Friday, February 4, 2011

Sniper Bladeworks LPC Folder

"I was joking with a buddy that this LPC knife is built like a tank made out of bricks, or conversely, a brick made out of tanks, if you prefer."
this thing is a monster, as close to indestructible as I've ever felt on any knife, this LPC is BADASS!
 Sniper Bladeworks is fast becoming a name in the tactical gear community that is synonymous with custom tactical folding knives that are not only works of art, but tools meant to take a serious beating.  I started hearing about what Sniper Bladeworks does a few years ago, and have kept my ear to the ground ever since.  This innovative project is a result of the combined talents of Lance Abernathy, and Mr. Jody Muller.  These men have been collaborating since 2006, though Sniper Bladeworks wasn't officially launched until 2009.  Abernathy uses experience from his long and varied professional career in Law Enforcement to design these fantastic knives, and Muller's lifetime of work as a knife-maker, jeweler and engraver bring Sniper's blades to life.  These knives indeed do feel alive, I don't mean that in some esoteric, 'New-Age' sort of way either.


             Since the Tactical Folder market really exploded in the 1990's, we've seen so many knives that not only come off an assembly line, but simply have the boring look and feel of clones.  After the novelty & excitement of buying a new knife wears off, we're left with a tool that's about as exciting as any other tool, a hammer, a saw, a screwdriver, etc.  For example, your buddy buys the "XX" model from a certain knife company, you like it enough to buy yourself one, they are identical, from the same factory, plain & simple.  It doesn't matter whether said company makes great knives or not, it does not matter where in the world they're made, you and your friend are now the proud owners of a knife that 100,000 (or far more) other guys around the world own.  Get it?

           Sniper Bladeworks knives have personality, attitude, and are seriously capable of accepting the kind of use and abuse that only soldiers, firemen, cops and other LE and Safety professionals can dish out.  They feel very much alive, from the smooth action, to the solid lockup, and distinctive looks.  Many of their knives feature a hamon, or temper line, as seen on authentic Japanese swords, where traditionally, a sort of clay mud is applied to a blade's edge in a beautiful pattern, that ends up hardening the cutting edge at a different rate than the blade's spine as the blade is quenched.  That's the term, "differential tempering".  This process is an art in itself, within the fine art of knife-making.  I'm impressed that a difficult process normally reserved for costly modern versions of what is arguably the most beautiful ancient weapon (the samurai sword), has been applied to the modern tactical folding knife.  It's just one more aspect that brings "life" to the feel of these unique knives.

          Sniper Bladeworks is a true custom operation, with each knife given the care and attention that you would expect if you had ordered a custom automobile or motorcycle.  Regular readers know that I get excited about knives in general, but that it takes really superb stuff to impress me on a truly deeper level.  I tend to focus on outstanding products here in general, regardless of price range, that's just the type of stuff I buy.  But I have to say, as far as tactical folders go, these guys take it to a whole new level.  I'll admit I've flung around terms like "bomb proof" before, in reviews, usually in reference to knives which truly feel that way.  But SERIOUSLY, as far as folding knives go, I think the LPC that I got to spend some time with is very likely, nearly bomb-proof.

the reverse side showcases the big burly Ti framelock
          This version of the LPC (Lance Personal Carry), actually started life being carried by Lance Abernathy himself, and has been passed onto various people and publications for demonstration purposes.  After my 4 weeks or so, handling & carrying it, it has evidently landed at one of the premier printed knife magazines that probably indirectly inspired Sharp Bright & Tactical!  Colin Despins, martial artist and knife designer is the guy behind the Tops Knives Back Bite (see my previous youtube video post).  Colin and myself started chatting on Facebook about knives, martial arts, and life in general, but especially knives.  Somewhere along the way, he mentioned that he was in possession of a Sniper Bladeworks folder that was available for pass-around.  Needless to say I jumped at the chance to check out one of these folders I'd been hearing about for years now.
       When the LPC arrived in the mail, I was impressed immediately as I unwrapped the knife.  Despite the fact that it had obviously been carried and used quite a bit, there were no signs of mechanical wear, or use-altered function of any kind.  Despins had re-honed the blade to a frightening sharpness before sending it out, the type of elusive sharpness that makes your arm hairs seems to jump out of the way before the knife even makes contact with them.  That sharpness was to last long into my use of this beastly knife.  Even after a daily regimen of breaking down recycling, opening mail, and just cutting various materials, the thick edge stayed very sharp.  I eventually touched up the edge on a fine white ceramic rod, using moderate pressure, but this thing stayed sharp for an impressive length of time.  I was struck by the Gun Kote type hard coating, as you can see it's pretty much a woodland digital camo, like ACU, but richer, and darker.  Even in spots where the blade has obviously seen more use and abuse, the coating is still very much intact.  Sniper Bladeworks uses a handful of different steels, but one you'll commonly find, that has a proven track record for hard use, is 1095, a carbon tool steel.
I believe the blade length on this one is just a bit over 4 inches, though SBW's work varies, they can do  orders to fit your specific needs, and I have seen Sniper Bladeworks knives online with widely varied blade lengths and styles.
           Abernathy's design philosophy for the LPC goes something like this; "The LPC (AKA Lance Personal Carry) was a designed to incorporate more combat oriented features into a knife of slightly larger physical dimension. The LPC features a modified drop point blade, an incredibly ergonomic handle including a canted handle to blade geometry that makes the LPC ideal for thrust and snap cut style defense actions."


Cool!  This LPC has a Titanium framelock, though the LPC knives are available with a slightly more traditional linerlock as well.  There is a big solid G10 backspacer which cushions the interior of the handle's spine, and the 4.32 inch blade is forged from 1095, as I mentioned.


All of the assembly parts, like screws, are equally as tough as the rest of the knife, as evidenced by the fact that despite an obvious amount of use, that this LPC is no worse off for the wear it's undertaken.  The action was buttery smooth, the thick carry clip solidly attached, and the whole package simply felt just about perfect.



I really like the unique Sniper Bladeworks logo, it embodies that bad-assery inherent in their knives.
          Average Sniper Bladeworks prices generally start around $500 USD, but are going to vary quite a bit depending on what materials you want, and how you want it to look.  The LPC I handled is one of the more basic models visually.  It's utilitarian, and simple, though Muller and Abernathy offer more exotic materials like carbon fiber, rayskin, mammoth ivory and damascus.  The choice is yours, rightly, and you're guaranteed to get a knife that doesn't look like something off the shelf, because your knife won't be, as I said, it's evident these knives are crafted individually with much attention to detail.  It's important to me that readers understand that the model shown here represents the toughness and build-quality of all of the Sniper folders.  The LPC I used is pretty basic, but imagine it as a sort of starting point for all other variations of the LPC you'll see from them.  Even if you order an LPC with damascus bladesteel and carbon fiber inlays, you can count on the same stout toughness.  This is one company that produces custom knives where the quality & toughness do not vary from model to model, or across different sizes, they're all built like brick shithouses!  I should note also that they make the LPC and DH folders in mini-size models as well, which are slightly scaled down for every day carry.  Across the LPC line too, there are various options for alternate blade styles, if you do a search online, you'll see Sniper BW LPCs with pointy wharncliffe blades, or blades lacking the "blood groove" on the one I tested.  From what I hear, Muller & Abernathy are ready & willing to work with the customer to produce your ideal version of their LPC or DH design.  So, common prices for LPC variations range from $500-$600, but will definitely go higher, or lower depending on what you want.  For example, a knife with a hamon temper line will run you an extra $50 or so.  I have to say, I DO think many custom knives are overpriced for what you get, but I feel differently about the Sniper Bladeworks LPC I spent time with.  I was sort of bummed to send it back, though I appreciated the opportunity to check it out, and I'm thankful for Colin's offer, and the time he took to ship it out.

      Despins actually ordered his own DH (Dark Hollow) folder from Sniper Bladeworks, he reviewed his personal knife on his site, Max Venom, on his personal blog, he says; "This is a reflection of what it is that Sniper Bladeworks does best. Beyond their absolutely stunning craftsmanship, Sniper Bladeworks focuses on producing a product that the end user can personally take pride in and identify with in a unique way that represents them as an individual."  Well said, for sure, beyond well-made, and very personalized are just two traits you can count on from a Sniper Bladeworks knife.

 I'm in the process of straightening out some things in my life, monetarily, but once I'm back on track, I'm going to start my "Sniper Jar", and set aside 1's, 5's and change to go toward my personal LPC folder.  I think, when the time is right, I'd like to see if Muller can work my Sharp Bright & Tactical "snakes" logo into either an etching on the blade, or a recessed/embossed pattern on the handle.  I'm definitely looking forward to getting my very own personalized version of the LPC!

     I was joking with a buddy that this LPC knife is built like a tank made out of bricks, or conversely, a brick made out of tanks, if you prefer.  You can see a general sampling of their wares on their website, as well as call for more info on what may be currently available, or to talk custom orders with them.
a view of the BEEFY Ti frame-lock liner




           Sniper Bladeworks is on Facebook as well.  You can see more examples of the aesthetic awesomeness that Muller brings to these knives.  His background as a jeweler, watch maker & engraver becomes apparent when you see other knives that have a bit more detail, flare, and more exotic materials, as I mentioned, Damascus and ray-skin are just two examples of more exclusive materials that Lance & Jody offer on their knives for a bit more money.

This photo is from the Sniper Facebook page, just another example of the wide range of aesthetic options available, including various versions of the DH (Dark Hollow).
this photo can be found on SBWs' website, http://www.sniperbladeworks.com/

It's safe to say that Sniper Bladeworks is here to stay, and those knife lovers who haven't yet heard the names Lance Abernathy, & Jody Muller, will know the work of these 2 talented men very soon.  In addition to folding knives, I have seen a couple examples of beautiful fixed blade knives from the duo as well, in addition to a tactical tomahawk that looks like it's capable of demolishing a small building, all by itself.
     I had a blast carrying, using, and just plain admiring this version of the LPC, and I can't wait for the day that I can call these guys up, give them a credit card number, and let them know exactly what I have in mind for my own LPC folder.


BIG BAD clip and frame-lock


cutting the shit out of a cranberry juice bottle.  like buttah.

Beefiest. Thumbstud. Ever.

4 comments:

Aaron said...

seriously guys...
muther-effing BEASTLY folder, makes lots of other established "hard use" folders feel like toys.

C said...

Great write up Aaron! You really captured the spirit of the SBW mentality and how that translates into their absolutely BAD ASS line of custom Tactical folders!

Aaron said...

thanks Mr. C! I can't wait to get my hands on my own Sniper Bladeworks folder!
-A

El Cascabel said...

I think I'm needing one of these beasts...very nice!