Many of the commonly taught retention shooting techniques rarely work. They may be great on the square range but can get you killed in the real world. At bad-breath distance, you need to defend yourself from the threat before you can draw your gun. Here empty-hand techniques and possibly the use of the blade come into play.

The use of a knife also enables you to gain physical balance, a dominant body position, and leverage, or to create space before introducing a gun into the fight. Some examples where this may be necessary are when in a lethal clinch, when attacked from behind, on the ground in a bad body position, or thrown over objects.

The simpler and more instinctive a knife is to employ and the more reliant it is on gross motor skills, the more effective it will be in an actual fight. When split seconds count, you ideally want a fixed blade not a folder. You want a knife designed to facilitate stabbing. You also want a knife that has specifically been designed to facilitate seamless transitions while retaining control of the knife.

Skallywag Tactical D2 Dagger. It’s designed to be employed as a transition tool to create distance.

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger more than meets all of these criteria. It’s the brainchild of Skallywag Tactical, a small Florida-based veteran-owned custom knife shop that describes itself as a “skunk works shop that builds cool stuff.” The company’s stated mission “is to manufacture the highest quality tools for people whose lives depend on the tools they carry.”

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger certainly rates high on the “cool” factor. More importantly, it’s a dagger designed specifically with close quarters combat (CQC) in mind.

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger is designed to be a stabbing weapon that’s employed as a transition tool to create distance in a grappling situations encountered in CQC. It’s a ring dagger that’s designed to allow you to get to a safe leverage position before transitioning back to your firearm. In military and SWAT applications, the Dagger is typically worn centerline on the outer tactical vest (OTV) for easy access with either hand.

According to Craig Burhart, one of the owners of Skallywag Tactical, the Skallywag Tactical Dagger was designed to overcome some of the issues that they saw with a popular ringed dagger, i.e., it was hard to get a finger in if you have a big hand and/or are wearing gloves and they simply wanted to make it a little more robust over all.

The blade profile of the Skallywag Tactical Dagger is based on an Ancient Greek Hoplite spear that was designed to penetrate armor. In order to keep the tip strong, Skallywag Tactical chose not to make it a dagger/knife but to only make it a dagger, with no cutting edge at all, such as the Italian stiletto of the Renaissance. They accomplished this by only grinding the edge to a 40 degree angle and as a following edge to the point. The blade undergoes a final hand-grind for a needle-sharp tip that’s designed to penetrate soft armor. The Dagger has an incredibly sharp tip and produces deep, wide wound channels.

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger features a large ring at the top that allows the blade to be a quickly accessed gross motor skill weapon using one or two fingers.

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger features a large ring at the top that allows the blade to be a quickly accessed gross motor skill weapon using one or two fingers to anchor your grip even with thick gloves and allows retention of the Dagger while performing other tasks, such as transitioning to a firearm.

The capability to maintain retention of the Skallywag Tactical Dagger while transition to a firearm is a critical feature of the design. As former US Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzalez of Trident Concepts has pointed out “…once you’ve deployed an edged weapon, it’s oftentimes just better to keep it out. Trying to secure a folder is reasonable, but trying to secure a fixed blade can pose new problems. Simply dropping a knife or dagger is not an answer, as by so doing you are potentially introducing a weapon for an assailant into the fight.”

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger is available in your choice of D2 tool steel or 6051-T6 aluminum alloy. The Dagger has has an overall length of 7.85 inches. It has a 3.85-inch blade and is 0.25 inches thick, tapering to the tip. It has a blade fuller (often erroneously referred to as a “blood groove”) and choil. The D2 version weighs four ounces without sheath. The aluminum version weighs 1.6 ounces without sheath. The sheath adds 0.8 ounces.

The Skallywag Tactical Dagger handle is scale-less to minimize thickness. The lack of scales allows the Dagger to be carried closer to the body and makes it more difficult for an assailant to grab. The handle is equipped two finger scallops in addition to the large handle ring.. All edges of the handle are chamfered for comfort.

The steel version of the Skallywag Tactical Dagger has been upgraded from the original 440C stainless steel used in earlier production and is now CNC machined from a billet of D2 tool steel. Skallywag Tactical heat treats the steel to 58-60 HRC.

D2 is an air-hardened semi-stainless tool steel. It offers better corrosion resistance than most tools steels due to its higher chromium content and has excellent wear resistance, making it a good choice for hard use applications.

The 6061-T6 aluminum alloy Skallywag Tactical Dagger is designed for those desiring a less expensive lighter weight version that still offers excellent performance for its intended purpose as a last-ditch GTFO stabbing weapon. Skallywag Tactical does caution that the aluminum blade will not tolerate being thrown at trees or bounced off concrete or used outside of its intended use

Skallywag Tactical Aluminum Dagger and sheath. The Daggers come in a presentation-quality black, fitted gift box.

6061 is a precipitation-hardened aluminum alloy containing magnesium and silicon as its major alloying elements. It’s one of the most common aluminum alloys for general purpose use. T6 temper 6061 has an ultimate tensile strength of at least 290 MPa (42,000 psi). It remains resistant to corrosion even when the surface is abraded.

Skallywag Tactical is now using Ionbond® for the coating process on the D2 Dagger, instead of the original Cerakote® ceramic coating. The D2 Dagger is available with either a Black, FDE or OD PVD coating. The Skallywag Tactical logo is laser etched into one side of the blade.

Ionbond is a relatively new coating that is applied through a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) and\or PA-CVD (Plasma Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition) process. Ionbond coating improves wear resistance due to its high hardness, low coefficient of friction and high structural integrity.

The Aluminum Dagger has a hard-anodized finish. It’s available in not only black, but also in pink, red and teal for the ladies. It also has the Skallywag Tactical logo laser etched on one side.

All Skallywag Tactical Daggers come with a black, low-profile injection-molded polymer Single Loop MOLLE/PALS Dagger Sheath with a black spring-steel clip.

The sheath has been upgraded with a new clip that provides much better retention for IWB/OWB carry or just putting it on a backpack or inside apurse. The friction-fit sheath holds the Dagger securely yet allows it to be quickly drawn.

The availability of a training version is an important consideration when selecting a defensive blade. The pros at Skallywag Tactical recognize this and offer a training version of the Dagger, The Dagger Trainer features a rounded tip and is made from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. It’s hard-anodized in bright blue to easily distinguish it. The Trainer fits in the standard Dagger sheath. The Dagger Trainer may also be employed as a less lethal tool.

Skallywag Tactical now manufactures its Daggers and Dagger Trainer offshore as part of its value added line to keep costs down. An in-house USA manufactured D2 Dagger is available for Berry Compliant orders or special orders at extra cost.

Melissa Miller holding Skallywag Tactical D2 Dagger. Melissa has appeared in three seasons of Discovery Channel’s primitive survival challenge “Naked & Afraid” and is passionate about nature education.

Workmanship on the sample Skallywag Tactical Daggers was absolutely flawless. The Daggers come in a really classy, presentation-quality black, fitted gift box with the Skallywag Tactical logo printed in silver foil on top and magnetic closure. Very impressive indeed.

To sum it all up, the Skallywag Tactical Dagger is an exceptionally well made and well thought out design. It’s a single purpose lethal tool that serves its intended purpose exceedingly well.

The Skallywag Tactical D2 Dagger has a MSRP of $170.00. The MSRP for the Aluminum Dagger is $69.00. The Dagger Trainer has a MSRP of $40.00. The Single Loop MOLLE/PALS Dagger Sheath is also available separately for $22.00.

Skallywag Tactical offers a 10% discount to military and first responders. Use the code “MILLESAR” when ordering.

The Skallywag Tactical Daggers and Dagger Trainer come with a lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship.

Skallywag Tactical also offers edged weapons training. Contact them for details.


Design: 5/5
Workmanship: 5/5
Materials: 5/5
Function: 5/5
Weight: 5/5
Overall Rating: 25/25

Material Disclosure
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Eugene Nielsen

Eugene Nielsen provides intelligence and security consulting services. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California. His byline has appeared in numerous national and international journals and magazines.

  1. Hi I’m intrested in buying on is it only the red one that is light weight or is the OD green and black one light weight also?

    1. The Dagger is available in D2 tool steel and in aluminum. Both are comparatively light weight, although the aluminum is obviously lighter. Both models are available in a variety of colors.

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