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Archive | Knives

Good Stuff From Other Blogs

Death Valley Magazine – Stop Preparing for the Apocalypse and Plan For Next Thursday

So you have 12 months of food stored, an urban garden, 28 pistols and rifles and you take 5 tactical courses a year. If the SHTF you can ether grab your BOB and fight on the move or bunker in at home. Basically you are trained-up and stocked-up for just about any apocalyptic situation that could possibly happen…

Woods Monkey – Wenger EvoGrip S18 Pocket Knife

Looking to travel light on the trail and want a knife that meets your needs?  Or, are you looking for a good basic tool supplement to your primary blade?  Today, we’re looking at the Wenger EvoGrip S18 knife, and it just might be the one to fill your needs!  We’ve also included a highlights video to help out with your search as well…

Kyle Defoor – Safariland Secrets

Safariland makes the best tac/drop leg holster there is I think. But, there is room for improvement on the old ones…

Good Stuff From Other Blogs

Death Valley Magazine -Red Zone Bug Out Bag Part 1

Sometimes your Bug Out Bag takes a different direction and morphs into something between a go-bag, an active shooter bag, and a Bug Out Bag (BOB) due to your chosen occupation. Enter the Civilian Contractor Red Zone BOB; this is a heavy-weight’s version of a crisis management bag for places where encounters with ‘Bad Guys’ is a real possibility…

Soldier Systems – New Lightweight Multi-Hit Plate from Velocity Systems

Velocity Systems has just released the latest addition to their Phalanx line or armor plates. It is a new lightweight, multi-hit plate that is going to be a game changer. Take a look at the specs and you’ll see why…

Scrap Yard Knife Works – Regulator and Deregulator Available

Scrap Yard Knife Works (SYKW) offers very affordable hard use knives in limited runs. They post knife for only a few weeks and then it may not be available again for years. They typically only list a handful of designs every year so some people wait religiously for their knives to be posted.

The Regulator and Deregulator are the most recent designs and they are available now. Get them at the SYKW store.

I am going to pass on this one but the price is tough to beat for a knife of this size, durability, and warranty.

Lakota Hydrographics – Multicam Coatings

Lakota Corp is now offering Multicam hydrographics. What are hydrographics?

From the Lakota Corp website:

Hydrographic printing is known by several names. It is also called water transfer printing, cubic printing and fluid imaging. This technology is a water-soluble film, upon which patterns of ink are applied. Similar to some of the new medicines and breath mint sheets on the market that dissolve in your mouth, the film in this technology dissolves in water, leaving the ink floating. When the item is submersed into the water, the ink then adheres to the item “dipped” three-dimensionally.

The picture shows a helmet that has been through the hydroprinting process. You can click the picture to go to a small gallery of other items that have been dipped. They can do objects of all sorts of sizes and shapes – even entire rifles. The results are appear to be very nice but I wonder about the durability of the coating.

If you have experience with these coatings leave a comment about their durability. Thanks.

North Branch Knives Soloist

North Branch Knives is a fledgling custom knife company that has been the longtime dream of Ben Wiernusz. Ben and I grew up in north east Pennsylvania, in a small town, right on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. The river and its surrounding areas not only provide the name of the company, but also the inspiration for the designs of his knives. The river even provides the inspiration for the names of each individual model of knife Ben hopes to offer one day!

Ben and I spent most of our time during high school in the woods or on the river, whether it was small game hunting, camping, or canoeing – if it was outside, we were doing it. Ben’s love of the outdoors and hunting continues to this day and it drives his knife making philosophy. He makes knives that are made to be used as only someone who regularly uses knives can.

The Soloist is his first offering. It was designed from the start to be everything Ben would want in a small, capable, and versatile tool. It must be compact but ready for any task that the soloist canoe camper could throw at it – hence, the Soloist.

Ben is the kind of guy who knows a little about everything and does all things well. He has an eye for the aesthetic and can make just about anything. I have any early prototype of this knife that I still use. It wasn’t everything Ben hoped it would be so he continued to refine it until he arrived at the current design. I know Ben is already working out more ways to further refine this design!

On to the pics!

What does a guy with an eye for the aesthetic and a drive to do things well do when he needs a box for his knives? He makes them himself, by hand!

The boxes are handmade from some kind of attractive waxed cardboard so even the box is tough. You can see the end tag with model name that Ben designed in the previous picture and the logo tag in the next. Ben studied advertising in college so you better believe his knives will be well branded!

Here is what I was greeted with when I opened the box. I was very, very pleased.

Under the knife you can see further evidence of the care that goes into each knife – a certificate explaining more about the model and saying thanks for your purchase. Each knife is also numbered.

The sheath itself is very well made. It is quality full welt construction and hand stitched with the addition of rivets at the stress points. Ben added a simple “N” stamp to the leather for North Branch Knives. The proportions are very nice. It is molded to leave just about half of the handle exposed. The leather has a warm, used feeling that makes it seem like you have already owned this knife forever. The square design of the sheath is not only visually attractive but functional (helps the sheath ride well in a pants pocket). It allows the sheath to be used with either the left or right hand.

Have you ever broken a belt loop on a leather knife sheath? I have. That won’t happen with this sheath. The belt loop is stitched and riveted to the sheath. The loop is large enough for most any belt.

Like I said before, this knife had to be versatile so a spear point blade shape was chosen. The blade is about 3 inches long from tip to scales. It has a convex edge, a long straight area near the handle, a short section with plenty of belly, and still enough of a point to be useful. The point is also positioned in line with the handle to facilitate drilling tasks. This knife would be at home zipping open a white tail or whittling a tent stake.

I provided stabilized Eucalyptus scales for Ben to work with for this project. The knife bares a “1” stamp that corresponds with the number on the certificate that came with the knife. The opposite side bares Ben’s “N” stamp like the sheath.

The biggest clue that you are using a knife that was designed by someone who uses knives comes from the handle. It is shaped well with no guard and a slight finger choil. The choil is not obtrusive enough to force any one grip but serves well to index your hand on the knife. The scales have a relief cut near the blade that allow a pinching kind of grip that is important in some grips like the “chest lever” grip. The handle is long enough for any grip and short enough to keep the knife very compact over all (about 6 3/4″ overall).

I tend to like knives that work and I am generally not willing to pay more for a knife that is beautiful. Ben proves you can have both beauty and function with this knife.

Everything from the handmade box, to the finish on the scales, to the way the white spacers set off the beautiful reddish hues in the Eucalyptus scales, to the warm tones of the leather sheath contribute to feeling that this knife gives you. It is like you have already owned it for years. This knife looks simple and primitive but when you have it in hand, you realize that was all by design. It is all part of the aesthetic as well as the function. You can really see the knife maker’s hand in this knife.

It’s like an old friend.

Specs:

  • Steel: 1095
  • Blade Length: 3″
  • Overall Length: 6 3/4″
  • Sheath: Leather, Belt or Pocket Carry
  • Scales: Stabilized Eucalyptus

Contact North Branch Knives on BladeForums (username Cheekser).

Evolution of a Knife Design

A few years ago Ray Laconico introduced a knife design called the “Explorer” and it was immediately successful. I believe it was one off the first “patterns” that Ray offered consistently. Ray introduced the knife in this BladeForums thread.

This will not be a true review but rather a window in the processes that a knife maker goes through to improve a product. I find it pretty fascinating. The mark of a good knife maker is a continual drive to improve designs based on feedback from users and their own experiences.

Stats
Ray is a true custom maker so the dimensions can vary by customer request. However, his pattern knives like the Explorer tend to be similar from knife to knife. The Explorer features a blade that is 5 1/2″ from tip the scale. Overall length is about 10 1/2″. It is made from 1/4″ thick 5160 steel and wears black micarta slab handles.

The Same but Different

The Explorer’s striking looks come from it’s angular handle and tall, slightly drop point blade (or recurve on the original) with some extreme belly near the tip. This nearly straight spine blade profile and distal taper give the knife a very fine point. None of the recognizable features of the original have changed. All of the usefulness and quality of the original is built right into the newest iteration.

The butt of the knife has been made more perpendicular to the spine. This makes the knife more useful as an improvised hammer.

The slightly thicker handle slabs are now more contoured. This gives the very angular looking grip a more organic feel in the hand. The grip on the original Explorer was excellent but this new one will blow you away. You will also find that the new grip is slightly taller and more hand filling.

Ray also changed the design off the guard to be smaller and less obtrusive. The original guard on my Explorer used to rub my knuckle a bit until I broke its edges with some wet-dry sand paper. The new guard is hardly noticeable while still being very effective. If you like a guard on your knives, you will like this one.

My favorite modification of the design is that Ray moved the edge MUCH closer to the handle. This allows for much more powerful cuts while doing tasks like notching and whittling.

The Laconico Explorer is a fine knife for those who favor a larger and thicker knife. There is not much penalty in cutting performance from the thicker stock thanks to Ray’s tall flat grinds and polished convex edge. This knife will shave hair easily and push cut newsprint. Thanks to its thick spine and differentially tempered 5160 steel and can take a serious beating. I tend to favor thinner knives but I do appreciate having thicker ones at times – especially they cut as well as this one.

Overall, the new Explorer is a worthy successor to the original.

CLB Designed Boker Plus Keycom

Boker Plus Keycom Review



The Details

The Keycom has been out for more than a year and I have had this one for quite some time. It is another Chad Los Banos design that is manufactured by Boker in their Boker Plus line. The Keycom features a 1 1/2″ AUS8 blade. It is just longer than 2 1/4″ long when closed and about 3 3/4″ long when opened. It weighs in at a scant 1.4 ounces. You can read these dimensions all you want, but nothing will prepare you for just how small the Keycom truely is.


Shown with an SnG for scale

The Keycom has a black FRN (fiber reinforced plastic stuff) scales that is textured similarly to G-10. It is attractive and provides good grip. The frame lock side is steel and sports a very secure pocket clip set up for tip down carry.


Frame lock scale and pocket clip

The blade can best be described as a clip point. It is made from very thin stock and is flat ground which renders a very thin edge that cuts like a laser. The edge is offset to the grip which is very nice in a knife this small. It features spine jimping and a thumb stud for righties only.


The Keycom features a clip point blade

Fit and Finish
If you have owned any of the Boker/CLB designs you are already familiar with the excellent level of fit and finish that these knives offer. These knives are an excellent value. The Keycom features all screw construction. The blade comes out off the box shaving sharp. All metal surfaces are nicely bead blasted. The frame lock is fit perfectly with very early lock up.


Perfectly fit lock with very early lock up

As I stated earlier, the blade came shaving sharp. I immediately laid it on some 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper and finished on a strop. It went from shaving sharp to molecule splitting sharp in short order. The AUS8 takes a startlingly fine edge very quickly and holds it reasonably well. Steels like this make me wonder if super steels are even worth my time.

How does it work?
I purchased this because I wanted a small blade that could be carried as a back up to a much larger knife like an SnG or SMF. I needed something that was small but still usable for those times when I did not necessarily produce a large folder for a small cutting task. Also, I needed a knife suitable for zombie squirrel combat and leprechaun deanimation. The Keycom delivers.

It is usable thanks to Chad’s command of ergonomics. The knife has a small cutout in the grip that allows the forefinger to nestle in securely. Jimping on the spine locks the thumb in place. This allows for a very secure grip for power cuts. A small lanyard would provide something for your ring and pinky fingers to hang onto but it isn’t necessary.


Locked into the grip – note the fine jimping on the spine of the blade

When you need precision over power you can run your forefinger out onto the spine of the blade. Here you will find that the nicely shaped clip will make a perfect finger rest for fine work. The tip is very controllable in this grip.


The “clip” is the perfect place to rest your forefinger for fine work

The Keycom comes with a split ring for key chain carry but I do not care for knives that are tied to a key ring. I feel that this knife really comes into it’s own when it is clipped in your pocket. This knife will disappear in most any pair of jean’s coin pocket. I like to carry mine in the coin pocket with my SnG or SMF in my main pocket. The Keycom is so small and light that it is easily carried as a companion to larger folders.


Disappearsin a coin pocket

The only complaint I have is that it can be tricky to open. However, this is not a true criticism since it should be expected with a folder this small. Compromises must be made when you makes a knife so small.

Overall
I could not be more pleased with this knife. I paid less than $18 for this knife including shipping. You can’t beat that with a stick. This would make a great addition to a Altoids tin kit or your key chain. It offers an incredible value, it cuts like crazy, it absolutely disappears in your pocket, it is secure in the grip and is very controllable. I haven’t even mentioned the best part yet…

The best part about this knife is that it looks like a tiny elephant peaking out of your pocket… maybe.


Is that an elephant in your pocket or…

The Laconico HWK+ – the HWK but Bigger!

Below is a review that I wrote a while ago regarding the HWK+. Like the HWK, it was made by Ray Laconico and designed with my input. It is no longer being made but can occasionally be found on the secondary market.

The Laconico HWK+
The HWK+ (bottom) with the original HWK (top).

I could not have been more pleased with how the original Laconico HWK (Hazard Woods Knife) turned out. It is proving to be a great all-round tool that I am more than proud to have my name on. In fact, it went so well that I immediately thought it would make a great larger knife as well.

HWK+ Stats:
3/16″ thick O1 steel
Ray’s typical tall flat grinds with polished convex edge
5″ blade
10″ overall
Green G-10 handle slabs


The HWK+ with Victorinox Farmer and Original HWK for scale.

Getting it Dirty
I removed the HWK+ from the package and, as is my custom, began to cut up the wrapping materials that it came in to test the edge. This knife came from Ray shaving sharp, as usual. There is something satisfying about a knife that can easily push cut the newsprint in which it was packed!


The HWK+ has a thick spine and nicely contoured handle.

The HWK+ has a phenomenal handle. It is very hand filling and has excellent contours. It promotes a very secure grip without forcing the hand into any one grip. The green G-10 handle material has a very cool translucent quality to it that makes this knife very attractive.

The blade shape is designed for versatility, just like its smaller sibling. There is plenty of belly, a large section of straight edge close to the grip for cuts that need leverage, and a point that is dropped to be inline with the handle for drilling. Ray does a great job of creating a tip that is fine enough to cut very well without being prone to breakage.


Fine curls are no problem for HWK+ in spite of its thickness.

The next test for the knife was some fire prep. Shaving “feather sticks” can be a test of a knife’s sharpness and edge geometry. Even though the HWK+ is 3/16″ thick at the spine, Ray’s use of tall flat grinds yield excellent edge geometry. The HWK+ is capable of very fine curls.


Deep, precise notching? No problem!

Another test of geometry is how well a knife performs at notching. This is a difficult task for thick knives but the HWK+ holds its own. It simply can’t bite as deep as thinner knives. However, by using a stop cut and then working the notch deeper one slice at a time, you can achieve very precise notches.

The HWK+ has all of the makings of a versatile and dependable woods companion. It would be at home on the belt of anyone who loves time spent in the outdoors whether they are a hunter or a hiker. The HWK+ would even make a fine knife for a soldier.

Matt Hazard

The Laconico Hazard Woods Knife (HWK)

Below is a previously written review of a knife that I designed with Ray Laconico. It was successful enough that Ray got tired of making it. They can still be found occasionally on the secondary market on places like BladeForums.

The Laconico HWK

This afternoon I received a package from Ray Laconico. Inside was the newly christened “HWK” or (Hawk or Hazard Woods Knife). This is a design modification that I requested from Ray after seeing his Hiker’s Utility Knife. I requested that the point be dropped a bit (closer to a spear point) for drilling. I also requested new handle materials and pins. The intent was to make a “bushcrafter” that still looked, felt, and cut like a Laconico.

Stats
This knife is crafted from 1/8″ thick O1 steel. The blade is 3 3/4″ long from tip to scales and the knife is 8 1/4″ in overall length. The handle slabs are black linen micarta with a slight palm swell at the middle.

The Reveal
As soon as I got home from the office I cut open the box from Ray with my trusty Endura. I found a well packed bundle of newspaper inside. Once I unraveled miles of newspaper I was left with the HWK in its sheath.

The sheath is exactly was I hoped. I asked Ray to make it so that it sat a little lower on the belt so Ray included a drop loop that holds the knife lower and slightly away from the belt. It is very comfortable and out of the way of my pack’s waist belt. Ray molded this sheath from two pieces of kydex. It has generous thumb ramps to aid the user is drawing the knife.

Getting it Dirty
I took the HWK out to the creek on our wooded lot and set about putting it through its paces. The first thing I did was test the spine on a fire steel. I was rewarded with a huge shower of sparks. Ray does a great job of squaring the spines on his knives and the O1 steel can really throw sparks.

Next I set about prepping some tinder. The fine polished convex edge made short work of the jute twine. The belly of the knife made rocking cuts in the balled up twine a cinch. I also tested the spine and edge on fatwood. The HWK’s squared spine made achieving very fine curls of fatwood easy and the acute edge sliced larger curls with ease.

Next I tried my hand at some notching. For notching wood, it is hard to beat a scandi grind. However, with the excellent geometry that Ray graces his knives with notching is no problem at all. Ray typically uses a full height flat grind and a polished convex edge. This gives even his thickest knives keen edges.

After the notching and tinder prep, I wanted to see how the edge was holding up so it was time for a few fuzz sticks. I am happy to report that the HWK is very capable of marginal fuzz sticks (probably had something to do with the user)!

Finally, I went to the wood pile and selected a lovely section of sycamore that has been seasoning for just short of two years. The HWK was able to baton through it, though somewhat slowly. I sectioned the log into 4 smaller sections and then split off some kindling. When I was done, the edge would still scrape hair off my arm.

Clean Up
The sheath was full of dirt, shavings, and other assorted grime after the short workout. I simply rinsed it out with water and set it up to dry. The HWK it self came back to shaving sharp with a few licks on the strop.

Conclusion
The HWK, so far, has shown itself to be up to a variety off tasks. One short afternoon of testing is hardly enough to show this knife’s true colors but so far it has been up to whatever I have asked. I will continue testing and report back. I want to see how this does in the kitchen and I imagine that this design should be pretty handy dressing deer (if I can manage to get one this season). Ray makes a fine knife at a fair price – what more could you ask? Overall, I am very proud to have my name on this one.

Matt Hazard

Update: I have owned this knife now for about 2 years. I am happy to report that it is still going strong though it looks much more used. The best way to contact Ray Laconico is to send him a message on BladeForums.

Benchmade Snody Shakedown – 14205, 14210, 420

14205, 14210, 420… A Benchmade/Snody Shakedown!

I just reviewed the 14205. I was taken with it how it mixed tank like toughness with refined EDC-ability. So I thought that I check out some of the other Snody designed Benchmade offerings.


The 420 and 14205 have similar blades while the 14210 sports a subtle recurve (420 on top, 14205 middle, 14210 bottom)

As you can see, the 420 and 14205 are very similar in the size of the blade. Both measure about 3.4″ and both are made from .150″ thick 154CM. The 14210 is smaller with a 2.95″ blade. You can also see the differences in handle size. The 420 has a longer, thicker handle than the 14205.


Note the beautiful texture on the 14210 (420 on top, 14205 middle, 14210 bottom)

Here you have a better look at the handles and handle scales. Again, the 420 is the largest, while the 14210 is VERY compact. The 14210 would be a great compact choice for locals that require a sub 3″ bade. Also, notice the striking appearance of the 420. The black G-10 overlays on the gray anodized aluminum scales makes for a very unique appearance and give great grip.


Very classy open construction with sculpted stand-offs (420 on top, 14205 middle, 14210 bottom)

All three knives feature open construction using stand-offs instead of a one piece back spacer. This gives a very classy look. In this picture you can really see the thickness of the 420.


The 420’s pocket clip

Finally, check out the great pocket clip on the 420! It absolutely disappears in the pocket because it rides so low. The clip actually fits in a milled groove behind the G-10 scale and screws to the aluminum. It can be attached to either side for left or right hand carry. This is a very elegant solution. What a great design!

I am really coming to appreciate the Benchmade Snody designs. They give you a whole lot of knife for the money. They are nice to look at and easy to use. What more could you ask?

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