Archive | EDC

Review: Vosteed Ankylo with New Vanchor Lock

The Vosteed Ankylo has a lot of momentum right now. It’s a new knife with a promising new lock, its all over my feeds, and it met its funding goal on Kickstarter in 30 minutes. That’s hype and all signs point to the Ankylo living up to it.


Blade Length: 3.18″ | 80.90 mm
Overall Length: 7.75″ | 196.90 mm
Blade Width: 1.22″ | 31.00 mm
Blade Thickness: 0.134″ | 3.40 mm
Blade Material: Elmax
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Style: Reverse Tanto
Blade Finish: Black Stonewash / Satin / Stonewash
Hardness: HRC 60±2
Handle Length: 4.57″ | 116.00 mm
Handle Width: 1.06″ | 27.00 mm
Handle Thickness: 0.563″ | 14.30 mm
Handle Material: 6061 Aluminum
Color: Black / Green / Gray / Orange / Blue
Weight: 4.76 oz | 135.00 g
Opener: Front Flipper | Back Flipper | Thumb Hole
Lock Type: V-anchor Lock
Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing
Pocket Clip:  Non-reversible | Stainless Steel
Carry Position: Tip-up
Knife Type: Manual Folding
Designer: Yue

Observations from Use

The Vanchor lock that is debuted on this knife is the recipient of most of the hype but, first, I want to talk about the Ankylo as a knife. It has dominated my pocket since I received a prototype for evaluation. Vosteed’s take on the reverse tanto blade shape has everything you want for an EDC knife – a strong and useable point, plenty of sweeping belly, a tall flat grind, and a reasonably thin edge.

The choice of Elmax steel made my day. Elmax is underappreciated and underused as a blade steel. It has very well-rounded characteristics with solid edge holding, toughness, and corrosion resistance while being easier to sharpen than many other super steels which I appreciate.

Accessing the blade is easy thanks to the multiple deployment options baked into this knife. It has a front and back flipper, neither of which add any width to the knife which I love. They also both have great jimping. The large thumb hole works like a champ for any deployment method you would want – slow rolling, thumb flicking, or reverse flicking. The Vanchor lock provides a very well tuned detent to support all these opening methods and the action is kind of unique. It’s very smooth and moves freely with somewhat of a buffered feel that is hard to describe – you need to try it. I think that feel might come from the magnet in the lock.

This knife fills and melts into the hand in multiple grips. The handle is long enough that average hands will be able to hold it with the index finger in the finger groove or choke up to the flat ahead of the finger groove… or choke up even further to place the index finger on the large comfortable finger choil. None of the opening methods get in the way of your grip because they all tuck cleanly into the handle when the blade is deployed (this is one of my most appreciated design elements that Vosteed incorporates into several of their knives).

Finally, we can talk about the Vanchor lock. This lock does exactly what you want a knife lock to do – lock up like a vault. The Ankylo with its Vanchor lock seems to have no play at all, in any direction. Not only does the Vanchor lock provide a lot of lock surface area but the large pivot assembly requires larger diameter caged ball bearings which coupled with the all metal construction make this knife feel like a fixed blade when it is deployed. Most knives on bearings can be flexed at least a little bit… not the Ankylo.

The heart of the Vanchor lock is a steel bar with a large lock plate on one end (all one piece). The steel bar is mounted inside the knife scale much like a nested liner lock so the lock plate can flex toward the blade. However, instead of locking against the tang, the lock plate mates into a groove at the base of the blade. When locked, this solid steel bar would need to break or deform for the lock to fail.

This design provides a few interesting benefits for end users and even knife designers. First, it is button-actuated which brings with it a lot of ease of use /fidget-factor for left and right handed users. Second, its detent geometry is very much like that of a liner lock which makes it easy to achieve a strong, crisp detent to support all fidgety-goodness that can be designed into a button lock knife.

When it comes to new knife locks, only time can tell the whole story. We can’t know yet how this lock will fair over the long term, exposure to pocket lint, sand, etc. but it certainly seems like a promising mix of strong, reliable lock-up with the user-friendliness of a button lock.

No knife is perfect and there are a few changes I would like to see made that are really just my preferences. First, it would be nice to have milled pocket clip on a chunky knife like this. I like Vosteed’s stamped clips but a milled clip would suit this knife. Second, I would like to see the large lock button recessed a bit more. It is large enough that you will always be able to find it so making it even more resistant to inadvertent contact seems like a win-win.

Wrap Up

The Ankylo is a knife worthy of an exciting new lock. It would be easy to loose sight of the fact that this is just a great knife in all the hype around the Vanchor lock. That said, the Vanchor lock does deliver. It has strong lock up, a great detent, and is as easy to use as any button lock. It will be very, very interesting to see where this lock turns upon next.

You can learn more about the Ankylo on Kickstarter. Learn more about Vosteed at

Review: SRM Knives 9201

I have a confession to make. I like cheap knives. I’m not talking about “gas station knives” (though I like those too, if I am honest) or knives that are cheap for the sake of being cheap. I’m talking about the thrill of finding knives that are cheap but that actually offer compelling reasons to like them. It’s one of the reasons I spend so much of my money on knives that cost around $30 to review here but…

Today, we aren’t talking about a $30 knife. We’re talking about a knife that costs closer to $20 but still manages to offer some features that set it apart from anything you’ll find at that one sketchy knife table at every flea market. We’re talking about the SRM Knives 9201 – specifically the version with polymer scales.


  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Closed Length: 4.55″
  • Overall Length: 8.09″
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV (stainless)
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12″
  • Blade Shape: Clip Point
  • Handle Material: FRN
  • Locking Mechanism: Ambi-Lock
  • Pocket Clip: Reversible Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 3.4 oz

Observations from Use

This is the most affordable version of the SRM 920X series. It costs under $22 shipped to your door. While nothing about this knife screams premium, it manages to make a compelling case for itself with workaday features that make it a very useful… and dare I say… likable tool.

I want to start with some things that genuinely surprised me about this knife in a good way. First, the knife came greased – not packed with grease like some cheap knives (though there was a lot) but with grease that was applied purposefully to the pivot. This knife clearly passed through human hands before going into the shipping container bound for American shores. Additionally, I took it apart and found surprisingly thick bronze washers and blue tread locking compound applied to all the screws. It also arrived very sharp due to the near MIRROR POLISHED EDGE… impressive and surprising for $22.

The blade steel, 8Cr13MOV, is nothing to write home about but it is similar to AUS8 which sharpens easily and polishes well (easy to maintain on a strop). SRM has done the steel some favors here with a very tall flat grind and thin, polished edge so it cuts very well. They clearly put some effort into getting the edge, the most important part of a knife, as right as it could be. They also give you a lot of edge to work with thanks to the 3.5″ length and great piercing thanks to the large clip that tapers down to a needle-like point. It’s chocked full of slicey, pokey goodness.

The experience of using and carrying reminds me a lot of the Spyderco Endura. It is relatively large but slim and lightweight. And, like the Endura it has FRN scales. The FRN feels/sounds a little cheap at first but they do seem to have decent glass content (very crunchy when you touch them with a soldering iron) and they offer really excellent grip thanks to the embossed SRM logo pattern. As much as it would be easy to take shots at these plastic scales, they are well executed.

The SRM 9201 is very easy to flick open thanks to the smooth action (after cleaning out some of that aforementioned grease) and well-designed opening hole. Its very fidgety and easy to access.

The biggest draw for me when I added this to my cart was the crossbar lock. We are unaccustomed to seeing proven, hard-use, finger-safe locks like this at this price point and I wanted to see if was decent. This lock is better than decent. Mine locks up perfectly and has passed multiple spine whack “tests”. A lock like this and at this price is impressive.

Not everything is coming up roses for this knife though. The blade centering on mine is off and I can’t correct it despite trying. I also wish the omega springs in the lock were just a bit more stout but the provided springs work well enough. The blade coating marks up easily and likely won’t last. And, like I already said, the FRN scales feel cheap even though I don’t think they actually are that cheap (makes you appreciate how companies like Spyderco make FRN feel premium). Fortunately, a lot of these gripes can be overcome by selecting a different version of this knife with different scale material or a lack of blade coating… and SRM offers several.

Wrap Up

If you read around the internet a bit, you’ll find that the SRM 920X series is a bit of a cult classic among cheap knife enthusiasts and I can see why. It is a knife nerd’s knife at a big box store price.

This knife is very slim and lightweight for its size. Its easy to carry and boasts a strong lock. It’s an aggressive cutter and will be easy to keep that way thanks to great cutting geometry. There is a lot to like here for around $20. This is a knife that isn’t just cheap. It fights for a spot in your pocket by offering actual value and personality.

I purchased my SRM 9201 on Amazon. The blue FRN scale version with a coated blade is not currently available but the selection changes frequently. You may want to shop around a bit as there are many versions of this knife at various price points: SRM 9201 on

Review: Vosteed Mini Nightshade with New Aluminum Scales

I’ve been fortunate to handle several Vosteed Cutlery knives at this point and the Mini Nightshade is still in my top 2 (alongside the Raccoon). The Nightshade series knives, with their unique Shilin Cutter shape, are the knives that really exemplify what I like about Vosteed – great functional shapes and materials, great prices, and some really bold designs.

Vosteed provided the latest version of the Mini Nightshade for me to check out.


Blade Length: 2.60″ | 66.04mm

Overall Length: 6.31″ | 160.37mm

Blade Width: 1.13″ | 28.28mm

Blade Thickness: 0.098″ | 2.49mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Shilin Cutter

Blade Finish: Stonewash

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.71″ | 94.33mm

Handle Width: 0.89″ | 22.6

Handle Thickness: 0.437″ | 11.10 mm

Weight: 2.16 oz | 61.10 g

Opener: Thumb Stud

Lock Type: Crossbar Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

There are other finishes and handle materials available but my review sample has a black-washed blade, green aluminum handles, and gold accents (thumb stud and backspacer).

Observations from Use

I have already written in-depth why I like the Mini Nightshade in the previous review which I suggest you check out. In this review, I’ll focus on the differences with this new aluminum scale version.

I expected this would just be a scale-swapped version of an already great knife but I was surprised to find that the aluminum scales changed the character of the Mini Nightshade a lot. The new scales are slightly thicker than the original G-10 version. It’s enough that you notice a difference. That extra thickness with the great machined texture makes this new version feel a little more capable… more ready to work.

Speaking of the texture, Vosteed gets a gold star for how they executed it. They machined a scalloped pattern into the scales that provides great grip out near the edges but tapers down to smooth at the center of the scale. This means the clip rides on the smooth part of the scale making it very easy to take in and out of the pocket. This is such a clever touch that works and looks great.

This version of the Mini Nightshade feels more substantial in the hand in part due to a slight weight increase but it is still an absolute feather-weight at just 2.16 ounces. That is incredibly light for an all-metal knife.

The Mini Nightshade was already a refined, gentemanly knife but this new version received even more refinements from Vosteed. The deep carry clip is now nested into the scale and they provided a filler tab for the side that is not in use. They even took care to slightly extend the thumb studs to account for the thicker scales. That is some solid attention to detail.

If you haven’t tried something from the Vosteed Nightshade series, you really should. This blade shape is incredible. It holds material in the cut and gives easy access to the point like a sheepsfoot or warncliffe style blade but also offers belly for slicing and draw cuts like a drop point or leaf shape blade. It’s unique and useful.

Wrap Up

This is new version of the Mini Nightshade from Vosteed builds on the back of an already great knife. The proven cutting geometry, useful blade shape, lightweight, and compact design are still there but with some additional refinements, new texture, and a great new look. This is my favorite version of the Mini Nightshade to date.

You can see the whole Nightshade range at Now is a great time to check them out as many of their knives are up to 20% off for Easter (no code required).

The new Mini Nightshades are also on sale and available at Amazon: Mini Nightshade on

Review: Sub $30 Civivi Mini Praxis

It wasn’t that long ago that multiple solid knives were available for less than $30. These days, many of those knives like the Ontario RAT 2, have moved up market to closer to $40 or even more in some cases. So, when someone recently asked what I would recommend for an EDC or work knife for less than $30, I couldn’t fall back on my old recommendations. That’s why I purchased a Civivi Mini Praxis to see what $30 buys you these days.


  • Overall Length: 6.79″ / 172.5mm
  • Width: 1.27″ / 32.3mm
  • Overall Height(Include Clip): 0.62″ / 15.7mm
  • Blade Length: 2.98″ / 75.6mm
  • Closed Length: 3.81″ / 96.9mm
  • Blade Thickness: 0.1″ / 2.5mm
  • Handle Thickness: 0.45″ / 11.5mm
  • Knife Weight: 2.77oz / 78.5g
  • Blade Material: D2
  • Blade Hardness: 59-61HRC
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Type: Drop Point
  • Handle Material: G10
  • Liner Material: Stainless Steel
  • Pocket Clip: Tip-Up, Right Carry
  • Clip Material: Stainless Steel
  • Screws Material: Stainless Steel
  • Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing
  • Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock

Observations from Use

The Mini Praxis is essentially just a down-sized version of the Civivi’s well-known Praxis. It is very impressive how gracefully that design, known for being a large work/tactical knife, scaled down to a surprisingly refined EDC-oriented knife that just about disappears in your pocket thanks to a true deep carry clip. I think this is due, in large part, to the finger choil. On the larger Praxis, the choil allows the user to choke up on what is a fairly large knife but on the Mini Praxis, it allows a very svelte and compact knife to feel much larger.

This knife cuts aggressively. Civivi generally does a very nice job with their D2. The cutting geometry on this little laser beam also helps. The spear point blade is thin, with a very high flat grind that thins out the edge very nicely. The long swedge grind provides an acute but relatively strong tip.

The flipping action is what you would expect from Civivi which is to say it is very good. The detent is crisp and the action is smooth so the blade rockets out when you use the back flipper. That’s a good thing because that is the only method for opening the Mini Praxis that is provided by the design. This design is classy enough to serve as an office carry so it would have been nice to have a method of opening that is more suited to slower opening but the design is true to the original Praxis which also only had a back flipper.

Civivi did a great job of taking weight out of this design. The blade is very broad compared to many folders of this size so you might expect it to be heavy but the liners are aggressively skeletonized. The 2.77 ounce weight puts this firmly into ultralight range.

It would have been nice if Civivi didn’t scale down the design quite so literally as I wish the jimping on the spine extended out a little bit more. It also would be nice if the G-10 slabs had a bit more thickness and contour. However, those are relatively small nitpicks at this price. I think people would buy this knife at $45-50 and feel it is was a solid buy. 10 years ago, you would expect to pay $80-100 for something like this… maybe more. In today’s market it is impressive to see it at a sub-$30 price point. That isn’t a sale price either. That is the everyday price.

Wrap Up

The Mini Praxis proves that the Praxis design was more versatile than any of us realized – able to go from rugged work knife to classy EDC just by scaling it down in size. This knife has great cutting performance, solid ergonomics, and it is easy to carry. It’s a well-designed EDC option that impresses at under $30. It seems like a worthy and very recommendable alternative to something like the RAT 2 at this price point.

I purchased my Civivi on Amazon for even less by taking advantage of their occasional used knife offers (returns): Civivi Mini Praxis with satin blade and black G-10 or the Mini Praxis blackwash blade with green G-10 on

Review: Vosteed Mini Labrador

The Vosteed Mini Labrador might be a lot of things. It might be Vosteed’s best value for money to date. It might be their best fifth-pocket knife to date. It might be their best gentleman’s knife to date. Let’s take a look at the newest offering provided by Vosteed for this review.


  • Blade Length: 2.73″ | 69.30 mm
  • Overall Length: 6.23″ | 158.20 mm
  • Blade Width: 0.72″ | 18.40 mm
  • Blade Thickness: 0.098″ | 2.50 mm
  • Blade Material: 14C28N
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Blade Finish: Black Stonewash
  • Hardness: HRC 60±2
  • Handle Length: 3.50″ | 88.90 mm
  • Handle Width: 0.72″ | 18.30 mm
  • Handle Thickness: 0.374″ | 9.50 mm
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 1.93 oz | 54.80 g
  • Opener: Back Flipper
  • Lock Type: Frame Lock
  • Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing
  • Pocket Clip: Non-reversible | Titanium
  • Carry Position: Tip-up
  • Knife Type: Manual Folding
  • Backspacer Material: Titanium
  • Designer: Yue

Observations from Use

The specs above don’t tell the whole story of the value that this knife offers. The handle has full titanium construction including the milled pocket clip (which is great by the way) and backspacer. The blade is 14C28N which is as good as it gets for value steels. The lack bar features a steel insert that also includes an integral overtravel tab. These are materials and construction that is normally reserved for knives well above the $69 price point of the Mini Labrador.

This tiny fifth-pocket knife is built like a lot of knives costing 2-3x as much… but tiny is the operative word. I think everyone I have shown it to has made the statement that it was smaller than they thought it would be (and that is important to know if you are considering buying one). The specs given by Vosteed are spot on but somehow the knife seems smaller than you are prepared for. I think that is part of the success of the design as a gentleman’s knife that can still do some real cutting as opposed to a jack-of-trades EDC knife or a work knife. This knife is visually smaller than you thought it would be and yet medium-sized hands can get a 3 or even 4-finger grip for real work. It’s voodoo.

This knife is SOOO slim and SOOO light (under 2 ounces!). Normally, I would say something like, “It’s a joy to carry.” But that would indicate that you are actually aware that you are carrying it which seems unlikely with this featherweight. It’s perfect for the fifth-pocket of jeans thanks to plenty of clearance under the clip or dress slacks where it won’t weigh down lighter or thinner fabrics.

The Mini Labrador is an aggressive cutter. The blade has a full-height flat grind, thin blade stock, and is very thin behind the edge. The point is very acute which I think is especially useful on a gentleman’s knife.

This knife has a single opening method, a back flipper. It works very well inspite of how tiny it is thanks to a perfect detent and very smooth action. My example started smooth and only became more smooth as it broke in. It is smooth enough that it will drop shut with some light shakes and that is noteworthy when you consider how lightweight the blade is.

Normally, I try to have some constructive criticism for these knives but I am struggling to come up with anything for the Mini Labrador. In terms of a gentlemen’s knife design, this is a great success. It is an actual tool first, slim, light, and easy to carry while also being classy and a great value. I would love to see Vosteed try more titanium frame-lock folders, maybe some that are larger with more opening methods.

Wrap Up

If you are looking for a high-value knife that is as easy to carry as possible or something to carry at the office, this is a great option. If you just want a fifth-pocket knife that is built like a tiny tank, this is a great option. Vosteed has made some great small knives like the Mini Nightshade and Chipmunk but if you want something that works hard but is truly small, this is what you are after.

The Mini Labrador is currently available at Amazon (sold out at Vosteed Chipmunk at

You can learn more about all Vosteed’s offerings at

These two images may help give a sense for how compact this knife is. The Mini Labrador is similar in blade length and overal length to the Chipmunk but it is signiificantly slimmer and lighter. The Chipmunk (top) seems more like an compact, jack-of-all-trades EDC while the Mini Labrador (bottom) comes across more as a svelte, compact, gentleman’s knife.

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