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Contrary to the image portrayed in popular culture, the art of the ninja encompasses much more than just fancy martial arts in a stealthy outfit. Historic ninjutsu involved mastery of combat with a wide variety of weapons. However, it also included expertise in myriad survival and bushcraft skills that rival those of the best modern special operators. This brings us to Hakim Isler, a survival, combat and security expert. He brought his martial arts and bushcrafting skills to the creation of the DoubleStar PathSeeker.

DoubleStar’s edged weapons line is expanding from purely tactical and fighting blades to survival and bushcraft knives. Joining creative forces with a seasoned and well-known survival personality like Hakim seemed like a no-brainer.

“Hakim’s experience in this field is rock steady. He is forever honing his craft; that’s why we knew we had to team up with him to create this knife,” said Rob Cabrera, director of DoubleStar’s Edged Weapon Division. “The construction of this knife screams indestructible and innovative. Our goal with this knife is to reach out to the experienced trailblazer with features that even the novice can depend on.”

Meet Hakim

To understand the development of the DoubleStar PathSeeker, it’s helpful to learn more about its creator. Hakim has gained significant notoriety and become a household name in survival circles after his appearances on TV shows like “Naked and Afraid” and “Kicking & Screaming.” Viewers appreciated the measured way that Hakim would access the survival scenarios and apply what he calls “Ninjanuity.” His calm demeanor and ingenious solutions made it clear to viewers why Hakim is referred to as “The Black MacGyver.”

Hakim began his martial arts journey at 8 years old. He grew up with a single mother in the urban jungle of Newark. With that in mind, he felt karate training was a skill necessary for survival. As a young man, he watched as a close friend was sentenced to jail time. Hakim then realized he needed to focus and pursue a path of his choosing before having his future decided for him. He embarked on a deeper warrior’s journey and sought out one of North America’s most renowned experts in ninjutsu: Stephen Hayes.

After traveling to Ohio to meet and train at Hayes’s academy, Hakim made a life-changing decision and moved to Ohio to train full-time in the art of ninjutsu. Hakim said, “Everybody thought I was crazy, giving up college and a prominent DJ career to move to Ohio to become a ninja.”

For the next five years, however, Hakim trained six days a week and dedicated his full energy to mastering this misunderstood but practical martial art, making it into the “inner circle” of Mr. Hayes’s ninjutsu instructors and achieving his fourth-degree black belt.

In the Army

After 9/11, Hakim felt a pull to put his skills to the test. He joined the U.S. Army to work in the psychological operations field; he felt it closely matched the skillsets his martial arts background had prepared him for. Hakim further honed his skills during training, such as the Army’s infamously difficult Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Level C (SERE-C) survival course. Hakim went on to participate in a variety of operations in Iraq. He served as a psychological operations (PSYOP) sergeant with the special operations community.

After his military service and gaining notoriety on TV, Hakim continued his training by seeking out instruction in the Filipino martial art of Kali. It was through these training circles he met Cabrera, who wanted to start a wilderness line of blades for DoubleStar. Hakim already had a design and prototype for a blade that was equally suited for survival and combat applications. That early collaboration started the process that led the development of the DoubleStar PathSeeker.

Solid Foundation

Starting from the pommel up, DoubleStar designed the PathSeeker for ergodynamic and efficient use. The G10 handle is coarse enough to help maintain a strong grip in wet conditions; however, it’s not so abrasive as to chafe ungloved hands during prolonged use. Though the flat handle doesn’t provide much to fill the palm, the fingers wrap comfortably around the finger swell for a tight grip with no hotspots.

The generous pommel is hefty enough for camp tasks like hammering; it also serves well as an impact weapon in close combat. The slightly hooked end of the grip also allows for easy indexing when you have to rapidly draw the blade from its Kydex sheath.

The lanyard holes allow a user to fashion an improvised 550 paracord D-guard to help keep the blade in the hand when wearing cold-weather gloves. With the handle scales removed, the lanyard holes can be used to fasten the blade to a pole for an improvised survival spear. The holes’ diameters are large enough that they can be used to run smaller vine branches through them; this way, the PathSeeker can act as a “thorn stripper” when needed.

DoubleStar designed the PathSeeker’s blade for durability in the field and ease of use for wedging. Early prototypes of the knife had the convenient ferro rod scraper closer to the top or point of the blade. However, Hakim noted, “What I found over time and in testing was that when you were using the knife for batoning, striking would not only dull the ferro rod scraper’s edge but would also destroy your baton!” The final PathSeeker design places the swedge-like ferro scraper farther back near the thumb rest and leaves the thickened spine of the blade nearer the tip for effective use of the baton.

Thoughtful Features

Many bushcrafters use a knife and ferro rod to start fires, either for convenience or when they misplace a striker. Though some may opt to scrape using the actual edge of their knife, which can create some spectacular sparks, most use the squared spines found on most high-quality survival blades; this helps save the blade’s edge. The PathSeeker’s scraper is meant to be used with the spine up and the blade edge down toward the tinder bundle.

The design of the blade makes the PathSeeker an ideal tool for some bigger campsite or survival tasks; shelter building comes to mind. The blade’s forward-leading but weight-centered profile makes it ideal for chopping through saplings and branches. Chopping off slivers of logs for tinder becomes as easy as slicing bread from a loaf. Even with numerous hacking strokes, the chopping efficiency and deceptively light weight protect the user from arm or hand fatigue. Though the thick blade is useful for “wedging in” or splitting logs, the edge does not bind up or stick when chopping into various varieties of wood.

For its size, the PathSeeker has impressive chopping force that puts larger blades to shame. When the need arises to chop down smaller trees or saplings for emergency shelter construction, this blade will handle like a miniaturized camp axe. After felling two branches and cutting notches, the 80CrV2 blade held a sharp edge and resisted overbiting and “sticking.”

Even more impressive, the blade’s efficient symmetry did not fatigue my hands or arms, and the handle created no hotspots.

Versatile Steel

I asked Hakim if he intended the DoubleStar PathSeeker to be primarily a survival knife or fighting blade. He immediately said, “Any blade should be a combative blade.”

The same weight-forward design, blade profile and grip shape that make it ideal for bushcrafting challenges make it a well-balanced fighter. When it’s worn on the belt, deployment from the sheath is quick and snag-free so it can easily be introduced into the fight.

The length and sweep of the cutting edge make the PathSeeker an effective and efficient cutter for slashing attacks; they also make it a great chopper in the woods. With the blade sheath mounted on the “off side” of the pistol, the PathSeeker can be deployed in an entangled grapple and can slash simultaneously as it is being unsheathed. The point of the blade will align and index well with the user’s hand and can be used effectively for both devastating thrusts and fight-ending hammer blows with the pommel.

The collaboration between DoubleStar’s Edged Weapon Division and Hakim produced a knife that is versatile and effective for both survival bushcrafting tasks and defensive blade combatives. When you need to carry one knife that is up to the challenge of surviving in hostile terrain or fighting off enemy combatants, the DoubleStar PathSeeker is your problem-solving MacGyver blade. For more information, visit star15.com.

DoubleStar Pathseeker Specs

  • Blade Length: 6 inches
  • OA Length: 11.25 inches
  • Blade Material: 80CrV2 carbon steel
  • Blade Thickness: 0.25 inches
  • Style (Blade): Drop point
  • Blade Finish: Black Stonewash
  • Handle Scales: G10
  • Handle Thickness: 0.63 inches
  • Sheath: Boltaron with Tek-Lok
  • Weight: 14.56 ounces
  • MSRP: $199.99

This article is from the February/March 2019 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get physical copies and digital subscriptions at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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