“At intimate killing distances, where milliseconds separate the victor from the vanquished, Gripknife gives you nanosecond lethality and real world reliability.” - U.S. Navy Seal Veteran Christopher Mark Mck
Every Second Counts
Gripknife, an Innovative AR-15 Foregrip that Features a Tactical Knife Inside, Provides an Added Layer of Defense
By Doug Jeffrey, Photos courtesy of Gripknife
Magic seems to flow through Dan Caldwell’s veins. While with a Southern California-based law enforcement agency, he served the public. During Caldwell’s run as co-founder and president of TapouT, the insanely successfully MMA clothing company recorded off-the-charts sales and crazy success for years. Every endeavor this 49-year-old delves into seems to turn to gold. In his most recent project, Caldwell is collaborating with Michael Rice. These two joined forces to create Gripknife, a company that just released a revolutionary AR-15 foregip that comes equipped with the Patriot, a tactical knife.
In the following story, Rice reveals the details of this journey, including the intricacies of this innovative product and the input this Ohio-based company is getting from law enforcement, operators and others.
You’re about to find out what happens when two superstars collide..
Knives Illustrated: How did you and Dan connect?
Michael Rice: I attended a Tony Robbins (life coach, motivational speaker) event in Florida in which I was sitting just a couple seats away from Dan [Caldwell], one of the founders of TapouT. At some point during the multiday event, I showed Dan a video of the Gripknife prototype I was working on, and he absolutely loved it. He left the event early to work with some troops in Afghanistan, but I made sure to get his contact info.
KI: After your initial meeting, how much time elapsed before you formed the company?
Rice: Dan and I formed Gripknife, LLC in 2014 with Shane Tully, one of my older brother’s childhood friends. I had just found out that Shane was a damn good machinist and engineer for a leading industrial knife company, and he was also looking to start a manufacturing company. Because he lived just down the road, the pieces just sorta fell into place.
KI: Magical, right? It was almost like the stars aligned.
Rice: Right. Well, originally I wanted to license the idea. With a background in business, I knew it was very expensive and time consuming to build a manufacturing company. Dan wanted to build another great brand, and Shane wanted to manufacture in the United States, so I said, “What the hell. Let’s do it.”
Looking back, that was 100 percent the right choice to make because of the challenges we needed to overcome. For example, I don’t think employees would have had the desire and determination required [to complete such a project], and I don’t think many companies would have dedicated the vast amount of time, resources and heart that we had to put into this.
KI: For those new to Gripknife, describe the product.
Rice: Gripknife is a revolutionary foregrip with one major difference—it converts into a combat knife in the blink of an eye. It’s the world’s first and only foregrip and knife in one. With the push of a single button, Gripknife detaches from your weapon and goes from a standard issued foregrip to a ready-to-use knife … without taking your hand off the grip.
It’s the only actual accessory that attaches to a weapon that provides true defensive capabilities, especially in the close-quarter environments that police, military and homeowners spend much of their time.
KI: Fittingly, the knife is known as the Patriot.
Rice: Yes, we called this Gripknife model the Patriot. It’s our model with the 4-inch blade. We anticipate other blade and grip styles and sizes, but we felt this one was the best option with which to start.
KI: Describe the technology in the foregrip, how the knife is engaged, etc.
Rice: It’s simple. You hold onto Gripknife like a normal foregrip. When you want to deploy your knife, you press the Gripknife firing button on the mounting sheath and pull down—your blade is automatically deployed and locked into place, ready for use. When you want to return the knife back into the foregrip position, just press the blade unlock button on the knife handle while simultaneously pushing the knife upward into the mounting sheath. It will lock into place.
KI: What makes it the strongest OTF (out the front) knife?
Rice: Gripknife is the strongest OTF knife there is, second to none. What makes Gripknife so strong is a combination of things … from the high-quality materials, precision machined parts, our entire inner-frame (chassis) and patent-pending lock design.
We’ve used Gripknife as a chisel to break apart cinder blocks, which is unprecedented in OTF knife designs. Few collapsible knives in general can do that. They have to be some of the strongest in the world to do that without breaking, so coming from the OTF class, it’s very incredible.
KI: The Patriot goes for $595. What does that include?
Rice: You get a 100 percent American-made product. The Patriot is made with some of the very best materials. Nothing is made overseas, and we believe in that a lot. Each Gripknife is custom-fit during hand assembly and then tested many times for quality.
For packaging, you get a foam storage case and a hex key for installation, which is also made in the United States. In the end, you have the strongest OTF there is, and the most accessible knife on the planet when attached to your weapon ... and that’s important when every second counts.
KI: What prompted the idea to create this knife?
Rice: In home defense situations, weapon retention and even malfunctions are major problems, and they can also be issues with the military and law enforcement, too. In a fight, you don’t always have immediate access to another weapon either. Gripknife is already in your hand and ready to be used at a moment’s notice—just press one button. Speed is everything.
KI: The knife also has a survival application. Tell us about that.
Rice: As a teen-ager, I had one of my dad’s survival knives that had matches, fishing gear and other things kept in the handle. I really appreciated that because it’s very convenient to have a lot of important potentially life-saving things with you at all times, especially when they are tucked away and light enough that it’s not a burden to carry with you regularly.
My mom bought me my first semi-automatic rifle for my 14th birthday, and I naturally resonated with the idea of important accessories that stay attached to your weapon so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them or not having something in that one moment when you truly need it. When we built our first Gripknife prototype and saw how fast and accessible it was, we knew we just created something big.
Yes, it’s good for survival, but there’s nothing more accessible. You can literally deploy it and use it all within a second. It’s a great weapon to have, because every fight is different and you want options.
KI: From concept to product, how much time elapsed?
Rice: From the idea to actually having a real product, it took about 6 ½ years. Before I met Dan, I was in a licensing deal that ended up going south, so that tied up a year or so to get all my patents back. After founding Gripknife, we had to turn an old auto shop garage on Shane’s property into a prototyping and production facility from pretty much nothing. Manufacturing comes with a lot of challenges, so it took a bit of time, money and effort to finally get here.
KI: When did the product become available?
Rice: We just started shipping Gripknife in September .
KI: The knife is for the military, operators, law enforcement and the public?
Rice: Correct. It is not just for police and military. Gripknife is ideal for civilians, too, because it’s built for close-quarter scenarios such as those that occur in home defense. Today homeowners find themselves needing to defend against three, four, or even five or more armed home invaders, so a growing number of homeowners are responding with high-capacity rifles. As cases show, there’s always a risk of a weapon malfunction, ammunition depletion or a struggle to retain a weapon. At 3 a.m., homeowners will not likely have enough time or the ability to grab a backup weapon or an extra mag [magazine] to bring into the fight. Thus, Gripknife provides an added layer of defense because it stays attached to your firearm, ready to be deployed instantly. In a life-or-death situation, that can make all the difference.
KI: In some states, the public likely faces restrictions.
Rice: We tell everyone to obey the laws regarding knives, concealed knives and forward grips, as there’s so much gray area. For military and law enforcement, none of those laws apply, so that makes it easier.
A couple good knife rights organizations like American Knife & Tool Institute are working around the clock to help remove the old and senseless laws surrounding knives in America. I mean we’ve personally testified at the Ohio State Senate to help the cause, but they seem to move at ... well, the speed of government.
KI: What type of feedback have you gotten from the military, operators and LE?
Rice: Yeah, I mean we have to scale up manufacturing to be able to handle the types of orders and requirements that may come with larger military contracts. That can take some time, but we are going to get there.
We currently have some SOCOM (United States Special Operations Command) and infantry guys using and training with Gripknife, and there are some law enforcement officers using Gripknife on duty. The feedback has been purely excellent. I think a lot of that is because we didn’t cut corners. We made it the right way, and we worked closely with some of them during the entire development process. We listened to them and understood their points of concern.
One thing in particular we hear frequently is that they feel much more prepared and confident when in close quarters with their rifles, because they are concerned about bad guys grabbing their rifles.
KI: The SHOT Show is just around the corner (Jan. 21-24 at the Sands Hotel), and you guys will be there. What are you anticipating at this annual event that is based in Las Vegas?
Rice: Currently, we’re getting ready, and we are looking forward to a great time at SHOT 2020; we anticipate things going very well. Gripknife is a new, innovative and very useful accessory; those don’t come along very often. Gripknife will be on full display in its own case in the New Product display area, and we will also be at booth 1328 (first floor). To get a feel for Gripknife and how it operates, we encourage people to stop by and check it out.
KI: How satisfied are you guys with how this turned out?
Rice: At the end of the day, we couldn’t be any happier with how things turned out. Not only did we put a lot of time and effort into this, we poured our hearts and souls into this for nearly seven years. In the end, Gripknife is extremely effective, reliable and way stronger than any of us had originally anticipated. It sorta took on a life if its own.
KI: What’s next?
Rice: Well, we look forward to being around for a very long time building some really cool things. We will always continue to innovate and improve Gripknife, especially to further meet the needs of our military and LE.