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

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

 photo 49 whitby Group sheathed P1210772.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 photo Dive Knives Parameters 3 of 3.jpg

A few more details of the DK9:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more details of the DK11:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more details of the DK511/14:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are they like to use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review Summary

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

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

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

 photo 50 whitby Group unsheathed P1210778.jpg


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)