Gear Kopis Designs L-Via Hands On and Review Forrest Cooper March 13, 2021 Join the Conversation WHAT IS IT? The Kopis Desings L-Via is a fixed blade designed for concealed carry and defensive use. WHAT GOT OUR ATTENTION? If you’ve read our sister publication RECOIL OFFGRID recently, you’ll no doubt be familiar with Ed Calderon, a survival instructor and frequent contributor. Growing up in Tijuana, the city now ranked as the murder capital of the world, Calderon witnessed countless instances of crime, violence, and cartel activity — experiences that would lead him to a role working counter-narcotics for the Mexican government, and eventually to his current career teaching students the realities of survival in a dangerous urban environment. During his childhood, his mother, Elvia, carried a concealed knife for self- defense, and it wasn’t just for show. At a young age, he witnessed her use this weapon on a man who assaulted a member of the family as they walked through a parking lot. When Calderon designed a knife of his own, he named it the Elvia in honor of his mother and incorporated some of the features she preferred. These include a slender profile, forward-curved “bird’s beak” blade, as well as an index finger notch on the spine side of the handle. Over the years, custom fixed-blade versions of the Elvia have been crafted by the likes of Tracker Dan and Kramer Custom Knives; Rick Lala and Emerson Knives have produced Elvia folders. However, Calderon wanted to offer a back-to-basics version anyone can afford, so he teamed up with Kopis Designs to make the L-Via at a sub-$100 price point. HOW DOES IT WORK? The design is intended to be wielded in what’s known in the combatives world as a pikal grip, with its edge facing the user. After the knife is embedded through an icepick-style overhand stab, it’s pulled in a ripping motion to create a deep laceration. The blade’s forward curvature is a critical element of the design — much like a fishhook, this shape is meant to remain deep in the wound cavity instead of backing out as it moves. The Kopis Designs L-Via is made in the United States from 1/16-inch-thick 154CM steel, with a tang that extends roughly three-quarters of the length of its fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle. Each knife includes a molded Kydex sheath. HOW WELL DOES IT WORK? The sample pictured here is a pre-production prototype, so it features a hand-ground edge but is otherwise identical to the final version. The compact sheath and slim handle drop easily into a pocket, and although grommets allow the addition of a retention cord or clip, neither is strictly necessary. A notch on the sheath is designed to catch on the user’s pocket hem, pulling it away from the blade in one swift motion as the knife is drawn from concealment. The L-Via is brutally effective for its intended purpose. Calderon demonstrates this during the Weaponology and Organic Mediums courses he teaches, in which he uses a suspended pig carcass as an analogue for human flesh. (See “Sharp Edges & Dirty Tricks” in RECOIL OFFGRID Issue 36 for a recap of the class.) WHAT WE LIKE: We appreciate high-end custom knives as much as the next guy, but if you’re spending $500 to $1,000 on a handcrafted blade, you probably won’t carry it every day, much less reach for it in a self-defense situation. At less than $100, the Kopis Designs L-Via is a tool we’d be willing to use without hesitation. If it becomes damaged or lost, it’s replaceable. Despite its unusual shape, the Kopis Designs L-Via feels comfortable to grip and easy to control. The 154CM stainless steel offers a good balance between edge retention, corrosion resistance, and affordability. And if pocket carry isn’t your thing, we found that adding an Ulticlip Slim makes it easy to carry inside the waistband. WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Although this is a production knife, it’s still not readily stocked and available for immediate purchase — at least not at this article’s time of publication. Kopis Designs is a small shop, and it makes the L-Via in batches that often sell out within hours of their release. Anyone who wants one will need to keep a watchful eye on the company’s social media accounts for hints of an upcoming batch and act fast once they’re available. It still beats waiting months for a hand-ground custom knife, but it’s certainly less convenient than we’d like. 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