Monday, August 30, 2010

The Hi-Tech Wizardry of Darrel Ralph; the HTM-DDR Gun Hammer Folder

From Darrel's site, the Radian Recurve blade variation:

If you read knife magazines even semi-regularly, then you're sure to have heard Darrel Ralph's name out there. If you spend any time online drooling over custom knives, you're also likely familiar with his fine customs and other factory knife collaborations. I've been voraciously seeking out pix of Darrel Ralph knives online, and spending a fair bit of time checking out his website, and other sites where Ralph knives can be found, like

You may have seen action star and sarcastic Brit Jason Statham wielding Ralph's AXD custom folding knife this summer in Sylvester Stallone's new film; The Expendables. That's a pretty cool testament to Darrel's knives overall, they're used hard by police, military and civilian folks worldwide, in addition to being visually impressive enough to use in a huge budget action film, especially the action film to end all action films!

Darrel Ralph seems to possess the qualities that elevate a person above mere "knifemaker" status. He's a true artist, engineer, and an inventor. Most impressive being Mr. Ralph's ability to seamlessly meld these aspects together in the creation of tough, beautiful and functional art. Bridging the gap between tactical and art knives with intensity and a flair for aesthetics.

I've recently had the opportunity to play with Ralph's new mid-tech HTM Gun Hammer. HTM is Darrel's new mid-tech company which produces super high quality American made knives at a more affordable price for the everyday guy. The HTM Gun Hammer series goes for between approximately $260 and $300 depending on options.

Here's the spec-sheet from Mr. Ralph's site:
Specifications for the HTM GH2 ETAC GRIP:
* Military “Type II” hard coated aircraft aluminum frame
* CPM S30V blade steel
* 3D Machined ergonomic ETAC handle with grip grooves
* Hardened wear parts
* Models come with assisted or manual opening systems,
* DLC or non glare blade finish available
* .09 Thick Titanium lock
* Available with Radian Re-Curve Blade, Bowie Blade, Torpedo Blade
* Made in the USA

The style that I'm currently using has the Bowie Blade, and a newer style pattern on the aluminum scales. I spent some time via email with Darrel, brainstorming a possible name for this great new handle texture, we came up with ETAC, among others. When conversing via email with Darrel, we reasoned that "E" is for "ergonomic", and "TAC" doubles for both "tactile" and "tactical". There were a few other creative names which we brainstormed for this interesting handle texture, but at the end of the day what counts is its effectiveness, and effective it is indeed! It's a grippy, solid feeling texture that almost reminds me of certain visual aspects of H.R. Geiger's 'Alien' movie designs. It looks slick (as in cool) as hell, and it really grips your hand back, even when wet. Forgive the TMI (too much info), but I sweat profusely, especially in the hotter months, and during my time with the HTM GH2, I never felt like I was in danger of losing control of the knife due to moisture or slippage. I intentionally (and thoroughly) wetted my hands on various occasions before transitioning the knife from standard to reverse grip and back, and the added water droplets had zero effect on my ability to keep the knife in my hand. This is a secure, sensible handle design that stays where it belongs, in your hand. As a whole package, this knife screams one word, "SOLID".
with the Streamlight NightCom variable LED flashlight:

I should mention that due to the Ti locking liner, and the aluminum handles, that the HTM GH2 is very light and provides the user with an unparalleled confidence, with its overall capable feel. It carries very nicely in the pocket, I've worn it clipped to shorts, slacks, jeans and even into the waistband of a pair of basketball shorts, just for a quick run up to the corner store. It carries light and the clip does its job well. I'm always subconsciously aware of a folder on my right side, front pocket, and I can tell you, the mental feeling of knowing this knife is there is very comforting, although you won't notice it unless you want or need to. Due to its black color and the way the clip is mounted, it's fairly discrete as well. I like the fact that while there's plenty of pivot-end knife available to pinch to grab it, it still nestles down somewhat covertly in the pocket, and it doesn't give away its size either, when viewed in the pocket.
The Gun Hammer rides fairly low profile in the pocket of my Eddie Bauer shorts, and it doesn't give away too much about itself, even if it does happen to get noticed:

The handle profile shape is contoured naturally and nicely, and has an overall feeling of what I might describe as "ergonomic correctness". The knife came with the carry clip configured for tip down carry, though tip-up can be done also. I was content during the carry & review process to leave the clip where it sat, for tip down carry, though many buyers will likely flip the clip to their tip-up preference. The HTM Gun Hammer just begs to be used, it's a knife that's not content to sit in its included handsome padded zipper-case. Your HTM Gun Hammer will be happiest when it's performing for you. Very rare is there a folding knife that simply automatically exudes its own confidence and a genuine touch of palpable personality! I know the whole "silent partner" thing is cliche and cheesy, but seriously, no exaggeration when I carry this knife, I really do feel as if I have backup, or some sort of secret weapon! Forgive my inner 14 year old coming out, but it's true, Darrel Ralph's HTM GH2 is ready for action, plain and simple.

Alongside the LED Lenser L4 focusable LED light:

With its included nice padded zipper-case:

The version I've been carrying uses an amazing assisted opening mechanism containing an actual spring and what I might call a torsion bar, but in a completely different design from anything you've seen before, it's a patented DDR design, and has to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, I don't have a camera competent enough to get a good closeup of the assist mechanism, but it's tough and simple, take my word for it. The pivot & assist mechanism came greased with some sort of jade-colored lubricant, which ensures smooth opening, and surprisingly doesn't seem to attract dust or lint in the pocket. The blade tang, as you can see in the photos, sports a textured "flipper" mechanism to engage the assisted action. It requires a pretty solid push with your index finger and then "WHAM!" the blade fires out like the crack of a whip and the thick Ti locking liner does it's job.
the Gun Hammer doing its thing in the dark:

Dual thumbstuds are also in place, in the usual spot, and can also be used to get the assist action going, though they require a bit more finesse. I'm pretty sure Mr. Ralph included the dual studs as a secondary option for those who want to convert their knife to manual opening. It should be noted that this series of knives is available in good old manual opening configuration as well. For those feeling a bit more non-traditional, a Radian Re-Curve Blade style is offered as well. The smaller pictures of the knives where the blade has holes along the spine edge are the Radian Recurve design. Other than the blade shape, this alternate version of the Gun Hammer should be virtually identical to the bowie-blade version that I review here.

The knife sports a hard DLC (that's Diamond-Like-Coating) finish. Diamond Like Coating has a very high rockwell hardness rating and is resistant to scuffs, scratches and general wear. On the GH2, it also contributes to the overall visual stealth wickedness of the knife. Basically,that DLC coating is like a coat of armor for the already-tough CPM (Crucible Particle Metallurgy) S30V blade. I have three or four other knives in the recently industry-preferred S30V steel, and I've found it to hold a fantastic edge, and be very conducive to light touch-up sharpening (when needed), as opposed to full scale, full pressure sharpening. Come to think of it, my Benchmade Blackwood Rukus wears an S30V blade, and I've never sharpened it, not even a light touch-up. The Gun Hammer's blade, by the way, came quite literally hair-popping sharp, which is no mean feat for a thick blade like this one. I'm pretty certain that when I opened the included padded zipper case to reveal the knife initially, that I actually uttered something like "holy $h!t", out of reverence simply for the overall quality of this knife.

This is a cutting tool, and cut it does. I found the edge geometry and grind-lines to be flawless and the general, neo-bowie blade shape was useful for every single task I put it to. As usual, I'm no commando, I broke down recycling, did some light whittling, and used it as a food prep knife, it excels on fruits & veggies, cheese etc. The Gun Hammer is definitely black & tactical, but it excels impressively in all manner of every day chore. That being said, knowing what I know about self defense, I can imagine that this knife would go above & beyond duty's call in a bad situation. So, if I was forced to put a label on the Gun Hammer, I'd likely call it a combat-utility folder, as its utility is proven, and by merit of design, size and materials I'm willing to bet a finger that it's fully capable of doing the more difficult, and questionable things knives can do when called upon to protect life in frightening, worst-case self-defense situations.
the GH2 hanging out with Princeton Tec's Quad Tactical headlamp:

So, the new HTM Gun Hammer knives offer knife fans a chance to own a true Ralph design without the higher price tag or lead time for custom orders. They are all made right under Darrel's nose in America, with his direct participation and approval, they're thoroughly inspected for quality, and hand finished. These tools are "mid-tech" incarnate; custom designs made in collaboration with a famous knife pioneer, but simply produced on a larger scale, and priced within the grasp of guys like me who can't always afford to invest in a one-of-a-kind custom knife that can cost as much as a month's rent on an apartment!
As with all price lists, I'm sure Mr. Ralph reserves the right to modify things, but at the time of this writing, here's the current pricing sheet:

All blade styles with DLC finish:
$279.95 Manual
$299.95 Assisted * (this is the configuration I'm using)

All blade styles Non-Glare Finish:
$259.95 Manual
$279.95 Assisted

I personally find these price points to be very reasonable, especially after getting to know the knife in person. There are many factory knife companies out there who charge significantly more money for significantly less knife. That's just one more thing to add to the heap of praise I'm inclined to lavish upon these designs, they're an awesome value.
The HTM (Hand Tech Made) Gun Hammer knives are available for purchase directly through
They also may be available through other select knife dealers that usually carry Darrel's designs.

Overall, I am nothing but deeply impressed by the HTM Gun Hammer, I thought with some time, that there might come to light some points which I could say I didn't like, or could be improved upon. But there's really nothing else that could be done, for a mid-tech, hi-tech folder in this price's damn near perfect.

I think it looks cool @ this angle, as if it's ready to dive-bomb into sudden & violent action of its own accord:

4185 S. St. Rt. 605
Galena, OH 43021

Telephone: (740) 965-9970

Other resources & retailers for Darrel Ralph knives:




Sunday, August 22, 2010

Darrel Ralph HTM mid-tech GunHammer

Full review coming very soon. I can say that this is one seriously impressive folder, the assist action is crazy, and the machined aluminum handle is beautiful.

See Darrel's site for pricing, options, and more information

Friday, August 20, 2010

Just a quickie; Alpha Innovations Kubatons & Other Stuff

Back on July 15th, I wrote about Alpha Innovations' Single Finger Knuck and 'Letter Opener'. Since then I've placed 2 orders with these masters of polymer impact weapons, and I cannot say enough good things. Owner Jeff Farrand seems like a swell guy, and their USA Made (ALL of THEIR stuff is US Made, they offer other stuff from diff. manufacturers too) is top notch. I just ordered a PINK kubaton (ok real spelling is Kubotan, after Tak Kubota, but that's how Alpha spells it) for a female friend. I'm no expert but several years of adolescent TKD and 2 years more recent training in FMA make me feel confident enough to show her some tricks for basic defense with a kubotan or small stick.

They offer a variety of really inexpensive kubaton designs, they ship worldwide, and you can pay with a card, or use PayPal. Their stuff is extremely tough, I've been wearing the OD Single Finger Knuck around my neck on a ball-chain and it's unscathed, I've also taken the opportunity to act out my 14 year old martial arts fantasies by punching garbage bins, pillows, and (whoops) even a wall! Seriously though, I think my favorite is their Jaw Jacker. For legal reasons, they have to say it's a "novelty" interpretation of 'what our ideal knucks would look like', but the thing is THE BEST, hands down non-metallic knuckle I've ever held, and at around $20 USD, it's a steal. I know they have to cover their butts with state and local statutes regarding weapons, but the Jaw Jacker is NO joke! They even have a Tactical Dog Leash version, that would be fabulous (yeah, I used that word) for urban dog walkers.

So, not to sound like an ad-man, but check out Alpha Innovations for a wide array of quality self defense products that won't break the budget. Good stuff.

The pink kubaton; "hey baby, wanna see my pink pocket stick?":

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SB&T Facebook page is live.

Check out the box in the sidebar, or go see S,B & T's new page on Facebook.

I figure this will allow me to keep in touch with readers, and "professional" contacts both, while separating my personal Facebook profile from what I do here on the blog. The blog is now linked to my Twitter account as well.

Thanks for your continued readership & support, I appreciate it very much. This is something I do for me, out of my love for blades, and a compulsion to write, but it makes me happy to know that there are others who like to read what I do here. Coming up, I'm thinking that this blog needs an official logo. I'm pretty sure I'll be holding another contest, this time for logo designs. I'll make it worth your while to enter with some dope prizes, and fill you in on the grisly details later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Skunked At Ross Lake, no Trout for this Lout.

Yeah, yeah, now y'all know what i look like:

So, Ross was a blast, but the fishing was SLOW and HOT. We missed last year's trip due to family obligations (a big Disney trip with both of my sisters' kids) and evidently the fishing was great in August 2009. Oh well, 2010 will be known as the year I caught nothing, nothing but sunburned hands and ears! I lost a hell of a lot of lures as well. Several brand spanking new Dick Nite spoons, which have long been a favorite of myself, a fondness passed down from old Unce Bill. Despite his age and disability, Bill courageously makes the trek to Ross every year, which involves catching a boat @ Lake Diablo under Ross, then riding in a flatbed up the mountain, then being ferried via high speed boat over to Ross Lake's floating "resort". All this while communally loading and unloading not only your own gear, but that of how ever many folks are catching a ride into the lake that day. It's no picnic, but the trek in is well worth it. Ross is a special place, and, not to sound morbid, but it's in my Top 5, of places where I'd like my ashes sprinkled someday.

I was hoping to make use of the Bechmade 15000-1 plain edged Bone Collector Skinner, but I didn't catch a damn thing!

I SHOULD say, that I had plenty of action, I had 3 plus keepers reeled in, ready to net, when they shook loose of my hook. I also lost a few lures to strong fish, underwater snags and poorly tied knots. Ross requires single, baitless, barbless hooks, restrictions are fairly strict. I tend to use Dick Nite spoons, and crimp the barb with pliers.

I made good use of Benchmade's original black Rescue Hook, I prefer cutting line and leader with it, over a nail clipper, and the overall design makes it very safe to use on a slightly rocking boat out on a giant lake. My EDC up there was the now-discontinued Zero Tolerance MUDD 0500 folding knife, which is impervious to grit and dirt, due to its sealed pivot & locking mechanism. It's a Grant & Gavin Hawk design, and brilliantly executed by ZT/KAI, my only complaint is that the G10 handles are so roughly textured and sharp edged, that it can sometimes scrape up your hand when you need to grab something (pocket change, Swedish snus) out of your pocket, other than the knife.
The pic below, with the red lanyard, is mine, from my original post back when I obtained my MUDD 0500 knife:

So the ZT MUDD performed admirably as my EDC on the trip, and I also used an old Leatherman PST, the cheap Cold Steel Canadian Belt Knife and a VicNox Hiker Swiss Army. Just for good measure, I had Triple Eight Professional's little SOL knife in my pocket @ all times, and actually used it to destroy several bratwurst into bite size chunks to enjoy with Uncle Wayne's sauerkraut! My dad's kit included the original USA Made Mini Buck, a CRKT Big Eddy fillet knife and an assortment of foreign made multi-tools that I always give him shit about. He caught 3, which, in total is a low, low number, in better years we get 3 fish per half-day! And that's over 4 days each! So, my hope is that next year I can compensate for my lack of fish brought into the boat. What counts though, is that I saw action, had fish on the line, and got to spend lots of time with my dad, and some of my favorite relatives, the older of which might not be able to go back to Ross again because of declining health. It's just beautiful up there, the air smells so different and clean compared to Seattle/Tacoma, and it's so peaceful, we frequently find ourselves nodding off in the boat, if it's not too terribly hot. Check out the lake, and what Tom's little resort has to offer, it's well worth the dough if you live in the area, and want a little, peaceful, yet adventurous getaway.

Is it just me? Or do I spot a skeleton head in this awesome rock face?:

Meyerco Besh Wedge Bottle Rocket

Pic courtesy

Here's a new little badass creation I'd like to play with! Brent Beshara's excellent and revolutionary Besh Wedge blade grind style is popping up everywhere. It uses "diagonally opposing bevels converging to create a third cutting edge". You'll understand by taking a close look at the photo.
It's called the Bottle Rocket, a neck knife obviously, and I'd guess that the tang will act as a bottle cap lifter, even though the specs don't mention it directly. Meyerco has a pretty solid history of offering some bargain knives with a high quality to price ratio, as well as having worked closely with other famous knife-names like Darrel Ralph and Blackie Collins. I'd REALLY like to give the Bottle Rocket a day in court out on the boat, or just let it hang out around my neck for a day.

Brent Beshara's resume is pretty amazing, he knows knives, as a maker, and has the real world experience to back it up, serving in multiple roles in Canada's Special Forces, and working as an EOD Tech just to name a few of his achievements! Check out Brent's site for more info on the man and the blades. Beshara has created an entirely new edge grind for tactical knives, producing an extremely strong tip. The Besh Wedge concept is difficult to put into words, so have a look:

A short few months back, I got hold of Ka-Bar's Besh BOGA (Back Off Get Away) Personal Defense Knife for women. The BOGA is a sweet little poker as well.

I'm not the only dude who bought this knife based upon its sweet looks and overall concept! You don't have to be a street savvy woman to appreciate this blade, but there's no doubt that it will work as intended in the hands of a lady with a bit of basic fight training. I noticed the fit in the BOGA'S sheath is a bit loose, but I think it was done intentionally to aid in an effortless fast draw under stress. I've carried the BOGA around the neck, and in my pocket and have never had a problem with the knife coming out unless I wanted it to. Overall, I'm impressed by Mr. Beshara's credentials and overall ingenuity, and tempted, very tempted to pick up a Bottle Rocket, which is pretty reasonably priced and very slick in concept and execution.

It would seems Knifecenter's initial specs and info are not entirely accurate for the Bottle Rocket. Brent Beshara contacted me with the low-down on his new Meyerco project: "The concept is that the Bottle Rocket is just a bottle opener, nothing more. It does have the BESH Wedge® on it, yet it’s not sharpened. The ball bearing is to be used as a balance point to “spin the bottle” and see who will buy the next round. An old sailor’s game I picked up along the way."

His description explains the greeting of "Cheers...Besh!" etched onto the "blade".
In any case, the BESH Wedge® tip is probably a handy prybar and probe, and the overall concept is very cool, whether the edges are technically sharpened or not. There's a chance I may be able to get hold of one for testing, and fill readers in on all of the details.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Speaking of fishing.....Monomaster

I always end up with a ton of waste fishing line when we go up to Ross. This device stores waste mono-filament line until you can get home and dispose of it. Very "green" and what a great idea. Keep your waste fishing line out of the water and out of the mouths of wildlife. Pretty cool eh?

See Grasshopper for more details, pix and videos.

Off to Ross Lake in the North Cascades this weekend.

My dad and myself are off once again on our yearly mountain trout fishing trip up @ Ross Lake in the North Cascades of WA state. It's gorgeous up there. In one of SB&T's earliest posts, I have some great pix I took up there 2 years ago, see them HERE

I'll be giving the plain-edge Benchmade 15000-1 Bone Collector fixed blade skinner its day in court. I mentioned earlier that the little D2 fixed blade wasn't impressing me. There are weird anomalies to the finish, almost like little beads of liquid steel got splattered on the blank they used for my knife. Also, my main complaint is that the sheath is leather, and ridiculously large. The knife rattles around in the sheath. Again, not a huge deal for trout fishing, but if you're after a buck, he could very well smell that leather (I dunno) and hear that shit rattling as you stalk. Anyhow, it's a handsome knife, mine is plain edged, and I love D2 tool steel. It holds an edge forever! Anything D2 I have in my possession hardly ever needs touchup, and when it does, a diamond rod does the trick. The tradeoff is that it's not stainless, but I've given mine 5 or 6 coats of tuff-glide, the Sentry solutions oil that can be used as pivot or gun lube and also comes saturated into their Tuff Cloth product. I've gotta say, I've been using Sentry products since I was an 18 year old kid, and they do the job, as promised. Check out Sentry Solutions.

Due to inherited body chemistry (my maternal grandfather) and a combination of meds I take daily, I sweat like a sum'bitch. If I carry gray bead blast finished knives in the summer months, or at work, they get pre-rust spotting within mere hours. I coat pretty much everything I own with Tuff Glide. It sounds bizarre, but I find the smell comforting, probably because I have so many peaceful memories of cleaning knives (and guns) by myself in a sort of zen state. Anyhow, Tuff Cloth is cool, but can dry out, so you can use Tuff Glide to replenish it, or as I do, soak eyeglass cleaning cloths in Tuff Glide and wipe down knives with those.

Anyhow, I didn't mean for this to turn into an ad for Tuff Glide, I just use the stuff all the time, and find it works great to prevent rust and spotting. So early (fuck) EARLY Friday morning, pops and I will load up his truck, tackle boxes, rods and reels all packed, along with a host of cutting tools and head for Ross. I'll bring back some beautiful shots I'm sure, I just got a new 2 gig SD card for my camera, so, sky's the limit. I'm going to bring along my new Leatherman Freestyle, the BM15000-1 Bone Collector mentioned above, and probably a Triple Eight knife, just to have a sharp little extra blade. I'll be back with more feedback on that Benchmade fixed knife, after I see how it performs on trout bellies, hell I might even take a hike and see how it copes as a camp blade.

Anyhow, I'll be around for a few more days, and put up a couple new posts before I leave. I f anybody wants to talk about THEIR summer plans, leave a comment.

Brit Ed Stafford completes 859 day Amazon Trek

Check it out
Ed's site gives the full skinny on his journey.

There's another great article on BBC's Site that details the whole thing, and sort of summarizes Ed's adventure into one bite size piece.
Congrats to Ed and his Peruvian buddy Cho!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

FREE Coast LED Mini-Tac light with cheap shipping

If there's one thing I collect and love as much as knives, it's flashlights.

If you live in Canada or the United States, you should not pass this up. It's totally legit, through Coast. I picked up an LED Lenser flashlight from my favorite warehouse sports store and tucked inside was a free flashlight offer. Well, I signed up, paid my $3.50 USD shipping and handling, and got a flashlight in the mail about a week later. Coast must have overstock of the little Mini-Tac LED light. It's funny, I was going to buy a pair in black a few weeks back, I found 'em cheap, locally. It's a badass little pocket light that normally goes for about $10.00 USD. So, yeah, technically, it's not free, but you can't even get a fast-food value meal for $3.50 these days. Go to Coast's SITE to fill out a quick "survey", use your card for S&H, and get a free light. The "survey" isn't a real survey, it's basically your name and address, and it's quick. They probably have limited quantities, so go do it!

Crystal Reflector Tube System
High-quality LED; white beam
Rear on/off switch
Tactical lightweight aluminum casing
2 15/16-inch length, plus key ring
x1 AAA battery included
.19 Watts

The old version of this light was only 5.5 lumens, the one I received for pocket change, is 7.5 lumens with a max runtime of 18 hours. It runs on a single AAA.
The beam is said to project up to 45 feet. This will be perfect for my ROSS LAKE (WOO HOO!) fishing trip next week, for reading in my bunk.

Again, this is a good offer, and I don't think Coast is going to bombard your mailbox and email with offers from shitty companies. They flat out say that they will not share or sell your info, and I've dealt with Coast before. Their products used to be hit or miss, but all their LED products now are good for the money and they are a reputable firm.
Again see COAST for this cool offer, and check out their other stuff too. LED Lenser is a German firm who manufactures in China, and Coast markets & distributes their stuff exclusively in the USA, and the OTHER $10 LED Lenser light I bought recently is pretty bangin', it's rugged and lightweight:

Above is the Coast/Led Lenser L4 focus beam light. It retails for $25 USD, but I got mine BRAND NEW at my local warehouse store for $9.99. It's no Surefire Defender, but it's definitely the best sub $20 light I own, and the FREEBIE mini-tac is the best $3.50 light you'll ever own, pretty darn cool. Jump on it, like Tanto.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Victorinox 2010 ltd. ed. Damascus Pioneer

Check it, here's the original VicNox Pioneer, in their "Alox" aluminum handles:

They are slim, bare bones Swiss Army knives with a larger size blade, and can be had in a number of colors including red, green and black, for about $25.00 USD on average.

for 2010, Victorinox has manufacured...that's right, 2010 of these BEAUTIFULLY bladed bastards with damascus "Odin's Eye" pattern blades:

Am I going to seek one out? Probably not, MSRP is just under $200 USD, but finer sites like have 'em in stock for roughly $70.00 USD LESS, which is awesome, but I couldn't care less about a gift box, and the only difference is the (albeit) gorgeous damascus blade. Now, generally what jacks up damascus blade knives is the steel PLUS other classy touches, as found on many custom or fancy mid-tech knives. Well, good looks aside, it's still just a black aluminum handle, with no additional accoutrement. Oh well, if my weak fundage was stronger, say unlimited, I'd probably spend 12 hours a day online buying knives. Alas, having withstood the past 3 years with widely varied (in severity and range) medical issues, and currently having trouble supplementing my part-time job income, this knife is not for me. BUT! It certainly is cool, and can be yours for about six Andrew Jacksons.

Am I a sick F*** for wanting to run my tongue down that blade? I don't own very many damascus pieces, and factory-made aside, that's a great looking blade, that is, if the finished product looks that good, and knowing Victorinox, I bet it does. So, if they would have done a 2nd, smaller damascus blade, and some sort of special belt sheath, or maybe some handle variation, I'd be more likely to seek this out...but hey, I do have a birthday coming up next month. Hmmmmm...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Triple Eight Professional Rexroat-designed SOL

A short while back, I reviewed Triple Eight Professional's fantastic WrightKnife. I've had the opportunity to handle and carry another 888 design over the past few weeks. It's another Kirk Rexroat design, and this one's based upon the features of WWII OSS "thumb" daggers, which were commonly stitched into clothing as a last ditch hideout weapon, or secured behind collar lapels.
Below are a couple of generic examples of what the thumb daggers of the day would have looked like:

The SOL is likely the most "weaponized" out of Triple Eight Professional's offerings thus far. It sports a wickedly pointed double edged blade with aggressive double-cut serrations on half of one side, which are handy for utilitarian tasks like cutting more fibrous materials. The SOL's tip is probably one of the most needle-like points that I've ever seen, and is short and stout enough to pack some real puncturing power.

Blade Material: Heat treated AUS8 Stainless Steel
Scales: 420 Stainless Steel
Clip: 420 Stainless Steel
Action: T8P Spinner Action
Weight 1.9 oz. (53.9 grams)
Length/Closed 3” (76.2 mm)
Length/Opened 4.25” (107.95 mm)
Length of Blade 1.25” (31.75 mm)
As I stated in my previous rundown of the 888 WrightKnife, one of my favorite things about these new knives, is the compact size. Don't get me wrong, I love my big knives like the Cold Steel Spartan folder, and my Benchmade 610 full size Rukus folder model, but Triple Eight's knives are addictive to carry and use. They boast an elegant simplicity which is rare in the factory-made knife market these days. All of Triple Eight's "folding fixed blades" feature the same frame/handle style, with a perfectly sized carry clip affixed to the rear handle slab side. The T8P Spinner Action opening is unique, the blade, and both handle sides rotate around a stout steel pivot, and the blade sits in place, virtually locked by a ball bearing and detent system mounted toward the butt of each knife.
Forgive the couple of low-res cellphone pics below; it's time for a new digital camera, as my older Canon Powershot has a scratched lens, and eats AA batteries very quickly. The higher quality pics on the white backgrounds, are courtesy of Triple Eight Professional:

You can see that I'm a fan of joining Triple Eight's knives with Glow Cobra lanyards from The Lanyard Zone. Lanyard Zone products are extremely high quality, and handmade by a fellow named Scott, in Canada. Scott delivers super high quality lanyards for knives and tools at reasonable prices, with quick shipping. His Glow Cobra lanyards are an outstanding choice for almost any knife or piece of gear you could think of. They feature a *VERY* bright glowing endcap, which glows for several hours when exposed to flashlights or natural sunlight. They're very useful for locating knives, flashlights or multi-tools in a darkened tent, or backpack.

As I mentioned in my previous review, 888's folders all draw smoothly, easily and with speed from the pocket. A lanyard "slab", as I'd describe it, is affixed to the clip side of the handle, and sticks up just enough for your thumb and forefinger to gain good purchase on the knife as it's drawn. However, I find that when a lanyard is attached, Triple Eight's knives can be withdrawn from a pocket even faster, plus they simply give the knife a cool look.
The SOL knife came out of the package razor sharp, which I find impressive due to the overall stout thickness of this tool's blade. The serrated portion of the blade is extremely aggressive, and also was sharp enough right out of the package to shave hair. And again, opening with one hand or two is extremely simple. I was surprised at how smooth the SOL opened with a single hand, and the fact that just like its cousin, the WrightKnife, I wasn't poked by the mega-pointy blade when opening the knife. That being said, I would urge owners of the SOL to use a bit of extra care when deploying the blade, simply because that tip is so sharp and acute. The small serrated portion of the SOL's blade is very handy. The SOL which I received has a slightly different cut to the serrations than the way it's pictured in Triple Eight's press photos. Between the larger arcs, the "points" of each serrated section are grooved, giving the blade a very toothy look, and producing an extremely effective area on the blade for use against rope, clothing or other fibrous materials.
The icing on the cake for this great little tool, is what appears to be a black Teflon coating, similar to the original BT coating that Benchmade used for years, before modifying their black blades with their newer BK1 coating. From what I understand with Teflon blade coatings, even in the unlikely event that a blade's coating wears off visibly, the blade remains protected from corrosion or spotting due to the fact that the coating actually enters the "pores" of the blade. The SOL's black coating serves to further the tactical look of this little cutting demon, and has held up well with nary a mark, on the SOL that I've been carrying, even after fairly tough, regular use over a period of several weeks. I've used it to break down recycling, open mail & cut open UPS packages, in addition to using it for a slew of other daily, mundane tasks. I like to evaluate knives in this manner, because this is how 99% of us likely use our sharps on a daily basis. Of course, as a real-world tactical knife, packed as a backup by cops or soldiers, this little knife definitely has what it takes to be used hard under extreme circumstances. I would advise against discounting the SOL because of its sub 2 inch blade length. It's very solid, very utilitarian, and touches up easily on a fine ceramic or diamond rod. I like "dogbone" style sharpeners. Gatco makes a fine one, but my favorite is Lansky's Spyder Crock Stick sharpener, intended for use on knives with Spyderco-style serrations. I have found over the years that this sharpener is a great portable solution to touching up almost ANY blade, regardless of serration style. Lansky makes a great US Made product, and they are inexpensive, you can usually find them for $5.00 or $6.00 USD.

I actually put the SOL knife through LOTS of daily use, before even a mild touch-up on the ceramic stick was needed. AUS8 is a good old standby, not a buzzword super-steel like the CPM steels made by Crucible, but it is effective. Triple Eight's heat treatment, or specific batch of steel used in their knives must be superior, because it feels like they hold an edge longer, and sharpen up much easier than all other knives I have which use AUS8 bladesteel, including many older knives from Spyderco, among other companies.

I feel like Triple Eight Professional has brought another reasonably priced, creatively designed EDC knife to the table. The SOL's blade-style is excellent for everything from utility, to emergency self defense, plus it simply looks badass. 888's knives are a fantastic pocket size, but still pack enough punch and cutting power to take on nearly any task that you face throughout your week. Triple Eight knives also carry a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, obviously, abuse & neglect will void the warranty, otherwise, they've got you covered. All blade styles should be available from better web retailers. Check out Triple Eight Professional for more info, or to get your SOL.