Monday, June 27, 2011

Spyderco Sage 1 Carbon Fiber Handle Knife Review

Spyderco Sage Folding Knife 3" S30V Plain Blade, Carbon Fiber Handles

The Spyderco Sage1 is a manual-action folding knife with a 3" S30V plain edge blade, a closed length of 4-3/16", and an overall length of 7-1/8". It weighs 3.2oz. All measurements are according to the Spyderco manufacturer's website.

Like all of the Sage series, the blade is a fully flat-ground spear-point design made out of CPM-S30V stainless steel. Out of box, the Sage came absolutely hair-splitting sharp with nice even bevels on both sides. The blade stock is 3mm thick and tapers to a fine, but not needle-thin tip. So far, I have used my Sage to cut office paper, a thin cardboard hang pack containing a Leatherman Micra, thicker cardboard boxes, and heavy plastic furniture shrinkwrap, all of which were an absolute breeze to cut through. As far as I can tell, the blade is every bit as sharp as it came from the box. Granted, this is not very hard use and isn't a good gauge of edge retention, but reputation puts Spyderco's S30V as among the best among production knife-makers, in terms of their heat treat and overall performance.

Like many Spyderco knives, the Sage has a 50/50 choil (half steel, half handle) between the handle and blade, in which the index finger is meant to rest during use. This facilitates "choking up", allowing finer control over the blade during more precise cutting tasks. Behind the first choil is a narrow hump and fairly large handle cutout to access the liner lock release. When gripped, my middle finger and part of my ring finger fit into this cutout. Certainly usable, but not ideal for me and my hands. Behind that, the handle flares out slightly into the fairly blocky butt. The top of the handle is a basic arc shape.

Spyderco Sage Folding Knife 3" S30V Plain Blade, Carbon Fiber Handles

The Sage's overall ergonomics seem to be designed for users with large hands, but is still fairly comfortable in smaller hands. Compared to the Spyderco Caly3 (a comparably-sized Spyderco folder), the Sage's choil is incrementally deeper and narrower, which makes it slightly more comfortable in larger hands. I actually find the Sage's blockier handle butt easier to grasp compared to the more tapered handle butt on the Caly3.

The handles are made of twill-woven carbon fiber finished with some kind of epoxy-like resin, and have a slightly bumpy texture. I would consider the Sage1's "grippiness" in-hand between smooth FRN and textured G-10. The carbon fiber handle slabs sit atop skeletonized full-length stainless steel liners, lending both strength and aesthetics to the design.


The Sage is absolutely the smoothest and most solid liner lock knife I've encountered. As the Sage1 is meant to be a tribute to Michael Walker and his invention of the liner lock mechanism, this makes a certain amount of sense. The ball-bearing detent holding the knife closed is perfectly tuned: the in-handle retention is outstanding, shaking the knife when closed failed to bring the blade out of the handle. However, when the user deliberately moves the blade out of the handle, the knife glides easily out of the detent position. Whether you prefer opening your Spydies with the pad of your thumb in the hole, "flicking" the blade open with your thumbnail, or the infamous Spyder-drop, all will open the Sage in short order. The knife just glides open and closed with the slightest pressure, but has just enough tension/friction so that the blade doesn't swing freely on its pivot. It probably goes without saying, but the Sage locks up like a bank vault, with zero movement or play in any direction. Though liner lock mechanisms might be theoretically weaker and more susceptible to failure under stress, the liner lock on the Sage is absolutely solid, with the liner thickness taking up just under half of the blade's locking surface.

The Sage comes with an inconspicuous wire pocket clip, fitted into two handle indentations and attached with a single mini-torx screw. It can be repositioned for right- or left-handed tip-up carry, or removed entirely. It might look delicate, but from what I've read, Spyderco heat-treats their wire pocket clips, and they are much more durable than they appear. When clipped to the pocket, the knife buries quite deeply, with less than 1/2 inch of the handle butt showing. The clip tension against the carbon fiber handles is perfect: tight enough to ensure the knife will not fall out inadvertently, but loose enough to easily withdraw the knife and not wear out the clothing material.

Spyderco Sage Folding Knife 3" S30V Plain Blade, Carbon Fiber Handles

Like most Spydercos, the
Sage's closed width is somewhat wider than comparable knives from other makers, but the low-riding wire pocket clip helps compensate somewhat for this. I can fetch my keys from the same pocket my Sage is clipped to with minimal difficulty. When seated, the Sage is about the largest knife I'd like carrying in-pocket before getting uncomfortable. Your mileage (and attire and body shape) may vary though.

It's also worth mentioning that the fit and finish of this knife is flawless. I have never seen a production knife with this level of build quality and construction, made anywhere. I'm starting to believe that the country of origin isn't as relevant or accurate of a measure of quality. The manufacturer's quality control is what really matters, and Spyderco's is outstanding.


I spent months researching the Spyderco Sage1 knife, and in my eyes, the hype around this knife is well deserved. It has supplanted my Benchmade 943 as my daily carry favorite, and is absolutely perfect for my regular day-to-day urban cutting tasks. I would carry something a bit more robust for hiking or camping, but if you're looking for a solid, handsome urban carry knife, the Sage is an outstanding choice.

To buy or get more information on the Spyderco Sage Folding Knife 3" S30V Plain Blade with Carbon Fiber Handles, click the link below.

Spyderco Sage Folding Knife 3" S30V Plain Blade, Carbon Fiber Handles




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Friday, June 24, 2011

KA-BAR D2 Extreme Fighting / Utility Knife Review


For a knife this size, one of my personal favorites is the D2 Extreme Fighting / Utility Knife. It is 7" long and I like the serrations along the blade close to the handle because it is great for cutting rope or small tree limbs for tinder.

This Extreme Fighting Knife from Ka-Bar works some important improvements into the classic Ka-Bar Marine Corps fighting knife design. If you liked that one, you'll love this one too.


Components show more attention to appearance and are no longer just the most rugged parts possible. The fingerguard isn't a plain carbon steel plate -- this version actually has rounded edges and some polish. The other end of the handle shows that same new attitude, replacing the carbon steel butt cap with a shaped pommel of polished carbide powder steel, adding to grip security and keeping that famous hammer head versatility.

Rat-tail tang construction keeps the weight down, and while Ka-Bar does make a version of the Extreme Fighting Knife with the classic stacked leather disc grip, this model uses lightweight and durable Kraton-G composite. The lighter Kraton shifts the balance a little forward and doesn't need a break-in period. Final weight of the knife is 3/4 pounds -- not bad for an 11-7/8-inch-long modified Bowie.


The biggest change and also the most important improvement in the new Ka-Bar is the steel. The 7-inch blade of the Extreme has one of the longest lasting edges of any field knife due to the use of D2 tool steel. Commonly used to create industrial dies, D2 is so hard and tough that if you want to sweeten the 20-degree edge bevel of this flat-ground blade, you'd better get a diamond whetstone and lots of spare time. The combo blade provides a generous section of plain edge up front for slicing work and a toothed section near the bolster for fast and rough cutting.

The Ka-Bar D2 Extreme Fighting Knife comes with a glass-filled nylon sheath made in Taiwan, but the knife is all American-made.

To buy or get more information on the KA-BAR D2 Extreme Fighting / Utility Knife 7" Combo Blade with Kydex Sheath, click the link below.

KA-BAR D2 Extreme Fighting / Utility Knife 7" Combo Blade, Kydex Sheath



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Monday, June 20, 2011

Spyderco Street Beat Fixed Blade Knife Review

Spyderco Fred Perrin Street Beat Fixed 3.5" VG10 Blade, Micarta Handles
Designed for Spyderco by Fred Perrin, a world-ranked martial artist and ex-French commando now making knives in Paris, this small fixed blade incorporates some excellent military ideas but still fits civilian use well. You'll find the sheath equally handy.


With a 3-1/2-inch clip point blade of VG-10 stainless steel and a deep finger choil in the full tang pistol-style handle, the Street Beat knife offers nearly perfect balance as well as secure grip and high leverage. For those more accustomed to handguns than knives, the shift is instinctive with the choil taking the familiar place of the trigger. The wide Micarta handle slabs fill the hand and offer non-slip twisting strength, while the choil replaces the traditional hand guard or bolster.

The tang of this 3.2-ounce knife includes two lanyard holes for extra security, but you may decide that's not needed. A second lanyard hole at the base of the blade offers an extra level of control, with that lanyard keeping the hand correctly positioned on the blade. Though I've seen top quality knives lately which do have that option, as yet I've not been convinced it's a great idea. At best, this new option offers a new trick without detracting from the good qualities of this innovative but traditional fixed blade. Maybe you'll like that second lanyard -- if not, don't use it.


Nearly everyone will like the tactical style of the Street Beat sheath with an adjustable belt or harness mount that adapts to several positions and increases the number of access options. Carry the Street Beat fixed blade securely in five different settings: at the small of the back, inverted, at the standard vertical belt angle, set for a convenient cross-draw, or at an easily concealed horizontal angle in line with the belt.

To buy or get more information on the Spyderco Fred Perrin Street Beat Fixed 3.5" VG10 Blade with Micarta Handles, click the link below.

Spyderco Fred Perrin Street Beat Fixed 3.5" VG10 Blade, Micarta Handles




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Friday, June 17, 2011

SOG Mini Pentagon Dagger Knife Review


SOG's original, full-size Pentagon knife earned its name for being a leading military and law enforcement tool. Later on, SOG introduced the Mini Pentagon. It's smaller in size, but equivalent in every other aspect to its frontrunner namesake.

The Mini Pentagon is ideally suited for a backup knife, great to keep in your jacket or boot in case a "backup" situation ever arises. It also comes with a heavy-duty clip and belt loop, so you're not solely limited to camouflage options.


One of the best features of this knife is the double edge: plain on one side, serrated on the other. This way, you only need one knife to perform a wider variety of cutting tasks. It's made of powder-coated stainless steel, quite strong and sharp.

The thumb notches on the blade, as well as the Kraton handle, are designed to keep the grip as steady and controlled as possible. Kraton is a branded name for thermoplastic elastomer. It's very much like rubber in that it has a non-slip surface, and on top of that, it's also highly resilient to impact and corrosion.


Here's two other reasons I like the Mini Pentagon: Number one, it's fairly inexpensive compared to other blades. And number two, it has a lifetime warranty! So for a small hit on the wallet and a guarantee for life, SOG makes this knife a great deal.

To buy or get more information on the SOG Mini Pentagon Dagger 3.5" Plain and Serrated Edges, Kraton Handle, click the link below.

SOG Mini Pentagon Dagger 3.5" Plain and Serrated Edges, Kraton Handle



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Monday, June 13, 2011

Cold Steel Trail Master Fixed Blade Knife Review

Cold Steel Trail Master 9-1/2" SK-5 High Carbon Fixed Blade

The Cold Steel Trail Master isn't just a knife with a Bowie-style blade. The Trail Master is a genuine Bowie knife in the old sense, but built with modern materials and to modern standards.


This SK-5 version of the Trail Master offers 9-1/2 inches of high carbon steel with an overall length of 14-1/2 inches and a weight of just over a pound. Although in frontier days it might have been one of the smaller Bowies, it's big enough and tough enough to do the same work today. The high carbon steel definitely takes a sharper and longer-lasting edge than high carbon stainless steel in the same price range. An occasional rub with light machine oil prevents rust and corrosion, and with time and hard use, the Trail Master will develop the dark patina of a classic knife. The size of the Trail Master may raise eyebrows today, but the extra weight and length put this knife in the same functional categories as machetes, camp axes, and short swords. The Trail Master handles camp chores and field dresses game, although it would be inefficient for delicate work like filleting fish. The Kraton handle's textured grip ensures a comfortable and safe hold when swinging the blade in wet conditions and includes a lanyard hole for extra security. The knife comes with a leather belt sheath.


Two tests that Cold Steel ran on this knife will definitely impress you. Bending any modern blade to 45 degrees usually makes shrapnel, but the Trail Master survives. Jamming a knife point into a plank and then prying out chunks convinces me that there's little possibility of breaking the Trail Master.

To buy or get more information on the Cold Steel Trail Master 9-1/2" SK-5 High Carbon Fixed Blade, click the link below.

Cold Steel Trail Master 9-1/2" SK-5 High Carbon Fixed Blade

Cold Steel Trail Master 9-1/2" SK-5 High Carbon Fixed Blade



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Friday, June 10, 2011

Kershaw Black Shallot Knife Review


The Kershaw tactical knife called the Black Shallot at first looks a little too sleek if you're accustomed to blocky, tactical knives. You won't see the usual marks of a dependable knife -- no cross-hatched handle slabs or overly heavy blade -- but the dependability is still there.


One of the things I like best about the Kershaw Black Shallot is what it doesn't have -- there are no thumb studs on this blade. The Black Shallot uses Ken Onion's patented one-handed opening system called Speed-Safe. A tab at the base of the blade projects above the handle when closed. Thumb pressure on the tab overcomes the initial locking resistance, freeing the blade. The spring-assisted mechanism then takes over, snapping the Shallot's blade open and locking it with a strong frame-lock. Keep it clean and it's the next best thing to an automatic knife. That's why there are no thumb studs on the blade to catch on the work and limit the use of the cutting edge. Not everyone would be bothered by that little inconvenience, but in the Black Shallot, it's not even there.


The Shallot's 3-1/2-inch blade comes in either plain-edge or combo-serrated styles . Both types use Sandvik 14C28N high carbon stainless steel, ground with a slightly recurved edge. Keep the plain-edged version sharp and that slight hook will grab and sever rope and harness straps -- as well as the serrated version -- and do cleaner work.

If you prefer a serrated knife for the rough jobs, the serrations on the combo-edged version of the Shallot are enough to make sense. There's only enough serration to make the option work well, leaving the rest of the blade clean-edged and useful. In the combo Shallot, all the teeth are in line and the same height, so there's little snagging or skipping.

Even with the 410 stainless steel handle components, the Shallot only weighs 4.2 ounces. A closed length of 4-3/8 inches and a removable stainless steel clip make it a perfect fit for any pocket, uniform or not.

To buy or get more information on the Kershaw Shallot Black Assisted Opening Folder with 3.5" Plain Edge Blade, click the link below.

Kershaw Shallot Black Assisted Opening Folder 3.5" Plain Edge Blade


To buy or get more information on other Kershaw Knives Ken Onion Shallots, click the link below.

Kershaw Knives Ken Onion Shallots


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Monday, June 6, 2011

Spyderco Caly 3 Folding Knife Review

Spyderco Caly 3 Carbon Fiber Handle with 3" ZDP189 Steel Blade

If you are looking for a high quality folding pocket knife, the Spyderco knives are where to look first. The Spyderco Caly 3 is an excellent every day carry (edc) knife. It is small, elegant, and you will hardly notice it in your pocket. It will be very rare to find a bad review on the Caly 3. For what it is, it is close to perfection. The Spyderco Caly 3 comes in 2 different forms. A carbon fiber handle with zdp blade steel and a G10 handle with VG-10 blade steel. I opted to get the G10 version as it is more practical and the steel is easier to sharpen albeit slightly inferior. This knife is small! it is very compact. Besides the size, I noticed that it was extremely comfortable in hand. The ergonomics are incredible. The Spyderco Caly 3 does not look like a traditional knife but do not let the looks fool you. It is incredibly comfortable to hold. It is a bit heavier than my Spyderco Delica Wave, but in a good way. The Caly 3 feels high quality and durable.


Out of the box, the deployment was not very fast. It had a sandy sound while opening and it would sometimes get stuck midway. After a few hundred openings, it's perfect. Not too loose that it will open in my pocket and not too tight. I can flick it easily and it will lock up with an authoritative click. The lockup is rock solid. No blade play whatsoever. If I can describe the lockup in 1 word, it would be "confident." One of the reasons I choose a Caly 3 was it's lock back design. Luckily, this wonderful knife is available to both left and right handers. The pocket clip is great. It is a hard wire "paper clip" design but it works. It allows the knife to ride deep into the pocket and it is very strong. You can slip your knife in and out of pocket easily. All Spyderco's should adopt this clip. It is a great design. Much better than the clip on my Native.

The blade is very thin and the grind starts at the top of the spine. This is referred to as being full flat grind. It is very thin making for an excellent slicer. The cutting performance is excellent and the steel holds an edge for a very long time. I have had to resharpen my blade 2 times and it was very easy with the Spyderco Sharpmaker. I have also learned to sharpen my knives freehand which I am fairly decent at. I can put on a decent honing edge. The blade is sharp and attractive with it's leaf design. I really like this design.


A few weeks ago, I saw a video where someone modified their knife with a zip tie and created an Emerson Wave with it. A "waved" knife is a knife that can be deployed as you pull it out of your pocket with a certain technique. I modified my Caly 3 with a black zip tie and now it works just like my old Delica Wave. It looks good too. Some people like to have knives that look good and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. I like to use my knife and I use it often. It's more important how a knife functions than how it looks. Either way, I think the Caly 3 is beautiful. I would even go as far as calling it a gentleman's folder. Even after 3 months of hard use, I still think it's beautiful. Usually the lust of a new knife dies in about a week but this knife has lasting appeal. It looks awesome and timeless. I truly feel that this knife will serve me for years to come. That's another thing. Knives should serve you, not the other way around. It's important to take care of your tools but your tools should function for you first.


I love the Spyderco Caly 3. I own many Spyderco knives and hand's down, this is one of my favorite edc knives. Spyderco knives are like drugs. Once you try them, you have to have more. I can't get over it's looks. The contrast of metal on the spine and G10 is beautiful. The workmanship screams quality.

To buy or get more information on the Spyderco Caly 3 Carbon Fiber Handle with 3" ZDP189 Steel Blade, click the link below.

Spyderco Caly 3 Carbon Fiber Handle with 3" ZDP189 Steel Blade




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Friday, June 3, 2011

Columbia River Knife and Tool - CRKT The Natural 7085 Razor Edge Knife Review


Pat Crawford, a knife designer from West Memphis, Arkansas, collaborated with Columbia River Knife and Tool on production versions of several other well known Crawford designs prior to the Natural. Usually steel quality drops and corners are cut in the mass market version of a knife, but with the Crawford Natural 7085 Clip Point Folder, CRKT decided to buck the trend. This time you'll get a Crawford knife that rivals the quality of the custom model, but at a price you can handle.


Using premium 8Cr13MoV high carbon steel tempered to Rockwell 58-59, CRKT makes the pocket clip Natural in several versions including this heavy folder with black bolster and white handle. Pat Crawford custom-builds a knife of the same pattern from S30V steel with ivory handle slabs and carbon fiber bolster -- the white bone and black G-10 of the CRKT is a good visual match. You'd find more detail work on the custom model, but CRKT includes filework on the knife's spine. That usually isn't a production model feature.



The Natural won't be disappointing in function, either. This heavy folder weighs 10.4 ounces and opens to a locked length of 9-1/4 inches with a blade 3.88 inches long. The Maurauder clip point style of the blade was created by Pat Crawford to serve as either a tactical knife, hunting knife, or utility blade. The heavy stainless steel liners qualify the knife as a framelock design, stronger than the linerlock you'll find in most pocket clip folding knives.

The opening system incorporates CRKT's spring-driven Outburst mechanism. Push the thumb stud to swing the blade partly open, past the mandatory detente, and the Outburst system takes over. The spring powers the blade open and locked with the satisfying feel of an automatic.

To buy or get more information on the Columbia River Crawford The Natural with 3.88" Assisted Plain Blade with White Bone Scales, click the link below.

Columbia River Crawford The Natural with 3.88" Assisted Plain Blade, White Bone Scales


To buy or get more information on the CRKT Natural Series Folding Knives by Pat Crawford, click the link below.

CRKT Natural Series Folding Knives by Pat Crawford


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