HELENA - It's no surprise that a great hand-crafted knife would spark the interest of a Montanan.
Scott Kirko was inspired to start his business out of his own need for a better knife.
"It all started with my passion for hunting," said Kirko.
A Montana native, Kirko handcrafts unique hunting, tactical and gentleman's knives. He's been fabricating steel for almost two decades.
He began forging blades because he wanted to build a better quality knife
"Why does a saw blade cut through a 2-inch piece of steel and it will still cut your finger? But a knife, when you are using on an animal, it doesn't. It gets dull very quick, so that's how I got involved in it, saying there can be a better knife. I luckily found a man that was my mentor, John Reynolds, who made knives for 40 years. He taught me the fine art of making knives."
Each knife is unique. Kirko said some can take many hours to make. Some of his most intricate blades are have taken up to 50 hours to create.
At Howling Wind Forge he uses exotic materials from different countries. Some of his knives have handles made from wood from Africa, curly-koa from Hawaii or ancient whalebone. Kirko also uses woods native to Montana like Box Elder.
The knives from his shop are not the only thing handmade. Kirko also had to fashion many of his tools, including the forge itself. And he customized an old trip-hammer used to press the steel to the specific shape he wants.
"To make a knife is not work in my eyes. It's a love. It's a passion. It's not work. Work is something you don't always enjoy. This is something I enjoy," said Kirko.
Each one of Kirko’s knives displays intricacy in the shape of its steel blade, wood and ivory handles.
Kirko said his knives are his legacy.
"When I'm gone, I've left something here on this planet and they will be used for hunting long when I am gone. And that's my passion,” said Kirko.
To learn more about Howling Wind Forge, including Kirko's classes teaching others how to forge knives, click here.