Al Mar Knives
|Founded||Tualatin, Oregon (1979)|
|Key people||Al Mar, Founder; Gary Fadden, President|
|Website||Al Mar Knives|
Al Mar Knives is a production knife company headquartered in Tualatin, Oregon, United States. Al Mar Knives was established in 1979 by Al Mar, and has a reputation for making tactical knives of innovative design. While headquartered in the United States, Al Mar Knives are made in Japan.
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 Masters Degree in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. His masters thesis was building and launching a working 2 man submarine, upon graduating he went to work for an industrial design firm in Los Angeles in 1967.
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 knives have been made by the firms of Mitsubishi, Sakai, Fujita, Fukuta 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 unit for some time and was an honorary member of the company.
Today the company is headed by Gary Fadden who purchased a controlling interest. In the late 1980s Mar was inducted into the Fighting Knives Magazine Hall of Fame. Then in 2009, he was inducted in the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame.
Mar was a close friend of Colonel James "Nick" Rowe and other well known and respected Special Forces ("Green Berets") luminaries. He was a Life member of the Special Forces Association as well as the Special Operations Association.
With the founding of Al Mar Knives, Mar is considered the father of specialty custom/production cutlery and led the way for the trends within the cutlery industry for using custom quality and design in a mass-produced knife. Drawing on his experiences as a lifelong martial artist with black belt rankings in judo and kendo, and his service as a Green Beret, the majority of Al Mar Knives were initially designed for the military and law enforcement communities. However, as the company evolved the designs merged from martial to hunting, fishing, and even kitchen knives.
The Al Mar SERE Knife was the first knife accepted for use by Special Forces Colonel Nick Rowe for the SERE Instructor School at Camp McCall, North Carolina. The SERE was the first factory-made production knife to sell for over US$100.
Al Mar Knives has collaborated with a number of knife makers, martial artists, and military tacticians including Rex Applegate, Nick Rowe, Bob Taylor, Bill Harsey, Jr., and ABS Mastersmith Kirk Rexroat.
- Pacella, Gerard (2002). 100 Legendary Knives. Iola, Wis.: Krause Publications. p. 45. ISBN 0-87349-417-2.
- American Blade Magazine, November/December 1976, Volume 10,6
- Walker, Greg (1993). Battle Blades: A Professional's Guide to Combat/Fighting Knives. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-87364-732-7.
- Steve Shackleford (2010). Blade's Guide to Knives & Their Values. Krause Publications. p. 359. ISBN 978-1-4402-0387-9.
- Shackleford, Steve (2009). "Al Mar Inducted into Hall of Fame". Blade (F&W Media) (10).
- Todd, Tank (2006). Military Combative Masters of the 20th Century. Los Angeles: Lul Press. pp. 55–57. ISBN 978-1-4116-6196-7.
- Walker(1993), p. 25