Bringing the Rockstead Higo-J in the wood is easy. The handle is smooth enough to find another pocket than the right front denim’s and the clip keep it attached.
The straight handle permits different grips and the grooves in the duraluminium help to secure them even with wet hands.
Now the edge is narrow, thin and mirror smooth and the back of the blade confortable enough to push cut with the left hand thumb.
The result are incredibly powerful deep cuts in wood.
Compared to my ATS34 Sebenza (narrow edge and mirror polished and my faithful CPM M4 Gayle Bradley the Higo-J cuts with much more ease.
It’s amazing and it’s logical.
The edge is so narrow, almost like a scandinavian grind. So the fibers of wood are no match for this wonderful tool.
But a narrow edge also means a much fragile edge. My version is the ZDP-189 version: a very hard steel wich is not a tool steel able to withstand torsion and very hard use. The Higo-J is a lamborghini not a tractor. The handle is enough confortable for long works. It’s not a UK Bushcrafter but for an open handle it’s better than my Sebbie ergos.
After two days of various works on differents woods, food and strings: everything a knife that size is confronted when you are in the wood. (Also I have whittle a lot as the sensation of ease of cutting is really addictive… I have only noticed a tiny micro nick in the blade.
Again, you don’t want to notice any nick on a Lamborghini.
So back home, I decided to gently caress the edge with the with ceramic of my Sharpmaker and succesfully removed 60% of the nick.
Then I have been stropping the blade for two hours to remove the marks.
Now it looks like new but it has lost its factory edge.
I will need more time to gently reprofile it and strop back to mirror.
Ah, the learning curve…
If you use your knife, you will be obliged to touch up the very thin edge and to reprofile it with a tiny wider angle…
OK. So after using the Spyderco Sharpmaker at 30° to rease the nick and eventually realign the edge and fifteen more minutes of stropping
on my Snail Belt and then on my razor leather. The crispy and hair popping sharpness is back to normal. (which means outstandingly amazing!)
My ZDP189 Higo blade was “chipping” today (!!!) quite badly on the tip (Arrrrgh!!!). So I have decided to passe it gently on a Spyderco white ceramic rod before to strop it for a good hour on leather and compound.
Now it’s much sharper than before (!) and I know my edge is stronger with a little convexing which should prevent it from rolling…
Amazing grind ! Amazing steel !
ZDP-189 is very forgiving.
I don’t know how the chipping appeared as I did not use the knife hard (yet). I think it came from the very thin hard edge on the tip and perharps one fumble of mine.
Now it’s “cured” and fixed !
(I did not pictured it when it was a mess as I was much to concern about fixing it.
Perhaps the edge touch something hard I did not notice ?
I don’t know.
Notice how the “chipping” on the edge start to be erased by the ceramic shouldering.
now it’s all fixed:
The more I think about it (and when I see how I could fix it)
I think it was the very edge which rolled “chaotically” giving the look of a bad chipping but which could be fixed with a light sharpening (without removing matter)
The edge has touched something hard (it’s happen at the tip and this could have happen without me to notice it)
It happen once to me with another knife (mirror finish, thin and stainless) I was testing by cutting bambu and I completly ruined the edge: it was almost serrated after my ten cuts…. but I was able to realigned the edge and the damage was almost invisible after and the high sharpness restored.
My other ZDP-189 blade is the Chris Walker which is not as “smooth” sharp as the Higo but so far di not rool or chip. (It’s not as hard as the Higo-J though)
“The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees.”
30 degree (15 by 15) with a very hard steel can be tricky when the edge is brend new.
Anyway I gently realigned the edge with white ceramique and strop it a lot.
I my have created a secondary (and stronger) edge, but the stropping should minimize its effect in pure sharpness loss.
Any knives are made to be used. It’s easy to hit something which alter the edge. A good tool should be able to withstand that, get fixed and ask for more.
The Higo-J, as an excellent tool, is no exception.
Bob Terzuola says: “If you knife is still sharp, it means you don’t use it enough !”
So let’s use it !
Researching the Rockstead site:
“We realized the best edge angle near the haft of the blade is 30 degrees and in the point of the blade 24 degrees.(We adjusted the angle to 30 degrees in the haft side because power was most concentrated there, which improved toughness, and 24 degrees at the tip of the blade, where power was low. The angle changes continuously.)”
Ok the angle at the tip is shallower (24°)… that’s why the tip is more fragile … Good to know.
A Vendetta Doukdouk ! The Doukdouk Corsica is a creation by Laurent Bellini Julien Maroselli & Fred Perrin
made in Thiers by COGNET the manufacturer of the Douk Douk !
Gorgeous lines, great full flat ground carbon 3,5″ blade.
The occasion to dig out that old review we made with Fred Perrin 12 years ago….
“Like many knife user I got a stock of blades for my different uses and the trips I will do.
There is allways a knife I carry. In fact I got three of these knives.
It’s french folder known as Douk Douk (“dook dook”).
Twenty years ago this knife was unknown in France but a real superstar in Africa !
In some countries the name “Douk Douk” is even synonym of “knife”. Go figure !
Born in the City of Thiers, french famous city of Cutlery. The designer of the Douk Douk was Gaston Cognet . The year was 1927 !
Nowadays, his grandson Pierre Cognier is the director of the factory, helped by his father Guy Cognier (previous director during the last 50 years)
If the Douk Douk is a industrial production, all the assembly, the check are made but hands since 1927 !
There are three sizes.
The small, the medium of true Douk Douk and the (rare) Large like the Vaquero Grande of the Doukdouk…
The small is 3 inches blade.
The medium is a little less than 4 inches. (Like the Corsican)
The Vaquero Douk Douk is 5 inches. In fact the giant Douk is not the best seller. The medium Douk is.
The classic Douk blade is a turkish clip, a bastard of a Bowie and a Scimitar.
The steel is 1075 drop forged, and full flat grounded.
The rockwell is HC52-53.
The handle is made with folded black steel.
A spring is inserted inside the handle and the all in assemblied by two pins.
The first pins is at the blade axe and the second is blocking the spring and attached to a steel loop for a lanyard.
On the handle a Stamp ! The Sorcerer called “Douk Douk”. It’s a the God of Doom in French Polynesia.
(The giant Douk Douk don’t have a very flat handle. It’s more the kind of a “pregnant knife” ! Much confortable for hard and long use.)
This knife has been made for the French Colonies and the foreign markets especially for the Pacific Islands and East Europe.
But finally its the many bargains from Caravan in Africa which spread the Douk Douk over all the Black Continent.
The biggest success of the Douk Douk was eventually in the North African countries (Marocco, Algeria, Tunisa…).
The knife will be back in Europe after the “Guerre d’Algérie” and after a part of the Algerian Population went to France.
Why such a big success ? The Douk Douk was (and is) cheap and the Steel is of premium quality.
The temper and the grind are so good , algerian people used Douk Douk to shave instead of Razors !
It’s very easy to resharp and to get razor sharp after some stropping on leather.
This knife got the spring covered by the handle and cannot harm the user if the spring breaks.
The general flat shape of the knife permits a lot of various way to carry it.
The Douk DOuk has even been used as a weapon in Algeria, because of its concealability.
It’s easy for maintenance: with a hammer you can smash the handle close to the axis and you got a secure fixed blade easy to hide in the Lapel vest or under a baboosh.
If many people regret the fact the Douk Douk is not a lock back, on the other side, without the lock being a slipjoint with a strong secure spring the knife is internationnaly legal and reliable.
As far as I am concern, I use the medium and the short Douk Douk has been one of my “gift knives”.
In the Army it was part of my gear and I use it during my SERE training.
For civilian, the Douk can be easily in a pocket or in a wallet or can complete a medical or survival kit.
In the 90’s, I have the opportunity to offer some Douk Douk to Masters Smith of the ABS and all have become hooked to the Dook !
In the middle size there is a Stainless version for mariner and deep forest explorer like our friend Geoffroy De Gentille, who use the Douk Douk in the rain forest of Congo. The Douk has become the main knife of the Pygmy tribe who works with him during the years for hunting “Bongos”. (A large antilope of the forest…)
The Pygmies main tools are the Machette and the Douk. We have even noticed that they only sharped one side of the blade like a chisel.
So you see chisel concept is not only japanese !
For the “Hooks to the Dook” there is a leather pouch to carry the three sizes all together.
There is also a colored version with a leather pouch and a small sharpner.
The colors Douk (non black) are all stainless.
In the Forest, we used to paint in fluo the handle of our Douk to prevent their loss.
Cheap, excellent material quality, when you need a knife for hard chores and you won’t mind to lose or destroy it:
call the Douk Douk !”
The Corsica Douk is an exclusivity of Fred. He also developped a kydex sheath to neck carry it.
You can contact Fred through his Bladecraft.com site.
(The Vendedouk is available directly at fredperrinconcept (hat)yahoo(dot)fr )
Update from 27 january 2013 – Pour ls francophones vous trouverez aussi un excellent article sur la génèse du Vendedouk. For those fluent in French you will be able to learn about the Vendedouk’s genesis on Alex Castell great site: Xtremsurvival
Rockstead is worldwide famous for delivering the most exquisite hard polished blades in the industrial knife world. All made by CNC machines in Japan and painfully polished by gifted hands, those extraordinary blades are shown able to be used hundred of times on hard bamboo and still being able to cut paper like razors ! It’s made by hardening the blade to HRC67 and even beyond and being almost obsessed by edge angles!
So cutting with a Rockstead is like driving a Lamborghini: you pay for the best materials and the best performances.
The balsa wood crate with the wrench and the certificate.
Thanks to Hanada San, director and display pilot of Rockstead knives, I will have the chance to test and review on the long run one knife he choosed for me on his table: one of his Higo knife, #102 with ZDP189 (HRC 66,6 I wonder why I have baptised it “Diablo” …) with Duralum handle and an integral lock.
Notice how the edge is perfectly ground ! Amazing !…
First thing you notice when you reveal the blade to the light is the exquisite attention to details. The edge is mirror polished and perfectly symetrical on both sides.
The hole in the blade (with a gauge) is the signature of Rockstead. It’s found on all their knives designed by Takeshi Saji. It gives some kind of high tech sci fi look to a very sober design.
The infamous Saucisson test !
OK. the description of this knife as it’s found on their site is also spectacular: HIGO-J-ZDP BLADE / SHINOGIZUKURI
Full length : 213mm
Blade : 89mm
Material : ZDP 189
Thickness : 3.2mm
Weight : 104g
Hardness : around HRc67 !!!!
At that hardness…this can be used as a glass breaker !
Scale : A2024(duralumin)Hard-anolized treatment
Spring to chip : SKD11HRc61 (*)
(*) Because the sliding liner of the integral lock is termined by a chip of hard steel (HRc 61) like some unharded titanium lock can be more and more found.
Perfect size for an EDC knife.
After the bamboo is cut and beat with this knife and Manila rope is cut 350 times, you can slice the paper. This easy maintenance knife is an easy-to-use knife that cuts well. The handle of the duralumin is light and is strong.The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees. The change in this angle is a result of ROCKSTEAD that pursues sharpness. This is a knife of preeminent sharpness. You can enjoy its strong cutting capabilities for a long time. This scale is fixed with two screws and the resolution is easy. After cutting the fish and the animal, you can easily clean it.
The tuscany ham was cut as thin as it desserved.
The straight folder is easily clipped on the front right trouser pocket. The Duralum handle is easy on the fabric and the clip is well positionned and all package is low profile. This is mandatory for an EDC.
The knife is absolutly well balanced in hand. Light and fast. Holding it in your hand is a pleasure. This knife exude pure perfection. It’s very straight and very versatile. The edge can be used up side down for skinning purpose.
Thea inspecting the balance of the knife. One centimeter behind the pivot.
Wait a minute, who is going to use a 1000 euros folding knife for skinning ?!
The over size thumb lugs are very confortable to use and far enough not to be in the way.
Let’s not be fooled by the price of that jewel. The Higo-J is 400% performance oriented. It’s easy to clean and even is provided with a wrench if you need to take it apart. (Like Chris Reeve’s Sebenza). this the proof how the trust the designer has in their work. It’s of course an expensive tool but it has been designed to be used.
Remember the Emerson CQC6 craze 15 years ago ? They were as expensive as the Higo nowadays and some people used them hard.
Of course, Hanada San is the first to display the unearthly cutting qualities of his knives. They are hard but they will not chip and they will cut and cut and cut until you strop them. Rockstead knives are mainly strop on compound. No need to scratch the beautiful finish.
That suit me perfectly as I love to refresh my edges on leather. Mine did not get used enough to be stropped yet and I’m heading forward touching up its edge this way.
Cutting a well done cheese is not the easiest talk. The mirror finish helped a lot !
As you can see the Higo has first been acclimated to our Whine Ham & Cheese country. And it passed that first test with flying colors.
Cutting fresh hot bread, Tuscanian delicate ham and all-done Saint Nectaire’s cheese were no problem for this beautiful folder. It get dirty but also get clean easily.
It’s sheeple friendly as its mirror and elegant edge is not as “scary” as on some other thick tactical folders.
The grind is saber with flat (almost convex) sides. It’s so gorgeous you can look at it fir hours and still be amazed but the worksmanship. The cut is powerful and easily control. All in all, it’s like a gentleman folder with a very very strong attitude which screams to be used !
The edge is pure razor. You could not expect less. So it goes through hard bread crust in a a breeze making thin slices by only pushcutting it. The only knife which can reach that performance out of the box was the mighty little C22 Walker which is also a ZDP189 knife and made in Japan…
(Oh yes, ZDP189 is new powder steel with 3% of carbon and 20% of chrome. At HRc 66,6 this is not a knife you want/can to get dull ! It will hold an edge and just ask some attention on a stropping belt to continue on and on… )
OK after that little civilized warm up, the beautiful Higo-J will now be confronted to hunting season and the joy of woodcraft.
Wood cutting do not lie…
The infamous cutting plastic bottle test… like in butter !
To be continued ! (and updated…)
Beautiful reflection of the clouds on the Higo’s mighty blade.
The road so far:
Thank to Jurphaas from Spyderco, I got the chance to own one little wonder of that limited production ! Thea loves it too and she’s in charge of the technical review…
The Michael Walker C22CF is not a new pattern in the Spyderco line.
The first C22 were produced in Switzerland 18 years ago. They were the first industrial folders with Carbon Fiber handles !
This Sprint Run got a gorgeous thin blade made of Hitachi Super Steel ZDP189.
The 67 mm long blade is wide and 2,5mm thick offering incredible performance in pushcuts.
The Hollow grind is so well executed by Seki City craftmen, you know by holding it between your thumb, it’s so thin, it could be almost transparent.
Opening the C22 is not as smooth as a Sage (for example) but the positive force used to deploy the blade give a feeling of tough tool to this gentleman blade.
The knife is so light but feels so solid, it screams to be used ! And then, it’s like piloting a small racing car. The cuts are accurate and outstanding in their power.
My Plastic Butt’s test was passed with flying colors in one push cut. The C22 was even better than my reliable Gayle Bradley in that matter which is really remarquable !
The ergonomy on that little knife is so great, the strenght is directly transmit to the edge. And hidden choil give also a big sentiment ot security as you can keep your fore finger next to the edge for delicate/strong cutting.
The liner lock is also very “manly”: you need to push hard to disengaged it. The spring is very strong.
The carbon fibers handle is ultra smooth and you trousers will thank you for that.
Using the knife with greasy hands is not an issue as it anchors well in your palm.
So what do we got here ?
A light little big knife ! Carried like a breeze. Sharper and harder than many bigger knives. Pure efficiency in a small package.
It’s like driving a Lotus Seven on steroids. This little tool is really representing well the brandname “Spyder”co !
It cuts cuts cuts… and super powder steel ZDP189 if strop often enough is a great steel to use in EDC situations.
The C22cf is really a knife which make you smile once you have used it as you are amazed by the power of this pocket lightsaber.
More to come as I will complete this review later. I’m now carrying that little blade every day with a gorgeous borrowed Rockstead Higo (I will review on a longer run), together they are forming a great daishō of ZDP189. Two examples of ultra high perfomance of modern cutlery.
A little example of the raw cutting power of that incredible beast:
The plastic of that 1,5 liter Coke bottle is almost as thick as its blade and it passes through in one push cut (no sawing necessary!)
It was like in butter !!! Incredible !!!
Here is Valter reviw of this knife used as a skinner.
Here is a link of the Walker 6 years after skinning used.
You know my “bottle butt test”: cutting though the center “south pole” of a plastic bottle where the injection of plastic has been made and where the plastic is thicker. This is not an easy test for any blades. It’s tricky.
Today, my idea was to test the incredibly sharp edge of my new BushcraftUK knife. The zero grind, the O1 steel, the ultra sharp blade and the confortable handle of that little heavy fixed blade are amazing. For strong whittling or pruning that knife is a king. It’s the sharpest Spyderco I ever own with the Moran FB01 convexed.
Unfortunatly I was not able to cut the bottle through the “south pole”. The blade was stuck at one good inch from it. Sawing did not change anything.
The blade was to thick, it was stuck in the plastic preventing the keen edge to effectively cut.
OK. It’s not the first excellent blade who cannot pass that test.
So I decided to finish that bottle with my Sage II. I have convexed the edge and that little rascal is a aggressive wonder toward wood and cardboard. I love it.
Unfortunatly, the Sage II Blade was stuck at half an inch of the South Pole. This time it was the handle which seemed not comfortable enough to transfer all the force. Despite my strenght (I’m 1m98 and 97kg BTW…) the blade was stuck and would not go further.
OK that bottle seemed really thick. It happens. ALl plastic bottle are not equal. That Cola one was harder than many others.
I decided to finish it off with the Gayle Bradley.
This time I was able to get a confortable grip and to cut perfectly through the South Pole in one attempt.
You feel the M4 edge going through the hard plastic in one push: this was purely amazing and relieving !
Why ? All three knives are razorsharp. But we got here three different geometry and three different destinations.
The Sage II is a “polyvalent EDC”. The Bushcrafter (reviewed soon) is a “versatile wood tool”. The Gayle Bradley is an “hard used folder”.
But only the Gayle Bradley gives enough leverage near the handle (the choil is incorporated in the wide blocky handle). You can apply a lot of vertical force on a very thin hollow ground blade. This is the best recipe against hard plastic.
But here we got three excellent tools designed toward high performance but only one was able to cut hard and deep in the plastic.
I told you my little Bottle Butt test was tricky.
My favorite knives for that test was Xavier Conil’s Pointu. A thin zero full flat ground folder which cut everything like butter ! I have since send it to Sal Glesser for him to test it in Golden…
Later on another bottle I was able to make the Sage 2 pass through the exact center.
It was harder to go through (handle less confortable and different grind) than with the GB but it still was possible.
Eventually (part 2) I was able to change my technic for cutting with the Bushcrafter.
As on a fifth attempt I was stuck again by the thickness of the blade, I have decided to push with two hands.
And this time the razor sharp edge got enough force applied to cut right through the but:
So… for the easiest cutting of the butt of a plastic bottle you’ll need a thick confortable handle and a thin ground blade.
— Update from Surnia, registered member of the SPyderco forums:
“In regards to your plastic bottle tests, plastic bottles are not actually injected from the bottom. They’re made into blanks first which are very thick walled plastic test tube shaped things with the bottle threading already present at the top.
From there, they’re passed to a molding station where the blanks are heated, inserted into the molds, then inflated with air pressure to form fit the mold. If you carefully heat a plastic bottle (cap on, and evenly warm it up slowly… vent the air every so often to continue shrinking it. The air allows it to retain the bottle shape and not shrivel up excessively in one spot) and do it evenly, it’ll eventually get close to the original blank’s shape. It won’t go back to it, but it’ll get within a certain limit…
Best example i have of the blanks are here:
where they’ve used them for other purposes. “
The Sage line is a collection made in Taiwan (now a high quality of execution guarantee). and “represents Spyderco’s 30-year pledge to knife crafting and learning to make better knives at every available opportunity. The plan is to offer an ongoing series of Sage Folders with many of the different and ingenious locking devices and mechanisms the knife industry has to offer.” (sic)
The Sage I was a carbon fiber handle linerlock, an hommage to Michael Walker. The Sage II is a titanium handle integral lock, an hommage to Chris Reeve.
Let’s give a quick look at the design of that folder: not to big, flat, beautiful lines, taking in consideration a lot of Spyderco unique improvements — the wire clip, the choil, the full falt ground leaf blade… The C123 is standing on the shoulders of many great spyderknives, taking the best.
Comparing the Sage II (up) and the Tie Military there is an obvious family ressemblance. Full flat ground blade, integral lock and choil. The “cockpits” on both knives are very similar. The construction is rock solid, the titanium handles are offering enough grip for a smooth surface which is very “gentle” with your trouser pockets (where you gonna clip those knives eventually). The Sage could be a civilian version of the Tie Millie as the fact to go in the city with a long gorgeous knife like a C36 is not the best way to be “reasonnable” in regard of the laws, the sage while offering many of the great features of his big cousin but it will be more pratical to go with it “under the radar”.
The silver wire clip on a black trouser. This is the max visibility you will have from the Sage II once clipped.
The wire clip, for example, with its deep carrying positing is almost invisible and got no flashing names on it telling to every one: this is a knife !!!
Similar to pen clips and with almost no handle to tell tale, your Sage is following you and he’s easy forgettable.
The Millie is a very compact package and car easily find a place on your person, but the Sage looks like a wise choice to go light.
A close look at the handle of the Sage II (left) and Tie Millie (right)
How the Sage II will handle “hard use” in the country side ? There is a lot of way to qualify what “hard use” means. Folders knives are not prybars or even fixed blade knives. The folder which are designed to be used as prybar often offers bad performance in the cutting departement. The grind here is flat and the blade relatively thin and I have noticed the Taiwanese edge grind is not flat but already gently convexed. This is amazing as your Sage II only needs some pass of gently stropping on a leather belt to get absolutely vorpal ! The cutting power has been already demonstrated in some video. They are some French videos torturing a “La Redoute catalog” with Bast2a, and American one with BLUNTRUTH4U reviewing a Sage 1 (same blade diffrent handles and locks) and they are very impressive. Cutting wood the Sage 2, the blade goes deep.
Now I like to do pushcuts with my thumb on the back of the blade and the Sage got almost sharp edge there: great for obtaining sparks from a fire rod but eventually painful without gloves. I have used some diamonds rods to blunt mine and really you can notice the difference in confort when you start to work by hand on that CPM S30V blade how much that steel is damn hard ! I would love to have a ruonded back and perharps will try to round it more a little bit. But here, without a backstand, you can notice how hard the steel is…
Anyway, you got a 3mm thin high flat ground blade with a convexed edge: all the condition for a great slicer and ideal folding friendly tool for bushcrafters. The belly of the blade improves the cuts in hard matter, working like a guillotine. (My best wood cutter is still the incredible Spyderco Dodo with its S edge which cant be compare to none as a “wood eater” !)
My favorite cutting test: going through the butt of a cola plastic bottle. you will be surprised how many great designs cant do it… The Sage passed it with flying colors !
Many so called “hard used” folders with really thick blade cannot pass that test at all.
The ESEE 3 and the Sage II make a great high performance compact combo for going in the woods BTW.
Also the open construction on the Sage II and the simple reliable mechanism improved by Chris Reeve on his Sebenza Line is a breeze to get clean.
As the handle is not straight but gently curved to spouse the palm of your hand, there is no need for an abbrasive matter (like G10) to get and conserve a positive grip even with wet and slippy hands. There is a lot of intuitive security in that design. The choil and the jimping for example are so great to communicat direct force to the blade without to stress the pivot. This is a great feature which was first developped on the C36 Military and which is now used in the Slipjoint line of Spyderco: even with no lock your hand and fingers are safe.
For a reason unknown, when I have received my Sage II it was not smooth and the lock was sticky. No blade play in any direction though. This problem was easily worked around by adjusting the pivot and gently bend the lock beyond the handle to rub some pencil on the locking surface. Now the knife is as smooth as my Gayle Bradley and the “galling” (sticky lock) absolutly disappeared. The cute Sage II got something of a jewell and I have noticed many owner who first decided to baby it and use it only on weekend then eventually happilly use them very hard everyday.
There is a lot of wisdom behind the design of the Sage collection. The choice to get a worker knives collection all performance oriented in the legal non threatning package is the wisest. And the first designs so far are really workhorse. The carbon fibers on the Sage I for example can take a beating without to get marked or scratched and the frame lock on the second give a you a lot of confidence in your tool just by squizing the handle you know the blade won’t fold. Eventually the Sage II got everything I love in a knife: reliability, beauty, efficiency and sheeple friendship. And my trousers love them too. The Sage II is simply a great knife to EDC.
Tha handle gives to four fingers a very confortable grip. The open ended construction while easy to clean would get painful for long hard cut. Gloves can help.
One sage said: “Think twice and cut once…”
Later, I was tempted to slightly convex the blade of my Sage II. The improvement in pure performance worse the time passed with sandpaper.
The discussion is located here on the Bladeforums
At the occasion of the release of the Military Ti C36 which is some kind of superb hybrid: 80% Sal Glesser and 20% Chris Reeve, I have digged in my archives to find and reedit the loooooong review we made with Fred Perrin back in the 20th century (2nd march 1999). Anyway here it is with some quotes:
“Yes, the Military is big. Yes, it has a large heavy blade (though the knife as a total is lightweight for its size). But if you are looking for a knife that has the absolute best blade size/weight ratio that fits into the slimmest, lightest handle, this is the knife for you. Not to mention that because of it’s weight forward massive blade, it is probably the quickest and easiest manual knife to open there is. Also with its great flat ground thin edged blade, it is one of the handiest do-it-all knives you’ll ever use. It is not the knife for everyone, but what knife is? Almost 99% of the complaints you’ll ever hear about the Military (and 100% about sticking open), can be blamed on the first generation batch. These new improved versions are FAR superior. Do not buy a Military if you are looking for a collectible. Do not buy it just because a whole lot of us forumites like it a lot. Buy it because you’ll USE IT! And therein lies its beauty.”
-GENE, MEMBER OF THE BLADE FORUMS-
“Gene – Thank you. The Military Model was designed to be the ‘state of the art’ production folder of the time. We believe the 2nd generation version is that. Every one of the many parts in this model was examined and refined. We listen to all of the comments (good and some negative), but our own constant testing enforces our beliefs. We believe that nested liners are more evolved and stronger than separate liners. And more expensive to produce. (Ask for favorite custom maker how much more they will charge you to nest their ‘full liner’ just inside the scale like Spyderco’s Military). ‘Form’ in addition to the ‘pins’ create rigidity. It may be possible to ‘white knuckle’ a lock release, but this hasn’t happened to our knowledge. Being able to easily close the knife after hard user with gloves on was a major consideration. Any of you that have had a folder lock open and not be able to close it? It’s like a chain saw that won’t stop . . . what do you do with it? The new ‘SecurLok’ that Frank Centofante invented is scheduled to be added to the Military Model sometime in ’99. This would eliminate the fear of accidental lock release.
The Military Model was not designed as a fighting knife, nor was it designed for suit and tie carry. It was designed to be the most dependable cutting tool accessory a soldier might need while in the ‘bush.’ The handle is a little larger to afford the dual grip potential. Design is always a great discussion, because there are so many points of view, e.g., blades are for cutting, handles are for holding. A 2″ blade specifically designed for controlled cutting loses its ability to control if the handle is only just long enough to cover the blade. Nothing to purchase on. A scalpel is a good example of this. What is the knife designed to do? To look at? By all means, balance the sizes to appearance. To use? Tougher problem here. Just one designer’s point of view. I have avoided responding to this thread, as it was my design in question and this was a comparison type question. It would be expected that I would be biased.”
-SAL GLESSER, CEO OF SPYDERCO INC. MODERATOR OF THE SPYDERCO FORUM AND INVENTOR-
“The designer is Sal. He has a teen-age son. He designed the Military Model with the idea that if his son had to go to war and could carry only one knife, the Military Model is what he would want him to carry. Sal’s came up with this model because he wanted a ‘survival,’ ‘camp,’ ‘all-around’ knife that could perform any task in the field, from cutting branches and small trees, field dressing animals, to personal survival.”
-JOYCE LAITURI, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATION AT GOLDEN COLORADO-
“I remember years ago when Jeff Randall of Adventure Training fame used to take various knives and survival equipment deep into the Jungles of Peru for extensive testing. This period was before Jeff had developed his RAT series of knives. He and his mates beat the snot out stuff, and then posted their evaluations on the Adventure web site. Sal gave him a CMP-440V Military to test; that folder was absolutely abused. There were photos of the knife being used to process vegetation for shelter……skin, slice and dice cayman for the stew pot….and even split firewood. The Military received a Triple A+ endorsement from all who used it; the lock never failed ! Unfortunately , once Randall developed his own line of knives, the test results were eventually removed. Too bad…it made for some good reading. Just as an aside, after having read Randall’s review of the Spyderco Military I promptly went out and bought a Military and then signed myself up for a seven day canoe expedition down the lower canyons of the Rio Grande, south of Big Bend National Park….intending to put my Military through it’s paces……and perhaps skin a hippo or two, was I. After all was said and done I think the most challenging task the knife performed was to snag the remaining pickle from the bottom of the jar during a lunch stop. Despite the fact that the canoe trip fell slightly short of a National Geographic expedition to the remote wilds of my youthful imagination……I had a fine time, and am very pleased to own one, tough, folding knife ! ”
Given what’s available in current production the G-10 Military is a hell of a bargain and more than adequate for daily duty……and SV30 takes a great edge, and will hold it, even with lots of use, for at least a week. What’s it take to put a good edge back on a SV30 Millie with a Sharpmaker ??….a few minutes ? Heck, put a convex edge on that knife and you can strop it on the back of a piece of cardboard and bring the edge “back” even faster.
How important is it that your knife blade go a month until you sharpen it ?
If titanium is to your liking, the Ti Millie is a work of art !
Spyderco Forum Registered Member
“The millie’s only a big knife for the first week, then all your other knives are suddenly too small.
Rogue Simulant on BritishBlades Forum
And now the 1999 Fred Perrin/Nemo review:
This picture show the C36 Military and Nemo’s grand grandfather personnal knife used during Wold War I. This knife has been in real close combat (and you can notice how many time it was used by counting the marks on the handle). The Military is somewhere the grand grandson of that old folding knife, used and abused long time before all that “tactical” hype starts to exist. (Also notice, the full flat ground blade has been so many times resharpen, it is almost now half of his lenght!)
WWI was the first war with enough media coverage for people to discover how much a knife can be a useful tool for the soldiers.
“Thank to Joyce, we have received from Golden three Militaries for us to test and abuse: one full serrated and two plain edge in CPM440V. (Now known as CPMS60V. And the current version is CPM S30V…)
In our own humble opinion, we prefer a plain edge, because we know how to get a really sharp edge on it and we believe a serrated edge is the best option for people who need to cut ropes, plastic, fibrous materials or even rubber everyday…. The Plain Edge is the real Polyvalent Edge. The serrated edge, even though it is really impressive for its nasty cuts and slashes, is not the best cutter in a tactical situation for us. (In fact, we always had a better result with a plain edge!) In a word, a serrated edge is perfect for people who don’t like to sharpen their blade. So we can also advise you to carry always two Militaries in your pocket: one serrated in the left and one plain in the right one!” (Some may consider it a joke, but Fred used to be carrying a plain edge Military as well as a serrated Ladybug II!)
“The Military Model is really feather weight and thank to that, for the first time since a really long time – since 5 inch Cold Steel Voyager was released – we are carrying a big folder.) It’s the first time we could really trust a linerlock. This is one of the rare linerlocks that survived our really hard tests. It’s easy to see the hollow ground side where the liner comes to lock against the blade. Michael Walker, the father of the “Liner Lock,” is involved directly in the improvements noticed in Military.
So, like we said, Military is one of the rare big folder that gives enough confidence for us to carry on a daily basis. Now that we handle our C36, we really enjoy them. Understand this simple facts: it’s light, big, and reliable.
Why do we love this knife now? Because it’s a beautiful knife ? We have seen so many so called “tactical” craps. How serious the design of the Military Model appears immediately at first sight. No useless cosmetics: this is the M16 of knives !
But first let’s have a look at the handle: it’s a “real” handle! This is enough rare to be noticed: its handle is the handle of a tool destined to be used. That extra inch gives a real grip and you cannot lose control of your knife, unless you are clumsy “like a seal” ! Have you ever seen many knives with this kind of long ergonomic handle? The Rescue (from Spyderco) and the Voyager (from Cold Steel) also have one.
On the other side of the handle where is the blade: there is some kind of false guard integrated to the blade where you can apply direct pressures on it without putting excessive force on the handle and the lock. Even the large clip mounted on the handle is not messing with your grip. The G10 handle is really strong. You can trust us about that point. We have used G-10 since 1993. We have even made blades of G-10, even G-10 balisongs and stealth folders. It is really a strong and light material. We have hammered it without any problem. This combination of Fiber Glass and Epoxy is almost made to be bullet proof !
The liner lock, as we said, is excellent (despite our efforts to break it and make it fail). It’s easy to think that most folders are only made for light chores and are not designed for combat, chopping, or other hard chores. Folders are often considered as “city knives,” but the Millie has such a reliable lock that you can use it for hard chores without any pity for it.
Now about the C36 blade. We would like to advise Spyderco to stop drilling these big holes in their blades! Their hole is too small for our fingers to get in and too big to be soap bubble proof. But we noticed that we can use the hole to open the blade really fast. 🙂 It’s a pure joy! When your knife rests in your pocket, you just have to pick it up by the hole in the blade and with a flick of the wrist, the knife is open and ready. The C36 is really easy to open just with a flick of the wrist!!!
No need for any “torsion spring.” Why do we need the automatic? Sal would say.
The CPM440V (i.e., the C36 blade material in 1999) is top notch in cutting ability and edge holding with the good heat treatment applied in Golden. The Full Flat Ground of the blade has high performance in blade geometry. It gives a really good penetration power and is the most polyvalent grind available! No more no less! This was the main difference between the Military Model and the old Police Model. The excellent Calypso also has this kind of grind. Just watch the old knives from the 19th century Thiers (France) or Sheffield (England). This V flat grind is nothing new; our ancestors have shown us what grinds are all about! Let’s stop believing that we have invented anything new in cutlery. The new “news” in cutlery are often only rediscoveries and “complemental combinations” of old systems. (The clip is 4 centuries old; the serrated edge is also very old; and the Hole also; but Spyderco’s genius move was to combine all these features together.)
That C36 was designed as a utility knife and this is a proof of real wisdom from Sal. But let’s not forget that a good tool is often an excellent weapon also. Dirty fighting is only another chore after all. The Military is also a good self-defense knife, because it opens really quickly, thanks to the hole and the smooth action. And, as we said, the lock is a rock! The long handle improves your reach, and the slashing ability of this tool is outstanding! You can thrust it, because you trust it. A thrust with a folder is not our favorite move. In this case, we prefer the hammer grip with the edge UP, because the lock is far from our fingers. Just try to hold Military with the edge up, and you will feel a formidable thrusting weapon in your hand.
If you don’t have possibility to carry a fixed blade or a balisong, the C36 puts its reliability in the balance. It’s so easy to forget where you clipped your Military, when you cannot forget where you try to hide a fixed blade with the same reach as the Military.
Cutting power? We are not aficionados of so called “super steel.” The type of steel is not the most important part of the blade. The geometry and the heat treatment are two much more important points. But we think CPM440V is a really good steel, because we have always been satisfied with this steel in our own made knives and other makers knives. Piercing bullet proof vests and performing multiple rope cutting tests were part of our tests and CPM440V is excellent! The only thing is not to have it harden to high rockwell number. RC56 for CPM440 is even not necessary. In mechanics, soft can often erode hard. Also when a knife is too hard, the edge will be hard to re-sharpen, too much of a hassle for not such results. When it is around HC61, it becomes painfull to re-sharpen and is really prone to break. With CPM440V, we have a really good alternative! It cuts a very very very long time and is easy to re-sharpen, because we don’t always have a back stand to re-sharpen our knives (after one entire week of using Military, one minute with a ceramic rod was enough to give it its razor edge back!). There is no way we don’t love CPM440V, and it is no surprise that excellent knives like the Panama Fighters by Sean MacWilliams made of this steel are so good. The only problem with CPM440V is the high difficulty and cost of heat treatment (at least in Europe). Sometimes, we would really like to borrow Sal Glesser’s heat treatment machinary for a moment. 🙂 CPM440V, like VG-10, is a very important stainless steel, but we don’t believe in mystic super steels! We already tested some crappy CPM440V knives, even some designed by famous designers! Spyderco knows how to heat treat their blades, and their designs are good in the first place.
Something really important: Military is not a NEW knife. It’s a knife in perpetual metamorphosis since 1996.
1. Stainless steel torx head assembly screws
2. Double steel posts in back spacer
3. Concave tang ramp
4. Redesigned choil
5. Improved dyeing procedure for the G-10
6. Nested stop pin threaded and screwed from both sides
7. Eccentric pivot pin
8. Redefined serration angle
9. Stronger clip
10. Polished linerlock
11. Harder linerlock material
You see now it’s harder, stronger, improved, redesigned and eccentric ! It shows us that, despite the fame of Spyderco products gained through the years, Sal Glesser and his Spyderwomen/Spydermen are always listening to critics and are searching to improve their products. This is so rare !
The 1999 Military is now a second generation knife. It acquired this kind of mega-reliability by standing on the giant shoulders of its 1996 fathers. You can trust people who want to improve things and believe in Quality before Quantity. A good idea is like a good wine: it gets better and better with age. Some people would like a smaller Military. Why not? But we feel it is not necessary. Spyderco offers so many great smaller designs (check C61, C62, and C57!!!).
We think for a tour of duty, the C36 Military Model has a perfect size.
Italian designer and gifted knifemaker Giacomo Cecchi from Saladini Cutlery in La Scaperia, Tuscany just gave me the opportunity to test his own conception of a Bushcraft Knife.
The steel, who is shining like stainless, is in fact 1070 partially tempered at 58HRC on the edge.
The edge is not scandi but thin on a saber lightly hollow ground blade.
Blade length: 140mm for a 5mm thickness
The balance is perfect at the beginning of the handle. So the knife is really “alive”.
The handle in Bambu got no hotspot and got little ergonomy enhancement for the humb to rest on the side.
It looks beautiful but also feels indestructible.
It reminds a little the grind and feel of a Fallkniven with carbon steel blade and a very sensual handle.
Now the sheath is pure beauty made for vertical carry and I will come back on it later.
I will test it in the woods and check its brutal strenght and versatility and then completed this article.
“The “hump” in the blade is there to house the opening hole. If Gayle submerged the hole, you couldn’t access it without a large cut-out and Gayle designed it with no cut-out.” (Sal Glesser)
I have ordered last week to a Canadian seller on Ebay (great service from The Great Knife Shop BTW, 7 days door to door from Canada to France!) the C134 which I was inamored with since I ever saw it on the Spyderco catalog.
It was love at first sight.
Top is a BM800HS the infamous AFCK in M2. The first “tactical knife” with non stainless steel blade to caught my eye 12 years ago… It was like a space age design with grand dad blade knife !
And also my good old Starmate (#776) which has been in Hell and back and is still as solid as ever (thanks to his eccentric pivot adjustment)…
The GB is simply the smoothest out of the box. The other experience of Spydersmoothness was from my C123 Captain followed by my Paramilitary…
The fit and finish are top notch. This is a custom knife experience: elegant and hightech. Really the Taiwanese craftmen behind such a jewel are true gems and they honor Spyderco by their attention to details and their quality of production. They are jewellers !
Sal stated that this liner lock would be as solid as a Reeve Integral Lock. (quote: “The lock is .072 thick at the interface. I would guess it’s at least as strong as any Reeve Intergral Lock (frame-lock)we’ve tested, and probably stronger. “) I believe him ! The thin blade, the gentle belly, and the deep hollow ground give a unique “pocket lightsaber” experience. You can whittle some hairs !!! And that incredible CPM M4 High Speed Steel at a RC of 65 ! This is going to be fun !!!
Gayle Bradley is to the knifemaking what Ferrari is to Formula One: performance oriented. The very nice and grippy CF handle give a real motorsport feeling. Mr Bradley is really welcom in Sal Escuderia, as we know how much Mr Glesser is in love with high performance cars ! (Eeven the “Spyder” from Spyderco comes from that love of racing and performances!)
The handle is square and heavy but I love heavy butt knives and square handles. My everlasting love for the Sharpfinger pattern always reflected that.
The balance is perfectly centered under the middle finger. The knife feel very alive and agile in the hands. It screams to be used hard !
I also love how the choil is integrated to the handle. It’s almost invisible. The grip is really secure and I don’t have any concern about the blade to close on my finger or to have my hand slip on the edge even with wet hands.
Mostly Spydies got a an angle at the pivot which creates an arc like in the Millie, the UKPK…or the Benchmade AFCK…
Or are more straight like the Starmate, the Police…
The heart of the Gayle Bradley (where you hold it between the thumb and the index)got a very pronounced changing of direction which breaks the general line of the knife. (The Marlin, the Harpy got that too but it’s an angle necessary to start the sickle blade shape.) The GB is the first Spyderco which got that “crank” line which can be also seen in the beautiful Sukhoi 27 profile.
This could explain the fantastic ergos of that knife.
Also as in the Starmate concept, the straight design of Gayle Bradley’s knife offers you a very confortable reverse grip or “edge up” grip. I’m also a big fan of drop point blade on a folder. This one would a great hunter knife.
The Ti Millie may be my Spydergrail but the Gayle Bradley is my Dream EDC !
The C134 is a beast of a workhorse dress like a gentleman slipjoint. Another little big knife by Spyderco with elegance and reliability.
Oh, and I can open and close that knife with my right and my left hand with ease: there is areason why you can change the clip position after all !
Now a quote for the designer:
First of all, thank you for your interest in my Spyderco collaboration. I thought I would address some questions I have read on the forums.
I chose a hollow grind because it gives you a thinner edge with less resistance to the material being cut.
The blade material (CPM M4) is so tough and strong it will allow for a very thin edge and still have ample strength for a rough use knife. (My competition knives have an edge thickness of about .014 before the sharpening bevel is ground.)
The blade has belly from tip to ricasso for better cutting ability in most cases.
The tip is slightly thicker for additional strength.
The handle is large enough to accomodate any hand size and most types of grips.
Some dimensions not covered in the spec sheet are: liners are .068; blade is .120; thickness is .517.
Because of the size of the knife and thickness of the liner material, I chose carbon fiber to reduce weight and add furher strength.
One last thing about CMP M4, it is not stainless, but I have found that applying silicone to the blade will prevent most corrosion and stains.
Thank you for your interest in my work-horse design and your trust in Spyderco knives.
Here are all the information about C134 on the Spyderco catalog
Gayle designed it to be a monster cutter but it has some subtle refinement that appeals to everyone. (Joyce Laituri – Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Spyderco Inc.)
For Gayle Bradley’s Bladesports site it’s here
Speaking of Gayle Bradley, Congratulations on his new collaboration with Spyderco. We’ve been using CPM M4 for our cutting competition knifes, and here is a chance to have a taste of that steel for everyday use. We’d like to Thank Spyderco for their generous support of our organization.
UPDATE 18 months later:
the GB is one of those knives which never left my EDC rotation.
After one year I can state that:
– this is one of the easiest knife to close and to open fast. the access to the lock has never been an issue to me and really I close it fast with confidence.
– I was not able to have rust or a real patina despite using it in the kitchen on near the see. I got some sort of grey patina but nor more no less.
-The not so pronounced choil has never been and issue and never my hand was not at least “anchored” to the handle even when wet. The hump of the spyderhole prevented any slippery.
-CPM M4 is a wonderful steel, I was even able to eliminated a nasty edge burr on a bidet !!! 🙂 (an italian bathroom is plenty of ceramic !!!!)
– My first batch GB is heavier than the new but this heft was usefull when I was probing a wall.
– I was not able to scratch anything on the handle, but the blade while cleaning it with some dry scotchbrit. No big deal.
– CPM M4 is really strobing friendly. Some compound can make magic. Mine is kept razor…
The GB goes in my pocket when I need a hardchore workhorse I can trust for any chores. The thin hollow ground blade has proven to be really usefull even for some bushcraft duty where FFG are queen.
Really this one of the fastest folder to open (spyderdrop in my case, smooth and controled) and close even with gloves. (I really still do not understand the rent and rave about the recess liner accessibility…).
Those were my two eurocents. Your mileage may vary but this is mine.
Pictures taken in june 2011:
I have just received my HEST and I’m going to write a review in 2010…
Sometime in 2010 ! Not in january.
It’s obvious. How could I write any “opening the parcel” review on a tool which is made to live with ? I need to use it but also I need to edc it.
To EDC a knife means to get in osmosis with the design and start to wear and tear my pockets with only one knife. And osmosis got a long incubation for such a polyvalent tool. Especially when you know you gonna like it !
First impressions out of the box ?
Wow this knife is/feels/looks solid.
This is a thick and sharp knife. Very sharp thanks to its geometry. It cuts bread better than many of my thinner blades. The HEST is deadly serious in its purpose: to be reliable even if you missuse it. There is no “gadget” feel in it. A good friend, reliable if you take care of it.
Wow. The handle fits like a glove. The hand is encapsuled between the choil and the prybar. What’s more could I say ? This knife is screaming to be used. Not only used hard but also it’s screaming to be used cleverly. By giving you holes in the handle, skeleton option, pry bar, the conceptors of that knife are also opening a door for opportunities. As one of the rare multitools with no mobile parts the HEST looks like a great addition to your SAK… Hey you can open a beer with it and even the pry bar can be used as a flat screwdriver.
The beauty is in the eye of the beholder… but the HEST is very sexy. It’s a knife with a very strong character, and it’s a confidence builder. You need to desserve it, as, the clever you are, the better the Hest will perform.
It’s very rare to find a short FB which is designed as a good EDC companion for adventures. It’s could be adventures in your backyard, in the woods, or in exotic far away places.
You feel like it’s made to carried with you all the time and to develop a “special” bond with you. So I guess it’s going to be my main FB for 2010.
The RC3 and the IZULA will be used by friends in Italy and France but the Riddle of The Hest need to be answered in a very personnal matter.
The only thing I could say now is: I love it. I love the way it feels in the hand !
It’s thick, sharp,looks great and it’s a Rat Cutlery Knife made by Rowen ! Wow !
This is mine stripped from its black coating. My Lemon HEST !