Built For High Adventure.
For some, daring to be different is a way of life. Adventurist and author Robert Young Pelton is one of ’em. He has spent much of his adult life dancing with death in the nether regions of the world and lived to document it in his bestselling books The World’s Most Dangerous Places, Licensed to Kill, and his autobiography The Adventurist.
If you’ve read any of Pelton’s books, you’ll know he has hung out with elite forces, murderous militias and dungy denizens of the dark side in the most hostile places on the planet. Along the way, he’s witnessed just about any weapon known to man — including high-tech rifles and machine guns to the most primal edged tool. When he decided to branch out beyond the confines of his journalistic success, knives captured his interest.
Pelton is good friends with another prominent adventurist Jeff Randall of ESEE Knives and Randall’s Adventure and Training (see our feature on ESEE Knives in the March/April issue of Handgunner).
“Ten years ago I was in Peru and met Jeff for the first time. He said I should design a survival knife. He kept bugging me until 2008 when we launched my first fixed-blade design. We called my brand DPx for Dangerous Places in extremis and the small spring steel knife was called the HEST for Hostile Environment Survival Tool,” Pelton tells us. “In 2010, the response was so great I started my own company and launched the DPx Gear HEST folder. Next year we will have over a dozen products made in the USA and Northern Italy.”
DPx HEFT 4 Milspec
DPx HEST II Safari
Rare Breed Indeed
It is extremely rare to find people in either the custom or manufacturing segments of the cutlery business who did not participate in the rank and file of the industry. Typically custom knifemakers beget other custom knifemakers and new businesses rise out of older, established ones. Pelton never had any interaction with the cutlery industry before founding DPx Gear and, as a consequence, fresh ideas and innovative designs sprang forth from his uncluttered mind.
“I know nothing about making knives,” Robert relates. “But I know about combat, expeditions, bush work conditions and how many hours a customer has to work to buy a quality knife. I work with the best people, constantly challenging them to set aside industry preconceptions. I enjoy seeing all the other knives and designs at the Blade Show, but I am constantly in the field with our customers.”
Pelton’s philosophy is to start in the field to understand exactly what a user wants and needs, and to work with his customers to evolve their products. So far, it’s been pretty successful.
One thing Pelton knows a lot about is marketing — which was his previous full-time career before traveling the globe. DPx Gear adopted a stylish look to its branding and packaging, which gave the company instantaneous market awareness, especially among younger buyers.
“The knife business to most consumers is a blister pack product in a big box or outdoors store,” Robert says. “A survival knife is more likely to be decorated by a photo of someone who makes a living pretending to survive on TV rather than an heirloom-quality product designed by someone who actually uses it to survive. I want the young generation to get away from Reality TV and actually enjoy reality. Many of our servicemen and women have learned a lifetime quality knife from a trusted maker is a thing of joy and lasting beauty. I want to make products capable of bringing back a sense of satisfaction, and something to pass on from generation to generation.”
Because he knows the importance of carrying a failsafe product in the wild, Pelton demands only top-shelf materials in the makeup of his knives.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Special Forces units, security contractors, police, outdoorsmen and hunters, and we cater to their very specific needs,” Robert describes. “Our new products in 2014 will also cater to the high-risk sportsman with lighter, smaller and durable products.”
“Understanding how our Special Forces units use weapons and tactics in the field is how our knives are born or perfected. They also ‘feel’ right-balanced for their intended use, lightened to save weight and with maintenance-free materials.”
DPx HEST/F Milspec
DPx HEST II Milspec
Blackwater Aculus LE
Rock Solid Line
If one knife put this relatively new company on the map, it’s the DPx HEST folder. All it takes is a glance to realize this mid-size gem doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter look of many folders. The HEST’s kicked-out base and notched blade add options not found on other folders, such as a wire stripper, bottle opener and removable glass breaker tip in the base.
The blade is a V-ground drop point capable of medium field chores and a nice degree of self-protection. On the backside is a sturdy titanium frame lock with Italian manufacturer LionSteel’s patented adjustable Rotoblock system. A G10 front scale completes the package, which has morphed into a wide range of color and finishing options.
In addition, each folder comes with a very cool skull adjustment tool you’ll want to keep out of the paws of your friends for fear of not getting it back. The original DPx HEST fixed-blade is thriving as well.
DPx Gear’s larger fixed blades march in under the Hostile Environment Field Tool or “HEFT” label. These are drop-point designs as well, available in 4″ and 6″ blade lengths atop a comfortable, palm-friendly bag handle. On the base, you’ll find an integrated striker pommel, pry bar, bottle opener and lanyard hole. All HEFT and HEST fixed blades come with a Cordura sheath. Optional Boltaron thermoplastic sheaths with Tek-Lok are also available.
Recently added to the DPx line, is the Aculus gent’s folder, an upscale collaborative effort combining Pelton’s eye for design and LionSteel owner Gianni Pauletta’s ability to sculpt metal. Pelton knew those who work high-risk security and plain clothes wanted an extremely strong, but thin tool able to be worn without creating a signature.
The Aculus’ sleek, sculpted frame is ingeniously machined from one solid piece of aircraft-grade titanium alloy. The top shelf ELMAX martensitic steel blade rolls out via a rhomboid-shaped slot. A slim pocket clip keeps the knife at the ready when carried. All of this makes the Aculus as close to a custom knife as you’ll get without the moniker.
DPx Gear’s pricing is very reasonable. The entry level DPx HEST fixed blade starts at $123 and the folder at $218. DPx HEFT fixed blades start at $175 and the Aculus Framelock Folder tops the line at $350.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/dpx-gear, (888) 233-3924
By Pat Covert
Photos By Chuck Pittman