Blade Shape Basics

Choosing the best knife for you can seem like a daunting task when first being introduced to the knife industry. There are many things to consider when choosing the best knife for you including steel type, blade shape, and handle material and style. In this beginner’s series, we have already covered the different popular steel types and today we are going to focus on the different blade shapes there you can choose from. Some of these shapes are designed for everyday use and some are designed for a specific task, but like always, the choice will come down to personal preference.

 

Clip Point Blade

The clip point blade shape is one of the most popular blade shapes used today. The back, or unsharpened, side is flat and goes about half of the length before it looks to be “clipped off”, which is where the name comes from. This second half of the back can be straight or curved, but it is more commonly curved; this design is to make the tip thinner and sharper. This thin tip allows for more precise cuts, and can also get into harder to reach places. This blade shape is most commonly found on Bowie knives. This blade shape is great for almost any situation and can stand up to the unexpected.

Advantages of a clip point blade:

  • The point is very sharp and easy to control.
  • The knife shape features a “belly” which is great for slicing and gives plenty of cutting edge.
  • Clip points are great for piercing, which comes in handy to use on hides during hunting.

Disadvantages of a clip point blade:

  • Because the tip is more narrow than a regular tip, it is weaker and can be prone to weakness and breaking.

 

Drop Point Blade

The drop point blade shape is also one of the most popular blade shapes used today and it is very similar to the clip point shape. The spine of the knife, or the unsharpened side, goes from the handle to the tip in a shallow curve. This end meets the sharpened side at the tip, which gives it almost a “v” shaped blade. Because the curve is convex, it has more strength and can stand up to more than the clip point blade. This blade shape sports a large “belly” that is perfect for slicing. This shape is found commonly in hunting knives, larger pocket knives, and is also a great shape for survival and tactical knives.

Advantages of a drop point blade:

  • Great for hunting because the belly is ideal for skinning an animal.
  • Great for hunting because the larger point makes it easier to avoid puncturing any of the animal’s organs.
  • The point is strong and much less likely to snap than a clip point blade.
  • The belly of this shape is great for slicing almost anything.
  • Features a strong tip that resists breaking, so this shape is ideal for survival situations.

Disadvantages of a drop point blade:

  • The point is not as sharp as other knives, especially a clip point blade shape.
  • When hunting, this knife doesn’t excel in piercing.

 

Tanto Blade

The tanto blade shape came from the Japanese samurai swords and was designed to pierce through armor. The blade shape has a very angular shape, that has two straight edges that join. Not similar to the clip point or drop point, tanto blades don’t have a belly. Instead, the straight edge turns into an angled edge that leads to the point. Because there isn’t a thin tip, but instead a flat edge, this style of blade has phenomenal strength. This blade shape is not made for to be all purpose, but instead is designed to be a tactical blade. This shape is very popular with military personnel and law enforcement groups because of how strong they are and their ability to cut through a variety of different materials.

Advantages of a tanto blade:

  • Because they can cut through so many different materials, pierce/stab, they are ideal for survival situations.
  • The tanto has a crazy strong point.
  • This style is great for piercing through hard materials.

Disadvantages of a tanto blade:

  • Because there is not belly, this blade shape is not ideal for slicing.
  • The point is harder to control than the other blade shapes.

 

Sheepsfoot Blade

Something that makes the sheepsfoot blade style so unique is that it is almost the opposite of a normal blade. This means that the sharpened edge of the blade is completely straight and the unsharpened edge of the blade is straight until it curves to meet the sharpened edge at the tip. This style of blade was originally designed for trimming the hooves of sheep, which is where it got its name. This knife style is great for chopping because you can put your fingers on the dull back to have better control of the knife. Because this style has a “false tip”, it prevents any accident punctures while using this knife. This style of knife is popular in kitchen knives because you don’t need a point like you would in other tasks. Sailors use this style of blade because of its ability to cut through all the sailing ropes, and emergency responders use this style of blade to cut through seatbelts and other restraints.

Advantages of a sheepsfoot blade:

  • Very controllable.
  • Because the blade doesn’t have a point, accidental puncturings/stabbings are very avoidable.
  • Gives a clean cut while slicing.

Disadvantages of a sheepsfoot blade:

  • This style does not have any point, so the knife cannot be used for many tasks.

 

Gut Hook Blade

This style of blade is one of the most unique shapes of blades that is out there. This style of blade has a sharpened semi-circle ground into the spine of the blade. Then, the inward part of the semi-circle is sharpened. This semi-circle, or hook, is usually used by hunters in the field, because they can make a small cut in the animal and then hook the semi-circle into the cut and pull the skin. This is so that hunters can open the animal without cutting into the muscle. This style of knife is also used by fisherman when they gut their catch.

Advantages of a gut hook blade:

  • Used by hunters for field dressing their game.
  • Great for gutting fish, because the shape makes it easy to cut into the meat, damaging the quality.
  • The blade has a large belly that makes it ideal for skinning and slicing.
  • The blade features a high point, which keeps it out of the way and makes it easy to avoid accidental puncturing.

Disadvantages of a gut hook blade:

  • The “hook” in the spine is hard to sharpen because you can’t use regular sharpening tools; often times, a small file and manual force is used.
  • The “hook” in the blade adds significate mass to the blade.

 

Trailing Point Blade

The trailing point blade shape is another unique blade shape. This style has a back edge that curves upward instead of downward. This style of blade got its name because the back edge of the knife “trails” higher than the rest of the blade. Because of this upward curve, the blade has improved slicing ability. This curve is usually very large, and large curves, or bellies, are ideal for skinning. This curve also allows the blade to be more lightweight than other knife blades. The point is one of the sharpest, making it ideal for small work, such as skinning game and fish. This style of blade is most commonly found on skinning and fillet knives.

Advantages of a trailing point blade:

  • The large belly makes this style of blade ideal for slicing and skinning.
  • The point is higher than other blade styles, placing the point out of the way.

Disadvantages of a trailing point blade:

  • Because the point is thinner than most, it makes the tip very weak.

 

Dagger or Needle Point Blade

This style of blade is known most commonly as the needle point blade, but sometimes is known as a dagger blade. The needle point blade is designed to have the best point; this blade is double-edged and is ideal for stabbing. This blade shape has two symmetrical blades that taper to a thin, sharp point. Needle point blades are often used by police personnel and military personnel because they are small and can be easily hidden, especially in things like their boot. These blades can also be easily withdrawn from their sheaths. They are also loved by these groups because they make for a great self-defense blade in close combat scenarios.

Advantages of a needle point blade:

  • The very thin, sharp point is fantastic for piercing soft targets.
  • Great for self-defense in close-combat.
  • Great for stabbing.

Disadvantages of a needle point blade:

  • Because the point is so thin, it can be weak especially on harder targets.
  • Because the two sides of the blade are symmetrical, there is not belly, so this style of blade is not ideal for slicing.

 

Spear Point Blade

A spear point blade is extremely similar to a needle point blade. Most spear point blades are double-edged, but some are only sharpened on one edge, but it has symmetrical blades. The two blades meet in the middle at a point. This blade style got its name from spears, because of the symmetrical sides meeting in the middle at a point. Because it has a good amount of material, this blade style is durable, and great for cutting. Spear points are often found in throwing knives, penknives, daggers, and other knives made for thrusting. The spear point blade does have a small belly, so it can slice through objects; however, it is not an ideal style for slicing and cutting, especially when compared to the other style of blades. Since you can’t choke up on the blade, the spear point style is not designed for delicate tip work.

Advantages of a spear point blade:

  • This style has a strong point.
  • Because it can be double edged, you can get a very sharp tip on this style of blade.
  • This style is very controllable.
  • This style is very durable.
  • Makes a great dagger.

Disadvantages of a spear point blade:

  • It has a small cutting edge, making its slicing properties slacking.
  • Not good with delicate tip work.

 

Wharncliffe Blade

The wharncliffe blade is very similar to the sheepsfoots blade, but, the spine of the blade curves more closely to the handle than the sheepfoots blade. This earlier curve allows for a shallower curve. This style of blade was commonly used by sailors, because the shape is designed so that the sailor cannot stab himself or others when the waves get rocky. This is not a common blade style, but when used, it is very useful.

Advantages of a wharncliffe blade:

  • The user will have great control over this blade.
  • The blade does not have a point, so it is a safer knife to use.
  • The edge is very simple, making it great for cutting.

Disadvantages of a wharncliffe blade:

  • The blade does not have a point, so this blade style is not very versatile.

 

Serrations

Serrations are the jagged edges of a blade. Serrations can be added to almost any style of blade and make it so that you can cut things much quicker. Instead of slicing though, serrations almost tear the material that you are cutting apart. Serrations are ideal if you need to cut through materials such as tree branches, rope, or thicker objects.

Advantages of serrations:

  • Can cut through thicker objects easier and more efficiently.
  • Great for utility tasks.

Disadvantages of serrations:

  • Because they serrations are put on the belly of the knife, it takes up room that could be used for slicing.

 

Deciding which knife is the perfect knife for yourself can seem like an overwhelming decision. This article on the advantages and disadvantages of different blade shapes will hopefully make that decision a little easier. Just keep in mind the task of which you will be using your newly purchased knife for.

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Overview of Knife Blade Steels

Choosing the best knife for yourself and your task at hand can feel overwhelming when looking at all of the options that there are. You have to decide between steel types, blade shapes, and what the knife’s purpose is. To make this process easier for everyone, I have decided to do a beginner’s series. To start off with, I am going to define the different terms used in ranking knife steels and then go into the different popular types of steels and dig deep into their details to help you figure out which knife is your perfect option.

 

Basic Terms

For starters, there are a few different terms that I should define. First off, the Rockwell Hardness Scale, this is a scale that determines the hardness of a material by a series of tests. The lower the number of Rockwell Hardness, the softer the steel. The higher the number, the harder the steel. Often times, these numbers are paired with either “HRC” or “RC”. These terms just say that the number is on the Rockwell Hardness scale, just two different ways of saying that. With steel, the hardness is often described as the strength of the steel.

Another important aspect is toughness. Often times, hardness and toughness are used as synonyms, however there is a difference.  The toughness of a knife is referring to how much force the blade can endure before chipping, cracking, or breaking during heavy use. The thing about toughness and hardness is that the harder a knife is, the less tough it will be and vice versa.

The third main factor in steel is corrosion resistance. Corrosion resistance is how well the knife holds up to rust and other discolorations of the steel.

While hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance are the three main factors in steel, there is another factor in choosing which steel to purchase. The edge retention of a knife’s steel. This is used when describing how long the blade will stay sharp after a period of usage.

 

Different Types of Steel

Now that we all understand the basic terms used to describe the steels, let’s focus on the individual types of steel that can make up a knife blade.

S30V

One of the more popular types of steel for knives is S30V steel. S30V steel is a stainless steel that is considered premium knife steel. The Rockwell Hardness level is 59.5-61. The steel has 1.45% Carbon, which is a relatively high amount of carbon in a steel. This steel was actually designed to be used in knives, specifically high-end pocket knives and kitchen knives. This type of steel has fantastic wear resistance, and based on how tough it is, it is surprisingly hard. Because of how tough and hard it is, it is considered one of the best choices for knife making. Knives made with S30V steel have great edge retention, however, this knife is harder to re-sharpen. Because of the durability and edge retention, knives with S30V steel are a great option for everyday carry knives, they last long and can take a beating to tackle the harder tasks.

AUS 8

Another popular steel used in knives is AUS 8 steel. This steel is also referred to as 8A steel.  The Rockwell Hardness level is 57-58. One of the biggest pros about AUS 8 steel is how well it can hold an edge. It is also extremely easy to sharpen. This type of steel has .75% carbon, so this means that it is a relatively hard knife. This is a cheaper knife and for the price, it has great corrosion resistance capacities. Overall, this type of steel has a good balance of toughness, strength, edge holding, and resistance to corrosion, especially for the price. Because of its lower price, it won’t hold up forever, but is great if you are looking for a cheaper option.

1095

1095 steel is a great option for a cheaper cost. The Rockwell Hardness level is 56-58. This steel is very easy to sharpen and to get extremely sharp; however, it only has average edge retention. It has about 1% carbon, so it is very tough, meaning it’s extremely resistant to chipping. Because it’s so tough, it makes it an ideal candidate for survival knives and heavier duty fixed blades. Because 1095 steel is tougher than most knives, it can take more of a beating and isn’t commonly chosen for every day carry knives.

154 CM

This steel was originally designed for jet engine fan blades, but has made an appearance in the knife business because it is tough, has a good edge holding capacity, and has good corrosion resistance. This is a stainless steel with 1.05% carbon content. Surprisingly, this steel has very good toughness for how hard it is. The Rockwell Hardness level is between 58-62. It is a good option if you don’t want to pay the cost of S30V steel. 154 CM steel is fairly easy to sharpen as long as you have the right equipment. Knives made with this steel are great for general tasks, but they excel at heavy duty cutting applications.

ATS 34

ATS 34 steel has a carbon content of 1.05%. The Rockwell Hardness level is 60-61. This steel is a Japanese steel and people consider 154CM the American equivalent of it. This steel is a high quality steel that is being used in many custom knives. The edge holding properties in this steel is good, but it is moderately hard to sharpen. The steel has a high corrosion resistance, and these knives are mainly for general use.

VG-10

VG-10 steel was originally used for kitchen cutlery, because it is one of the highest levels of stainless steels. This is also because this steel holds a great edge and has a fantastic anti-rust property. The carbon content in this steel is around 1%. This steel is one of the hardest steels and because of this, it can get brittle and chip. VG-10 steel contains vanadium which is what gives it the extra toughness. Because of the high quality of its stainless properties and its strength, VG-10 is sometimes known as a super steel. This steel is very similar to ATS-34 and 154CM steel. The Rockwell Hardness is 60. VG-10 steel originated in Japan and was first introduced in America by Spyderco. While the cost might seem steep when first looking at it, you get what you pay for and it is well worth the extra money.

420 HC

The “HC” in this steel stands for High Carbon, because this steel has an increased carbon content compared to regular 420 stainless steel. 420 HC steel has a carbon content around .4-.5%. This knife has a good toughness, but very good corrosion resistance; in fact, in spite of the low cost, this steel has some of the most corrosion resistance properties out of all the steels. Because this steel is so soft, it is very easy to sharpen. The Rockwell Hardness level is a 58. Knives with this steel are a great budget option and are mainly for general use.

BG-42

This steel has a carbon content of around 1.15%, meaning that it has high strength and a great edge holding capacity. The Rockwell Hardness level of this steel is between a 61-62. This steel has average corrosion resistance properties. BG-42 steel is easy to sharpen. This steel is becoming more popular because custom knife makers have begun to use this steel more often. This steel has been used in the aerospace industry, so it is a high performance steel, and is great for knives that have to take a severe beating.

440 A

This steel has a carbon content of around .67%. This is a stainless steel and it is low cost. This steel is similar to 420 HC, but since it has a higher carbon content, it has better levels of edge retention and wear resistance. The Rockwell Hardness level of this steel is between a 55-57. This knife is very easy to sharpen and is used mostly for general use.  Out of all the 440 steels, it is the most rust resistant. Knives with this type of steel have a good balance of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and easy re-sharpening, making them a great option for every day carry.

440 C

440 C steel has a carbon content that ranges between .95-1.2%. It is a hard steel, with average toughness and wear resistance. 440 C steel very easy to sharpen and can get a very sharp edge. The Rockwell Hardness level on this steel is 58-60. One of the pros of having your blade made of 440 C is that it has extremely high resistance to stains. Out of all the 440 steels, it has the highest levels of carbon. This steel is considered to be a high end stainless steel. This type of steel was once considered the high end of knife steels, but recently it has been dropped down the list because of so many new types of steels that can be manufactured. Knives with 440C steel blades can be mass produced, so you can get them at a lower price than many other types of steels. These knives are mostly for general use.

D2

D2 steel is often referred to as “semi stainless steel”, because while it does have a high chromium content, it doesn’t have enough chromium to be categorized as fully stainless steel. However, it does still have a very good amount of resistance to corrosion. This steel also has an excellent edge retention, but it is harder to sharpen than most. However, because it is harder than other stainless steels, it does hold its edge better than the other stainless steels. The Rockwell Hardness level is between a 59-60.  Knives with this type of steel are good for general use.

Damascus

While Damascus steel is a popular steel, it is very different than any of the other steels that we’ve been discussing. This steel is made out of two or more layers of different types of steel and “folding” them together. Folding, is just a specific type of welding, where the different layers of steel are fused together. After these layers are fused together, the steel is etched with acid. Because the acid reacts differently to the two different types of steel, it reveals a striped pattern out. Knives with Damascus steel has a high toughness, but the process is long and the cost of production is high. This means that Damascus blades are usually just used for the aesthetic in decorative blades. Damascus is actually considered a precious metal. These knives are usually collector’s knives. The Rockwell Hardness level of Damascus steel is a little bit trickier because there are different types of steels in it, but they usually range from a 53 to 62.

M2

M2 steel is used in cutting tools; this metal is used to cut metal. This steel has a carbon content of about .85%. This holds an edge really well, but on larger knives, it can make them brittle. But, M2 steel is hard to sharpen. The Rockwell Hardness level of this steel is a 62. This has fantastic strength, good toughness, and is extremely high in its wear resistance properties. This steel has poor corrosion resistance properties and will often be covered in a corrosion resistant coating.

 

Conclusion

When first looking at buying a new knife, the options can seem overwhelming, especially with all the different types of steels. To choose the one that is right for you, you must consider what you are using the knife for. You have to choose the right balance between strength, toughness, wear resistant, stain resistant, how well the knife retains its edge, and the price. Sometimes you have to give in an area to have a higher content in a different area. You can usually find a budget steel without giving up too much on quality.

Now that we have tackled the popular steels and what they are best used for, stay tuned for articles breaking down the different blade shapes and handle materials.

 

 

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Benchmade Gold Class 707-161 Sequel Knife — Quick Review

There are a nearly infinite number of amazing knives on the market.  Every week, I find at least one or two more knives that I think would be nice to add to my collection.  Just last week the most recent Benchmade Gold Class hit the shelves and this special knife is impressive.

Benchmade Gold Class Sequel Knife, 707-161
Benchmade Gold Class Sequel Knife, 707-161

Like each Gold Class, the knife is based on an existing knife being produced by Benchmade but then tricked out with all the bells and whistles you can imagine.  As Benchmade says on their website,

Benchmade builds knives for the most demanding customers, from special operations forces to elite backcountry hunters, and building for the best requires the best raw materials. We select premium blade steels and pair them with aerospace-grade handle materials to create premium-grade knives and tools that provide great value for our customer.

Add to the unique design elements the fact that a very limited number of these are produced and suddenly you have an instant collectible classic every time.  The 707-161 is based on the Benchmade Sequel knife.  This spectacular Gold Class edition boasts a 3-D machined titanium handle, a custom titanium pocket clip, and heat colored hardware.   The blade is super premium CPM-S90V stainless steel with a two tone finish–mostly dark acid washed with bright polish flats.  The most eye catching feature is the copper niobium inlays.  These inlays are taken from large copper cables that were built interspersed with NbTi (Niobium Titanium) filaments which were used in massive particle accelerators such as the Tevatron accelerator used at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab which resides just east of Batavia, Illinois.  Cut, insert and then polished to a beautiful shine, this inlay adds just the right amount of amazing to an already incredible knife.

The 707 Sequel AXIS folder is a McHenry & Williams design.  Built based on the earlier 705 model, the 707 is just slightly wider and significantly thinner than the 705.  This makes, at least in my estimation, for a better grip on the handle.  The blade is also slightly wider, which I prefer, and boasts more belly than the 7o5.  A larger belly improves the blade’s ability to slice because the larger curve continually changes the angle of the blade to the material being cut as you pull the blade through the material.  This increases the efficiency of your cut because the blade stays in contact with the material being cut for more of the cutting stroke.

Additionally, the 707 Sequel AXIS folder boasts the incredible Benchmade AXIS system.  If you have never used a knife with the AXIS system, you will quickly come to love it.  Benchmade describes the AXIS system as,

A patented Benchmade exclusive, AXIS® has been turning heads and winning fans ever since its introduction. A 100 percent ambidextrous design, AXIS® gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar that rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega-style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang. As a result, the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS® bar itself. Available in manual, AXIS® Assist or Auto AXIS® configurations.

To me, the biggest draws of the AXIS system are first, that it is truly ambidextrous which not only makes it nice for our lefty friends but also makes it nice for rightys that find themselves suddenly needing their right hand to hold something in place while their left hand does the work, and second, that the AXIS is one of the most secure systems on the market to keep the blade locked open when using it increasing your safety and security.

The new Gold Class 707-161 is definitely a centerpiece addition to any fine collection.  Check it out here on our website, you will be glad you did.
SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Blade Length: 2.95″
  • Overall Length: 6.75″
  • Blade Material: CPM-S90V
  • Blade Finish: Dark Acid Wash / Bright Polish
  • Handle Length: 3.8″
  • Handle Material: 6AL-4V Titanium / Copper Niobium
  • Weight: 2.6 oz.
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ESEE Junglas — Quick Review

ESEE Junglas

Several years ago, I purchased an ESEE Junglas.  I initially decided to get the Junglas for my emergency go bag.  It is a rather large knife, measuring in at 16.5″, but I thought it would be a good tool to have in case of a disaster or emergency.  I have found so many more uses for this knife since my initial purchase.

About a month after I picked up my Junglas, I decided I needed to give it a good trial run to make sure it was as sturdy and durable as I thought.  I figured the worst case scenario would be to get it out in an actual emergency and realize it wasn’t the all around tool I had initially thought.  To put it through its paces, I first picked one of our peach trees out back.  I hadn’t properly pruned the tree for a couple of years and because of this, it was a bit out of control.  The tree had several 1″ to 2″ limbs that needed to be removed.  Sure, I could have just pulled out the pruners and taken care of business like normal people do, but I had a Junglas and I was on a mission to use it.  I took a few tentative whacks on the first limb.  To my delight, even though I wasn’t putting my all into the swing, the blade sliced neatly into the branch.  With just a few strikes, I had the first job done.  I spent the next five or ten minutes “pruning” the larger branches that needed to be removed.

Ours never grew so nice!
Ours never grew so nice!

Delighted with the performance of my new ESEE Junglas, I moved on to a row of three Nishiki Willow trees that my wife had decided to remove.  When we first planted these trees, they were perfect.  Over time, they grew a bit larger around than we expected.  They were also shorter than we had thought they would be.  This combination of larger around and shorter made them into path bullies–they crowded our stone path and made it so everyone walking into the backyard had to duck and dodge to avoid the branches.  So I got the assignment to remove the trees.  The trunks were between 5″ and 8″ thick.  One of the trees never really got very strong, the other two had better growing conditions and had larger trunks.

So I readied myself and chopped the first tree down. The wood was dense and very wet.  Not the best cutting conditions for any tool.  The Junglas powered through with little difficulty.  I took several swings at the trunk and quickly had cut a nice notch in the direction I wanted the tree to fall.  I switched sides on the trunk and with a few swings was able to cut the tree down.  It took only a few minutes.  Much less time than it would have taken to pull my chainsaw out, oil and prep it, start it up and cut the tree down.

The ESEE Junglas Survival knife is more of a machete than it is a knife.  Built with a 1095 steel blade featuring a black powder coat, the blade swings nice and easy.  The balance is perfect.  I have used a few machetes in my life and many of them are either weighted strange so they swing weird or they are not designed for maximum comfort.  The Junglas not only lends itself to a smooth swing, the contoured handle makes it comfortable to use for prolonged periods of time.

If you are looking for a quality, large sized knife for your survival kit or even for a bit of backyard work, check out the ESEE Junglas.  You will be glad you did.

 

Specifications:

  • O.A Length: 16.5″
  • O.A. Handle Length: 5.88″
  • Maximum thickness: 3/16″
  • Weight: 22.5 ounces (Knife Only)
  • Weight: 33 ounces (Knife and Sheath)
  • High Sabre Blade Grind
  • Hammer Pommel
  • Canvas Micarta Handles
  • Black Textured Powder Coat Finish
  • 1095 Steel
  • Serial Number On Pommel
  • Standard Equipment: Kydex Sheath w/ Cordura Backing
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Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 Knife Review

About three months ago I finally broke down and bought the Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 Knife for everyday carry.  I had to see what everyone was talking about.  I know they have been out for several years now, but I had never purchased one.  I’m glad I finally did.

Spyderco ParaMilitary 2
Spyderco ParaMilitary 2

First off, if you haven’t owned a Spyderco knife before, the quality of construction and the materials they use are superb.  The ParaMilitary 2 features a CPM S30V blade and G10 handle scales.  You can pick up the knife with the standard variations of blade finish, either black or satin. You can also choose between a few different G10 handle scales including the standard black or DigiCamo.  I went ahead and picked up the DigiCamo version with a black blade for a couple of reasons.  First, I have many knives with black handles and I was in the mood for something a bit different.  Second, I went with the black blade because I wanted to see how the black finish held up over time.  I’ll address that in a bit.

The very first thing you notice about the ParaMilitary 2 is the size.  It is the perfect size for everyday carry.  The handle measures just under 5″ at 4.81″, thickness is not quite 0.5″, and width is about 1.25″ at the widest points.  This means it fits great in the hand but doesn’t take up too much space in my pocket.

The very next thing I noticed was how easy it was to open and close.  The iconic SpyderHole makes the blade simple to one hand open with your thumb.  Unexpectedly, the blade is just as easy to close one handed.  Just press the spine compression lock with your finger and give the knife a little shake.  Voila, the blade closes up and you can put the knife right back in your pocket.  Since you are able to do everything with one hand, what the ParaMilitary really delivers is freedom, speed, and ease.  You are able to get more things done in a faster time period because you don’t have to use both hands to access and deploy your knife.  You don’t even need both hands to close it and put it away.

The blade opens smooth.  The ParaMilitary 2 uses the Bushing Pivot System.  What is this?  It’s a fancy name for smooth as silk, smooth as butter, smooth as a cat, smooth as … whatever you want to put in here next, it fits.  Take my word for it, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 opens smooth.   And once you have the blade deployed, the delight factor just keeps rising.

The blade delights with its classic Spyderco style and shape.  With a classic drop point blade curve on the cutting edge, the spine tapers down to a point to create a uniquely Spyderco look and style.  The SpyderHole has a steep thumb ramp behind it with fairly aggressive jimping.  When you hold the knife in the classic saber grip, your thumb is lined up right down the center of the blade to deliver maximum blade control and power.  I haven’t met a cut I don’t enjoy with my ParaMilitary 2 knife.  The sharp tip allows you to pierce everyday things with ease and the classic blade edge shape gives you serious cutting power.  The blade has classic flat grind which allows you to make slicing cuts with ease.  One of my concerns about the ParaMilitary 2 was the elongated shape of the tip.  I was nervous I would “tip” it (knife lingo for breaking the tip off your knife–generally happens when you aren’t using the knife blade to pry rather than cut).  I have used my knife hard over the past several months and have not broken the tip off.  In fact, we have sold hundreds if not thousands of these ParaMilitary 2 knives over the past few years and I haven’t heard of a single case where someone has broken the tip off.  So it appears my concerns were unfounded.  The blade has passed every hard use test I have put it through over the past few months with flying colors.

About a month ago, my oldest son was up visiting.  He saw I had the ParaMilitary 2 and asked if he could use it for a few days to see if he liked it.  I said sure and let him take my knife.  I have never missed one of my knives more. I tried carrying an older knife I used to carry.  It just wasn’t the ParaMilitary 2.  So after a week, I broke down and bought another one–this time with a black blade and a black handle.  Then I drove down to see my son and traded him the new one for my old, trusty Spyderco knife.

The knife carries good, cuts great, and is strong enough for hard work.  In my mind, the Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 is one of the best EDC knives on the market if you are looking for a mid sized folder that delivers.  Check it out, I’m glad I did.  By the way, the black finish on the blade still looks great.

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A Week with a Microtech Ultratech

Molon Labe Ultratech
Molon Labe Ultratech from Microtech

Microtech has always fascinated me with their automatic knives. Especially their Out the Fronts. With that being said, I recently picked up a new Ultratech. The Ultratech, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the most popular knives offered by Microtech. It has always had a generally positive reputation. But I had to test it out for myself to see. This is what I have found with the Ultratech.

 

Day 1- Today I made the purchase of the Ultratech. The specific one I got was the new Molon Labe Ultratech. The design of this knife is what really pushed me to purchase it. With a Spartan helmet on the front handle and the Greek letters spelling Molon Labe were huge factors of getting this knife. Plus, it’s a convenient automatic knife. It can be used with only one hand. It was a great choice.

One of the first things I wanted to do with the knife was to show my family how awesome it is. They are always excited to see new fun “toys” that I bring home. When I showed it to them, they were in awe. I was right there with them. Every time either I or one of my family members fired off the knife, I got more excited to own the knife. I didn’t do much cutting that day, but it was good to carry with me.

 

Day 2- This was my first full day carrying the knife. My biggest observation from today was how unnoticeable the knife was in my pocket. My phone and other items were able to fit in my pocket with my knife, and there was room to spare. The one thing that I did keep on noticing was the glass breaker that was found on the butt of the knife. The pointed metal end would prick me if I wasn’t careful. Other than that, the Ultratech was great to have equipped. Today required me to use my knife quite a bit. Working around the house doing some chores needed a knife for some projects. Having a knife ready in the blink of an eye was a huge help when I had so much to get done. Though it didn’t save a ton of time, it was still more than having to use a folder, scissors, or some other cutting tool.

 

Day 3- On this day I found another disadvantage of the knife. I was at worship today and saw a loose string on my pants. Out of habit I pulled out my knife and cut it off. The people around me seemed to not like that. You see, the knife has a loud snap when opening. This could be good in a lot of cases (such as intimidation when in a self-defense situation) but at church, it wasn’t such a good thing. If this kind of situation doesn’t apply to you, then it isn’t a problem at all. Where I could see it being a problem is at the office or at a library. Some of those quite places where people don’t expect a loud snap out of the middle of nowhere.

 

Day 4- Mondays tend to be awful. The weekend has just ended and now it’s time to get back to reality. One of the good things about today is that I still own a Ultratech. Although it didn’t see too much usage, it was fun to show around the office.

 

Day 5- My knife came in handy all throughout the day, especially when working in the kitchen. Although the knife wasn’t used in food preparation, it was helpful in pre-preparation. Cutting was a breeze when it came time to open up boxes and packaged food. The Ultratech cut through the cardboard with ease, as well as the plastic that was sealing up my food. Dinner was on the table a whole lot quicker. If you’re still using scissors to open up your food, you might want to invest in a knife, especially a quick auto like the Ultratech. It was so simple to use. Literally, it is as easy as flipping a switch. Being able to use an Out the Front knife with one hand makes cutting simple and quick.

 

Day 6- There wasn’t much use for my knife today. It was just running around doing errands and working. I have been better at not poking myself with the glass breaker on the end of the knife. My grip on the knife has adjusted to fit even better. I think that over time that the knife will continue to feel more secure as my muscle memory in my hand improves. The Ultratech hasn’t given me any problems when it came to pocket real estate. There have been many pairs of pants worn over the past few days. Each one has been able to hold my knife and all the other items I keep in my pocket. With its discreet look, the knife hides well inside my pocket. No one has pointed it out or acted strangely since I have been carrying it. It makes for a great everyday carry knife in that department.

 

Day 7- Well, today is the last day of my one-week trial of owning a Microtech Ultratech. It has been a great choice in a knife. My overall biggest concern about purchasing the knife was the price. The Ultratech is not cheap. Not in its price, but it also isn’t a cheap knife. From already owning it a week, I know that this knife will last me a long time. At this time, I can confidently say that purchasing this knife was well worth the cost. Although in a week (as you have read) the knife hasn’t seen a lot of use, I am confident that it will be able to handle any cutting task that might come up. Who knows, the knife could be a lifesaver someday. Only time will tell.

 

Now that you have read into a little bit of my experience with my Ultratech, it is your turn to get one. Only then will you truly know what it is like to own a knife like this one. There is a vast variety of Ultratech knives to choose from. All you need to do is go to BladeOps.com to learn more.

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Remington Butterfly KNife

Butterfly/Balisong

A balisong’s peculiarity lies within its two handles counter-rotating around the tang of the blade. When closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles. The balisong knife is the traditional name. Another more common name for the knife is called a butterfly knife. It is also referred to as a Batangas knife, after the Province of Batangas, in the Philippines where it is traditionally made. The balisong was commonly used by the Filipino people for self-defense and as a utility knife. While the meaning of the term balisong is foggy, a popular belief is that it is derived from the Tagalog words “bali” and “sungay” which means broken and horn in English. They were originally made from carved caribou and stag horn. Balisong is also the name of a small area in the Batangas Province, which became famous for crafting these knives.

 

Specs

There are many different types of butterfly knives out on the market. So to narrow it down, here is a few key specs on the Remington Butterfly knife.

  • Product Type: Balisong/Butterfly
  • Locking Mechanism: Latch
  • Overall Length: 9.00″
  • Weight:  5.21 oz.
  • Handle Length: 5.00”
  • Blade Length: 4.00″
  • Blade Thickness: 0.125″
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Blade Edge: Plain
  • Blade Style: Tanto
  • Blade Finish: Black
  • Handle Material: Aluminum
  • Handle Color: Black
  • Sheath Included: No

 

Now that we have seen the basic overview, let’s dive into what the knife really has to offer.

Remington 39018 Tanto Butterfly
Remington 39018 Tanto Butterfly

Blade

Style

The tanto blade found on the Remington Butterfly knife is a bit unusual. Normally, a tanto blade has a somewhat chisel-like point that is thick towards the point (being close to the spine) and is thus quite strong. Rather, the two different angled edges do not so much meet at a sharp point, but instead, they have a slight curving into each other. Thus it looks more like a traditional tanto blade which is inspired by ancient Japanese swords. The Westernized tanto is most often straight but may also be gently curved. This style of blade became popular during the ‘80s shortly after the blade was created and introduced. The tanto does not have a typical belly (such as that on a drop point), which is sacrificed in exchange for a stronger tip. Its design makes it great for push cuts, rather than slicing, and piercing tougher materials because of its tip’s strength.

Steel

The 1095 Steel that the tanto blade is made from is a basic carbon steel. It has a carbon content of .95% which helps harden the steel, and reduce the wear that a blade will experience over time. Despite the reduction in wear, 1095 steel is not as tough as other types of steel because of the lack of manganese, which hardens steel. 1095 steel holds a great edge and is easy to sharpen. However, because of the high amount of carbon it has a tendency to easily rust if not taken care of. As long as the blade is properly cared for, rust should not be too great a problem for anyone.

Finish

Black coatings, like the one found on the Remington Butterfly Knife, can last for several years depending on how thick the coating is. Like any other blade finish, with time, it began to look used. The way it looks is a matte black finish. Notable benefits of it are its coolness factor, and its low reflectivity. This coating can be helpful in stealth situations that require a tactical knife with low reflectivity. When the knife needs protection from corrosion, a coating has got you covered. If you forget proper blade maintenance, the coating can resist corrosion for a longer time (when compared to a satin finish). Though not the fanciest of finishes, it gets the job done.

 

Handle

Material

Aluminum, as you know, is a non-ferrous metal (meaning it does not contain or consist of iron).  It is corrosive resistant and a durable material for knife handles. It is a low-density metal that provides a nice, solid feel to the knife without adding weight to the knife. It is strong because of its high strength to weight ratio. Aluminum is often considered to be inferior titanium, which tends to be found on more premium knives. Though inferior to titanium, it is still an excellent handle material. The biggest advantages to aluminum are its strength, its light weight, its durability, and its resistance to corrosion.

A downside to aluminum is that if you use your knife during cooler weather, you might find the handle to be slightly uncomfortable.  If left uncared for, aluminum will oxidize. This oxidation appears as white residue and pitting on the surface. Some other things to watch out for with an aluminum handle is that it is susceptible to scratches and dings if you are not careful. Though it may seem to have significant disadvantages, there are many good qualities to this material.

How to Use

Opening the Remington Butterfly is easy to do and fun. Below is a step-by-step guide to help those who do not know how to open the knife:

  1. Start by holding the closed knife in your dominant hand.
  2. Unlock the knife. Do this by moving the latch that is being held stationary to disengage the blade.
  3. Grab the safe handle on the knife (you don’t want to cut yourself with the blade).
  4. Flip open the handle over your hand exposing the blade.
  5. Rotate loosely in front of your hand 180 degrees.
  6. Flip the blade against back of hand
  7. Flip back and grab rest of handle

 

This is just a simple list of steps on how to open the knife. There are several different ways to open up the knife. Once you play around with the knife for a while, it becomes easier to open. And given time, you could probably start performing tricks. There are plenty of videos online that show how to open this type of knife.

Now closing the knife is very similar to how the knife is opened. You could almost take the same steps and just go through them backwards. Here are the steps on how to close the knife:

  1. Again, start with holding the open knife in your dominant hand.
  2. Unlock the knife if you locked it into the opening position. Unlike opening the knife, the lock has to be manually disengaged. A squeeze on the handle will not unlock it.
  3. Flip over the handle that normally conceals the blade edge when closed.
  4. Rotate the knife loosely in your hand, around the front side of your hand, 180 degrees
  5. Flip the same handle against the back of your hand. Your hand will be in-between both of the handles at this point.
  6. Flip it back over your hand and grab the rest of the handle.

 

It will take time getting used to, but operating the butterfly knife can be done. It is different than opening a traditional folder, or auto knife. However, with some practice, these knives can open much more quickly than the fastest of autos.

 

Uses for a Butterfly Knife

Why would anyone want to get a Remington Butterfly Knife? There are many different laws and regulations, and the populous reputation that connote a negative feeling to them. Well for one, they are so much fun to play around with. Also, they are pretty safe once opened. Unless one of the pins breaks or some other freak accident, it will not close on your hand. Another reason to get one is the fact that they can be opened with only one hand, sometimes it can be faster than many spring assisted knives. A butterfly knife is also slim, lightweight, and easy to carry. It is very difficult to open one accidentally when locked, including in a pocket. They are often stronger and more secure because of their two pins. Another benefit to having a butterfly knife is for their use with those that wear gloves when working. Such as yard work or working in the shop. This is because they are large and easy to operate with gloved hands.

Some other benefits of the owning a balisong include:

  1. The shocking appearance it gives off. The balisong is impressive when revealed and wielded in a dramatic fashion. With all the tricks that can be done with a balisong, the action alone can plant fear in any opponent’s mind. Helpful for those dark alleyways at night.
  2. A butterfly knife has one of the strongest locking mechanisms. There is little chance of it opening up accidentally. It can be used with no fear of the blade bending onto the hand or even closing on the hand of those that use the knife.
  3. Balisongs typically can give you a long reach. This is more so true than folders that have to be more bulky and clunky to reach the same length. Having a long knife can be useful in any number of ways.
  4. The handles of the balisong can provide to be a blunt impact self-defense tool without the blade ever being deployed.

 

With any knife, there are limitations to them. Some of those limitations include:

  1. Butterfly knives have a greater need for space when deploying than many other knives.
  2. They are not as discrete as other knives, especially when opening. They are most definitely a flashy knife.
  3. There is much practice required to effectively open a balisong. Those that struggle with fine motor skills in their hands may have a difficult time trying to use this knife.
  4. There are legal issues that several states/cities have against them.

 

Overall, having a butterfly knife is a great choice. The advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. This knife has been around for a long time, and for good reason too. It will continue to last forever.

 

Cutting Test

It’s great now that we all know about the Remington Butterfly knife, but we need to know how it performs. To show this performance, we have taken this knife and put it to the test. Nothing too serious. We don’t want to risk ruining the knife. But we still want to test its limits. So we have several tests to conduct. Those tests include cutting paper, cardboard, plastic, and finally rope. These are just a few of the basics that a knife cuts every day. If you want to find out more on how this knife works, you can always get one any try it out yourself. Let’s see how the knife did.

Paper

I was slightly let down when I conducted this test. An initial cut with the blade wasn’t the cleanest. This is due to the fact that a tanto blade has no “belly” for a nice clean cut. The tanto still got the job done when it came to cutting through layers of paper.

Cardboard

When I first started this test, the first thing I did was stab the cardboard to test the strength of the tanto’s tip. What I found was that the tip effortlessly entered into the material. Cutting with the tanto blade was a bit difficult. Again, the lack of a belly made caused me to use more force to cut through the cardboard.

Plastic

This is the best test that the Remington Butterfly knife excelled at. Here again is where the tip came in handy. Not only was it easily able to penetrate the plastic, it was also simple to control the blade. Having a tanto blade makes it easy to slice up the tough material. The grip was solid which made cutting much simpler.

Rope

Though the tanto blade has been tough up to this point, cutting the rope was slightly more difficult. The lack of a razor sharp edge made cutting this fibrous material a little more difficult. However, the steel is able to take a sharper edge. If this blade were to be sharpened professionally, then I am positive that this test would have different results.

 

Conclusion

The Remington Butterfly Knife is a great, inexpensive knife that is worth the cost. It makes for a high-quality beginner’s balisong to practice around with. Not only to practice but to use on a more regular basis. If treated right (sharpening it regularly, cleaning the blade, and not abusing the knife), then your Remington will last you for a very long time. You won’t regret getting one. Pick yours up today.

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Knife Blade Styles

There is a vast variety of knives available to purchase on the market ranging from everyday carry knives to tactical knives, and everything in-between. Just as the knives vary, the blades that make up these knives vary also. Listed below are different blade styles that we see on most knives on the market today. Each has their own purpose, their own strengths, and their own weaknesses. No one is perfect in every way, but it can be perfect for the job you need it for. Take a look and see what is available.

 

Clip Point-

A clip point blade is one of the more popular blade shapes used today. What defines a clip point is the back edge of the knife runs straight from the handle and then stops about halfway up the knife. Then the angle bends and continues to the point of the knife. This “cut-out” area can be straight or curved, and is referred to as the “clip.” Some advantages of the clip point are its sharp controllable point, it is good for piercing, and there is plenty of cutting edge for slicing. One disadvantage of the clip point is that the point is narrow and weaker than other blade styles. In the end though it is a great blade to have, especially if you will be doing a lot of slicing.

Knife Examples: Kershaw Launch 5, Spyderco Para-Military 2.

 

Dagger/Needle Point/Stiletto-

The dagger blade is double-edged and is best used for stabbing or thrusting. It has two sharp edges which allows the knife cut in on both sides. Dagger blades are mainly used in self-defense, close combat situations. However, it is not the strongest of blades and can break against hard surfaces. An advantage of the dagger blade style is that it is thin and has a sharp point which provides a piercing ability. Some disadvantages of the dagger is that its tip is fragile, and there is no real “belly” on the blade for slicing.

A needle point blade (also known as a dagger) is also a double-edged blade used for stabbing or thrusting as well as a stiletto blade.

Knife Examples: Piranha Mini-Guard, Microtech Ultratech.

 

Drop Point-

The drop point is an all-purpose blade that is able to stand up to anything that it comes across. Its blade is one of the most popular blade shapes in use today. The unsharpened edge of the knife runs straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner. The large edge for cutting makes it perfect for slicing. Another advantage that the drop point has is its tip. The point on the blade is sharp and is thicker than other styles, thus allowing for a stronger tip. The point is also great when it comes to controlling the blade. Accuracy is key, especially when it comes to fine tune cutting. The drop point is an all-around good blade to have on a knife and is popular on knives because of the controllable point and large slicing area.

Knife Examples: Benchmade Stryker, Zero Tolerance Sinkevich.

 

Gut Hook-

A gut hook blade is a special type of blade in which part of the spine has a sharpened semi-circle created into it. It is most often used by hunters and fishermen for field dressing. The “hook” in the spine is placed in a small cut in the underside of the animal and pulled like a zipper. The small hook opens the abdomen of the animal without slicing into the muscle, possibly affecting the quality of the meat.

Some people do not feel that having a gut hook is important/necessary for many reasons; safety being among those reasons. Traditionally, gut hooks are featured on the back of the plain edge blade. This has a possibility to cause all sorts of problems when being used. If anything, the gut hook provides another tool to carry with you while out in the wild.

Knife Examples: SOG Revolver 2.0 Hunt, Bear & Son Guthook Knife.

 

Recurve-

Recurved blades offer a great cutting leverage when it comes to draw cuts. Another benefit of a recurve is that it lengthens the cutting edge longer than the actual length of the blade. The design also gives the edge multiple angles to work with. Recurves excel at slicing, whether it’s for food prep or cutting rope. Slicing isn’t the only cutting task that can benefit from a recurve’s contour. Other cuts, such as chopping and slashing, are best done with the use of a recurve blade. That is why you will find recurves on blades used for clearing vegetation, large choppers, and even certain defensive blades.

There are a couple of disadvantages to a recurve edge. Sharpening the blade involves a different technique when compared to sharpening more conventional blades such as a drop point. It can be difficult, and will be frustrating at first. If you are more accustomed to a traditional blade style, the recurve may take a while to adjust to. The ways these blades cut are quite different.

Knife Examples: Benchmade 67 Bali-Song, Boker Exclusive Recurve Tanto Kalashnikov 74.

 

Serrated-

In comparison with a sharp plain edge, such as that on a clip point, serrations tend to do well in cutting hard material. Whether it be thick rope, hard plastics, bones, or any other fibrous material, a serrated blade is capable of cutting through it. Serrated cutting is done by a few key factors. When beginning to cut, the tiny points on all the serrations touch the object being cut. This allows for a more centralized pressure on the cut. After applying this pressure, the dozens of little serrations act like hooks. Each pull at the material until it is cut deep. The penetrating points and scallops greatly assist in cutting with their low-edge, sharp angle. Many question the usage of a serrated blade. They ask if it is even worth it to have as a tool when they have a sharp plain edge. However, it is difficult to ever really know when you will be needing a serrated blade, especially in the wild. But it is essential to be prepared for whenever that situation arises. Ultimately, with this blade, you will be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Knife Examples: SOG Revolver 2.0 Hunt, Spyderco Delica 4.

 

Sheepsfoot-

A sheepsfoot blade has a straight front edge and a dull back spine that curves down to meet the straight edge. The main purpose of a sheepsfoot is for cutting and slicing where a point is not wanted or needed. A sheepsfoot blade is excellent because of its strength without any weak points. Also the cutting edge is entirely flat, making it easier to sharpen. Great for chopping but lacks a sharp point. The blade has a design which makes it look and perform in a tough and durable way. Plus, there are not that many sheepsfoot blades out on the market; making it more unique. The mild upsweep of the sheepsfoot blade makes for an awesome cutter.

Knife Examples: Benchmade Griptilian, SOG Snarl.

 

Spear Point-

A spear point blade is similar to a needle-point blade in that is good for piercing. However, its point is stronger and it contains a small “belly” that can be used for slicing. The belly is relatively small when compared to drop point and clip point blades. A spear point is symmetrically pointed with a tip that is in line with the center of the blade. These types of blades can be either single-edged or double-edged. The most popular form of the spear point knife usually comes with a double-edged design.

A common use for the spear point blade is for throwing knives, but be careful of what kind of knife you’ll be throwing. The lowered point on the spear point is easy to control and is useful for fine tip work. A spear point knife is a great choice for those looking for a good balance between piercing and slicing ability. In the end, it is a great mix design that is highly functional. Simply put, the distinct advantages of the spear point include its strong point, its sharp point (especially when double edged), and its ability to be easily controlled and maneuvered. A disadvantage of the spear point is its smaller cutting edge for slicing. Having this type of blade makes the knife a better tactical tool because of its controlled cutting and stabbing abilities.

Knife Examples: Benchmade Mini Infidel, TOPS Knives Exclusive BlackOut Wild Pig Hunter.

 

Tanto-

The tanto blade has a somewhat chisel-like point that is thick towards the point (being close to the spine) and is thus quite strong. The tanto knife was inspired by ancient Japanese swords. The Westernized tanto is often straight but may also be gently curved. This style of blade became popular during the ‘80s shortly after the blade was created and introduced. The tanto does not have a typical belly (such as that on a drop point), which is sacrificed in exchange for a stronger tip. Its design makes it great for push cuts, rather than slicing, and piercing tougher materials because of its tip’s strength.

Knife Examples: Benchmade Stryker, Gerber Propel.

 

Hope this list can help you find the knife you are looking for. Each blade style has their own strengths and weaknesses. They will all perform well for what they are intended to do. Once you have your blade style decided, it’s time to move onto what type of handle material and blade steel you will get. You can find the perfect knife that is right for you.

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Knife Locking Mechanisms

Almost every knife has a type of locking mechanism. Many are good, but there are a few that excel in what they are designed to do. Below are some of the top locks used. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. A knife is more than a blade. It is the handle, the integrate pieces, and the locking mechanism. The list will help you to choose the best knife for your needs.

 

Axis Lock-

Different than most locking systems seen before, the AXIS is user-friendly, with its ambidextrous design, to people who are either left handed or right handed. The lock is able to be used on both sides of the knife without having to switch the knife to a different hand. The lock has a natural feel to it and is easily operated, even for those who struggle with fine motor skills. As far as ambidextrous knives go, Benchmade knives featuring AXIS locks are among the best.

It functions by having a small steel bar that moves back and forth in a slot that is milled into both sides of the knife. Long enough to go from one side of the knife handle to the other, the AXIS is positioned near the rear of the blade. There are two different grooved portions on the tang of the blade that keeps the knife locked open or closed while the AXIS is engaged. The metal bar stretching forth from the one side to the other prevents the knife from slipping closed. There is little chance of it slipping. This lock makes for a perfect everyday carry locking system with its security and reliability. Because this mechanism has plenty of moving parts involved it can, however, be difficult to disassemble for cleaning and maintenance.

Knife Examples: Benchmade Griptilian, Benchmade Stryker.

 

Compression Lock-

Although the compression lock shares similarities, it is different than a frame or liner lock in a number of ways. It does use part of the liner, but it is located in the back of the handle, rather than the front. The liner gets trapped in-between the blade and the stop pin. The pressure that is built up that location makes it virtually impossible to close on your hand. This is a stronger locking mechanism than a liner or frame lock. The lock is also is unique in that it isn’t utilized as often as it probably should, thus making it a rare novelty item.

Knife Examples: Spyderco Paramilitary 2, Spyderco Szabo.

 

Frame Lock/Reeve Integral Lock (RIL)-

A type of frame locking system that was introduced with the Sebenza Folder. The Frame or Integral Lock was created by Chris Reeve of Chris Reeve Knives and first appeared on the Sebenza. Chris Reeve calls it an Integral Lock, but the common name used in the industry now is simply “Frame Lock”. The original Integral Lock was developed in 1987. Of the locking system Reeve said,

“My first impressions of the liner lock style locking mechanism were very favorable but when I examined it more closely, I decided that I didn’t much like the flimsiness of the thin liner.  After some thought, I redesigned the concept and have created the Sebenza Integral Lock© which I believe to be the most rugged folding knife on the market,”

It is used when a handle slab (usually located on the back of the knife) is slotted in a groove on the knife to lock the knife into place. This groove is in place behind the blade to refrain it from closing. Critics suggest that this is one of the best locking mechanisms for its life-long durability and its reliability. The locking system makes any knife more reliable during use because of its ability to resist slipping while retaining its strength.

The Frame Lock is a modification of the Liner Lock created by Michael Walker to simplify and strengthen the design. This is done by removing the handle scales and thin liners from the knife and using thicker liners to serve as both the handles, and the integrated locking bar. Frame locks are stronger than normal liner locks and are simpler in design. While holding the knife, the lock is being reinforced since it is integrated into the handle.

Knife Examples: Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21, Kershaw Thermite.

 

Liner Lock-

The liner lock is one of the most prevalent locking systems used in the knife industry. It was invented and patented in 1980 by Michael Walker. A liner lock works by having a section of the liner spring inwards and wedge itself beneath the tang of the blade when it is opened all the way. This locks the blade open between the stop pin and the liner locking mechanism. The liner lock is easy to manufacture and reliable to use. The biggest advantage of the liner lock is the easy one-handed opening and closing. Most other locking methods are not as easy to close one-handed.

Knife Examples: Spyderco Firefly, Kershaw Kurai.

 

Lockback-

The lockback is one of the older forms of blade locking systems. It popular with knifemakers because of the low cost of manufacture. This allows money to be spent elsewhere on the knife while still providing a reliable locking system. Some improvements in lockback design have happened over the years by making it less susceptible to an accidental disengagement.

A lockback is usually located on the back of the handle, where the spring-loaded, rocker bar can be pushed to disengage the blade from its locked position. The lock works by wedging itself into a notch in the blade to prevent it from rotating. While this lock is sturdy, it isn’t the most practical as far as one-handed closing goes.

Knife Examples: Steel Will Mini Gekko, Spyderco Endura 4.

 

Plunge/Button Lock-

The plunge/button lock was originally created to be used in automatic knives as a way to lock the blade closed and open (since coil spring automatics have constant spring pressure being applied to the blade). Recently, many companies have used this as an alternative locking mechanism for folding and spring assisted knives. The buttons on automatic and manual knives are essentially the same, with the difference being only the design of the blade tang to facilitate opening the knife without pushing the button.

The plunge lock works by using a spring-loaded button that is located next to the tang of the knife. It rests inside a groove when the knife is open, thereby locking it in the open position. Basically, it wedges itself between the tang of the blade and the handles when the knife is opened. Having this type of lock makes it easy and quick to fire off the knife. One downside is that the button sticks out of the handle far enough that an accidental opening is a real possibility.

Knife Examples: Gerber Propel, Boker Kalashnikov

 

Again, these are some of the most popular locking mechanisms out on the market today. There have been many new locking mechanisms created over the years. It will be interesting to see the next big locking mechanism to come out. The locks above have served well in keeping knives locked up tight. With so many differences between them, be certain of what you want. After this choice, choosing a blade steel, and a handle material will be simple.

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Basic Knife Maintanance

We are going to give you several ideas and solutions to help you keep your knife in tip-top shape. Having a well-maintained knife will save you from a headache and losing some money. You’ll be surprised at what all needs to go into a well-kept knife.

When you first get a pocket knife, this is the best time to start developing good habits of keeping a knife in good working order. Daily/weekly habits will make all the difference in the long run. Those habits include cleaning the blade after each use (or at least daily), a regular cleaning of the inside of the knife, the occasional sharpening of the blade, keeping the knife dry, and keeping the knife well oiled. No need to worry, we will go into how to do each of these. There is even an acronym to help remember all of these tasks: that acronym is D.O.C.S. which stands for the following:

D- Dry

O- Oiled

C- Clean

S- Sharp

This will help you to remember what you need to care for your knife.

Dry

To start off, let’s talk about keeping your knife dry. It is crucial to always remember that all steel, including stainless steel, can rust. The precious metal that is put into these knives need to be free of water at all times or else the can and will rust. If your knife comes with a sheath, do not store it inside it. The leather and other materials collect moisture on the blade. This built up water can lead to a rusty blade. Even after washing a blade off, make sure the knife is entirely dry. Otherwise, rust will build up. One sign of rust is a discoloration of the metal. Discolored metal has a blue/grey/black color, is a sign of oxidation, which precedes rust.

Oiled

Next is oiling up your knife. For all of you that have those fancy flipping knives, whether they be fully auto, spring assisted, a flipper, or even a folder, the moving parts need to be lubricated. This will optimize the performance of the knife. Fixed bladed knives don’t get off the hook so easily. All knives need to have their blades oiled. A thin film of lubricant to the entire surface of the blade will help prevent surface oxidation and corrosion from moisture (if you live by the coast where there’s lots of salty air, try dabbing a little motor oil on a rag and rub it onto the blade). Finally, wipe the lubricant off with a towel.

Clean

After using your knife, it is a good practice to clean and dry your entire knife (not just the blade). Before I get to cleaning, one of the first things I do is blow on the knife with compressed air. This will remove a lot of the debris and other gunk off the knife. Afterwards, there’re a couple of routes to go. The first route is to wash your knife in warm water with simple dish soap while using the soft side of a sponge. This will get most acids off the blade. You can then use a toothpick to get any gunk out of the locking and firing mechanisms. Be sure to dry it by using either a towel or let it air dry. Don’t let dirt or anything else dry up on the blade. The second route is to use chemical solvents such as acetone, nail polish remover, or alcohol to clean your blade (as a hack to take care of tree sap, use hand sanitizer to get rid of it). Be extremely careful with these solvents. Some of these may damage knife handles and blades. Avoid harsh detergents and solutions that contain chlorine which can accelerate corrosion of the blade steel.

Besides blades, handles get dirty too. To clean, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser by gently brushing the handle. Then wipe down with a towel afterwards.

Sharp

Never let a blade get dull, always sharpen it. One way to prevent a dull knife is by using it properly. Do not use the cutting blade as a can opener, chisel, a pry bar, screwdriver, or for any heavy work for which your knife was not designed. A sharp blade is safer than a dull one. If you are timid in sharpening your blade, it is worth it to have someone else sharpen it for you.

Other Notes

Lastly, do not attempt any self-repairs. This may void any warranty that the individual knife companies may offer. If your knife needs repair, then you can either:

  1. check with your dealer
  2. talk with the manufacturer or the company you bought the knife from for more information regarding repairs.

Many companies offer cleaning and sharpening for a small fee, or even for free. So, just remember D.O.C.S. and your knife will last you a lifetime. Comment below for any other suggestions on caring for a knife.

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