Microtech Knives, Inc. is a knife manufacturing company, famous for its automatic knives. It 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 (MSAR).
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 use 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 to 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 spring and high grade bushing as opposed to a 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.
In terms of media coverage, there was an episode of the TV series “24” that featured a Microtech HALO.
Microtech says, “For over 20 years, Microtech has been working to build a long-standing tradition of innovation and quality with each knife that leaves our facility. In a world of ever-changing technology, we strive to ensure our customers have access to the latest advancements in knife making, while still continuing to maintain a humanized element throughout the manufacturing process. As the company continues to grow, our focus remains the same: deliver revolutionary products that exceed the industry’s ever-increasing desire for groundbreaking ideas. Thank you to our customers, for the years of loyalty and support, and for motivating us to better ourselves so that we may continue to rise above your expectations.”
Today we will be talking about the Microtech UTX-85 OTF automatic knife.
The blade on this knife is made out of M390 Stainless Steel. M390 is one of the new super steels on the block, manufactured by Bohler-Uddeholm. It uses third generation powder metal technology and developed for knife blades requiring excellent corrosion resistance and very high hardness for excellent wear resistance. Chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, and tungsten are added to promote sharpness and outstanding edge retention. Unlike ZDP-189 most carbides are formed by vanadium and molybdenum, leaving more ‘free chromium’ to fight corrosion. M390 hardness to 60-62 HRC. Bohler calls this steel “Microclean” and it can be polished to achieve a true mirror. This steel is relatively difficult to sharpen.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish, which is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of an abrasive. The abrasive that is normally used is a fine sandpaper. The finer the sandpaper and the more even the lines, the cleaner the satin finish looks. This is the most traditional blade finishes that you are going to find in the cutlery industry today. In terms of luster, the finish is right in the middle.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade style. This is the most popular blade style in the cutlery industry today and is a perfect all-purpose knife that really and stand up to almost anything. You are going to be able to find this style of blade on any knife ranging from a hunting knife to a Swiss army knife. The blade shape is formed by having the back, or unsharpened, edge of the knife runs straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, which creates a lowered point. This lowered point provides more control and adds strength to the tip. While the tip on a drop point is not as sharp as the tip on a clip point, it is much stronger. And because of this tip strength and the ability to hold up to heavy use, this blade shape is a great option on tactical and survival knives. And because the tip of a drop point is easily controllable, they are a popular choice on hunting knives. One of the biggest reasons that this blade shape is an all-purpose blade shape is because it features a large belly area that is perfect for slicing. There is only one disadvantage to the drop point blade, and it is the relatively broad tip. This tip means that you are less capable for piercing than the clip point blade style. But, it is also the tip broadness that gives you the strength that you will not find on clip point style blades.
The blade on this Microtech knife is a plain edge, which better allows you to give clean cuts. The plain edge is also more capable of taking on a wider variety of tasks than a serrated edge would be able to. And, because there are no teeth, it is easier to sharpen this knife as well as getting a finer edge on this knife.
The handle on this knife is made out of 6061-T6 aluminum. Aluminum is a very low-density metal used in knife making, and is very corrosion resistant. Since it is such a soft metal, it is primarily used in knife handles and sometimes hard anodized for aesthetics and wear resistance. Aluminum is also the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. Most knives use a type of Aluminum Alloy called 6061-T6 aluminum, which means the type of aluminum is 6061 and it is T6 tempered. 6061-T6 aluminum has one of the highest yield and tensile strengths of all aluminum alloys. 6061-T6 is used extensively in aircraft, and is often referred to as “aircraft aluminum,” and sometimes this is seen as a gimmick, kind of like “surgical stainless steel.” Aluminum alloy is cheaper to machine and produce than Titanium, and is lighter, weaker, and less resistant to wear. For the most part, Aluminum is an inferior metal to Titanium aside from its lightness. However, when producing complex knives that require a large among of CNC machining, such as this knife, aluminum is much cheaper to produce and the material costs less.
The handle on this knife has been anodized black. The anodization is created by submerging the aluminum in an electrolytic solution bath along with a cathode. When a current is passed through the acid solution hydrogen is released from the cathode and oxygen forms on the surface of an anode. This results in a metal oxide film growing on the surface of the handle. The anodization creates a protective layer between the steel and the aluminum, as well as adding durability, toughness, strength, and a sleek black color.
The handle is very rectangular, with a couple of row of jimping across the edges of the handle in random places to assist with your ability to grip this knife.
On one side of the knife is the slide that will release the blade.
This knife has an attached integrated glass breaker function that rests on the butt of the knife. This means that this knife is going to be capable of helping you in emergency situations or in survival situations. This glass breaker is a bonus because when it comes to a knife, it is always a good idea to have it also be a multi-tool. The handle has standard hardware that is sliver.
This UTX is an automatic knife, but only is it an automatic knife, it is also an Out the Front knife. An OTF knife is a pocket knife with a blade that opens and closes through a hole in one end of the handle. This is different from the other majority of knives, which are either standard folding knives or are fixed blade sheath knives that have no mechanical operation.
OTF only refers to the basic portion of the knife’s mechanical operation where the blade slides parallel with the handle to deploy. OTF knives may be further subdivided into manual knives or automatic knives.
This Microtech knife is an automatic knife. This means that the blade travels within an internal track or channel in the same manner as a manual slider or gravity knife. But the automatic main spring drive and button mechanism enclosed within requires a switchblade handle to be thicker or longer than a similar size gravity or sliding knife. Then, within automatic out the front knives, there are two styles. There is either the double action out the front knife or the single action out the front knife.
The UTX-85 knife is a dual action automatic knife, which means that the blade deploys and retracts with a multifunction button and spring design. Wikipedia says, “Despite popular belief and movie magic, double-action OTF automatic knives are not powerful enough to open when pressed against an opponent and then pushing the button. Double-action sliding autos are only spring-powered 10 to 12 millimeters; afterwards, kinetic impetus slides the blade to full open. This is possibly a misbelief based on confusion with the ballistic knife which has a secondary handle tube with a robust coil spring for launching a fixed blade knife. However, some single-action autos, such as the Microtech Halo V, have enough power to penetrate a human target.”
The blade on this UTX-85 measures in at 3.125 inches long, with a handle that measures in at 4.5 inches long. The overall length of the knife when opened measures in at 7.625 inches long. This knife weighs in at 3.1 ounces. The Microtech UTX-85 was made in the United States of America.
The Pros of the Microtech UTX-85:
- The steel on this blade is a super steel, which means it has excellent toughness, durability, and reflectiveness.
- The satin finish is one of the more traditional knife finishes that you can find.
- The satin finish reduces glares and reflections slightly as well as increasing the corrosion resistance slightly.
- The satin finish will never go out of style.
- The drop point blade shape is tough, durable, and all-purpose.
- The drop point blade has a large belly that is perfect for slicing.
- The drop point blade is very strong and controllable.
- The aluminum handle is durable.
- The aluminum handle is very corrosion resistant.
- The anodization process has made the handle tougher, stronger, and more corrosion resistant.
- The knife has an integrated glass-breaker.
- This is an automatic, double action OTF knife, which means that it will open quickly and efficiently.
The Cons of the Microtech UTX-85:
- The blade steel proves to be difficult to sharpen.
- The satin finish does not have as much character as some of the finishes that you can find in the industry.
- The drop point blade is not capable of piercing.
- The aluminum handle is prone to scratches and dings.
- The aluminum handle will feel very cold during the colder months because it does have high conductive properties.
- The automatic knife is not legal in all states, areas, or cities.
The radically redesigned Microtech UTX-85 out the front knife now features a new contoured handle, updated tri-angle hardware, a redesigned thumb slide and the glass breaker that now includes a press fitted ball bearing for a more comfortable, but still functional, user experience. This fantastic dual action knife is the ideal size and as the name exhibits, the UTX-85 is 85% the size of the flagship Ultratech knife but with 100% of the capability. This model, the 231-4, boasts a black handle complete with standard hardware and an integrated glass breaker function along with a drop point style blade in a satin finish. You can pick up this Microtech OTF knife at BladeOps.