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Strider Knives • Duane Dwyer Custom • Naval Bronze SMF Project

Prior to becoming a knifemaker and co-owner of Strider Knives, Duane spent some time as a dive welder. Seems like anybody associated with ships, diving, etc. has some sort of genetic fondness for bronze. A couple of SHOT Shows ago, Duane happened to be in the Panerai Watches boutique and drooling over the The Bronzo Submersible and said “I HAVE to do some SMF’s out of bronze!”

Duane Dwyer Customs Bronze SMF Series

It sounded easy…….at the time. See, the problem is that Duane being the materials dude he is, would not settle for cheap aluminum “gift shop” bronze. He insisted on finding and using true high grade, made in USA, shipbuilding bronze. Turns out, this is easier said than done. Getting the material in a size that is workable, and in a quantity that is not a metric S&*T ton, took some real networking. Well, the search finally bore fruit and Duane managed to get a limited amount of material from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. This is not the stuff they make the piggy banks in the gift shop out of.

DDC Bronze SMF Talk

This is Duane talking materials (and a future secret project) to myself and Jeff Gonzales of Trident concept at the 2012 SHOT Show. Do I look sleepy? I am not smart enough to understand when Duane starts going down to molecules and stuff.

With materials in hand, duane set about machining it and surface grinding it to SMF proportions. He had to machine new steel standoffs to replace the normal integral backspacer of the SMF. The resulting knives have an all new (yet at the same time familiar) feel. It is the SMF we all know and love, but with just a solid, dense, and heavy feel. They feel like a bank vault opening and closing. Each one was a bit different as Duane experimented with different looks on the “new” material. At near 11 ounces (compared to the “normal” SMF at about 6 ounces), there is a solid heft to these pieces.


While bronze does have a bit of “bling” to it when new, it is one of the metals of antiquity. It is often associated with things that last. Tools that work. In keeping with that theme, Duane did most of the blades from either Cru-Wear or CPM Cruwear. You material junkies will recognize Cru-Wear as being the forefather of the CPM 3V material that we are so fond of at Monkey Edge. CPM Cruwear (notice no dash), is closer to the original Cruwear alloy mix, but applies Crucible’s Particle Metallurgy process. Basically, both are tough as nails. Duane had a stash of the original Cru-Wear that he broke out for this project and decided to use it for that “working retro feel” as well as do some in the CPM Cru-Wear for the latest and greatest of the same material family. Duane heat treated both materials to a hardness of HRC 61.5, and they are ready to work! I asked Duane which he would prefer, his response was that you would have to be in a laboratory to tell the difference and he would have no reservations about betting his life on either material.




The resulting knives are something special. Bronze being the material that it is, will age and develop its own unique patina over time. Each of these knives started as unique, but over time will be able to tell their own stories and reflect their owners. Are you the anal retentive type? Well you can do like we did in the Navy and break out the Never Dull and keep your SMF “inspection ready”. Or you can be more of a crusty old salt and let that sucker age and color change. Do you “need” a bronze SMF? Is it “better” than a regular SMF? Well, neither question is really the point of this project. This project was modern knife making with a nod to the history of blade making that came before.




While the Naval Bronze series knives are not something that somebody “needs”, and many will probably reside in safes and display cases, Duane insisted that they were set up to be “working” knives. Super tough steel, black oxide coated, crazy sharp chisel tanto grinds.

I asked Duane if there were any concerns about actually using the bronze. He laughed at me and said: “Brother, these damn things will be around long after you and I are gone.”


Duane Dwyer Customs Bronze SMF Series

Each knife had differences as Duane was having a good time changing things up.



The Naval Bronze series are open back designs, which meant Duane had to machine new stand-offs to replace the integral G10 backspacer of the “normal” SMF.



Duane chose CPM Cruwear and Cru-Wear steels for the blades due to their high toughness.



This skeletonized model shaves a bit of weight and is close to a normal “flat” model SMF and has a chisel ground tanto blade.



This model features Duane’s signature “razor wire” motif on both the bronze and titanium sides. The razor wire has been given a semi-polished finish to contrast with the matte of the rest of the piece.





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1 reply to “Strider Knives • Duane Dwyer Custom • Naval Bronze SMF Project”

  1. Scott Hall says:

    Can you get your hands on any of these?