Military C36PIN CPM M4 Exclusive Run — Ghost in the Machine

For a funny reason I give name to knives I keep. It gives them more personality. For a strange reason all my C36 Military got name starting with G like Glesser.
My Military Sprintrun CPM Cruewear is “Gandalf” because of its grey handle.
My new Military with Natural G10 (or Jade G-10) and CPM M4 blade will be name Ghost. It’s an exclusive run for Blade HQ.

This is the first time I got the chance to handle the new version: no spacer, bigger lanyard hole, bigger screws… My first Millie “Glesser”, back in 1996 was already a new version with CPM440V (S60V) and the three screws clip. 21 years later here is what I consider the apogee in this design: a blade alloy I really love and a “light” construction.
Gandalf and Ghost weight almost the same: 124g versus 123g on my cooking electronic scale. This is a light package with a lot of cutting power.
I also love the fact that the Jade handle makes it very sheeple friendly and less “military”.

Since I have reviewed the M390 CF version and the Titanium handle version.

Now I have really convexed the grind on Gandalf for wood working.
But I wonder how it will compare to CPM M4 on Ghost.
It will be the subject of another review.

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Chris Reeve Sebenza ATS-34 — Honor is her name.

Nemo Sebenza Ats-34

What does it means to own a Sebenza ?

21 years ago, in September 1996, I received a phone call from Taiwan; the person calling was unknown to me, his name was Huan Chang Hsu and he told me he was an ophthalmologist, a diver and….. a knife collector! He had worked his way and managed to to get in contact with me after reading my first little blog on Geocities where I had written reviews with Fred Perrin. This call lasted 4 hours !!!

Eventually, he insisted I try a Sebenza which was, in his experience, the best of the best in folding knives. He was buying them like an investment and keeping them safe in the bank like others keep diamonds in a vault. He suggested I try out the new handle version but I wanted the classic one.
He also suggested I name it: “Honor”.

Two weeks later I received a parcel with a Microtech Socom (Huan Chang was so generous that he wanted to give me an other one of his knives) and in its box: “Honor”.

To thank Huan Chan, I sent a box back to Taipei containing a vintage Jacques Mongin; Jacques was a cutler legend who designed this folding hunting knife in response to Ernest Hemingway’s special request at Kindal.

The Sebenza was a shock. Smooth little butter. Even now it is one of my smoothest knives, really built like a tank, a absolute workhorse in pure beauty. It was not a tactical experience it was first a tactile discovery: the massive titanium slabs, the integral lock…

Back in the 90’s I remember a review in an American Magazine where the reviewer mauled his Sebenza into a log just to test the lock and was amazed by its reliability.

Two cons I had noticed:

– the thumb stub was a little in the catchy side — meaning it was able to rip the inside of a trouser pocker.
– the clip (Chris’ first attempt to mount one of his design) was scratching everything it could reach.

.

Old clip on the left.

Aware of that, Huan Chang sent me an original CRK leather pouch. Again I thanks to him for his generosity; it seemed really important for him to refine my experience with “Honor”.
So I carried the Sebenza in its leather pouch, horizontally on my belt, for years until I was able to order a better refined clip from Chris in 2000’s.

Honor rapidly became what I named “My Ambassador Knife”.

Back in those days, forums were just kickin-off and already people were arguing about “What is the best folder?”. Chris Reeve knives were the top of the list but also much more expensive than other industrial knives. “Shut up ! You are jealous because you can not afford a Sebenza !!” was a comment used in arguments against people who has doubts about Sebenza groupies.
So I got that crazy idea to send “Honor” to anyone who was criticizing the design without having the opportunity to try a CRK. Honor’s first trip was to Wales to my friend Wayne and six months later he told me Honor has broken his heart when flying back to France. Since he has been able to buy his own Sebbies.
In ten years, my Sebenza went in dozen of hands, strangers, forumites and even knivemakers for months. His last trip was to Alabama to Jeff Randall from RATS and now ESEE because he had written on his forums how he hated it before offering my knife to one of his friends for his retirement. I contact him immediately and after clearing the misunderstanding he got my knife from Nevada and sent it back to me ASAP.

The poor knife had been used hard. It was dull like a butter knife and its blade scratched like it has been used to drill holes in the soil. I was able to clean it, refurbish it with ease and it resumed its “workhorse” title after all. Spyderco’s Joyce Laituri then adviced me not to send it anymore and I have followed her advice ever since.

Honor is part of my rotation and its thin edge still does miracles.

My friend JD told me the grind and the geometry is not comparable to nowaday Sebbies which are thicker than my old one. I believe him, as I have been using a BG42 and S30V little Sebenza and I was not able to get it as sharp as my good old Honor.

Also her ATS-34 blade never chipped despite by having been used hard by many different reviewers; the last one showing genuine hate in her abuse.
Back in 1996, Chris was doing his own heat treatment and was already famous for that. The heat treatment is for half responsable of the blade’s quality; it is exceptional here.
Also 30% of quality comes from the geometry; this is a high and thin profile which is rare nowadays among tactical folding prybars sold as knives.

Despite its scars it performs as well as in 1996 when Huang Chang Hsu sent it to me.
What a legendary knife !
My advice: if you ever find an ATS-34 Sebenza… Go for it !

After all those years this is how the lock goes.

Perfectly centered.

Scrtaches on titanium can be removed with gum and elbow oil.

But it gives character !

edited by pjaffre: jan 5, 2018.

Real Steel “Megalodon 2017” RS9611 – Enter The Dragon !

RS9611 Real Steel Megalodon

Again I got a really great bargain and service from my favorite Ebay retailer: Caledon2 Whole Sale Knives and Swords. Kuddos to them to beat record in shipping each time, mine arrived 4 days before its ETA.

I have found this Real Steel Megalodon 2017 model while browsing for a sturdy flipper three months ago.
Eventually I have found the Zero Tolerance ZT0770 as the Megalodon was not available. But I was caught by the beautiful lines and the materials used in this model. Chinese knives production are getting better and better and Real Steel is the new kid on the block in high end cutting tools.

According to https://chinaknives.blogspot.fr (Thanks Wayne for the head up!)

The brand was created in 2013 by the same people who brought you Sanrenmu knives.
Those folks saw the factory, that produced good quality OEM knives for American companies and cheap, but well made budget “original” design knives and thoughty it could be something bigger.
At first, they based on the same designers, that produced Sanrenmu original knives, the most known of them is Liang Gang, that designed some of SRM’s best known models. That is the reason that some of RealSteel’s designs look a lot like the Sanrenmu models (probably are the same, but with different branding).
Their breakthrough (in my opinion) came when they started working with Huang Liang Zhi, better known by the name Carson (Tech Labs). His designs were well known to the people who are interested in Chinese knives, but the quality of his knives is incredible, and second to none (maybe except some of Kevin John work).
Together they made an aluminium version of the Carson Griffin and also released his boiling flipper design under the name Megalodon (probably just put RealSteel logo on the Carson made knife).
There has been some conspiracy on YouTube lately, claiming that Carson has sold his knifemaking factory to RealSteel, but that information was proven to be wrong and was just speculation of one specific Youtuber with big imagination. Carson himself took a photo with his knives to prove this wrong.”

According to Real Steel:
“At the request of many of our fans, we have re-dedicated ourselves to the Megalodon. However Realsteel would not be Realsteel if we were satisfied with a simple relaunch of the old model. We have taken the strengths of the original megalodon on the basis of your feedback and renewed every single component. The result is a megalodon, which at first glance looks like its predecessor, but in reality it is surpassing its predecessor in its blade steel, in its finish and in many other details. This makes it interesting not only for users with the highest demands, but also for collectors.”

The Meg is destined to be a flagship. Mine is numbered  “474 “and come in a very nice box with its certificate and the name of the knifemakers: Carson Huang and Mr Li in the city of Huangao on the Yellow Sea, facing Korea. Funny to see how many people are thinking the late Kit Carson who invented the flipper is behind this one.

I knew M390 mainly from that incredibly great Spyderco Military Sprint Run.
For Jim Ankerson: “M390 even after 550 cuts it was still not getting noticeably harder to cut the rope, after 600 cuts it was still pretty easy and it would still slice paper clean…” he said in a test versus ZDP189 7 years ago.
So M390 is something of a super steel which, if well heat treated, can beat records. Again Jim Ankerson tests makes M390 ahead of many competitors for rope cutting.

The clip is not has good as my Mantra 2 or ZT0770 but it does the trick despite a very unorthodox design made to get caught in the lips of the pocket. There is a warp in the clip look which combined with the gap in the handle can make the pocket insertion tricky. The G10 version doesn’t have this issue.

Anyway, the Megalodon handle is some kind of work of art. It shows how the industry has progressed in machining titanium. Though it is not as impressive as the Slycz Bowie handle … But beautiful curves and clever design which made the illusion of a longer blade compared to its handle. It’s a very sleek piece of cutlery.
You got all the last gizmo in the knife industry. The Integral Lock is renforced again wear and has a security to avoid bending the spring too far for example.


There is milling on the inside of the scales making the full titanium handle very light and the knife is very well balanced once the blade is deployed.

The action is incredibly smooth thanks to its “Pin Bearing”. Kevin Cleary in his great video on 7th minutes explain it. No balls but pins. Simple as that.
The action is as smooth as the Rubicon 2 which means a really really smooth experience. Better than my Mantra 2 and quieter than the ZT0770 spring assist authoritarian opening.

The 3,5mm thick beautiful full flat blade is a razor right out of the box and the edge is thin. With 10 cm long this is not a short tool but it carries quiet well.
I have start to thin the edge further and you can see pictures of the process on our Facebook Group here.

The full open design of the handle makes it easy to rinse after use and I really think this Chinese flipper is made for being used in the wood with no afterthought. China is making now great “separators of matters” for the money, from the Spyderco Polestar, the Byrd series and now to the Real Steel high ends top of the notch folders, I think, after “Made In Taiwan”, “Made In China” is soon going to be a quality label.
But yet they are really shy about that.
“Real Steel” are word in English not Chinese.
And nowhere on the knife you will found “Made In China”  or  “Huangao” written…
Shyness versus China ?

To quote Gary W. Graley on his review on Bladeforums. on the difference with G10 version:

“I did end up getting one of the Ti versions, also a very nice knife, VERY smooth flipper and solid lockup,
Some differences between the G10 and this Ti version

Price, yep, you knew that was going to be there, it’s quite a bit above but with that you do get needle bearings for the pivot mech, Ti frame lock and M390 steel, all add up to be worth the extra price tag

the blade is a smidgen longer than the G10 versions

the blade grind is slightly thicker and as you can see ground a bit different, I am getting about .023″ at the edge bevel where the G10 I’m getting about .017″ so that’s a good bit thicker, but, it is still pretty thinly ground compared to a lot of folders out there, it does cut well.

Handle, the thickness of the handle is thinner than the G10, and of course being Ti it is a little smoother, but the contours provide adequate grip, I do like the thicker G10 handles myself though.

Overall, these are BOTH excellent value knives, highly recommend either one.”

The blade is centered.




Comparaison with other classics.



Comparaison with my 1996 Sebenza.


With the Spyderco Slysz Bowie.


With my CPM Cruwear Military.


With the mighty K2 !


a very Steampunk clip.



It cuts the Coke bottle butt with zero issues but it could and should do better.
Reprofiling is on its way here.


Spyderco C220GPGY Polestar – Workhorse for the budget-conscious user.

Spyderco Polestar

Designed for budget-conscious knife users who demand genuine Spyderco quality, the Polestar was offered to all attendants at the last Amsterdam Minimeet (2017). That’s how I got mine.

What could be the definition of a Workhorse ? We got example of knives which has been used hard, lost, bought again, always in our pocket, the one we use for dirty jobs and that we trust.
Classic examples are: Swisschamp from Victorinox and their Spartan, Buck110, Spyderco Delica, Opinel N°8, Mora’s Companion, Benchmade’s Griptilian, Coldsteel’s Voyager, Pradel’s folder, Doukdouks… to name a few…
Those manufactured knives do not have the best new hyper duper high carbide power metallurgy steel but they can get a keen edge and you won’t need a sharpmaker on the field to keep them sharp. And you don’t pay a premium.
So the Polestar leaf-shaped plain edge blade is a full-flat ground from American-made CTS BD1 stainless steel.

Again, the equation for a great blade is: steel + Heat Treatment + geometry. Fred Perrin uses 1075 steel but his geometry, heat treatment and great ergonomy makes the trick.
Twenty years ago, with Fred, we were testing a famous “tactical” collection names “Master of Defense” now discontinuited. Eventually we found, despite their high sexiness (black blade, premium material and designs) they were not able to hold an edge for a long time. Compared to our Spyderco Military (CPM440V) and my Sebenza (ATS34) they were almost useless for us. Thick edges on CPM154 did not make the trick for users.
The same year (I think it was 1996) we got the opportunity to test some Pakistani 1 dollars folders (Laguiole knockoff). Their thin blade were really capable. We were really impressed. Those shitty knives were users and keepers.

In June 2012 I was able to test a Spyderco Persistence. I enjoy many things in that knife but I did not like how fast its edge could get dull. I have tried to get beyond the factory (burned) edge but without any improvement. Based on that sample, it was really frustrating for my use. No chipping though, but a real tendency to ask for ceramic touch up twice a day. Since then, I have been staying away from Chinese Spyderco and Byrds.

I still got a Titanium Catbyrd wich has been a running test of 200 pieces to try the equivalent of 440C in China 9CR13MO. And despite a thick edge to my own standard, it has proven to be a much better option for an EDC user.

Back to the Polestar, this time the steel is American, made by Carpenter. You can find it on Spyderco Kitchen knives, a Mule, my UKPK and a lightweight version of the Manix 2. So this is a folding kitchen knife blade after all !!

What make the Polestar loveable is its design. Even if Spyderco recognised it has made some kind of retro engineering on one of their Byrd linerlock, for me the Polestar is the heir of their infamous Tenacious: there is no choil ! 🙂
The open construction makes cleaning easy. The wide lanyard hole is a reminiscence of the Paramillie 2. You got four positions for the clip which is much better than the Rubicon 2 in term of usability and “clipability”.

It can be easily open using the Spyderdrop technique so I have mounted the clip for tipdown carry. It’s fast and the knife is ready to cut. It suits my need.
At 3,3mm (0,13″) of thickness the full flat ground blade is a really beauty. There is a lot of Spyderco DNA in it. And it works great.
Yes, there are also a lot of quality  and attention in the manufacturing: my Polestar is perfectly centered and locks with zero play. This knife is serious business.
The G10 texture is something new. Some kind of peeled blue and grey G10 which gives IMHO a premium look to that knife. And under the thumb it is not abrasive at all. No sandpaper needed for my own use. The stainless steel construction give also some weight and no lateral bending.

So what do we got for around 60 dollars ? A solid sharp knife you can use with no second thought.
Like I wrote in the very first article of that blog here quality is not synonym with the geography. Viking used to got to Persia (using the Volga river) to buy the best steel for their swords because back in that time, some of the best alchemists were there. Chinese manufacturers are getting better and better. Just look at the Real Steel collection and especially at their Megalodon flipping folders. Chinese production will soon get pricey as they are investing a lot in robots. If you study the age pyramid in China they will be confronted to a demographic problem. So they need robots and computer controlled production able to deliver constant quality in manufacturing. Never forget all our expensive Apple toys are made in China not in Frankfurt !!

So, the Polestar is the choice for a hard use EDC and also a great guinea pig if you want to master the art of sharpening too. You will enjoy how fast you can get a popping edge back. And you won’t mind using the blade on hard surfaces. This what a workhorse also made for, cutting on a plate or on concrete, with no second thought.

My FranckenStrech is equipped with a Super Blue Steel. That was my idea of a EDC Workhorse: thin angry edge, easy to maintain, easy to carry and sheeple friendly. This tough cookie is hard to beat. Both designed by Sal Glesser.

The edge is not the thinnest (not bad actually !) but the cuts are precise and powerful. It can be thinned easily with sandpaper.

The Parmigiano chips is also a good test. They are transparent !

After whittling hairs, to cut against hard material like glass is not a concern.

You can notce where the edge has rolled. In two ceramic passes it was straight again.
I won’t have the same ease of realignment with K390 I think. 🙂

Some of my Spyderco workhorses: the Millie, the Manix, the Polestar, the Stretch and the Slysz Bowie.
Different budgets for different tastes. All those knives are easy to clip, got enough edge for a lot of application and are easy to clean. The three knives I have not reprofiled are the Slysz and the Polestar.

 

Team Cuscadi new Carbon Fibers Scale on K390 Urban.

Why the change ?

After my Urban review I wanted a smoother experience. And give a more precious apparence.
Carbon fiber is a really sturdy material and twenty years ago you could only find it in Formula One and jetfighters.
The feel under the thimb is wonderful and the knife get clipped with ease.

Great work from Team Cuscadi and great service.

Team Cuscadi Scales on Urban K390

A first glimpse at the Spyderco C187CFP2 Peter Carey Rubicon 2

I’m not a fan of thick hollow blades for quite long time now. The Gil Hibben Rambo III knife is not in my dreamlist anymore and the last hollow ground knife I have reviewed has been the Recon 1. But one of my favorite knife, which has not been reviewed is my 1994 Sebenza. Anyway, the Sebbie and the Cold Steel or even the Gayle Bradley are holow ground but not thick blades.
The Peter Carey Rubicon 2 is 3,5mm thick and for a 3 inches blade it is substantial.
(The Slycz Techno was 5 mm though…)

The Rubicon 2 is not a big knife, is it destined to be an EDC. He’s not heavy, its liners are made of titanium and the scales of peel carbon fiber.

The first you enjoy is the ease of deployment. This knife flips like no other in my collection. No need for assisted opening on this baby: the heavy blade, the ball bearing pivot and the well designed flipper make the trick. The opening is positive everytime.

Eric Glesser told how difficult is it to have a flipper which also provides an alternative opening system. Meaning: sometimes you just want to open your blade gently with the Spyderhole and not with the flipper. You want to trade a “shlack!” for a “click!”.
The Rubicon can be open with the thumb and even the index. It’s fun how easy it is! The operation is so smooth and could be catagorized into the gravity knives family. This ease of operation has been a big charm upon me: the more I’ve played with the knife, the more I have enjoyed it.

The blade got a beautiful satin finish perfectly executed, perfectly executed, symetrical and and centered.

The second big charm on the Rubicon 2 is the handle. The way the flipper create a guard and a subguard, depending how you hold it. This short handle is married litteraly to my hand. For once, there is no lanyard hole and the butt of the knife is pointer than its blade.

A beautiful orange spacer gives a very hightech look to the knife as everyparts are perfectly adjusted: spacer, scales and liners. This high quality of manfacture is again provided by Taichung in Taiwan.

The bronze washers and the ball bearing gives the smoothness and the exterior stop pin assure that the washer are wide enough for stability: no lateral play.
The only break to the action could be the ball detent of the titanium liner lock but it is minor compared to the momentum of the blade.

The design is well thought also once the knfe is closed.  The Rubicon 2 gently rests in you palm confortably. The peels carbon fiber is very nice against the skin giving a very positive grip. The jimping on the blade are purely decorative and this is the way I like them two.
I won’t need to file them.

The blade is wide and thinly ground and very effective thanks to its nice belly. I was able to push cut through hard material easily. It has surprised me how it zipped though.

The balance of the Rubicon 2 is perfect IMHO. The choice of the material again provides that. The handle is very light.

I haven’t been able yet to find an easy to clip carry the knife. The texture of the scale and the very strong clip give a lot of friction. I was even able to carry it in the pocket watch.

Compared to the Ed Schempp Bowie for example: the Rubicon 2 is not pocket friendly at all.

It is not carried deep and the orange spacer screams loud : “Hey look !!!”

I’m so unhappy with the way the knife rides in the pocket that I’m thinking to use a pouch and get rid of the clip !

For the moment my cutting test with the Rubicon 2 has been really positive. It’s a short knife with a big potential.  Also your thumb can easily rest on the spine giving you more leverage.

So here we go with a first glimpse to a very well designed knife. I would have been more excited to get some exotic steel on such a radical design but S30V heat Treated by Spyderco does the trick.

The Rubicon 2 is destined to be a reliable workhorse and not only a looker and a very addictive flipping toy. There is a strong will behind its design to provide strong cutting power in a small package in its design and all is served by an ergonomy which is for me magnificent. The knife is simply anchored to your hand.