The RU Tutley Shiv | MNKF

ru titley knives
| October 29, 2018
Categories: Knives

This evening we’re going to take another look at custom knifemaker RU Titley‘s Shiv (or that’s what Metzger’s calling it). You’re welcome.

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RU Titley Knives — there are shivs, then there are Shivs

Originally published in July of 2016.

The term “shiv”, as most of us know, relates to a stabbing instrument fashioned from ordinary objects usually found in prisons. The classic shivs are fashioned from toothbrushes, broken glass, found metal and for the artisans, rolled paper (arts and crafts for the criminally inclined).

(Check out CorrectionsOne for some great examples)

Sometimes we get a bit caught up in fancy folders and limited edition stabbers, but there’s something interesting about these “homemade” single-purpose instruments. I’ve always been intrigued by the design and ingenious approach to fashioning these “blades”. Disturbing and frightening as they might be, it’s still worth understanding the concept to further build your knowledge base for, if nothing else, self-preservation. Yes, there are instructors out there who have studied and been surrounded by those in society’s underbelly and are willing to teach the dark arts, whether it’s for understanding your opponent or as just another building block in your training.

(You can buy this collection for a “small fee”, shipping is extra.)

I had picked up a “shiv” or a boot-knife that was fashioned from an old saw blade and made by Ru Titley a year ago. The blade is 3.5mm high carbon saw blade steel 175mm overall (6.8 inches) with 70mm edge (2.7 inches). The handle is wrapped in Technora cord. Technora cord is abrasion resistant, UV resistant and doesn’t stretch.

RU Titley Knives "Shiv" custom fixed blade.

The kydex sheath was designed for multiple carry options. The extra rivet holes allow for various belt clips so you could customize how you carry. It’s also thin enough to disappear or run along the belt.

RU Titley Knives "Shiv" custom fixed blade.

Yeah, it’s a bit more refined than a sharpened piece of fence with a torn bed sheet for a handle, but those are the benefits of not being locked up.

RU Titley Knives "Shiv" custom fixed blade.

What’s really nice about the size is that it can be tucked away in really sneaky places. Behind mag pouches, between a pouch and chest rig, or of course strapped to your ankle or tucked into a high boot. The great thing about prison shivs is their adaptability and ease of concealment.

Those were the main inspirations in choosing a piece like this.


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Mind you, he has many other designs that would have suited what I was looking for. This, for instance. This is a piece of his work he describes as a primitive “neo-tribal kiridashi.” As you can see, it’s similar to the Shiv.

R.U. Titley Knives custom blade work - he refers to this as a primitive neo-tribal kiridashi.

R.U. Titley Knives custom blade work - he refers to this as a primitive neo-tribal kiridashi.

The friction fit sheath was built from a mountain sheep leg bone from Snowdonia National Park. He advises it was sun-bleached, then aged brown with potassium permanganate, then wrapped with 3-strand braided sinew and adorned with bone beads, buffalo horn skulls from Nepal, and copper nail eyelets scavenged from a shipwreck on the beach near his home.

R.U. Titley Knives custom blade work - he refers to this as a primitive neo-tribal kiridashi.

Sick, isn’t it?

R.U. Titley Knives custom blade work - he refers to this as a primitive neo-tribal kiridashi.

Now, who makes a good rolled paper knife?

Some shivs are definitely better than others!


Got some more time? Plenty more knife reviews where this came from — or, check out some of our coverage of other knifemakers.


Read more by Breach-Bang-Clear’s only Tactical Hippie — he’s an important part of our esoteric eclecticism! 


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  1. Jeep

    It reminds me of the Corsican traditional stiletto. Very effective and lightweight…

    • Craig

      Yes! Good comparison.


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