My New EDC
Let me start by saying there have probably been very few times when someone was so hard to convince that it was time for a switch in their everyday carry blade. Yes, I own a lot of knives, and there are things about all of them I like, but when it comes down to it I could count on 2 hands the number of times I have left the house without my Benchmade Auto-Stryker in my pocket in the last 5 years. That knife has seen some wear and has gotten me out of more than one bind. So why switch? Well I suppose the largest part of it was wanting to get away from carrying an automatic. I just don’t like the questionable legalities of it. Sure it was cool when I was young, but now the idea that that could land me in trouble just for carrying it has become unsavory. So the search for a potential replacement began…
It started about a year ago. I have learned a lot about what I like and what I don’t like in an EDC folder over the years. My requirements were that it had to have a metallic handle, not plastic. It needed a blade length under 4 inches, it needed to be deployable quickly without being an automatic, it needed to be tough, it needed to have what one might call tactical qualities to it as it may need to be deployed in self-defense, the weight could not exceed the current weight of my carry, it needed to have a solid lock-up, and it needed to have the option of a right handed tip up pocket clip carry. Now there are a lot of knives out there that meet these criteria. So what made the HEST-F catch my eye?
It all started with the original HEST by ESEE knives. I still love that blade. The idea of a folding version was very exciting from the get go. However, as many of you know there were several production issues with the first incarnation. I never owned a 1.0 so I cannot speak to those issues but I can say that I so far have not suffered any of those issues (lock-up, etc.). I had to think a long time about this purchase. The price was the same as what I spent on my Benchmade and was at the upper end of what I was willing to pay right now. If I was going to spend that kind of money I had to damn sure it was going to be the one.
Now onto the knife…
What I like:
Thickness, the blade is ¼’’ thick, that is massive and I love it. Lock-up is rock solid, so solid that it took me a while to figure out a way to be able to close it with one hand. The titanium handle, I love it. The finish is awesome it feels solid and looks great. The deployment is very cool. I have never owned an “emerson wave” type knife. Yes, I know it is not officially an emerson, but it works on the same principles, and no I do not feel they are knocking off emerson as the original fixed blade design had the exact same cut out which is there to serve as a bottle opener. That opening is indeed faster than my automatic was. It takes a little practice but once you get the hang of it that design is indeed lighting fast. For those who don’t know the emerson wave design is basically a notch or hook in the spine of the blade that hangs on the edge of your pocket while withdrawing the knife deploying the blade as it is drawn. I also like the many “bonuses” that this knife has, such as the bottle opener, glass punch, hex bit wrench hole, the very aggressive jimmping on the spine, etc. It also comes with a nifty little tool for adjusting things on the knife, kind of like an Atwood pocket tool. The knife is on the whole a very well thought out design with a lot of great features packed in a little package. I am also pretty impressed with the blade steel. The factory edge wasn’t bad but a few passes on the stone and a little stropping and it was hair popping sharp, something that normally took quite a bit of time with the Benchmade.
What I don’t like:
The G10 handle, I don’t like it, it feels cheap, it is rough, thus hanging on your pocket, and is not as tough as a metal handle ( my keys have already made significant marks in just the first week). That is probably my biggest complaint about the knife. The black coating on the blade is not tough enough. I have no idea how theirs is different from other companies but it does scratch easily, period. It had scratched 15 minutes out of the box and scuffs in a day. Whatever they used I feel like there are better choices out there. Yes, the coating on my Benchmade is worn off too, but that took a number of years, I have a feeling most of this will be gone in the first year, but only time will tell. The pocket clip is set a little too far from the handle for blue jeans (maybe not for thicker pants). The retention is still very good, it just isn’t quite as tight in there as I like it. The tensioner has issues as well, it is basically either tight or loose, and there are no real adjustments to be made. If you loosen it then the screw will fall out so just keep it tight and wait for it to break in. Again not a huge issue as the tension reaches a rather nice medium after about 50-100 opens or so.
Credit where credit is due:
It is also worth mentioning that I probably would not have bought this knife, or at least not as soon if it had not been for the review done by Colin Despins. After all the issues with the first model, it took someone who’s review I trust to say the problems were ironed out to make me drop the money.
Overall I do really like this knife and it has replaced my Benchmade as my EDC. I cleaned, sharpened and oiled up my Benchmade to go in the drawer the other day, it was sad. However, I’m not getting rid of it or anything. We will see how the HEST-F 2.0 holds up over time; hopefully I will still be singing its praises in five years too.
By Jesse Israel
For Sharp, Bright and Tactical Web Magazine