Category Archives: Knives

My Little Friend

SOG’s Kiku Makes For
A Great Daily Companion.

Meet my little friend Kiku. Don’t make the mistake of judging by its somewhat harmless sounding name. Once it opens up you’ll find it has a wicked attitude and an insatiable sweet tooth for cutting. Better to have it as your friend.

“Kiku” is actually Kiku Matsuda, a highly talented custom knifemaker from Japan known for making some of the finest—and most wicked—tactical knives on the planet. SOG Specialty Knives & Tools has teamed up with Kiku on two knife projects, the latest being a production folding knife bearing his name.

Very little of what Matsuda does is orthodox. The Kiku’s 3.5-inch AUS-8 black TiNi-coated blade is a hybrid blend of the Japanese tanto and traditional clip point with a heaping helping of fire-drenched Wasabi. The handle is of common liner-lock design, but the crocodilian green Linen Micarta scales are works of 3-dimensional art, their shapes complementing the blades aggressive posture. SOG offers the Kiku in large and small sizes, the latter (7.75 inches fully employed) shown here. Blade finishes can be had in the hardcase TiNi of our sample knife or in polished satin. And if you’re the type who likes to coordinate for success, large and small fixed-blade versions of the Kiku (10.76 and 9.76 inches in length respectively) are available as well.

SOG has produced many slick-looking knives over the years and the Kiku stacks up to any, thanks to Matsuda’s exemplary knack for design. The small Kiku in black TiNi will run you $145 suggested retail and the satin finished version 10 bucks less—very reasonable for a “little friend” with looks matched only by its ability to defend!
By Pat Covert

Kiku Folder
Maker: SOG Specialty Knives & Tools
6521 212th St SW
Lynnwood, WA 98036
(425) 771-6230

Blade steel: AUS-8 stainless, titanium nitride coating
Overall length: 7.75 inches
Blade: 3.5 inches
Weight: 4.2 ounces
Handle: Linen Micarta
Carry: Pocket clip
Price: $145

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Small Wonder!

Boker’s Lightweight Mini
Slik Tanto Is Ready To Defend.

In some cases big isn’t always better. Imagine wearing a 14-inch Bowie knife strapped to your side as you enter the bank to make the morning deposit. Ain’t happening. But the Boker Plus Mini Slik Tanto will be glad to provide escort and do so with the attitude of a bulldog on its way to the vet. Designed by custom knifemaker Rob Amsler for Boker, this edgy little fixed-blade weighs a scant 1.7 ounces and can pack easily in a pocket or be worn around the neck.

Amsler’s forte is making small knives with a big bite. The Mini Slik, 4.8-inches in overall length, offers a comfortable degree of self-protection and can handle myriad daily chores. Without a doubt, you’ll be the envy of the office demonstrating your box cutting skills. Mini Slik’s 2.2-inch stonewashed 440C stainless steel blade is patterned after the Japanese Tanto, but much more aggressive in its elongated lines. The handle is lightweight Titanium with the blade tang running the length of the handle. Held in place by two sturdy tube pins, the bottom tube serves as a lanyard hole. A nifty lanyard and bead (included) serve for quickly pulling the knife from its heat-formed Kydex sheath. The sheath can be hung around the neck by adding a length of chain, leather, or cord though the bottom rivet hole located on the base.

One advantage of small knives like this is they are very hard to take away or jar from the users grip. There’s nothing to grab except the protruding blade—and this is definitely not recommended. The Mini Slik is part of the Boker Plus line of knives, which tend to be very affordable with great value for the money. The slick Mini Slik checks in at $53.95, not bad for a sweet piece of Titanium coupled with a tenacious blade designed to get you out of a jam faster than you got into it!
By Pat Covert

Mini Slik Tanto
Maker: Boker USA
1550 Balsam Street
Lakewood, CO 80214

Blade steel: 440C stainless steel
Overall length: 4.8 inches
Blade: 2.2-inch Tanto
Weight: 1.7 ounces
Handle: Titanium
Carry: Kydex sheath
Price: $53.95

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Schrade Shredder!

The SCHF9 Extreme Survival
Knife Delivers On Slice And Price.

Crocodile Dundee had it right. Most experts agree, in a critical survival situation you’re better off with a big knife than a small one. The reasoning is simple: A large knife can do many of the same tasks as a small knife, but a small knife can’t handle the heavy-duty tasks a large one will. Schrade’s SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife fills the large knife bill in spades, and does it for a small price to boot.

There’s a lot to like about this big Schrade, starting with its 6.4-inch, recurved, Filipino Bolo-inspired blade. That added weight at the end of the blade makes for superb chopping and the recurve at the base edge serves to “trap” whatever it is slicing. The blade is made of easy-to-sharpen 1095 high-carbon steel topped with a metallic gray Teflon coating to assist in impeding corrosion. Finger grooves on the handle make for sure gripping, further aided by fish-scale textured, rubberized Kraton scales which help absorb shock during use. Just shy of a pound, the 15.9-ounce SCHF9 is a knife built for chopping and can easily fell small trees for shelter building.

With this power monger comes a MOLLE-adaptable black Cordura sheath, reinforced with a plastic stiffening sleeve and topped with a pouch for keeping a folder, sharpening stone or a host of small survival goodies such as fish hooks, Band-aids and the like. The cherry on top of this sumptuous steel sundae is its price of just $66. At that price you can afford a smaller knife for other tasks when you’re not using the SCHF9 to build your log cabin!
By Pat Covert

Schrade SCHF9
Extreme Survival Knife
MAKER: Taylor Brands, LLC
1043 Fordtown Road
Kingsport, TN 37663
(800) 251-0254
Blade steel: 1095 High carbon steel,
Overall length: 12.1 inches,
Blade: 6.4-inch re-curved drop point,
Weight: 15.9 ounces,
Handle: textured Kraton,
Carry: reinforced Cordura with pouch,
Price: $66

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Pride Of The Peasants

The Enduring Opinel May Be
The Best knife For The Price Ever!

Over the past few years we’ve featured some mighty pricey knives in this here cutlery column, but this ain’t one of them. In fact, the humble Opinel No. 8 folding knife is by far the least expensive knife we’ve ever reviewed—and if the $12.95 suggested retail of the No. 8 scares you, might we suggest a gently used flea market butter knife?

Frenchman Joseph Opinel began making knives in his Savoie shop in 1890. These affordable knives—given the moniker “peasant knives”—became quite popular, and by 1987 Opinel released a series of knives numbered 1 through 12. Over the years Opinel knives have remained pretty much unchanged. The company’s trademark Virobloc “twist lock” was added in 1955 and in 2000 it was modified to work in the open and closed positions.

The Opinel No. 8 is a study in simplicity. The handle is 4.40 inches in length, the blade 3.25 inches. With the blade locked it is a surprisingly sturdy knife and the flared-base handle is very comfortable. The blade is XC90 high carbon steel or you can upgrade to Sandvik 12C27M stainless. The streamlined No. 8 Slim features a tapered handle and sleeker blade profile. Other options include wood upgrades, plus a variety of sheaths are available.

Would I want to put a No. 8 through extreme hard use? No. This knife is not going to outperform a contemporary hi-tech folder. But that’s not the point. The Opinel is a highly competent knife for everyday use, and you can buy 10 for the price of a slick modern folder and stash them all over the place. This knife is a hyper-prepper’s redundancy dream come true! I bought the slightly smaller No. 7 to go with the No. 8—and now find myself salivating over a No. 8 Slim in Bubinga wood. Watch it folks, these knives are addictive!
By Pat Covert

Model No. 8
11 Freedom Way, Unit A2
Niantic, CT 06357
(860) 245-2211

Blade steel: 1095 High carbon steel
Closed length: 4.40 inches
Blade length: 3.25-inch blade
Weight: 2 ounces
Handle: Beechwood (standard)
Carry: Leather sheath
extra, Price: $12.95

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A Little Tough Love

Tops Baja 3.0 Fixed Blade—Big-Knife Features
In A Small Package.

Several of my friends prefer carrying a small fixed blade over a folding knife, and they have solid reasons. First off, it’s easier and quicker to employ a sheath knife. You simply draw it from its sheath and boom there it is. No fumbling around opening a blade.

Secondly, unless you’re taking on a brick wall or Sherman tank, there’s very little chance of failure with a fixed blade. No mechanism, no lock, no pivot—just one piece of sharp steel with a handle on it. If you’re predisposed to the same kind of thinking, the TOPS Knives Baja 3.0 just might be your knife.

The Baja 3.0 is 6.25 inches in overall length, 3 inches of that in a stout drop-point blade. Notching on the backside of the blade serves for an enhanced thumb grip. Green Micarta handle scales—grooved for added purchase—make for sure handling and a nicely sized lanyard hole resides at the base. The blade is easy-to-sharpen 1095 high-carbon steel, powder coated in an attractive Desert Tan to help keep the rust monster away. The Baja 3.0 comes with a well-made, double stitched black leather sheath that allows for either vertical or lateral belt carry, or you can just park it in a side or back pocket and carry it “woods walker” style.

The Baja 3.0 may be a small fixer, but it comes to play. Some knives just feel tough. This is one of those. The 1095 steel is non-stainless, but that’s why many serious users prefer it. It can be sharpened in the field without special mediums like diamond or ceramic and requires only the occasional light coat of oil along the edge to prevent corrosion. TOPS sells the Baja 3.0 at a nickel shy of a 100 bucks: a small, very reasonable price to pay for a little tough love!
By Pat Covert

P.O. Box 2544
Idaho Falls, ID 83403
(208) 542-0113
Blade steel: 1095 High carbon steel
Closed length: 6.25 inches
Blade length: 3 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Handle: Green canvas Micarta
Carry: Black leather sheath
Price: $99.95

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Loaded Lightweights

A.G. Russell Knives’ Skorpion Folders
Are A Nice Blend Of Style And Sting.

Cutlery retailer and mail-order guru A.G. Russell once confided to me that, though he makes and sells just about every kind of knife imaginable, he hates carrying a heavy knife. Indeed, many of the knives he has designed and sold alongside other manufacturers’ offerings for years have been part of his “Featherlite” series. His latest additions to said model group are the large and small Skorpions.

The flat-fitting Skorpion and Small Skorpion are perfect for those who want to carry a folding knife with discretion. The handsome, machined steel handles are approximately 0.1875-inch thick and sport a satin bead-blasted finish. Russell offers a choice of pocket clips in the box—one standard and another for deep pocket carry—and these can be positioned tip-up or tip-down or for right- or left-pocket carry. Both knives feature a versatile, hard-working drop-point blade (3.4 inches on the large model, 3 on the smaller model) and are engaged using a slender ovate thumbhole. The blades lock up via a very sturdy frame-lock mechanism located on the back frame, and Russell went the extra mile by including a Hinderer Lockbar Stabilizer for added safety.

True to form, these are lightweight knives. The large Skorpion weighs a scant 3.2 ounces, its smaller sibling 1.8 ounces. If you don’t care for pocket clip carry, simply remove the clip and let the Skorpion roam free with your loose change old-school style. The Skorpion and Small Skorpion are priced at $75 and $65 respectively and have features not found in folding knives at twice the price—putting more sting in your hand and less on your wallet!
Byh Pat Covert

MAKER: A. G. Russell Knives
2900 S. 26th Street
Rogers, AR 72758
(800) 255-9034

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV stainless steel
Closed Length: 4.25 and 3.75 inches
Weight: 3.2 and 1.8 ounces
Handle: Stainless steel
Carry: Pocket clip
Price: $75 and $65

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Four Alarm Lockback

The Cold Steel Code 4 Is A Time-
Proven Lock For Modern Times.

The lockback is back! Popularized by the Buck 110 in the late 1960’s, it ruled the roost until it was dethroned by the Michael Walker designed internal liner-lock in the early 1990’s. The lockback never totally disappeared thanks to companies like Cold Steel, who has never abandoned the simple but able locking system. There’s obviously a fan base lurking out there!

The company’s Code 4 is a lockback folder with all the amenities of a first-class, new day tactical folder. The handle is an ample 5 inches in length but stores nicely flat in the pocket due to its trim handle, which is just a tad over a 1/4 inch in depth. Two finger grooves in a curvy, bead-blasted aluminum handle make for a comfortable grip; a flare at the top offers much appreciated finger protection. The Aus 8A stainless steel blade is 3-1/2 inches in length and can be had in three configurations: spear point (shown here), clip point and Tanto. There’s also an option of partial serrations or plain edge for each blade style.

Left-handers will appreciate the ambidextrous features of the Code 4. The lock is located at the middle of the spine so it can be easily accessed no matter which hand you favor, and the pocket clip can be mounted on either side of the handle. The lock détente is wide enough to be accessed by a gloved digit. One added reason to like the lockback is it is always visible. There’s no searching for a locking leaf hidden between the frame rails—it’s right there, where you can see it.
I came away impressed with this knife in every way. The Code 4 is not only nicely designed with all the right features; it is sturdily built to handle tough chores. At a suggested retail of $99 it won’t break the bank either. If you’re in the market for a user-friendly folder, the Code 4 is a logical choice!
By Pat Covert

MAKER: Cold Steel, Inc.
6060 Nicolle St.
Ventura, CA 93003
(800) 255-4716

Steel Type: Aus 8A Stainless
Closed Length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 4.3 ounces
Handle: 6061 Aluminum matte bead-blasted finish
Carry: Pocket clip
Price: $99

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Cut The Bull

The Palm-Sized Gerber Bullrush
Multitool Packs A lot Of Punch.

You’ve probably noticed multitools are just about everywhere you turn these days. Big ones, little ones, expensive ones, cheap ones… and everything in-between. The Gerber Bullrush caught my eye because it filled a glaring gap in my toolkit: a mid-sized multitool with big-boy capabilities. In fact, the “Bullrush” moniker fits this mid-size powerhouse quite well.

The 3.6-inch (closed) Bullrush is not overburdened with gizmos, but its simple 6-tool lineup will cater to most of your needs. Included are pliers with full-size jaws teamed up with a partially serrated blade, strap cutter, flat-head driver, large Phillips head driver, and pinch wire cutters. In other words, it’s got the tools you use the most. The handle is made of textured G10 composite, the same stuff found in many custom and higher end production knives and the grips are nicely sculpted to allow for comfort during extended use. A non-reflective, matte black finish makes for excellent stealth.

My favorite feature on the Bullrush is the full-sized plier jaws, which can handle virtually the same heavy-duty chores as my large multitools. Law enforcement and military personnel who are already strapped with a buttload of gear will appreciate this stout, easier to carry tool, and the average sportsman will admire its capabilities and lighter load as well. The Bullrush comes with a compact nylon sheath for belt carry or stowing away with you gear. At 8.5 ounces you’ll hardly know it’s there, and at 69 bucks it won’t break the bank. If you’re looking a common-sense multitool that cuts the bull and gets straight to the job at hand, the Gerber Bullrush is the tool for you!
Pat Covert

Maker: Gerber Gear
14200 S.W. 72nd Ave.
Portland, OR 97224
(800) 950-6161

Steel: 7Cr17 stainless
Closed Length: 3.6 inches
Overall Length: 5.8 inches
Weight: 4.32 ounces
Handle: Textured G10 composite
Carry: Nylon sheath
Price: $69

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GUNS Jan 2014

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Loaded For Boar

Browning’s Hog Hunter Fixed Blade
Can Get The Hard Field Chores Done.

Large fixed-blade knives have been an integral part of the hunting and survival scene ever since the bowie knife overtook the sword as the edge-du-jour following the wide use of percussion and cap-and-ball pistols. And while hunting knives have increasingly gotten smaller over the years, sometimes only a big knife will do for chores like shelter building, butchering, group food prep, and other heavy-duty field use. If you see yourself in these scenarios the Browning Hog Hunter might be just the knife for you.

The Hog Hunter—a foot long in overall length—has an ample 7-inch blade and weighs in at just under 12 ounces—not unwieldy but heavy enough to get the job done. The blade, billed as a drop point, has characteristics of a spear point, which improves its ability to penetrate. Defensive postures of man vs. animal are not frequent but do happen and this knife would be a pleasant addition to the hand if one needed to dispatch, say, a pissed off boar. The knife’s textured rubber handle has individual fingergrooves, which make for excellent purchase and a flared guard at the choil offers good finger protection.

The Hog Hunter’s 440 stainless steel, though not exotic, is very capable and has the added benefit of easy sharpening in the wild. A simple whetstone will do, no diamond medium required. This affordable steel also keeps the price of the Hog Hunter in line at a very palpable $72 suggested retail, which includes a well-made nylon sheath. If you’re in the market for a large knife at an attractive price, the Browning Hog Hunter is a boar of a fixed blade ready to attack a wide variety of outdoor chores.
By Pat Covert

Hog Hunter 865
MAKER: Browning
One Browning Pl.
Morgan, UT 84050
(800) 333-3288
Blade Material: 440 stainless steel
Blade Length: 7″
Overall Length: 12″
Weight: 11.5 ounces
Handle: Textured rubber
Carry: Nylon sheath
Price: $72

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Poc-Kit Rocket!

Jantz Supply’s Mini Folder Liner-Lock Kit
Is A Great Way To Learn About Knives.

antz Knifemaking Supply is a juggernaut resource for all things knife, offering everything from blade blanks and handle materials to tools and mounting hardware. They also manufacture a plethora of knife kits such as the Mini Folder liner-lock shown here. If you want to educate yourself on how a knife works—and save a little money in the process—Jantz is a great place to start.

V605M) comes with all the parts you’ll need to build the folder except the handle scales, which are purchased separately. I chose an Olive Green Micarta, which leans to the brown side, but is attractive nonetheless. The scales came in precut, predrilled slabs profiled to the handle. To contour them properly you’ll need to mount the bolsters to the left- and right-side frame rails in order to test fit your progress along the way. I started with a basic flat and round file and, once I had the contours of each scale accurately shaped, switched to coarse sandpaper. This was followed by progressively finer grits, which took the surfaces up to a nice semi-gloss finish. Once done, it was time to assemble the knife.
The instructions, which include an exploded view of the assembly, were easy to follow and the only special tools necessary were a small set of Torx screwdrivers. With a modicum of skill you can assemble the Mini in approximately 20 minutes. A pocket clip is included, but on this small “pocket rocket” loose pocket carry is my choice. The fit and finish of the knife is excellent and the liner-lock is strong and precise. The price on the Mini is $39.95 and the scales added $9.95. A small price to pay for an education these days!

Mini Folder KV605M
MAKER: Jantz Supply
309 West Main
Davis, OK 73030
(800) 351-8900
Blade Material: 8A stainless steel, Blade Length: 2.4″, Overall Length: 5.75″, Weight: 2.4 ounces, Handle: Optional olive green linen Micarta (shown), Carry: Pocket or clip, Price: $39.95, handle scales extra
By Pat Covert

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