From the Special Forces to Speciality Knife-building, Spartan Blades Focuses on Quality Tactical Cutlery.
Curtis Iovito grew up hunting, fishing, and camping in Bolingbrook, a farming community in Illinois. “I always wanted to be a Marine, ever since I was a little kid,” he says.
It wasn’t long before Iovito accomplished and surpassed that childhood dream. He started his military career as a U.S. Marine and served for four years before joining the U.S. Army and being assigned to the Rangers, eventually training for and becoming a Special Forces Weapon Sergeant. Iovito’s interest in building knives began with rifle-building. “I built a rifle for a knife shop owner who then asked if I wanted to work for him on the weekends. I took the job and decided to try to make myself a knife. It went horribly,” says Iovito. “It took me three terrible knives that went in the trash before I started to get the hang of it. Once I did, I started making them for a few of my buddies.”
In 1994, Iovito met Mark Carey while on deployment in Okinawa—the two were in the same sniper unit. Later, they worked together at the Sniper School in Fort Bragg for four years before retiring from the Service.
Iovito and Carey decided to start their own business-coming up with several different business plans, including firearm-building, before settling on custom knives. “We got a lot of help from our now friend, Chris Reeve, who has been very successful in the industry, and we went to a handful of trade shows to get a feel for what’s out there. Everyone in the knife industry was so helpful and respectful,” says Iovito.
Spartan Blades was born in 2008 out of an old mule barn in Aberdeen, North Carolina—the collective vision of Curtis Iovito and Mark Carey. The company is now on track to grow up to 70 percent this year. With six full-time employees and 23 active knife designs, Iovito has taken knife design from a hobby to a thriving tactical cutlery business. Even with the impressive growth, Iovito and Carey continue to pay special attention to the details, ensuring each knife is of the highest quality. “We still do small batch production,” says Iovito. “50-100 knives of each model are produced at a time.”
“We applied a lot of the skills we learned in the military to our business, like the importance of working as a team, building rapport, risk management, and looking at all courses of action."
Iovito takes pride in designing and creating quality and functional products, down to which materials and processes he uses. He and Carey design each knife with a specific purpose or task in mind and to be used in a particular environment. “It takes a lot of hard work and planning,” says Iovito. “After we finish the design process, we order steel from New York, laser or waterjet cut it, place it into a machine that forms the knife, heat treat it, sharpen the blade, and then assemble it.”
Spartan Blades has won several industry awards, including the International BLADE Show Awards for American Made Knife of the Year, Knife Collaboration of the Year, and Most Innovate American Design.
In 2019, after several years of collaborating on knife models, Iovito and Carey merged their company with KA-BAR Knives to create Pineland Cutlery—but they continue to do business as Spartan Blades.