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)

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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.

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

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife 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.

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: Spartan Blades PALLAS Button Lock

Spartan Blades LLC proudly make “Knives with Intent”, and their Pallas Button Lock folder is no exception, fulfilling its design brief exceptionally well.

 photo 31 Pallas side open P1190318.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 43 Pallas grind P1200581.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 44 Pallas angle P1200606.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 42 Pallas balance P1200573.jpg

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

 photo Spartan Pallas Parameters.jpg

The blade is made from S35VN 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.

Mark Carey (co-founder of Spartan Blades LLC) and I discussed the Pallas at IWA 2016, so I was able to find out a little of the thought processes that brought the Pallas folder into Spartan Blades’ line up.

The knife was actually designed by Spartan Blades’ other founder Curtis Iovito and named after PALLAS (PALE ES), the Titan god of warcraft from Greek mythology.

Mark, as an ex-serviceman himself, is passionate about helping to properly equip those in the armed forces with reliable tools. The Pallas was born out of a relatively simple need for a folding knife that could be easily closed with gloves on, and while being made of premium materials, would stay at an affordable price point.

With most liner or frame lock knives being awkward to close with gloves on, the button lock was an ideal format to make it easy to release the lock with even thick gloves on. For a blade you can rely on, CPMS35VN steel was chosen with a thickness sufficient to make it strong, without being excessively thick or heavy which would impede cutting. The S35VN blade rides on a set of Alpha bearings keeping it slick. To keep weight low and yet not add a high cost, 6061 aluminium was used for the frame along with stainless steel hardware.

In its standard format the Pallas has a flipper tab and thumb stud, either of which can be flicked to easily open the blade. In this review is a special modified version for the UK market. The modification was included following a discussion between Bruce of Heinnie Haynes and Mark, and required the flipper tab to be removed.

This ‘UK’ modified Pallas was created due to the UKBA tightening control over imported knives with quickly deployable blades. Flipper style knives are the primary target.

A few more details:

The Pallas box along with a Heinnie Haynes sticker to signify the creation of this ‘UK’ Version of the knife.
 photo 01 Pallas boxed H P1190180.jpg

Flipping open the box, and the Pallas is sandwiched between foam liners with a Spartan Blades sticker included.
 photo 02 Pallas box open P1190188.jpg

Fresh out of the box, the Pallas.
 photo 03 Pallas closed P1190190.jpg

Straight in for a look at three key aspects of this knife, it is made by Spartan Blades (with the logo engraved in the handle), there is a button lock, and the blade is S35VN steel.
 photo 04 Pallas button stud logo P1190191.jpg

Closer still to the stainless steel button.
 photo 05 Pallas button logo P1190192.jpg

Despite an overall flat cross-section, the Pallas is full of curves that make the design flow and provide its ergonomics.
 photo 06 Pallas standing closed P1190200.jpg

Note the deviation from a standard Pallas in the there is no longer a flipper tab on this special UK version.
 photo 07 Pallas lying closed P1190204.jpg

SpartanBlades’ signature titanium arrow pocket clip.
 photo 08 Pallas clip P1190206.jpg

The pocket clip is one sided and cannot be fitted to the side with the lock button.
 photo 09 Pallas lying closed P1190210.jpg

This is where the flipper tab would be on the standard Pallas.
 photo 10 Pallas UK version P1190214.jpg

Button locks are far less common in non-autos, than other locking mechanism, so warrants a closer look. Here the blade has been opened slightly to allow the button and its shaft to be seen.
 photo 11 Pallas button inside P1190222.jpg

Viewed from a slightly higher angle you can see how the button has been pulled into the handle as the blade starts to open.
 photo 12 Pallas button inside P1190233.jpg

With the blade a little further open you can see the locking notch in the blade into which the button engages. You can see it is just to the right of the blade stop pin.
 photo 13 Pallas lock notch P1190238.jpg

The blade is now nearly fully open and the locking notch has nearly reached the button.
 photo 14 Pallas lock notch nearly open P1190243.jpg

And fully open the button has locked itself into the notch in the blade. The blade has also hit the stop pin and is firmly wedged between the two.
 photo 15 Pallas lock button engaged P1190245.jpg

Now the blade is fully open, the UK version trimmed off flipper tab can be seen more clearly.
 photo 16 Pallas no flipper P1190259.jpg

The overall view.
 photo 18 Pallas angle open reverse P1190264.jpg

when looking closely at the blade tip you can see the contrast of the crispness of the final edge bevel and the rounded blade spine.
 photo 19 Pallas tip P1190272.jpg

The entire blade surface has a stonewashed finish.
 photo 20 Pallas stonewash P1190275.jpg

Not quite a full flat grind, the Pallas blade is a high flat grind.
 photo 21 Pallas blade grind P1190276.jpg

Each side of the pivot bolt is different, with a nut on this side.
 photo 22 Pallas pivot nut P1190285.jpg

And a torx bolt head on the other side.
 photo 23 Pallas pivot bolt P1190280.jpg

Though they look good, the handle spacers are also a very practical design with wide flats where they contact the handles and a slight waist which will reduce weight without any significant loss of strength.
 photo 24 Pallas spacers P1190289.jpg

You can see straight through the handle with the three spacers one end,and the blade pivot at the other.
 photo 25 Pallas spacers P1190293.jpg

All the edges of the spine are nicely rounded. So you won’t be striking sparks off fire-rods, but you also won’t be fraying your pockets.
 photo 26 Pallas spine P1190294.jpg

There is a little jimping for your thumb where the blade meets the handle.
 photo 27 Pallas jimping P1190298.jpg

Each side of the spacers are held with torx bolts, as is the pocket clip.
 photo 28 Pallas spacer bolts P1190302.jpg

Blade centring is spot on.
 photo 29 Pallas centring P1190307.jpg

When the blade is between one third and two thirds open you can see the blade-stop hook in the tang of the blade.
 photo 30 Pallas blade stop hook P1190315.jpg

The cutting edge is terminated in a choil, and the plunge line is nicely radiused to reduce stress concentrators.
 photo 32 Pallas plunge choil P1190322.jpg

At the butt of the knife handle, there is jimping top and bottom giving a surprisingly useful amount of grip. I’d also take this opportunity to point out the surface texture of the anodised handles. There is a matt finish to the anodising due to what appears to be an underlying bead blasted surface.
 photo 33 Pallas handle jimping P1190325.jpg

Grooves cut into this side of the handle provide grip where your finger tips press onto the handle. Subtle and effective.
 photo 39 Pallas handle grip P1190366.jpg

The lanyard hole goes through both handle slabs.
 photo 40 Pallas lanyard hole P1190368.jpg

Lastly for this section, a close-up of the thumb stud which looks crisp and precise, yet without any sharp edges on the thumb contact surface.
 photo 41 Pallas thumb stud P1190377.jpg

What it is like to use?

I like a big folder, and though the Pallas is not really big, it certainly is a good size with its 3 3/4″ blade and 8 3/4″ opened length. For a knife of its size with all metal construction, the weight is impressively low making it easy to carry.

Admittedly I was slightly sceptical about the button lock from the point of view of a good tight lockup. Straight out of the box, my fears seemed to be proving true, HOWEVER (and yes a big however) this was only due to two reasons. Firstly without the flipper, I was only opening the blade slowly and the lock was then not engaging tightly, and secondly the button just needed a little use to settle in.

After more use, the lock was engaging tightly even when only opened gently on the thumb stud. So I would recommend all users to start with at least 30-40 good firm flicks open to bed the button lock in. After this the lock has been spot on and rock solid. Even with the UK version you can start to open the blade with the thumb stud, then flick it fully open with your wrist. For those with the knack, so can also flip the blade open using the thumb stud instead of the flipper tab (but be careful as you can easily catch the edge with your thumb doing this).

Another observation that was immediately obvious, is that the blade movement is super slick. Importantly the blade has no side-to-side play, but the movement is so smooth and easy I would go so far as to say it is the smoothest I’ve used to date (and I’ve handles hundreds of folders with and without ball-bearings). This may in part be due to the button lock mechanism allowing the blade tang to move freely, or possibly due to the high level of finish of all the moving parts.

The generous size of the knife means it is a comfortable handful with or without gloves. I would obviously prefer the added protection the flipper tab (finger guard) gives you, but for this UK version it is no less safe than other non-flipper folders.
(I take XL size gloves)
 photo 34 Pallas in hand P1190332.jpg

Taking up a thrust hold, the jimping on the blade gives you more grip.
 photo 35 Pallas in hand P1190334.jpg

Though this was not the intention of the harpoon style blade, it just happens that for a fine working grip your first finger sits nicely against the harpoon spine. Like this of course you need to watch your thumb doesn’t hit the lock button. (So far I’ve not had any instances of an accidental press of the lock button)
 photo 36 Pallas in hand P1190337.jpg

When swapping between grips, your hand seems to fall into place with no adjustment required to eliminate any hotspots. Handle shaping is subtle but certainly works well for me.

With the button lock design being focused on ease of closing with gloves on, it is primarily a right-handed layout with the button being easy to reach with the thumb of your right hand. The clip is also fixed to one side (opposite to the button). The blade has a double-ended thumb stud and there is a depression on both handle sides giving easier access to the thumb stud, so at least for opening the Pallas is suitable for left-handed users as well. Are there any issues for left-handers? No, even using the Pallas left-handed I found the button easy to press with my first finger to close the blade. It is not as comfortable with the clip falling under your finger tips in a left-handed grip, but that is only a minor annoyance.

Another concern I had was of the button being accidentally pressed during use. So far I’ve not come close to doing this as the button appears to be far enough forward you positively have to try and press it. It is perhaps a small risk, but the completely safe and easy one-handed-closing the Pallas allows, has started to make this a firm favourite. While holding the button in, the blade is able to swing freely, so one-handed-closing is as easy as pressing the button and either flicking the blade closed or holding the blade upright and allowing it to swing closed. Many knives open easily, but few close this easily (when you want it to close).

I’m not a fan of pocket clips, and the Pallas clip looks quite thick, but thanks to being titanium, it has an ideal holding tension that is not too strong or weak.

Blade thickness is an excellent compromise between ultimate strength and cutting ability. It is thick enough that in some harder materials you start to feel it binding as the blade grind wedges into the cut, but the high flat grind helps this stay manageable. There is enough steel in the blade that you are not going to be worried about breaking it (unless you try to use it as a pry bar).

To give another idea of scale, here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife.
 photo 37 Pallas size P1190353.jpg

And also shown next to the Spartan Blades Harsey Model II.
 photo 38 Pallas size P1190360.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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Button lock makes blade closing easy, with or without gloves. Lock initially needs some bedding in.
Safe and Easy One-Handed Closing. Small possibility of accidentally pressing the lock button during use (this did NOT happen during testing).
Strong S35VN Blade. Slightly biased for right-handed users.
Lightweight for its size.
Super smooth blade action.
Zero blade play.
Excellent fit and finish.
Titanium pocket clip.

 photo 17 Pallas angle open P1190262.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: Ontario Knife Company – Group Review

After selecting a set of three knives I felt represented what Ontario Knife Company bring to the market (Blackbird SK-5, Ranger RD Tanto and RTAK-II), I originally intended to present a single group review.
As I have got to know them better, I found that individual reviews would work better, so this page is to tie together the review series and provide a single point of reference to link to all three reviews, plus provide a few group shots for comparison.
This article includes some exclusive images and comments, so is worth getting to the end of before going to an individual review.

03 Apr 2016 – ‘Ranger’ RD Tanto
06 Apr 2016 – RTAK-II
18 Apr 2016 – Blackbird SK-5

 photo 01 OKCtrio sheathed P1140542.jpg

 photo 09 OKCtrio in log P1160300.jpg

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.

See individual reviews for this exclusive information.

A few more details:

The images at the beginning of this group review page show the unsheathed knives together. This image better shows how the sheathed knives compare in size.
 photo 02 OKCtrio sheathed P1140548v2.jpg

Looking at blade stock thickness, top left is the RTAK-II, middle RD Tanto and bottom right is the Blackbird SK-5.
 photo 03 OKCtrio blade thickness P1140571.jpg

Moving back to show the three blades sitting next to each other.
 photo 04 OKCtrio comparison P1140575.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knives 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 36 RD Tanto flat grind P1140603.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).

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 RTAK II angle P1140389.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 Blackbird balance P1140196.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate. This table includes the parameters for all the OKC knives in this series of reviews.
 photo OKC Parameters BlackbirdRDTantoRTAKII.jpg

What they are like to use?

There is too much detail to describe each of these blades strengths and weaknesses in detail, so I’ll just use this opportunity to show the pointed-stick comparison side-by-side
 photo 05 OKCtrio whittlers P1160278.jpg

The RTAK-II is an excellent cutter.
 photo 06 OKCtrio RTAKII stick P1160289.jpg

As a super tough extraction/digging/rescue tool, the RD Tanto struggles a bit for some basic cutting. It excels at heavy tasks though.
 photo 07 OKCtrio RDTANTO stick P1160291.jpg

With the factory edge the Blackbird works well enough, but the edge angle is steep. This photo is from before an edge reprofiling after which the SK-5 cuts furiously well.
 photo 08 OKCtrio Blackbird stick P1160293.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.

Here I’ve included a very basic summing up of each knife. See individual reviews for detailed information.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Knife In a nutshell
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Blackbird SK-5 No-nonsense survival knife
Ranger RD Tanto Super tough extraction/rescue tool
RTAK-II Fantastic all-rounder

 photo 10 OKCtrio on log P1160316.jpg

 

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Knife Review: Spartan Blades’ Harsey Model II (6.125″ blade – S35VN)

The SPARTAN HARSEY MODEL II is Spartan Blades’ third collaboration with world renowned knife maker, William “Bill” Harsey Jr. The Harsey Model II was designed to be sturdy knife that would serve equally well as both a field and combat knife. The ergonomic and textured canvas micarta handle is specifically intended to provide comfort and confidence of grip.

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knives 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).

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

The blade is made from S35VN.

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.

Many thanks go to Bill Harsey (knife designer) and Mark Carey (co-owner of Spartan Blades) for taking the time to explain the details of the knife and sheath design to me.

Though not quoting Bill and Mark directly, the following is an explanation of how the final design was arrived at.

Bill spoke with Spartan about the intended use before he started the prototype process. Having already done the Model 1 limited edition, Spartan Blades told Bill they would like to use handle shape but make it a bit smaller (so it would be more usable for more people). It was decided to shrink handle by 5% and change blade length.

In this case the blade length (A) was chosen to fill a specific gap in the Spartan product line.

A harpoon point (B) was used to reinforce the point, with the additional blade width used to make point stronger without making it thicker. The unsharpened edge of the harpoon point could be sharpened if required.

Looking at the area just in front of the guard (C) it might appear to be a finger choil, however, Bill emphasised that this is not a finger choil. Instead it is a relief between the end of edge and front of handle. “Don’t put your finger in it.”

The cutting edge has been pushed away from the plunge line (D), extending the choil. Though this slightly reduces the length of the cutting edge, the knife has the edge where Bill intended it to be on this model. This also takes the end of cutting edge away from the radiused plunge line.

Bill made the guard (E) protrude enough to be useful without getting in the way. (Based on over 30 years of experience rather than any specific guidelines)

As with many of the knife’s ergonomic features, the slight negative rake (F) was chosen by Bill “because it felt right”.

Discussing the single lanyard hole in the butt of the knife (G) and the subject of lanyard use and safety, Bill indicated that this feature is especially useful when working over water, and that ultimately it is the individual owner’s decision of exactly how to use the lanyard when there is a safety aspect to consider (Author’s note – when chopping, use of a lanyard can be dangerous). What was expressly ruled out was the possibility of adding a lanyard hole in the guard.

As well as providing grip, the jimping (H) is for tactile reference. Jimping on the rear of the handle is for same reason but when using a reverse grip.

Front jimping.

View of both areas of jimping.

Rear jimping.

The balance point (I) has been adjusted by selecting appropriate material thicknesses and removing material where it doesn’t need to be (such as drilling the tang).

Featuring a fully sculpted handle, the Harsey Model II’s grip is highly functional with finger grips and pommel hook/swell (J). Placement is of these elements is chosen to ensure function even when user is wearing gloves in adverse conditions.

*Now a temporary move to consider the Sheath design details….

During testing, it was noticed that the position of the strap makes it vulnerable to being cut when inserting or withdrawing the knife.

However Mark explained that the retention strap was positioned at handle choil level to insure a good fit and allow the user to get full grip on the exposed handle. The user can then flip the snap closure with their thumb (and sweep the strap out of way with their finger). While a user could cut the retaining strap, it is unlikely if deliberately drawing. The sheath is adjustable to allow it fit a range of Spartan’s other knives.

Showing the detail of the retention strap’s adjustment. You can alter the fit, or use it for another knife.

Though limited in space, the PALS webbing on the front (L), can, and has been, used for a small pouch or to place pistol holster over it for chest draw.

There is a Felt liner (M) inside the sheath. It is made from a recycled kydex like plastic which is laminated between layers of felt. This has the advantage that it provides some retention and is extremely quiet when drawing making it ideal for use in the field as well as when moving as there is no rattle.

A closer look at the liner.

Looking at the back of the sheath:

Use of Velcro throughout the entire belt loop (N) allows it to be fitted on a 1”-4” belt width and the Velcro keeps the sheath tight onto the belt whatever its size.

There is Velcro on the outer flap.

As well as inside the actual belt ‘loop’ as well.

Rather than just using the webbing loop (into which the D-ring is fitted), a D-ring (O) was introduced to provide better directional stability on the leg and allows for other items to be attached.

There are copious tie loops (P) on the back of the sheath which allow the leg tie down to act as a way to lace the sheath to a vest or pack in any direction (vertical, horizontal or diagonal) as well as allowing it to be mounted to packs or vehicle roll cages.

For the final part of ‘Explained by the maker’ we return to the knife…

Point position (Q) relative to the centre line gives a best ‘user friendly’ position for most tasks.

Though supplied unsharpened, the Swedge (R) can be sharpened like an Axe to allow for use in tinder preparation and splitting wood, which saves the main blade from being used for those tasks.

As explained earlier, the harpoon point strengthens the tip. The position of the end of this feature (S) is dictated by overall form and function.

The final height of the grind line (T) is the result of the desired bevel angle intersecting with the 3/16” blade stock. The bevel angle used in the Harsey Model II allows for good sharpness while maintaining toughness.

A flat grind (U) is used purely as it is stronger than a hollow grind, and in this design, strength and durability are key requirements.

Use of a rounded plunge line (V) is related to providing stress relief during the heat treat / cryo process, and ergonomics when using.

One of the special features of this knife are the sculpted handle scales (W). Spartan Blades scanned a handle Bill had hand ground in the 1970’s that was too hard to make at that time. Both Col Applegate and Al Mar wanted to use it, but at the time technology could not reproduce it – Spartan Blades now have.

The detailed profiling in the butt swell/hook area (X) where the handle scales have a double-swell with swell in the side profile and top profile, came about over many years with Bill’s own experience combined with feedback from users. It greatly aids grip and general ergonomics for all tasks.

The selected blade steel (S35VN), which is used almost exclusively across the Spartan range, has been a logical choice for Spartan. S30V was the first CPM steel specifically created for cutlery and S35VN, a product improvement, just fits with what most soldiers and outdoorsman want. Good corrosion resistance, excellent edge retention and good toughness. Spartan really like it and it is also a great choice for many users who cannot re-sharpen when deployed for 6 months or a year.

A few more details:

Picking up on a few details not covered during the ‘Explained By’ section.

The Harsey Model II is a knife to be used, so the box reflects this simple intent. No fancy presentation packaging, it is a plain box that just gets the knife to you.

Here is another view of the knife out of its sheath with the felt liner visible.

And the side view of the same.

Spartan Blades logo etched onto the blade with U.S.A and the blade steel. This knife is the Flat Dark Earth colour and has a ZrN PVD ‘SpartaCoat’ coating.

So right now, just bear with me as I’m really just enjoying looking at the blade profile…

…along with that sculpted grip and harpoon point

Yes, still enjoying that profile…..

The Flat Dark Earth colouring is a very subdued looking finish that fits right in.

To get an idea of the size of the Harsey Model II, it is shown here with the Fallkniven F1, and Spyderco UKPK FRN.

And straight on.

What it is like to use?

This is a knife I’ve loved the look of from first sight of it. However in a tool designed to cut, looks are not everything, and as it happens the Harsey Model II does cuts just as well as you would hope.

Taking the Harsey Modell II into my daily use gear it has been with me for several months now. (In this photo it is still looking spotless as it had not had any real use at that time).

It has been with me out hunting and on the range.

Out and about in the field.

For a sturdy knife, the Harsey Model II worked perfectly well carving and shaping wood. Pictured in the process of making a ‘mini-me’ letter opener…

For some cutting tasks I have found the Harsey Model II a little too ‘pointy’. The tip is very eager to cut and resulted in more aggressive cuts than I intended in certain situations. Admittedly, these are situations I would normally have used a smaller knife with a less prominent point, but I had the Harsey Model II with me, so had to use it.

It is one of the most natural feeling knives I’ve used. The handle’s curves and sculpted profile just fit my hand and allow it act as an extension of my arm rather than a foreign object. The milling lines from the CNC machining of the G10 provide an ideal surface roughness giving excellent grip yet no rubbing. Without gloves, my hand became tired long before I felt any pressure points or anywhere in danger of blistering. With gloves, the limiting factor are the gloves own seam lines which tend to add a source of pressure and rubbing, but what was clearly evident was that the handle works just as well with gloves or without.

Still on my to-do list is to sharpen the harpoon swedge. Though I like the idea, in my normal use, I already find the point very aggressive, so sharpening the top edge as well is only going to make it even more so.

The sheath has proved very versatile in its mounting options, however there are a couple of points I’ve found that don’t seem to work so well. Though any sheath retaining strap can be in danger of being cut, the retaining strap seems to need to be positively pushed out of the way to avoid being cut. Depending on how you mount it this can be easier or quite difficult.

Though it provides a very secure fit, the use of Velcro on the internal part of the belt loop, means that this is quite abrasive on the belt itself and causes fraying on fabric belts and scratching on leather belts. In military applications you probably won’t care, but ‘sporting’ users might.

Its blade length, at just over 6”, combined with a great balance makes this a very nimble blade despite its sturdy 3/16” blade stock. I’ve not handled the larger Harsey Model I Limited edition, but think that most users would find the Model II more manageable and useful for general tasks even if they could still get a Model I.

The S35VN is standing up to its promises of edge retention. I’ve not been using it for extended periods of chopping (I use an axe for that), but instead just using it as and when I need to, and so far there has been no need to bother with a strop or otherwise maintain the edge. Only further use and time will tell just how long the edge will last before I need to touch it up. The only maintenance I have done so far is washing various ‘residues’ off the blade.

This knife has made itself a firm favourite of mine due to its excellent handling and balance, and a fantastic grip, not forgetting the excellent steel too.

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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Sculpted handle The point can cut very aggressively
S35VN blade steel Possible to cut the retaining strap by mistake
Versatile sheath Belt loop will mark/fray most belts
Superb balance
Jimping for forward and reverse grips