Knife Review: Morakniv Kansbol with Multi-Mount

Released along with Morakniv’s Garberg and Eldris models, this knife is actually an update of their classic and very popular ‘2000’ Hunting knife. Headlined as Morakniv’s “Primary All Round Knife” – meet Kansbol.

 photo 00 Kansbol Forest P1060917.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 16 Kansbol grind P1250033.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.
 photo 17 Kansbol angle P1250040.jpg

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 15 Kansbol balance P1250032.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo Kansbol parameters.jpg

The blade is made from 2.5mm Swedish stainless steel 12C27.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

This is an interview by Tactical Reviews with ‘Head of Production’ at Morakniv, Thomas Eriksson, from IWA 2017.
The discussion includes how the factory edge is created, maintained and also includes micro-bevels and zero-grinds. It is 16 minutes long, so you might want to come back to this after reading the rest of the review.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 15 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL and/or Takstar SGC-598

A few more details:

As with the recently reviewed Garberg the Kansbol has a standard , and Multi-Mount version. As before, the standard version shows the knife on the front of the box, and the Mulit-Mount version, the knife in its sheath and mount.
 photo 01 Kansbol boxed P1240609.jpg

Starting with the standard version, out of the box, the belt loop is not locked into place.
 photo 02 Kansbol unboxed P1240612.jpg

You can see the proudly displayed ‘1891’ (the date when it all started for Morakniv).
 photo 03 Kansbol 1891 P1240613.jpg

The belt loop can easily be removed if you would like to use the click-lock sheath on its own. (Click-lock is a system where lugs in the sheath click into corresponding depressions in the middle of the handle to securely hold the knife in the sheath, even when worn round the neck.)
 photo 04 Kansbol belt loop P1240617.jpg

For normal belt mounting, just push the belt loop all the way to the top until it clicks into place. Once fitted to your belt, you can pop the sheath out of the belt-loop ring leaving the belt loop on your belt so you can stow the knife elsewhere.
 photo 05 Kansbol belt loop on P1240620.jpg

Immediately distinctive, even within the Morakniv range, the dual-grind all-round blade of the Kansbol.
 photo 06 Kansbol blade P1240637.jpg

The spine has been ground to have sharp corners for striking sparks from ferrocerium rods.
 photo 07 Kansbol blade spine P1240638.jpg

With its Scandi-grind, thanks to the additional profiling that thins the front section of blade, it gives the blade a very different appearance to the standard Scandi-grind blade we are used to.
 photo 08 Kansbol blade P1240641.jpg

Much like the Garberg, the Kansbol has the symmetrical handle that allows for forward or reverse grips, but the Kansbol also has a TPE (a rubbery polymer) coating over the polypropylene handle core.
 photo 09 Kansbol butt P1240642.jpg

Next up is the Multi-Mount version. In the box, all the components are slotted together.
 photo 10 Kansbol MM out of box P1240652.jpg

Included are the plastic holster, a belt loop, a locking strap, three hook and loop straps and the multi-mount itself.
 photo 11 Kansbol MM parts P1240657.jpg

The simplest configuration you can use the Multi-Mount, is to have the bare sheath held in the mount with a hook and loop strap. The click-lock of the sheath keeps the knife in place.
 photo 12 Kansbol MM basic P1240769.jpg

For total security, the locking strap can be added.
 photo 13 Kansbol MM locking P1240775.jpg

Turning the Multi-Mount over, you can see how the locking strap is fed through the mount and will keep everything in place even if the hook and loop strap failed.
 photo 14 Kansbol MM locking under P1240778.jpg

What it is like to use?

Morakniv are extremely good at making comfortable knives, and though the Kansbol’s handle is not shaped in the way the Companion and Bushcraft models are, you can work with it for hours on end. The handle is a size that will work well for almost anyone (I take XL size gloves), and in line with many of the other Morakniv knives, the blade length is easy to wield for all those every day tasks.
 photo 10 Kansbol in hand P1240645.jpg

As you would expect, the Scandi-grind of the Kansbol takes all things wood related in its stride. What is not shown here is the fact that the additional profiling of the forward section of the blade makes it well suited to many tasks a standard Scandi-grind blade is not. This includes food preparation, and game preparation where the slimmer blade cuts deeply much more easily.
 photo 18 Kansbol whittle P1250215.jpg

Before jumping to the Multi-Mount, something to mention about the belt loop, is that thanks to its click-fit to the sheath, you can easily remove the sheath from the loop, and stow the knife in you pack, leaving just the loop on your belt.
In the Garberg review, I showed the Multi-Mount fitted to the back of the rear seats of my car. As the Multi-Mount is so versatile and opens up so many options, there are far too many to show, but to illustrate just one, in this case I’ve used the hook and loop straps to fit it to a walking stick.
 photo 19 Kansbol MM stick P1260339.jpg

I’ve been appreciating how useful it is to have the knife to hand like this, but in the UK this is really only suitable in more rural areas where the sight of a working tool does not cause distress to anyone.
 photo 20 Kansbol MM stick P1260344.jpg

Although the Kansbol will work hard, I’d not choose to be batoning with it too much. Given its proper place as a general purpose knife, it does this job fantastically well. Hopefully by re-launching this knife blade (from the ‘2000’ model), Morakniv will bring the benefits of the profiled blade more into the limelight.
 photo 00 Kansbol shelter P1060926v6.jpg

Tactical Reviews – Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Additional blade profiling makes this an excellent all-rounder. Considering the high value for money of this knife, adding anything in this column would be simply for the sake of it. In true terms there really isn’t anything to knock this down on.
Tough and lightweight.
Flexible mounting options.
Ambidextrous.
Comfortable for extended use.

 photo 00 Kansbol Forest P1060926v3.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Knife Review: Morakniv Garberg with Leather Sheath and Multi-Mount

Morakniv have released their first (long awaited) full tang knife, the Garberg. Dedicated Morakniv users have been asking for a full tang knife, as they want a hard-use version of the much loved Companion.

 photo 29 Garberg comparing P1240819.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 32 Garberg grind P1250050.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.
 photo 31 Garberg angle P1250046.jpg

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 30 Garberg balance P1250042.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo Garberg parameters.jpg

The blade is made from Swedish Stainless Steel (14C28N) steel.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

This is an interview with ‘Head of Production’ at Morakniv, Thomas Eriksson, from IWA 2017.
The discussion includes how the factory edge is created, maintained and also includes micro-bevels and zero-grinds. It is 16 minutes long, so you might want to come back to this after reading the rest of the review.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 15 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL and/or Takstar SGC-598

A few more details:

Morakniv did not stop at just making the Garberg full-tang. There are two versions of the Garberg available; one with a full flap leather sheath, and the other with Morakniv’s Mulit-Mount sheath system. The first to arrive at Tactical Reviews was the leather sheath.
The image on the front of the box for the leather sheath version just shows the knife. The Multi-Mount’s box shows the sheathed knife.
 photo 01 Garberg boxed P1220689.jpg

Straight out of the box the knife is hidden by the premium quality leather flap sheath. It is obvious straight away this is a very good quality sheath.
 photo 02 Garberg unboxed P1220692.jpg

A close-up look at the press stud shows the attention to detail with the Morakniv logo embossed around the edges.
 photo 03 Garberg press-stud P1220695.jpg

The stitching uses a heavy duty 1mm thread, cleanly punched though the 3mm leather and the welt.
 photo 04 Garberg stitching P1220698.jpg

On the back, the belt loop is made of the same thick leather as the rest of the sheath.
 photo 06 Garberg belt loop P1220706.jpg

The top of the belt loop is fixed with two rivets, and the bottom with a single rivet.
 photo 07 Garberg sheath back P1220709.jpg

Lifting the flap shows that the main sheath is a deep/full sheath.
 photo 08 Garberg sheath open P1220711.jpg

At the top of the sheath opening, the stitching is complemented with a rivet to prevent the stitching at the top from being cut and unravelling the sheath.
 photo 09 Garberg sheath open P1220715.jpg

And here we are, the Garberg.
 photo 10 Garberg knife P1220718.jpg

Moving in close to the tip you can see the Scandi-grind and the polished cutting edge’s micro-bevel (see the video with Thomas Eriksson, from IWA 2017).
 photo 11 Garberg tip P1220722.jpg

Unlike most of the Morakniv knives, the Garberg has a ricasso, and a nicely radiused Scandi-plunge-line.
 photo 12 Garberg plunge P1220726.jpg

With the Garberg being intended as a hard-use knife, the handle material is not just any plastic, it is a specially chosen extra-rugged Polyamide.
 photo 13 Garberg handle P1220728.jpg

The full tang is exposed at the butt allowing for maximum strength and hammering without damaging the handle.
 photo 14 Garberg butt P1220733.jpg

To make it ideal for use with ferrocerium rods, the spine has been ground to have sharp corners. The logo is laser engraved onto one of the blade flats.
 photo 15 Garberg spine1 P1220737.jpg

This sharp edged spine extends the entire length to the tip.
 photo 16 Garberg spine2 P1220741.jpg

Not long after, the multi-mount version arrived. Note the picture on the box shows the knife sheathed in the multi-mount instead of the knife on its own.
 photo 20 Garberg multi P1240783.jpg

This time there are many more parts in the box. Included are the plastic holster, a basic belt loop, a locking strap, three hook and loop straps and the multi-mount itself.
 photo 21 Garberg multi contents P1240786.jpg

Taking the most basic components, the knife and plastic sheath.
 photo 23 Garberg multi sheath P1240796.jpg

Your first mounting option is the belt loop. This loop is fixed to a plastic ring that slides up the sheath and clicks into place.
 photo 24 Garberg multi loop P1240799.jpg

Next up is the locking-strap used to ensure the Garberg can’t come out of the sheath whatever angle it is mounted. This strap can be used with the multi-mount for the highest security (but not with the belt loop).
 photo 25 Garberg multi flap P1240802.jpg

The locking strap is made of leather for maximum performance and durability.
 photo 26 Garberg multi flap back P1240805.jpg

The multi-mount has many holes and slots to give you a great many fixing options, from screw holes to MOLLE/PALS.
 photo 22 Garberg multi base P1240791.jpg

A hook and loop strap is used to hold the sheath in the multi-mount. The locking strap also threads through part of the multi-mount so will keep the sheath securely in the multi-mount even if the hook and loop strap fails. You can also use cable ties in place of the hook and loop straps for a more permanent fixing.
 photo 27 Garberg in mount P1240808.jpg

What it is like to use?

To start to understand where the Garberg fits in, in terms of how it feels to use, let’s start by looking at in alongside the Companion and Bushcraft Black.
 photo 17 Garberg compared P1220761.jpg

Immediately obvious is the Garberg’s symmetrical handle. This is not an accident, the Garberg’s handle has been specifically designed to allow it to be held in a forward or reverse grip for greater versatility. Overall it is no bigger than the Bushcraft model, but does feel much more solid. The extra weight of the full tang gives the knife a very different feel, even though the blade stock is the same at 3.2mm.
The line of the spine is very similar to the Bushcraft, but the blade of the Garberg has more belly which adds a little more forward weight and reduces the tip angle. We’ll get onto more of it ‘in use’ a little later.
 photo 18 Garberg compared2 P1220765.jpg

Just looking at the two versions of the Garberg, how do you choose between them?
 photo 28 Garberg comparing P1240812.jpg

Clearly the knives are identical, so it all comes down to the way you want to carry it. For belt carry it has to be the leather sheath every time. This is a hard wearing and comfortable sheath and simply won’t let you down. Traditional materials that have proven themselves ideal for the task have been used, and Morakniv have not scrimped on this, using only premium 3mm thick leather.
The multi-mount covers just about any other carry option and even has a belt loop suitable for occasional use.
 photo 29 Garberg comparing P1240816.jpg

Following the huge success of the Companion and other Morakniv knives, the Garberg is an ideal all-round size. A comfortable size and weight which is up to as much work as you would ever really want to put a knife to. Any more blade length starts to bring you into chopping territory and reduced agility for finer tasks, any less and you start to lose wood processing ability.
 photo 19 Garberg in hand P1220770.jpg

Out into its natural habitat.
 photo 33 Garberg outdoor P1250152.jpg

Batoning can be carried out with no concerns at all thanks to the full tang. The sharp edged blade spine gives good grip on the baton, but it does mean the baton gets chewed up faster. The only reason this strike did not go all the way through in one hit, is that I didn’t want to cut into the limb I was resting it on.
 photo 34 Garberg baton P1250202.jpg

You would barely notice that I had been batoning away with this for nearly an hour, apart from a slight smear of sap there is not a mark on it.
 photo 35 Garberg cut P1250211.jpg

Possible mounting locations for the Multi-Mount are so numerous, I’ll just leave you to think of a few yourself, but here is where the Multi-Mount Garberg is currently residing.
In this photo I’ve pushed the rear seats of my car forward slightly to make it easier to photograph. Amongst a few other bits of kit the Multi-Mount is held onto the seat back with the hook part of the large hook and loop straps. Make sure you leave room to lift the knife out of the sheath.
 photo 37 Garberg car P1250356.jpg

In this instance mounting it horizontally resulted in the mount gradually working its way downward due to bumps in the road slowly splitting the hook fastner away from the seat back. Mounted vertically this doesn’t happen. The main downside I see to the Multi-Mount is that it is mainly suited to permanent or semi-permanent mounting and may be slow to move to another location or bag.
 photo 38 Garberg car P1250360.jpg

Throughout the heavy workout I gave the Garberg, there was no evidence of edge chipping or rolling, so it looks like Morakniv have got the hardness and toughness just right. I’m happy to give this a hard time, much more so than the half tang models.
 photo 40 Garberg shelter P1060923.jpg

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Knife – Full tang making this the most robust Morakniv knife. Knife – Thick blade less suited to fine work and food preparation.
Knife – 3.2mm blade stock gives very high strength.
Knife – Scandi grind well suited to wood processing.
Knife – Symmetrical handle allows for a variety of grip options.
Leather sheath – High quality construction. Leather sheath – Flap can slow down re-sheathing.
Leather sheath – Hard wearing 3mm leather used throughout.
Multi-Mount – Incredibly versatile mounting solution. Multi-Mount – Mainly suited to permanent mounting and can be slow to relocate.
Multi-Mount – The system also includes a standard belt hanger.

 photo 39 Garberg forest P1060909.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Knife Review: Ontario Knife Company – Black Bird SK-4

When Paul Scheiter was asked about the name of the Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5, he joked that it was in the hope OKC would consider making different versions. Well here is the second Black Bird, the SK-4, a more compact version of Paul’s original design; is it only the first of many?

 photo 05 OKC SK-4 SK-5 P1230061.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 28 OKC SK-4 grind P1250055.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo SK-4 paramentersV2.jpg

The blade is made from 154CM steel.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

The design principles of the SK-4 are generally the same as they were for the larger SK-5, so I shall refer readers to the SK-5 review for further information:
Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5 Review

A few more details:

The Black Bird SK-4 arrives in a cardboard box with lift off lid.
 photo 01 OKC SK-4 Boxed P1230041.jpg

The knife and sheath are packed separately, with the knife wrapped in a plastic bag.
 photo 02 OKC SK-4 Box open P1230046.jpg

There is a thin cardboard sheath over the blade.
 photo 03 OKC SK-4 Box contents P1230049.jpg

With all packaging removed we get to see the SK-4 and its sheath.
 photo 04 OKC SK-4 P1230053.jpg

Bare-bones simplicity, the SK-4’s blade is a shorter version of the SK-5 blade.
 photo 06 OKC SK-4 blade P1230066.jpg

While we are looking at the blade, this is a close-up of the blade tip with factory edge.
 photo 07 OKC SK-4 blade tip P1230068.jpg

Though the design is simply, I’m glad to see it does have a choil.
 photo 08 OKC SK-4 choil P1230072.jpg

The G10 handle slabs are secured with three hex bolts.
 photo 09 OKC SK-4 bolts P1230076.jpg

A nicely formed lanyard hole is included.
 photo 10 OKC SK-4 lanyard P1230080.jpg

Incorporated into the beautifully simple design is a sharp edged spine for striking sparks from ferro-rods.
 photo 11 OKC SK-4 spine P1230087.jpg

A guard stands just proud of the handle to help protect your fingers from slipping forwards.
 photo 12 OKC SK-4 standing P1230090.jpg

That sharp spark-striking edge runs the entire length of the spine.
 photo 13 OKC SK-4 spine edge P1230094.jpg

In keeping with the design principles, the handle lines are very simple, but importantly all edges are nicely rounded.
 photo 14 OKC SK-4 handle P1230095.jpg

Taking a closer look at the rounding of the G10 handles.
 photo 17 OKC SK-4 handle finish P1230102.jpg

Just like the SK-4 is a reduced version of the SK-5, so is its sheath.
 photo 18 OKC SK-4 sheath P1230106.jpg

For the retaining strap, a single-direction press-stud is used, meaning it can only be opened by pulling in one direction.
 photo 19 OKC SK-4 sheath press stud P1230103.jpg

On the back is a PALS/MOLLE mounting system which can also be used for fitting to large belts.
 photo 20 OKC SK-4 sheath PALS P1230110.jpg

Effectively you have the choice of two different belt loops as you can use the PALS/MOLLE mount strap as well.
 photo 21 OKC SK-4 sheath PALS woven P1230113.jpg

It is possible to adjust the retaining strap (this turns out to be crucial) to get the fit just right.
 photo 22 OKC SK-4 sheath retainer adjustment P1230116.jpg

Inside, the sheath has a felt lining for the blade.
 photo 23 OKC SK-4 sheath felt P1230120.jpg

The sheath also incorporates a drainage hole.
 photo 25 OKC SK-4 sheath drainage P1230130.jpg

The SK-4 in its sheath.
 photo 24 OKC SK-4 sheathed P1230127.jpg

What it is like to use?

I have been looking forward to this since I heard the SK-4 was being made. For the sharp eyed amongst you, you may have noticed the blade has no markings on it at all, as this is a pre-production sample (but is exactly as the production version will be), so I’ve had it a little while to give it plenty of use.

The SK-5 has turned out to be one of my favourite trail knives. It is my go-to when it comes to grabbing a medium fixed blade, but not any longer. Now I might equally go for the SK-4.
The 1″ shorter blade and 1″ shorter handle gives you a saving of 2″. Doesn’t sound that much, but the effect is significant.
 photo 26 OKC SK-4 SK-5 sheathed P1230132.jpg

Where I couldn’t just throw the SK-5 into a pocket, the SK-4 is small enough to fit fully inside most coat pockets, making the choice between taking a folder or a fixed blade easier. Despite the smaller dimensions the SK-4 is a very capable knife, much more so than almost any folder. (For heavier work, I’d still go with the SK-5.)
 photo 27 OKC SK-4 SK-5 unsheathed P1230135.jpg

If you are used to large knives, the SK-4 can initially seem a bit too small for anything other than light tasks.
 photo 15 OKC SK-4 in hand P1230097.jpg

Take up a power grip on the SK-4 and you realise you can apply a lot of force into the cuts. Though the handle doesn’t protrude from your fist, the rounded butt of the handle allows it to press into you hand very comfortably and not give you any hotspots while you work with it. The amount of blade available is plenty, even for pretty heavy work, so all you lose with the shorter blade is the ability to chop, and a limitation on the size of wood you can split by batoning.
 photo 16 OKC SK-4 in hand P1230099.jpg

The only issue I have identified with the SK-4 is actually with the sheath. Due to the shaping of the handle, the position of the retaining strap falls onto the wide part of the handle. It means that even when adjusted to a tight fit, the knife can easily still be pulled part-way out exposing nearly an inch of cutting edge. If the strap is not really tight, you can pull the knife out completely without opening the strap. Unfortunately the press-stud also marks the handle. As delivered from OKC, I was able to pull the knife out of the sheath without releasing the retaining strap, so please ensure you check yours and adjust it to be as tight as you can (then check you can’t pull the knife out all the way).

Factory edges – instead of opening that can of worms, let’s just say that whatever the quality of the original factory edge, you will need to re-sharpen your knife (unless you are very wealthy).
So the SK-4 was set for a Wicked Edge. Starting off with the Advanced Alignment Guide to get the blade set up for consistent future sharpening, this first time needed a reprofile to bring the edge angle back to 40 degrees inclusive angle
 photo 31 OKC SK-4 wicked edge P1250143.jpg

Freshly re-edged, the eager Wicked Edge is ready to bite!
 photo 33 OKC SK-4 wicked edge P1250548.jpg

The combination of a great edge and the SK-4’s geometry had it breezing through smaller branches leaving very clean cuts.
 photo 29 OKC SK-4 clean cut P1250161.jpg

On this particular day I found myself with a rapidly approaching sunset as I’d lost track of time while working with the SK-4. It wasn’t fatigue that stopped me, just the failing light.
 photo 30 OKC SK-4 sunset P1250167.jpg

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Compact and capable fixed blade. Sheath retaining strap not ideally placed, and marks the handle.
Edge geometry makes this a great slicer. Handle can feel a bit blocky.
Well rounded handle avoids hot-spots. 154CM can be hard work to sharpen.
Spine is great for striking sparks from ferro-rods.
Minimalist yet functional design.

Useful Links:

The Ontario Knife Company.
BA Blades – The UK’s official importer of OKC products.

 photo 00 OKC SK-4 feature P1230062.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Knife Showcase: Spyderco Euro Edge (Ed Schempp design)

The Spyderco Euro Edge is one of Ed Schempp’s more recent designs and considered by many to be the best looking knife in Spyderco’s 2017 line up. Fortunately I was able to speak to Joyce Laituri about this knife when I visited Spyderco at IWA 2017.

‘Showcase’ on Tactical Reviews:

The ‘Showcase’ is an opportunity for me to share some photographs, videos and thoughts about interesting or exceptional knives, lights or other gear.

The following video is from a longer informal interview with Joyce of Spyderco recorded at IWA 2017 – it was not originally intended for publication.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 15 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL and/or Takstar SGC-598

Gallery:

This is a series of images that speak for themselves; enjoy!

 

Discussing a Showcase:

Please feel free to start a thread on any of the following forums as these are the ideal place to freely discuss it. If you started reading a forum thread that has brought you to this page, please return to that forum to discuss the Showcase there.

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Knife Review: Chris Reeve Knives Large Inkosi

The original Inkosi was launched at Blade Show 2016, and was designed to include improvements to Chris Reeve’s already tried and tested (and industry changing) Sebenza models. Never one to stand still, Chris knew he could improve on his original design with certain key changes to the pivot, bearing, frame and lock. Rather than apply all these changes to the established formula of the Sebenza models, a new line was created to allow these features to be incorporated into the most advanced Chris Reeve folding knife yet. With a trend to smaller more pocketable models, the first Inkosi was created as a compact folding knife, but demand has been strong for a larger version of this knife, and here it is. The Large Inkosi now replaces the Sebenza 25.

 photo 28 L Inkosi angle open P1200420.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 56 L Inkosi grind measure P1200597.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.
 photo 58 L Inkosi grind angle P1200604.jpg

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 53 L Inkosi balance P1200569.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo CRK Large Inkosi Parameters.jpg
The blade is made from S35VN steel at 59-60RC.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

The history of this review goes back to before the release of the Large Inkosi and to IWA 2016 where I was fortunate to be able to speak to Tim Reeve about the Inkosi. It was during this discussion that Tim told me the Large Inkosi was in development. My own preference is for a larger lock knife, so I couldn’t wait for the Large Inkosi to be released.

Tim talked me through the design improvements introduced with the Inkosi which actually include all the major parts, the pivot, bearing, frame and lock.

There is one feature of the Large Inkosi which is not new, but is worthy of mentioning as it is now a CRK design feature that was introduced in the Sebenza 25, the ‘Large Hollow Grind’. The shape of this grind is itself not new, having been common when you go back to older production methods. Before grinding wheels were mass produced in smaller sizes, blades were ground on much larger wheels than are generally used today. Modern grinders tend to have smaller diameter wheels, so hollow grinds have become deeper and more pronounced. This has given the hollow grind its very sharp thin edge, but a blade which hangs up on the shoulders of the hollow grind when cutting deeply. With the growing popularity of the full flat grind, thanks to its smooth cutting action, the modern hollow grind has been losing traction.

That said, both hollow and flat grinds have their place and individual benefits. When looking to make the folding knife as useful as possible, CRK didn’t just follow the trend of going one way or the other, but instead wanted a blade that blends the best of hollow and flat grinds. Using a much larger wheel to grind the blade results in a ‘Large Hollow Grind’ which is almost flat, but slightly hollowed. This stops the blade hanging like a hollow grind would, and allows for more sharpening cycles before the blade edge starts to thicken up. This image (borrowed from CRK) shows how the ‘Large Hollow Grind’ fits between flat and hollow grinds.

 photo largehollowgrindweb.jpg

Here you can see the slight dip of the grind with a flat edge lying across it.
 photo 54 L Inkosi grind P1200578.jpg

In the previous section ‘The Blade and Handle Geometry:’ you could see the size of the hollow grind being measured with the Arc Master radius gauge. This is a closer look at the measuring arc sitting in the hollow grind with the gauge set at 12″ radius, so a 24″ wheel has been used for this grind.
 photo 57 L Inkosi grind measure close P1200593.jpg

This next image is a big hit of detail as it shows the Large Inkosi almost fully disassembled. For the moment there are two specific details I’d like to focus on and they are the large pivot and shaped phosphor bronze washers.
In earlier designs, the size of the washer on the lock side was limited by the end of the lock bar and if the washer were to have a cut out, it might rotate and then interfere with the lock. In turn, the size of the washer limited the size of the blade pivot, as if the pivot were made larger, the washer would become smaller and provide less support to the blade.
Taking the washer to the maximum size allowed by the handles means it can then be shaped to locate on the blade stop pin and not rotate into the way of the lock bar. It also allows the washers to be the same both sides bringing equal stability to each side of the blade.
Now that the washer has broken free of the earlier limits, it is possible to increase the size of the blade pivot and so increase the strength of this joint.
However, all this extra contact area increases friction with the blade tang, making the knife more difficult to open, so large perforations have been added to the washers to reduce friction without weakening the support of the blade. The perforations also store more lubricant and offer space for small particles of dirt to move away from the contact surfaces of the blade and washer, helping to prevent blade from stiffening up over time.
 photo 14 InkosiWasher Step all parts plus new P1230240.jpg

Only with the knife fully disassembled can you get a really good look at another design feature, the ceramic ball used in the lock.
Other integral locks use either the titanium itself or an insert of hardened steel for the locking surface. Looking to improve on both if these and increase the service life, CRK have employed some of the hardest material available, ceramic.

A one-eighth inch ceramic ball with hardness of 97RC acts as the interface between the lock bar and the blade tang. It also doubles up as the detent ball that holds the blade in the closed position. Due to the detent now becoming the locking surface as well, you get a uniquely smooth feel when opening the Inkosi. For just about every other integral/liner lock, when the blade is nearing fully open, the detent ball clicks as it drops off the locking surface of the blade tang. Only after this pre-lock click does the actual lock click into place. It means you get this double click as the blade is opened into the locked position. With the Inkosi, when you start to use it, you’ll notice the absence of this pre-lock click as it is not what you are used to. You open the blade and the only click is the lock bar falling into place. This is only possible with the dual purpose ceramic ball.
 photo 32 Inkosi details lock ball P1230233.jpg

Unlike a standard lock interface, which uses two flat surfaces, we now have a round ceramic ball which would create a point-contact on the blade tang, so instead of having a flat locking surface on the blade tang, the Inkosi has a rounded groove with the same curvature as the ball.
 photo 23 L Inkosi washer lock groove P1200402.jpg

The ball and groove mate securely and this interface also stabilises the lock bar as it can’t flex away from the handle. (NOTE: since the review sample was provided, CRK have found the ball track groove on the tang to be unnecessary, so it is no longer included on current production Inkosi knives.)
 photo 33 L Inkosi ceramic ball P1200442.jpg

Another innovation in the Inkosi is the slip-through stop-pin in the frame. One end of the stop-pin is secured to one side of the frame with a bolt, but the other end simply fits through a hole in the front of the frame and is not fixed in place.
Of course this only works as well as it does due to the high precision of the fit of the stop-pin on the floating side, and this configuration provides an excellent advantage in the operation of the knife.
Traditionally the stop sleeve, which spaces the frame/handle parts, needed to be very precisely sized to ensure that the fit of the assembled knife was tight, but not too tight. If that stop sleeve is a touch too wide you get blade play.
With the slip-through stop-pin, the advantage is that the front face of the handle can move along it as you set your pivot tension. The Sebenza has a stop sleeve that has to be machined to a width accurate within a few tenths of a thousandth requiring a lot of fitting to ensure the knife operates as it should.
From a manufacturing perspective, this feature removes the need for the fitting of the stop sleeve, however, the main advantage is really for the owner of the knife, as the slip-through stop-pin guarantees that even once the knife wears in, the action can always be set perfectly, with no blade play and perfect washer contact, just by adjusting the pivot; the stop-pin will never need any adjustment because it is self adjusting.
 photo 37 L Inkosi stop pin contact P1200454.jpg

A few more details:

Amazing how this box generates a real sense of anticipation and excitement. (NOTE: CRK have subsequently updated the packaging.)
 photo 01 L Inkosi box P1200318.jpg

Personally, I’m not sure a knife should come with a warning it is sharp, but there it is.
 photo 02 L Inkosi warning P1200320.jpg

The birth certificate of one of the first Large Inkosi knives.
 photo 03 L Inkosi certificate P1200325.jpg

Nestled into a foam liner is the Large Inkosi and some accessories.
 photo 04 L Inkosi box tray P1200331.jpg

Along with the Large Inkosi you get a CRK cleaning cloth, two Allen keys for the pivot and one for the spacer and stop-pin bolts. there is also a tube of grease and thread-lock, giving you a full service kit.
 photo 05 L Inkosi box contents P1200337.jpg

Not to skip over this too soon, please note that these are not unbranded tools, you get WIHA Allen keys.
 photo 02 InkosiWasher tools P1230169.jpg

The grease is a fluorinated grease and thread-lock is Loctite 222.
 photo 06 L Inkosi tubes P1200340.jpg

There is something special about that box-fresh CRK knife.
 photo 07 L Inkosi cloth P1200349 copy.jpg

The Large Inkosi arrives with a knotted cord lanyard already fitted to the knife.
 photo 08 L Inkosi cloth2 P1200353.jpg

As with the Sebenza 25, the Inkosi has finger grooves in the handle.
 photo 09 L Inkosi angle P1200355.jpg

Fit, and finish is flawless, just as you would expect with CRK.
 photo 12 L Inkosi pivot pin stud P1200364.jpg

The understated logo sits next to the large pivot bolt.
 photo 13 L Inkosi pivot logo P1200368.jpg

Switching to the back of the frame and you can see the left-hander’s thumb stud, but there is less space between it and the lock bar than for the right-handed thumb stud.
 photo 14 L Inkosi lock side P1200369.jpg

On the back, the pivot bolt looks identical. You can also see the stop-pin bolt as the stop-pin is only fixed to the back of the frame.
 photo 15 L Inkosi Idaho made P1200373.jpg

Start casting your eyes towards that pocket clip.
 photo 16 L Inkosi full lock side P1200375.jpg

Another part of the CRK folder design that has changed is the movement of the clip so that it sits directly onto the frame instead of onto the lock bar. This ensures no additional pressure on the lack bar which might make opening the knife more difficult.
 photo 17 L Inkosi clip angle P1200376.jpg

Giving excellent grip, there is a section of asymmetrical pattern jimping on the thumb ramp.
 photo 19 L Inkosi jimping P1200384.jpg

A single bolt holds the clip in place and can easily be removed if you prefer not to have a clip.
 photo 20 L Inkosi clip fixing P1200387.jpg

To create the lock bar spring, two large radius scallops are cut out of the bar.
 photo 21 L Inkosi lock spring P1200391.jpg

Providing the spot of colour, the ambidextrous thumb stud is blue PVD finish.
 photo 25 L Inkosi stud spine P1200408.jpg

With the blade partway open, here you can see the ceramic ball is out of the detent hole and sitting on the side of the blade tang. Like this the lock bar now stands slightly proud of the frame.
 photo 26 L Inkosi lock bar out P1200415.jpg

When the lock engages, the lock bar has clearly moved into the frame. Also note here how the washer is actually larger than the blade tang.
 photo 27 L Inkosi lock bar engaged P1200419.jpg

The blade has a beautifully even stonewash finish.
 photo 28 L Inkosi angle open P1200420.jpg

Zooming in to the blade tip.
 photo 29 L Inkosi blade tip P1200422.jpg

With the blade now open, both sides of the finger grooves can be seen. The first finger groove is deeper on the front of the frame giving right-handers easier access to the thumb stud.
 photo 31 L Inkosi finger grooves P1200434.jpg

In the assembled knife you can see how the over-sized washers are fitted to the lock bar cutout in the frame.
 photo 32 L Inkosi washer cut P1200437.jpg

A nicely radiused plunge line takes you from the blade grind to the full thickness of the blade tang.
 photo 39 L Inkosi plunge line P1200467.jpg

Though it looks almost like a flat grind, the large hollow grind is noticeable as the light plays on the blade. (Of course it would help if this image was animated, but it is not.)
 photo 40 L Inkosi large hollow P1200473.jpg

There is a gentle curve to the blade spine which is very comfortable to press on. It does mean you won’t be striking sparks of a ferro-rod with it.
 photo 41 L Inkosi spine P1200476.jpg

A close-up look at the thumb stud.
 photo 44 L Inkosi thumb stud P1200499.jpg

On the first run of Large Inkosi knives the washer perforations were a little too large and could be seen when the blade is closed. Not a functional issue, but a potential point for dirt to collect. This washer design has been updated now.
 photo 45 L Inkosi blade tang P1200504.jpg

CRK have really got it spot on with the pocket clip. I generally don’t like them because they are never quite right, mainly too aggressive. In this case the tension is soft enough to be easy to use, but strong enough to hold. The bead blasted surface finish of the frame and clip give plenty of hold without being too abrasive.
 photo 46 L Inkosi clip P1200516.jpg

What it is like to use?

Ok, so this is the Large Inkosi, but how big is ‘Large’? I’ll start with my standard comparison, so here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife.
 photo 52 L Inkosi size P1200557.jpg

Then just for gratuitous CRK viewing, here it is with a Pacific.
 photo 50 L Inkosi with Pacific P1200531.jpg

And in the hand. (I take XL size gloves). So it is not really all that large, it is just the larger size of CRK folder. While we are looking at it in the hand, I’m going to mention those finger grooves. It often seems that the Sebenza 21 vs 25 debate has been very polarising with owners being adamant that the they love or hate the 25’s finger grooves. I was concerned they might be problematic, but for my XL size hands, I can happily say that in all the time I’ve been using this knife I have actually not noticed the finger grooves. Clearly this is a good sign as the knife was secure in my hand but without anything digging in.
 photo 38 L Inkosi in hand P1200460.jpg

Lanyards, hmmm. Not my thing. So this was to come off, but I thought I would just note down how it was tied so I could put it back.
 photo 60 L Inkosi lanyard IMG_20160628_160656.jpg

Loosening the first knot shows it is tied like this.
 photo 61 L Inkosi lanyard IMG_20160628_161111.jpg

And repeated all the way back to the first knot round the frame spacer. And with that removed I started putting the knife to work.
 photo 62 L Inkosi lanyard IMG_20160628_161641.jpg

Although serviceable, I’m afraid the factory edge didn’t have quite enough bite for my liking, so it had a session on the Wicked Edge. Much better!
 photo 67 L Inkosi wicked edge P1250279.jpg

Recycling day was much more interesting now. Here was a large heavy duty box needing to be broken down. Made from ‘BC’-Flute double-wall heavy duty shipping cardboard, this was a bigger job than the average box.
 photo 63 L Inkosi recycling IMG_20170116_183445.jpg

Done. That was easy and enjoyable. Give me another to do.
 photo 64 L Inkosi recycling IMG_20170116_184731.jpg

The last cut through this was crisp as the blade slid through with ease. Feeling just as smooth in the cut as a full flat grind, possibly even smoother as there is less blade to material contact than with a FFG.
 photo 65 L Inkosi recycling cut IMG_20170116_184810.jpg

Outdoors and the Large Inkosi makes quick work of wood carving. Even when applying a good force to the cut, the finger grooves in the handle were not noticeable.
 photo 66 L Inkosi in the woods P1250177.jpg

CRK have taken their already time-tested design and made several improvements to it, improvements you might never actually notice in real world use, unless you push the knife to its absolute limits. I suspect many CRK owners appreciate knowing that the knife is as good as it can be and that if they really did need to push it further than normal, it won’t let them down.

The Large Inkosi is the next generation of a classic folding knife from CRK, and has been designed with such a thorough and thoughtful attention to function and detail that it is more than just a knife; it is a highly desirable object and a pleasure to use.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
CRK Build Quality. Slim metal handle not ideal for extended use.
Ceramic ball lock interface. Thumb stud access poor for left-handers.
Large pivot. Exposed washer perforations can accumulate dirt.
Oversized phosphor-bronze washers provide enhanced blade support.
Slip-Through Stop-Pin ensures perfect frame/washer/tang alignment.
Large Hollow Grind gives a blend of flat-grind and hollow-grind benefits.
Only two bolts need to be undone to service the knife.
Finger grooves and thumb-ramp jimping give excellent grip.

 photo 51 L Inkosi patches P1200543.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

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Knife Review: Gerber Strongarm

Gerber’s latest incarnation of the military/tactical survival knife has taken its evolution to another level. Paring down each element of the design to provide the essential functions without any excess bulk has resulted in a tool that works with you and remains totally reliable.

 photo 00 Strongarm feature P1190485v2.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 47 Strongarm grind P1200587.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 46 Strongarm balance P1200560.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo 51 Strongarm Parameters.jpg

The blade is made from 420HC steel.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

The Strongarm is the result of an evolution of Gerber’s survival knives which I can trace back through several models. In this section I’d like to share a personal perspective of the evolution that has lead to the Strongarm. This might not be how Gerber would chart its development, but is based on my own knives and experience.

As any child of the 80s will know, the 1982 film ‘Rambo – First Blood’ has been one of the most influential films in terms of interest in survival and in knife design at the time. With Lyle knives way out of reach, I ended up owning some of the rather nasty cheap hollow handle Rambo style knives. There were other more serious designs available but pricing also made them out of reach.

Still hankering after a decent and stylish blade I was struck by the appearance of one in another film from 1988 staring Sidney Poitier and Tom Berenger – Deadly Pursuit (Shoot to Kill). In this film Tom Berenger’s character is carrying a Gerber BMF (Basic Multi-Function) in its original pattern with 8″ blade, and this was the saw back version that wasstill in fashion at the time. I loved it and knew this was the knife I had to have. Unfortunately with the UK market starved of this knife I had to wait for one to arrive, and when it did changes had been made to the size and grind. It now had a 9″ blade and the one I found didn’t have the saw-back. It was still a meaty solid knife, so had to do. The BMF was produced by Gerber between 1986 and 1998 and had several ‘updates’ during this time.

In the following evolution photographs is the original pattern BMF I eventually found only a couple of years ago (and this one has been on active duty in war zones).

The sheath is as important as the knife in providing the overall package, so starting here we can see all the knives in this evolution in their sheaths. The knives shown are the BMF 8″ saw-back, then a LMF, the LMF II, a Prodigy and finally the Strongarm.
 photo 41 Strongarm evolution P1190818.jpg

With the BMF (first made in 1986) being a big knife there was demand for a similar design but smaller. In 1988 Gerber released the LMF (Light Multi-Function). In its first year the LMF had a full flat grind, but from 1989 onwards (until 1997 when it was discontinued) it was the style shown here. The original LMF had the bias towards blade length as a proportion of overall length. After a few years, the LMF was reborn in May 2005 as the LMF II designed specifically as a military survival knife. Becoming known as the standard by which all survival knives should be judged, many found the LMF II a little too big, so a smaller alternative was made with the name Prodigy. Working hard to make this knife all the more versatile, Gerber designed the multi-mount and tweaked the design further to create the Strongarm.

 photo 43 Strongarm evolution P1190839.jpg

Following the evolution series you can see how blade and handle lengths changed over time.
 photo 45 Strongarm evolution P1190832.jpg

A few more details:

Both the plain edge and part-serrated version were provided for review, hence the two boxes.
 photo 01 Strongarm boxed P1190423.jpg

A cardboard insert keep the knife in place and prevents the striker pommel breaking through the outer box.
 photo 02 Strongarm unboxing P1190424.jpg

Fresh out of the box, and as well as the sheathed knife there is the PALS webbing clip, a horizontal belt loop adapter and the instructions.
 photo 03 Strongarm unboxed P1190431.jpg

It is immediately obvious how much more streamlined Gerber have made the Strongarm compared to earlier knives in the line.
 photo 04 Strongarm sheathed P1190440.jpg

The moulded plastic sheath is suspended by a webbing hanger. For those sharp eyed readers you might notice that only a single press-stud is used for the hanger loop on the sheath, but even if this were to become un-popped, it cannot come out of the sheath while the knife is in the sheath.
 photo 05 Strongarm hanger P1190443.jpg

These are the parts of the sheath hanger/belt loop.
 photo 06 Strongarm hanger parts P1190445.jpg

To replace the belt loop, lay out the hanger strap as shown. (The cross piece is a knife retention strap for added security)
 photo 07 Strongarm hanger parts assemble P1190449.jpg

Fit the belt loop in place with the single press-stud on the underneath.
 photo 08 Strongarm hanger parts assemble P1190452.jpg

Close the belt loop with its two press-studs.
 photo 09 Strongarm hanger parts assemble P1190455.jpg

Then lay the hanger strap over the top and secure the two press-studs.
 photo 10 Strongarm hanger parts assemble P1190457.jpg

Taking the hanger off for clarity, here we are looking at the moulded sheath’s PALS fixing.
 photo 11 Strongarm PALS P1190460.jpg

Once in place over the PALS webbing you slide the locking bar through the loops to attach it.
 photo 12 Strongarm PALS P1190463.jpg

The PALS fixing can also be used to fit the horizontal belt loops.
 photo 13 Strongarm horiz Belt P1190466.jpg

Despite the blade being stainless steel, and having a black ceramic coating the Strongarm arrived with an oiled blade.
 photo 14 Strongarm oil P1190468.jpg

Each knife has a serial number and “Made in USA Portland, OR” proudly inscribed on the blade.
 photo 15 Strongarm serration back P1190472.jpg

The ceramic coating seems to have a slight non-stick effect as the oil beads up on it.
 photo 16 Strongarm serration front P1190481.jpg

You might also note that the length of the serrations is less than one third of the blade’s cutting edge.
 photo 17 Strongarm angle P1190484.jpg

The grind provides a powerful and strong point to the knife.
 photo 22 Strongarm tip P1190724.jpg

Despite the grip looking quite flat when in the sheath, you can see there is a definite palm swell.
 photo 23 Strongarm swell P1190725.jpg

The full tang protrudes from the handle providing a lanyard hole and glass breaking point.
 photo 24 Strongarm glass breaker P1190728.jpg

There is a rubber over-mould on the glass-filled nylon handle which has a diamond-shaped raised grip pattern.
 photo 25 Strongarm grip P1190735.jpg

Keeping the blade strength to the maximum the plunge line is a smooth curve transitioning from cutting edge to ricasso.
 photo 26 Strongarm plunge P1190738.jpg

Looking at how the cutting edge terminates for the plain edge version. I shall probably be adding a sharpening choil myself to this one.
 photo 40 Strongarm plain edge P1190804.jpg

As you would expect, when sheathed there is no visible difference between the plain and part-serrated versions.
 photo 28 Strongarm both P1190763.jpg

Let’s have a quick look over the difference between them.
 photo 29 Strongarm both P1190768.jpg

Starting with a simple side-by-side.
 photo 30 Strongarm both P1190770.jpg

Of course, the blades are made from exactly the same blade blank.
 photo 31 Strongarm both P1190771.jpg

Having that part-serrated edge always seems to make that version look as if it has more ‘belly’ near the front of the blade. This is because the serrations have to be cut quite deeply into the blade due to being a single bevel grind.
 photo 32 Strongarm both P1190774.jpg

Now we have had a good look over the Strongarm, it is time for that PALS attachment. Thanks to the secure retention system in the sheath, the knife can be happily mounted tip up or down.
 photo 18 Strongarm PALS P1190716.jpg

When PALS mounting you remove the belt loop and use the hanger strap to keep the handle from flapping. This hanger strap has one press-stud to secure it to the webbing and the rest of the strap needs to be tucked out of the way.
 photo 19 Strongarm PALS detail P1190713.jpg

The plastic sheath fits into the PALS webbing like this.
 photo 20 Strongarm PALS detail P1190710.jpg

A very neat PALS compatible system and far more compact than the LMF II or Prodigy.
 photo 21 Strongarm PALS detail P1190706.jpg

What it is like to use?

I’d like to start this section with a little comparison to its most closely related sibling, the Prodigy. I really like the LMF II and Prodigy, so if there are any comments that sound anti-either of them it is only by way of saying how the Strongarm has improved on them.

The most obvious difference is the size of the sheath and the retention tab. The new retention system is secure, but much easier to use. Overall the force required to remove the knife is slightly less with the Strongarm, but still plenty strong enough to keep the knife in place. There are also two thumb tabs moulded into the sheath to give you a leverage point for bringing the knife out of the sheath under much more control than just pulling it out. The streamlining of the sheath makes a huge difference to the apparent size of the knife when carrying it.
 photo 33 Strongarm prodigy compare P1190778.jpg

Once the Prodigy and Strongarm are out of their sheaths they are more similar in appearance but with several key differences that we will take a look at.
 photo 34 Strongarm prodigy compare P1190784.jpg

The area of the handle where the retention system holds the knife is quite different. For the older Prodigy, the normal moulded guard is gripped by the sheath, but in the Strongarm a clearly dedicated section of the guard is specifically shaped for the sheath to click into. In this way, instead of the sheath needing to grip the ‘normal’ handle, the new Strongarm has had the retention system designed into the knife handle making it much more precise.
Also of note is the handle texture on the Strongarm; while the Prodigy feels very comfortable and has good grip, the grip pattern of the Strongarm makes it feel rough and like it is positively holding onto you.
 photo 36 Strongarm prodigy compare P1190789.jpg

The part-serrated portion of the blade on the Strongarm has been reduced. This is most welcome as the serrated part of the Prodigy blade did seem to dominate it.
 photo 37 Strongarm prodigy compare P1190792.jpg

Two features we can notice here are the position of the striker on the pommel, and the grip length. The striker on the Strongarm is more central than on the Prodigy making it more natural to strike on target. Though the handle itself is the same overall length, the grip hook has been pushed further along the handle effectively making the grip longer giving more room for a gloved hand.
 photo 38 Strongarm prodigy compare P1190794.jpg

Finishing up in this comparison with an overhead shot which shows how similar the overall dimensions are to the older Prodigy.
 photo 39 Strongarm prodigy compare overall P1190801.jpg

In the Strongarm, Gerber have pitched the size bang-on for an easily carried but still capable survival knife. For reference, I take XL size gloves. Personally I prefer a little more body to the grip, but this does need to work well for the average hand and I can still get a good grip without it feeling too small.
 photo 27 Strongarm in hand P1190747.jpg

I don’t have the facilities to test the Strongarm in an escape/rescue/breaching scenario so instead have to focus on more of the survival and camping aspects. Both the plain edge and part-serrated version are on test, and personally I favour the plain edge as a general working tool, but do see a place for the part-serrated as a backup tool. One of the reasons I don’t like the part-serrated blade is for the wood preparation and carving round the camp. As shown here the serrations make significant shaping in those power cuts carried out close to the handle. It certainly cuts well, but serrations cuts best when slicing and not so well in push cuts. Also if your uses are for cutting a lot of fibrous material and ropes/cords, then the serrations are going to be a real boon.
 photo 48 Strongarm whittle P1250185.jpg

Thanks to the thick blade stock, the Strongarm’s blade has enough weight in it to work on its own hacking into branches. Here is a rather untidy job on some dormant wood and is my first attempt while I was getting a feel for the best grip to use (two or three finger).
 photo 49 Strongarm hack P1250188.jpg

So even before you have found yourself a baton, it gets through some smaller branches easily enough. More fatiguing than a bigger heavier knife, but it will do the job.
 photo 50 Strongarm hack P1250198.jpg

Having followed the evolution of the Gerber line to the Strongarm, there isn’t a single feature I would undo and want to revert to an earlier version. I still like and use the earlier knives, but the Strongarm is an improvement over them in every way, not least the ease of carry. Remember the ‘best’ survival knife is the one you have on you, so where I might not carry the LMF II, I would carry the Strongarm.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Simple and effective blade retention system. Retention strap press-stud was initially too stiff and caused fraying of the strap.
Part-serrated and Plain Edge versions available. Blade a little too thick for good food preparation.
Multi-mount sheath with belt, horizontal and PALS options.
Full Tang.
Ambidextrous sheath.
Enough weight in the blade to chop.

 photo 42 Strongarm evolution P1190841.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

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Knife Review: Böker Plus Kwaiken Mini Flipper

After reviewing the Böker Plus Kwaiken Flipper, while at IWA 2016 I was able to speak to Lucas Burnley about the original Kwaiken folder and this new ‘Mini’ version of the Kwaiken Flipper. This review is of the new Kwaiken Mini Flipper, a scaled down version of the Kwaiken Flipper.

 photo 19 KwaikenMini maker angle P1180169.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 30 KwaikenMini grind P1180560.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.
 photo 29 KwaikenMini grind angle P1180560.jpg

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 28 KwaikenMini balance P1180557.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo 53 Kwaiken Mini parameters.jpg

The blade is made from VG-10 steel.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.
While at IWA 2016 I was fortunate enough to meet Lucas Burnley and have the opportunity to talk to him about the Kwaiken Flipper and its development and design including the latest ‘Mini’ in this review.
 photo 53 Lucas.jpg
(Photo Credit – Oliver Lang-Geffroy)

The original Kwaiken was in fact a fixed blade, and the folder came from that fixed blade around eleven years ago (approx. 2005). The fixed blade Kwaiken is such a simple design it was a hard translation into the folder, and to date is the hardest thing Lucas has designed.

Aspects such as the fully enclosed blade, the detailing on the spine and the sleek lines were the main reasons it was difficult to work out the mechanics, and how to make it, making it a stretch for Lucas at the time.

The design is completely linear and slender which is what the Kwaiken is known for. At the time, Lucas’s design style (apart from the Kwaiken) was very curvy with big wide blades and the folders he was making were really ‘swoopy’, so to strip the design down to the point the entire blade fits within the handle, yet still has the same proportions of the fixed blade was a real challenge.

Not being able to use cord wrapping for the handle meant there was a need for additional grip, and the shadow-boxing (the step between the scales and liners) is actually a gripping surface in a similar way to jimping. So the shadow-boxing detail is a completely intentional feature and not included for easing manufacturing tolerances for the production knives. In fact including this feature added extra work as for the custom Kwaiken folders as Lucas would first make the scales to size, and then mark them and hand cut them to the final inset shape.

Asking Lucas about his own workshop and how much automated machinery he has, he mentioned how completely different the approach to CNC machining is to making by hand. Although making by hand is not the most efficient way, if he makes a mistake he can correct it, if he wants to change something he can change it, with CNC machining you have to plan from the start all the way to a finished product. Currently he does use the CNC machine to make a parts-set for a knife which he then assembles and hand fits everything to achieve the really high quality he demands. Whatever method might be used, Lucas feels it is unimportant for there to be a distinction between a custom knife maker and a handmade knife maker; he can forge a knife, machine a knife – he makes knives, and is completely open as to how his knives are made. However, saying that, the processes need to be satisfying to Lucas; he might want to learn how to use CNC machinery simply because it’s fun, after that, if people like that fact, great, but he will make what he wants, how he wants, explain to people how it is made, and then they buy it or they don’t.

Back to the Kwaiken Folder; initially this design didn’t start with a flipper, and the original custom knife had a thumb disc. The flipper was the next generation of the design.

When the first Böker Kwaiken folder production knife was released (thumb disc version), there were complaints because some people had a hard time opening it. This was because Lucas wanted a really small thumb disc and this became a good lesson in the differences between a factory design versus custom knife making. When Lucas makes a custom knife he can absolutely tune that knife so it opens exactly the way he wants it to every time. He can then explain to the user that this is a small thumb disc and instead of treating it like a lever, you need to treat it like a button, pushing down on it. As the design was now making its way into the hands of people not so familiar with thumb opening knives, without the benefit of a custom tune and one-to-one customer contact, the decision was made to move to a larger disc. Production design has to be very understandable to everyone.

The original Thumb disc size.
 photo 50 Kwaiken history 01.jpg
(Photo Credit – BladeBarrelBezel.com)

The new larger Thumb disc has been fitted and is shown next to the original.
 photo 51 Kwaiken history 02.jpg
(Photo Credit – BladeBarrelBezel.com)

Lucas asked himself how he could make the Kwaiken folder more understandable and more accessible for everyone – that was why the flipper was introduced. It turns out however, that the flipper had other advantages; it allows the handle to go back to being straight, completely linear and clean, which is how Lucas wanted it in the first place. The ‘flip’ side of this (excuse the pun) is that now you have the flipper tab sticking out. When Lucas designed the Kwaiken flipper, a lot of the knives out there had very large flipper tabs, so he concentrated on working out what it is that really makes a flipper work. In the case of the Kwaiken this results in the tab being shaped like a wheel to allow prolonged contact with it as the blade deploys; this concept allows the tab to be as small as it is (in fact Lucas feels he could probably go even smaller). The goal was to keep it as clean and as small as possible, yet remain intuitive so anyone could pick it up and use it.

Concerning overall design, though Lucas considers the knife a tool, he also recognises the fact that it might be used for self defence, so includes attributes to support that. There is the simple fact that any knife is better than no knife, but here we have a folder so the first disadvantage is that you have to open it. With the Kwaiken, straight out of your pocket, even the folded knife was intended to also be better than nothing, with the taper and slight point of the handle giving you a kubotan style pressure point weapon. This is not something you will see listed as a feature or selling point but is part of the thought process behind the design.

When designing a knife, unlike other products that need to ‘perform’ within measured parameters, the process is more about visual correctness. Things have to ‘look’ right and be intuitive. For Lucas there is a critical interaction in the design between curves, angles and straight lines, and he tries to create tension in his designs. A knife with only curves can be boring, a knife with only angles, though modern looking, can also be boring; for Lucas there needs to be a balance and interest created from combining these.

In the Kwaiken folder, the mainly linear design has a few curves, the sweep from belly to blade tip, and the hollow grind. In fixed blades the choice of grind can be highly driven by the purpose of that knife, be it a small carving knife, or a large chopper. With folding knives you have much more flexibility in choosing the grind. Using a hollow grind takes out more metal and reduces the weight as well as adjusting the balance point. Many of the design features incorporated into Lucas’s designs (such as the scallops in the spine) are not for a particular purpose, but simply to add interest and look good. He doesn’t want his designs to be instantly understood, but instead needing you to look at it again and again to take in the details.

Due to the size constraints inside the Kwaiken, to be able keep blade fully inside the handle, an internal stop pin was needed. This further constrained the space for any bushings and with a small narrow and light blade which needs the action to be slick enough for a flipper, the IKBS bearing system is ideal. Currently Lucas is working on increasing the size to allow the use of caged rather than loose bearings in the next generation of the Kwaiken folder, making user maintenance much easier.

And now the subject of this review, the Kwaiken Mini Flipper, a scaled down version. Miniature is truly scaled down, whereas ‘compact’ is generally scaled down in certain elements but not in others. With the Mini, starting with the blade length, the blade has not been reduced all that much, reduced by only half to three quarters of an inch, but being a folder, with this small decrease in blade length, overall you lose twice that. The knife doesn’t lose much blade, but it gets much smaller altogether.

The reduction in size makes it such a convenient length, Lucas said he would not be surprised if the Mini becomes more popular than the full size version. Many people are not that comfortable carrying a large folding knife, and the Kwaiken is quite a large knife, so the Mini gives you all of the style in a much easier to carry package.

One the most fun aspects of the Kwaiken for Lucas is all the modifications people are making to the basic knife, and he is really looking forward to seeing that with the Mini as well.

The ‘Burnley Böker’ has become a very influential design, affecting what people think of as a Kwaiken more towards Lucas’s design than the original Japanese knife, this has only really been possible due to the collaboration with Böker and getting the knife into so many people’s hands. Though Lucas appreciates exclusivity, he likes to be inclusive. Lucas wants to make his product, and he wants them to be very high-end, so they are going to be exclusive purely because his own output is limited; he just can’t make enough. The factory collaboration provides a starting point and at a usable price, and allows people to be part of the Kwaiken wave without having to find a Burnley original custom.

Many owners of original Burnley custom Kwaiken folders have bought the Böker version as their ‘user’ keeping the original as a display piece. When asked how he feels about the fate of his crafted knives, where every aspect has been optimised to make it the best tool it possibly can be, yet many never get used at all, Lucas responded by saying that the most important thing for him is that the owner gets value from it in their own way, whether that is to be able to pull it out and show its perfection to friends, or to use it. All of Lucas’s knives have been made to be used and used well.

Whenever moving to production, it means suddenly dealing with a lot of different personalities and opinions and there are going to be problems. For Lucas, it is the relationships with the companies he chooses to work with that are most important. You have to be able to have a problem, look at it, and communicate to be able to get it fixed. Working with Böker has been mutually beneficial for both Lucas and Böker and they have both learned from each other. The goal for Lucas is to create icons and to do this working with a factory as a long term relationship, not to produce a single model that fades away, just to get a pay cheque, but to continue to build (as can be seen with the progression of the Kwaiken folder). Icons come about because they are made, and then made available, and then made continuously.

Showing the continual development of the Kwaiken Folder, here are the versions made so far (see photo below)-
1. Böker Plus Kwaiken Folder
2. Böker Plus Kwaiken Folder Orange
3. Böker Plus Kwaiken Flipper Titan
4. Böker Plus Kwaiken Flipper Carbon
5. Böker Plus Kwaiken Flipper Damast
6. Böker Plus Kwaiken Flipper Tactical
7. Böker Plus Kwaiken Mini Flipper G-10
8. Böker Plus Kwaiken Mini Flipper Titan
9. Böker Plus Kwaiken Flipper G-10
 photo 52 Kwaiken history 03.jpg
(Photo Credit – Böker)

The work is still ongoing and there are a few more versions of the Kwaiken folder in the pipeline, a slim framelock version and a compact version. Though previously only Lucas’s knives have had a duplex grind on the blade, this is also something that is being worked on for the production models, but it is difficult. At the time of speaking the duplex blade grind is on about its fifth version and is getting really close to being ready.

A few more details:

The Kwaiken Mini Flipper arrives in a presentation box.
 photo 01 KwaikenMini Boxed P1180106.jpg

Before opening the box, here is the full size Kwaiken Flipper next to it.
 photo 02 KwaikenMini Boxed plus normal P1180110.jpg

The box has a magnetic closure, and the knife arrives in a small plastic bag.
 photo 03 KwaikenMini Box open P1180113.jpg

This is the G10 version of the Kwaiken Mini – there is a Ti version as well.
 photo 04 KwaikenMini P1180114.jpg

Though only a little shorter the scaled down Mini appears a lot smaller than the full size version.
 photo 05 KwaikenMini plus normal P1180117.jpg

Thanks to the fully concealed blade, the Kwaiken Mini Flipper will sit with the flipper tab upwards.
 photo 06 KwaikenMini flipper P1180118.jpg

Turned the other way up you can see how the blade is fully enclosed in the handle.
 photo 07 KwaikenMini folded P1180121.jpg

The Kwaiken Mini Flipper also has a mini clip.
 photo 08 KwaikenMini clip P1180126.jpg

With careful design, the flipper tab has been kept small, and includes jimping for grip.
 photo 09 KwaikenMini flipper along P1180129.jpg

Top right in this photo you can see the locking surface on the blade tang and just visible in the bottom left quadrant is the concealed blade stop pin.
 photo 10 KwaikenMini lock face P1180130.jpg

Blade centring is excellent and only looks slightly off here due to the uneven edge from the final sharpening.
 photo 11 KwaikenMini centring P1180132.jpg

Out of the box, lock engagement is not that deep, but is still rock solid. Also note the cutout of the liner opposite the lock to allow the lock to be released.
 photo 12 KwaikenMini lock engagement P1180140.jpg

The lock bar is part of the liner, and here is the section that has been thinned to create the lock bar spring.
 photo 13 KwaikenMini lock spring P1180142.jpg

Looking deep within the knife you can see the detent ball which holds the blade in the closed position.
 photo 14 KwaikenMini detent P1180149.jpg

Classic Burnley Kwaiken lines have the straight spine and curve from plunge line to tip.
 photo 16 KwaikenMini blade P1180155.jpg

The knife’s credentials are marked on one side of the blade, a Burnley design, VG-10 blade steel and using an IKBS bearing.
 photo 18 KwaikenMini maker P1180164.jpg

On the opposite side of the blade is the Böker Plus logo. The blade is stonewashed, and this photo also clearly shows the plunge line and sharpening choil.
 photo 27 KwaikenMini plunge P1180219.jpg

A different view of the fully concealed blade.
 photo 21 KwaikenMini concealed blade P1180173.jpg

Torx bolts hold the clip and scales on.
 photo 22 KwaikenMini lanyard P1180177.jpg

The blade has a small sharpening choil, but if you look closely, the factory edge has not quite made it all the way back to this.
 photo 23 KwaikenMini choil P1180187.jpg

With space being so limited, the actual cutting edge is quite near the surface of the liners with the blade closed.
 photo 24 KwaikenMini spacer P1180189.jpg

What it is like to use?

If you start with the full size Kwaiken Flipper, the Mini can feel exactly that, Mini. Perhaps too small, but we must not stop there, as in the course of this testing, after the initial photo shoot, I made myself put away the full size version to allow myself to become accustomed to the Mini in its own right.

Taking the two versions on their own and putting them back to back, the scaling down is clear.
 photo 20 KwaikenMini back to back P1180171.jpg

But put this in context with some other knives, and here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife along with the full size Kwaiken Flipper. The full size Kwaiken is a large folder and only seems less so due to being slim, so the Mini is still a good sized knife.
 photo 25 KwaikenMini size P1180207.jpg

There is plenty of handle to get a good grip. (I take XL Sized gloves)
 photo 26 KwaikenMini in hand P1180212.jpg

With the Kwaiken Mini Flipper used as a regular carry, it is much more discreet being smaller and lighter. It still retains all the character of the original, and I found myself forgetting what the full size version feels like and not missing it.

We all have different knife carry laws to contend with, so size can be an important factor. It the UK, there is no difference in law between me carrying the full size or Mini, but if I have good reason to carry a locking knife or I’m simply using it on private property, the Mini is much more pocket friendly.

Having a smaller and lighter blade, the flip is not quite as reliable as the full size Kwaiken Flipper and I’ve had a few misfires. Any misfire can easily be fully opened with a flick of the wrist, and if you maintain good contact with the flipper tab throughout the launch it rarely happens.

For the size of blade, the spine is relatively thick so this does start to drag when cutting deeply into tougher materials. For point-work though the Kwaiken blade shape is highly effective so much so you have to be careful not to puncture too deeply.

Initially I was sceptical about the Kwaiken Mini and it seemed too small; Why would I want to bother with a scaled down version of a great knife? Well, now I’ve lived with it I can see exactly why. Clearly you need to like the Kwaiken design, and if you do (why wouldn’t you?) then the Mini gives you all of the sleek lines and style, in perfect scaled down proportion that is far more pocket friendly.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Truly scaled down so faithfully keeps the character of the original. Relatively thick blade for its size.
Pocket friendly size. Flip is less reliable than the full size.
IKBS bearing. Pocket clip can be tricky to get started.
Fully enclosed blade when folded.
Sleek and distinctive style.

 photo 17 KwaikenMini plus normal P1180157.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Knife Review: Ruger / CRKT GO-N-HEAVY (Plain and Veff Serrated Versions)

One of my highlights of IWA 2016 was a visit to the CRKT stand, and on that stand was a knife I could not leave IWA without. Amongst the new Ruger line of knives (produced by CRKT) was the super-sized Go-N-Heavy which stood out not only due to its size, but for the distinctive look which comes from a combination of the design brief for the Ruger line of knives and its pedigree of being a William Harsey design.

 photo 17 GoNHeavy open P1170642.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 33 GoNHeavy flat grind P1180539.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.
 photo 32 GoNHeavy grind P1180537.jpg

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 31 GoNHeavy balance P1180534.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.
 photo GoNHeavy parameters.jpg

The blade is made from 8Cr13Mov steel, the washers from Teflon and the handles are hard anodised 6061-T6 Aluminium.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

While discussing the Ruger knives with CRKT, there were a couple of insights into the processes that led to the final designs of the knives.

The project started with Ruger approaching CRKT and asking them to design a special line of knives for them. The knives had to represent Ruger, so would not simply be any old design, but had to fit in with the feel of Ruger’s products.

As one of the designers CRKT have worked with before, it turns out that Bill Harsey had already been working on a design that was reminiscent of the Picatinny rails on the SR line of rifles. Never quite making it off his workbench, it seemed a perfect fit, so was adopted for the Go-N-Heavy and Go-N-Heavy Compact knives in the Ruger lineup. The Ruger range also includes a total of 23 different models, fixed and folding, plain edges and part-serrated.

A feature used in CRKT knives are the unique Veff Serrations (which we will see in more detail). A different take on the design of serrations where the scallops are angled to give a positive feed into the cut. The effect is similar to a normal wood saw where the teeth cut into the material in one direction, but ride over the surface (clearing the cut) in the other. Veff serrations give real bite to the cut. We will cover these in more detail later.

A few more details:

This review is going to look at both versions of the Go-N-Heavy, the plain edge and part-serrated (Veff serrations). The knife arrives in a Ruger branded box.
 photo 01 GoNHeavy box P1190016.jpg

Inside the knife is in its belt pouch and wrapped in a plastic bag.
 photo 03 GoNHeavy box open P1190022.jpg

Along with the knife and belt pouch is a CRKT leaflet.
 photo 04 GoNHeavy box contents P1190030.jpg

Especially important as this is a large folder, there is a well finished nylon belt pouch.
 photo 06 GoNHeavy holster front P1170601.jpg

The belt pouch loops allow for horizontal or vertical carry positions.
 photo 07 GoNHeavy holster back P1170604.jpg

That large belt pouch is filled by the Go-N-Heavy.
 photo 08 GoNHeavy knife and holster P1170607.jpg

Let’s take a look round this, starting with the Ruger side of the blade.
 photo 09 GoNHeavy knife closed P1170609.jpg

Then the CRKT side of the blade. (On this side you can see the stainless steel lock insert/liner.)
 photo 10 GoNHeavy knife closed P1170613.jpg

Centring is pretty much spot on. Oddly, I’m looking at the actual knife right now and it looks better than this photo.
 photo 11 GoNHeavy centring P1170617.jpg

Loving the details in the handle. Though not a Picatinny rail, it is certainly reminiscent of one.
 photo 12 GoNHeavy handle P1170620.jpg

Enough blade is exposed to allow two handed opening, but there is also an ambidextrous thumb stud fitted to the blade.
 photo 13 GoNHeavy thumb P1170624.jpg

One side of the pivot has a torx fitting for adjustment. The pivot bolt appears big and oversized, but this is for stylistic reasons and sits very well with the black anodised handles.
 photo 14 GoNHeavy pivot P1170628.jpg

Here we can see the blade stop pin and locking surface (which is fresh and unused straight out of the box).
 photo 15 GoNHeavy stop pin P1170633.jpg

And out comes that nice big blade with recognisable Harsey style.
 photo 16 GoNHeavy part open P1170636.jpg

Both versions together to show how it looks open and closed.
 photo 05 GoNHeavy open and closed P1190031.jpg

One side of the blade has the CRKT logo, plus model, engraved into the surface.
 photo 18 GoNHeavy logo P1170646.jpg

Lock engagement straight out of the box looks a little light, but was strong and soon settled in slightly with use.
 photo 19 GoNHeavy lock P1170649.jpg

Stepping back a little this view shows how the stainless liner fits into a recess in one of the aluminium handles.
 photo 20 GoNHeavy lock bar P1170653.jpg

The holes in the handles do go all the way through. You might also spot that the holes in the stainless steel liner are slightly smaller.
 photo 21 GoNHeavy holes P1170655.jpg

Only one side of the pivot bolt has a torx fitting. The other side is completely plain.
 photo 22 GoNHeavy pivot 2 P1170659.jpg

The plunge line is neatly executed.
 photo 23 GoNHeavy plunge P1170663.jpg

Torx bolts are used to hold the handles together.
 photo 24 GoNHeavy handle screw P1170666.jpg

On the thumb ramp there is some fine jimping to give you extra grip.
 photo 28 GoNHeavy jimping P1170696.jpg

Taking a very close look into the Go-N-Heavy with the blade open you can see the detent ball on the side of the lock bar which holds the blade in the closed position.
 photo 29 GoNHeavy detent P1170703.jpg

There is a nice flowing semi-swedge on the blade spine.
 photo 25 GoNHeavy angle P1170677.jpg

Now a switch over to the part-serrated version featuring Veff serrations.
 photo 34 GoNHeavy veff P1190041.jpg

Really heavy-duty serrations with only four scallops in the serrated area.
 photo 35 GoNHeavy veff serrations P1190047.jpg

From the other side of the blade you can see the serrations are cut with a single bevel.
 photo 36 GoNHeavy veff single bevel P1190054.jpg

The two versions.
 photo 38 GoNHeavy both P1190085.jpg

What is the Go-N-Heavy like to use?

Before we go onto using it, to start with we have to get the proper ideal of scale, so here the Go-N-Heavy is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife. Yes, it really dwarfs the Fällkniven in blade and handle.
 photo 27 GoNHeavy size P1170691.jpg

I take XL size gloves, and this knife makes my hand look small. What the large handle does allow for however are a range for different grip positions all of which remain comfortable.
 photo 30 GoNHeavy in hand P1170714.jpg

Ok, I’m not going to argue that it is the most practical knife, but saying that there are plenty of occasions I want to have a large knife with me but can’t really justify a fixed blade. The Go-N-Heavy gives you a knife with presence but which is small enough when folded to pop into a bag or onto your belt and not be too noticeable; until you need it.

There is also just something so satisfying about a big folder, watching that large blade appear and the knife double in size. When at IWA I found it very difficult to put down, and knew exactly which CRKT knife I wanted to test.

Perhaps a little over sized for a box cutter (especially as you might end up going through the entire box and cutting the contents), but it did the job. Clearly this is not what the knife was intended for.
 photo Box cutter IMG_20161006_133916.jpg

Though the factory plain edge was serviceable enough, I decided to give it a bit of an upgrade and pop a Wicked Edge onto it.
 photo Wicked edge GoNHeavy P1230401.jpg

Looks rather nice with its new edge.
 photo Wicked edge GoNHeavy P1230411.jpg

Unfortunately no large rope cutting tasks have yet presented themselves, so I’ve had to make do with smaller ropes. On the smaller sizes, the rope tends to stick in one of the serrations rather than the serration sawing through. It makes it more like a series of line cutting hooks. You need to scale up the cutting job to really get the Veff serrations showing their power. They look great, and are very aggressive, but on smaller jobs they can be hard work.
What you really can feel is the effect of the angled serrations; they actively bite deeper into the material as you cut instead of riding over the surface. In the right cutting job it makes for a very aggressive and efficient cut. For smaller jobs you often have to push the cut away from you to stop the teeth biting so deeply.
 photo 40 GoNHeavy veff cut P1230442.jpg

Serrated or plain edge, its your call and depends on your requirements (I’d love to see a mid-serrated version – see The Mid-Serrated Blade – A new concept from Subwoofer). Either one will give you a really satisfying super-sized folder.
 photo 39 GoNHeavy both P1190091.jpg

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Super-Sized Folder. Serrations are too large for some jobs.
Harsey Design. Smaller hands may struggle to open one handed.
Multiple grip options.
Distinctive Styling.
Veff Serrations have excellent bite.
Belt pouch included.

 photo 40 GoNHeavy ruger IMG_20160326_121119.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

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Knife Review: Cressi Giant Knife and Alligator (Dive Knives 2016 – Detail Review)

This review provides further details for the Cressi Giant Knife and Alligator which could not be included in the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review

The candidates sent by Cressi were a last minute addition to the Mega Test Review, so unfortunately did not go on the Ionian Sea trip and missed out on some of the real use testing, however they did go through all of the experimental corrosion and cutting testing.
 photo 01 Cressi boxed P1220175.jpg

A pretty unique pair from Cressi with a knife at at each end of the size spectrum.
 photo 02 Cressi unboxed P1220357.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with other blades.

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The measurements are presented alongside some of the other knives from the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review
 photo Dive Knives Parameters 3 of 3.jpg

A few more details of the Giant Knife:

Very nicely presented in its transparent box, the Giant Knife is clearly exactly what it says it is.
 photo 03 Cressi Giant Boxed P1220278.jpg

The knife and sheath come with a pair of rubber straps.
 photo 04 Cressi Giant unBoxed P1220285.jpg

Standard belt buckle type straps are used.
 photo 05 Cressi Giant strap P1220294.jpg

The back of the sheath is basically flat.
 photo 06 Cressi Giant sheath back P1220297.jpg

One set of strap mounting points and what looks like an upside-down “CE” mark.
 photo 07 Cressi Giant sheath back detail P1220299.jpg

Near the top of the sheath are the other set of strap mounting holes. Something that has me curious is that the rubber retaining ring fits into a hole right at the top of the sheath, but there is an identical hole slightly further down. This could not be used for the retaining ring as you would never get it to fit over the handle, so is there another knife that uses this same sheath?
 photo 08 Cressi Giant sheath back detail P1220301.jpg

Staying with the old-school concept, the Giant Knife has a rubber retaining ring which is pulled over the hammer pommel.
 photo 09 Cressi Giant sheath retention P1220303.jpg

Very neatly put together, the rubber ring has a tab which is easy to grip.
 photo 10 Cressi Giant sheath retention P1220306.jpg

In the released position the rubber ring is pushed out of the way. Like this the knife is just loose in the sheath and can fall out.
 photo 11 Cressi Giant sheath retention P1220308.jpg

The sheath is a one piece moulded plastic design.
 photo 12 Cressi Giant sheath empty P1220310.jpg

And there is that substantial blade. Perhaps not actually ‘giant’, but this is certainly a BFK.
 photo 13 Cressi Giant angle P1220318.jpg

As we all know, ‘stainless’ really means ‘stain-resistant’ and Cressi have given the blade a black coating which helps with corrosion resistance, though the cutting edge itself cannot be coated.
 photo 14 Cressi Giant coating P1220320.jpg

Clearly marked as being made from 304 Stainless Steel.
 photo 15 Cressi Giant SS P1220324.jpg

Incorporated into the blade spine is a line cutting hook. This angle clearly shows how wide the double bevel angle is (also see the parameter table) which unfortunately makes it very ineffective.
 photo 16 Cressi Giant hook P1220327.jpg

The back of the blade also has a long line of serrations which unfortunately are also a double bevel with a very wide angle which limits their effectiveness.
 photo 17 Cressi Giant serrations P1220333.jpg

A view of the ricasso and plunge line.
 photo 18 Cressi Giant plunge P1220337.jpg

Being a true dive knife, the Giant Knife can be taken apart to clean and maintain the knife. The steel hammer pommel unscrews.
 photo 19 Cressi Giant hammer removed P1220348.jpg

After taking off the pommel, the handle slides off the tang. The full tang has been given the same black coating as the blade, so reduces the need to disassemble and clean it.
 photo 20 Cressi Giant apart P1220352.jpg

Even the thread is coated, but given a few disassemblies this will wear off.
 photo 21 Cressi Giant tang thread P1220354.jpg

A few more details of the Alligator:

Switching to a completely different concept to the Giant Knife, we have the Alligator.
 photo 23 Cressi Alligator boxed P1220180.jpg

Being a much smaller knife, this is designed to be fitted to your BCD or belt and not to your arm or leg, so instead of rubber straps you get a mounting kit.
 photo 24 Cressi Alligator unboxed P1220187.jpg

The mounting kit includes a hose mount with hose shim (for smaller hoses) plus a straight bar for fitting around webbing.
 photo 25 Cressi Alligator mounting P1220191.jpg

In the moulded plastic sheath is a sprung knife-retaining plate which clicks into place on the knife handle to hold it in place.
 photo 26 Cressi Alligator sheath P1220194.jpg

On the back of the sheath are the screw points for attaching the various mount options.
 photo 27 Cressi Alligator sheath back P1220195.jpg

Is it a knife? Is it a pair of shears? Actually it is both.
 photo 28 Cressi Alligator angle P1220205.jpg

Viewed from the other side it looks a bit more knife like.
 photo 29 Cressi Alligator angle P1220207.jpg

At the base of the handle is a metal loop which holds the two parts of the handle together.
 photo 30 Cressi Alligator clip P1220212.jpg

Flipping the clip outwards frees the handle to open up.
 photo 31 Cressi Alligator clip open P1220215.jpg

As you might expect with smaller shears the pivot is sprung loaded to make them easy to use.
 photo 32 Cressi Alligator spring P1220219.jpg

Inside the handles is a set of gripping teeth that can be used to grip and twist nuts/bolts and other objects you need more grip for.
 photo 33 Cressi Alligator grip teeth P1220220.jpg

And there we have them, the Alligator’s jaws. Anyone having to cut loose lines underwater will know just how effective shears are for this task.
 photo 34 Cressi Alligator jaws P1220223.jpg

Also included is a line cutting hook.
 photo 35 Cressi Alligator hook P1220226.jpg

A close view of the knife point. Though not a needle sharp point, I prefer the tip not to be too sharp for a diving knife.
 photo 36 Cressi Alligator tip P1220231.jpg

The spine of the ‘knife’ (the top jaw of the shears) has serrations cut into it.
 photo 38 Cressi Alligator serration P1220237.jpg

The serrations are formed from a single bevel.
 photo 37 Cressi Alligator serration back P1220233.jpg

Looking at the top jaw of the shears, the grind is very clean and precise.
 photo 39 Cressi Alligator shears P1220240.jpg

One side of the pivot bolt has a security type nut. To tighten this you need a flat head screwdriver with the middle ground out. On trying to adjust this it appears that either thread-lock or some other method has been used to hold this nut in place, so I’ll be leaving it until it needs adjustment.
 photo 40 Cressi Alligator pivot P1220241.jpg

You can sheath the Alligator either way round, however one way is easier than the other.
 photo 41 Cressi Alligator sheathed P1220254.jpg

The reason it is easier to sheath the knife one way round is due to the blade being offset.
 photo 42 Cressi Alligator offset P1220260.jpg

Looking closer you can see that the offset allows the spring for the shears to be incorporated. You can also see the plastic scrapings on the pivot nut where it has rubbed on the sheath.
 photo 43 Cressi Alligator offset P1220262.jpg

Feature packed and very versatile.
 photo 44 Cressi Alligator angle open P1220275.jpg

What are they like to use?

There are those that say there is no need for a big diving knife any more. For many this may be true, and they are better served by something smaller, or even just a line cutter, but there is still a place for the BFK when you need a tool that can take on bigger tasks. Cressi recognise this and that is why they have recently introduced the Giant Knife.

This review includes a cutting tool from both ends of the size spectrum with the much more compact Alligator which is a pair of shears as well as a knife. The Alligator is supremely effective for cutting and in the cutting tests has been scored separately as both a knife and as shears. The cutting score for the shears was joint first place, and the knife was not a bad performer at all. If you combined both scores, it is head and shoulders above any other knife in the Mega Test. The Giant Knife was a respectable performer, but the cutting hook and serrations were poor. See the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review for more information on the cutting test results.

For stainless steel tools, both Cressi knives came out of the corrosion test very well. There is a small amount of rust showing near the pivot between the two halves of the shears.
 photo 47 Cressi Alligator rust P1220997.jpg

There is also some rust on the gripping jaws inside the handles.
 photo 48 Cressi Alligator rust P1230004.jpg

For the Giant Knife, there is nothing to show for the corrosion testing as there was no visible rust to be found on the knife.

Going back to the Giant Knife… Oh yes, this is a BFK! If you want a decent sized diving knife then the Giant Knife is a very good fit. It is big, the blade is thick, it is heavier than most, but you have a heavy duty tool you can really put to work. The shaped rubber handle gives you a very positive grip and lets you go for it. With some weight behind it, the hammer pommel is effective (just watch where that point is going).
(For size reference, I wear XL size gloves).
 photo 22 Cressi Giant in hand P1220366.jpg

Going the other way now, and as the Alligator is much more compact than the Giant Knife, the grip is nearly (but not quite) too short. Despite the smaller size, the Alligator’s knife is effective in all its aspects, with the cutting hook working well and serrations working reasonably.
 photo 45 Cressi Alligator in hand P1220361.jpg

But the jewel in the Alligator’s crown are the shears. Wet lines and rope can be very difficult to grip and cut with a knife. Free-floating lines even worse, but shears grip the line for you, making it so much easier to cut. Notice how the tip of the shears in the knife blade is hook shaped, which prevents lines slipping out of the front of the jaws. Being spring loaded makes the shears stay firmly in the hand as you use them. Even without the knife blade elements of the Alligator, it would be worth having just for these shears.
 photo 46 Cressi Alligator in hand open P1220364.jpg

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
The Alligator gives you the cutting power of shears as well as a knife blade. Neither design is safe for ‘release’ cutting next to the body.
The Giant gives you a true heavy duty ‘BFK’ for diving. The Giant Knife’s serrations and hook are ground at far too wide an angle to be effective.
Extremely good corrosion resistance. The Alligator handle catch can be tricky to open, especially with gloves on.
Both ends of the size spectrum are represented.
Sheaths work right or left handed.

 photo 02 Cressi unboxed P1220289.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

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CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Knife Review: Whitby & Co Dive Knives – DK9, DK11 and DK511/14 (Dive Knives 2016 – Detail Review)

This review provides further details for the three Whitby & Co Dive Knife models DK9, DK11 and DK511/14 which could not be included in the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review

 photo 49 whitby Group sheathed P1210772.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with other blades.

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The measurements are presented alongside some of the other knives from the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review

There are three Whitby knives, and these have been logged across two comparison tables.
 photo Dive Knives Parameters 2 of 3.jpg

 photo Dive Knives Parameters 3 of 3.jpg

A few more details of the DK9:

Before we really get going looking at the details, you might be curious as to these being Whitby & Co knives yet coming in alternately branded packaging. Whitby & Co source some of the foremost international brands and supply Trade customers with these products.
 photo 01 whitby boxed P1210566.jpg

The knives on test here are referred to under their Whitby & Co model numbers.
 photo 02 whitby label P1210568.jpg

Starting with the smallest of the Whitby dive knives, the DK9, it is supplied with two rubber straps with quick release buckles and a leaflet.
 photo 03 whitby DK9 contents P1210576.jpg

On the back of the box are the instructions for assembling the straps. This is the same for all the models on test here.
 photo 04 whitby DK9 instructions P1210579.jpg

One end of the rubber strap is moulded so that it won’t pull through the buckle.
 photo 05 whitby DK9 strap detail P1210581.jpg

Onto the DK9 itself, this is exactly as it comes out of the box, in its sheath.
 photo 06 whitby DK9 sheathed P1210584.jpg

The knife construction is a single piece of flat stock steel. Being a typical dagger design with shapr point and double edge, it has no diving safety features that would make it safe for cutting away entanglements from the body.
 photo 07 whitby DK9 unsheathed P1210589.jpg

The sheath consists of two moulded plastic halves riveted together. Each side has a slot to fit the rubber straps into.
 photo 08 whitby DK9 sheath P1210591.jpg

At the top of the front piece of the sheath are a couple of plastic hooks which hold the DK9 in the sheath.
 photo 09 whitby DK9 sheath retention P1210595.jpg

With the knife inserted you can see how the plastic hooks fit over the guard.
 photo 18 whitby DK9 retention P1210637.jpg

The back of the sheath is a simple flat plastic surface.
 photo 10 whitby DK9 sheath back P1210597.jpg

Let’s start looking round the knife. From this overall view, notice that in the handle and blade are two types of shackle wrench cut-out and the knife is a one piece all metal construction.
 photo 11 whitby DK9 angle P1210602.jpg

Having a typical dagger grind, there are no sharp corners/edges to the plunge lines.
 photo 12 whitby DK9 plunge P1210604.jpg

One side of the double edged blade has some very effective serrations.
 photo 13 whitby DK9 serrations P1210607.jpg

The serrations are formed with a single bevel, so when looking at the back, there is no visible edge bevel.
 photo 16 whitby DK9 serration back P1210622.jpg

Quick close-up of the blade tip.
 photo 14 whitby DK9 tip P1210612.jpg

A generous sized lanyard hole is included in the handle.
 photo 15 whitby DK9 lanyard P1210618.jpg

It is a relatively compact blade, and despite the thin handle is comfortable enough in the hand (I take XL gloves).
 photo 17 whitby DK9 in hand P1210632.jpg

There is room to fit both straps, but being so compact I found I only needed one and it stayed where I needed it.
 photo 19 whitby DK9 with straps P1210642.jpg

As quick-release buckles are used, you set the strap length to fit at which point they operate as fixed length straps. This is how the rubber is threaded through the adjustment side of the buckle.
 photo 20 whitby DK9 strap adjustment P1210647.jpg

A few more details of the DK11:

Taking a step up in size to the DK11, and we also take a step up in design and function. As with the DK9, the DK11 comes with two straps with quick-release buckles.
 photo 21 whitby DK11 contents P1210653.jpg

A more substantial package than the DK9. Note that there is a sliding lock for the knife release lever.
 photo 22 whitby DK11 sheathed P1210660.jpg

Box fresh and not yet subjected to the corrosion testing, the DK11 has a double edged blade with a line cutting hook.
 photo 23 whitby DK11 unsheathed P1210662.jpg

On the front of the sheath is a sprung knife retaining catch with a hook that engages with the knife handle.
 photo 24 whitby DK11 retention P1210665.jpg

Requiring a reasonable pressure, the retaining catch lifts away to release the knife.
 photo 25 whitby DK11 retention P1210669.jpg

The two halves of the plastic sheath are screwed together.
 photo 26 whitby DK11 sheath back P1210672.jpg

The spine of the blade has the serrations and cutting hook, and the DK11 also has a hammer pommel.
 photo 27 whitby DK11 angle P1210675.jpg

At the front of the handle a stainless steel curved guard is incorporated. There is what might be considered a finger choil in the ricasso, but this is not something I would use when diving.
 photo 28 whitby DK11 guard P1210678.jpg

A close-up of the blade tip and factory edge.
 photo 29 whitby DK11 tip P1210681.jpg

The serrations are a similar pattern to the DK9, but have three repeats of the smaller groove rather than two.
 photo 30 whitby DK11 serrations P1210684.jpg

Just as with the DK9, the serrations are formed with a single bevel, so from the other side have no visible bevel.
 photo 31 whitby DK11 serrations P1210687.jpg

A line cutter hook is included near the guard.
 photo 32 whitby DK11 line cutter P1210694.jpg

Despite its smooth lines, the handle is nice and grippy thanks to being rubber.
 photo 33 whitby DK11 handle P1210696.jpg

The blue plastic insert includes the knife retention catch point.
 photo 34 whitby DK11 retention catch P1210699.jpg

With the DK11 you have a good mid-sized all rounder blade.
 photo 35 whitby DK11 in hand P1210704.jpg

After threading the straps through the sheath, you still need to thread the loose end through the buckle.
 photo 36 whitby DK11 straps P1210705.jpg

A few more details of the DK511/14:

Lastly we have a bit of an old-school BFK (Big F’n Knife), the DK511/14. As before, there are two adjustable quick-release buckle straps included.
 photo 37 whitby DK511-14 contents P1210713.jpg

This is what the classic dive knife used to look like, and it still has a place today.
 photo 38 whitby DK511-14 sheathed P1210715.jpg

Again with the classic design we have a rubber ring fitting over the end of the handle to keep the knife in the sheath.
 photo 39 whitby DK511-14 retention P1210722.jpg

To release the knife just pull the ring off the handle using the tab provided.
 photo 40 whitby DK511-14 retention P1210726.jpg

Definitely not a compact blade, this is a full size traditional dive knife design.
 photo 41 whitby DK511-14 unsheathed P1210735.jpg

A real working blade, there are several useful features.
 photo 42 whitby DK511-14 angle P1210736.jpg

Very ‘saw-like’ serrations which shred rope, even if not cutting it cleanly.
 photo 43 whitby DK511-14 serrations P1210742.jpg

A close-up of the tip shows it could do with a little work, but actually not having a needle like point is safer for diving.
 photo 44 whitby DK511-14 tip P1210744.jpg

Unlike the hook type of line cutter, the DK511/14 has a much bigger line cutting feature with an elongated scallop which helps contain what you are cutting by preventing the line/rope from slipping off the cutting edge.
 photo 45 whitby DK511-14 line cutter P1210749.jpg

The handle is coffin shaped with a flared butt and guard.
 photo 46 whitby DK511-14 handle P1210757.jpg

Yeah, this is a BFK!
 photo 47 whitby DK511-14 in hand P1210761.jpg

You have a couple of options for strap positions, and the back of the one-piece sheath is shaped to fit your leg.
 photo 48 whitby DK511-14 with straps P1210768.jpg

What are they like to use?

By featuring these three models, this review covers a wide range of the styles of knife offered by Whitby. Not to be too generalistic I would class these three as a backup, general purpose and heavy duty type of knife.
 photo 54 whitby Group underwater P1000917.jpg

I’ll not cover the cutting again as this is detailed in the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review which you can check for more information on the cutting test results.

None of these dive knives has a blunt tip, which means you do need to take great care using them as a release knife. All of them also have double edged designs which again makes them very hazardous for release use especially if you have line or rope wrapped round you.

Price-wise the DK9 and DK511/14 come in at the low end of the scale, and the DK11 entering the low-mid price range. This is an important consideration as though not perfect, these have proven to be very good value.

Remember that the corrosion testing was tantamount to abuse for these knives. No cleanup, and no protection for the blades, just a highly corrosive environment.

Starting with the DK9, unsurprisingly, the rust has taken hold inside the sheath, and where the edge has been ground (leaving a rougher finish than the rest of the knife). With only two spots suffering significantly, very little of the cutting edge was damaged by this corrosion.
 photo 52 whitby DK9 rust P1230022.jpg

Next up the DK11. Though this does not look too bad, there is rust going into the handle, and around 30% of the edge has corroded. After re-sharpening this knife is was clear the edge had pitted and become damaged. The serrations however show no signs of rust and were unaffected.
 photo 51 whitby DK11 rust P1230016.jpg

Lastly the DK511/14 which was looking one of the worst. It was also the first to show signs of rust after only two hours immersion. The mirror finish on the blade has helped protect it, but the edge has suffered quite a lot of corrosion and pitting.
 photo 53 whitby DK511-14 rust P1230029.jpg

These knives definitely need a little care and attention and should be cleaned and have grease applied to protect the blades.

Of the three, the DK9 felt very appropriate as a forearm mounted backup blade. Small, easy to forget you are wearing it, and importantly, being on the arm it is easier to watch as you re-sheath it – that point is wicked and will bite you if you are not careful.

The retention system was the least easy to use as you pretty much had to drag the knife out and push it home like a friction fit. Getting gloved fingers under the plastic clips was unreliable.
 photo 55 whitby DK9 arm P1000944.jpg

Going to a leg mount with the DK11, on dry land, the knife release catch was the stiffest of all the sprung clip designs and I thought it would make things a struggle in the water. It was much easier to work with once strapped to your leg, but still not as easy as I would really like. One winning, and unique, feature is the sliding lock. It really did give peace of mind to know that the blade was positively locked into the sheath, and unlocking to then allow the blade to be released was easy.
 photo 56 whitby DK11 leg P1000953.jpg

Lastly the DK511/14 which takes up much more room on your leg. With the rubber retaining ring pulled off the knife handle, the knife actually rattles around in the sheath and will fall out if the sheath is tipped up. This is unlike the other two where simply fully inserting the knife will lock it into the sheath – you have to watch this and make sure you re-fit the rubber retaining strap. There is a time and a place for a big knife, and the DK511/14 gives you a lot of blade for the money.
 photo 57 whitby DK511-14 leg P1000952.jpg

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

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Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
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Excellent cutting results from the DK9 None of the models are safe for ‘release’ tasks due to sharp points a double edged blades.
The DK11 has a locking system to ensure the blade is secure. All models suffered edge damage from corrosion.
Good value. DK511/14 knife retention is fiddly to use.
Effective rubber straps.
Sizes from Compact to BFK to choose from.

 photo 50 whitby Group unsheathed P1210778.jpg

 

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