Tag Archives | Vosteed

Review: Vosteed Raccoon Crossbar Lock with Aluminum Scales

The Vosteed Raccoon Crossbar Lock is one of my favorite EDC knives in recent history. Vosteed recently allowed me to check out one of the latest versions of Raccoon, one with a different steel and some great looking aluminum scale options. I jumped at the chance in large part because I was interested to try Vosteed’s texture treatment of the aluminum scales on these new versions and to try their Nitro-V blade steel in a knife I already know I like.

Stats

Blade Length: 3.25″ | 82.55 mm

Overall Length: 7.60″ | 193.12 mm

Blade Width: 1.07″ | 27.27 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: Nitro-V

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Drop Point

Blade Finish: Satin

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 4.36″ | 110.75 mm

Handle Width: 1.10″ | 27.95 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.49″ | 12.40 mm

Handle Material: Aluminum

Color: Orange

Weight: 3.66 oz | 103.80 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

This is a new version of a knife that I already like very much and a lot of my interest in reviewing it will lies in the comparison to the Raccoon with micarta scales that I have already used extensively. The size and shape are identical but scale material and blade steels differ.

There is a lot to be said for how Vosteed treated the aluminum scales on these knives. Aluminum scales can lend a rigidity and weight to a knife that is very satisfying but they can also be cold and slick. Vosteed used a matte powder coat on these scales that seems durable and feels textured in hand which I appreciate. They also milled an attractive texture pattern into the scale. This is the grippiest and most comfortable aluminum-handled knife I own.

I should note that these really are aluminum scales. They are still screwed to the same stainless steel chassis found on other versions of the Raccoon. The result is a knife that feels even beefier than previous versions of the knife and makes a lot of very satisfying sounds when you flick it like only an all-metal knife can.

Vosteed used Nitro-V steel on this version and I was keen to try this considering all the time I have with their 14C28N. On paper, Nitro-V is very similar to 14C28N and I found that to be true in day to day use. It feels similar on sharpening stones and responds similarly on a strop. Edge holding also seemed very similar. Like the Vosteed’s 14C28N, this Nitro-V steel seems to be an excellent, fine-grained, and tough stainless steel that makes a fine choice for an EDC knife that will be pressed into varied tasks.

During my time with this knife, I tried to figure out what I could tell you about how to choose a Raccoon variant for yourself… then a record cold snap hit my area and it became obvious. If you don’t have to deal with cold temperatures regularly, I actually really like the feel and sounds of the aluminum-scaled version of the Raccoon. If you do have cold temps on the regular, the micarta versions will likely feel warmer in hand. It is nice to have options and I hope that one day Vosteed may even offer accessory scales to their customers as it would be very nice to be able to swap them.

In the end, this is just another option for an already great design. It has the same useful blade size and shape. You get the same great handle design that splits the difference so well between being slim in the pocket but hand filling. It is the same just-right EDC knife with a new scale and steel option.

Wrap Up

I own a number of aluminum-handled knives and found this one to be very comfortable and very grippy. The scale treatment provides both a soft, textured feel and plenty of grip. It also happens to look great in my opinion. The Raccoon Crossbar Lock Knives already feel very stout but these new aluminum versions seem to lean even harder into that impression.

Available from Vosteed.com or at the Vosteed Storefront on Amazon.com: Vosteed Raccoon on Amazon.com.

See our previous review of the micarta version of this knife here.

Review: Vosteed Mini Nightshade Crossbar Lock Knife

I recently reviewed the Vosteed Cutlery Raccoon and, if you haven’t read that review, I liked it… a lot. In fact, that Raccoon is within reach as I type this even though this is a review about a different offering from Vosteed. The Nightshade, with it’s bold and unique blade shape, was the knife that put Vosteed on my radar. So, when they asked if I would like to try the Mini Nightshade, I jumped.

Specs

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: 0.42″ | 10.57

Weight: 1.80 oz | 51.00 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 stone-washed blade, black G-10 handles, and red accents.

Observations from Use

You are probably like me and the first thing you notice about any of the knives in the Vosteed Nightshade series is the blade. That blade is what really sets it apart visually and functionally. It is a very unique leaf shape with a continuous curved edge and a point that sits well below the center line of the handle. This isn’t just a design gimmick. I have found that this makes using the tip of the knife for cuts very easy. It also allows you to make use of the curved edge for drawing or scoring cuts without having cock your wrist as much. Both of these are nice for some very common utility tasks like processing cardboard or opening boxes.

Apart from the unique and useful shape, the blade also boasts 14C28N steel which is excellent. The blade features a very tall flat grind which, coupled with the 0.098″ stock, makes this knife a very slicey, very aggressive cutter. Vosteed does a particularly good job tapering the thickness of this knife down to a very acute point so it cuts extremely well from heel to tip.

You may have noticed that I marked one of the stats above in orange text. The weight, or lack there of, on this knife is impressive. This knife comes in under 2 ounces which puts it squarely in the ultralight category of EDC knives. This category is very competitive lately and the price, features, and uniqueness of the Mini Nightshade make it very compelling.

The handle on this knife is excellent. The G-10 slabs are nicely rounded and chamfered for comfort. They also feature a subtle machine texture that is grippy without being rough on your pockets. The blade assembly, bearings, and cross-bar lock all ride in steel inserts that are precisely inlet into the underside of these slabs and the pocket clip threads into brass inserts in the slabs. This setup is rigid but very lightweight.

All of the little details that I have come to expect from Vosteed are present and part of what makes this feel like a great value. The deep carry clip has plenty of clearance for thicker fabrics like denim. There are anodized aluminum elements like the backspacer and thumb studs that provide some color. The ergonomics are on point, providing a full four-finger grip in a compact package.

I also want to bring special attention to the action on this knife. It is up there with the best of any knife I have tried and certainly the best on a cross-bar locking knife. You can’t get a crispy detent on cross-bar locks since the lock itself is the detent so, often, these knives don’t feel quite as snappy as something like a well-tuned liner lock or similar lock. The Mini Nightshade is an exception to that rule. It absolutely flies open when you load your thumb into the thumb stud and yet it also glides smoothly without wanting to outrun your thumb when you slow roll it open.

There are two things I would change. The first is the clip. I was surprised to find that the clip is surface-mounted on this knife and some sort of flush mounting setup like other Vosteed offerings would be nice for something this refined. Second, I would like to see some jumping added to the spine of the knife. This knife offers such great control over the tip and that would really be enhanced with some jumping about midway down the spine.

Wrap Up

The Mini Nightshade manages to pack an ultra-useful blade shape into a knife that straddles the line between EDC and gentleman’s carry. Its incredibly lightweight and compact design make it home as a fifth pocket carry while it’s ergonomic shape and full four-finger grip make it at home in your hand getting stuff done.

You can see the whole Nightshade range at Vosteed.com.

Or, check out the Mini Nightshade Cross-Bar Lock (on sale for 10% off at the time of this writing) at Amazon.com.

Review: Vosteed Raccoon Cross-Bar Lock

I’ll just spoil this review up front. Vosteed provided me a Raccoon with cross-bar lock for review and I think it is an exemplary knife. It isn’t just great for it’s price. It’s great at any price. It’s great, period. The Raccoon shows what a knife company can do when they design for simplicity and get everything just about right.

Stats

Overall Length: 7.60″ | 193.12 mm

Blade Length: 3.25″ | 82.55 mm

Blade Width: 1.07″ | 27.27 mm 

Blade Thickness: 0.125″ | 3.20 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Grind: Flat 

Blade Style: Drop Point 

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 4.36″ | 110.75 mm

Handle Width: 1.10″ | 27.95 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.49″ | 12.4 mm

Weight: 3.06 oz | 86.8 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 satin-finished blade and black micarta handles.

Observations from Use

The Raccoon goes hard out of the gate with its first impression. It comes in a nylon knife pouch which itself is inside of a tin. There are stickers and two patches included in the tin along with a set of spare omega springs for the cross-bar lock which is GREAT. The inclusion of spare springs is a great way to show attention to detail. These springs don’t break as commonly as internet goobers would have you think but having spares is nice.

I would say that, if the Raccoon was a sports team, the blade would be the MVP. Vosteed ticked every box. 14C28N steel is perhaps the best budget steel of all time with its balance of edge resistance, toughness, stain resistance, and sharpenability. The .125″ stock and nearly full-height flat grind means the blade is slicy but also plenty stout. The drop point (almost spear point) shape is versatile with both plenty of point and lots of straight edge near the handle for high leverage cuts. It’s topped off with a crowned spine and perfect jimping. This is the kind of blade that should appeal to everyone. It cuts so well… very, very well.

The handle shows just as much attention to what the knife users want as the blade. The canvas micarta they have sourced for these knives is great – attractive and almost velvety to the touch (in a grippy way). A peek underneath those micarta slabs reveals fully nested, skeletonized steel liners. The matching micarta backspacer is another surprising and welcome touch for a knife at this price. This handle has very little flex while keeping the weight of the knife to right at 3 ounces.

The details and commitment to simplicity continue with the hardware. The clips is reversible and nested into the handle with flush screws. The Raccoon comes with a clip plate for the non-clip side. The pivot has machined flourishes and there is just a single body screw to make disassembly easy.

The handle feels very warm and comfortable in the hands thanks to heavily rounded edges. In fact, every touch point is comfortable on the Raccoon – even the thumb studs which are grippy (but not sharp) and very easy to access…

And you will want to access those thumb studs because Vosteed did some real magic with the action of this knife. It flicks very well and makes satisfying chunky noises while doing it. If you have tried to flick open some cross-bar lock knives, you know the action can be mushy since the lock itself provides the detent action. The Raccoon flicks up and swings shut very well in spite of this which is a testament to how Vosteed tuned the tang of the blade to interact with the lock.

My impressions of this knife are overwhelmingly positive but I think it could be even better. Admittedly, the following items are my own personal preferences but there are changes (or maybe just a different version) I would like to see, nonetheless. If I had my druthers, this knife would be available with bronze washers instead of ball bearings in the pivot since I tend to use my knives in dirty, dusty jobs around hour property. This design lends itself to that kind of work and it would be nice to seal more of that grit out of the pivot. Additionally, the current shape of the grip allows the user to choke up behind the edge but it would be nice if the transition from grip to choil was more flush to make this even more usable.

Wrap Up

If you get a chance to handle a Vosteed Raccoon in person, don’t miss it. It makes a great first impression. I almost can’t believe what this knife offers for the price and I don’t mean the blingy things other companies try to pass off as value. The Raccoon doesn’t try to justify its price with flashy colors or the veneer of luxury. It just gives you exactly what you want as a knife user – good steel, good geometry, comfortable touch points, rugged materials, and some style at a very attractive price.

You can learn more at Vosteed.com

Or check out the Raccoon Cross-Bar Lock (on sale for 10% off at the time of this writing) at Amazon.com.

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