It was a sad day in July 2011 when it was announced that Blade Hall of Fame knife designer Walter “Blackie” Collins died in a motorcycle accident. His ideas had traveled across many a manufacturer’s drawing board and his own bench. Mr. Collins was a founding member of the Knifemaker’s Guild. Colonial Knife Company’s Blackie Collins Signature Series contains the blades that may be Mr. Collins’ final production designs.
Just months prior to Mr. Collins’ death, he met with Colonial Knife Company‘s owner, Steve Paolantonio, at Blade Show 2011. They agreed to collaborate, with Mr. Collins to design two blades for Colonial Knife’s Ribbed and Ameba automatic knife frames.
Paolantonio said he wanted to bolster the “cool factor” of their Made in the USA auto knives. While happy with the unique DOW Isoplast polymer handles, which were done up by Adam Smith at the Rhode Island School of Design, Paolantonio and Collins felt the blades could be jazzed up a bit.
Mr. Collins came up with a tanto design for the larger Ribbed handle and a clip point for the diminutive Ameba model. The tanto would be available in plain edge and half serrated; the clip, plain and full serrated. Finishes on either blade could be had in satin or non-reflective black. At the prototype stage of the collaboration, Mr. Collins passed. It would be nearly a year until the work on these knives resumed.
Both of these knives feature a coil spring-fired automatic action, which is actuated via a button lock. A sliding switch, next to the button, locks the knives in either the open or closed position for safety. A tip down pocket clip on the right side of the knife completes the package.
In talking to Mr. Paolantonio at Blade 2013, he told me he was sad at his friend’s death, but proud of the finished products. The tanto, available in black or tan handle, is just right for Military and First Responders. The smaller knife is California-compliant and makes a neat money clip or keyring knife. I handled the knives above and I liked their sturdy actions and grippy feel. MSRP for both knives on the Colonial website is $69.99.