SOCP, or the Special Operations Combative Program, was developed by martial artist Greg Thompson to provide the Special Operations community with a hand-to-hand fighting system. Thompson also developed several knives for this martial arts system, with the latest being the SOCP Fixed Blade that’s manufactured by Benchmade.
The SOCP Fixed Blade is a dagger-type weapon – large but thin and lithe – and designed for close-quarters combat. It harkens back to the original M3 Trench Knife which was a dagger with a stacked washer handle, a slight handguard, and a 6.75-inch blade. It was specifically designed for troops who were not carrying a bayonet, including Rangers and paratroopers.
Breaking down the SOCP Fixed Blade
The SOCP Fixed Blade has a long 7.11-inch blade that gives users reach and allows them to hit vital organs from nearly any angle. A seven-inch blade is a good balance between length and utility and a common theme we see with successful knives like the KA-BAR, the M3, and Gerder Mk.2.
The knife is 11.74 inches long with the handle, which is pretty big for a knife, but it only weighs 5.78 ounces – for comparison, the KA-BAR, with its seven-inch blade, weighs 11.2 ounces.
The blade itself is thin, which often leads to a more fragile weapon. However, Benchmade wisely used CPM-3V steel, which is a rugged tool steel that is designed to resist breaking, chipping, and tough wear. The knife has two edges, but one of them only runs halfway along the blade. The blade is razor-sharp and smooth; I wouldn’t want to take a poke or prod from it.
Benchmade designed the knife to have a full tang, and it’s one hunk of steel from the blade to the end of the skull-bashing handle.
The SOCP Fixed Blade in hand
Benchmade and Greg Thompson made some smart decisions with the knife. In the modern battlefield, using a knife or melee weapon in hand-to-hand combat is exceptionally rare. This makes it tough to justify carrying around a big, heavy, fighting knife that takes up a ton of room. Keeping the knife both lightweight and thin makes it easy to forget about attaching it to your gear. Its small size keeps it out of the way of other gear that might be more mission-important
Further, the knife allows you to carry it high or low, and the sheath is MOLLE compatible, so it fits easily on modern gear belts and plate carriers.
The SOCP Fixed Blade has an excellent grip. Its aggressively textured material keeps it from sliding when used, even when wearing gloves, and a set of G-10 scales is fit to it to keep it locked into your hand. Another retention feature is the knife’s lanyard loop, which, when used, makes it tough to lose the knife. Additionally, the handguard keeps your hand from riding upwards and onto the blade.
The sheath has two active-retention features. One is a removable thumb snap that’s useful for securing the blade. The second is a small tab on the sheath that must be pressed outwards to draw the knife: it’s very easy and natural to press and makes removing the knife quick and easy. It also prevents someone from taking your knife and using it against you, which is a very real threat in close-quarters combat.
Fighting with the knife
It’s tough to review the knife without being able to get into a fight. Luckily, Benchmade also makes a non-edged, dull knife for practice. So, I whipped out my MCMAP manual and brushed up on the knife fighting section.
A Century BOB and I faced off, and I practiced my slashes, stabs, and bulldogging. Not once did my hand leave the blade. Even as temperatures ratcheted up and I poured sweat, the grip remained firm and my hand never made its way to the blade. I stabbed, and slashed, and the knife took it on.
The long seven-inch blade really gives you so much range. You get into what you think is your basic boxing range and realize that you have seven inches of extra reach. Additionally, slashes, stabs, and strikes were easy to perform.
A tool like this is designed not to be in some extended Hollywood-inspired duel against another knife-wielder; instead, it’s designed to give the fighter an advantage if things suddenly get hands-on. In that role, this knife is a beast.
I think Benchmade has a real winner with the SOCP Fixed Blade. It’s an excellent fighting tool, and like most Benchmade knives, it’s made to last.