Review: Kizer Banish with Nitro-V Steel

The Jacob Lundquist designed Kizer Banish has been available for a while now. Kizer recently introduced multiple new versions of this excellent fifth pocket knife with new Nitro-V steel, new handle scale options, and an even more affordable price. If you like small, useful EDC folders… tune in. This is a great one.


  • Overall Length: 5.4″/137.1mm
  • Designer: Jacob Lundquist
  • Opener: Thumb Hole, Front Flipper
  • Blade Style: Sheepsfoot
  • Blade Length: 2.30″/58.5mm
  • Blade Thickness: 0.098″/2.5mm
  • Blade Material: Nitro V
  • Handle Length: 3.09″/78.6mm
  • Handle Material: Various
  • Pocket Clip: Deep Carry, Reversible
  • Weight: 2.01oz/57.1g
  • Lock Type: Button Lock
  • Hardness: 61.5-62

Observations from Use

Anyone can design a small knife but not everyone can make one that is easy to live with. Small knives can be very hard to open, close, or even hold effectively when you have adult-sized hands. This is where the Banish shines – it makes everything easy.

It’s easy to open and close. The button lock makes both opening and closing easy. It’s the perfect lock choice for a small knife like this. The proportionally large blade opening hole, and relief cut/finger groove to provide access, means this knife can easily be flicked open with a thumb or middle finger. Additionally, the front flipper works shockingly well on this knife.

It’s easy to grip. The most stylish visual element of the Banish (and other well known other Lundquist designs) is the swayback design. This isn’t all for looks though. The shape, coupled with the pronounced finger groove, serves to lock this little knife into your grip in a surprising way. It’s perfect for the sort of quick, little cuts you might make with an EDC-oriented knife like this.

It’s easy to, you know, cut stuff with. The Banish has a super-slicey, thin sheepsfoot-shaped blade. This means you have plenty of cutting leverage and an easy-to-access, needle-sharp point. It’s exactly what you want in an EDC knife that is well-suited to use as a secondary knife.

It’s easy on your wallet. These are $42. That’s amazing when many of the other small knives that work as well as this one are $50 or more.

It’s easy to decide on a handle scales options. Maybe… but maybe not. The Banish is available with a variety of options but Kizer’s red linen micarta is so, so good. It offers plenty of grip without being aggressive. It also looks great, starting out looking brown/tan and gradually darkening into a rich red-brown with use.

Wrap Up

As you likely know by now (because it seems like I mention it in every one of these compact knife reviews), I frequently carry a fixed-blade knife. So, I am always on the lookout for a great small folder to carry as a “Public Knife”. The Kizer Banish is PERFECT in this role. It’s a top-tier compact folder that oozes style and it’s an incredible value. I think it goes on the Rushmore of fifth-pocket knives.

I also want to mention that my daughters love this knife. It is small enough to fit the pockets in lady’s pants, easy for them to operate (even the front flipper), and I like that the lock is “finger safe” since they are still learning to be confident with knife safety. This would make a great gift.

Kizer Banish on

Kizer Banish on

The above links may be affiliate links. Thank you for Kizer for providing this review sample.


Review: Vosteed Mini Nightshade Titanium and S35VN

If you have been following JTT for a while, you’ll know that the Mini Nightshade isn’t just one of my favorite Vosteed designs, it is one of my favorite knives. The Nightshade, with its unique and useful Shilin Cutter shape, is what put Vosteed on my radar and I have been carrying one version or another of this knife for a while now. Now, I have my mitts on one of the most premium versions to date.


Blade Length: 2.60″ | 66.04 mm

Overall Length: 6.32″ | 160.53 mm

Blade Width: 1.13″ | 28.70 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.098″ | 2.49 mm

Blade Material: S35VN

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Shilin Cutter

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.71″ | 94.33 mm

Handle Width: 0.89″ | 22.60 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.437″ | 11.10 mm

Handle Material: Titanium

Weight: 2.59 oz | 73.40 g

Opener: Thumb Stud

Lock Type: Crossbar Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Observations from Use

To me, the Mini Nightshade is all about performance and the performance is all about that blade! Do you want a knife that gives you easy access to a fine, useable tip? It does. Do you want thin blade stock that tapers to a thin, incredibly sharp and slicey edge via a full flat grind? It does. Do you want a shape that holds the material in the cut and has plenty of belly? It does.

These knives CUT!

They also manage to pack that performance into a very compact package. The Mini Nightshade is small enough to pull fifth pocket duty but large enough for a medium size hand to get all four fingers on the grip. It also happens to be a very slim design. It’s a Goldilocks size.

I also want to point out the weight. These knives are incredibly lightweight due to the partial liners and thin blade stock. This is the heaviest version yet and it is still well under 3 ounces at 2.6 ounces. Saying that “you’ll forget you are carrying it is a cliche”, but I genuinely have.

This is also the most premium version of this knife to date. It features sculpted titanium scales that are radiused for comfort and have a very attractive scalloped texture pattern. Vosteed also went premium with the blade steel. CPM S35VN is a great choice here as it can take a fine edge and has solid toughness to support the thin cutting geometry. It’s a great premium, powdered metallurgy option for this knife. While it isn’t a heavy knife by any stretch, it has a solid heft in the hand for such a compact knife.

Wrap Up

This is my favorite version of one of my favorite knives. The most important thing a knife must do is cut… and Vosteed goes all out with cutting performance on these knives. Secondly, you want a knife that is easy to live with and this is definitely that with it’s slim, lightweight design.

See full specs and all available colors:

See all of the Nightshade family on the Vosteed Amazon Store with 20% off options:

Previous reviews of the Mini Nightshade including more budget-oriented options: Mini Nightshade Reviews on JTT


Review: Vosteed Mink

The Mink is Vosteed’s first fixed blade but, based on the attention to detail, you would think they have been making them for years. Let’s dive in.


Blade Length: 3.33″ | 83.90 mm

Overall Length: 7.13″ | 181.00 mm

Blade Width: 1.10″ | 27.92 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: Nitro-V

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Clip Point

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.82″ | 97.10 mm

Handle Width: 0.85″ | 21.63 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.46″ | 11.60 mm

Handle Material: Micarta

Weight: 5.12 oz | 145.10 g (Sheath included)

Carry Position: Adjustable Belt Clip

Knife Type: Fixed Blade

Sheath: Kydex

Designer: Yue

Observations from Use

I have been using the Mink as an EDC fixed blade and it excels in that role. Vosteed designed and sized this knife to be well suited to a number of roles from EDC to outdoors. The shallow clip point renders a splinter-pickingly sharp point. The thin blade stock and tall flat grind terminates at a very thin, slicey edge. The handle provides plenty of grip. It has everything you want from an all-around tool.

The pancake-style kydex sheath comes with a small Tek-lok-like clip that works well for basic belt carry or for attaching to a backpack strap. However, I swapped that clip almost immediately for a Ulti-clip Slim 3.3 which allowed me to clip the sheath into my pocket. This setup worked very well. I also tried the Mink in an older leather pocket sheath that I already own and found that to be a VERY comfortable way to carry this knife.

There are three very subtle design elements on the Mink that I think take it to another level and really showcase the attention to detail that went into this design. First, the handle features a choil that works as a guard but does nothing to hinder a variety of grips or impede the user from getting their grip right behind the edge. Second, there is a very slight swedge grind that makes the tip of this knife even more useful. Finally, the addition of a second section of jimping out near the tip of the knife helps give the user tremendous control of that useful tip. It’s very cool to see how Vosteed uses the ergonomics of this knife to enhance the cutting performance.

The use of Nitro-V steel is a great option here. It is plenty tough enough to support the aggressive cutting geometry on this knife, corrosion-resistant enough to shrug off any conditions this knife might find itself in, and also affordable enough to ensure that the Mink is a great value.

There is one thing I would change. I was a little annoyed with the width of the sheath. Vosteed designed a slim, EDC-friendly fixed blade but then saddled it with a wide sheath. I want to be clear, this sheath is not the throw-away garbage that many makers provide with their fixed-blades. It will work for most people. The sheath’s quality is great… it’s just wide. I would love to see them switch to a slimmer, fold-over style sheath for future runs of this knife.

Wrap Up

The Mink is a lot of things. It is an impressive performer with great cutting geometry and the ergonomics to help you get the most out of that cutting geometry. It is a flexible design that can fill various roles from EDC to outdoors. It is an incredible value for these materials and this level of attention to detail.

The Mink is so good that I am very excited to see what Vosteed’s next fixed blade release will be… a fixed blade in the Nightshade line, perhaps? We can dream.

Vosteed Store on

Review: Kizer Sheepdog with Clutch Lock

Kizer’s Sheepdog series, one of their best-known knife lines, is characterized by bold and functional sheepsfoot-shaped blades. There are several great knives in that series but I think their Clutch Lock models are the real standouts. You could say they are standout knives in a standout series.


  • Overall Length: 7.60″/193mm
  • Opener: Thumb Stud/Thumb Hole
  • Blade Style: Sheepfoot
  • Blade Length: 3.15″/80mm
  • Blade Thickness: 0.11″/2.8mm
  • Blade Material: 154CM
  • Handle Length: 4.45″/113mm
  • Handle Material: Aluminium
  • Pocket Clip: Reversible Deep Carry
  • Weight: 4.76oz./135g
  • Lock Type: Clutch Lock

Observations from Use

If you like big, bold knives, you’ll like the Sheepdog. I happen to think it is a great-looking design that makes a statement (especially with the purple scales). However, the Sheepdog series isn’t just wild for the sake of being wild. This is actually a practical and useful knife. The blade stock is thinner than you would expect, though still plenty stout given the height, at .11″ thick. This coupled with a very tall flat grind, a useful point, and slight belly to the edge means these knives excel at utility work and cut aggressively.

I haven’t tried every crossbar-style lock but I think, in general, Kizer is doing them best of what I have put hands on. For one, their Clutch Lock is adjustable which is a meaningful feature for this knife. The blade has a lot of mass so being able to set a stiffer detent is great. They also seem to get great action from their Clutch Lock knives, taking the time to polish bearing surfaces. This VERY strong lock with fidget potential is very fitting for this design.

Most, if not all, of the Sheepdog series have multiple opening methods. I particularly like the setup on this version of the full-size Sheepdog. It has color-matched thumb studs, a large opening hole, and a fuller. Some models of the Sheepdog have a flipper tab but this one does not, which I prefer. It is already a wide knife in pocket so it is nice to forgo the extra width of the tab.

If you have never tried a Sheepdog in hand, you need to. They generally have flat scales but deeply curved handle shapes that are very comfortable to hard use. The handle is large enough that it should be very well suited to those with larger hands. I also want to call out the finish that Kizer uses on their aluminum scales. It feels great in hand.

If I could change a few things, I might make the fuller just a bit wider which I think would make flipping it open off the fuller even easier than it already is. The deep carry pocket clip is secure and stable but seems like it could be trimmed down a bit. These are clearly nitpicks on a great knife.

Wrap Up

Maybe you want a large, hard-working knife that is well suited to utility tasks. Maybe you just want an EDC that makes a statement. Maybe you just like sheepdogs. If any of those apply, you ought to check out something from Kizer’s Sheepdog lineup and, as I said, I happen to think these Clutch Lock models are the pick of the litter.

The Clutch Lock Sheepdog models are available at a host of price points with various blade steels and handle materials. You can view the whole range at

Watch the Kizer Store on Amazon for sales: Kizer Sheepdog C01C at

Review: Vosteed Raccoon Cub

One of the more exciting new knives to be shown at this year’s Blade Show was the Vosteed Raccoon Cub. The design was instantly recognizable as a scaled-down Raccoon (the model that Vosteed may be most known for) but it was also clear that this knife was going to take on established designs in the fifth pocket or little-big-knife space.

Now that I have spent time with a review sample and pricing has been released, I can say it delivers. In fact, I’ll say that I think this is best-in-class.


Blade Length: 2.34″ | 59.50 mm

Overall Length: 5.57″ | 141.60 mm

Blade Width: 0.98″ | 25.00 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.098″ | 2.50 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Drop Point

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.23″ | 82.10 mm

Handle Width: 1.00″ | 25.50 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.41″ | 10.50 mm

Handle Material: G10

Weight: 2.04 oz | 58.00 g

Opener: Thumb Stud | Front Flipper

Lock Type: Liner Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Knife Type: Manual Folding

Thumbstud Material: Aluminum

Designer: Yue

Observations from Use

I am a big fan of this type of knife. I usually carry a fixed blade knife so it is nice to have a compact folding knife that is small enough not to be burdensome but large enough to be useful. This little-big-knife or fifth pocket knife segment is growing and competitive. That is good for me because I am fully on board.

The Raccoon Cub has exactly the sort of ergonomics you want in a knife like this. It has a large, useable finger choil in the blade to allow a full and comfortable four-finger grip if you choke up while also remaining very compact when it is folded. It is a well-established formula that is well executed in this design.

The Raccoon Cub will inevitably draw comparisons to the Civivi Baby Banter – a knife that I own and that really stands out in this segment. The two knives are similar in many ways but differ in some key ways:

  • I prefer the blade shape of the Raccoon Cub with its more acute tip, something I find especially useful on a small knife.
  • The Racoon Cub also offers jumping on the spine out near that point to make it even easier to control for fine tasks.
  • The Raccoon Cub is VERY SLIGHTLY heavier but, for that weight, you get skeletonized and nested steel liners which is nice.
  • The Raccoon Cub’s handle is a little less cramped thanks to the taper at the butt and it is also easier to open thanks to better action and the addition of a front flipper.
  • The Raccoon Cub is a full $10-12 cheaper than the base Baby Banter options.

Speaking of the front flipper. I just want to mention that I normally don’t really care about them and rarely use them. However, in the case of the Raccoon Cub, it is so well executed, snappy, and easy to use that I find that it is actually useful instead of just fidgety. Some users with larger hands, may even prefer it.

The action on my review sample is extremely smooth with a very crispy detent. In fact, I can deploy the blade with just pressure from the pad of my middle finger. The detent holds rock steady until you apply enough pressure to overcome it and then the blade rockets open. It’s very satisfying.

Wrap Up

When this knife was shown at Blade Show, I recognized the potential. When I spent time with it, I fell in love. When it finally went up for sale and I saw the price, I became convinced that the Raccoon Cub is best-in-class.

This is now the best fifth pocket knife available. The value is great. The ergonomics are great. The cutting performance is great. It’s just a stellar knife.

The Raccoon Cub is initially only available Amazon: Vosteed Raccoon Cub at

It will be available direct from Vosteed at a later date:

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