Knife Review: Extrema Ratio Sethlans

Back when it was launched, I took a ‘first look’ at the Extrema Ratio Sethlans knife. Now, after being able to use the Sethlans for several months I can bring you this much more detailed look at the knife and its comprehensive equipped sheath.
The Sethlans is designed to be used for bushcraft, survival, and as a backup blade, so is also ideally suited for prepping, but I can tell you know, you are definitely going to want to use this knife.

The ‘First Look’ Video:
Taking you back to the initial impressions and overview of the Sethlans.


What’s in the box?:
Extrema Ratio knives always come in a nice robust presentation box.


A good look round the Sethlans Sheath – Things to look out for here are:

A good sheath can make or break a knife, as access to, and ease of carry, affect your experience of using the knife. The Sethlans has one of the most comprehensively equipped and well thought out sheaths of any knife I have used, and there are so many details to show, it is a major part of this review. The following gallery takes you through the construction, assembly methods and components of the sheath, including the sharpening stone pouch and fire-steel that come with the Sethlans.
This sheath can be fully disassembled and reassembled either as a left-handed setup (It comes as a right-handed setup), or stripped down to the very basics. You can run this sheath as just the Kydex sheath with no hanger, or the Kydex sheath with belt hanger/Molle mount. Super flexible design.


The Knife:
This gallery seems rather small after the sheath rundown. The Sethlans is a simple and elegant design that manages to incorporate the distinctive Extrema Ratio finger grip styling and take this feature yet further into the shaping of the actual tang within the grips where the metal is thinned down in the finger grip section of tang to mirror the grip shaping. Very nice touch.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.


What is it like to use?
Being an Extrema Ratio knife, the Sethlans seems to be both typically characteristic of the brand, yet at the same time completely different and surprising. It also has me in a dilemma about how to set it up thanks to the super flexible sheath design.
If I were packing in a ‘prepping’ style, I would leave the full Sethlans sheath setup with the sharpening stone and fire-steel, as like this you have all the bases covered. However as I am enjoying using this knife, and with the sheath pared down to the minimum, for me it is a much nicer every day carry. In this setup, I remove the pouch with sharpening stone, the fire-steel, and the handle retaining strap. This leaves the knife securely in the Kydex holder on a belt loop hanger.
The knife immediately feels at ease in the hand, comfortable, well balanced and agile. The grip is relatively slim for an Extrema Ratio knife, and this adds to the mobility and control for fine work.
Thanks to the thick full tang, the weight feels like it is in your hand, and the knife will just sit balanced on your first two fingers without trying to fall forwards.


The way the edge sweeps up towards the tip, gives you something similar to a chisel that you can use for nice controlled cuts by pushing down into whatever you are cutting. This same shape also works well as a skinner.
Areas of deep, wide and grippy jimping make for a very stable hold, and there is also the Extrema Ratio distinctive finger groove I have always loved.

Between the thumb jimping and swedge is a section of the blade spine that has been given a nice crisp edge, just right for scraping sparks off the big fire-steel. It does this very nicely indeed…


Fire-steels always make a mess that looks much worse than it is. The Sethlans cleans up perfectly after a fire lighting session, and the photo below, after a clean, left a knife looking as good a new. Use it!

Despite the significantly thick blade tang, the blade itself has a thickness of 3.9mm combined with a depth of 37.5mm, and this makes for a 5 degree primary bevel angle. The figures might be a bit of a yawn, but what it means is a blade that slices really well thanks to the small bevel angle – yet at a maximum thickness at the spine of nearly 4mm, is still a good strong blade without feeling heavy.

Extrema Ratio have put a lot of effort into the complex shaping of the blade, tang and handle fittings, and it shows. These design details make the Sethlans one of those knives you pick up and virtually forget about while using it, as the tool becomes an extension of your hand. You focus on the job, not the tool.

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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

The Kydex sheath has a bit of side to side play due to the strap layout.
Reconfiguring for left-handed use requires full disassembly of straps and sheath bolts.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Excellent balance of the knife.
Comprehensively equipped sheath.
Sheath can be reconfigured for left-handed use.
Modular sheath allows user to choose favourite setup.
Very good handling and grip.
Strong but slicey blade profile.
Easily strikes showers of sparks from a fire-steel.
Compact package.
Secure blade retention, yet easy to remove using thumb pressure.

 
Discussing the Review:
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Knife Review: Fällkniven U1c slip-joint

For me, Fällkniven‘s U1 pocket knife has been flying under the radar. You might think it is not the most exciting knife, a small slip-joint with simple build, but then again perhaps it is….
Now that I’ve been living with and using this knife for an extended period, I have found it is one of those no-nonsense practical every-day-use knives that just does the job without any fuss.
Also seen in this review is the super handy FS3 Flipstone with combined ceramic and diamond sharpening stones.

The Video about the Fällkniven U1 I wasn’t going to make:
Originally I wasn’t going to include a video in this review, but after living with the U1c for several months, I felt compelled to add one. Before getting to the detailed galleries and the rest of the review, here it is:

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:
I also got the Fällkniven flipstone at the same time, so you can see it’s packaging here. An unfortunate reality, but the Fällkniven box also has the special authentication label to allow you to confirm it is a genuine Fällkniven. The U1c come in its own dedicated belt pouch.


The Belt Pouch:
As with any knife, the sheath or pouch is hugely important for how easy it is to carry and use. The U1 comes with a perfectly matched small fabric belt pouch with velcro closing. The belt loop design allows for vertical or horizontal carry.


A good look round the Fällkniven U1c – Things to look out for here are:
The construction is kept very simple, and is in fact a 100 year old slip-joint design. The blade pivot sits directly onto the handle liners (perhaps not really even ‘liners’ as they are exposed). The wooden grips of the U1c cover around 3/4 of the handle. Fällkniven are steel laminating experts, and the U1c is no exception, with the 3G-steel visibly laminated into the blade core.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.



What is it like to use?

It’s a small slip-joint. I say it that way on purpose, as that is the reality – it sounds a bit boring and not worth taking much notice. Yes, it is a Fällkniven, so that does make it more interesting, and it has a 3G laminated blade, so more interesting again.

But, wait, this does not do it justice in the slightest!

Fällkniven say it is a 100 year old design. Designs that don’t work, don’t stick around, and this has been proven to me again and again while carrying this knife. This is not just and EDC knife, it is an EDU knife (Every Day Use – coining a phrase). Carry it and you will use it over and over, every day.

In my hand, it is a three-finger size knife (I cannot get four fingers to fit on the handle). Remember that your first three fingers are where the majority of your hand strength is, so it is not a handicap at all. The size of the knife makes it all the more easy to carry, and this is massively helped by the dedicated belt pouch, which is itself small and easy to forget about on your belt.

Although there is a double nail-nick (one either side of the blade), I find it easy to open with a pinch-grip on the blade. The action is positive and the blade perfectly secure for every day tasks.

The slight full convex grind on the relatively thin blade allows it to slide through what you are cutting with ease. And that brings me to the 3G steel and the factory edge. Normally in the course of the review testing I will need to re-sharpen an edge, or improve/re-profile it to my liking; over the couple of months I have been using the U1c, it still has a hair popping original factory edge, and I don’t want to re-sharpen it until it really needs it. No noticeable loss in its eagerness to cut from day one – seriously impressed.

Popping on a small lanyard makes getting it out of the pouch much easier and is well worth doing.


There was something that stopped me loving the U1c straight away, and that was the sharp corner on the blade stop and back-spring. These sharp corners give the ‘H’ it’s precision and clean look, but every time I handled the U1c i kept feeling the catch of these sharp edges and it put me off.
Taking a diamond stone to these corners and just easing them slightly transformed the experience of handling this knife. Only a small thing, but suddenly no catching on these sharp corners, instead just appreciating the size, feel, handling and cutting ability. Such an easy fix, if this little detail did bother you, it is easily resolved and worth doing.


As you have already seen, I ended up making a video I hadn’t intended to, simply because this little EDU knife fell into the U1c-shaped hole we all have in our lives.

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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Slight sense of being unfinished with some sharp edges.
Nothing else.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Superb cutting from the thin convexed blade.
3G steel just keeps holding its edge.
Compact three-finger size disappears on your belt.
Comes with excellent belt pouch.
Simple, classic, time-proven design.
Blade can be opened with a pinch-grip.
Firm spring and good resistance to closing.

 
Discussing the Review:
The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Review: Heinnie Special Editions – CRKT Pilar, MKM Isonzo and Penfold

In the UK, Heinnie Haynes is an institution and essential in the search for knives as well as outdoor and EDC gear. Having been a specialist in knives for so long, not satisfied with just selling standard production knives, Heinnie Haynes have been commissioning customised and enhanced special editions, many of which are slip-joint conversions of lock knives (to allow UK EDC). In this review we are taking a look at three of these Heinnie special editions – a slip-joint conversion of the CRKT Pilar and MKM Isonzo, plus a the sleek Heinnie designed Penfold.

The details:

This video has a quick look at the Heinnie Penfold and MKM Isonzo, and then a much more detailed examination of the CRKT Pilar.


A good look round the Heinnie CRKT Pilar – Things to look out for here are:
The exclusive special edition features include the G10 scales and spacer in Heinnie red, plus the conversion to slip-joint using a double spring-and-detent concealed within the handle.


A good look round the Heinnie MKM Isonzo (Cleaver blade)- Things to look out for here are:
Originally using a liner lock, the remains of this lock are clearly visible, but with the addition of a detent on the sprung bar (previously the lock bar). Highlights of Heinnie red let you know this is the special edition.


A good look round the Heinnie Penfold – Things to look out for here are:
Entirely a Heinnie design, the Penfold takes the classic pocket-spring slip-joint knife, and streamlines it with a beautiful simplicity and clean look.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.


The Torque measurement:



What is it like to use?

As a little ‘cherry on top’ I’ve added a couple of Heinnie beads onto paracord lanyards.


This led me to make a how-to video for the lanyards I like to tie. See Tutorial Page Here.


Inspired by the rasp-like grip texture of the MKM Isonzo handles (plus noticing other ‘pocket ripping knives’ over the years), a new test was born – the pocket-shredder test. Taking some raw calico and fitting and removing the knife’s pocket clip onto the calico fabric as if it were a pocket edge. This was done only 5 times; here you can see the comparison of how aggressive the pocket clip grip is. The MKM is a shredder!


Heinnie Edition CRKT Pilar – It’s a compact knife, three-finger-grip size, so, frustrating for it to be a lock knife where carry restrictions prevent EDCing a locker. Heinnie Haynes special slip-joint edition makes this a lovely, and EDCable, working knife. It is a slight disappointment that it only has a tip-down pocket clip. I initially thought this might be a deal breaker and this does conflict slightly with the lanyard hole, as to use the pocket clips means stuffing the lanyard into your pocket, opposite to how it should be. However, thanks to its small size and ease of handling it actually hasn’t been a real issue.
The sheepsfoot blade shape is very practical, presenting the tip and edge nicely for draw cuts.
One-handed-opening is easy and the slip-joint detent is firm enough (assuming correct cutting technique). Thanks to the vision of Heinnie Haynes, we have a super usable, easy to carry, and inexpensive EDC pocket knife.

Heinnie Edition MKM Isonzo Cleaver – This knife drew me in as soon as I saw it, Jesper Voxnæs’ distinctive design, which was also originally a liner-lock knife. With Heinnie Haynes stepping in and arranging for a slip-joint conversion to open up this excellent knife’s EDC-ability.
In this version, it has the ‘cleaver’ blade (although effectively this is really a slightly deeper sheepsfoot shape), with the characteristic downward presentation of the tip, making it a very practical cutter.
The peeled G10 scales have a texture that almost reminds me of the rasp side of a box grater (the one you end up skinning your finger joints on). This texture is super grippy, and I feel I could keep hold of this despite oil or anything else slippery on my hands.
For its overall size, the Isonzo is quite wide when folded; wide enough I could not fit it into any of the knife belt pouches I have. The secure grip from the rough handle texture is actually really good, and feels fine for general use, so I definitely want to carry this. Despite being my preferred tip-up clip position, its ferocious grip texture makes the pocket clip something I won’t use, as it will rip pockets to shreds; so, I just popped it into the bottom of whatever pocket or pouch/bag I had.
With a deep full flat grind, the blade had the narrowest primary bevel angle of the three in this review, and proved a great slicer with lots of control.

Heinnie Penfold – Those sleek lines make the Penfold beautiful in its simplicity. This is a knife imbued with elegance and sophistication, and a joy to behold every time you bring it out. When this arrived, I got out an old leather belt pouch I’ve had for probably over 25 years, and it’s been on my belt every day since then (with the Penfold in it of course).
Initially I was a little put off by the thickness of the blade. In terms of visual design, the thick blade looks super, but a thick blade loses out in slicing ability, so I didn’t have high hopes for the usability. Well, I could not have been more wrong; every task I’ve used it for has been completed with ease and not impeded by the blade thickness. There will be some cutting jobs the blade thickness may end up slowing down, but so far this has proven a cracking daily carry!

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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Pilar – tip-down clip position.
Isonzo – pocket shredding grip texture.
Penfold – thick blade and steep primary grind angle.
Penfold – lanyard point fiddly and a tight fit for 7-strand paracord.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Pilar – converted to a slip-joint for EDC.
Pilar – sheepsfoot blade shape.
Pilar – compact and easy to carry.
Isonzo – converted to a slip-joint for EDC.
Isonzo – super grippy handle texture.
Isonzo – very easy to one-hand-open.
Penfold – elegant and stylish design.
Penfold – S35VN and Titanium.
Penfold – slim and narrow making it a low profile carry.

 
Discussing the Review:
The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Showcase: Lajolo Knife Urban 01 LP “La Prima” Limited run of 300

This Knife Showcase takes a close look at the Lajolo Knife Urban 01 LP “La Prima”, a limited edition of only 300 pieces, produced and distributed by Extrema Ratio.

The knife was designed by the master of arms Danilo Rossi Lajolo of Cossano, who created the World Calix Academy in 2007.

You can find the knife at the “The Factory” along with lots more.

SHOWCASE VIDEO:

SHOWCASE GALLERY:


 
Discussing the Showcase:
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Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

CLASSIC Knife Review: Spyderco Schempp Bowie

Part of the Spyderco ‘Ethnic’ series of knives, the Schempp Bowie is collaboration piece designed by Ed Schempp for Spyderco. Ed’s priority in the design was to convey an ethnic American Bowie and wanted to demonstrate a coffin handled, clip-point Bowie knife that originated with the Sheffield Bowie imported into the USA.
(Classic review – First published in August 2015)

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 CPM S30V.

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.

Ed Schempp spent time with me going over the fundamentals of the design at SHOT Show 2015, but as a follow-up I sent over a marked up image, to go over the details.

Many thanks go to Ed for taking the time to explain the details of the design to me.

Though not quoting Ed directly, the following is an explanation of how the final design was arrived at and a few insights into the design process.

As mentioned in the introduction, Ed’s priority in the design was to convey an ethnic American Bowie, but this design was also influenced by the German short hunting sword. Ed wanted to produce a piece that was a coffin handled, clip point, “S” guarded Bowie.

Ed, like many US custom makers, introduces many ergonomic aspects into his designs and is very personally connected with this ethnic piece.

In line with his design principles, Ed generally drops the angle of the blade and develops the grip accordingly. This is done for the ergonomics of cutting, control and torsion. Ed refuses to design what he terms a “sharpened tent stake”.

Starting with the size of the blade (A), this has been maximized for the length of blade that can fit into the handle, along with as much cutting edge as could be accommodated by the handle.

When he designed the piece he actually made 4 different sizes to try and gauge a preference in size for the design. These prototypes ranged from a 3 inch blade to a 5 inch blade. In the end Spyderco chose the size they considered to be the best match for the most number of users.

The clip point, (B) is iconic to the ethnic version Ed was striving to attain. The clip was made slightly more than half the overall length to make it a significant feature. A flat grind was chosen as it has more material left in the blade and is therefore stronger. Flat grinds are one of Eds preferred blade grinds and are used in the majority of his designs.

As part of the ethnic design, to define the “S” shaped cross-guard there is a curved transition in the bolster (C) from the ricasso that rises up to the pressure ramp (E). The pressure ramp keeps the hand from slipping forward in use, giving additional control and power during cutting. The traditional Bowie knife is usually double guarded, so this ramp is part of the ethnicity of the piece.

Due to the Spyderco specifications, the hole had to be about 1.1 inches from the pivot. The hole has to nest into the handle, and yet offer easy access (L).

This meant there was minimal room for a specific finger choil, instead the area under the bolster is curved (D) allowing your grip to move forward and choke up on the blade.

The blade tip height (F) is closely related to the rake (I) used in the design. This is distinctive Ed Schempp styling as he finds a knife with this much negative rake more comfortable and more ergonomic in use. It begins to align the edge with the major forearm bones, reducing fatigue when using the knife for long periods, and lets the blade get good purchase on the medium to be cut without making the wrist force the edge down. The rake angle chosen (I) is an angle that Ed prefers as in a normal grip it brings the edge square to the cut, and keeps the blade from sliding away from the medium you are cutting.

In this design, the opening hole is nearly half the blade height (G). The lack of metal is a slight concern as this blade is 2.5 mm thick, but in proper use is not a problem. Every design has an intended use, and when used as intended this blade is strong enough.

Taken from an earlier interview with Sal Glesser this is a relevant point for a digression from the Schempp Bowie:

As safety is a very important consideration, Spyderco break a lot of their blades on purpose with a special machine that records various measurements. Spyderco have a set of standards for blade strength in relation to the intended purpose of the blade, and how strong the lock needs to be for its intended purpose.

Another slight digression:

A few years ago a Rescue model was made, and then a smaller Rescue model. Because of needing to be used with gloves, Sal thought the hole needed to be a bit larger so he redesigned the blade increasing the size of the hole but also raising the top of the blade to leave more steel. When the first manufacturing run was carried out the maker increased the size of the hole, but did not retool to raise the position of the hole. The first run of 1200 knives were received with the hole well down into the grind line. For a normal knife this might be OK, but not for a ‘Rescue’ knife. Sal’s immediate concern was over the strength of the blade and immediately put the blades through the breaking machine. That night Sal dreamt that a fireman was rushing into a building and he pulled out his knife to cut something; the blade broke and cut him (the last thing a fireman needs on a rescue mission). The next day all 1200 knives were put in a barrel which was filled with concrete and taken to the dump. Sal sets his own standards and won’t sell underperforming products, failures are either repaired or disposed of, but never sold as seconds.

Back to the Schempp Bowie…

The balance point (H) falls in line with the narrowing of the grip where the opening hole is nested (L). The opening hole is as deeply nested as it is to minimize the folded knife’s profile and optimize access to the opening hole.

Narrowing of the grip at this point also accommodates a natural grip, and achieves the best balance for all the grip positions.

The index finger is the ‘pivot’ of your grip on the knife, so its position on the handle acts as the ‘fulcrum’ of the knife grip. The narrower the handle at the point the index finger lies, the larger the range of movement available to the user. Using thumb pressure forward and aft you can swing an arc with the tip, and the closer the thumb is to the index finger the wider the range of arc. Having as large a range of arc as the Schempp Bowie has the more the user can manipulate the blade when cutting.

When looking at the knife from both sides, you will notice that from one side you cannot see the lock release….

…but on the other side, the bolster has been subtly pushed back (J) to expose the lock for ease of operation.

Ed doesn’t like exposed tangs on folders as he finds in many cases it is difficult to remove from the pocket and wears the pocket out prematurely. Careful attention has been paid to this detail where the bolster has been shaped to ensure it covers the blade tang (K).

With this knife being an American ethnic piece, brass was chosen for the bolster material (M) as this was of course a material used on many traditional pieces and is part of the iconic attributes of the knife. However, it is a modern Spyderco, so the Carbon fibre (P) is consistent with the modern design and blends traditional design with modern materials. Carbon fibre in particular was chosen as the modern material for its light weight and high strength.

The dovetailed scale bolster (N) is a detail Ed generally uses on all his bolstered knives. When the handle is radiused, this gives the appearance of a radiused joint between bolster and scale when looking straight onto the face of the handle.

A deep carry pocket clip (O) was chosen by Spyderco and means the knife sits well down in the pocket making it more secure. Being made of round stock it doesn’t scratch car doors and furniture (as much). Though this was not specifically chosen by Ed, he believes that it augments the design.

Ed Schempp with his Bowie at the Spyderco booth at SHOT 2015.

A few more details:

To get an idea of the size of the Spyderco Schempp Bowie, it is shown here with the Fallkniven F1 with the blade open.

And straight on.

The deep clip of the blade allows it to sit well within the handle.

Blade centring on this sample was perfect.

The liner lock has been recessed into the bolster and handle making it very low profile.

Lock engagement is excellent.

What it is like to use

When I first saw the Schempp bowie, my immediate reaction was that it was “definitely not for me”. It seemed a curiosity that I would never choose for myself. However I was fortunate enough to meet Ed Schempp and talk to him about the design. My eyes were opened to the ‘intent’ in its careful design and combining this with handling the knife it all fell into place. More and more I found I could not put it down.

It is not a heavyweight knife, but much more an elegant, controlled, slicer. The blade opens so smoothly and easily on its phosphor bronze washers, making this one of the nicest one handed openers I’ve handled.

Open or closed this is a very sleek organic knife.

All the control afforded by the handle design and raked blade becomes obvious as you use it. I did find however that this did not work well carving wood, but excelled at opening sacks and boxes, cutting sheet materials and shaping foam amongst other tasks.

Looking at the different grips you can take shows the many ways you can use it. (For scale, I wear a glove size of XL in case you are wondering).

This knife is very hard to put down!

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Distinctive Ethnic design Possible blade weakness at opening hole
Multiple grip options Styling may not be for everyone
Excellent control and ergonomics Rake can make certain types of cut less effective
Slim, recessed, liner lock Lock more suited to right-handers
Super slick OHO

Knife Review: lionSTEEL Thrill

I could not wait to get hold of a lionSTEEL Thrill when I saw it. It’s a slip-joint, and that is part of the attraction, as in the UK, for EDC-legal carry, it has to be non-locking – but there is so much more. The handle and spring are machined from a single solid piece of titanium, it has IKBS pivot bearings, a M390 blade and the stealth ‘hideaway’ pocket clip, making it a fully loaded package. Join me in this review of the lionSTEEL Thrill, a slip-joint pocket knife.

What’s in the box?:
Very well presented packaging.


A good look round the lionSTEEL Thrill – Things to look out for here are:
This gallery has a lot to look at (and we take a closer look at the pocket clip separately): the quality of machining and detailing of the solid handle, the steel ‘spring liner’ protecting the titanium spring from the blade tang, fit and finish of the fixings, and machining of the blade.


H.WAYL pocket clip:
The Thrill uses lionSTEEL’s ‘Hide What Annoys You’ H.WAYL clip system that allows the pocket clip to sit flush with the rest of the handle, instead of sticking out and sticking into your hand when using the knife. When hidden, you press the button to open the clip and allow it to slip over your pocket.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:
For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

Torque testing:


What is it like to use?
There was one thing I just had to include here, which is the sound of the Thrill opening and closing. The combination of the titanium body and steel spring liner gives it a kind of ‘sheeesh sheeesh’ sound I’ve not heard on any other knife. Well here it is, I love it…

That action feels great with the pivot bearings making the motion super slick, yet the spring strength makes the blade feels secure. A half-stop lets you change grip as you open it all the way, keeping control of the blade.

With the H.WAYL clip system, you can completely forget this knife has a pocket clip. Personally I would not want to trust this clip for two reasons; firstly, the clip’s ‘spring’ pressure is provided by the button spring, and this is not very strong (or you would struggle to open it), and secondly, the underside of the clip is straight and smooth, so has no ‘bump’ or texture to resist sliding off a pocket edge (in fact it gets easier to pull off the further up it moves, without that final clinch).

Because of this, and the lack of lanyard attachment, I have taken to carrying this in a belt pouch (as in the gallery below) which has proven to work very well.

My nails are not very strong, so I don’t like to open stiff blades using a nail-nick; there is, however, enough blade accessible when the Thrill is closed to allow me to pinch grip the blade to open it, so it has been completely comfortable to use.

Blade shape and geometry has proven itself time and again. A full flat grind combined with a blade that is not too thick and not too thin, means it cuts really well. The point of the blade punctures eagerly, helped by the narrow point-angle and swedge. (Of course you must always be careful and utilise correct technique when using the point of a slip-joint, as if you get it wrong you can make the blade close on your fingers.)

Being a slip-joint provides you with a freedom to carry the knife that far outweighs any limitations of not having a locking blade.

The Thrill has been my EDC for a good time now and takes all those daily duties in its stride while leaving you with the feeling it IS something special.


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.

I’m starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Weak pocket clip.
No Lanyard hole.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Lovely action.
Slip-Joint (UK EDC legal).
Firm back-spring pressure.
Versatile blade shape.
Possible to pinch grip the blade to open.
M390 blade steel.
Superb fit and finish.
Single-piece solid handle.
Hideaway pocket clip.

 
Discussing the Review:
Please visit the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page to discuss this review and start/join the conversation.

First Look: Extrema Ratio Sethlans Knife

This is a first look at the just launched Extrema Ratio Sethlans knife. This knife is designed to be used for bushcraft, survival, and as a backup blade, so is also ideally suited for prepping. But you are going to want to use this, not just leave it sitting by ‘just in case’.

The ‘First Look’ Video:


What’s in the box?:


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.
Quoted directly from Extrema Ratio –
““EXTREMA RATIO SETHLANS” a fixed blade work knife born to face a wide range of situations, suitable for survival, bushcraft, prepping, but also as a backup blade.

SETHLANS was designed in collaboration with Daniele Dal Canto, Master Advanced F.I.S.S.S. instructor (Italian Federation of Sports and Experimental Survival).

SETHLANS is available in two different versions with two different kinds of steel.

The stone washed version is produced with böhler N690 heat treated at 58 HRC, chosen for the reliability it has demonstrated over the last 20 years due to its resistance to oxidation and durability of the edge.

The black version is produced in D2 steel, heat and cryogenically treated at 60 HRC, which presents an high resharpening capacity even with makeshift tools. In order to give greater qualities of hardness and resistance, the blade is coated with the new Teflon-based product “EXP DARK”, proposed by Extrema Ratio.

The knife comes with G10 grips that feature the ergonomic design characteristic of Extrema Ratio handles. They can be removed by releasing the skeletonized structure of the knife, that allows maximum lightness with minimum thickness. For lovers of extreme customization, the full-tang structure allows the handle to be covered with a paracord cord.

The sheath is composed of a part in very light and minimalist Kydex. It can be disassembled and can be adapted for both left and right handed users. The addition of an optional belt clip allows the knife to be positioned both vertically and horizontally and makes the sheath much more versatile than the textile version. It is also equipped with a mini pouch with M.O.L.L.E. system. containing a two-sided stone for sharpening and a Firesteel for lighting fires”.

Type: Fixed blade
Use: Survival
Blade Length: 107 mm (4.21”)
Overall Length: 224 mm (8.82”)
Blade Thickness: 6.3 mm (0,25”)
Main Grid: Flat
Weight: 207 g (7,30 oz)
Blade Material Sethlans Stone Washed: Böhler N690 (58HRC) steel
Blade Finishing Sethlans Stone Washed: Stone Washed
Blade Material Sethlans Black D2: D2 (60HRC) steel
Blade Finishing Sethlans Black D2: EXP DARK
Handle Material: G10

 
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Knife Review: Fallkniven A1x

Not that I have ever doubted the strength of Fallkniven’s knives, but as soon as I saw there would be full exposed tang versions of their popular models I had to get hold of one! So the ‘x’ series delivers the A1, S1 and F1 with full tang and removable scales as the A1x, S1x, and F1x. The ‘x’ series also boast new updated sheaths with locking system. In this review of the Fallkniven A1x, join me in taking a good look at how this new version of an already tried and tested knife stacks up. It’s a beast!

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

A sad sign of the times is that a ‘genuine product’ sticker can be found on the box (sad that the unscrupulous are selling fake Fallkniven knives).
The Alx is simply presented wrapped in bubble wrap in its sheath.


A good look round the A1x’s sheath – Things to look out for here are:

Fallkniven have put a lot of thought into the x series sheath, building on previous versions and the ‘Pro’ series sheath to make this more secure and versatile than ever.
On the side opposite the finger guard, there is a locking lever which makes it impossible for the knife to fall out of the sheath, no matter how much it gets shaken around.


A good look round the A1x – Things to look out for here are:

Onto this chunky piece of laminated steel with removable Thermorun handle scales. The lamination of the steel is easily visible in many of these photos.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blade is made from Laminated CoS steel. This has the layers 420J2 – CoS – 420J2.


What is it like to use?

The A1x is one of the first blades to appear to contradict the SET testing in the previous section. The results for this CoS steel were not as good as I thought they would be, and this normally translates into real world edge retention. However with the A1x, the edge has been holding up fantastically in normal use, better than blades with superior SET results.
Considering my testing of the A1x involved plenty of heavy chopping as well as fine carving, and the edge just kept on going and going, there may be other unexplained factors at play.
I also found that when sharpening the A1x it proved very easy to get a really good edge. Some steels are more difficult to get a good edge on, but despite the high spec of the steel, it was very accommodating.
Of the three x series knives, the A1x is the biggest, and although the A1x blade is still only 160mm long, it has enough weight with the 7mm blade stock to be a very effective chopper.
7mm, YES, 7mm full exposed tang knife – that is 9/32″ for anyone preferring imperial.


7mm blade stock and a blade depth of only 31.5mm And a Convex Sabre grind, does mean the A1x is not a great slicer when deep cuts are needed. It is much more of a woodsman/bushcraft knife and well suited to wood processing, but less so for finer tasks. You can prepare food, and with the right technique use it for general cutting tasks, ensuring you use shallow cuts and allow the cut to open up to give the blade room to move through.

Fallkniven plastic sheaths can rattle a little, and the supplied sheath is right handed only due to the design of the knife retention. There are some left handed options available, so you might need to check this in advance.

A new development in the x series is the sheath lock, which works very well and negates the need for a fabric retaining strap. Once engaged the lock blocks the knife from moving so it can’t be released from the sheath. Security and peace of mind, a great new addition.

The A1x in its preferred habitat…

Everything about the Fallkniven A1x is simply reassuring – the blade thickness, the full exposed tang, the sheath lock, the steel, the convex grind, and not forgetting the pedigree. This is a knife I feel I really could trust my life to, and if I had to pick one blade to get me out of anything, this is right at the top of the list.

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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Very thick blade makes it a poor slicer in thicker materials.
Sheath rattles a bit.
Right handed only sheath.
_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Thick super-robust blade.
Very effective chopper.
Secure blade retention sheath lock.
Excellent edge retention.
Takes a great edge easily.
Full, exposed tang. Totally reliable.
Handle provides good comfortable grip.
Reassuringly solid.

Knife Review: lionSTEEL bestMAN

I was first able to handle the lionSTEEL bestMAN folding knife at IWA 2019 – those were prototypes. The finished production knives shown in this review are further refined compared to the prototypes (which you might have seen on the @TacticalReviews Instagram). lionSTEEL have taken the traditional folding pocket knife and modernised it using the best materials and giving you the choice of two blade shapes, single or double bladed versions and five handle materials.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the single blade bestMAN – Things to look out for here are:

Though looking very traditional, the bestMAN uses modern materials.


A good look round the double blade bestMAN – Things to look out for here are:

Packing in a second blade gives both available blade shapes in one knife. In this case a little more traditional with a wooden handle.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blades are made from M390 steel.

Originally developed following the release of the Chris Reeve Knives Impinda, the bestMAN has been tested for opening and closing torque. The raw data is included but it is the average torque figures in bold that I would direct you to look at. Remember to check the technical testing link above for more on this.


What is it like to use?

After spending a lot of time carrying the single and double bladed versions, this feels the right place to start. Initially I would have been adamant that the double blade version was without doubt the one you had to have – two blades are better than one – one main blade and one left razor sharp as a backup – the whole ‘one is none’ thing. To a degree maybe, but I’ve gone the other way and found the single blade version to be my favourite. The reason being two-fold, firstly it is noticeably smaller and far less obtrusive in the pocket, and secondly it is much easier to open the blade. Nail-nicks are not ideal if your nails are softened by water or otherwise not very strong. With the single blade version you can pinch-grip the blade as well as using the nail-nick so opening is definitely easier.
The double blade version still has that advantage of giving both blade shapes and a second sharp edge, just with the burden of being a bit bigger.


If you do need to chose between the drop-point and wharncliffe, this might be easy if you have a firm favourite, and either way you won’t go wrong.
The straight cutting edge and lower point of the wharncliffe suits many EDC cutting tasks better for me than the drop-point.

Modifications:

No surprises for anyone reading my reviews, when I bring up the sharpening choil/rear point. Some of the bestMAN blades have a more pronounced cutting edge heel than others, but in general, not sufficient for my liking. I have made a minor modification to the blade heel to add a Victorinox style sharpening choil. Shown here is the double blade version with both blades modified.


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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Double bladed version more difficult to open.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Excellent M390 steel.
Nice traditional ‘friendly’ looking slip-joint.
Choice of two blade shapes.
Choice of single or double blade.
Choice of five handle materials.
Reliable design.
Smooth precise action.
Large nail-nick.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Review: Kizlyar Supreme – Sturm and Survivalist X

This review features two knives from Kizlyar Supreme, the Sturm and Survivalist X. I have a soft spot for hollow handle knives, and am always on the lookout for a properly made one that can be used without worrying it will come apart; this is what drew me to the Survivalist X hollow handle knife. To partner this we have the Sturm, a smaller general purpose blade, and for this review in a high hardness steel, PGK from German steel makers Lohmann.

As soon as I came across knife makers Kizlyar Supreme I was impressed with the range of great designs and was very keen to try out some of their knives. Kizlyar Supreme launched as a company in 2011 thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of its founders, with the intention to provide great designs using high grade materials yet remain affordable.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

The boxed Sturm and Survivalist X.


A good look round the Sturm’s sheath – Things to look out for here are:

I’d go so far as to call the Sturm’s sheath a ‘technical mounting platform’ due to its mass of design features and practicality. As you will see in the photos, the sheath is indexed so the blade will only fit into it one way. Though not initially appearing ambidextrous, if the four bolts holding the sheath to the mount are removed, you can flip the sheath over to make it left-handed. While doing this you can also swap from vertical to horizontal carry by turning the mount 90 degrees.


A good look round the Sturm – Things to look out for here are:

The Sturm uses a handle Kizlyar Supreme use for several other models. The blade is a convenient size for most tasks and keeps thing simple with a full flat grind.


A good look round the Survivalist X’s sheath – Things to look out for here are:

Well, in terms of preparedness, even the Survivalist X’s sheath is ready for anything. Packed with features and utility it is certainly comprehensively equipped.


A good look round the Survivalist X – Things to look out for here are:

The survivalist X is a substantial knife, there is no missing its presence, and the hollow handle gives it a particular look and feel.


The Survivalist X’s hollow handle and capsule:

I’m sure we have all had those cheap and cheerful versions and found them not to live up to expectation, but be prepared for something entirely different.
Kizlyar Supreme have ensured there is the maximum amount of metal in the handle tube and blade tang to keep the strength very high. The view into the end of the handle shows the blade tang which comes right up to the base of the capsule, absolutely as far as possible.
Also shown are the capsule contents; fishing kit, wire, sewing kit with safety pin, matches and striker and plasters.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The Sturm’s blade is made from Lohmann PGK steel, and the Survivalist X’s from D2.


On the day it was measured, the Sturm in PGK steel had the best SET test result I had yet measured. The lower the Series 2 degradation (S2) figure is, the more resistant the edge is to being rolled. The recovery strop process shows if the edge was permanently damaged or chipped, or can be fully recovered.
Here you can see the PGK outperforming the D2 steel by a good margin. This is not saying the D2 is bad, in fact the D2 is good, just that the PGK performs better in this test.

Being a new steel to me, I checked the composition which is listed as:
Name – Lohmann PGK
Base – Fe
C – 1.2
Cr – 8.5
Mo – 1.5
V – 2
W – 1.5
Si – 1


What is it like to use?

Picking up the Sturm was like finding an old pair of shoes that fit perfectly. No adjusting or finding my way with this knife, instead just getting on with whatever task. The size of the Sturm is ideal for most of the general cutting tasks you might want a fixed blade for.

The lips of the sheath had arrived with some rough edges from the moulding and these were becoming annoying. Once trimmed off, the feel was transformed as when unsheathing the knife you push onto the lips with your thumb. The retention is a bit strong to just pull the Sturm out without the thumb lever, but is possible when you really have to.

Hollow handles – are they a love or hate thing? If the knife is not well made and the blade comes off, then clearly hate, but if the handle and blade are well fixed and don’t come loose, what then? The Survivalist X has had a hard time from me, heavy chopping and into hard woods; I wanted to see if I could get the blade to shift in the handle – so far not a hint of movement.

So, the Survivalist X’s blade/handle construction is solid and doesn’t look like a weak point at all, then we have the fact it is a round handle. True, a round handle is not the best as it lacks indexing for the grip. You do have to keep an eye on the blade orientation, and in heavy chopping it can spin and twist a little. Nothing unexpected there. The knurling gives good grip without being too abrasive. It is actually not a bad thing that you have to pay attention to the knife and your grip, and I’ve not found this to be a problem.

The Survivalist X is a heavy hitter, and is heavy to carry, so take it when you want a big camp knife, or don’t want to carry a hatchet as well as a knife.


One questionable feature for me is the bone cracker wedge on the Survivalist X’s spine; it is like nothing I’ve seen before. A big knife like this is also good for batoning larger logs, but this wedge damages the baton more than a straight spine. How often do you need to crack bones instead of cutting at the joints? Not sure about that.

I must also mention that the factory edges on both knifes were superb, with good angles, and in hard steels – though not essential, it is very nice to have super sharp blades out of the box.

The Sturm has several different steel choices and the PGK steel has been a really interesting one. I thought I had an issue when cutting packing straps as the edge seemed to dull straight away when cutting some of these, yet as you have seen before, it’s structural edge testing results very very good. I decided to change the edge angle, and it was very slow to sharpen on a belt, showing how hard and wear resistant the PGK steel is. After this reprofile I haven’t had anything similar happen, so it appears to have been an anomaly.

I also can’t quite work it out as a steel, as when I examine the edge for defects, I see reflections that would normally indicate edge damage, yet the Sturm remains sharp and cuts well, defying the normal observations. The bottom line here is that despite what I think I see, the Sturm keeps cutting.

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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Sturm – The sheath lips needed mould flashings to be trimmed.
Survivalist X – For a ‘Survival’ Knife I’d prefer a more stainless steel than D2.
Survivalist X – The exposed press-studs scratch the handle.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Sturm – Excellent handle comfort and indexing.
Sturm – Blade geometry works well.
Sturm – Range of steels to choose from.
Sturm – Hugely versatile sheath and mounting options.
Sturm – Secure, strap-free knife retention.
Sturm – Great general purpose size.
Sturm – The PGK steel just seems to keep on cutting.
Survivalist X – Very strong construction.
Survivalist X – Big hollow-handled knife – what is not to like?
Survivalist X – Fantastic chopping performance.
Survivalist X – Feature-packed sheath with lots of options.
Both – Very good factory edges.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.