Al Mar Mini SERE Operator Knife Review

Since 1979, Al MAR Knives has been committed to making unique designs at quality levels that rival custom, handmade knives. Today, each knife crafted by AL MAR is hand-finished and hand-sharpened by craftsmen dedicated o creating the very best possible. Each AL MAR knife features flat-ground blades for strength and superior performance—and that’s just one reason to trust the AL MAR name.

This knife company is headquartered in Tualatin, Oregon. And although they are headquartered in the United States Al Mar knives has a reputation for making tactical knives with innovative design.

Al Mar was born in the US, a son of Chinese immigrants. Mar served in a Special Forces Reserve unit and in the late 1950s volunteered to serve in Vietnam with a special project using all-Asian Special Forces soldiers. The project was run from Okinawa where the 1st SFGA had a forward deployed battalion stationed and support assets. Mar was a non-commissioned officer. After serving in the Army, Mar earned a master’s degree in industrial design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Mar went on to become a packaging designer and eventually the head of knife design for Gerber Legendary Blades in 1968. Gerber’s head designer had retired and Pete Gerber gave Mar the task of coming up with an aluminum handle for a kitchen knife. Gerber thought the project was very successful and offered Mar the position of design chief.

In 1979, Mar left Gerber to form his own company: Al Mar Knives. The knives were manufactured in Seki City, Japan, in a 1000-year-old sword making facility. Al Mar’s relationship with them started in 1976/77 when he worked for Gerber and G.Sakai manufactured the Silver Knight folders. Over the years, G.Sakai subcontracted some models that were made by Mitsuboshi, Tak Fujita, and Hattori.

Al Mar died in 1992 from an aneurysm. The color guard provided for his memorial service was drawn from the reserve Special Forces company then stationed at the Portland Air National Guard base. Mar had supported the untie for some time and was an honorary member of the company.

Today, the company is headed by Gary Fadden who purchased a controlling interest. Unhappy that G.Sakai had the right to manufacture knives under the Al Mar label for the non-U.S. market he switched to manufacturing to Moki, also of Seki. In the late 1980s Mar was inducted into the Fighting Knives Magazine Hall of Fame. Then in 2009, he was inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame.

Today, we will be discussing the Al Mar Mini SERE Operator knife.


The Blade:

The blade on this classic knife is made out of VG10 steel. VG10 steel is a designation used for a very particular type of stainless steel that is mostly used in knives. The G in the name stands for “gold”, which refers to the “gold standard” that this level of stainless steel is considered to have met. This steel is produced in Japan, and it is the Japanese cutlery market that has traditionally made the most use of this particular type of steel in its knives. However, it isn’t just kitchen cutlery that has put VG1- stainless steel to good use over the years since the designation was officially created. Many top of the line pocket, hunting, and tactical knives have used this type of steel. This steel has an insane ability to withstand rust, and holds an edge better than most steels that you are going to come across. This stainless steel is a high carbon steel, even though carbon only makes up a relatively small amount of the total material of the blade.

Because this is such a traditional knife, the blade has been finished with a satin finish. The satin finish is the most popular blades in use today. This blade finish is going to give you a very traditional look that will never go out of style. In luster, this finish falls between a shiny and a matte finish, although it does reduce the glares and reflections that this blade. This finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of an abrasive, which is usually a sandpaper. The design of the satin finish shows of the liens and the bevels of the blade perfectly.

The Mini SERE Operator has a spear point blade shape. This blade shape is very similar to the needle point blade because they are both god for piercing. But, the point is actually stronger and it does contain a belly that the needle point does not. This small belly can be used for slicing small tasks. The spear point is a symmetrically pointed blade with a point that is in line with the center lien of the blade’s long axis. Both edges of the knife rise and fall equally to create a point that lines up exactly with the equator of the blade. Some of the biggest differences between the spear point and the needle point blade shape is that the spear point has a very strong point, but it is also sharp enough for piercing. The needle point blade shape is a little sharper but does have a much weaker point. Spear point blades contain a small belly which can be used for some cutting and slicing applications but the belly is relatively small when being compared to drop point and clip point knives. The spear point style blade is a perfect choice for the knife enthusiast who is looking for a good balance between piercing and slicing. This is the perfect blade shape for this Al Mar fixed blade because it is strong enough to perform tasks, but sharp enough that you can still use this as a self-defense weapon if the situation should arise.

The blade on this knife is a plain edge, which gives you a better chance at survival if you are in a survival situation. The plain edge is better equipped to take on a wider variety of tasks and the plain edge will give you much cleaner cuts, as opposed to the jagged edges of a serrated edge. Because this knife sports a plain edge, you will also be able to sharpen it in the field with a rock. The plain edge has the capabilities to get sharper and to have a finer edge on it.


The Handle:

This Al Mar is a full tang blade with linen Micarta handle scales. When you are looking for a solid fixed blade, you need to be searching for a full tang. Luckily for us, this one fits the bill. A full tang blade means that the metal from the blade extends through to the butt of the handle. Then, the scales are attached with pins through the full tang to secure the handle. The handle scales are made out of linen Micarta. Micarta is a popular example of phenolic-which is a substance made with the organic compound Phenol, which is a type of resin. To make this material, thin layers of linen cloths are soaked in a phenolic resin, producing a product that is lightweight, strong, and looks somewhat dressier than G10. It was originally introduced as an electrical insulator and is easily one of the best plastics out there for making knife handles. Unfortunately, Micarta in and of itself has absolutely no surface texture, and is very slippery and smooth. This material does require quite a bit of hand labor to produce and then and then carve some sort of texture into the knife. This makes it pricey, which does translate to a higher pried knife. Some people do worry that because people can carve texture into the handle, that the material is easily scratched. This is not the case. Micarta is very hard and definitely not easy to scratch. Micarta’s pros is that it’s tough, light, and durable. It does have cons though, it is expensive, and it is a more brittle material.

This linen Micarta handle is black, with three bolts going down the length of the handle to attach the scales to the tang. There is a slight finger guard and two elongated finger grooves to give you a comfortable grip. The butt of the handle does flare, to keep your grip a little more secure. And, a lanyard hole has been carved into the butt. The lanyard hole is perfect for keeping your blade securely on your pack or belt, keeping it close enough for easy access but still out of the way, wrapping it around your hand or wrist to give you a little extra grip, or even just adding a touch of your own personal style.


The Sheath:

This Al Mar blade comes with a nylon sheath. Nylon is known to be a lightweight knife sheath material. Nylon sheaths are less expensive than leather or Kydex sheaths. Nylon sheaths with not rot if submerged in water, but they also will not protect your blade from moisture if it is submerged or in a humid environment. Nylon sheaths are great for outdoors and tactical purposes because this style of sheath is going to be silent when drawing your knife. This is a very cost effective style of sheath. Unfortunately, nylon sheaths do have the propensity to get worn out quicker. When they do get stretched out, the sheath will still work, but they won’t work as adequately after that. Your knife will not be as secure in the sheath, so you will have to be more careful when you have it with you.


The Mechanism:

This Al Mar blade is a fixe blade, which means that there are no moving mechanisms in the knife that are capable of breaking. One of the biggest benefits of a fixed blade is how easy the maintenance is and how sturdy the knife is going to be. Because there are no inner pieces, to clean this blade, all you have to do is wipe down the blade and oil your blade on occasion. And, this fixed blade is going to be so sturdy because there are no pieces inside of the knife that can rust, breakdown, or fall apart.

Some of the other benefits to having a fixed blade is that the blade length and thickness can be bigger, which means that it is also sturdier. The blade does not have to fit inside of the handle, so it can be as large as the manufacturer desires.

One of the final major benefits to having a fixed blade as your go to knife is that there are no legal issues surrounding them. With a switchblade, you are not allowed to carry them in all states, cities, or areas, but with a fixed blade, you are allowed to have it any place that you can have a knife.


Al Mar Mini SERE Operator Knife
Al Mar Mini SERE Operator Knife

The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 4 inches long, with a blade thickness of 0.14 inches. The overall length of this knife is 8 even inches long. The Al Mar Mini SERE Operator knife weighs in at 4 ounces.


The Conclusion:

Al Mar’s classic SERE design is featured here in a most fantastic Mini fixed blade version.  It sports a VG10 cobalt stainless steel blade with a full-length perimeter tang for maximum strength. This blade has the classic satin finish, with a stainless steel that can resist rust effortlessly.  This 4″ blade is incredibly simple, elegant, and best of all, practical for an enormous variety of situations.  The handle scales on this full tang blade are made out of Micarta. The Mini SERE Operator has a synthetic sheath system which has been designed for ambidextrous carry in a variety of positions.  You can even carry it inside the waist for maximum concealability.  This fixed blade knife is one you just have to have for your collection–or to carry into combat. This knife is a true classic. Pick up your brand new Al Mar Mini SERE Operator today at BladeOps.