Spyderco C127PGY Urban K390 – Lil’Grey Alien armed with Hyper Steel.

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Mostly knives company gives the best steel to there flagship models but again Spyderco create the surprise in bringing a 1200 pieces sprintrun of their lightweight Urban slipjoint folder with the best of the best of the cold tool steel: the Austrian Swedish-made Bohler K390.

The steel is a third generation powder steel and to quote them:
“Just as mountaineers need the best equipment to conquer the highest peaks, it‘s essential to use the best materials for your tooling to ensure trouble-free production and achieve outstanding tool life. Three reasons why BÖHLER K390 MICROCLEAN is highly cost effective: Extremely high wear resistance, excellent toughness and very high compressive strength. The high-performance powder-metallurgy steel BÖHLER K390 MICROCLEAN is a reliable solution for your difficult cutting, die-cutting and cold forming operations, and it has a very good track record for applications in the plastics industry.”


Phil Wilson has been using it and he’s known for getting the best of super steels.
“I have been using K390 from the start ever since it was introduced by Bohler and I got some small samples to try. A bit of history is that it is the European version of CPM 10V but not the exact chemistry (about 1% less V plus small addition of a few others). That is because the CPM 10V chemistry was protected by patent at the time. If you check the K390 data sheet it claims that the bit less V gives K 390 a little boost in impact toughness. It also can be heat treated at a lower temp. than 10v. So it is pretty much the same as the A11 grade but different in a few small details. It is hard to tell the difference between CPM 10v and BU K390 in the real world in my experience. I like both grades and they are the base line (along with Vanadius 10 and K294) from which I measure wear resistance. The 5 chrome is there to make them all air hardening among other things and does not contribute much to corrosion resistance. It is going to make a killer knife in the new offering and be another classic. Phil”  On the Spyderco forums.

So one of the best steel is available on a slipjoint the C127.
It’s almost the same cockpit as the Squeak, the blade is a tad under three inches with a full flat ground blade. The backspace is in stainless steel and is used as main spring and the handle are FRN: fiber reinforced nylon. A generous choil gives you security as the blade cannot close on your finger. It’s the same idea as on the C36 Military you hold the open folder by the blade so there is less stress on the pivot. The hump and the choil work as the quillons of a boot dagger. It means also you can give a lot of power into your cuts.

The C127 is modest. This is not the K2. The Urban is a gentleman knife legal in many places. If it was a car, it would not be a Landrover but a Mini.
But here the Mini is turned into a mini Cooper with a very powerful prepared engine as the steel is the chore of the knife.
Again steel is nothing without a good heat treating and without a great geometry adapted to the steel.
And my C127 arrived with a very thin edge. The Maniago naufacturer seems to be very good lately in the way it provide good edges to its blade. Like the Elmax Squeak I was able to cut through the bottle butts with ease and control. The knife cut precisely with not a great amount of force, this is always a pleasure to fill the thick center crossed without the rest of the bottle to collapse due to too much strenght.

Now K390 is not stainless and it suppose to develop a patina. This is good news as it will gives to the knife a lot of character by turning it full grey !

It’s not the first time that Spyderco equipped his FRN knives with the best exotic super duper steel. It was the case with CPM110V on the Blue Manix 2 FRN and the Blue Native FRN . K390 is going also on another flagship: it will equiped the 4th edition of the Police Model. I had the chance to handle it yesterday at the Minimeet and this is going to be a great big folder with a lot of cutting power (Full flat ground large blade) on a sturdy construction (I just regret the did not bring the Power Lock on the Police model, but this is just me…).

For my European fellow have found easily the knife for 77 euros shipping included.
You can use the search functions and do your math and have the chance to try K390 on a very low profile plateform.
I have since mounted Cuscadi Carbon Fibers on this little gem.

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Spyderco C154TIP – Every Day Squeak !

It’s time to present a one year old friend who doesn’t want to leave my watchpocket.

The Squeak in its Deluxe Sprint version: Titanium handle and Elmax steel blade.

This little knife is made in Maniago Italy but has been designed by Sal Glesser.
You can find Sal signature engraved / laser etched on the blade near the hole.

This is one of the shorted blade I own, but again, unique to Spyderco, this is a little big knife.

The first sensation is purely tactile. The smooth titanium handle is a pleasure under the thumb and in the palm: its smooth surface and rounded edges are very appealing. The ergonomy is superb in its three fingers grip.

Noted that Satin finished Titanium can be a scratch magnet but you can easily remove them with light sandpaper or jeweller erasers.No big deal.

It’s a very minimalist construction every is hold by two screws. A third one is used for the deep carry clip which is my SPyderco’s favorite

The blade is full flat ground and especielly thin edge witha great steel: Elmax.

The choil makes it a reliable folding tool even if its a slipjoint.
The sprint is strong, much stronger than my UKPK, and the short blade offered less leverage for closing. To quote Spyderco: “The Squeak’s blade is held in the open position when cutting by a notched-joint at the knife’s pivot.  When closing the blade, the notch generates resistance functionally similar to traditional slip-joint penknife and performs the additional function of smoothing the motion of the blade opening.”

It’s a very very sharp blade. It goes through plastic bottle butts very very easily. The excellence in steel choice and the great edge geometry is so great that I have not touch it at all since I got it. After one year on regular use, the knife is still razor sharp. I keep it that way with some white ceramic and stropping on leather. That’s all. It is ‘that’ great.

I was very surprised by how usefull a short blade like this one can be.
Carried as a second folder (when usually I only use one knife or one multitool)

in my pocketwatch, the Sqweak has proven to be very useful.
I have been also able to eat with it. Its belly helps a lot to cut the meat in a plate. Again, the knife is not rising any eyebrows, nobody seems to notice the little tool in public places or even in a restaurant. Let’s be clear, knives in restaurant suck, one of my favorite low profile knife for that is the Mantra 2. It’s always handy to carry a small sharp blade in places where any knife could afraid the sheeples. I use mine a lot in the supermarket. It gets fast in the hand, open fast and closed fast. Very discreet and very powerful on cardboard and plastic tags of all sorts. Also last year I have been obliged to carry a Leatherman Wingman and the lil’ Squeak was my main eating knife for bread, cheese, sausages, meat and it was easily a much better blade than the multitool’s short thick blade…

The Squeak has also replaced my Pingo as my UK knife. I was on the verge to by an elmax Pingo but eventually I really need the opening hole. I need a one hand opening knife. Also it has renewed my love for Elmax so badly that I have bought the Zero Tolerance ZT0770.

Zero Tolerance ZT0770CF – Fast and Furious.

I love my Spyderco mantra 2.
Great engineering, ergos and materials. An attention to details and a signature: Eric Glesser. He is a perfectionist and a clever one. But I do hate one thing: the trademark “little” hole. A place to catch grim and hard to clean on the field.

Why don’t you just print a circle instead to drill into the blade ? The trademark hole is even on my Spyderco fixed blades…
Anyway, the Des Horn was a first step. A second step is the ST0770CF.

I was in need of a “blind” folder. I mean a folder without any hole or thumbstub or disk.
The Real Steal Megalodon was on my list: with its beautiful lines like a Sukhoi 27, M390 steel….
But then the Zero Tolerance caught my eye through all its great reviews.

ZT knives were always synonym of heavy fat ground knives à la Strider. Not something I would enjoy as EDC.
Unless I start to follow a special project around the ZT0770in M390 and especially a version in CPM M4 (ended with 69 dollars of international shipping fees).

So I went to “La Coutelerie Tourangelle” famous for their good prices, great shipping fees (5.9 euros with tracking in France) and total absence of communication…. 😉 Just kidding, even if they are mute like a brick wall, they delivered a great service world wide.



The ZT0770CF got no name. Its blade is beadblasted. This is a user not a safe queen.
The assisted opening is strong and seems reliable. I have found some people were able to remove the spring easily and even order another bronze washer. But my idea was to have a spring making my flipping secure and complete.
Many times my flipping was not 100% on my Southard on my Domino…. and it was frustrating.
So no ball bearing on the ZT but a strong spring. Again if you don’t like it, you can remove it.
I love it.
It is positive and definitive. SCHLAKK !! It’s open.

Now if you don’t want to be noticed you can open it against your leg, halfway and with a gentle flick it is open.
All is silent.

Balance wise, the ZT is perfect: the Carbon Fibers handle is so light. There is a black spacer, beautiful and very scifi. But the point of balance is just behind the pivot ! Perfect.
The knife is “alive” in your hands.
The texture of the carbonfiber is smooth but matte. Just like my sanded G10 handles. There is enough blade to open the knife like a gentleman folder. It won’t jump from your hands, the spring is not “that” strong.
There is a detent you can also feel at the end of the blade course.
The action is smooth, enough smooth to have the gravity works fine when unlocked.
This is a beautiful knife with a great attention to details.

The liner lock is thick and nested. Easy to operate. The detent ball is visible. Everything is in place.
The jimping on the blade is not to aggressive. The jimping on the flipper is more aggressive but do not come in contact with finger once open.

The guard is very cleverly thought. The position of the pin and the jimping on the flipper. It’s a clockwork !
Closed or open, there is no hot spot on the ZT0770CF, all lines flush together: very impressive.

The pivot screw is beautiful and despite its exotic look just need a torx to be unscrew. You can rest your thumb on it, it works like my Calypso’s screw guard.
The CF handle is renforced by nested liners and despite being light the construction is very solid.

Ergos are great. I mean they suit my four fingers. I already loved on my Mantra how the flipper served as guard once the blade open. Here on the ZT the guard in integrated with flipper like on the Domino but more pronounced. I really love that configuration.

The ZT got a particular blade: high flat thinly ground with a kind of sheepfoot shape. It works.
You got some belly near the pivot and a straight edge near the point, something between a Spyderco Positron a stretch Cricket.

It cuts aggressively and pass my plastic bottle bottom with force and ease. Eventually I find the ZT’s blade is simply gorgeous, all in curves… The belly near the pivot will give a lot of power for pushcuts into wood.

I love Elmax since my Lionspy. I remember beating the crap out of it and it was really forgiving: no chipping and great sharpness.
Also I’m in love with a Squeak in Elmax with titanium handles for a year now and this pure little Italian wonder will be review soon.

Elmax is such a great knife steel. No chipping, edge stability, ease of maintaining. What not to love ?



The black clip is short but made for deep carry. This is a very low profil configuration which leave almost zero print. The knife can find a nest into the watch pocket too. We got here a very compact package and very light: a true EDC.

Great engineering all in all. Now more pictures:






Some more test once the edge is “de-shouldered”.


 

Des Horn Imvubu in Nitrobe 77 – Perfection in every way.

This is a sharp turn. A revolution: I have chosen a folder with no hole in the blade and no clip.
But it was love at first sight.
The carbon fiber handle are so smooth and rounded. The balance is perfect, thanks to its titanium liners.
The liners are blued and exquisite BTW. A jewel !
I could not put that folder back on Des Horn table at the FICX 2016. It was this kind of moment when your palm is connected to your heart. This knife will be mine. Period.

I have met Des many times this last decades and even three years ago I have ordered a Nitrobe 77 folder to him after my friend JD has bought one at Paris SICAC. JD loves small blades. I do prefer medium. I was glad a 4mm Nitrobe 77 stock was available since.
Nitrobe 77 is a very special steel with nitrogen instead of carbon. It is a kind of ÜberH1. Those Nitrogen Steel are just amazing.
Also the Nitrobe 77 while impervious to corrosion has the same “behavior” as 52100 which is, thanks to Ray Kirk, one my favorite steel.
To quote Cliff Stamp:
“-higher toughness at the same hardness/wear resistance
-much higher corrosion resistance, especially in extremes
-higher edge stability at the same wear resistance ”

To quote Marthinus (this knife is his grail)
“The original idea was to use NITROBE 77 at motor manufacturing of blades for cutters and blades for kitchen machines type blender. Samples were sent to producers in Europe, which in a few months, almost unanimously said they were extremely impressed with the durability of the blade, and that usually is 3 times higher than that of any stainless steel used in their production today. However, heat treatment is too complicated for them and they also prefer to buy 3 blades of conventional stainless steel than one of NITROBE 77 This steel has virtually no carbon (0.1%), which was replaced with nitrogen at 0.9%. It absolutely does not rust and the knife can be put in the dishwasher! The most impressive feature is the NITROBE 77 is its “superrezuchest” because smaller molecules than in steel RWL-34. The main difficulty in the manufacture of steel NITROBE 77 is its heat treatment, which includes a series of four cryogenic quenching in liquid nitrogen at a heating temperature were 1100 ° C and 3-times at intervals of 1 hour for the holidays began at 480 ° C. NITROBE 77 shows the greatest potential for using it as a knife blade. I used a lot of different steels to produce their knives, but 77 NITROBE much sharper and tougher than any steel I’ve ever used … ”

No hole. So I use my thumb on the talon of the blade to open it gently. It is fast.
No clip. I use a Bali-Song cocoon horizontaly on my belt or directly in my front pocket. No big deal as the knife is really confortable in the hand.

On my Bottle Butt test, it is not my number one cutter. The Nilakka is still the queen in that domain. But the Des Horn is one of my best !! It goes through plastic on a steady pace.

Now The 4mm thickworking Bowie blade is so gorgeous. Everytime I open it I got that “WOW” moment.
The edge is toothy. That the way Des likes it. I have strop it on leather. Now it cuts hairs in flight.
The lock is a Michael Walker liner lock. Falls in perfectly.

Des Horn Imvubu

The full spacer is also in Carbonfiber. Everything is light and strong.
Des Horn is a meticulous maker and every part of the knife is like high horlogery. It is smooth and reliable.
So meticulous that Des Horn’s shop is so clean. You could eat on the wooden floor. 😉
Also, owning a knife made by a true gentleman is a luxury. There is always some spirit of the maker in the tool.

I love also his philosophy: a knife is a tool. Which means: you can use it. Hard.
These are my intentions. To be contined

Spyderco Mantra 2 – Pure Flipper Workhorse !

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The Mantra 2 is Eric Glesser’s design and is one of a kind Spyderco as its blade’s hole is only here as a trademark. Your only way to flick the knife open is the flipper invented by Kit Carson at the end of the 90’s. There is no hump. It’s a very slick knife.

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There is a lot of edge on this blade/handle ratio as there is no choil too !  Not your typical Spydie huh ? (Apart from the autos destined for Militaries and LEO, you won’t find that in Spyderco Catalog.)
All of these makes the Mantra 2 a compact design with a deep wire pocket carry. A solid R.I.L. lock , an ergonomic handle and a full flat ground CPM M4 blade. This powder metalurgy super tool steel once introduced on Gayle Bradley’s designs has proven to be one of the best in strenght and edge retention.
So the Mantra 2 is a very powerful package which can withstand punishing and be easily washed under tap water thanks to its all open handle design (no back spacer).
Its strange nose seems here to strenghten the tip of the blade. Again with Spyderco, aesthetics come  second in their knives.

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The lock is wearproof and reinforced  with steel. All engineering details has been thought to get to the ELU a reliable heirloom tool.

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Dwarfed next to my K2, I use my M2 for mondaine chores including eating in a plate. M4 has no stain yet BTW.
It’s not the kind of knives which raise any eyebrows in the sheeple crowd which is good nowadays. It’s low profile apart from its flipping opening. There it could almost look like an auto. There is no way to open it in a softer way but to use both hands. It works also.

The deep carry clip doesn’t make it very fast to draw compared to the Wolfspyder for example. But it disappears in your pocket and is very stealthy, perfect for an EDC.

Edgewise I have found mine a little on the thick side. I will thin it even if CPM M4 can a bear on a stone.  Nothing serious there.

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All in all the Mantra 2 is a very unique design. A compact tool with a lot of applications.
Again this is a gentleman knife with the power of a much bigger knife.
Eric Glesser has provided another very clever design with the best material available and a great attention to details. This is not a safe queen but a compact and slick workhorse.

And FYI a portion of sales of the Mantra is donated to The National Parkinson Foundation.

 

Spyderco Ray Mears WolfSpyder Collaboration

When I’ve heard about the collaboration between Ray Mears and Spyderco, I was really excited. Ray Mears !! I knew his show since the 90’s and his gentle way to walk in the beautiful English countryside and doing a lot of thing with a short fixed blade.

Wait a minute ?! A short fixed blade in the UK ?! Is that forbidden by UK laws ?
But Ray’s knife was a tool to do things, to create shelter, to elaborate traps, a cutting tool used for construction, for cleverness… not for fear and destruction.

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At the last Minimeet in Amsterdam I was able to play with a prototype of the coming Wolfspyder. I was not impressed. Almost disappointed : it was a very short knife with a big notch in the handle asking for my thumb to find a linerlock… without any liner lock. Oh yeah, it was a very goofy handle at first sight… And a thick edge on a short blade…

Eric Glesser was hosting the Meet alone for the first time and he was giving a lot of informations about this design : how Ray Mears has contacted Golden and how they have decided to join force. The best ‘in house’ lock being the Compression Lock, it was an immediate choice. Now the folder needed to be used in the way Ray uses his knives, so it needed to be tough, solid, reliable and ergonomic.

Ray Mears Woodlore was his first attempt in the knife designing world. Alan Wood was the maker of his short fixed blade with scandinavian grind. The result was a no non sense design of a versatile tool. (Spyderco also got their own Bushcrafter knife vaguely inspired by the Woodlore craze…)

To my own knowledge the Wolfspyder will be the first folding knife designed by Mears, so I figure this is a very personnal attempt. He had time to think about what he wanted in a folder. So this a knife of maturity.

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The result is absolutly fascinating if you know the philosophy behind Woodlore Inc UK’s premier School of Wilderness Bushcraft: using knowledge to live from what the wilderness offers.
In the past years, I had noticed in his TV shows that Ray Mears was often using a Suedish folding knife (a Fallkniven 3 inches folder) instead of his famous Woodlore fixed blade knife. It was funny as I remember how Peter Horstberger (Fallkniven’s CEO) was not advising to use his folding knives for cutting wood… (When his Fallkniven U2 was released…)
Anyway, Ray Mears was counting now on a full flat ground folder as his main EDC in the wild and on the show. But now he was going to Golden: the ‘Temple of Full Flat Ground Folders’ to get his own design refined and produce and we got…. A scandi grind folder !?
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OK. Scandi means hard use for me. The blade offers some thickness to almost its point. Its edge goes deep when push cutting and trimming wood and the cuts can stay shallow for creating feather sticks.
But as much as I love S30V, will the choice of that steel be the best « sharpening friendy » choice ? CPM S30V is one of the rare steel made for knives but Bushcraft tools tend to be more on the “carbon steel” side. O1 is the tool steel found mostly.
Scandy grind, if you don’t create a new bevel, can be a bear to sharpen as S30V a big carbid vanadium steel is very resistant to abrasion and you need to keep the original geometry to remove a lot of metal.
I dont think I will get a good result with my Japanese water stone.
Diamonds will be S30V scandi ground best friend. But then, will the cratches ruin the finish ? Oh well… I’m really looking forward to watch some Woodlore video showing us how to… 😉

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Back to the Wolfspyder intriguing design. As odd as the handle looks, it is eventually a pleasure to hold. The unusual horns are perfect for a resting thumb, even the pinky got its own place ! The integral guard works great, you can firmly hold your knife, your hand won’t slip on the blade. It works edge down in hammer grip but also it works great edge up.

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The compression lock is hidden/integrated/nested in the G10, this is Spyderco’s usual ‘tour de force’ they know to achieve since 1995 on their C36 Military’s liner lock …
The G10 green colour is dark and perfect for a UK offspring tool. The back of the handle (where the lock is) does not bit your hand when using the knife hard. It was my main concern since the Paramilitary compression lock was sometimes really painful when used hard without gloves on. Which means the Wolfspyder can be used harder, with more power than the Paramillie !

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For my own confort I have sanded and rounded all the G10 edges. Also the back of the blade as I don’t have plan to make fire this way and my sore thumb was asking for that improvement. Now the edgy back was designed to scratch some ferro rod… I prefer to push cut with my finger on a rounded back blade like on the Sebenza.

The Wolfspyder again oozes quality from all its pore. The action is smooth. There is zero play in any direction. It’s heavy in your hand, well balanced… it screams to be used.

Once clipped to a pocket, the knife rides high compared to my recent wired clipped Spydies… But odd enough, eventually it makes quick draws so easy! The fingers find their way around the handle and the thumb ready to push open the holed blade in the same motion. Easy and fast for tip up carry knife. This is not a southpaw friendly knife BTW.
I close the blade using momentum and inertia. The relatively heavy blade is perfect for that. I release the compression lock and with a quick wrist movement it closes.

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On my Plastic Bottle Butt test, the Wolfspyder was not the best performer. The grind is a little to « wedgy » for pushcutting through thick plastic. But I was able to pass through. When my Swick, my Manta 2 and of course my Nilakka were able to cut through it easily. Again, that particular grind is primarily made for wood tasks.

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All in all, I’m very satisfied with that purchase. It’s a very well thought EDC companion imagined by a gentleman who got only two knives designed and made in 30 years, the Wolfspyder being the second to my knowledge. At least Mears is not Bear with a collection of low end tools mass produced for his TV fan. And this UK designed knife is proudly made in the Colonies: Golden, Colorado, Earth !! 😉
So the Wolfspyder is finding its gentle place in my front pocket, easing my craves for new bold designs, asking to be used in the wild even if I carry it in the city. Have a knife, will travel… Chapter II is here !

and her last travel to Norway is here.

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Patrick Bonetta’s Tactical Paring Knife

Patrick Bonneta

The video can be found here: Patrick Bonetta – Le Coutelier des Grands Chefs

Usually I use my “tactical” knives in the kitchen but this time it is exactly the other way around… This is a kitchen knife ready for “tactical” situations thanks to its great ergos and its kydex sheath worn as a neck sheath.
It was all made by Patrick Bonetta. Patrick is a old friend from Ed Schempp, Fred Perrin and is living the neighborhood!

Patrick Bonetta

He is first known for his incredible skills at sharpening kitchen knives for famous chefs around the world like Alain Ducasse, Jean Louis Nomicos and Palace like Le Bristol, Le Crillon, le Royal Monceau, le Taillevent

He’s also a designer, a blade smith and legendary epicurian.
His first dream was to be a knifemaker then he has found that there was a real lacking in the way knives’s edges were kept. In fact, not many of so called “grinders” are able to understand how to get all blades really keen but Patrick is one of them. This is a rare talent and this is very very special knack.


There is a timeless aura in his workshop which used to be the one of his grand father.


His paring knife is light and razor sharp. To eat a good meat with a blunt knife is blasphemous and a serrated edge will ruined everything!

Patrick’s Commandements are simple: never lend your knife and you don’t break bones with a paring knife.
Now all cooks want everlasting sharp knives and this is not a reality. So, to get them sharp again is mandatory.

My knife is light, well balanced. Its 4 inches very thin blade is tapered, flat ground and comes with a very nice convex edge made of classic knife steel CroMoVa cryo tempered.

The steel used is gentle under the stone and easy to maintain really sharp.

This is a great combo in a very light package. Perfect to snatch in a voyager bag were every grams count !
It’s also easy to carry around the neck in a camp where it will be really useful for every cooking duty.
The handle is in paper micarta, mince is burgundy. Patrick as drill some hole for a better grip when unsheating the knife with wet hands. They work great holding the blade flat on a board.

What a cheer joy to cut vegetables and meat with such a great little buddy. Its polyvalent blade can be used for a wide range of kitchen duties and there is a guilty pleasure to use it also as a steak knife !