In 1988, he began making specialized knives for use by the military. This turned out to be fortunate turn of events, both for Mick and for the knife using world at large. Mick’s approach was to not get burdened by the weight of past designs. He started with a tabula rasa, a clean slate, informed only by his own experiences and knowledge of what a soldier needed in a knife. The knives he made didn’t look like the hunter-inspired knives seen in most PXs; instead they were almost brutish in their functionality: beefy, solid, and with unbreakable ¼” stock full tangs. These knives were the first indication of his innovative approach: in addition to their utilitarian design, the knives carried a subdued finish and subdued sheaths. No one carrying a Strider knife was going to be spotted because of sunlight glinting off of polished steel or a glossy leather sheath. Soldiers, policemen, and other men going into harm’s way couldn’t buy them fast enough. Mick sampled some good ideas, but made them great. For instance, he was not the first to wrap a knife handle with paracord, but he was the first to do it in a way that was tough enough for sustained infantry use.
His knife line grew over the following years to include different varieties of fixed blades, all distinctive and many with specialized uses. But constant in all of them was a disregard for convention, and a desire to try new ideas. An example of this was the Ajax – it featured a very wide blade surface clearly designed to inflict damage. It drew on the weapons carried by Roman legionnaires, yet was modern and usable in the 21stCentury battlefield. Mick also worked on his technical skills, always striving to become better at the physical craft. At the 2002 Blade Show, a group of the best tactical knifemakers in the country decided to compete with each other to produce the most innovative and interesting fixed “battle blade” at the show. Mick’s entry, an incredible integral knife made out of ½” titanium stock with a zippered composite blade, gorgeous handles, and integral guard was the unanimous winner, and effectively retired the competition.