Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dirk Pinkerton Broadhead Titanium Push knife, Manufactured by Darrel Ralph's H.T.M. (Hand Tech Made)

The Titanium Broadhead in its Kydex sheath, which features a distinctive resemblance to carbon fiber

 Dirk Pinkerton's Ti Broadhead is manufactured by Darrel Ralph's H.T.M. (that's Hand Tech Made), Darrel's mid tech fusion of hand work and regular production.  HTM shares space with Ralph's regular shop and has a simple mission statement: "Our mission is simple - To build affordable, high tech, high quality, hand crafted products."

A few months ago I had the opportunity to evaluate Ralph's HTM GunHammer folding knife, which indicated what we could expect from HTM as the brand progresses and adds new products to the lineup.  The Gunhammer series of knives clearly demonstrates that the Darrel Ralph precision and artistic craftsmanship has carried over directly to the HTM line, but a small fixed blade?  Absolutely, why not!  Of course Darrel Ralph would not be Darrel Ralph if he were to be involved in the manufacture of some hum-drum, plain old "we've seen that a million times" sort of design!  The main difference here is that this is one piece of titanium, not only that, but it sports an attractive sheath with a permanent all-over carbon fiber look pattern.  It does visually remind you of carbon fiber, even sort of tricking your eyes with the repetitive checkering.  It looks good, no, I take that back, it looks awesome!

  One of the traits that really impressed me is how thin the Ti Broadhead is, Ralph's site says the knife itself is .11" thick, I put it up to my old reliable ruler and found that in easier terms, that's about a quarter of a centimeter!  This badboy is thin, but the compact design coupled with single piece construction, and especially the fact that it's titanium, ensure that it's strong.  From my understanding, titanium has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than say, steel, and titanium is very tough, but it's also light and rather flexible.  Titanium is the top choice for many makers and manufacturers for liner-lock style lock bars and frame-locks (where the locking bar is physically the same piece as the frame, look up "Chris Reeve Sebenza" or see my recent post below on Benchmade's Pinnacle folder for a visual on the framelock concept) on their folding knives.

You can see the Broadhead is extremely thin, next to this standard American quarter, being a single piece design composed of Titanium, the strength is not at all compromised by this thinness.

So, it's not just the Broadhead itself that's flat, it's the entire package, which includes the patterned Kydex sheath, and the light yet strong ball chain included with the knife.  In the sheath, the Broadhead is not too much thicker.  At the sheath's thickest point, with the Broadhead inserted, it still measures under a centimeter, more precisely, it's just over half a centimeter, so just about twice as thick as the naked knife, out of the sheath.  Another nice feature that Pinkerton and Ralph incorporated for concealability, is the canted insertion of the knife in the sheath.  The knife is angled slightly to one side, with one edge of the blade lining up vertically with the length of the sheath.  When it hangs free, as it would around your neck, it actually sports a shorter overall profile, which could be good depending on what type of clothing or outerwear you tend to wear.
Let's look at the on-paper Specs...

*Solid .11 Thick 6AL4V Aircraft Titanium.
*This knife was designed as a push style hide out knife.
*Futuristic skeletonized grip traction system for a solid purchase.
*Finger Ring security hole.
*Kydex® Carbon Fiber look sheath with 20 pound pull bead chain.*USA made. 

A closer look @ Ralph's HTM logo, with Dirk Pinkerton's signature custom logo.
 You can see my other recent review of Meyerco's production version of a similar Pinkerton design here, the Meyerco Variable Broadhead neck knife.  As you can see, if you open the highlighted link in another window on your screen,  the principle for Dirk Pinkerton's Broadhead concept, regardless of the model, or who manufactures it, tends to be push-style ergonomics, with a finger hole for better retention than say, a "T" handled push dagger, which provides a good grip, but could still come free from your hand in extreme conditions, the kinds of sweaty, adrenaline soaked conditions a law abiding citizen might find themselves in if they were attacked by some piece of crud on the street, and had to use their knife.  This is great thinking on Pinkerton's part, it's natural that this style of fixed-blade is going to go into your hand with one of your fingers through the finger hole.  The beauty of that is also that it doesn't matter too much if it's your middle or index finger, held either way, with pretty much any of the three stronger, primary fingers (ring finger included) you can make it work in forward and reverse grips.  This is also neat because it really doesn't matter what size your hands are, the ring concept still works.  I have larger hands, and I found I had plenty of room for my finger(s) and the knife is easily maneuvered in the hand if micro-adjustments are needed during use, whether that's "hey I got my tax refund check and I need a letter opener" use, or, "oh shit, that guy has been following me since I got off the bus 2 blocks ago" type of use.  It's just a cool all around carry package, whether using the beveled tip for general utility, or palming this is a "could be" type of emergency where you'd rather be ready than sorry.  It's a little bit flashy, very tactical, and definitely usable.

The reverse side of the Broadhead, as you can see it's flat, which helps give the knife its flat profile and enables it to penetrate objects with authority.  I definitely consider this a self defense minded blade.  Based on Dirk Pinkerton's history of thin, concealable designs, this knife promises to be an effective knife used in a primarily defensive role.

You can see the Broadhead in Ti, unlike other incarnations of Pinkerton's Broadhead designs (the Meyerco is ground and beveled on either side) is flat on the back side.  This would appear to be for the same reason that a certain Mr. Ernest Emerson chisel grinds many, if not almost all of his knife designs, overall edge durability and strength.  I guess technically the Broadhead isn't chisel ground in a typical way, but it is entirely flat on one side, while the "top" side of the knife is beveled on both sides, and shaped like a triangular, double-edged dagger blade.  The triangular cutout follows the aesthetics of the design, and probably serves to lighten the knife in some small way.  What Ralph calls the "futuristic, skeletonized grip traction system", refers to the handle portion.  Both the cutouts in the handle and the sort of jimped texture enhance grip in an obvious way, you can feel the treads sink comfortable in the flesh of your hand, and when gripped white-knuckle style, the cutouts palpably improve the grip, especially with wet hands.  I did my soapy hands, kitchen sink test where I slather the knife in my hand and run it under warm water, using various grip strengths and concentrating grip on select portions of the knife.  I usually only do this test on single piece fixed blades, as with folders there can be places where leftover soap and moisture accumulates to the detriment of the knife later on.  I found that the Broadhead performed admirably with wet & soapy hands, I didn't feel in danger of losing my grip, in large part to the smart finger ring design.  After further consideration, I almost feel that the aforementioned "flatness" of the Broadhead might contribute to a positive grip as well, since there are no rounded off or smooth surfaces on one side, just a level slab side that feels pretty good in either direction in the hand.

The triangular edge is the only portion of the blade which is beveled, though there's no traditional ground edge, the tip is still very handy for light EDC work like opening mail & packages, breaking down boxes for recycling, and other very mundane daily tasks that we all use our knives for.

I should mention too, that the fact that while the knife is a sort of natural Ti silver color, it's not super reflective.  HTM didn't go and give it a super high polish, and for being a typically "metal" colored blade, it doesn't reflect light in the manner that even some bead blasted steel blades do.  You can see in the flash photo above that instead of one sharp, bright (pun intended) reflective spot, the light is dulled and sort of defused over a wider area.  This concept is nicely demonstrated as well in a couple of very high quality pix on Ralph's website, where the knife can be purchased.
This sheath is every day Kydex, though it definitely breaks the so-called mold with its distinctive patterned exterior!

So, we have two brilliant knifemakers who are known for both utilitarian and defensive aspects in their respective work, we have high tech production in Ralph's facility, we've got a knife that's only a tiny bit thicker than a quarter in a sweet looking sheath, that conceals well, and grips well under most conditions, even with wet hands.  In a small, backup/hideout package there's not a whole lot more you could ask for.  Oh yeah, a fully titanium knife around the $99.95 USD mark?  No problem.  If you've been looking for something unique for your collection, or always wanted a cool, small Ti fixed blade but were hesitant to shell out big dollars to some pricey company that does knives on contract for Navy SEALs, this might be your guy.  Speaking of SEALs, and moisture, as I mentioned earlier,  SB&T readers are always reminded of my disdain for the gray, bead blasted finish blades that so many factory knife companies use to dress up a less expensive knife.  I've said it before, but I sweat like crazy, a product of inherited body chemistry, and probably other factors.  I sweat to the point that if I help somebody move, for instance, my light gray t shirt is dark gray, all over, soaked through, and I usually need to bring @ least 2 shirt changes with me when I know I'll be doing something physical.  I keep an extra t shirt in the car just in case, too.  So that's the beauty of the HTM Ti Broadhead, I can wear it all day, every day next to my body, where sweat usually puts orange surface pre-rust spots on any bead blast gray blade, and even some higher polished stainless blades after a few short hours.  Ti alloys resist corrosion like crazy, I think because it lacks carbon or iron possibly.  But I've heard that titanium alloys can eventually rust, say if left in seawater for decades upon decades, but that Ti corrodes at what's been described as a "glacial" rate, ie: the movement of glaciers (well, until global warming got crazy) is invisibly slow.  Alas, I'm not a metallurgist, and therefore, no expert, I do know that Ti is very, very corrosion resistant, and the Broadhead hasn't shown a single spot of any sort of staining, even after being under my shirt, amongst sweat (ok, TMI, I know) for hours!  It would be cool to make knives though, I've been interested in learning some basics about knifemaking since I was oh, probably 12 years old!  I'm consistently interested in materials and their individual properties combining to make something of beauty, that can withstand extreme environments.  That's a big part of why I love knives, the knife industry, and most things knife related, it's almost like alchemy, using normal materials to make something extraordinary.  Pinkerton's design, under Ralph's shop's manufacture started as some simple materials, and becomes something highly usable, and very cool.

This picture is a good representation of the "flatness" of the whole package.

Hit up DirkPinkerton.com to see Dirk's custom wares, and see Darrel Ralph's site, where you can look at, and purchase his great DDR custom and HTM mid-tech knives.  

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