Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker

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"Arctica" obverse side view in CPM154CM powder metal technology tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Coyote/Black G10 fiberglass/epoxy composite laminate handle, locking kydex, anodized aluminum, stainless steel sheath
"Arctica"

The PJLT: Pararescue's Most Popular CSAR Knife

Pararescue Light (PJLT) combat tactical rescue knife in 440c high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, canvas micarta phenolic handle, kydex, aluminum, nickel plated steel sheath
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The United States Air Force Pararescue: our nation's top military rescue service

On this page, you will read topics about my most popular tactical combat search and rescue knife, the PJLT (Pararescue Jumper LighT). There are captioned thumbnail photo boxes, and if there is an associated page to that photo with more information, photographs, and details, they will be linked in blue.

Thanks for being here and thanks for supporting our military, rescue, and law enforcement professionals who make it possible for us to love the life we live in the United States of America!

Jay,
This is Jared Lay; my family has bought several knives from you. I bought my brother, Jeremiah Lay, a PJLT Shank knife for him when he graduated the fire academy. Well, long story short, my brother uses the knife all the time and just had it with him in the Philippines, after the destruction. He went into some areas for rescue that were the first rescue people in. Just wanted you to know we love the knives you have made and that they are doing great work across the world.

--Jared Lay



Background of the PJLT: Pararescue Jumper's LighT Combat, Search, and Rescue Tactical Knife

Over a dozen years ago, a small group of men dressed in battle dress uniform rang the doorbell of my knife shop and studio in Magdalena, New Mexico. They told me they were conducting tactical training exercises twenty miles north of the village, in a remote part of the South Central New Mexico badlands. They were PJs.

PJ is the acronym for Pararescue Jumper, the short name version members of the United States Air Force Pararescue. This highly trained soldier-paramedic-rescue service consists of some of the finest men in our military, indeed some of the finest men in our country. They expend incredible amounts of training, endurance, education, practice, and trials to become the guys who go behind enemy lines to rescue other men. USAF Pararescue is, simply, our best and finest military combat rescue service.

PJs are also asked to perform rescues in civilian emergency crisis situations. When civilian rescues are more than civilians can handle, and are where civilian rescue services can't go, USAF Pararescue will be there, answering the call. They do this so that others may live.

When this elite group of men asked if I could make some knives, some very special knives, I was deeply honored to give them my best. They worked with me to design their dream knives that they would use and carry in the field. It started with a small group of knives: the Paraeagle, the Creature, the SERE Kid, and the large PJ as the initial knives designed by active duty Pararescuemen for their use in combat and rescue. Of these four, the PJ was created to be a large and imposing tanto-bladed weapon and tool, with substantial size and meat for heavy use. Though the large-sized PJ was and still is a very popular knife design with military, rescue service, professionals, and collectors, I took it upon myself to design a smaller, lighter version, that was easier to carry, yet had some of the same great features, components, and geometry of the larger knife. From these earlier designs, I created the PJ LighT, or PJLT.

As soon as I finished the first PJLT, I knew I had a hit. This was a substantial knife, toughly designed with just the right geometry and balance to be extremely useful, reliable, and a worthwhile adjunct to the rescue service skill, while retaining the characteristics to be a viable and formidable weapon when needed. With the addition of some useful features like my vampire rip-teeth serrations and top length spine swages, the PJLT has proven itself in the field of combat, service, and rescue across the wide range of tactical and rescue service. While being Pararescue's most popular knife, it has also become a favorite of SWAT team members, Emergency Response Units, Law Enforcement, and even Hazardous Materials professionals.

With the history, design, and reputation of the PJLT, it is not surprising that it is my most popular knife overall. I make more PJLTs than any other knife in my pattern inventory of over 400 patterns.

The PJLT is clearly a fine knife, originally designed for CSAR and utility use, a knife that has become a necessity for many well-equipped professionals, valued by collectors, and depended on by knife users and enthusiasts.

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United States Air Force Pararescue Professionals at work

"My sheath held my knife in place at all times... On one mission when rappelling into a hot HLZ with a 70 lbs pack I went upside down and got drug when the Helo decided to spilt, my knife was there.
Jay, I know of no other knife that you made that have seen so much action. From the first ever Jump mission conducted at the PJ School to the 2 OEF deployments 23 Combat missions in all; not to forget multiple peace time missions. When my life depends on my knife why carry anything but the very best. Thanks for building the best for the best."

--SZ (Super), USAF Pararescue


Components of the PJLT CSAR professional tactical knife
More about this PJLT
  • The Blade: The PJLT can best be described as a tanto-bladed tactical knife. It is medium-sized in the range of knives I make, but don't think that it is small or not up to the task. The blade lengths are typically six inches measured from the point to the front bolster face, which offers significant knife reach.
    • The Primary and Secondary Point: The tanto point has two distinct angles of cutting edge, which creates two distinct point profiles. The primary point is the typical tip of the point, and the secondary point is located where the two cutting edges converge. Because it is designed with wide angles, the primary point has a wide geometry with significant metal to support the point when thrusting or piercing. With the secondary point, the user can bear down on the spine of the knife with the heel of his hand and apply tremendous pressure that he would not be able to apply in any other blade shape when cutting through tough textiles and materials. Because there are two distinctive points, the primary point can be preserved for sharpness and piercing while the secondary is used for more demanding applications. Due to the geometry at the union of the two linear edges at the secondary point, this point is physically stronger than the primary point.
    • The Cutting Edges: The edges of the PJLT are straight. Without complex curves, the knife is more easily held at the correct and uniform angles against the stone to apply and maintain accurate angles to produce a superior cutting edge. These days, I start most PJLTs with a single bevel cutting edge, but the knife owner can easily adapt a double bevel cutting edge as recommended by Juranitch's course in Razor Edge Sharpening for a durable, dependable cutting edge.
    • The Hollow Grinds: This knife blade is deeply hollow ground and the grinds are well-matched and accurate. They are thick enough to be durable and thin enough for a low sharpening angle and increased blade longevity. That means that the geometry of the grind creates a thin and significantly sharp cutting edge because the knife blade is not thick like a flat grind or a convex grind. Because the hollow grind is thin into the midline of the knife blade, resharpening is easier, and the longevity of the knife blade is great even after repeated sharpenings. This is a knife that can last for generations. The hollow grinds are terminated with sweeping curves so mechanical blade-to-handle stresses are distributed across a wide area of the ricasso. The primary point grind is also hollow ground, at a slightly thicker geometry so that the point is physically strong.
    • Serrations: Though some PJLTs are made without serrations, most  of my clients request the typical two inches of my vampire rip teeth serrations at the ricasso. These serrations have developed from my military client's original requests of having rip teeth that work, even if broken off. Too many manufacturers make serrations that are decorative only, and they wanted the most aggressive serrations possible. My vampire serrations are so named because they have alternating radius cuts into the hardened edge of the knife blade, creating a varying geometry and point set that can improve the ripping ability. The serrations are cut at a very low angle, creating extremely aggressive points at the confluence of the grinds. These points dig deep into textiles, hardwood, bone, and a wide variety of materials that make them extremely useful. They are diamond ground for a crisp, clean geometry and are not washed-over or rounded.
    • Thumb Rise: The PJLT has a modest thumb rise incorporated into the spine of the knife blade. This gives purchase for the thumb when held in a forward saber grip, stabilizing the grip while helping to prevent the hand from sliding forward. The thumb rise can also offer control with the thumb over the front of the rise, for more controlled cutting tasks. The thumb rise also offers an area for the lock tang set if the knife is equipped with a locking sheath.
    • Full Tang: The PJLT is a full tang knife, one solid piece of steel from the tip of the point to the butt of the handle. This is the strongest arrangement for an extreme use knife and offers tremendous strength at the ricasso, where the blade and handle meet. There simply is no stronger blade to handle geometry than the full tang.
    • Blade Materials: Most of the PJLTs I make are in 440C (SAE 51440C) high chromium martensitic stainless tool steel, the same steel used to make corrosion resistant ball bearings, valve seats, and tools. This steel is usually chosen for the PJLT because it is durable and wear-resistant, yet is highly corrosion resistant for marine and wet exposures. It can be field sharpened, though it is harder to sharpen than most other tool steels, and is reliable with a long and proven reputation. Some of the clients request the slightly tougher ATS-34, or the more wear resistant CPMS30V (which usually can not be field sharpened). I can make the knife in any steel my clients request.
  • The Fittings: The fittings of this knife are the bolsters, handle pins, and lanyard tubes.
    • The front bolster is designed to bolster the blade-to-handle junction, strengthening the entire knife while offering a wide area for the forefinger quillon to help lock the hand into the handle and prevent the hand from sliding forward onto the blade. It also widens the area at the thumb for applying pressure to bear down on the knife's cutting edge. The front bolster also aids in bedding and physically locking the handle scales to the blade, as the bolsters are accurately dovetailed.
    • The rear bolster strengthens the butt of the knife handle. The rear bolster has a substantial hawk's bill quillon shape to offer an area to pull when extracting from the knife sheath and to lock the hand into the handle for grip security. The rear bolster is substantial enough for light impact, and typically has a lanyard hole that extends completely through both rear bolsters and through the tang of the knife handle. Many clients provide their own personalized lanyards depending on their service duty, use, or requirements. The lanyard holes are chamfered to minimize rubbing and wear of the lanyards. Like the front bolster, the rear bolster is dovetailed to help bed the handle scales and strengthen the entire handle.
    • Lanyard Tubes: When a PJLT is requested that does not have a rear bolster (for lighter duty and a decreased weight), a lanyard tube is used to prevent splitting or wear of the handle materials. It is of the same metal as the bolsters and other fittings, and is chamfered and dressed to minimize rubbing and wear of the lanyard.
    • Pins: The typical arrangement of the PJLT calls for pins securing the handle scales. The pins are the same material as the bolsters, and are through the entire tang and both handle scales for mechanical security. Multiple pins are used instead of few for greater strength, durability, and longevity. The pins are set in zero clearance holes for stability and prevention of infiltration of contaminants.
    • Materials: Though the PJLT is a custom knife and any material can be requested for the bolsters, pins, and handle fittings, mostly I use 304 austenitic stainless steel. This is a high nickel, high chromium stainless steel and the same material used on most stainless steel bolts and fasteners. While many other makers use 416 stainless because it's easier to machine, it is not as corrosion resistant, hard, or tough as 304. 304 stainless steel is a zero care stainless. I can also use naval brass, nickel silver, or other metals per client's request.
  • The Handle: The handle of the PJLT is a full tang handle; it's construction is typically two handle scales attached to the sides of the knife blade tang, secured by the dovetails on the bolsters, the through-tang pins, and a high quality polyepoxide thermoset adhesive. The handle scales are solid, secure, and permanently bedded to the handle and sealed against moisture and contaminant infiltration. The tang of the PJLT is fully tapered properly milled for weight balance so that the knife is not handle heavy, even when using higher-mass handle materials like gemstone. The handle is contoured and nicely shaped for comfort, and blended with the bolsters for uniformity. The handle is not too bulky, and in the standard configuration can accommodate most hands, even gloved.
    • Micarta Phenolic: Most of my PJLTs have micarta phenolic handle scales. Micarta is the trade name for a fine phenolic thermoset plastic, which is waterproof, lightweight, and extremely tough and durable. The phenolic can be impregnated paper, linen, or canvas for increased strength and texture. It is available in a variety of colors and textures. Mostly, I use heavy canvas reinforced micarta phenolic in black, and when bead blasted it offers a distinctive gray pattern and texture that feels secure to grip.
    • G-10: This is a fiberglass-epoxide thermoset industrially manufactured material that is harder than micarta and offers a more distinctive color pattern. It has most of the same properties as micarta.
    • Exotic Hardwoods: There are numerous options of hardwood that are durable enough and have high duty reliability to use on the PJLT, for those who prefer the warmth and character of wood. I only use the harder, heavier types for this tactical knife.
    • Gemstone: I frequently make PJLTs with gemstone handles, some are even in combat. The gemstones I use are hard, tough, and extremely durable, requiring no care. Many of my investment grade PJLTs are handled in gemstone.
    • Horn, Bone, and Ivory: Because these are somewhat porous materials and of limited durability, I do not make the PJLT with this type of handle.
  • The Finish: How a PJLT is finished depends on the blade steel, the handle and fitting material, and the handle material. Most of my PJLTs are bead blasted for a flat, non-glare finish if they are to be use in tactical exposures, but some clients request mirror finish for a lower care factor, higher corrosion resistance, and greater long-term value.

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"PJLT" Tactical Combat, Search and Rescue knife, obverse side view;  in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Blue/Black G10 fiberglass/epoxy laminate handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath
More about this PJLT

Use of the PJLT CSAR, Tactical Knife

The PJLT was originally designed as a light Pararescue CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) knife with tactical combat applications. It has found favor across many fields, from civilian rescue organizations, firefighters, SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) specialists, law enforcement and SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, combat infantrymen and even professional smokejumpers. I've made this knife for a wide range of specialists and knife enthusiasts, and even made several in collector's grade, materials, embellishment, and finish.

The main directive of the PJLT is and always will be United States Air Force Pararescue, and the knife has even found favor with the instructors at the PJ school at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Each year a PJLT is donated by one of my favorite clients for Pararescue use, and I'm honored to be in this relationship between fine patrons and our honored soldiers.

Some of the best knife stories I've heard come from the owners of this knife. One was used to rescue a Navy SEAL from a wrecked APC, one was used to pry the skin off a damaged HELO. One was used to save a trapped PJ's life by severing a nasty cargo net from a tossing tanker in the middle of the ocean. One was used in a critical rescue effort of a collapsed building, and several others have been used to defend a life in CQC (Close Quarters Combat). Others are at the ready, strapped to a PJ, during jumps in combat and over the ocean.

I can't go where these knives do, but I'm thrilled to know they are there!

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Thanks Jay.
We all really appreciated that you took time out of your day, as busy as you are, to let us come by and check everything out. It was very impressive to see all the work, skill and care that goes into the knives you produce.
I also wanted to express thanks for being so supportive toward what were trying to do, and more so, the military in general. We all thought that was really nice. I'm really excited about this knife, just the plastic cut out today was neat, I cant wait to see the finished product.
Once again thanks,

--N.F., USAF Pararescue


"PJLT" Pararescue Instructors knife in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, canvas micarta phenolic handle, kydex, aluminum, nickel plated steel sheath with engraved aluminum flashplate
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Jay,
Just wanted to drop you a quick line. I picked up the knife from fed ex last night and everything is there. Your work is superb! This thing is very light and fast in the hand I cant wait to get it into action. Some people think I am crazy for spending so much on a blade, but in the end knives are worth every penny! Especially if you carry one as your back up weapon and your primary cutting tool into an environment where it must work. Thanks again for your superb work again! Great job!

Vic, US Navy


Accessories and Options for the PJLT CSAR Knife

Since the PJLT is custom and handmade, it can be made in any size, with any materials, finish, embellishment, and personalization that the client desires. On this page, you'll see many different types of PJLT, and I'll add more as they are made. Some useful options and accessories should be considered for optimization of a custom knife.

  • Blade features: I usually include a top swage in the blade spine, though some knives are not made with it. The swage decreases point penetration cross-section, in other words, it makes a more pointed, sharper point. Since the swage is not deeply ground (like blade grinds or cutting edges) it does not significantly thin the spine or weaken it. This makes the PJLT blade able to pierce better, useful for CQB and CQC use and defensive tactics. Some clients want the maximum blade point strength available or they never intend to use the knife in combat, so they omit the top swage. The swage can be any length, and mine for this knife are usually about half of the blade length or half-length.
  • Serration variations: I have several variations of serrations that can be applied to the PJLT. See all of my current serration types, geometries, and styles, plus lots of information, details, and instructions on sharpening and serration applications and limitations on my Serrations page.
  • Filework can be simple, complex, or omitted altogether. Filework can increase the texture on the blade spine and in the handle tang, and increase grip potential as it sets the knife apart as an original, handmade work. More about filework on my embellishment page.
  • Sheaths for the PJLT are usually kydex, are also leather:
    • Kydex tension sheaths are made of double thickness (.125") thermoforming kydex (methylacrilate and polyvinylchloride) formed over a welt-frame of 5052H32 corrosion-resistant, high-strength aluminum alloy. They are adhesively secured with waterproof bonding agents, lined to protect the cutting edge with specialized epoxy based materials, and mechanically bonded with either nickel plated steel, blued steel, or stainless steel Chicago Screws. Most of them have reversible die-formed 5052H32 corrosion-resistant, high-strength aluminum alloy belt loops that are additionally sealed with acrylic, and some have removable flashplates made of machine-engraved lacquered aluminum or brass.
    • Kydex Locking sheaths are made of double thickness (.125") thermoforming kydex (methylacrilate and polyvinylchloride) formed over a welt-frame of 5052H32 corrosion-resistant, high-strength aluminum alloy. They are adhesively secured with waterproof bonding agents, lined to protect the cutting edge with specialized epoxy based materials, and mechanically bonded with either nickel plated steel, blued steel, or stainless steel Chicago Screws. They have all stainless steel locking components and machine screws, for the ultimate in corrosion resistance, suitable for temporary submersion. Most of them have reversible die-formed 5052H32 corrosion-resistant, high-strength aluminum alloy belt loops that are additionally sealed with acrylic, and some have removable flashplates made of machine-engraved lacquered aluminum or brass. More on a special page.
    • Sheath accessories include Sheath Belt Loop Extensions, the Ultimate Sheath Belt Loop Extension,  and Sternum Harnesses. More information on those on a special page.
    • Leather sheaths for the PJLT are made of 9-10 oz. leather shoulder, hand-stitched with polyester sinew, lacquered and sealed. These may have tooling, inlays, engraving, or other artistic components suited to the individual knife. More on my Sheaths page.

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"PJLT" with Ultimate Sheath Belt Loop Extension and Accessory Package, inlcuding Firesteel-Magnesium firestarter, diamond pad sharpener, and anti-flop shock cord on polypropylene and stainelss steel fittings
More about this PJLT and Accessory
PJLT in micarta, linen, with tension fit kydex, aluminum sheath
PJLT CSAR Knife
Ranger's PJLT tactical combat knife in etched 440C stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, black jade gemstone handle, tension kydex, aluminum, steel sheath
Ranger PJLT
The PJLT is a tight, useful weapon and rescue tool
PJLT Knife
Reverse of PJLT commemorative. Note heavy die formed aluminum belt plate
PJLT Commemorative

"PJLT" custom made for Smokejumper: bead blasted 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, canvas micarta handle, waterproof locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath
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Variations of the PJLT Design and Execution

Since making the PJLT is a custom affair, and since it is my most popular knife, you'll see many variations of the PJLT on my site and some are featured below. Some are artistic adaptations, some are derivatives of the original PJLT design, adapted for Pararescue and professional use. This is a versatile knife design, and I look forward to experiencing the evolution of the PJLT in my future years. Please check back as I continually update the website. Thanks most for supporting our military, rescue, and law enforcement professionals who make it possible for us to love the life we live in the United States of America!

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United States Air Force Pararescue, SERE, and Jay Fisher
"PJSK Viper" skeletonized tactical combat, rescue, CSAR knife obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, kydex, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium
More about this PJSK Viper
PJLT Instructors knife in linen micarta, etched 440C blade, etched nickel silver flashplate
PJLT Instructor's
PJLT USAF Pararescue inscription, dedication machine engraved on knife blade
Engraved PJLT Dedication
A deriviative of the PJLT, with a Patriot handle with mid-quillon and thumb spinner on rear bolster
PJLT/Patriot
PJLT shank: skeletonized PJLT with finger ring handle in stainless steel
PJLT Shank
"PJLT Shank" skeletonized PJLT knife in stainless steel
PJLT Shank

"PJLT" reverse side view in mirror finished and blued 0-1 high carbon tungsten-vanadium tool steel blade, plated with nickel images, brass bolsters, Mookaite jasper (New Zealand) gemstone handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath with nickel silver flashplate

PJLT Collaboratives

Below are some of the collaborative PJLTs with links to pages with more photos and detailed descriptions.

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Custom machine engraving on Beauchamp-Fisher collaborative PJLT CSAR knife
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