Rough Rider’s Riggers (The Marlin Spike Knives)


The Marlin Spikes.

As an avid collector of Nautical or Sailing knives, I have an especially soft spot for the Rough Rider Marlin Spike knives. For more on Sailing knives see my page, The Sailing Knife

Currently Rough Rider offers four rigging knives (marlin spike knives). All four knives are based on the old Camillus 697 pattern rigging knife. This pattern dates back to the official pattern adopted by the U.S. Military as early as 1942. Like the original knives, the Rough Riders feature a large non-locking sheepfoot blade and marlin spike that is locked in place by the bail. The knives all feature nickel-silver bolsters and either bone or composition handles. The scales are attached with brass pins and all the knives also feature brass liners. All Rough Rider riggers feature the late model double back springs of stainless steel. This makes the blades easier to open while keeping them in place when they are opened or closed.

Original Military issued rigging knives featured carbon steel blades and back springs with bone or plastic handles. Often due to a shortage of brass, steel was also used for the bolsters and liners. After WWII ended, Camillus continued to make Rigging knives for both commercial and military use. The post war year knives normally had Delrin or sometimes bone handles, brass pins and liners, nickel silver bolsters and 440A stainless steel blades. The back spring were either a single carbon steel (1095) spring and then alter two thin back-springs made of either 440 or 1095 steel. The blades and spike of the knives made with the single carbon steel spring require a bit of effort to open; that is they are bonafide nail breakers! I should note, that practically every rigging knife produced on this frame, regardless of brand name was produced by Camillus (including the highly sought after Case Riggers)

By comparison, the only other current production Rigger in this exact pattern is made by Colonial. It features a 440A stainless blade and spike and 420 stainless bolsters, bail, liners, springs and pins. The scales are brown composition plastic. The pins protrude from the composition scales, the blade is harder to open yet its walk and talk are about the same as the Rough Riders. Their is quite a bit of debate on if the Colonial knife is actually made in the USA or if it is made in China. Either way, the knife doesn't look as good as a Rough Rider, the fit and finish is no where near as good, the material used to make it is no not as good and it costs about $10-15 more. Blade Classics also makes a rigger similar to Rough Rider's, opting for the (695 Camillus Pattern) and while the fit and finish is better than the Colonial knife, it is no better than the rough Rider and also cost $10-15 more.

Currently, Rough Rider has not offered a marlin spike in a collector type series such as the Stoneworx, Silver Select, or A Stroke of Luck. Hopefully this will change in the future. I think it would be ideal for the Ocean Fire or Ocean Wave series or even the A Stroke of Luck series. The popularity of Rigging knives is on the upswing and it seems the smart money would be on capitalizing on it before it passes.

 


The Individual Marlin Spikes


RR535 Amber Jigged Bone

Amber


Description:
Among Rough Rider knives almost every pattern is available in Amber Jigged Bone or Red Jigged Bone.


From the low model number, I assume this was the first of the Marlin Spikes. The fit &finish is superb. If you really work at it and rub the obverse scale enough you might feel the center pin and anchor sticking out a bit. Or it might just be your imagination.

The amber reminds me of a dark honey amber

Handle: Amber Jigged Bone.

Obverse blade marks:
Tang: "Horseshoe" tang stamp.
Blade: N/A

Reverse blade marks:
Tang: RR535/China
Blade: 440 / Razor Sharp / Steel

Shield: Nickel Silver Anchor.

Packaging: Standard "Rough Rider Blue Denim" card stock tray box

 


RR576 - Red Jigged Bone


red

 

 

Description:
As I mentioned while discussing the amber knife, most Rough Rider patterns are offered in either the amber or red jigged bone; or both. such is the case with the Riggers. I'll tell you up front, I'm not a fan of the early red jigged bone. ( I do like the later red bone.)

As with the RR535 the fit and finish is excellent.

The early red jigged bone, the color is almost that of tomato soup. The fit and finish is fine, but hopefully later productions will come out with a better shade of red. I know there are people out there that like this handle but the bone seems to look like jigged Delrin instead of bone and it makes it look cheap.

Handle: Red Jigged Bone.

Obverse blade marks:
Tang: "Horseshoe" tang stamp.
Blade: N/A

Reverse blade marks:
Tang: RR576/China
Blade: 440 / Razor Sharp / Steel

Shield: Nickel Silver Anchor.

Packaging: Standard "Rough Rider Blue Denim" card stock tray box


RR577 - White Smooth Bone

White Smooth Bone

 

 

Description:
This was the first of the Rough Rider riggers that I picked up. Obviously white bone is not ivory but I prefer it to other types of ivory substitutes. When I saw the Rough Rider in white smooth bone, it just seems to harken back to the early days of whale hunting. It is a natural!

There is no doubt that Rough Rider made the white smooth bone line with the scrimshander in mind, and while I don't do scrimshaw yet, it is on my to-do list of things to learn,

Again the fit and finish is quite nice, The pins and bolsters are flush with the white bone. The bone is also very smooth, well fitted and polished. Rough Rider does a great job with smooth bone handles and really should consider a few other colors among the riggers.

Handle: White Smooth Bone.

Obverse blade marks:
Tang: "Horseshoe" tang stamp.
Blade: N/A

Reverse blade marks:
Tang: RR577/China
Blade: 440 / Razor Sharp / Steel

Shield: None

Packaging: Standard "Rough Rider Blue Denim" card stock tray box


RR577 (Mermaid of Warsaw)

 

 

Description:
While I haven't learned to scrimshaw, myself, I did take the opportunity to have a friend do some scrimshaw work for me. The design was all mine but the labor was done by H. Brad O'Brien.

The white smooth bone scale features the Mermaid of Warsaw, the guardian of the city of Warsaw, Poland.

Handle: White Smooth Bone, scrimshawed with the "Mermaid of Poland"

Obverse blade marks:
Tang: "Horseshoe" tang stamp.
Blade: N/A

Reverse blade marks:
Tang: RR577/China
Blade: 440 / Razor Sharp / Steel

Shield: Nickel Silver Anchor.

Packaging: Standard "Rough Rider Blue Denim" card stock tray box


RR897 Yellow Composition.

Yellow Comp

 

 

Description:
The last rigger released by Rough Rider was part of the "Old Yellow" Series. Like the other knives in the series, the knife features Yellow Composition handles and the antique "German Badge" shield. Again the scales, pins and shield are all smooth as glass and feel even when you run your finger over them. There really isn't much more I can say about this or any of the other riggers without sounding like a broken record.

Handle: Yellow Composition.

Obverse blade marks:
Tang: "Horseshoe" tang stamp.
Blade: N/A

Reverse blade marks:
Tang: RR897/China
Blade: 440 / Razor Sharp / Steel

Shield: Nickel-Silver Badge

Packaging: Standard "Rough Rider Blue Denim" card stock tray box


Specifications:

Marlin spikes
  • Pattern: Marlin Spike (Based on the Camillus 697)
  • Pattern Numbers: RR535, RR576, RR577, RR897, 
  • Length Closed : 4.5 inches,
  • Main Blade: 3 inch Sheepfoot
  • Secondary: 3 inch marlin spike  
  • Blade Etch: See individual descriptions
  • Tang: See individual descriptions
  • Handle:   See individual descriptions
  • Bolsters: Nickel Silver (See individual descriptions)
  • Lining:  Brass.
  • Pins: Brass
  • Shield :   See individual descriptions
  • Bail: Locking Nickel-silver

All Five

(The small keyring added to the bails were done after purchase.They It is so I can more easily display the knives with some of my other riggers.)

27 assorted riggers