David R. Beck, Knifesmith LLC
"Fine Cutlery for the Adventurer"
The Original BECK "WSK" (WILDERNESS SURVIVAL KNIVES)
TRACKER/WSK Knife History:
The concept originated in the early '80's between collective minds to address the needs of the modern hunter-gatherer relying primarily upon aboriginal skills rather than extra gear for lighter travel. The tool needed to be tough, dependable, & possess the traits of both a hunting knife & hatchet to accomplish the most common tasks encountered to survive & thrive in the wilderness. Developing such a design had its challenges & wasn't easy. It wasn't expected to be perfect for every task as some compromises & limitations had to be accepted, but the idea was to construct a tool that worked well enough, that a single knife could accomplish all the practical requirements one would need to perform. An early attempt called the "Medicine Blade" made by Ed Lombi, demonstrated the possibilities & set the foundation for further refinements by other makers influenced by the design.
After being introduced to the concept, David Beck presented his own design improvements & in the late '80's he was persuaded to take over the project. Within a few years, the basic concept transformed into a more functional tool displaying his own unique design enhancements & his knife shop was opened to equip those in the growing "survival/tracker" community. Aside from the name "Medicine Blade", until then the knife concept was otherwise just known by its generic reference to the survival school where it originated, but in 1991, a name was officially designated after Mr. Beck became the first to own & stamp the registered trademark "TRACKER" on his blades, & the Original "TRACKER" Wilderness Survival Knife was born.
After ten years of producing his knives, idea conflicts & marketing difficulties resulted in his first venture coming to an end, & with the closure of the knife shop also meant the end to his exclusive trademark rights.
Through luck & circumstance, Dave's knife was selected for an upcoming film, & Dave became the designer & maker of the actual "TRACKER" knife used by Benicio Del Toro in the 2003 Paramount Pictures film the "HUNTED", which for historical reference, was one of his model "C" Gen1 TRACKER knives. With the exposure & renewed interest, a new demand brought buyers looking for the "Real" TRACKER knife, but only found disappointment with what was now being marketed. With several years to concentrate on further design & manufacturing improvements bringing his "TRACKER" knives to a new level of performance, a better chance of success appeared promising, & he re-opened his doors for business. It was a tough start & met with resistance as he now had to address competitive pushback & establish himself with a world-wide community who knew little of his name, history, & involvement, especially since his name was left out from the movie credits most likely due to future marketing interests. In addition, with others now marketing their own versions & battling over name rights to secure an advantage, hopes to reclaim his TRACKER trademark meant too much expense with little prospect of gain. The decision was to simply change the name, & from that time forward, his knife became known as the "WSK" (Wilderness Survival Knife).
Production of his new knives didn't last long as his second attempt was cut short by injury, but in 2011 Dave's knife shop once again resumed full-time knife making operations but now under the name of David R. Beck Knifesmith LLC. With many years experience now under our belts & motivated for success, we now look forward to a long-lasting venture providing our customers with some of the highest quality knives they're find anywhere.
The TRACKER/WSK Knife Today:
After over thirty years of dedication & hard work, our WSK knives have evolved into very fine-tuned tools which far outperform the early examples. Proportions, angles, contours & heat treating have been perfected, raising the bar of performance well beyond what could have been imagined years ago. What started as a simple, yet highly efficient tool for modern survivor/hunter-gathers, was now seeing use in many conflicts abroad, proving to be just as dependable & effective in demanding combat/survival applications as it was in the back woods.
Through feedback from the Special Operations community & many other military personnel & survival experts from around the world, further testing & refinements ensured our knives could meet the challenge, & pushed our WSK knives to a new pinnacle of design & demand.
Traditionally, TRACKER/WSK knives were made from 1/4" thick blade steel. This continues to be an effective, but a heavy choice when combined with full field gear, so in 2019 we began adding medium duty versions for lighter carry. This became a welcomed option by many who used their knives with a more practical mindset & carry weight was a concern. The stronger flat-ground bevels combined with our specialty heat treatment now done "in-house", proved that the lighter design offered better control with minimal compromise in blade rigidity & chopping performance.
Today, we continue to individually hand-craft every
WSK knife & never cease to expand our skills to make our
even knives better with every year.
There are many now producing this style knife, but no
one has made them longer, crafted more by hand, or has
more experience to know the intimacies of the Tracker/WSK
design better than us. If you're searching for a true
"TRACKER/WSK" knife, look no farther, for our WSK
knives have become the "gold-standard" standard by which
all others are compared.
Click on thumbnails below to enlarge & for captions of std. features that come with our WSK knives.
< Black Linen
< Green & Black
< Green Linen
< Tan Linen
(Above) COLORED TANG SPACERS:
Available in: White, Black, Red or blue.
*Only one color choice per knife. Adds $10.00
< (Left) #FRS: Ferro Rod Striker
(Shown next to a Swiss Army Trekker for size comparison)
1/6 x 3/4 x 4" fully hardened 01 tool steel. 1 oz. The sides have sharp edges for ferro rod striking & will cast much better sparks than using a knife blade. The edges & flats can be used as an emergency blade edge shaper/burnisher when a more suitable sharpening device is not available. The narrower screw driver tip can be used for adjusting the slotted ends of our sheath mounting screws. Guaranteed to cast the best sparks you've ever seen when used with a quality ferro rod. Price = $18.00
All our Tracker/WSK knives come std. with differentially hardened/tempered high carbon steel blades & flat-ground bevels. Only "C" & "S" models are made with self-cleaning "Swiss-Army" type staggered saw teeth which cut on both the pull & push stroke. Tapered tangs are std. on 1/4" blades & non-tapered tangs are std. on 3/16" blades.
Micarta handle scales, stainless steel Loveless bolts & lined lanyard hole are std. on all WSK knives.
All knives are made std. with "Type-1" right hand blk. molded leather sheaths with an integral belt loop for vertical side-carry only (Basic version: no mounting holes/options).
Sheath design upgrade (Type-2), & add-on options are available for an extra cost.
You select the Micarta handle color, blade finish & any sheath options you'd like to add from our "Options" list below.
Blade thickness = Measured at the thickest cross-section of the blade.
Blade Length = Measured from the shoulder of the plunge line nearest the handle to the point.
OAL (Overall Length) = Distance from the butt to point.
Carry Weight = Includes both knife & sheath. Actual weight may vary with handle material & options selected.
NO NEW WSK KNIFE ORDERS ARE BEING ACCEPTED AT THIS TIME!
Because we only accept a limited number of WSK knife orders per year, all
available spots on our waiting list for Tracker/WSK knives are currently
filled & we have temporarily stopped taking new orders until further notice.
At this point we expect to resume accepting additional WSK knife orders around mid-2023. An update will be posted here a few months prior once
we establish a date so all have a fair chance of getting on our next waiting list.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding knife models &
options, but we cannot accept any new WSK orders at this time.
(Above) Model "C" Gen3 Tracker/WSK: Our traditionally-styled WSK knife. (Shown w/unpolished blk. linen Micarta handle & wet-sanded finish).
Enhanced version the "TRACKER" knife pattern introduced in 1991 that was used for the "HUNTED" movie, except now with a flat-ground draw knife bevel for stronger edge support, a more proportionately correct 6-3/4" blade (1/2" longer than our original model "C"), & refined handle for improved feel. 12-7/8" OAL.
Two versions available:
#C3WSKHD (Std. Duty): 1/4" thick blade with tapered tang. Carry wt. = 1 lb. 13oz. PRICE = $1000.00
#C3WSKMD (Med. Duty): 3/16" thick blade with NON-Tapered tang. Carry wt. = 1 lb. 9oz. PRICE = $925.00
(Above): John "Lofty" Wiseman
A good friend & proud owner of one our WSK knives.
Hope to see you on the trail.
David R. Beck taking a break on Angel's Landing, Utah
WSK Handle Material Options
Available Micarta Handle Choices:
Made std. w/an unpolished, finely sanded finish.
"TYPE-1" sheaths: (Refer to thumbnail pics above to view "basic" configuration)
All our knives come std. with a "type-1" sheath design. "Type-1" sheaths have replaced the older "FACS" design for 2021. The difference is the "Type-1" has a little more curvature to the outside edge making the bottom of the the sheath slightly narrower. This not only improves appearance by making it less "boxy" looking, but also creates improved ease of carry. Orders placed prior to this change which have a "FACS" style sheath in their description will now receive "Type-1" sheaths instead.
Std. "Type -1" sheaths are made with an integral sewn-on belt loop w/no mounting holes/options included for a clean appearance. To increase versatility, mounting holes can be added to enable attachment of "scout" loops for horizontal-carry, or for mounting straps to secure other optional accessories such as a smaller "companion" knife or pouch. Mounting holes are free upon request & are unlined, but nicely finished inside to ease insertion of mounting screws or bungi cord. Mounting accessories are attached to these holes by use of blackened steel holster screws.
Mounting holes, straps & "scout" loops for "Type-1" sheaths are added only upon request & have at no extra cost.
To get full use of your sheath we recommend requesting a full accessory mounting package when ordering your knife.
*NOTE: If carried horizontally by "scout" loops, the blade edge faces down when worn frontal cross-draw, but the
edge faces up when worn across the small of the back.
"TYPE-1" SHEATHS ARE AVAILABLE IN RIGHT HAND ORIENTATION ONLY.
*Feel free to consult us if you need assistance deciding on a sheath configuration that will work best for you.
< (Left) #SS1 Shoulder Strap: (Click thumbnails to enlarge)
Made from 8' of 1" 4000 lb. safety-rated Sterling tubular climbers webbing. Fully adjustable w/nylon hardware & easy detachable snap clips. The best way to carry a knife while running or for easy removal. We use these slings on our personal WSK knives as their use takes the weight off our belt & eases carry. Beneficial for any knife with a blade length 5" or longer. Disassemble & use the strap by itself as an emergency climbing aid or load-bearing strap. *Hardware not safety rated & must be removed prior to load-bearing use. Requires "Scout" loops with D-rings installed on a sheath to use. Price = $20.00
David R. Beck working a WSK knife
at Hawk Mountain, PA.
Tracker/WSK Blade Anatomy
A. Draw Knife Edge: The sharpest, & most delicate edge for
general carving, shaping & scraping. Originally hollow
ground, but in later years changed to a flat-grind (shown)
to provide greater edge support.
B. 1/4-Round: Used as a gut hook & for carving/scraping trap
parts & arrow shafts.
C. Hatchet: Flat-ground for chopping, scraping & the only
edge that should be used when splitting woods. Correctly
angled so the strongest part of the blade forward of the
"1/4-round" delivers the impact for greater edge safety &
D. Saw Teeth: "Swiss Army" type staggered tooth design is
self-cleaning & aggressive cutting on both the pull & push
stroke. Used for cutting square notches, or tilt at a 45 degree
angle to cut "V" grooves (both used for traps & snares).
Downward angle enables sawing square & "V" grooves on
flat surfaces & stakes for trip & snare wire channels.
E: Spine Recess: Specifically designed as a striking point when
splitting woods & for push-carving. The curved surface
enables the blade to be rocked or tilted at any angle & still
receive direct energy into the material being worked.
Recess edges are slightly sanded just to remove the sharp
burr to avoid injury in carving but can be sharpened if
needed for scraping tasks.
Although additional benefits have been discovered by
others, the anatomy details to the right explain what
these knife features were originally designed for.
F. Arrow Wrench Hole (Not Shown): On some early knives, a 3/8"
hole placed in the center of the hatchet body for straightening
arrow shafts. Determined to be less effective than hand-
straightening, prone to denting shafts, & producing a weak spot
in the blade, this option was later omitted & is no longer offered.
Answers to Customers' Most Asked Questions & Problems Regarding Tracker/WSK Knife Use:
* Care & use tips are supplied w/every knife. We do plan on having a more thorough user manual one day, but in
the meantime, should a customer not find an adequate answer in the printouts supplied, please contact us for
more info. We're always happy to share info & assist our customers in any way we can.
* Our knives are designed to be efficient cutting tools & should be treated as such. They are designed to cut wood,
fiber, flesh & similar materials. Although plenty strong for their intended purposes, they are not indestructible.
Our knives are tested beyond the standards of reasonable use to help ensure user safety under "normal" conditions,
but the more unnecessary abuse your knife receives, the greater risk of premature wear, damage, or injury.
* Chopping/splitting should ONLY be done using the hatchet edge & not the finer draw knife or 1/4-round edges.
* Don't chop bone & never cut, or chop directly on the ground to avoid edge damage.
* Don't beat on the saw teeth! Although they will hold up well, once damaged, saw teeth can be very costly to fix.
* Batoning, or the splitting of wood by pounding on the back of a knife is a task which is common practice today
rather than reserved for true survival situations. We do not recommend batoning only because your interpretation of
what may be acceptable force could be quite different from what our knives are tested to endure. A true, survival
situation is one thing, but if you need to split firewood or build a cabin use an axe & your knife will thank you.
* Don't throw or use your knife as a pry bar. (NO, our knives will not fly straight like seen in the "HUNTED" movie.)
* Keep your blades clean & oiled, or better waxed for those in wet or coastal environments to help ward off rust.
* Don't use diamond stones or grinders for sharpening. These remove too much material & lessen blade life.
We recommend a hard Arkansas stone w/light oil or water. For the finest edge just strop on leather w/a little fine
rouge to polish. The key to a sharp edge in not the removal of metal but keeping the edge finely polished. Stone use
should be reserved for very dull, overworked edges, or for removing minor imperfections.
* Apply common sense in use & your knife will give you a lifetime of dependable service.
* Refer to the printed materials your receive with your knife & our "Terms, Conditions & Warranty" page for more info
on recommended use, services & product coverage.
(Above) Model "S" Tracker/WSK knife: (Shown with unpolished blk. linen Micarta handle & wet-sanded finish).
New for 2021, incorporates the very popular handle design of our "Saranac" knives with a traditionally-styled Tracker/WSK blade design for improved handling & more comfortable grip. 7-1/4" blade. 12-5/8" OAL.
Two versions available:
#SWSKHD (Std. Duty): 1/4" thick blade with tapered tang. Carry weight = 1 lb. 13oz. PRICE = $975.00
#SWSKMD (Med. Duty): 3/16" thick blade with NON-tapered tang. Carry wt. = 1lb. 9oz. PRICE = $900.00
(Above) The ANIMAL WSK knife: (Shown with unpolished OD green linen Micarta handle & wet-sanded finish).
New for 2021. The perfect Tracker/WSK knife for those not requiring saw teeth. Our first WSK knife exclusively designed for combat/survival use. Our popular "Saranac" type handle w/lowered blade point centered for stabbing & re-designed hatchet edge for improved chopping purchase. Upswept spine with lowered point increases grasping surface when working camp & field projects. The ANIMAL lives up to its name as the most aggressive & efficient Tracker/WSK design we ever produced & is our personal favorite out of all WSK knives. 7-1/4" blade. 12-5/8" OAL.
Two versions available:
#ANMLHD (Std. Duty): 1/4" thick blade with tapered tang. Carry weight = 1 lb. 13oz. PRICE = $925.00
#ANMLMD (Med. Duty): 3/16" thick blade with NON-tapered tang. Carry weight = 1lb. 9oz. PRICE = $850.00
WSK Blade Finish Options:
< (Left) All WSK knives come with your choice of blade finish.
Choices: Wet-sanded or Blued
(Finish selection does not change cost) Click on pic to enlarge.
< (Left) #SP1 Sharpening Stone Pouch:
1/2 x 1 x 4" molded leather w/hvy. duty mil.-spec snap closure. Will fit any sharpening stone up to the above dimensions with enough space for a ferro rod striker. Requires two mounting holes w/straps to attach. Comes with a removable belt loop for separate carry.
Carry wt. = 3-1/2oz. Price = $85.00
*We recommend the (#FAP-14-T) 4x1x3/8-1/2" hard Arkansas pocket stones which can be purchased from danswhetstone.com.
^ Above: Green & Black linen Micarta
(Current version again available)
Click on thumbnails to enlarge.
< (Left) "Type-1" WSK sheath shown with full accessory-mounting package. "Companion" knife shown as reference to demonstrate what a 2-knife "piggyback" system looks like.
* 2-holes w/scout loops & screws for horizontal-carry = No charge
* 1" blk. nylon D-rings added to scout loops to enable sling-carry = No charge
* 2-holes w/mounting straps & screws to attach "companion" knife or pouch = No Charge
* Leg tie holes w/brass eyelets (set of two) = $15.00
* 3/8 x 1-1/2" Kydex ferro rod loop w/screws (Requires two mounting holes) = $20.00
* Spare screw sets: 1 blackened steel post & 1 screw (specify length or position used) = $.50ea.
* Full accessory mounting package: Includes all mounting holes, leg tie holes w/brass eyelets,
"scout" loops, D-rings & mounting straps for attaching a smaller "companion knife sheath
or pouch $15.00 (Ferro rod loop, pouch & Shoulder Sling & "companion" knife sold separate).
*For an all-around 2-knife system, select one of our #SC400 Saranac knives from our
"Custom Knife Line" page. Sheaths are attached together by use of mounting straps & steel
screws, yet can be easily separated in the field for individual carry.
SHEATH UPGRADE: TYPE-1 vs. TYPE-2 (Click on left thumbnails to enlarge)
"Type-2" sheaths are being offered as an optional upgrade for those who want our best & cost isn't a concern. These sheaths start with an ambidextrous blk. molded leather body to which all other components are added to provide the ultimate sheath versatility. The belt loop assembly has a belt loop that's height adjustable, or can be removed to run your belt through through the panel for frontal cross-draw, or edge up behind the back carry & also incorporates an integral upper "scout" loop for attaching a D-ring for sling-carry. Unlike the "type-1", the belt loop panel can be ordered in the orientation needed to accommodate left hand users.
The belt loop assembly can be removed & a 1" scout loop put in it's place, & with the addition of an second (lower-placed) loop, ambidextrous horizontal-carry is possible either on the front or rear of the body & with the blade edge in either an up or down position.
All add-on components/straps have decorative edge stitching & are secured with blackened steel holster screws. We use heavy duty mil. spec snap fasteners on our belt loops.
Our std. "Type-2" sheath comes only with the four upper mounting holes & belt loop assembly. Add-on options are listed below.
"Type-2" sheath upgrade = $90.00
< (Left) "Type-2" sheaths shown with full accessory mounting package. "Companion" knife shown as reference to demonstrate what a 2-knife "piggyback" system looks like.
The extra belt loop assembly shown is for the SC400 4" Saranac sheath if carried separate.
*NOTE: Sheath straps are shown with blk. eyelets. These are no longer used to enable a tighter mating of components & reduce denting of sheath bodies by mounting screws.
Add-on Options: (All straps come w/decorative edge stitching & mounting screws).
* "Scout" loops (1" straps used for horizontal-carry w/screws) Only 1 needed for edge-up
behind-the back carry, or two (replaces belt loop assembly) for full ambidextrous edge up or
down horizontal-carry. At least one scout loop needed to attach a sling. = $20.00ea. loop
* 1" blk. nylon D-rings added to "scout" loops for enable sling carry = No charge
* Mounting straps & screws for attachment of a smaller knife or pouch. Includes one upper
"stirrup" strap & (1) 1" lower strap w/screws = $45.00
* Leg tie holes: (2) unlined holes, finished inside = No Charge (Add brass eyelets = $15.00/set)
* 3/8 x 1-1/2" Kydex ferro rod loop w/screws (Requires two mounting holes) = $20.00
* Adjustable shoulder sling = $20.00
* #SP1 Sharpening Stone Pouch (See details above) = $85.00
* Full accessory mounting package: Includes all mounting holes, leg tie holes holes w/brass
eyelets, (2) "scout" loops, D-rings, & mounting straps for attaching a smaller knife sheath or
pouch. Request the full mounting package when ordering for a discounted price of $45.00.
(Ferro rod loop, shoulder sling & #SC400 4" Saranac "companion" knife sold separate).