Microtech Socom Alpha Fixed Blade Knife Review

Microtech Socom Alpha Fixed Blade Knife

Microtech Knives, Inc. is a knife manufacturing company, famous for its automatic knives, that was founded in Vero Beach, Florida in 1994, and operated there until relocating to Bradford, Pennsylvania in 2005 and to Fletcher, North Carolina in 2009. IN 2007 the company began manufacturing an American-made version of the Steyr AUG under the subsidiary name of Microtech Small Arms Research.

The company has long promoted itself as stressing quality with regard to tight machining tolerances to within one thousandth of an inch. Microtech has designed knives for used by the US Military such as the Halo, UDT, Socom, and Currahee models. Custom knife makers, such as Greg Lightfoot have remarked that these tolerances are what makes the factory knives so close the custom design: “It has the same quality as a handmade custom.”

Although Microtech has produced many styles of blades such as kitchen knives, fishing knives, arrow heads, and balisong knives; Microtech is most famous for its tactical automatic knives. The most popular designs among collectors are the Out the Front and the Double Action automatics. Microtech, along with Benchmade Knives was responsible for the resurgence in the popularity of tactical automatic knives in the 1990s. These knives were seen more as a precision made tool utilizing powerful springs and high grade bushings as opposed to cheap import.

Microtech has collaborated with famous knife makers and designers such as Ernest Emerson, Bob Terzuola, Mick Strider, Walter Brend, Mike Turber, Greg Lightfoot, and Reese Weiland on exclusive designs.

And, once a Microtech HALO was featured on the television series 24.

Today, we will be discussing the Microtech Socom Alpha Fixed blade knife with the Apocalyptic Stonewash blade.

 

The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of Elmax steel. This is a European powder metal steel that is used in the higher end knives. Elmax has an advanced formula and the result is a very good all-around steel, a generation ahead of formulations like 154CM. There has been some controversy on the Internet over the grinding and heat treat of this steel, but in most peoples’ experience, it has been nothing but great. A few years ago Elmax was really pricey, but competition has driven it down to a reasonable price, making it a decent value. This steel is made by European Bohler-Uddeholm and is a high chromium-vanadium-molybdenum allowed powdered steel which gives it extremely high wear and corrosion resistance. Elmax acts a lot like a stainless steel, but it is a carbon steel. With this steel, you get superb edge holding and relatively easy sharpening, while still maintain a good resistance to rust.

The blade has been coated with an apocalyptic stonewash finish. A stonewashed finish refers to tumbling the blade in an abrasive material. This finish easily hides scratches, while also providing a less reflective nature than a brushed or satin finished blade. There is a wide variety of stonewashed finishes based upon the abrasive shape, tumbling motion and the type of finish eh blade has before it enters the tumbler. An apocalyptic or acid stonewashed, also a black stonewash finish is a blade that has had an acid treatment that darkens the blade before it undergoes stonewashing. The acid oxidation enhances a blade’s rust resistance by placing a stable oxide barrier between the steel and the environment. A very positive benefit of stonewashed blades is that they are low maintenance and preserve their original look overtime; the stonewashed finish hides the scratches that can occur with use overtime.

The blade on this knife has been carved into a tanto blade shape. This blade shape does one thing and does that one thing really well. If you are looking for a knife that excels at piercing tough materials, then the tanto blade is what you’re looking for. This blade shape was originally designed for armor piercing, the tanto blade was popularized by Cold Steel and is similar in style to Japanese long and short swords. The tanto knife has a high point with a flat grind, leading to an extremely strong pint that is perfect for stabbing into hard materials. The thick point of the tanto blade contains a lot of metal near the tip, so it is able to absorb the impact from repeated piercing that would cause most other knives to break. The front edge of the tanto knife meets the back edge at an angle, rather than a curve. As a result, the tanto blade does not have a belly, which is sacrificed in exchange for a stronger tip. Because it lacks a belly for slicing, it is not useful as a general utility knife. However, it’s extremely strong point allows it to be used in tough situations where piercing hard materials is required. This blade is definitely tailored to piercing tough materials, and if such a situation arises—you are going to be prepared.

This tough knife features a plain edge. The plain edge is one long continuous edge and in general, the plain edge is better than the serrated when the application involves push cuts. Also, the plain edge is superior when extreme control, accuracy and clean cuts are necessary, regardless of whether or not the job is push cuts or slices. The plain edge will work better for applications like shaving, skinning an apple, or skinning a deer. All those applications involve either mostly push cuts, or the need for extreme control. And generally, the more push cuts are used, the more necessary it is for the plain edge to have a “razor polished” edge. A knife edge becomes more polished when you move to higher and higher grit stones. Generally, 1200-grit is considered polished while a 6000+ grit water stone would even further polish the edge.

 

The Handle:

The handle on this blade is made out of G 10. G 10 is the common term for a grade of fiberglass composite laminate, which is a cloth material with a resin binder, that is used in a number of everyday carry and plenty of gear applications. Though they are made pretty differently, G 10 really is similar to carbon fiber when it comes to the properties. This material is immune to corrosion and rust, it is easily textured, and because of that, it offers phenomenal grip. Also like carbon fiber, G 10 tends to be on the more brittle side and because of this, it does not resist impact well at all. But, this material does not have the same aesthetic pleasure that many other materials do, because it resembles plastic in both its appearance and its feel.

On this Socom Alpha, the handle is relatively simple, with the unique portions being in the small details. The G 10 of this handle is just black, but there is thick, spaced out jimping down the entire spine and bottom portion of the handle. This jimping will give you a very secure grip on your handle at all times. The finger groove is a groove etched into the handle, which gives you a more comfortable portion to place your hand while using this knife on the harder tasks.

On the butt of the handle, there is a lanyard hole carved into the metal that is sticking out form the handle scales. This is a full tang knife, which means that the blade portion of the metal extends all the way down through the handle. Then, the G 10 handle scales are placed over this piece of metal, which results in a much stronger knife. This Microtech knife has been designed as a tactical knife, and for a tactical knife, you need to be searching for the strongest knife possible. A full tang knife is so strong because there are no weak portions where the handle and the blade are melded together.

Like I earlier mentioned, on the butt portion of the tang, there is a lanyard hole. If you tie a lanyard onto your tactical knife, you will be securing your knife against loss. If you loop the lanyard over your wrist, you never have to worry about the knife slipping out of your hand in crucial times. And, if you keep a lanyard tied to your knife, you can withdraw your knife quicker. Another benefit, although not a major benefit, is that the lanyard can provide greater visibility as well as adding a touch of personal style to your knife. Everyone has their own reason for using a lanyard on their fixed blade, but I promise you that there is no shortage of good reasons to tie a lanyard to this knife.

Microtech Socom Alpha Fixed Blade Knife
Microtech Socom Alpha Fixed Blade Knife

The Sheath:

The sheath that comes with this knife is made out of Kydex and Carbon Fiber. Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride material that is often used in sheaths. This is a more modern material, especially when compared to the other common sheath materials. One of the greatest advantages about Kydex is its durability. This material can literally be submerged in salt water and not just survive, but thrive. Kydex is going to hold up very well to many different environments. Unfortunately, Kydex does feature a variety of major disadvantages. For starters, Kydex basically looks like a lump of plastic—it has no personality. And, Kydex sheaths are loud. There is no way to use a Kydex sheath and have it remain quiet. There is going to be noise when you draw your knife and again when you try to put the knife back in the sheath. Some people do like the satisfying click of Kydex, but you should be aware of it. I would say that the biggest disadvantage of this sheath material is that with repeated taking out and putting back a knife into a Kydex sheath will dull your blades edge.

 

The Mechanism:

This is a fixed blade, which has plenty of benefits when it comes to your tactical knife. For starters, the blade can be longer and thicker than a folding knife because it doesn’t have to fit inside of the handle. Because of this added length and thickness, you get obvious bonus strength. Fixed blades are going to be tougher too, because they are so much thicker, and much less prone to breaking. And because this is the full tang blade, you don’t have to worry about any weak spots in the blade. In fact, even if the handle scales did crack or fall off, you would still have a full knife to work with. Plus, the fixed blade “mechanism” makes maintenance a breeze, because all you have to do is quickly wipe down your blade after each use and oil it every so often.

 

The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 5 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.2 inches long. The handle on this fixed blade is 5 inches long, making the overall length of the knife an even 10 inches long, with the blade and the handle being perfectly proportioned. This Microtech knife weighs in at 7.9 ounces, with the sheath weighing in at 4.4 ounces. This Socom Alpha was made in the United States of America.

 

The Conclusion:

The Microtech Socom Alpha full tang fixed blade knife was originally designed after the folder version of the popular Microtech Socom Alpha. This is the first production model of the Socom Alpha fixed blade model as the original was recently exclusively produced as a Microtech Custom. This rugged tactical fixed blade features a longer blade than the folder design as well as a raised rib pattern around the exterior of the handle to assist with positive control and an enhanced grip in any position. This model, the 114-10AP, consists of a contoured black G-10 handle, standard hardware, and a tanto style blade in an apocalyptic stonewash finish. Much like the custom version, the Socom Alpha comes with a heavy-duty Kydex sheath sporting a carbon fiber laminate overlay as well as a Blade-Tech MOLLE-Lok attachment. Pick up your Microtech 114-10AP Socom Alpha T/E fixed blade knife with the Elmax apocalyptic stonewashed blade today at BladeOps.

 

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