Review: Special Circumstances Inc. Maleficus Trainer

About the Company

Special Circumstances Inc. sells the knives made by Ian Wendt out of a small shop in New Mexico.

Ian Wendt’s designs merge ideas from the past into something wholly original with an elegant brutality a la Guernica compared to the tawdry Tromaville-esque designs we often see from other custom custom knife makers and big name manufacturers.

Ian’s designs also have a stark utility to them that seems to escape many knife makers who focus more on ornateness.

Ian Wendt has also done some very fascinating things with non-metallic knife packages that incorporate kevlar lining in place of metal grommets on the kydex sheaths as well as bringing a cutting capability to non-metallic knives by way of a ceramic core with a non-metallic laminate.

Special Circumstances Inc. has also pushed the envelope of push dagger designs far beyond what Cold Steel currently offers.

The Brutus Push Dagger

The Brutus Push Dagger

The Maleficus

The design of the Maleficus was inspired by the Craig Douglas (ShivWorks) designed Clinch Pick.

The basic idea was to have a knife that a citizen (or undercover cop) can immediately deploy “out of nowhere” against an assailant.

It incorporates what some would refer to as the same “manual of arms” as the ShivWorks Clinch Pick.

This means that if you are familiar with reverse-grip edge-in knife methods, then you will easily get the hang of deploying this knife.

If you are not familiar with Reverse Grip Knife Methods, contact ShivWorks and sign up for a class.

Note: For purposes of comparison, I am using the Factory Production ShivWorks Clinch Pick since the end users of both knives tend to have similar preferences. 


The blade of the Maleficus has a slightly longer cutting edge than the Clinch Pick and is thicker.

The live blade Maleficus and the trainer match each other in length and dimensions as much as possible, which is a really good thing since you want the equipment you “do the work” with to match what you normally carry.


The Maleficus incorporates the same “bulb handle” concept at work in the Clinch Pick but in a much flatter profile.

The texturing (done by hand) addresses one of the shortcomings of the factory Clinch Pick (the bulb grip has too smooth a texture.)

The flat bulb grip of the Maleficus is also contoured with what I would call “finger grooves”, for lack of a better word. The grooves are unobtrusive but really help you keep a grip on the knife when striking with it.


The fit of the kydex sheath finds that perfect point between too tight (too much retention) and too loose (too little retention).

Unlike the factory Clinch Pick sheath, there is no over molding that prevents a proper draw of the knife and requires the end user to carefully grind down and sand the sheath near the point of entry for the blade.

There are no rough spots or sharp edges on the sheath either.

The sheath has no rough spots and no sharp ends either.

Little details like that are the difference between something handmade and factory-made.

The sheath really stands out with an innovative shock cord belt attachment system.

Here is a video of how it works.


I recommend Special Circumstances Inc knives and products without hesitation.

When you order something, be sure to ask if the sheath could have Tek-Lok compatibility and see what Ian says…

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Posted in Equipment Testing, Knives, Training

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