These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
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SHOT Show 2006 Report - Knives

SHOT Show 2006 Report logo This seemed to be the year of the recurved blade as many manufacturers rediscovered this classic edge shape. This was also the year of the "value" knife as manufacturers attempted to gain traction at the lower end of the market by providing more knife for less. Virtually all such knives are being produced in China.

While there is still plenty of junk being produced in China, they are learning quickly how to produce better blades. There were a number of Russian and Japanese manufacturers showing for the first time. By and large they were showing off fancy fixed blades and were not competing directly with the larger manufactures for the mass market.

The knives covered here are those that are appropriate for wilderness survival or general utility use or which otherwise captured my imagination or attention. This is not an all-inclusive coverage of every knife introduced at the show. Moreover, some manufacturers decline to make appointments and in some cases were not covered since we were unable to sit down and review the new product with them. Others failed to get us promised images of their new products in time. (By and large, we no longer photograph knives at the show if we're told images are available; just not enough hours in the day anymore and we're not to the point where we can afford a photographer to follow us around.)

We have provided the specifications we received from the manufacturers for the most part; some are much better than others in what they provide, so blame them if you are missing some spec you'd have liked to have seen.

Prices quoted are manufacturer's suggested retail price as of February, 2006 (we don't waste bytes, or your intelligence, on 95 cents, we just round up). Most knives and tools covered here can be purchased at significantly discounted prices from those quoted. In some cases, items will not be available until much later this year. When we have been given an expected production date, we have included it, but manufacturers often miss such targets.

Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donation(Disclaimer: Editor Doug Ritter, author of this SHOT Show cutlery review, is currently collaborating with Benchmade Knife Company and Camillus Knife Company on a line of knives and may in the future collaborate with other manufacturers included in this report.)

Assembling this SHOT Show Report is a major undertaking. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Equipped To Survive Foundation if you find this report to be of value to you. The Equipped To Survive Foundation is a tax-exempt non-profit corporation that supports the continued operation and expansion of Equipped To Survive® and which allows me to attend shows such as this and report to you on the latest and greatest gear. In many cases Equipped To Survive® has been first by months to publicize new and exciting survival and preparedness gear. Again, donations are fully tax-deductible. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation or to find out more. Thanks very much for your support and consideration.

Click on photos and links for larger image and often additonal detail shots.
All prices MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail pricing) as of February, 2006

Al Mar

Manufacturer: Al Mar Model: Mini SERE 2000
Blade Steel: VG-10 Hardness Rc: 59-60
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.12"/3mm
Length Closed: 4"/102mm Length Open: 7"/178mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: G-10 Weight: 3.5oz/99g
In Production: Yes MSRP: $219
Al Mar's SERE folder has been a favorite hard use folder for years and was updated in 2000.  Now comes the Mini SERE 2000 with a 3-inch VG-10 plain edge drop point blade. A swedge extends about halfway up the spine and it's fitted with dual thumb studs. Like its big brother it's got stainless liners and liner lock with G-10 handles.  The reversible clip is top mounted on the tail of the handle so the knife carries deep in the pocket and it's got a lanyard hole.  The handle incorporates an integral dual guard and there's a bit of a bird's beak at the rear.


Benchmade had relatively few entirely new knives and most all of them had actually been introduced prior to SHOT Show.  We'll review much of the new stuff here anyway since this is their first official showing.

Many of the knives in Benchmade's lineup have undergone changes in blade steel.  Benchmade has all but eliminated both 440C and M2 from their offerings, with the 440C folder blades being replaced with 154 CM and the fixed blades with D2.  Most of the 154 CM folder blades have been upgraded to S30V, some that offered both 154CM and M2 are now D2 only.  The 440C Rescue Hooks, CBK and the 440C NRA fixed blades remain as is. Most of these blade steel changes have also been accompanied by a modest increase in MSRP.

Benchmade Fixed Griptilian
Manufacturer: Benchmade Model: Fixed Griptilian
Blade Steel: 154 CM Hardness Rc: 58-60
Blade Shape: Modified Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 4.16"/106mm Blade Thickness: 0.119"/3mm
Overall Length: 9.72"/222mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: FRN w/ Santoprene inlay Weight: 4.6oz/130g
Available? Now MSRP: $112
There are two new fixed blades. For the Blue Class, the Fixed Griptilian Model 151 made its debut.  The family resemblance to the folder is obvious in both the ergonomic shape of the handle and the blade shape.  The 4.16 inch full tang modified drop point blade is of 154CM stainless. There's a swedge that runs back past the halfway point of the top of the spine of the blade.  It is available with a plain edge in a satin finish or with partial serrations with black BK1 coating.

The handle scales are black fiberglass reinforced nylon and the checkered inset is Santoprene, a high performance flexible rubber-like thermoplastic. In this  application they have selected one that has just enough give to provide a bit of additional grip, without being too soft.  Like the original folders, this is a very ergonomic grip and comfortable for hands of all sizes. There's a deep half guard integrated into the forward portion of the tang.  The tang is raised slightly above the handle scales all the way around and there's a pronounced thumb rest with ridges.  The handle itself has ridges similar to those found on the folding Griptilian. I'd be concerned that these may be blister raisers in hard use without gloves, but we'll have to test it to see how it does.  It certainly won't slip, there's plenty of grip there. Those ridges are essential to the folder which doesn't have a deep finger guard, but are not really necessary on a fixed blade which tend to get much harder use.  

A lanyard hole is centered in the aft end of the handle.  The sheath is nylon with a molded insert and MOLLE compatible straps. The bottom of the insert and sheath is open which will allow for easy water drainage. A single handle retention snap strap is provided, set up for right side carry.  A piece of stiff plastic is inserted in the strap where the snap is attached making it very easy to operate with your thumb. MSRP is $110/$112.

Becnhmade CSK
Manufacturer: Benchmade Model: CSK
Blade Steel: D2 Hardness Rc: 59-61
Blade Shape: Bowie Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 6.05"/153mm Blade Thickness: 0.175"/4.5mm
Overall Length: 10.9"/277mm Tang: Full Internal
Handle Material: FRN w/ Kraton overlay Weight: 6.5oz/184gg
Available? Now MSRP: $125
The CSK Model 156 is the new Black Class fixed blade that Benchmade describes as having a "Combat/Survival Bowie" blade shape.  We'd call it a mild clip point with the clip/swedge extending about half the way back on the spine of the 6.05" blade. Blade steel is D2, a tool steel that is commonly described as "almost stainless." As such, it is only available with black BK1 coating in either plain edge or combo edge with 1.4 inches of serrations at the rear of the blade.

The handle is taken directly from the NRA line's Model 12500 introduced last year, but dressed up (or is it down?) in matte black. A black coated traditionally shaped steel bolster and half guard starts things off in front.  There's no thumb ramp and the bolster extends up slightly above the top of the spine, making for a slightly awkward transition if you try to choke up on the blade. The knife incorporates Benchmade's BILT System for securing the handle to the blade.  The butt, which includes a lanyard hole, is also black coated. The fiberglass reinforced nylon handle is overmolded with black Kraton rubber having a smooth top and deep ridges along the bottom. This provides excellent grip.

The tactical style nylon sheath has a molded insert and is set up for right hand carry. A single handle retention snap strap is provided with a piece of stiff plastic inserted in the strap where the snap is attached making it very easy to operate with your thumb.

The sheath is MOLLE compatible and provides numerous attachments options. A removable nylon pouch is attached to the sheath with two Velcro straps and has a plastic snap-buckle for closure.  We're still not convinced that these snap-buckles make sense for any tactical sheath pouch where stealth may be essential.  Inadvertently knock against anything with these buckles and you're going to wake up the neighborhood.    MSRP is $125.

This black nylon pouch is also available separately as folder sheath ($15), replacing their previous envelope style sheaths. It seems a much better sheath for this purpose.  

Benchmade Morpho
Manufacturer: Benchmade Model: Morpho
Blade Steel: D2 Hardness Rc: 59-61
Blade Shape: Modified Spear Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.25"/82mm Blade Thickness: 0.100"/2.6mm
Length Closed: 4.39"/112mm Length Open: 7.29"/185mm
Lock Type: NG Spring Latch Liner Material: Titanium
Handle Material: G-10 Weight: 2.7oz/77g
Available? Now MSRP: $210
The Morpho Model 32 bali is compact with an innovate new patent pending latch.  The asymmetrical ground spear point blade is of D2 tool steel, uncoated.  Its spine is crowned, which is claimed to give it extra cushion and smoothness during manipulation, the fancy flipping tricks many bali owners enjoy and which drive Sheeple up the walls.

The handles are finished with sculpted black G10 scales and textured  backspacers that add grip and improved ergonomics. The scales are cut out so you can view the liners, which are 6AL 4V titanium, jeweled (engine turned for those old enough to remember the term) and blue anodized. This makes for a beautiful and very striking knife.  The kicker pins are heat treated for added strength and longevity.

The "next generation spring-latch" is a huge improvement over traditional latches.  With the handles closed, the latch still pops open with a squeeze of the handles, but squeezing the handles while the blade is deployed doesn't unlock the latch.  This solves one of my biggest complaints about balis, inadvertent latch release, which can be both annoying and very unsafe.  With this latch, the knife becomes the closest thing to a fixed blade you'll find in a folder.

There's even a reversible pocket clip; anodized blue titanium with the Benchmade name lasered into it. MSRP is $210.

Benchmade Rukus
Manufacturer: Benchmade Model: Rukus
Blade Steel: S30V Hardness Rc: 58-60
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 4.25"/108mm Blade Thickness: 0.150"/3.8mm
Length Closed: 5.95"/151mm Length Open: 10.12"/257mm
Lock Type: Axis Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Micarta Weight: 7.7oz/218g
Available? Now MSRP: $250-$262
The Model 610 Rukus is a large Blackwood designed AXIS Lock folder with a 4.25-inch robust drop point S30V stainless blade. At nearly 6 inches long closed, this is definitely one of those "are you happy to see me" folders when in your pocket, though a surprisingly unobtrusive carry, considering the size.  The blade has dual thumb studs and some jimping (ridges) on the spine extending back to the end of the tang, but no thumb ramp per se. It is available with a satin finish plain edge or a black BK1 coated partially serrated edge.

The handle is a combination of black and olive canvas Micarta over thick black coated 410 stainless liners. The handle incorporates a true half guard and is sculpted on the bottom for a really secure grip.  The liners have ridges machined into the aft upper surfaces for some additional grip.   

The AXIS Lock in the black portion of the scales is also black coated, as is the reversible tip up carry pocket clip.  The clip folds back on itself and is located high on the handle so that the 610 rides low in the pocket. The lanyard hole is a bit small in diameter, same size as the small Torx screws holding on the scales, but it does have one.  MSRP is $250-$262.

Rukus ScalesAt the show, Benchmade introduced some scale options that will be made available separately from the Rukus itself.  These replace the OD portion of the scales and are a simple install, just remove a few Torx screws and replace.  They showed off both Gray Carbon Fiber and Winewood options.  Additional scale options are expected to follow.   MSRP has not been finalized, but we're told you can expect a set of replacement scales to run about $40 to over $150, depending on the material.  Black G-10 or winewood will probably be around $40-$50 a set, silver G-10 in the $100 neighborhood and Carbon Fiber likely over $100.

Benchmade 10110S Salmon Creek Folding Fillet Knife
Manufacturer: Benchmade Model: Salmon Creek Folding Fillet
Blade Steel: AUS-8 Hardness Rc: 58-60
Blade Shape: Fillet Edge: Combo / Plain
Blade Length: 7.09"/180mm / 5.72"/145mm Blade Thickness: 0.068"/1.7mm / 0.063"/1.6mm
Length Closed: 8.52"/216mm / 7"/178mm Length Open: 13.78"/350mm / 11.38"/289mm
Lock Type: Sliding Extension Liner Material: None
Handle Material: FRN w/ Thermolplasic inlay & extension Weight: 3oz/85g / 1.7oz/48g
Available? Now / 2nd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $35 / $30
A pair of folding filet knives have been added to the Red Class; the Models 10110S and 10115 Salmon Creek Folding Fillet knives have a unique design by Ken Steigerwalt.  One problem with most folding filet knives is the handle is too long for comfortable use because the blades are generally so long.  Steigerwalt solved this problem with a collapsible plastic extension that also serves to lock the blade when pushed into the main part of the handle.  Quite brilliant, in our opinion.

The thin fillet blades themselves are AUS 8 stainless, 7.09-inches with partial serrations for the larger 10110S and 5.72 inches of plain edge for the smaller knife. These rotate out of a black fiberglass reinforced nylon handle with a gray rubber overmold.  There's a modest scallop to serve as a finger guard and plenty of design elements and the rubber overmold in the face of the handle to provide a secure grip for the often slippery work.

The extension slides out of the handle to cover the blade edge and a wire loop "tail lock" flips over to lock the blade into the extension and the extension into place. To open, just flip the tail lock over, pull the blade open and shove the extension into the handle, locking the blade into place for use.  A nylon pouch style sheath is provided with a snap that serves to secure the knife.  MSRP is $35 and $30, respectively.

Benchmade Benchmite II
Manufacturer: Benchmade Model: Benchmite II
Blade Steel: AUS 8 Hardness Rc: 58-60
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 1.82"/49mm Blade Thickness: 0.086"/2.2mm
Length Closed: 2.83"/72mm Length Open: 4.76"/121mm
Lock Type: Levitator Frame lock Liner/Frame Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Stainelss Weight: 1.6oz/45g
Available? Now MSRP: $35-$40
The diminutive Benchmite has been replaced by the Red Class Benchmite II.  This version is much more affordable and while it lacks a bit of the visual punch of the original in blue anodized titanium and fancy scrolled cutouts, it works and feels just about the same. While a wee bit heavier, at 1.6 ounces it's still light enough to be essentially unnoticeable in your pocket.  The liners, back spacer and Levitator frame lock are 420 stainless and the 1.92-inch blade is AUS 8 stainless. The blade this time around has a bit of a swedge for a sexier look.  The handles, with the same shape and secure two finger grip, are available either plain or black coated with matching blade finish. A lanyard hole, actually more likely a keychain hole, is provided.

The plain backside of the Benchmite II, lacking the fancy scrollwork cutout of the original, make it suitable for engraving and we expect you'll see a lot of these given as gifts and remembrances. MSRP is $35-$45   An automatic version is also available.


Boker Magnum Subcom
Manufacturer: Magnum (Boker) Model: Subcom F
Blade Steel: 420J2 Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Clip Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 1.875"/48mm Blade Thickness: 0.0625"/1.6mm
Length Closed: 2.75"/70mm Length Open: 4.625"/117mm
Lock Type: Frame Lock Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: FRN Weight: 2.5oz/71g
Available? Now MSRP: $40
Now and again you see a new knife that just strikes you as a home run and the new Subcom F from Boker's Magnum line is a hit out of the park. Designed by Chad Los Banos, from Hilo, Hawaii, this is a classic "big little knife." This frame lock is 2.75 x 1.5 inches closed and it will make a nice money clip for those so inclined.  However, as small as it is, it's relatively wide handle provides a very secure grip, even with large hands.  The deep finger recess and integral guard in the tang ensures you're not going to accidentally slip onto the blade.  We also like that because of this deep recess, it is almost impossible to close the blade on your thumb when releasing the lock, all you do it trap your thumb with the tang, a nice safety advantage.

The dual plastic thumb lugs open a robust, wide chord 1.875-inch straight clip point blade that's got a high grind, plenty of belly and despite being of relatively thin steel, the geometry makes for a strong point. Our only complaint with the blade is the 420J2 stainless used; this little gem deserves better. It's got a stainless frame with a thin left side inset into a molded fiberglass reinforced black nylon scale, saving some weight and the pattern in the handle makes it easier to grasp in your pocket than it would be if simply a steel frame alone.

The frame and handle have deep scallops on the butt and bottom and along the fore end on top, while the blade has matching scallops as a thumb rest along the flat spine. Forward of the thumb rest on the top part of the clip are finer ridges.  These work very well when you've choked up on the blade or to use your index finger to guide the edge for finer work. The top of the butt is rounded off so it doesn't jab you in the palm.  There's a lanyard hole and the stainless clip is reversible.  The clip on our sample was way too tight, but we are told that the production version will be looser.

Subcom FB
Manufacturer: Boker USA Model: Subcom FB
Blade Steel: 440C Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Clip Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 2.375"/mm Blade Thickness: NA
Overall Length: 5.5"/mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: Integral Weight: 3+oz/g
Available? 1st Qtr 2006 MSRP: $70
Our only ergonomic complaint is with the thumb lugs.  At least on the clip side, it sticks out too far and can make it difficult to slip over the pant pocket seam.  If the leading edge were even just sloped so they wouldn't catch, this would solve the problem. MSRP is $40.

The Subcom FB is a fixed blade version of the folder by Boker USA with a 2.375-inch blade of 440C, much better steel, and a somewhat similar handle shape, but skeletonized. It comes with a multi-position Kydex sheath.  MSRP is $70


Buck Omni Hunters
Manufacturer: Buck Model: Omni Hunter 10PT/12PT
Blade Steel: 420HC Hardness Rc: 58
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 4"/102mm / 3.25/83mm Blade Thickness: 0.138"/3.5mm / 0.140"/3.6mm
Overall Length: 9.75"/248mm / 7.75"/197mm Tang: Full Internal
Handle Material: Dynaflex Weight: 7.3oz/207g / 4.3oz/121g
Available? mid-March 2006 MSRP: $38 to $58
Buck Knives' new Omni line of hunters, fixed blades and folders, add a mid-priced choice slotted between the value-priced Diamondback and the higher end Vanguard and Alpha hunters.  The Omni Hunter feature wide drop point blades of 420HC steel and handles with rubberized Dynaflex. The Omni Hunter 10PT has a 3.25-inch blade, while the 12PT has a 4-inch blade.  These blades have quite a large belly to them, making them more like a skinner blade.  There are ridges cut at the rear of the spine for thumb purchase. Gut-hook versions of the 12PT are also available.

The handles have a distinct recess that serves as a half guard as well as a finger choil forward of the handle.  The rounded handle curves notably down at the rear and provides a solid grip, even with large hands. Handles are available in black and with Realtree Hardwoods Green HD camo pattern. The lanyard hole is actually a slot at the top of the handle, through the full-length inserted tang. The sheaths are the usual disappointing Buck style molded nylon, either black or camo, with a molded insert; adequate, but just barely.  MSRP is $38 to $58.

Buck Omni Hunter Folders
Manufacturer: Buck Model: Folding Omni Hunter 10PT /12PT
Blade Steel: 420HC Hardness Rc: 58
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3"/76mm / 4"/102mm Blade Thickness: 0.118"/3mm / 0.120"/3mm
Length Closed: 4.625"/118mm / 5.75"/146mm Length Open: 7.64"/194mm / 9.75"/248mm
Lock Type: Back Liner Material: None
Handle Material: Thermoplastic w/ Dynaflex overlay Weight: 2.8oz/79g / 4.6oz/131g
Available? mid-March 2006 MSRP: $50 - $64
The lockback Folding Omni Hunters also come in two sizes, the 10PT with a 3-inch blade and the 12 PT with 4-inch, also available with a gut hook.  Handle designs ape their fixed blade counterparts almost exactly with a "thermoplastic base" and Dynaflex overmold.  There are no liners, nor is there a pocket clip.  A molded nylon pouch is provided, either black or camo. MSRP is $50 to $64.

The Diamondbacks have received a new, and in our opinion, much improved blade shape.  The original had a very pointy drop point profile.  The new blades have a much more functional and stronger more traditional (wider chord) drop point design that we much prefer.  The smaller 3.125-inch blade is now the Diamondback Guide while the 3.875-inch blade becomes the Outfitter. Both are also available with a gut hook as well. In all other respects the specifications remain the same. Unfortunately, some time back the original molded plastic sheath that had positive retention via the recess in the handle has been replaced with a conventional Buck molded nylon sheath with insert (this doesn't lock into the handle).  MSRP is $24 to $36.

Buck gents foldersThe Executive lockback has been replaced with a more contemporary styled stainless frame lock, the Nobleman, with a 2.625-inch drop point blade.  The similarly styled Scholar and Colleague have 1.875-inch blades (but the original Gent lockback with the same blade length remains). All the blades are mirror polished 440A stainless. A thumb stud, right hand only, allows one-handed opening. The Colleague has a plain brushed finish handle, designed for easy engraving, while the Scholar's is mirror polished with a stylized bolster having a blasted finish.  The Nobleman has a similar handle treatment, but with brushed stainless as well as being available in black Titanium coated.  MSRP is $18 to $30.

Buck SBMF Military Folders
Manufacturer: Buck Model: SBMF Military Folder
Blade Steel: 420HC Hardness Rc: 58
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.145"/mm
Length Closed: 4.625"/118mm Length Open: 7.625"/194mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: FRN Weight: 4.9oz/139g
Available? mid-March 2006 MSRP: $80
Buck took their Strider collaboration SBT Police Advocate, eliminated the "Positive Deployment Texturing" on the upper part of the blade and the serrations, added a black oxide coating and created the SBMF Military Folder.  This liner lock has a 3.5-inch drop point plain edge blade of 420HC with a large finger choil and fiberglass reinforced nylon handles in black, tan or OD. There are dual thumb lug openers and the clip (tip down carry) reverses from left to right hand.  MSRP is $80.

Buck Camp Axe and SawBoth Buck's Folding Saw and Camp Axe are now available with bright red or yellow handles, an option we appreciate.  No more searching for invisible black tools.

Columbia River Knife & Tool

CRK&T Auto LAWKSThe big news at Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRK&T) is the Auto LAWKS.  This is an evolution of the original Lake and Walker Knife Safety that CRK&T have used for some time. The concept is simple; when engaged the LAWKS prevents a liner lock from disengaging, which has been known to happen inadvertently for a number of reasons. The problem with the original LAWKS was that is was manually operated and the user had to take an extra step, albeit simple enough and readily at hand, to move the LAWKS into the safe position. When the safety is most needed, in stressful situations, it would be most likely to not be used.  Any extra step becomes a liability in such circumstances.

The new Auto LAWKS engages automatically as the blade locks into position.  This represents a huge increase in safety, in our opinion.  A single spring is used to engage the LAWKS.  Even if the spring were to break, the LAWKS can be used manually.

Release is still relatively easy to accomplish one-handed: pull back the release lever with your index finger, disengage the liner lock with your thumb and start to rotate the blade closed with your index finger as usual. As with all liner locks, get your thumb out of the way before closing the blade all the way. CRK&T include a little hangtag with each knife that includes instructions for releasing the Auto LAWKS.

(If you get into the habit of operating the liner lock with your thumb tight against the forward portion of the handle, the nice thing about the Carson Flipper equipped blades is that the flipper will act as a safety stop to prevent you closing it on your thumb, a safety feature we like on these knives.  Move your thumb out of the rotation of the flipper and this doesn't work, of course)

M16 Zytel EDC
Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: M16-Z EDC
Blade Steel: AUS 4 Hardness Rc: 55-57
Blade Shape: Spearpoint/Tanto Edge: Plain/Combo
Blade Length: 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.08"/2mm
Length Closed: 4"/102mm Length Open: 7.125"/181mm
Lock Type: Liner w/ Auto LAWKS Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Zytel Weight: 2.3 oz/65g
Available? Mid Summer 2006 MSRP: $45
The Auto LAWKS is being incorporated as a running change and will eventually be included on all the existing CRK&T knives on which the LAWKS is currently fitted, which unfortunately doesn't include every liner lock they make, but does include all of CRK&T's popular conventional opening tactical folders including the Kit Carson designed M16 and M21 series. The Auto LAWKS is externally identified by a red dot on the LAWKS operating lever, which serves as the release on the auto version.  It will take a while for all the existing stock to work its way through the system, and unless you have a really good reason not to do so, we recommend you wait until your desired CRK&T knife is available with the Auto LAWKS before purchasing. Yes, it is that big an improvement.

Speaking of M16, there are two new variations in the M16 line, both with the Auto LAWKS.  These are based on the M16 EDC but with black Zytel handles instead of aluminum.  The M16-Z EDC comes with either a 3-inch satin finish spearpoint (M16-01Z) or tanto blade (M16-10Z) of AUS 4.  The tanto blade is partially serrated.  The clip is removable, but not reversible.  MSRP is $45.

M21-14 SF
Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: M21-14 Special Forces
Blade Steel: AUS 8 Hardness Rc: 56-58
Blade Shape: Spear Point Edge: Combo
Blade Length: 3.875"/98mm Blade Thickness: 0.14"/3.5mm
Length Closed: 5.375"/137mm Length Open: 9.25"/235mm
Lock Type: Liner w/ Auto LAWKS Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Hard Anodized Aluminum Weight: 5.7oz/162g
Available? Now MSRP: $130
A new version of the M21, the M21-14 Special Forces, features a full hilt by adding a second mirrored Carson Flipper on the spine of the blade. Not that you could flip it, mind you, but it is nicely symmetrical.  This version is dressed in all black, both the Teflon coated 3.875-inch spear point partially serrated AUS 8 blade and the hard anodized 6061 T6 aluminum handle. The red dot on the Auto LAWKS safety is especially visible with all that black.  The clip is four-position ambidextrous and reversible. MSRP is $130.

A.G. Russell Sting
Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: A.G. Russell Sting
Blade Steel: 1050 Hardness Rc: 54-55
Blade Shape: Dbl. Edge Spearpoint Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 2.297"/81mm Blade Thickness: 0.137"/3.5mm
Overall Length: 6.85"/174mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: Integral Weight: 3.9oz/110g
Available? 2006 MSRP: $40
The A.G. Russell Sting is back, this time as a CRK&T blade. This classic double edged dagger design is drop forged in 1050 high carbon steel with a black powder coat finish. The blade is 3.197 inches long with an overall length of 6.85 in. While we remain opposed to double edge designs for practical use due to safety concerns, they do have their uses and admirers and A.G.'s classic is certainly one of the more indestructible ones you could have.  This is a one piece design, no handle scales, just solid steel with a surprisingly ergonomic handle.  It's also amazingly light, considering the solid steel construction, at only 3.9 oz. Its molded Zytel and Cordura multi-carry sheath was unavailable to examine, so we've no opinion to pass along on that. MSRP is $40.

My Tighe
Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: My Tighe
Blade Steel: 1.4116 Hardness Rc: 55-57
Blade Shape: Recurve Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.625"/92mm Blade Thickness: 0.124"/31mm
Length Closed: 4.5"/114mm Length Open: 8.125"/206mm
Lock Type: Frame w/ OptiFast Assist Frame Material: 420J2
Handle Material: Zytel Weight: 5.6oz/159g
Available? Mid Summer 2006 MSRP: $90-$100
CRK&T introduced three new assisted opening knives using what they refer to as their "OptiFast" assist mechanism. This is the same patented assist mechanism introduced by Benchmade in their Apparition a couple years ago. The OptiFast spring engages only after the blade has been manually opened past 30 degrees, a significant safety factor in our opinion.  The spring can also be removed entirely to eliminate the assisted opening if desired.  A small wrench is included to release the spring by loosening a set screw.  CRK&T are covering all bases by offering all three as both Opti-Fast assisted opening models or conventional opening models in every style offered.

Brian Tighe's My Tighe is a dramatically styled frame lock folder with a fairly large 3.625-inch recurved blade of 1.14116 stainless, a steel we've not seen a lot of previously, but similar to 420HC is performance, nothing to brag about, unfotunately. Despite it being a frame lock, it has black Zytel molded scales, of a sort, with a carbon fiber texture. The scales only cover a portion of the 420J2 stainless steel frame, but despite the very dramatic stylish cut-outs, they are comfortable and provide excellent grip, something many frame locks fall short on. The frame provides a contoured bottom with a distinct finger guard up front and a bird's beak at the tail.  There's no lanyard hole.  The back spacer is aluminum.

The blade is pretty functional, despite the unconventional appearance, though you won't be batoning any wood with it due to the "asymmetrical spine facets" a sort of false edge, that runs all the way back to the dual thumb studs.  The recurved blade edge is available plain or as partially serrated with a black Teflon coating. The black blade version also has a black Teflon coated frame and the My Tighe looks perhaps even more striking in formal dress. We can only hope they eventually do a plain edge black bladed version as well.

The clip is removable, but not reversible.  MSRP is $90/$100, plain or combo edge.

Kommer Full Throttle
Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: Kommer Full Throttle
Blade Steel: AUS 8 Hardness Rc: 56-58
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 2.875"/73mcm Blade Thickness: 0.118"/3mm
Length Closed: 4"/102mm Length Open: 6.875"/175mm
Lock Type: Frame w/ OptiFast Assist Frame Material: 420
Handle Material: N/A Weight: 4.5oz/126g
Available? Mid Summer 2006 MSRP: $80
The Russ Komer Full Throttle is a dressy, but very practical drop point frame lock.  The 2.875-inch AUS 8 blade is satin finished with either plain edge or partially serrated. The frame is 420 stainless with a "gun metal blue Gun Kote finish."  We've had excellent experience with Gun Kote before, so we'd expect this to be a quite durable finish.  There's a deep finger guard integrated into the frame design, but no lanyard hole.  The clip is removable, but not reversible.

The Full Throttle is dressed up with gold plated fasteners, stop pin and dual thumb studs.  These look sharp against the gun metal blue finish, so long as you don't also catch sight of the back spacer.  That ruins the whole look.  The back spacer is of gold anodized aluminum with ersatz CNC machined file work. The gold anodizing doesn't match the real gold plating used elsewhere, not even close, and looks, well, cheap.  They'd be better to Gun Kote the spacer, or something.  Anything would look better than trying to match the gold plating with gold anodizing and being so far off. MSRP is $80.

Koli Hara Ichi
Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: Koji Hara Ichi
Blade Steel: 420J2 Hardness Rc: 54-56
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 2.5"/64mm Blade Thickness: 0.096"/2.45mm
Length Closed: 3.25"/83mm Length Open: 5.625"/143mm
Lock Type: Liner w/ OptiFast Assist Liner Material: 420J2
Handle Material: Zytel and Kraton Weight: 1.9oz/54g
Available? Mid Summer 2006 MSRP: $50-$60
The last if the three assisted openers is the Koli Hara Ichi, a compact gentleman's folder.  Ichi means "one" in English, which suggests there are other Koji Hara designs in the works. The blade is a slim, high grind drop point of 420J2 steel, nothing to write home about, with a squared off thumb disk ambidextrous opener on the spine. 

The liners are stainless with combination Zytel and Kraton scales.  The forward portion of the handles, almost a bolster of sorts, at least design-wise, are Zytel and incorporate Hara's trademark terraced forms. The rest is smooth surfaced black Krayton.  The handle provides a minimal finger guard and a groove in the Krayton for your thumb which also allows easier access to the liner lock. Together, they provide pretty fair grip for the sorts of task for which this knife is likely to be used.  There's no lanyard hole and the clip is removable, but not reversible.

The Ichi is available in two color combinations; a bead blasted blade and frame with gray Zytel and satin stainless clip or a black Teflon coated blade, frame and clip with black Zytel.  MSRP is $50 for the bright version and $60 for the black.

Manufacturer: CRK&T Model: B.U.L.L.
Blade Steel: 420J2 Hardness Rc: 54-56
Blade Shape: Drop Point Recurved Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.10"/2.5mm
Length Closed: 4.125"/105mm Length Open: 7.125"/181mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: 420J2
Handle Material: Zytel Weight: 2.8oz/79g
Available? Mid Summer 2006 MSRP: $40
CRK&T's new value knife is the B.U.L.L. (Basic Utility Locking Liner) designed by Aaron Frederick.  The 3-inch modified drop point recurved blade is 420J2 stainless, as are the liners, and is available in plain edge and partially serrated.  It is equipped with both a thumb disk and an extended ridged tang that can be flipped, with some practice. The blade has a nice thumb ramp, but there's not much of a guard in the handle.  The Zytel scales and liners have some deep grooves on their edges at the fore end on top and back of the handle and checkering at the fore end on the sides of the scales.  There's no lanyard hole, a notable drawback in a utility folder in our opinion, and the clip is removable, but not reversible.  MSRP is $40.

EdgieCRK&T also introduced a self-sharpening folder, the EDGIE.  This folder incorporates an aluminum oxide abrasive-coated spring which the straight-edged Warncliff blade engages every time it is closed. The self-sharpening design was developed and patented by Howard Pope. The blade is not single edged in the conventional sense, it is hollow ground on both sides, but only one edge is sharpened. Given how many people these days seem to be incapable of sharpening their knife, we suppose it's a concept whose time has come.  Unfortunately, whatever positive attributes this knife has, the blade has no lock and were it not for the uniqueness of the self-sharpening feature, we'd not even mention it in this report as we are death on non-locking blades.

The Ultima tactical fixed blade introduced last year must be doing reasonably well, despite its somewhat weird handle LINK.  They have come out with a 5-inch blade version—actually, it's 4.95 inches. This feels to be a much better balanced knife, from our perspective. The modified tanto blade is 1.4116 stainless with a bead blasted finish, available in both plain edge and partially serrated.

With a bare hand, the unique siped grip still feels uncomfortable, at least in my hand, but there's plenty of grippiness and with gloves it probably works much better. MSRP is $110.  They also added a 5-inch Trainer model with a polypropylene blade ($10).


Click on photos and links for larger image and additonal details.
All prices MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail pricing) as of February, 2006

Gerber Hinerer Rescue
Manufacturer: Gerber Model: Hinderer Rescue
Blade Steel: 440A Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Serrated
Blade Length: 3.5"/89mm Blade Thickness: 0."/mm
Length Closed: 5.1"/130mm Length Open: 8.5"/216mm
Lock Type: Liner w/ side release Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Weight: 5.6oz/g
Available? April 2006 MSRP: $115
Gerber's Hinderer Rescue was designed by Rick Hinderer, who is not only an accomplished knifemaker, but also a professionally trained volunteer fireman and paramedic for over a decade. This dual track of experience shows in the many features of this unique folder.  The 3.5-inch 440A stainless blade is serrated almost it's full length.  While it is essentially a drop point, the spine is carved out to make it easier to grip the knife when closed, more on that later.  The point is rounded off and quite robust, the blade is a full eighth inch thick.  Like it or not, firemen will use it as a pry bar and no sense ignoring that. 

Hinderer chose 440A because he knows that this knife needed to be really, really stainless, that it would see lots of use around water, mud and blood. The open back makes it easier to clean. 440A is the most stainless of the normal cutlery steels and holds an edge reasonably well, sufficient for these uses. Exotic high performance knife steels would be wasted on the the average fireman and would only serve to raise the price significantly, which would be counterproductive. The serrations ensure it will do the job needed by those who will use it.

Gerber Hinderer RescueThe dual thumb studs are extra large and deeply checkered so that the blade can be easily opened while wearing thick fireman's gloves.  There's a deeply grooved thumb ramp on the blade's spine.

The blade locks with a liner lock, but is released via a sliding button on the left side of the handle; much easier to operate while wearing gloves, to say nothing of being safer as well.  This moves a bar which disengages the liner.

Gerber Hinderer Rescue CutterOn the left side of the handle on the aft end of the spine is a folding safety hook cutter.  This flips out easily and can be used then to slice seat belts or clothing. It's designed so that when the hook is deployed, it is an extension off the back of the handle with the hook above the handle's spine.  This way, even in poor lighting or visual conditions, all the user has to do is slide the back of the knife across the belt and the safety cutter will automatically trap and cut the webbing.

Gerber Hinderer Rescue o2 wrench and Window PunchThe right hand liner extends out the back of the handle and incorporates a lanyard hole and a window punch on the tail end. Looking at the window breaker, it appears to be canted off axis, but grasp the knife as you would in use and you'll see that when you go the hit a window with it, it naturally ends up perpendicular to your grip and the window.  In order to work, it has to hit the glass perpendicular and many rescue knives make this awkward and unnatural to accomplish.    

The back side of the handle also incorporates an oxygen valve wrench.  No more having to run back to the truck for this essential piece of gear. That cut out spine of the blade makes it easier to grip the closed knife when using these tools.

Gerber Hinderer Bit SetThe bright red fiberglass reinforced nylon handle is heavily textured and has a deep finger guard and scallops for the rest of the hand. The liners extend down past the handle to form an even deeper half guard. The tail extends downward and there are grooves in the bottom for when using the window punch.  The tip down pocket clip is removable, but not reversible. It's designed to be able to be clipped to the thick fabric of turnouts or an SCBA harness or pack.

Also included with the knife is a 9-piece tool kit that includes a flat L-handle wrench, with a lanyard hole, and an adapter to fit the screwdriver bits onto the flat handle.  Hinderer knows that many firemen don't wear a multi-purpose tool since it's uncomfortable to wear under their turnouts.  A nylon sheath is provided.  Hinderer's goal was to make this knife affordable to those who need it and with an MSRP of $115, that will translate to about a $70-$75 street price, a good deal for a knife with all these features.

Gerber FreehandThis was not a big year for multi-purpose tools introductions, but Gerber managed to prevent a total drought.  The Freehand Multi-Plier has one hand openable needle nose pliers, in the usual Gerber fashion, sliding out the front. The similarity ends there.  First off, these pliers jaws are considerably wider than on previous Gerber tools for extra strength.  The wire cutter is a conventionally hardened flush-cut style, like flush-cutting dykes.

Gerber FreehandHowever, the most noticeable difference is the blade and tool operation.  This is the first Gerber with outside opening tools; no need to open the handles to get at the tools or blades.  All the tools lock, with the same style SAF.T.Plus sliding locks used on previous tools, just inboard instead of outboard, and all metal, no plastic grips on the locks.

This is also a very large and heavy tool, weighing in at 13.3 ounces, 1.1 ounces more than the Leatherman Surge, the previous heavyweight. Actually, large is a misnomer, huge would be better. Closed up it is 5 inches long, 1.75 inches wide and 0.906 inches thick. The pliers are 1.25 inches wide (click to compare to Leatherman Surge), which may indeed add lots of strength, but also seriously limits where you can reach into with the needle nose jaws. With the pliers extended, it's about equally as long as the Surge. Gripping the pliers tightly, the edges of the exterior tools and frame can be pretty uncomfortable, shades of Leathermans past. How ironic. Gerber's smooth handles used to be one of their selling points aginst the early Leatherman tools.

The blades are quite a bit thicker than the usual as well, for added robustness.  As for the selection of blades and tools, well, we were a bit perplexed. The blades and scissors have metal thumb studs for one-hand opening, which we really like. The studs are a bit easy to use.  The 3-inch plain edge knife blade is something of a contemporary Wharncliff with a narrow point and a straight edge.  There's also a serrated blade with a rounded tip. The serrations are pretty shallow and not very aggressive. It was described to us as also capable of being used as a saw, but frankly, we're hard pressed to believe it will work very well, but we'd be happy to be pleasantly surprised when we eventually get one to test. 

Gerber Freehand Raising ToolsThe scissors are straightforward Gerber/Fiskars style, with fairly short blades. The plastic thumb stud also serves to add a bit of comfort for your thumb while using them. The fourth large implement is a large screwdriver with ruler. No file or anything, just a long piece relatively thick steel with what they call an "industrial tip" on one end and a ruler along the side.  They even managed to place the ruler on the wrong edge so it's inside the handles when opened, not outside.  I'm sure that makes sense to someone, just not us.  There's also two flat screwdrivers, a Phillips and a can opener. All are typical Gerber stubby tools and it doesn't appear that the Gerber extensions will work on this Phillips.   One really nice feature is that operating the lock release when the tools are closed raises the smaller certrally located tools up slightly to make it easier to get at them. It comes with a nylon pouch. MSRP is $120.

Gerber Ripstop I & IIGerber's Ripstop I and II are skeletonized frame locks with 2.2- and 3-inch drop point blades, available with a plain or partially serrated edge. The blade is equipped with dual thumb studs and a trapezoidal slot.  The slot isn't for opening, rather it matches up with an opening in the frame when closed. We found this knife very uncomfortable to hold because of the very abrupt, almost sharp, edge of the frame lock. A little easing of that edge would help a lot. There's a right hand tip down only clip and no lanyard hole.  MSRP $19 and $38.


Kershaw Cyclone
Manufacturer: Kershaw Model: Cyclone / Mini Cyclone
Blade Steel: 13C26 Hardness Rc: 57-58
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.75"/95mm / 3.19"/81mm Blade Thickness: 0.121"/3mm
Length Closed: 5"/126mm / 4.25"/108mm Length Open: 8.75"/222mm / 7.4"/188mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Aluminum Weight: 6.3oz/179g /5.3oz/150g
Available? April 2006 MSRP: $90 / $80
Switch allows disabling of SpeedSafe assisted opening
Kershaw's new Cyclone and Min-Cyclone, the latest designs from Ken Onion, allow you to switch between SpeedSafe assisted opening or ambidextrous manual opening with the simple rotation of a switch on the spine of the handle. It even works!  At least now when you hand the knife to one of the unwashed masses, you can switch off the assisted opening and feel they are less likely to hurt themselves.  The knives themselves are fairly conventional liner locks in other regards.  Black anodized aluminum 6061 T6 handles and 410 stainless liners hold a drop point Sandvik 12C26 stainless blade, 3.75 and 2.188 inches, respectively.  The blade is available plain or combo edged and the Cyclone also has a black tungsten DLC coated combo blade option.

Dual thumb studs provide ambidextrous opening.  The handle has a deep finger guard and a thumb ramp of sorts built into the handle, not the blade.  The top of the handle extends over the tang of the blade quite a ways.  The clip is reversible for tip up or tip down carry.  MSRP is $90 for the Cyclone, $100 for the Black Cyclone and $80 for the Mini-Cyclone.

Kershaw Spec-Bump
Manufacturer: Kershaw Model: Spec-Bump / Speed-Bump
Blade Steel: S30V / 13C26 Hardness Rc: 57-58
Blade Shape: Recurve Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.635"/92mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3.2mm
Length Closed: 4.94"/125mm Length Open: 8.58"/218mm
Lock Type: Stud Lock Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: G-10 / Akulon w/ Santoprene overlay Weight: 5.2oz/147g /5oz/142g
Available? Now / April 2006 MSRP: $200 / $100
SpeedSafe assisted opening
The Spec-Bump was introduced earlier this year and there have been a few changes including an upgrade from 154 CM to CPM S30V blade steel and new dramatically machined G10 handles, replacing the original somewhat boring design.  The Spec-Bump is a SpeedSafe assisted opening folder with Kershaw's unique Stud Lock. The flipper makes for quick opening, no reason to use the dual thumb studs that are part of the lock.  

The "Bump" part of the name comes from the recurved blade shape which provides extra cutting ability from the recurved portion.  The tip of the blade serves as a piercing point centered precisely to provide the most energy transfer when trusting. The 3.625-inch blade is flat ground and black tungsten DLC coated. 

Kershaw Speed-BumpThe handle is very ergonomic with a deep finger guard which together with the flipper make a very secure handle.  There's also a bit of a thumb ramp on the spine of the handle.  The aggressive sunburst pattern machined into the G-10 is striking in appearance and helps provide an excellent grip.  There's a lanyard hole and the clip is set up for tip down carry and is removeable, but not reversible.  MSRP is $200.

The Speed-Bump translates the Spec-Bump into more affordable territory at half the price of the original, $100 MSRP.  Steel is changed to Sandvik 13C26 stainless and the handle is molded Akulon fiberglass reinforced nylon with a black Santoprene overmold. The blade is satin finsihed.  Other than that, it is identical to the Spec-Bump.

Kershaw Ripcord Deployment
Manufacturer: Kershaw Model: Ripcord
Blade Steel: 13C26 Hardness Rc: 57-58
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.44"/86mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3.2mm
Length Closed: 4.38"/111mm Length Open: 7.82"/199mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Aluminum Weight: 4.2oz/119g
Available? April 2006 MSRP: $100
Includes belt clip with with deployment knob - out the front opening
The Ripcord is unusual, to say the least. How practical it is, well, that's another matter.  This knife is designed to be worn hanging on a belt using its proprietary belt clip with deployment knob.  To deploy the knife you grasp the handle, rotate the handle until it is horizontal, push in to release the lock and and slide the handle to the rear, which exposes and locks the blade in place, then remove it from the post by pulling it outward away from the clip. To put the blade away, you reverse the process.  There's no easy way to either deploy the blade or close it without using the stud.  Yes, you can do it by pressing in on the liner with a pencil or screwdriver and then carefully pulling or pushing the blade out or in, but...

While on the stud, the knife hangs down and there's nothing to keep it from flopping forwards and backwards, and a bit side to side. It's not quite as bad as some of the Scandinavian fixed blades with hanging sheaths, but I suspect many would find it plenty annoying.

The 3.438-inch modified drop point blade is of Sandvik 13C26 stainless with a plain edge and black tungsten DLC coating. The handle is black anodized 6061 T6 aluminum with "Trac-Tek" grippy inserts. There's not much of a guard, the handle has depressions on both sides to more easily grasp it for deployment.  MSRP is $100.

The Blur line adds a Silver Blur in black dress with silver twill G10 inlays.  Very sharp looking. MSRP is $115.

Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance 0100
Manufacturer: Zero Tolerance Model: 0100
Blade Steel: CPM3V Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Recurve Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 5.75"/146mm Blade Thickness: 0.190"/4.8mm
Overall Length: 10.5"/267mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: G-10 Weight: 11.4oz/323g
Available?May 2006 MSRP: $295
Zero Tolerance is a new "tactical" line by Kai USA, the company who produces the Kershaw brand product line. The ZT knives are being marketed to the law enforcement, military and similar as a separate brand, but retain many common elements in design and construction, as you would expect. The name and dress change, but the underpinnings remain. As part of its marketing effort, ZT gives a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these knives to the Paralyzed Veterans of America Heritage Fund, which works on behalf of the veterans who have given so much in service to their country.

The Ken Onion designed fixed blade, the 0100, has 5.75-inch recurved drop point blade of CPM3V tool steel with black tungsten DLC coating. The handle is very similar in shape to to that of the Kersaw Offset folder in shape, with sculpted machined G10 scales covering the full tang. An integral half guard and deep recess, coupled with an agressive thumb ramp and plenty of texture in the G-10, provide a secure, safe grip and good leverage. The lanyard hole comes threaded with a wrist lanyard. A MOLLE compatible nylon sheath with molded Kydex insert and a tool/folder pouch with a metal button snap closure completes the offering. MSRP is $295.

Zero Tolerance 0200 and 0301
Manufacturer: Zero Tolerance Model: 0200/0301
Blade Steel: 154 CM / S30V Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Recurve Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo / Plain
Blade Length: 4.25"/108mm Blade Thickness: 0.156"/3.9mm
Length Closed: 5.25"/133mm Length Open: 9.5"/241mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: G-10 Weight: 7.7oz/219g / 8.6oz/243g
Available? May 2006 MSRP: $160 / $295
Nearly identical styling is obvious in the 0200 folder. Steel is 154 CM for the folder's 4.25-inch tungston DLC coated blade. Blade profile is a scaled down version of the fixed blade's recurved drop point, available with plain or partially serrated edge and fairly hefty at 5/32 thick. The handle also mimics the fixed blade in shape with stainless liners and liner lock and sculpted G-10. One handed operation is via either the index finger flipper or dual thumb studs. A lanyard hole is provided, as is a reversible and ambidextrous, tip or tip down carry, pocket clip. MSRP is $160

Onion collaborated with Stride on the 0301/0302 liner lock assisted opening folders. The Strider influence is seen is the somewhat wider chord balde, or agressive scallops instead of shallower ridges on the thumb ramp and butt and the Strder trademark Tiger Striping on the blade. S30V stainless is the blade steel choice on this one, with tungsten DLC coating. Lengths are identical with a 4.25-inche balde and an overall length open of 9.5 inches. Assisted opening is via Kershaw's SpeedSafe mechanism. The 0301 is has a "Ranger Green" G-10 handle, the 0302 is in "Coyote Tan." A lanyard hole is provided, as is a reversible pocket clip. MSRP is $295


Leatherman VistaThe only new tools from Leatherman this year were tightly focused on niche markets, hunters and gardeners.  The Vista and Hybrid replace the traditional fold-out pliers with bypass pruners that include a slot style soft wire cutter at the base.  The Vista implements include a partially serrated drop point blade, saw, awl, flat and Phillips drivers and there's a choke tube tool as well.  The Hybrid implements are even more specialized and include a weed remover/ruler, grafting blade with bark lifter, flat and Phillips driver, saw, sprinkler tool and bottle opener.  The implements don't lock, unfortunately. Frame and handles are fiberglass reinforced nylon with rubber inlays. A nylon sheath that can hold the tool open or closed is included. MSRP is $80 and these are expected to be available in June, 2006.

Leatherman added some additional knives to their knife line introduced in the Fall of 2005. These provide lower price points and are aimed at the average consumer, not the knife enthusiast.

Leatherman c300, c302, c304
Manufacturer: Leatherman Model: c300 / c3021 / c3042
Blade Steel: 420 Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3"/76mm /
3"/76mm / 2.8"/71mm
Blade Thickness: NA
Length Closed: 4"/102mm /
4"/102mm / 3.8"/97mm
Length Open: 6.8"/173mm /
6.8"/173mm / 6.68"/170mm
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: FRN / Aluminum /
FRN & Rubber
Weight: 2.9oz/82g /
3.2oz/91g / 3.9oz/111g
Available? Now MSRP: $29 / $39 / $52
1 Includes carabiner clip and bottle opener
2 Includes carabiner clip and bottle opener, 1/4" and Phillips screwdrivers
The new c300 series of knives extends the line with more lower cost offerings in their smaller liner lock platform. The c300 and c302 have 3-inch blades, while the c304 is slightly smaller at 2.8 inches, all in a drop point profile. Blade steel is 420 stainless, a nod to lower costs. Not our first choice for a blade steel, but typical for this price point. All the knives are available with plain or partially serrated edge and have a thumb ramp and right-hand opener stud. The Leatherman Blade Launcher provides ambidextrous opening.

There are three different handles. The c300 handle is fiberglass reinforced nylon, the c302 is brushed aluminum with cutouts and the c304 is FRN with rubber inserts. Handle profile is similar with a modest finger guard. In the c300 there is only the blade by itself; the c302 adds Leatherman's carabiner cum bottle opener. A 1/4" and Phillps screwdrivers are added for the c304, as well as the carabiner/bottle opener. A removable right hand pocket clip is also provided. There's no laynard hole, on the c302 and c304 the carabiner would serve in its stead. MSRP is $29, $39 and $52, respectively.

Leatherman h500-h502
Manufacturer: Leatherman Model: h500 / h5021
Blade Steel: 420 Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Clip Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.1"/79mm Blade Thickness: NA
Length Closed: 4.5"/114mm Length Open: 7.6"/193mm
Lock Type: Back Liner Material: None
Handle Material: FRN and Rubber Weight: 3.6oz/102g / 6.1oz/172g
Available? Now MSRP: $39/ $65
1 Includes carabiner clip and bottle opener, bit driver
and 3 double-ended bits, can opener - $72 w/ addtional 7 pc bit set
The h500 and h502 knives are more or less clip point versions of the larger k500x/k502x, but gone downmarket with simpler and less costly handles and blade steel, as well as the different blade shape. Again, the 420 stainless isn't going to get any knife enthusiasts very excited, but it helps lower the cost substantially. We're not big fans of clip point blades, so that's also a negative. Both have fiberglass reinforced nylon bolsters handles with rubber inserts, which we actually prefer to the stainless bolster on the k502x as it saves a fair amount of weight. Opening is via either right-hand thumb lug or Leatherman's Blade Launcher ambidextrous opener. Both come with a ballistic nylon envelope style sheath.

The h500 is a simple single blade lockback, nothing fancy there. It has a lanyard hole and right hand pocket clip, which is removable. The h502 adds Leatherman's carabiner clip and bottle opener, a can opener, as well as the bit driver and 3 double-ended bits, including two stored in the rubber handle. No lanyard hole, the carabiner stands in for that, nor a pocket clip on the h502. MSRP is $39 and $65, respectively. The h502 is also available with an extra seven piece bit set for $72. The bit set fits in the rear of the sheath.

Lone Wolf

Harsey D2 Double Action Auto
Manufacturer: Lone Wolf Model: Harsey D2
Blade Steel: S30V Hardness Rc: 60-62
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Combo
Blade Length: 3.9"/99mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3.2mm
Length Closed: 4.9"/124mm Length Open: 8.8"/224mm
Lock Type: Dbl Action Auto Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: FRN and Kraton Weight: 5.8oz/164g
Available? March 2006 MSRP: $280
Lone Wolf Knives showed off some new Bill Harsey folders including a double action automatic, the Harsey D2. This takes the 3.9-inch S30V blade and handle from the T2 Ranger and fits it with a double action auto mechanism (meaning the blade can be opened via the auto button or manually). A unique feature is that the release button isn't visible, it's hidden under a black Kraton overmold that mimics the standard T2 molded FRN handles. Currently, it's only available with a partially serrated blade.

It's your little secret and with the double action option and dual thumb stud openers, you can keep it that way. More importantly, it also serves to prevent inadvertent openings as it takes a definite application of pressure at the right location to activate the release. Not something likely to happen by accident or in your pocket. We think this is much better than a conventional safety, which tends to defeat the whole purpose of an automatic. Auto action is via a long leaf spring that runs down the back of the knife. MSRP is $280.

Lone Wolf Lobo
Manufacturer: Lone Wolf Model: Lobo / Double-Duty
Blade Steel: S30V Hardness Rc: 60-62
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.5"/89mm / 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.116"/2.9mm
Length Closed: 4.5"/114mm / 4"/102mm Length Open: 8"/203mm / 7"/178mm
Lock Type: Dbl Action Auto Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: G-10 or Cocobolo Weight: 5.5oz/156g / 4.7oz/133g
Available? March 2006 MSRP: $240 - $280
This same mechanism and hidden release is used in the new Double-Duty and Lobo double action autos. These are fitted with a CPM S30V drop point recurved blade, 3 inches and 3.5 inches, respectively. The larger Lobo blade is partially serrated. Both have thumb hole openers with a half oval shape.

Handles are available in either G-10 or Cocobolo wood and there is enough flex to allow operation of the hidden release. The liners are stainless and the handle has a bit of a finger guard. The spine of the blade over the opener has ridges for better thumb purchase. There is no lanyard hole. The clip is removable, but not reversible. MSRP ranges from $240 to $280.

Lone Wolf Paul Presto
Manufacturer: Lone Wolf Model: Paul Presto Folder
Blade Steel: 19C27 Hardness Rc: 58-60
Blade Shape: Recurve Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 2.4"/61mm Blade Thickness: 0.090"/2.3mm
Length Closed: 3.4"/86mm Length Open: 5.8"/147mm
Lock Type: Paul Axial Frame Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Micarta or Burl Wood Weight: 1.9oz/54g
Available? Now MSRP: $150
The latest production Paul Poehlmann design from Lone Wolf is the Paul Presto Folder with a very ergonomic handle and 2.4-inch recurved blade with a high drop point of Sandvik 19C27 stainless. There's a swedge that extends about two-thirds back on the spine. At 3.4 inches closed and 1.9 ounces, it makes a very functional gentleman's folder.

The handle has a moderate recess that serves as a finger guard and the handle curves down behind that to give a good three finger grip. The blade has a very slight thumb ramp with ridges for good purchase. The combination works beautifully. The stainless frame and blade are highly polished and it is available with either Ivory Linen Micarta or Burl Wood scales.

LW  Paul Presto ClipThis is the first Paul with a pocket clip, tip down carry, which is removable. There's no lanyard hole. MSRP is $150.

There are a few other Harsey variations including T1, T2 and T3 Tacticals with 3.2-inch, 3.9-inch and 4.8-inch tactical style blades, respectively. This blade is identical in profile to the standard Harsey drop point, but has a deep swedge that extends back about two-thirds of the way back on the spine, better for thrusting into things. All the tactical blades are partially serrated. They have also added a tanto blade option for the T2, also partially serrated.

Lone Wolf Harsey T3 CamoIn all other respects they have the usual Lone Wolf Harsey folder features including liner lock, excellent ergonomics, etc. The T1 Tactical is available with either Cocobolo wood or Carbon Fiber handles, the latter looking particularly sharp, though we'd be inclined to prefer a more tactile handle for true tactical use. Finally, the T3 fiberglass reinforced handle is now available in a tan and black camo pattern. MSRP is $130 for the T1 Tactical, $200 for the T2 Tactical ($120 for Cocobolo) and $300 - $310 for the T3 Tactical.


Manufacturer: Ontario Model: RAT-5 / RAT-3
Blade Steel: 1095 / D2 Hardness Rc: 55-57 / 58-60
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain / Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 5"/127mm / 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.187"/4.7mm / 0.156"/3.9mm
Overall Length: 10.75"/273mm / 7.8"/198mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: Micarta Weight: 12oz/340g / 5.5oz/156g
Available? Now MSRP: $110
Ontario's RAT line of knives designed by Jeff Randall continues to expand.  The RAT-5 has a 5-inch Drop Point blade of 1095 carbon steel with a black phosphate coating.  The robust 3/16-inch thick plain edge blade is flat ground to the spine and includes a finger choil forward of the integral half guard. The spine is grooved ahead of the handle. The full tang ends in a skull crusher pommel that includes the lanyard hole. Overall length is 10.75 inches.  Canvas Micarta handles finish this workhorse off.  A lined black Cordura nylon tactical style sheath with an accessory pouch is provided.  MSRP is $110.

RAT 3The RAT-3's 3-inch D2 tool steel blade is a bit thinner and has a textured gray powder coat finish. It has a full flat grind as well, but is available both with and without serrations. The pommel is rounded on this one and the handle is a bit smaller and smoother, being black linen Micarta. Sheaths are molded Kydex and available in black, tan or OD green.  MSRP is $110


SOG Super Bowie
Manufacturer: SOG Model: Super SOG Bowie
Blade Steel: AUS 8 Hardness Rc: 57-58
Blade Shape: Bowie Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 7.5"/190mm Blade Thickness: 0.250"/6.4mm
Overall Length: 12.875"/327mm Tang: full internal
Handle Material: Epoxied Stacked Leather Weight: 17.4oz/493g
Available? 2nd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $275
SOG celebrated their 20th anniversary with a few special products including the Super SOG Bowie, a longer version of the original upon which the company was founded. A 7.5-inch AUS 8 blade, 0.250-inch thick, is coated in black titanium nitride extends the reach of this classic and upgrades the steel to stainless. As before the handle is epoxied stacked leather washers and it comes in a traditional leather sheath with a sharpening stone.  For 2006 only, a special 20th Anniversary insignia is lasered into the blade.  MSRP is $275.

SOG Bi-Polar
Manufacturer: SOG Model: Bi-Polar
Blade Steel: AUS 8 Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Drop Point/V-Cutter Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3"/76mm1 Blade Thickness: NA
Length Closed: 4.5"/114mm Length Open: 7.5"/190mm1
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Zytel & Aluminum Weight: NA
Available? August 2006 MSRP: ~$130
1 V-Cutter length is 2.5"/63mm, overall 7"/179mm
The SOG Bi-Polar is an aptly named two-bladed assisted opening folder with a 3-inch drop point blade of AUS 8 stainless with black Titanium Nitride coating on one end and their new patent-pending V-Cutter safety cutter blade on the other end. The V-Cutter has a pair of razor style blades for quick cutting, even of fairly light material, sometimes a challenge for many conventional safety cutters.

Lock up is via a shared liner lock in the center.  Opening is via a thumb lug on each blade (right hand only) and SOG's S.A.T.(SOG Assisted Technology) opener. Each blade has its own safety lock on the spine of the handle to prevent inadvertent opening.  The handle shape is reminiscent of a traditional canoe style knife, dropping down on both ends to provide a finger guard, and in the case of the V-Cutter, purchase to pull with. Zytel is used for the molded handle with aluminum backing, anodized blue and visible through the cut-out SOG logo.

It doesn't take much imagination to see the possibilities with this double-ended assisted opening mechanism, so it will be interesting to see what develops. MSRP is expected to be in the $130 range.

The V-Cutter will also be available on all versions of the SOG Powerlock, replacing the scissors in the tool selection.   As with all the SOG tools, they are customer swappable and the V-Cutter alone will be available for "under $20." 

SOG Arcitech
Manufacturer: SOG Model: Arcitech
Blade Steel: San Mai Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Recurve Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.5"/89mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3.1mm
Length Closed: 4.5"/114mm Length Open: 8"/203mm
Lock Type: Arc-Lock Liner Material: Titanium
Handle Material: Ti and Jigged Bone Weight: 4.5oz/128g
Available? 3rd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $425
SOG has also introduced a Platinum line of "investment collectable" knives with the Arcitech. A very practical mirror polished 3.5-inch recurved drop point blade of SanMai steel (VG-10 core sandwiched bewteen 420J2) with dual thumb studs is locked in place using SOG's Arc-Lock.  There's a practical thumb ramp and in index cutout on the spine.  It folds between polished titanium liners with polished titanium bolsters and dark jigged bone scales. Substantial cutouts in the bolster and a recess create a finger guard up front.  There's no lanyard hole, but the bayonet style polished skeleton clip is reversible. Production will be limited to 50 pieces a month and they will be serialized. MSRP is $425.  Now, if they'd make this in a more affordable version, add a lanyard hole and you’d have a really nice practical utility folder.

SOG Spec-Elite II
Manufacturer: SOG Model: Spec-Elite I / II
Blade Steel: AUS 8 Hardness Rc: 57-58
Blade Shape: Recurve Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 4"/102mm / 5"/127mm Blade Thickness: 0.135"/mm
Length Closed: 4.75"/121mm /5.75"/146mm Length Open: 8.75"/222mm / 10.75"/273mm
Lock Type: Arc-Lock Liner Material: Inset Stainless
Handle Material: Zytel Weight: 4.3oz/122g / 7.1oz/201g
Available? March 2006 MSRP: $105 / $130
SOG added a recurved blade to their Pentagon Elite series of folders to create the Spec-Elite and the new blade is quite a bit more practical, as well as being better looking, at least from our perspective.  The 4- and 5-inch plain edge blades are AUS 8 and include a thumb ramp and dual thumb studs.  A swedge extends back about half the blade length. Lock is SOG's ambidextrous Arc-Lock. The molded Zytel handles have a groove, small recess and some ridges to serve as a finger guard, but it's not nearly as substantial a guard as we prefer, especially on such large folders.  The clip is reversible and there is a lanyard hole.  MSRP is $107 and $130, Spec-Elite I and Spec-Elite II, respectively.


Spyderco Endura 4
Manufacturer: Spyderco Model: Endura 4
Blade Steel: VG-10 Hardness Rc: 57-60
Blade Shape: Modified Drop Point Edge: Serrated, Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.75"/96mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3mm
Length Closed: 5"/127mm Length Open: 8.75"/222mm
Lock Type: Back - Boye Detent Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: FRN Weight: 3.6oz/103g
Available? Now MSRP: $80
Both the Endura and Delica have been part of the Spyderco line since 1990 (I still have my early Delica) and have undergone a series of continual changes.  This year the changes were a bit more radical, though they are still very much the same knives, just better. The Endura 4 and Delica 4 share very nearly identical specifications except for blade length, so we'll present them here together.  The VG-10 blades are 3.44 inches and 2.56 inches, respectively, and available with serrated, plain or combo flat ground edges.  The blade shape has been modified to strengthen the tip with a notably wider modified drop point shape, though still distinctly Spyderco.  This is a much more functional and utilitarian blade shape, in our opinion.  The opening hole is a bit larger, 13 mm, making for easier opening, and jimping (ridges) have been added to the bump to make a more secure thumb rest.

The black fiberglass reinforced nylon handles now have inset stainless liners, adding strength and stiffness, and new "Bi-Directional Texturizing" for better grip. The handle shape has been recontoured, especially at the butt where it now closely matches the more streamlined shape of the stainless steel version instead of the squared-off shape previously used. This added an eighth of an inch to the Endura's closed length and a quarter of an inch to the Delica's (the stainless versions didn't change in this regard). The top forward portion of the handle is now sniped with ridges all the way from the lock forward. Another change is that the knives are now screwed together so that it can be easily cleaned and serviced and the pivot screw is adjustable with phosphor bronze washers. All this adds a little weight, about 0.6 ounces, but they are still relatively lightweight at 3.6 and 2.5 ounces.

The back lock still incorporates the Boye detent. There's a lanyard hole that is located forward of the clip attachment so the clip has a hole in it to allow the lanyard to pass through if in that position.  The clip is now secured with three screws and is four-position ambidextrous and reversible.  These changes appear to be very worthwhile improvements to these popular folders.  MSRP is $75 and $68, respectively.

Spyderco Delica 4
Manufacturer: Spyderco Model: Delica 4
Blade Steel: VG-10 Hardness Rc: 57-60
Blade Shape: Modified Drop Point Edge: Serrated, Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 2.875"/73mm Blade Thickness: 0.094"/2.5mm
Length Closed: 4.25"/108mm Length Open: 7.125"/181mm
Lock Type: Back - Boye Detent Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: FRN Weight: 2.5oz/71g
Available? Now MSRP: $68
The stainless steel handled versions received the new blade shapes and additional clip positions, though not the screwed together construction or adjustable pivot.  Also available are complementary new trainer versions with red FRN handles.

Also introduced with the new blade shape are the Endura Wave and Delica Wave.  These incorporate Ernest Emerson's patented Wave opening feature, a hook incorporated into the blade that can be used to automatically open the blade as it is pulled from your front pants pocket.  It can still be pulled out without opening the blade, but you have to carefully pull it straight up and keep your finger on the closed blade. In this case, the Wave hook extends from the top of the Spyderco hole bump and the blade has been cut down to provide clearance for the Wave, creating a very un-Spyderco-like conventional drop point blade shape.  The handles for the Waved knives are gray, but are otherwise identical to the new Endura 4 and Delica 4.  For some time now, Spyderco enthusiasts who wanted the Wave functionality have improvised using plastic cable ties.  It worked, but it was ugly.  Now they can get the real thing.  MSRP is $85 and $77, respectively.

Spyderco Remote Release II
Manufacturer: Spyderco Model: Remote Release II
Blade Steel: VG-10 Hardness Rc: 57-60
Blade Shape: Modified Drop Point Edge: Serrated
Blade Length: 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3mm
Length Closed: 4.813"/122mm Length Open: 7.813"/198mm
Lock Type: Back Liner Material: None
Handle Material: FRN w/ Kraton Weight: 2.5oz/70g
Available? Now MSRP: $75
Handle incorporates spring loaded shackle
The Remote Release II represents the return of this folder to the Spyderco line-up.  The end of the fiberglass reinforced nylon handle incorporates a spring loaded shackle that can be used to attach the knife to a D-ring, carabineer, etc.  There's a textured slide on the back side of the handle that is used to open the shackle by pulling the rod back into the handle.  For those who prefer to carry their knife above the waist, this makes for a very practical carry option.  The handle has a Kraton insert with Spyderco's trademark "Volcano Grip" texture on the front side only.  There's a lanyard hole located forward of the shackle.

The 3-inch VG-10 blade is a flat ground modified drop point, Spyderco call it "skinning style," with a robust tip and is available only fully serrated.  The back lock does not have a Boye detent.  There is a 14mm round hole opener.  MSRP is $75.

Spyderco Spin
Manufacturer: Spyderco Model: Spin
Blade Steel: VG-10 Hardness Rc: 57-60
Blade Shape: Wharncliff Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 1.813"/46mm Blade Thickness: 0.094"/2.5mm
Length Closed: 2.31"/59mm Length Open: 4.125"/105mm
Lock Type: Frame Lock Frame Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Stainless Weight: 1.35oz/38g
Available? 2nd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $80
Eric Glesser designed the Spin as a stylish addition to Spyderco's Little Big Knife lineup. This is one of Spyderco's few integral frame locks with a 1.813–inch VG-10 Warncliff style straight edge blade in plain edge only. The Spin is a two-finger grip knife with deep recesses in the stainless steel handles for a secure grip. A spider web motif is lasered onto the front handle.  There's a lanyard hole and the clip is removable, but not reversible.  It is set up for tip down carry.  MSRP is $80.

Spyderco Ed Schempp Kris
Manufacturer: Spyderco Model: Ed Schempp Kris
Blade Steel: VG-10 Hardness Rc: 57-60
Blade Shape: Kris Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.75"/95mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3mm
Length Closed: 4.88"/124mm Length Open: 8.625"/219mm
Lock Type: Back Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Micarta & Stainless Weight: 5.8oz/165g
Available? Now MSRP: $200
Ed Schempp has a unique new folder out, and while not necessarily appearing to be the most practical, it's pretty cool nevertheless and will likely be quite functional for normal slicing chores. The Ed Schempp Kris is the latest addition to Spyderco's Ethnic Knife Series. The 3.75-inch long VG-10 stainless blade is in the tradtional Kris wavy pattern, which is definitely not the sort of blade one expects to unfold from a folder. On the other hand, it really just takes the recurve blade concept and adds another curve and were it not for the wavy spine, it probably wouldn't garner a whole lot of second looks. While not double edged, for obvious safety reasons, there is a deep false edge that runs from mid-blade to the spine, creating the illusion. The machined black linen Micarta handles combine with stainless bolsters and a very wavy handle shape to create a unique look that's quite ergonomic. It has a deep finger guard and a bit of a bird's beak butt.

Lock-up is via a back lock with a Boye detent and there's the usual Spiderco round opening hole. A lanyard hole is provided and the right-hand tip up curved removable pocket clip has a gold Spyderco logo on it, as does the blade. MSRP is $200.

Spyderco Volpe
Manufacturer: Spyderco (Fox) Model: Volpe
Blade Steel: N690Co Hardness Rc: 57-60
Blade Shape: Modilfed Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.44"/87mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3mm
Length Closed: 4"/102mm Length Open: 7.44"/189mm
Lock Type: Frame Lock Frame Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Stainless & Wood Weight: 3.9oz/119g
Available? Now MSRP: $170
Spyderco collaborated with Fox Cutlery of Italy to create the Volpe, their first knife made in Italy.  Volpe is "fox" in Italian.  The design is by Gabriele Frati and Gianni Pauletta (G&G Design).  This polished stainless frame lock folder has a pair of blonde olivewood overlays on the front frame and a Spyderco bug lasered out of the frame on the back side.  The blade is a modified drop point with a plain edge having only a slight belly.  The 3.437-inch blade is N690 stainless and has a large indent on the spine forward of the hole opener designed to provide purchase for your index finger.

The handle includes an effective finger guard and a squared off butt with a lanyard hole. The tip down clip is removable, but not reversible. MSRP is $170.


Byrd Raven and Crow
Manufacturer: Byrd (Spyderco) Model: Raven / Crow
Blade Steel: 8Cr13Mov Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.5/2.813" / 89/71mm Blade Thickness: NA
Length Closed: 4.375/3.875"
Length Open: 7.875/6.625"
Lock Type: Liner Liner Material: Stainless
Handle Material: Cast Aluminum Weight: 4.3/3.5oz / 122/100g
Available? 3rd Quarter 2006 MSRP: $30/$28
Spyderco expanded their Chinese-made Byrd line introduced last year with additional variations on the existing models and a few new models.  Both the Cara Cara and Meadowlark are now available in black electroplated stainless.  For those who don't like the weight or feel of stainless, both are also now available with G-10 composite handles and stainless liners, a big improvement in our opinion. MSRP is $36 and $34, respectively, and anticipated availability is 3rd quarter 2006.

Entirely new this year is a pair of black coated aluminum handled liner locks. The cast aluminum has a stylized feather pattern for grip and there's also jimping on the opener bump. Blade steel is the same 8Cr13Mov used in the rest of the Byrd line. The Raven has a 3.5-inch blade, the Crow's is 2.813 inches, both available with either plain or combo edge and both coated with black titanium carbonitride. The blade shape is quite practical, though the long swedge on the spine does compromise tip strength a bit.

There's plenty of relief for the liner lock that serves as a finger guard. A large choil makes it easy to choke up on the blade, but does shorten the useable edge quite a bit. The pivot screw is adjustable and the clip is reversible.  A lanyard hole is provided. MSRP is $30 and $28 respectively.

Byrd Robin and FinchDown sizing, Byrd also introduced a pair of smaller stainless handled lock back knives, the Robin and Finch with 2.5-inch and 1.875 inch drop point blades, respectively.  The Finch is only 2.5 inches overall length closed and 1.2 ounces and comes with a ball chain threaded through its lanyard hole, suggesting use on a keychain or for attached to zipper pulls, etc.  MSRP is $30 and $22, respectively.

Byrd StarlingIronically, after years of dealing with cheap Ladybug knock-offs from China, Spyderco has gone and created their own Byrd version, the Starling. The black fiberglass reinforced nylon handle has the feather pattern from the Raven/Crow line, and a handle shape reminiscent of the other diminutive Spyderco, the Jester. The blade is black coated and available either plain or serrated.  Blade length is "just under two-inches" and it's a slim drop point similar to the Ladybug, but with a swedge and less angle to the spine as it drops down to the point.  The lock back has a Boye detent and there is jimping along the top of the handle and up the opener hole bump. A ball chain is attached through the lanyard hole.  MSRP is $15, half the MSRP of the Ladybug.

Byrd FireByrdUnder the heading of "just too weird" is the Firebyrd.  This is a cast aluminum body that is sized to hold a standard Bic lighter, includes a bottle cap lifter and there's also a small non-locking one-hand opening sheepsfoot blade.  I suppose there are still plenty of smokers out there who may find this combination appealing, but without a locking blade, any utility is lost on me.   MSRP is $180 for a 12-unit Point of Purchase display.

Another oddball from Byrd doesn't even have a knife blade. The Tool Harp is a modern rendition of a tool that's been around for at least a hundred years. I suppose you could call it one of the first multi-tools. There are eight separate tools, each of which rotate out individually from a common pivot rod at the bottom of the harp's handle loop. There's no lock, just a fairly deep recess in one side of each tool at the base that snaps onto the round base of the tool next to it. The handle loop provides the spring.  Included are:  ¼ in. slotted-head and #2 Phillips-head screwdrivers, punch/awl (unsharpened, so more punch than awl in the traditional multi-tool sense), gimlet (a hand drill of sorts), saw, corkscrew, file and small/large-head hammer that also includes a bottle cap lifter. The Tool Harp folds flat for storage and a leather pouch is included.

Byrd Tool HarpWe were pretty unimpressed with our sample.  The gimlet was virtually useless, we tried it on various pieces of softwood wood and live trees and didn't find a one that it would successfully drill into. The flat "handle" is also awkward to drill with.  The saw is rudimentary with no offset teeth and the working portion is only 1.5 inches long.  It was only just barely functional.  It reminded us why virtually everyone these days apes the very efficient and effective Swiss Army Knife style double offset fully ground saws.  The lack of a lock meant the handle continually folded over as we tried to get the saw to do more by applying more pressure.  The file was pretty sorry in terms of quality, though it did work moderately well.  The corkscrew was easy enough to screw in, though again a bit awkward due to the handle, but it was difficult to grasp the tool to pull out the cork.  The hammer worked well, we have to admit, as did the screwdrivers.

Maybe a hundred years ago this represented the best that many might hope for, but with today's selection of truly practical multi-purpose tools and Swiss Army Knives, it is really just a curiosity and not particularly functional or practical. MSRP is $30.


SureFire Delta
Manufacturer: SureFire Model: Delta
Blade Steel: S30V Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3.25"/83mm Blade Thickness: 0.116"/2.9mm
Length Closed: 4.5"/114mm Length Open: 7.75"/197mm
Lock Type: Frame Frame Material: Titanium
Handle Material: Titanium Weight: 3.8-4oz/107-113g
Available? 2nd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $425 / NA
Includes soft wire cutter, seat belt cutter, slot wrench and screwdriver
Up until now, SureFire's Steve Ryan-designed knives have been a bit on the wild side and primarily aimed at the self-defense market. The latest two new knives are much more practical utility knives designed with law enforcement officers in mind and aiming to address some specific needs.

The Delta is a titanium frame lock with a drop point blade of S30V stainless. The blade has a steep thumb ramp with deep grooves and toped with a thumb disk for opening. There's also a teardrop hole in the blade for opening as well, pick your poison. There's a large flat screwdriver blade ground into the tang that forms a deep integral finger guard when opened, and could also be used as a flipper for opening as well I suppose. This screwdriver is intended for use in removing license plates, a common enough LE task. The combination of thumb ramp and deep finger guard result in a very secure grasp for the user.

The tang of the blade also has a wire cutter slot that lines of with a slot in the fore end of the frame and designed to cut copper and aluminum wire. Open the blade slightly, slip a wire into the slot and squeeze the blade closed to cut. On the spine of the handle is a recessed safety seat belt/webbing cutter with a replaceable blade. It is designed so that in difficult to see circumstances, just running the back of the handle over the belt should catch the cutter and slice open the belt.

The large wedge-shaped slots in the frame are intended for use as a wrench. The "teeth" are designed to bite into the nut or bolt head for better purchase. It has been tested with nut sizes 1/4-inch to #2 machine. There is a lanyard hole and the deep carry tip up wire pocket clip is reversible. The entire knife is glass and silicone carbide abrasive blasted. MSRP has not yet been established.

SureFire LEO
Manufacturer: SureFire Model: LEO
Blade Steel: S30V Hardness Rc: NA
Blade Shape: Upswept Tanto Edge: Plain or Combo
Blade Length: 3.38"/86mm Blade Thickness: 0.125"/3.2mm
Length Closed: 5.25"/133mm Length Open: 8.625"/219mm
Lock Type: Frame Frame Material: Titanium
Handle Material: Titanium Weight: NA
Available? 2nd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $425
Includes FLEX-CUFF cutter and screwdriver
Ryan's LEO appears to be a fairly conventional titanium frame lock folder at first glance, but it's got a secret, or two. First the basics (and bear in mind we were shown a prototype finished in a matter of days just in time for the show, so some details may well change). The S30V stainless blade is a hybrid shape, combining a upswept edge with a tanto style point. It is available both plain edge and partially serrated. Opening is either by an oval slot in the blade or using the integral finger guard as a flipper. There's a fairly steep thumb ramp, but at least on the first prototype we were shown, this had no ridges or grooves. The tang incorporates a large flat screwdriver blade that sticks straight out the fore-end of the handle, again for removing license plates. Not on the prototype, but planned for production, "a back-up safety secures the blade in the open position to increase the security of the lock mechanism.#3&4; As described to us, the safety is a manually operated lever that slides in front of the thumb stud when the blade in the open position. This additional lock works independently of the liner lock and can be activated and deactivated with one hand.

One common law enforcement task is removing Flex-Cuff, EZ-Cuff, Tuff-Cuff, etc., zip tie style handcuffs. These are made of tough nylon material and require a fairly heavy set of dykes or a very sharp knife with lots of leverage, the use of which often results in injury, which in turn often results in lawsuits and adverse publicity. Specialized tools to cut the flexible handcuffs aren't particularly convenient to carry, any separate single use tool is a bit of a bother, at best. The seat belt cutters in knives and rescue tools won't work.

SureFire LEO Cuff CutterThe LEO incorporates a FLEXCUFF CUTTER designed to safely remove such cuffs. The slot in the end of the handle is not for a seat belt cutter, but for this handcuff cutter. There is a handle recessed into the back of the handle which has what is essentially a nail nick to pull it out. slip the slot over the nylon tie and squeeze the handle and that's it. You do have to give it a sharp and abrupt squeeze, the material is too flexible for it to work with a less abrupt squeeze. In our tests it worked great and easily slipped between even very tightly secured cuffs and the skin without injury. Note that the cutter is not designed to cut wire reinforced material.

There was no lanyard hole in the prototype, but one is planned and the clip will be reversible. The entire knife is glass and silicone carbide abrasive blasted. MSRP is ????????


TOPS introduced their usual slew of new knives, a number of which were interesting or practical utility or survival blades.

Tops Hoffmann Harpoon
Manufacturer: TOPS Model: Hoffman Harpoon
Blade Steel: 1095 Hardness Rc: 58
Blade Shape: Wharncliff Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 2.5"/63mm Blade Thickness: 0.187"/4.7mm
Overall Length: 8"/203mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: Steel Weight: 2.4oz/68g1
Available? 2nd Qtr 2006 MSRP: $80 range
1 With paracord handle wrap
Terril Hoffman, best known as a knife and firearms photographer, as well as for his gun and knife articles, designed the Hoffman Harpoon on a whim, but it ended up being turned into reality because so many thought it was a great idea. The blade ship is essentially a Wharncliff with a 2.5-inch straight edge of 1095 high carbon steel.  A full 3/16-inch thick at the spine ensures it is robust enough to stand up to even significant abuse.  The entire knife is black powder coated. The integral handle extends up at about a 20 degree angle from the blade and is plenty long enough for even the largest hand.  The tang is wrapped with black parachute cord, but this is easily removed if desired.  A deep integral half guard gives a safe and secure grip.  Deep scallops on the spine of the blade provide good thumb purchase.  Together, these allow you to naturally grasp the blade for finer work or use your index finger to guide the edge carefully while gutting and filleting fish, for example.   Sheath design is still in development, Terrill says, "it will be made to hold an additional item or two of gear such as a sharpener."

It's not named the Harpoon for nothing, and with the para-cord wrapping removed the long narrow handle and lanyard hole should allow you to very securely attach it to a branch to create an improvised harpoon for fishing or gigging frogs. The curved shape of the guard ensures that anything you pierce with the harpoon will likely not wriggle off.  Terrill noted that it's meant to complement a larger fixed blade and that a lanyard should be attached to the lanyard hole and this should run back along the sapling used as a haft to the users hand during "harpooning" to prevent blade loss.  Given the design point for the knife, it looks like he hit that target in the bulls eye.   MSRP is anticipated to be in the $80 range.

Tops Desert Son and Little Bro
Manufacturer: TOPS Model: Desert Son / Little Bro
Blade Steel: 1095 Hardness Rc: 58
Blade Shape: Recurve / Drop Point Edge: Plain
Blade Length: 3"/76mm Blade Thickness: 0.187"/4.7mm
Overall Length: 6.625"/168mm / 6.875"/177mm Tang: Full
Handle Material: Linen Micarta Weight: oz/g1
Available? Now MSRP: $
A pair of new 3-inch blades offer two very different approaches to a small fixed utility blade using the same materials, 1095 high carbon steel and linen Micarta for handles. The Desert Son has a broad recurved blade, very robust with plenty of slicing capability, and the deep integral guard and ergonomic  handle provide a very secure grip. The Little Bro has a finer drop point style blade with a less aggressive handle design and only a slim recess with some deep grooves in the tang and Micarta handle to serve as a guard. Same length blades, both a full 3/16-inch thick, but they represent very different philosophies for design and likely very different end users.  Neither has lanyard holes, unfortunately.  

Tops Mini TrackerTOPS' version of the Tom Brown Tracker had a baby, 20% smaller than the original.  It retains all the same Tracker features, just in a more compact package.  How that translates into real world performance we'll have to wait and see.  Overall length is 9.5 inches with a 5-inch blade of 3/16-inch 1095 high carbon steel.  No price had been set, but TOPS' Mike Fuller suggested it would be in the $250 range.


s.beatThe sad news from Victorinox is that the only new knife they had was a lot more of an MP3 player than it is a knife. The SwissMemory s.beat MP3 essentially grafts a compact 1GB MP3 player into a Classic, or you can get the Flight version without any blade or implements to keep the dimbulbs at the Terminally Stupid Administration at bay. If you're into MP3 players and SAKs, you may want to check it out. I suppose that if you're going to be Equipped To Survive, it's better to have an MP3 player with a blade than without.  Expect to pay a bit over $200.

The Swisstool Spirit Plus Ratchet now comes with an extension instead of the corkscrew of the original, which is more practical and much more useful from our perspective.


Wenger Evo Locking Blade SAKsDespite an excellent reputation, traditional size Swiss Army Knives have had a particularly insidious failing for many years, lack of a locking blade.  Wenger has produced locking blade versions for quite some time, but try and find one in the U.S.; it's been almost impossible.  That has now changed and we can only hope they prove popular enough with customers that they remain available.  Wenger introduced six new locking blade Swiss Army Knives, all built with the new ergonomic Evo handles.  The new handles introduced last year have proven to be winners, which is a good thing as they are definitely an improvement. Nice to see that customers are responding to that, or at least to the more contemporary styling.

The new locking blade Wengers cover the range from relatively basic to gadget-filled, but still reasonably practical for pocket carry.  All the locking blade version models start with an "S" to differentiate them from non-lock blade versions.  The Evo S10 ($32) is equivalent to the classic Canyon, except for a corkscrew replacing the Phillips driver; the Evo S13 ($40) has the same implements and blades as the classic Alpine Backpacker.  The Evo S14 ($49) mirrors the Evo 16 and the older Highlander, except, again for the corkscrew; the Evo S17 ($51) is a Evo 18 or older Handyman, with the corkscrew substitution; the Evo S52 ($61) apes the classic Master, with that corkscrew again; and the Evo S557 ($65) is unique, adding a universal wrench and a Phillips driver to the Evo S52.  (Click for images of all six Evo locking blade knives).

Nobody is ever going to describe the lock mechanism on these knives as sophisticated.  It is essentially a lock back mechanism with a lever release that forces the locking bar up to release the locking tab. Moreover, it is in about the worst possible location, sticking out on the bottom forward part of the handle where it might easily be inadvertently released if you were gripping it tightly. Either grip on the sides or try to grip it behind the lock release. The best that can be said for it is that it is much better than no lock at all and combined with the superior ergonomics of the Evo handles, which may keep your grip away from the lock in many circumstances, that's a worthwhile advantage. 

New Evo 81 colorsOne thing we do like about this locking blade design is that Wenger has recognized that there is some risk involved with a lock that requires you to place a finger in the closing arc of the blade to unlock it.  There's a strong detent at 115 degrees, or at 65 degrees measuring more conventionally on the closing arc, so you can move your finger out of the way before fully closing the blade.  That's a feature we'd love to see more lockback manufacturers adopt.  This also means that you can safely close the blade one-handed.

Wenger also added a few colors to the Evo 81 (the Evo equivalent to the classic Esquire), Blue, Black and Fire (translucent) Red ($22).

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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
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First Published: February 28, 2006
Revision: 01 March 2, 2006
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