Sam Fisher’s Karambit – Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Though I wouldn’t exactly call the Splinter Cell franchise realistic, with its sonar goggles, and Sam Fisher’s uncanny ability to decimate entire legions of enemy soldiers, it is evident that Ubisoft Toronto has done their homework in the weapons department for their latest game, Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Take, for example, Sam Fisher’s Karambit knife…

Gone is Sam’s drop point combat knife, and in its place, he’s now wielding a brand new hooked blade Karambit. Don’t feel too bad if you haven’t heard of it before. It’s not exactly the knife you would use to say, open your mail, or cut down a cardboard box. No, the Karambit is designed for one thing, and one thing only: killing people.

The Real Sam Fisher Karambit

Originally designed as an agricultural tool, the Karambit (or Kerambit) was quickly weaponized, with the hook becoming more prominent. Today, the fixed blade variant often looks like this one from knife manufacturer Cold Steel.

sam fisher karambit

Now, I’ll spare you a further history lesson, as sites like this have a far more detailed account of the Karambit’s evolution. Instead, I pose the following question: why did Ubisoft decide to go with a hooked knife instead of a drop or chisel point blade? Though I’ll fully admit that I’m not a knife fighter by any stretch of the imagination, straight edges have always seemed more practical to me. The curvature of the Karambit makes it better suited to a reverse knife grip, and from my understanding, there’s a lot less power and reach in that type of motion. If I’m wrong, feel free to reach out in the comments below. It may look cool, but would a real-life Sam Fisher use a karambit? Third Echelon issues these knives, but the real-life military certainly doesn’t.

Kerambit Techniques

In a recent Splinter Cell: Blacklist video, we saw protagonist Sam Fisher – who is, sadly, no longer voiced by Michael Ironside – taking down enemies in a wide range of stabby ways. Though I’m guessing Ubisoft won’t implement *all* of the martial arts techniques possible with this type of knife, this video should give you a pretty good idea of what they look like being carried out in real life. I apologize for the lack of English in the video. This is what’s available.

YouTube player

Extreme Realism, the Future of Military Games?

I always find it interesting to research where development studios draw inspiration from, and I feel that military games will continue to become more violent and feature more realistic fighting techniques and equipment.

In Splinter Cell: Conviction, Ubisoft introduced many to Krav Maga, a “little known” martial art, and Center Axis Relock – a shooting system that works with a shooter’s instinct to draw inwards. These are both real-world examples of particular fighting techniques. In addition, the level of violence in Splinter Cell: Conviction is… a little bit disturbing. I love shooters of every sort, but seeing a mini-game that centers around digging a knife in a person’s shoulder? It’s a bit much for me, and I’ll be interested to see if my predictions are correct.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since I wrote this article so many years ago, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about Sam Fisher’s Karambit. I thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most common ones here:

What is a Karambit Knife?

The Karambit is a small, curved knife that originated in Indonesia. It is designed to be used as a tool for self-defense and close-quarters combat. The blade is usually less than four inches long and is incredibly sharp. The knife’s handle is also curved, allowing a more comfortable grip and making it easier to conceal the blade on your person.

The Karambit is also unique because it can be used with either one hand or two. When using it with one hand, the blade is held between the index finger and thumb and protrudes from the bottom of the fist. This allows for a very tight grip and makes it difficult for an opponent to disarm you. When using the Karambit with two hands, the blade is held in a reverse grip and is used more like a dagger.

What are the Advantages of the Karambit?

The main advantage of the Karambit is its versatility. It can be used for everything from self-defense, to cutting through rope, to opening cans. It is also a very efficient killing tool. The blade is designed to puncture, and the curved handle makes it easy to slash an opponent’s throat.

The Karambit is also incredibly easy to conceal. The small size of the knife means that it can be hidden almost anywhere on your body, and the curved handle makes it easy to grip, even with gloves on.

The Disadvantages of the Karambit

The main disadvantage of the Karambit is its limited range. The blade is only four inches long, less effective than a sword or dagger in a fight. It is also more challenging to thrust the knife into an opponent’s body, as the blade is not designed for that purpose.

The other disadvantage of the Karambit is its lack of a guard. This means your hand is more exposed to being cut, which can be a severe problem in a close-quarters fight.

Did the latest Splinter Cell video games use the karambit as well?

Sadly, there haven’t been any new games in the series since Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Gamers thought the game was pretty bad, and unfortunately, Ubisoft neglected to go back and create something more similar to Chaos Theory, the very best game in the series.

Double Agent wasn’t perfect either. It seems like Chaos Theory was pretty much the only good Splinter Cell game.




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Chad is the co-founder of Unfinished Man, a leading men's lifestyle site. He provides straightforward advice on fashion, tech, and relationships based on his own experiences and product tests. Chad's relaxed flair makes him the site's accessible expert for savvy young professionals seeking trustworthy recommendations on living well.

15 comments on “Sam Fisher’s Karambit – Splinter Cell: Blacklist”

  1. Actually, in the reverse hold (also known as the icepick grip), the karambit does alot of power. Due to the curve of the blade, it’s more a slasher than a poker. In reverse it’s slower but power-oriented, while in hammer grip (blade up) it’s faster but “weaker” (generally producing shallower cuts more often). But that’s just my exp with the blade. ~_~ it could be different per person

  2. Incidentally, I work in a stockroom. My folding karambit is honestly all I could ever want for opening letters and taking down cardboard boxes. It’s good at that for the same reason it’s used in combat, in that the blade sinks and grabs on it’s own into the cutting medium, and doesn’t try to ride up and out of it. Hook and tear, works with boxes just fine.

  3. True; born in Indonesia and a farm tool and later adapted to a weapon it is found in many styles of “Silat” and has been adapted Filipino martial arts. Not an “at range” on dueling weapon, the karambit is used best in stealth. The ring that wraps around the index finger in “ice pick” grip mode, often goes unnoticed by attackers, especially in the darkness of night. History denotes that poisons we often employed by female assassins to deliver single passing cut kills, hours later. Some older Karambits are purchased still sticky from said poisons. Standard grip offers finesse and speed in cutting, however, the power is in “ice pick” grip as you would the middle, and especially the inside range. “Plucking” nerves in the shoulder and arms render the attacker helpless as their limbs no longer function and require surgery to repair the damage… if they live. unlike a standard straight blade, you do not need to “cap” the knife with your thumb to save your hand from running the blade if you hit bone. Due to the ring around your finger, you can strike with full force, capable of puncturing the skull and the lungs when traveling between the ribs in the standard stab, slash or plucking attacks one would employ the Karambit. You can also use it in “extended grip” with allows reaching soft targets in the groin and neck areas. Practicing flipping the knife to and from extended grip is where most injuries occur, just as they do for Balisong or butterfly knives, also from the Philippines. From the Jurus found in Silat,”Ricochet” hitting (James Keating) or “Rebound” (Ray Dionaldo)striking can be used for incredible speed in cutting. Disarming is made difficult due to the ring and grabbing the weapon arm of a Karambit wielding person usually ends badly for the grabber. As you said, it’s got a learning curve to it, as it has a special use and much more “character” than a normal, straight blade tactical knife, but it’s really good at what it does… in the right hands. Further sources and training material would be: Sayco Kali, Ray Dionaldo and Steve Tarani. Cold Steel, 5.11, Mantis, Keen Edge Knives($$$)and Emerson($$$$) make good fixed and folding Karambits as well as Karambit trainers. It’s better to be judged by twelve, than carried by six.

  4. thanks for this post i found it to be very informative. As i just purchased a karambit and was wondering about the general use of such a blade. while reading this article i was actually holding and practicing attacks.

  5. Actually, the reverse grip allows for *more* potential power behind each strike. In addition, it allows the knife to be quickly manipulated to deliver a variety of different strikes from different angles. However, it absolutely does reduce your reach and forces you to commit more to your attacks and is clumsy and inefficient for one who isn’t well-trained in how to implement it effectively.

    I should also note that the military does indeed use a reverse grip, at least some of it. My best friend, an infantryman with the 75th Ranger Regiment, was trained in the Special Operations Combatives Program which included some lessons in knife fighting. Both SOCP and a friend in his Battalion (who is a martial arts/knife guru) advocated use of the reverse grip and trained the Rangers in such a fashion.

    The reverse grip isn’t inherently better or worse than traditional grips like the hammer style. It depends on the blade, user, and situation more than anything.

    As for the kerambit… Sam received it as a gift and only used it because that’s all he had on hand during the prologue mission. Afterwards, who knows? He has to get in extremely close to his targets during takedowns and captures anyways, and that’s where the kerambit absolutely shines. He’s not engaging in stand-off knife fights, after all. In addition, the kerambit allows for control (rather than purely lethal) techniques by hooking joints and appendages.

  6. The karmbit is issued to a few US black-ops operations, most are fixed blade however. This blade is issued for many of the reason other people have mentioned above. If you are interested just do a YouTube search for karmbit techniques and you will understand now deadly this knife can be. I can say from a first hand survivors account that the folding karmbit I carry everyday saved my life. By the way I am also a concealed carry permit owner in the state of Texas and was carrying my gun when the incident happened. This is a serious knife for serious business. If anyone plans on getting a karmbit also get the practice version I have suffered many nasty gashes at my own hands. Thank you.

      • I apologize about the earlier spelling my phone kept auto correcting. But to answer your question I carry a Emerson super karambit. Yes they are expensive but my life is worth every dollar. The knife did not collapse during the fight, even after taking several hits from a club. I will not go into all the details but the knife survived multiple stabs, slashes and thrust.

  7. Being a practitioner of silat and also combat systema (Kevin Secours take on systema) among other martial arts, Heres my take on the karambit: WHile the unorthodox shape of the blade doesnt make it readily apparent as to how effective it is, the karambit excels at its purpose… killing people. Seeing as how Sam Fishers mission put him in close proximity to his enemies, a weapon like the karambit is a logical choice. Its shape allows for a level of control of your opponent that a straight blade is designed for, making dragging, turning and shifting your opponent much more effective. While straight blades CAN put more force behind a forward (hammer) grip strike, it is important to remember that the function of any blade is simple: to cut. Unsurprisingly, getting cut in a knife fight is a pretty common occurrence. Getting killed even more so. The rule of thumb for knife fighting being: if you have a knife and the other person doesn’t, they’re dead. If you don’t have a knife and the other person does, you’re dead. If you both have knives, you’re both dead. This is assuming of course, that both opponents are of equal levels of skill. The karambits edge over straight blades comes from the curve of the blade and the ring. The ring aids in weapon retention, and also in extending the range of striking through flicking the blade. the curve of the blade adds considerable cutting power to any slashing technique, and also aids in limb controlling techniques, takedowns and disarms. An operative in Sam Fishers situation would benefit greatly from a weapon with these advantages, and while non orthodox, the karambit is extremely effective at its purpose. As far as utility is concerned, It looks like Sam Fishers personal karambit has a few other things going for it. Even if it doesn’t, its not impractical to carry one blade for combat, and another smaller blade for utility purposes… Its all up the the individual operator, or, in Fishers case, the dev team.

  8. No wonder games journalism isn’t taken seriously anymore, even in 2014 there were already smarmy people making BS articles like this. “If you haven’t heard of it before, don’t feel too bad” wow Chad you are so higly educated and more knowledgeable about knifes than us, lol. didn’t think someone could be that much of a smug self-important person. Implying that a Blackhawk knife (the one used by Fisher before blacklist) is “the type of knife you would use to say, open your mail, or cut down a cardboard box”. and then he contradicts himself, what is it chad? make up your mind, is the Karambit “designed for one thing, and one thing only: killing people.” or “designed as an agricultural tool”. Articles like this were the ones who started the downfall of games journalism. #Feminism


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