Knife Review: ANV M311 COMPACT

The M311 COMPACT is a scaled down version of the excellent M311 Spelter. The reduction is 13%, bringing the overall length down to 235mm and blade to 110mm, while completely retaining the M311’s distinctive characteristics.

With the M311 Spelter being one of my favourite knives, the announcement of the M311 COMPACT had me sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to get hold of one and try it out.

Join me in this detailed review of the ANV – ACTA NON VERBA Knives M311 COMPACT to see what it is really like.

Before we properly embark upon the full review of the M311 COMPACT, lets see what that 13% scaling down looks like compared directly to the original M311 Spelter.

Including the sheaths initially as this is the package you carry.

Then the knives themselves next to each other. 13% doesn’t sound much, but it makes a big difference. The original M311 Spelter is a substantial knife. With a 13% reduction, the M311 COMPACT becomes much more EDC than expedition.

Review Videos

Starting with a short format sixty second review:

Onto a full video review covering many more details:

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:
The ANV packaging has had a slight update where the knife is held in a liner which stretches a clear plastic film over the knife to keep it firmly in place.

A good look round the M311 COMPACT’s Sheath – Things to look out for here are:
With the scaling down, all the parts ANV make are reduced, but the MOLLE straps are not, so become relatively more prominent features. Looking beyond these, we have a Kydex sheath with hollow rivets holding it together. A generous free running drainage hole at the tip of the sheath ensures easy flushing if needed, and the number of hollow rivets and slots give you lots of attachment points.

A good look round the M311 COMPACT – Things to look out for here are:
ANV’s distinctive swedged blade never disappoints on the looks front, giving it immediate appeal. It may be scaled down, but all the proportions and details are still spot on.
3D milled scales, finger guard and first-finger groove, all provide excellent grip, and then there are also three sections of jimping in the full tang. The M311 has a shaped thumb rest on the blade spine to allow for powerful cut control and pressure to be applied directly behind the edge.

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 Elmax steel.

The Factory edge up close:

Followers of Tactical Reviews will know my views on factory edges, but to recap:

Anyone using a knife will need to sharpen it. That first factory edge is just like the first tank of fuel that a new car comes with (or first charge of the battery).
A good factory edge is a ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘make or break’ for a good knife, as you will be putting your own edge onto it soon enough.
The factory edge does however indicate the care a knife maker has put into the final finish.
It is for this reason Tactical Reviews measures factory edge sharpness and specifications, and includes this information in the detailed technical testing.

As a further look at the factory edge, this section has been added to include some high magnification photos of the factory edges.

What is it like to use?

Local laws may or may not allow a fixed blade to be carried as an EDC. Unfortunately where I live you need ‘good reason’ to carry a fixed blade in a public place, however on private property and when I do have good reason, my preference is for a compact fixed blade. The M311 COMPACT has muscled its way into my top carry spot, the closest a fixed blade can be to being my EDC.

Take a look at it in the hand. (I take XL size gloves.) It is not small, but it is also not a large knife, instead finding a really efficient and effective sizing that gives you great cutting power without great size.
Multiple grip placements allow you to find the one that gives you the best advantage for any task.

Though the M311 COMPACT is a scaled down M311 Spelter, one observation I have is that oddly it feels ‘crisper’ in terms of its handle finish, and this makes it a little more abrasive to hold and use. Excellent grip, but oddly a touch more fatiguing to use purely from the roughness of the handle. This is a ‘feel’ more than anything really tangible, and for the tasks I tend to use it for, not a problem at all.

Wanting to be carried, the M311 COMPACT has made itself a go-to blade, patching up some air conditioning ducting, trimming down a mouth guard, and splitting up pallet wood are only some of the varied jobs it demanded to be used for.

As I mentioned earlier, with the smaller scale M311, the MOLLE straps became larger, and I decided to drop these in favour of (at the moment) a single Ulti-Clip. The bare sheath allows the M311 COMPACT to slip easily into a pocket or bag, and adding an Ulti-Clip for pocket carry then makes it so easy to pick up the knife and re-sheathe over and over.

If you look at the position of the Ulti-Clip, this was settled on after trying several positions. Deeper carry makes the re-sheathing more difficult, with the finger guard often catching on the pocket edge. If the clip is fitted to the other side, the sheath twists away as you re-sheathe it, so this was the position that worked best for me. If you needed more stability, a second Ulti-Clip would lock it in place; this is just a personal preference.

Local law allowing I would carry this knife much more, I do however carry it as much as a possibly can. EDC or backup blade the M311 COMPACT demands to be picked up and used.

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 handle finish is a little too ‘crisp’ and abrasive.
MOLLE straps seem oversized.

Things I like

Everything else!
Ideal size for general utility and EDC.
Elmax steel.
Excellent grip.
Slim blade slices well.
Blade thick enough to be very strong.
Easy to fit different mounts to the sheath.
Light enough to forget you are carrying it.
Excellent handling.

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