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Archive | Knives

Tom Brown Tracker #3 20th Anniversary Edition – TOPS Knives

TOPS Knives will celebrate their 20th year of operation in October of this year. It is only fitting that they release a special version of what is perhaps their most recognizable design…

The Tom Brown Tracker is one of the most iconic survival knife designs on the planet. It has also been one of the highest selling TOPS models in the 20 years that we’ve been in business. So it only makes sense that one of the TOPS’ 20th anniversary limited edition knives be a Tom Brown Tracker. We decided to use the Tracker #3 specifically. It has been upgraded from 154cm to S35Vn steel, Black Linen to Brown Burlap Micarta, and standard Kydex to custom quality burgundy leather. This is one that will definitely become a collector’s piece for many.

Pick up the Tracker #3 20th Anniversary Edition from a TOPS authorized dealer or directly from TOPS at www.topsknives.com/20th-anniversary-tracker

 

Specs:

Overall Length: 10.75”

Blade Length: 5.75”

Cutting Edge: 5.5”

Blade Thickness: 0.19”

Blade Steel: CPM S35VN

Blade Finish: Tumble Finish

Handle Material: Burlap Micarta

Knife Weight: 14.4oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 22.3oz

Sheath Material: Burgundy Leather

Sheath Clip: Belt Loops

MSRP: $400

PHLster Gen 2 TDI Fightworthy Sheath Upgrade

There have been a number of changes to the Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement Knife over the years. This knife remains an absolute bargain when it comes to self-defense knives but things like thickness and even the shape of the primary bevel have seen changes throughout long time production of this knife. Most aftermarket TDI sheaths do not account for these changes in their design which can lead to poor fit and performance.

PHLster has updated their TDI Fightworthy Sheath to include dual tension adjustments. These adjustments should let the sheath offer better performance across all of the available TDI production variations. I do not know of another TDI sheath on the market with adjustable retention.

PHLsterHolsters.com

C2G FAB Opinel Sheath

Opinel folding knives are very affordable, very handy, very light weight, and very French. They cut like lasers thanks to thin stock and tall grinds but they are decidedly un-tactical. That lack of tactical sensibility shouldn’t stop you from carrying your Opinel in a handy Tactical Opinel Neck Sheath from C2G FAB.

They recently posted the image below on their social media and I was struck by the juxtaposition of a classic, understated French knife with the off-the-wall camo color scheme. This sheath is part wine and cheese, part operator, and all cool.

Check out the Opinel Neck Sheath at C2G FAB.

How to Add Retention to Your Mora Sheath

Mora knives are great. I think we all know that by now. Most of them cost between $9 and $15 but they offer performance and quality well beyond their price point. I like them… a lot. I like them enough that, while I own several expensive knives (even customs of my own design), I carry and use Mora knives most of the time. They are so lightweight, so inexpensive, and so capable that it is hard to justify the pack weight of other knives.

But… There is always a catch. The sheaths that come with Mora knives are actually mostly functional but don’t always offer enough retention for use during very vigorous activity or for carrying lose in your pack. This problem can result in a lost knife, ruined gear from a loose knife flopping around in your pack, or even injury. I highly recommend addressing the issue somehow, especially if you are going to carry a knife in your pack. Fortunately, it can be fixed easily and inexpensively.

In my experience, there are two easy ways to fix the retention issue. One is VERY inexpensive and one generally costs more than the Mora itself but still offers a good value. I’ll start with the more expensive way.

The Expensive Way – Replace the Sheath

There are a ton of kydex benders out there who would be more than happy to fold a sheath for you. The benefits of buying a kydex sheath are numerous. The most important benefit is that, if the sheath maker is worth their salt, the retention should be improved enough that you can carry the Mora without fear that it will come out of the sheath on its own. Additionally, you can choose your own belt attachment method (or no belt hardware at all), features, and color.

If you can, consider supporting a kydex bender that is local to you. If not…

You can spend a lot on a sheath but you don’t have to. Armory Plastics makes a great sheath for the Mora Companion (one of my favorite and most common Moras in the line right now) for around $20. It is made in the USA – the great state of Idaho to be specific. It comes with a very stout rotating belt clip that I like a lot, offers great retention, drains well thanks to a molded drain hole, and is available in orange or black (mine is orange): Armory Plastics Mora Companion Sheath on Amazon (affiliate link).

The Cheap Way – Ranger Bands

If you don’t want to drop the coin on an aftermarket sheath, you’re in luck. Most Mora sheaths can be rigged with a ranger band in order to retain the knife. The sheaths with a drop hook belt attachment can generally except a thin band near the top of the belt hook to create a retention strap (see image below). This includes models like the Pro (C, S, Robust), Craftline, and Companion series. You simply pull the band up and over the butt of the knife to release it and the band stays attached to the sheath.

I like to use Gearward Ranger Bands for this because they are the perfect size for this task and are very robust. You can make your own too.

The sheaths with more of a bucket-like design, like the venerable 510, require a wider band. Simply cut a band that is around 1.5 – 2″ wide and fit it around the top of the sheath so that it extends above the top of the opening. It will grip the Mora’s handle and add just a bit more retention. You will eventually cut it when inserting the knife back into the sheath, but it should continue gripping the knife even when cut.

As a bonus, ranger bands make a great firestarter in a pinch. They can be lit with a lighter and will burn long enough to buy you some time to ignite less than ideal tinder. You can probably cut a 2″ wide band into 4 smaller fire starters or just use the whole band to light especially poor tinder.

Greg Moffatt Knives Can Opener Pikal

Greg Moffatt Knives’ new Can Opener Pikal is about as simple and straight forward as you will find when it comes to reverse edge knives. The straight handled design is a compact 6″ in overall length terminating in a 2″ sharpened edge. The Can Opener is made from 1095 steel with a Cerakote finish and cord-wrapped handle. It comes with a kydex sheath set up for static line carry.

Given the clever simplicity of the design, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is one of the most affordable pikal knives available, custom or production. This is especially true when you consider that it comes ready to static line to your belt and go. Greg Moffatt Knives sells these for $110. The initial run sold out quickly but there is a new batch on the way soon.

Keep your eyes on GregMoffattKnives.com.

Review: Gearward HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife

Gearward’s HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife is a throwback to the OSS Lapel Knife… at least in terms of function and intended use. It is thoroughly modern in material, a titanium-ceramic composite, which makes it feather light and gives it aggressive cutting properties. This knife is designed to be immanently concealable. Its size and the materials chosen for its construction are in keeping with that design goal.

Overview

The HemiSERE is a diminutive 3.375″ in overall length. It is ground from 0.05″ thick non-ferrous titanium/ceramic composite material that is most commonly found in high end kitchen knives. That small size, wafer-thinness, and material mean that this little knife weighs in at just 4 grams.

The wharncliffe blade shape is chisel ground. It has a full height flat primary grind with a secondary bevel on only one side. The tip is very slightly ground off, sort of like a micro reverse tanto, to render a still very acute but slightly stronger tip.

It ships already stuck to dummy credit card and with 12 3M Glue Dots.

Observations from Use

I’ll start first by saying this knife is VERY small and that means that the handle design has to be on point or it just won’t work. Fortunately, Gearward did their homework. The handle has a bead blast finish and a deeply dished choil that locks the knife into the users hand. Without the choil, this knife would probably be nearly impossible to use and retain. Handle design is exceedingly important on knives this small and thin.

The HemiSERE is so light and concealable that it can be stuck just about anywhere with the included (and easily replaceable) Glue Dots. Gearward shows the HemiSERE stuck, without a sheath, under the collar of a shirt which caused a bit of an uproar when the knife was announced here on JTT. I tested this and found that it actually seems safer than you might think with a stiff collared dress shirt and the edge turned down but I likely would not carry it that way. This knife was designed by a world traveler for world travelers… and I don’t mean Sandals resort. If you are already the type of person who is taking risks with the places you travel, under collar carry might make more sense.

The carry methods are only limited by your imagination. It can be stuck inside a phone case, inside your wallet, on a credit card (replace the dummy with a real card that you don’t use anymore), in an out of the way place inside a bag or briefcase, inside an Altoids tin, or anywhere else you can safely carry a razor sharp knife. Your carry options could be expanded if you fashion some kind of a small sheath for it. My favorite way to carry it is on the back of a credit card though that might not be the most accessible in an emergency.

There are a number of thoughtful touches in this knife, many of which I think are unique to the HemiSERE. I have already mentioned the well designed handle and bead-blasted finish that promotes grip. The material itself is interesting. The titanium/ceramic composite is extremely lightweight. It cuts better than titanium alone and is more durable than ceramic alone while retaining the non-ferrous, lightweight properties of both which are desirable for a knife like this. Gearward grinds the tip off very slightly. It still penetrates quite well but the needle like point that would likely break off anyway is gone. Finally, the choice of a wharncliffe blade shape puts the point forward and gives plenty of straight cutting edge to lever through cuts.

Speaking of cuts, this is an aggressive cutter… I mean very aggressive. It cuts like a paring knife! It is wafer thin which helps and comes sharp with a somewhat toothy edge. It bites deeply into soft materials, slicing cleanly thanks to the full height flat grind. Sharpening is a little tricky but not impossible – definitely easier than sharpening all ceramic blades.

I would like to see Gearward make a small, non-metallic sheath available for this knife. I would pay extra for some kind of minimalist blade cover just to have some expanded carry options.

Wrap Up

Gearward went all in on concealment with this knife and it shows. It is purpose built. The design, the material, even the philosophy of use baked in with the included credit card and glue dots speak to the extent to which this knife is to be concealed. This knife is meant to disappear and it does so readily.

HemiSERE on Gearward.com

TOPS Knives Tundra Trekker

The Tundra Trekker is the newest knife from TOPS Knives and if you love big choppers, you’re going to love this. It has Kukri bloodlines with dose of TOPS style and it is clearly made to wreck whatever you put in front of it.

The Tundra Trekker is a Kukri-esque design that has the blade heavy balance and general shape of a standard kukri with TOPS unique style. It has a robust powder coat finish, comfortable handles, opposing pitch saw teeth, and a forward curved blade all designed to excel in several uses. Anything from chopping wood, to making traps and tent pegs, clearing brush, and whatever else you might decide to throw its way. The open backed Kydex sheath comes equipped with a dangler to make it easy to carry through thick brush and trees. This is a great option for those looking for something in the 9” blade range.

Pick up the Tundra Trekker from a TOPS authorized dealer or directly from TOPS at www.topsknives.com/tundra-trekker

Specs:

Overall Length: 14.25”

Blade Length: 9.0”

Cutting Edge: 9.0”

Blade Thickness: 0.19”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Tactical Stone

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 16.6oz

Weight w/ Sheath: 23.8oz

Sheath Material: Black Kydex

Sheath Clip: Dangler

Designer: Leo Espinoza

MSRP: $230

RMJ Tactical Jungle Dagger

RMJ Tactical’s newest knife, the Ryan Johnson designed Jungle Dagger, is now available in a limited pre-production run of 50 knives. It is 11.5″ in overall length with a 6.75″ blade. The double-edged, hollow-ground dagger blade is ground from 80CrV2 steel, coated with tungsten Cerakote, and fitted with sculpted G-10 handle scales. The knife comes with a multi-position kydex sheath.

RMJTactical.com

TOPS Knives Backpacker’s Bowie

TOPS Knives has released their new Backpacker’s Bowie and it scores some major nostalgia points with me. When I was a teen, a good friend of mine had a Jet Pilot Survival Knife that I thought must have been the coolest knife in the world. The blade shape and grind of the new Backpacker’s Bowie bears a strong resemblance to that iconic knife.

When I am backpacking, I want a knife that is stout but not dead weight. The Backpacker’s Bowie weighs in at just over 7 ounces. It is stout enough to help with emergency tasks like wood processing and shelter building. It is also useful in camp with its built in pot lifter notch so you won’t have to wait for an emergency to use it.

From TOPS Knives:

Bowie knives have long been popular among knife enthusiasts. They are versatile in a wide range of uses. Most Bowies are larger knives, however. TOPS set out to make a shorter version that even a backpacker would carry (every ounce counts). The result is a 4” blade that could be the most important piece of kit that goes on the backpacking trip. Aside from the normal uses a knife affords, the notch on the spine is for breaking wire or pulling a pot out of the fire and the swedge can be sharpened upon request. The Backpacker’s Bowie, because you should always carry a knife.

Pick up the Backpacker’s Bowie from a TOPS authorized dealer or directly from TOPS at www.topsknives.com/backpacker-s-bowie

Specs:

Overall Length: 8.25”

Blade Length: 4.5”

Cutting Edge: 4.13”

Blade Thickness: 0.16”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Tumble

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 7.2oz

Sheath Material: Black Kydex

Sheath Clip: Rotating Spring Steel

Sagewood Gear Pack Strop

The Pack Strop from Sagewood Gear is a compact, double sided strop. As you might guess from the name, this compact strop is designed to be easy to carry in a pack for use in the field. It is about 5.5″ x 1.25″ in overall size and constructed from 1/4″ Walnut oiled wood with 6 oz leather pads.

The Pack Strop is available with bare leather or pre-loaded with black (aggressive) and green (fine) stropping compound.

SagewoodGear.com

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