and got to work on making the best Mk2 I could.
During the research and development process for the Mk2, I performed extensive cost analysis in regards to offering a ton of features and utilizing quality materials, while ultimately achieving a given price point. Therein lies the difficulty! While a $50 knife might do the job just fine for most people, such a price point is just not possible with everything my target customers and target market demands in my knives.
On top of a very high quality and made in America knife, my customers also get a unique level of customer support. Those who have purchased my products in the past can attest that I personally answer my phone and talk to customers who have concerns and/or questions regarding their potential or previous purchase, no matter how long the call takes. I don't hide behind a wall at trade shows either. I am there front and center meeting customers and making friends. I believe this is the only way to create a strong and successful Company.
I hope that some of you on Massdrop are still interested in the Mk2 knife and that the pages of sideline discussions haven't scared you away from the offering. I urge you to look into the brand a bit and if you would like, feel free to call me at 630-804-9600 with any questions.