Pingo Star…

IMG_6523Another inspiring knife but what more to bring to the table about the Pingo that has not yet been written either in Spyderco’s catalog or in captain Nemo’s great Pingo review ?

Here we go…


Parsley stem cut very neatly tree times thanks to the N690Co stainless steel full-flat ground blade. Next time i’ll have to test in supplement of parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme! More seriously recent outdoor chores have been cut a branch of mexican orange blossom and wisteria vine; really simple!


Lillian is jealous as Pingo gets along very will with Stitch.

Perfect baguette push cut.


Another tribute to 1966 (after Simon and Garfunkel) and to the first round debate of the last french presididential election: Pingo and pudeurs de gazelles!


Pingo and the pumpkins: the blade’s belly shape concentrates cutting power and Pingo sinks in with ease. Sorry Linus!


The wire clip enables Pingo to be snug real deep in the pocket.


Now we know whom Prokofiev’s three oranges really love!


Just before the soup, where is Pingo?


Pingo Star and the groupies!


Manly Peak S90V — First glimpse at a Bulgarian Wonder.

Thanks to my friend Dan Sharpe I had ordered a Manly Peak directly from the manufacturer in Sofia in Bulgaria.
Having the choice of steel I had clicked on S90V but a D2 Tool Steel and CPM156 versions are also available. For a D2 version it will cost you around 50 euros with shipping.
This is a beautiful folder. Two keys are provided for pivot adjustement and pocket clip placement.
It’s a very solid backlock with zero vertical play. The full flat ground blade’s edge is really thin. The G10 is not harsh and feels like I sanded it myself. The clip is deep…
It’s a wonderful industrial knife with a lot of attention to details.

About the action:
There is a gentle resistance when opening at the end of the course then it clicks like a vault. So it’s not a fast intervention tool. No spyderdrop possible. There is no fun like on a Paramillie with compression lock but you feel it is VERY solid. For the record Backlocks are perhaps the strongest system of all according to some destruction test you can find on the internet. One of BladeHQ comes to mind…
Something I immediately love: the blade’s spine is all smooth. No guards but some jimping under the pivot.
The hole seems oval which means this is not a Spyderco licence. Let’s have a look.

The blade is perfectly centered. Don’t forget we are talking here about a 40 euros folder.

The deep clip is trademarked and beatblasted.

The oval opening hole… and the sharpening choil (indentation). This is S90V which is the king of powder metallurgy.

Thin and alive in the hand. You can notice the jimping under the pivot.

Deep carrying with a long and easy to pocket clip.

Attention to details here with the name of the model on the lock.

The clip pad on the other side of the handle is screwed inside the steel spacer. The liners are skeletonized and nested inside the G10. The knife is light and well balanced. The sweet point is between the lock and the lock screw.

The adjustment is top notch with the G10 slab chamfered on both sides. The liners are invisible as they are nested into the G10 slabs.

Size comparaison with my  mighty Millie.

So far I’m really impressed by this Bulgarian wonder. Mine (in S90V) is around 80 euros shipped. I have also ordered a slip joint Comrade which should be arriving soon.
More to come as now the Bulgarian game is on. Here is Part II.

edited by pjaffre 3 jan 2018

Short Locking Folders — A plethora of choices !

Those are the knives I choose when going out. I prefer a 3 inches locking blade.
From left to right we have got: the Falcon, the Wolfspyder, the Native 5, the Delica, the Techno and the Chaparral. They are just examples of knives I have got around and which fit the purpose to carry a non threatening but useful locking knife.  You could easily add the Lil’Nilakka which are the favorite EDC of JD and Pjaffre.
As far as I love my Para2 or my Sliverax, I tend to go shorter on the blade and keep the 4 inches for in-house uses unless I’m going in the woods. Also, most of the chores can be done with a 3 in blade without rising any eyebrow.

If you think to go thin in stock, the Delica and the Chaparral are the way to go. You can notice on the picture how thin the Delica goes and with the KnifeCenter special edition, your edge is made of HAP40, a steel which refuses to chip.

Lockbacks are in fashion since… the Buck110. On the three pictures, only one has got vertical play: the Delica. This tiny play is only felt when cutting on a board and won’t bother you.
The Chaparral has a hidden pin which acts as a second locking system ala Triadlock. The Native 5 has got very high tolerance and none of them I have handled has shown any play in any direction. Let say, in that matter, that the Delica although an old fashion folder with her own character, has the best thinner slicer of the bunch and her blade shape gives a lot of polyvalence. The Delica is also the only short folder I can Spyderdrop. It is made possible by the full steel spacer’s weight. Spyderdrops is the fastest way I know to have your knife ready to cut. It’s also the safest as you are holding it by the blade.

You can notice, there are a lot of materials for the handle. Titanium handle are great as they can be easily cleaned but can be scratched easily too. G10, I do love, especially thick G10 with no liners like found on that Native 5 version and the Cold Steel Recon 1 collection. Pakkawood is a new thing for me. It’s got a warm feeling and I can rinse the handle under the tap with no after-thought. Carbon Fibers (CF) are actually very resistant to abrasion. Your knife can fall and be kicked, the CF handle will not show any scars.

Now I do cut hard material by pushing with my thumb on the back of the blade. This is also why I tend to favor a thicker spine. The Techno is king in that matter, but lately I have discovered how much the Falcon and the Wolfspyder are great. What makes the Wolfspyder very special is the ease you can twist the blade in the cut thank to her lack of blade’s height.

You can notice the amount of pocket lint in the handle, giving you an hint on which knife I carry the most. You can get a lot of great locks: RIL’s, Compression Lock… The new Lil’Native offers a very small package (I think it’s the shortest of Spyderco’s with that lock nowadays) and the choil makes the blade even shorter on that design.

To have or not to have a choil ? On a very short folder, a choil can take a lot of edge off. The good old Delica shines again but the Wolfspyder and the Techno are beating her choil-wise; they both provide one of the best solid locks with the maximum edge possible. IMHO for the 3 inches folders, choils would be really important if the knives were slip joints. They are still important in my books on longer folders which are used harder, like on Millie,

Strangely short folders are often used out of their scope like a Pradel would be. Mondane chores and abuses can occured very easily. This is also a reason why I tend to choose strong locks and tips on my 3 inches folders. When it’s possible I also choose tool steels which can provide better lateral strength.

Delica: No real choil, vertical play, very thin blade, very thin spine. Bonus: spyderdrop.
Falcon: Choil, thick spine, nice belly but not deep carry clip. Bonus: great flipper.
Lil’Nilakka: No choil, deep carry clip, thin blade. Bonus: very thin geometry.
Native 5: Choil, thin spine, thin blade but not deep carry clip. Bonus: great ergonomy.
Techno: No choil, deep carry clip, thick blade and thick geometry. Bonus: built like a tank.
Chaparral: choil, deep carry and thin spine and thin blade. Bonus: idem pin lock.
Wolfspyder: no choil, thick blade, deep carry (now). Bonus: thin scandi edge.

The most eye candies would be the Native 5 and Falcon and the most surprisingly effective in cutting power would be the Lil’Nilakka and the Delica…
The easiest to carry would be the Chaparral which is the thinnest of the bunch.
That said my best pick for hard workers would be a deep carried, solid lock, no choil, strong, thick spine and thin geometry folder: the Techno and especially the Wolfspyder.

They are just a few example of brainstorming for choosing a 3 inches folder to carry.

Oh well, there is also the Kopa… Guess I need to start this over !
The Kopa has got a choil, no vertical play, can be spyderdropped…
Dragonfly? Where?!

More on


last edited: pjaffre 03 jan 2018

Spyderco Lil’Nilakka – My Romantic Gentleman Puukko.


When I consider a new knife, I like to choose it in such a way that it conveys values that appeal to me; in synch with my mood with what I recognize as exemplifying a tradition, a nation; when craft turns into art.


I also opt for features complimentary to the ones I already have so that each knife stands out as champion in its category. Ie this one does not rust, this one will not be taken away from me in UK or Denmark, this one is really good for heavy duty stuff, this one has something so obscene about it I can’t resist!


Setting the mood: read Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt; listen to Symphony n.5 by Jean Sibelius (pictured): dears belling in a barren wilderness where primitive elements collide – wind, sheer stones and icebergs…


…envision cold tundra landscape depicted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s paintings – the hard conditions forging men and women. Suomi.


A gentleman folder with no pair equal.

Which Spyderco better conveys rigour and austerity of the North other than the Pekka Tuominen designed Lil Nilakka Puukko? It stands out immediately recognizable with its character unlike any other and its craftman, alike the aforementioned finnish artists, is a true representative of the Nordic tradition and nation.


So to summarize: as Sibelius was once said to be the “Chopin of the north”; Pekka the Sibelius of blacksmith and cutlery.


So what is so fantastic about Lil Nilakka?

Still life:

  • Matter of taste: traditional finnish Puukko – I love it!
  • White G-10 so elegant – like ivory but walrus friendly.
  • RWL 34 the Robert W Loveless “in memoriam” steel with excellent combination of corrosion resistance, edge sharpness and hardenability. Also its said to be easy to maintain; good for me!
  • Solid clip that nests Lil Nilakka deep in the pocket

In motion:

  • The Lil Nilakka is snug close-fitting in hand; the forefinger in the G-10 handle opening and the thumb comfortable on the spine thanks to the chanfer.
  • So perfect control when cutting – should that be the x-mas tree branches in excess or the ultimate test: pealing a ripe pear and skinning it angstrom style. The point of the blade and the blade’s width also contribute to making this tool one of extreme precision.
  • Easy to action linerlock and the blade fits perfectly; great engineering work!


Mine is #589; with me to stay as my gentleman Puukko!



Pradel versus the world — The gentle Sheeple’s choice.



When the holidays come, you are confronted to other members of your family, mostly sheeples, who will open huge eyes should you wave that K2 from your pocket to slice the turkey. That said, lets see what those sheeples bring to the table.


Oh! This is the kind of slipjoint elderlies are still carrying nowadays: a Pradel. This one is a fishtail bakelite carbon steel pocket knife still used for getting everything you can think of done. Let say this is Tim Leatherman main inspiration and as you can guess: this is a tool, not a weapon. It can be used as a screwdriver and is clean sometimes… let say it is wiped mostly because it could rust.


Like the Chaparral, this is a full flat ground blade. It’s a real razor blade or should we say it ‘used to be’ a real one, because this baby was dull as a knee when I got it. Fortunately the unknown carbon steel percentage enabled an easy shift back to decent sharpness.


The blade ‘was’ perfectly centered… a long time ago but, as you can see, the knife is an old timer still not decommissioned by its owner.  Duty, that day, was to pick the potatoes to check if they were cooked and get them out of the hot water; who needs tactical flipper for that matter ?


The Pradel is a knife used to cut the french bread known as “baguette”, to remove stones stuck under a boot’s sole, to open envelopes and more generally all the chores which would be better suited to a more appropriate tool, like stripping wire, cutting tarp, scraping paint, probing, forcing, twisting, cutting over and over again, but… ending up being accomplished with Pradel; doing it all just beacause it’s at immediate reach.

No safety net, no lock, no guard, no clip, this is a tool for all dirty jobs and also takes its place in the kitchen and on the table: apples, potatoes, bottle necks, sink’s holes, flowers…


My Sliverax looks at it with its envious hole: how can such a simple knife live so many adventures? Nothing is reliable in this design but the will of her owner to keep going.
Where the Chaparral shows exquisite working mecanism and engineering and no play either vertical or horizontal, the little battered Pradel is still going strong, never defeated with all her battle scars otherwise it would have broken.
Now when it is used for harder chores, it’s held directly by the blade; the handle working as a folding sheath. This is uncommon; even for the Roman design folding knives two thousand years ago.

So what do I take back from the encounter between a modern folder and the Pradel ?
First and foremost we should use our knives, thick tactical toys or slim razors alike.
Second a locking blade is luxury and because it’s viewed to be immediately oriented towards some fighting realm… sheeples are allergic to it which is a shame as a locking blade is a great security for our fingers.


Eventually people who are still dreaming of knives as weapons are fooling themselves and give bad publicity by not using them for the most humble chores. Knives are tools to help, not ninja’s toys with “rings” and “skulls”, symbols of death and tragedy.
Real EDC knives have got battle scars and are humble. I will always respect a battered tool which wears the patina of years on its blade and handle because the true battle of a tactical folder is in its everyday chores not in the murdering fantaisies of childish dreamers that give knives a really bad name tainted with human blood. Sometimes I really understand sheeples…


edited by Pascal Jaffré 29 dec 2017

Spyderco C41GPFGR5 Native 5 — A Smooth Operator.

20171208_130139-012017345095.jpeg Every Spyderco’s fan needs an all American Made Native. Why? Because it’s one of the short folders well designed to accommodate every type of hands. It is like a super Delica: wider, stronger, with zero vertical play and as recently I have offered a Native to a friend who use it for hunting, I needed a new one. There is a lot of choice those days, with a lightweight version, even with a Maxamet blade. Maxamet is one of the new Über Super Steel and I have a Para3 ordered with Maxamet. There is also a carbonfiber version with S90V and even one to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Spyderco with Damascus blade, also a S35V blade with G10 and one with a flutted titanium handle… Many choices. 20171208_120241-011309705577.jpeg Anyway this Knifecenter Native special edition brings one of the most amazing steel available: S90V on a stunning dark green smooth G10 handle. In the 80’s Phil Wilson was making fillet knives in CPM420V (S90V previous name) and find out it was exceptional in terms of edge retention for filleting salmons. It’s not a new steel but certainly one of the uncanny in terms of behavior: it looses it’s razor edge fast but seems to keep a keen working edge forever. Spyderco use diamonds wheels to work on it and it’s really a steel which refuse to give away its molecules. So you can use it on cardboard and any abrasive materials without worrying to lose its edge. But what that Knifecenter’s exclusive Native brings also is a lighter construction for the handle: they are no steel liners. The slabs of G10 as thicker for good measure. You can notice also the construction is very cleverly made as in hole screw holes for the clip (they are 4 position you can use, tip down, up on both side), you can see some steel. It means they are hidden nested construction under the G10 slab. 20171208_120329-011500186881.jpeg But the only steel parts visible are the spacer and the lock (pictured here before sanding). It makes a very clean design. And also a knife more impact resistant. I have had steel liners knives warped after a fall. A tiny tiny change which made the blade touch the liner. You oblige to bend it back. Also steel liners are a place were rust can appears and you cannot spot it. So the more G10 the happier I am, as I need to rinse my knives often under the tap. Also the balance it now just perfect: just behind the pivot. Also there is only 2×3 screws in its construction, the pivoting part of the lock is a pin not a screw like on the majority of Native. You can find that pin on the lightweight versions, but also the new carbon fiber version C41CFFP5 which also share a S90V blade… Again, the less screws, the better. (Screws can get loose and be lost) This is the same kind of construction found in Cold Steel Recon 1. But also, the G10 in the Native is smooth as a polish piece of ebony. This will save your pocket’s lips, trust me on that. They are jimping on the blade, on the top and on the choil so there is no problem with wet palms to held the knife. G10 is an amazing material (Glass fiber mixed with epoxy) and I love to sand it to my taste. But this time I will focus on the edges. Again, be careful not to breath the dust of G10, it’s very not good for your health.


At first I wanted to rounded the handle like the new Shaman (a bigger version of the Native with a compression lock) but the second screw of my Native is too close to the edge. Rounding it would be an issue. At least I wanted to feel no sharp edge under my fingers. The Native did not have sharp edges, it has some very nicely squared angle like a musical instrument but to sharp for me. Even if It gives some kind of Bauhaus style to the handle. Very classy. 20171208_125932-01358522911.jpeg Anyway, sanding is a way for me to appropriate that knife, to custom it to my taste. Rare are the knives I did have the urge to do it but it’s also a pleasure to twist it to my likings and I prefer it that way. 20171208_125928-01124803101.jpeg The Native is, like my Delica, my Falcon, my Techno, my Lil’Nilakka, a locking non threating knife I can carry in the city. It’s in my eyes a little “Clip-it” perfect to be EDCed. So I will keep the black clip as it gives a very low profile for a knife which is not deep carried. We will see how long the black coating will remain.

20171210_130738-011515207884.jpeg20171208_142047-01757854268.jpeg And of course it was able to push cut through a plastic bottle butt with ease. More to come soon. 20171208_130333-012021035791.jpeg 20171208_162319-011347483770.jpeg

Knives for Self Defense — Is it a good idea ?

Some knives are marketed on self defense purpose but self defense is not a current situation in the use of a knife. Before you get yourself in a situation where your life is at stake, there is a lot of extraordinary thresholds you have already crossed where your personal knife was not part of the equation.
It’s not the famous Sandbar Duel anymore and we are not, any of us, Jim Bowie’s heirs.
Finding yourself facing dangerous people with guns is not a good situation for “knife self defense”. As you know: “never bring a knife to a gunfight”.
Finding yourself assaulted by someone unarmed, is not a good situation for drawing a blade, especially in front of witnesses. Your lethal response is much too high.

When coud be the knife a good equalizer ? And in what situation ?
Against many opponents, drawing a blade can make you win some times but then your aggressors will adjust their ways to attack you, like throwing chairs and miscellaneous missiles for example.

Also, knife wounds are not painful, especially if the blade is razor sharp: you don’t feel the cuts or the stabs. A furious or drugged opponent won’t feel anything and will continue to attack and even bleed on you…

An opponent in a dark alley draws a knife  on you? Are you ready for a duel “mano a mano” ? Do you think the knife in your hand would be the best way to get away without being wounded yourself ?
Knives are part of the dirty fighting arts; if used as a weapons they are for attack – not defense..

wp-image-258869882(Bud Nealy’s knives were sold as “fast response defense knives”. Here a Peshkab near a Spyderco Mantra 2 for scale purposes.)

It’s like a piano string, the famous “wetworks” used in the commando. Warfare knives are made to kill silently. They can be good stealth weapons in the hands of specially trained soldiers but as a “defense” tool, they are much better equipment like…

The good old hiking staff, a walking stick or the humble cane.
In France, when swords were forbidden, cane fencing developed as a way to protect oneself against knives and for the record common used and carried knives were slipjoints.
After some training, rods, staffs, canes and even solid umbrellas can be used for parrying and inflicting pain should you be in need.

Before to get yourself in dangerous situations where self-defense can be useful, there are certainly other things to be honed than a knife’s edge: your awareness. This is the most important skill. Check your surroundings: always. Being immerse in music under your headphones won’t help. You need your ears and your eyes. Avoiding dangerous areas and avoiding people who makes your instinct react; so many ways to avoid a real self-defense situation. Don’t fall asleep in the subway!
Professionals who get themselves in that kind of situation will not count on their blade as their main self-defense tool. They have telescopic rods, electrical weapons, mace, even flat suitcases they carry are in fact used to “protect” as a shield. Remember: a knife will not protect you; it can arm the opponent. There are no parrying methods with a knife. Also a knife does not have any reach. It’s a close quarter combat weapon. Even a kick has got more reach than a lunge made with a knife in one’s hand. Agreed it’s not the case with a sword or a rapier, or a spear or a staff…

Now you can always learn from those various technics of using a knife as a weapon. It’s like fencing or iaido, it’s always good to learn fighting skills with all tools and the knife is one of the oldest tools used in combat. It helps you to understand a culture. It helps you also to understand the threats and the body language and the stance and the balance. You will learn that from boxing too; footwork and mobility are the first things to master…. “fly like butterfly”. Learning how to fight can also help you to learn how to carry out first aid if someone gets hurt. Knowledge is always good and the more you will learn about knife fighting the less you will dream about using it in a real self-defense situations even though dreams fuel good marketing.


(Edited by Pascal Jaffre)

Spyderco C214TIP: The Devil’s Advocate by Gayle Bradley.


“You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire…”

I feel like in the “Honest Trailers”: “Please review the Advocate…” OK here we go:

Oh yes, the Advocate is a looker and really catches the light.  Knowing Gayle Bradley since his first hard chores folder, I really wanted to see his new design.


At the moment I write those lines, we are all under the official statement from Spyderco about the Advocate. To sum it up: “A careful review of the Advocate’s design revealed that the steel washers used in its pivot are measurably thinner than those used in our other flipper models and are therefore vulnerable to the effects of overtightening….We have suspended production of the current version and are working diligently to redesign the pivot to completely eliminate this concern. We have also decided to suspend shipment of our current inventory of Advocate knives until a satisfactory redesign is complete.” Michael Janich 10th of April 2017.
I don’t have any issues with my Advocate pivot, so I’m not concerned.


Unless major purpose, I don’t feel the urge to disassemble my knives and I always find that rinsing them under hot tap water and oiling them back once dry, is more than enough to keep them going. I do however have got a gripping pivot issue with my Southard but this was before discovering and using nano oil. Here on the advocate, it seems like even nano oil did not help. but again It do not have any issue on mine. I got other issues and they are from the design, not the manufacturing.

So I was able to snatch a model before the factory line stopped and I really wanted to try and love another great Gayle Bradley design. The Advocate is his first flipper and he’s using my favorite steel: CPM-M4 (drawing from Gayle Bradley’s extensive experience as a competitive cutting champion, CPM® M4 is a high-performance tool steel renowned for its extreme edge-holding ability).

“The Advocate’s handle consists of two 3-D-machined solid titanium scales that are radiused across their width and feature a unique “orange peel” finish that is both visually striking and provides an enhanced grip texture. The precision machining of these features ensures maximum comfort in the hand and contributes to the knife’s stunning, custom-quality appearance.”


See how the knife looks great? This is a very thin design. It slips into your pocket very confortably but, in my own experience, its thin handle create a lot of hotspots. I would have preferred a thicker handle even if the finish and lines are wonderful, it is really more a looker than a user so far.
OK mine fires perfectly and once unlocked, the blade falls free. So the action is OK but there is a strong break to it: the ball detent on the lock making the action less smooth than on my other flipper: ZT0562 or Falcon. It’s even noisy, you hear it. What is the point of having ball bearings when you put a brake on it ? Spyderco knows what smooth means ie Ed Schempp’s Bowie the Paramillie. Why not the Advocate ?

Also you can notice how the Zero Tolerance’s (ZT) handle is thicker and hence much better ergonomic-wise. I would not mind that for a Chaparral or for a shorter folder but the Advocate is a medium folder with a 9 centimeters blade and weighs 111 grammes; so it’s not a small folder! Even on the last picture you can see that it’s thinner than the Sliverax….

Also flippers have got a fun factor shared with spinners and balisongs. We love to play with them and because of that, we have tendancies to “test” them more in their opening and closing.
Again, the Advocate’s thin profile doesn’t make it easy to close. The tension on the lock bar is very important and the edge to unlock it is sharp. So it’s not easy on your thumb, almost painful sometimes compared to my ZT and its fat lock… Even the flipper’s tab feels too thin for such a strong detent. It’s biting into the index finger’s pulp….



You can see the sharp edge of the lock bar; actually it comes from the steel insert.


You can notice the marks on my thumb.


Look at the way the lock bar is chamfered on the ZT. Rick Hinderer is not at his first flipper design obviously…

After playing for some time, there is no real fun. The detent is so strong it makes thumb-opening impossible on mine; only reverse grip works for me.

So the strong lock acts like a break; you understand why Compression Lock flippers like the Sliverax are a path to explore.  That said, after playing with both knives, I also feel the Sliverax could have benefited from a stronger detent.

So far the Advocate is not my favorite Gayle Bradley design.

My opinion is not based on any pivot issues as mine doesn’t have it but in my book,
it’s too thin, too slippery, not easy to close nor is it easy to open with the thumb hole.  It’s not smooth… It’s the total opposite to its famous GB1.
Perhaps it will grow on me but even the clip is not a deep carry option… Oh well.
I need to play with my Ed Schempp bowie for good measure… as it’s the perfect opposite in the way Taichung can deliver a great folder with great ergos.

So in summary, if you want a really fun and light Spyderco to play with, try the Sliverax.


edited by pjaffre: jan 5, 2018.

Casstrom No.10 Swedish Forest knife — My Woodlore Alternative.


The title could have been the “Poor Man Woodlore” but it would have not reflect the quality of this N°10 SFK Bushcraft knife. For twenty years now I have follow with interest the long walk of Ray Mears in the wood. Producing an elegant fixed blade to make some magic of barks, sticks and leaves. First time I have seen him using his knife, I thought to myslef: “Who is this guy who walks in the countryside with a fixed blade in his pocket…” This is where my interest for the man and the tool has started.
I was already using a Hello Scandi grind knife back on those days with cladded carbon steel.


Bushcraft is a childhoold adventure dream. It mixes Tarzan, Rambo and all those scouts and indian stories. You can go playing in the woods with your favorite new sharp toys, creating things like bows, arrows, huts, shelters… I was doing bushcraft with my uncle Guy back in the 70’s. He was using a sturdy slipjoint german knife we called a “Canif” (k-nife) and soon I was allowed to bring my own fixed blade knife. Later, when I was 11, I was really into it after investing all my money in a Glock Feldmesser 78 which was a game changer for me: I was able to chop wood !! Any way, a fixed blade was always my best friend in the wood and I have often asked for a sheath I could pocket easily. Don’t laugh but I still got my Rambo II knife… perhaps the subject of another article. Anyway here a picture:

Ok back to the topic:  Casström No.10 Swedish Forest Knife.
Casström is a manufacturer and distributor of top quality knives and outdoor equipment. They got all a collection of knives and some beauties for bushcrafter. They are famous for having a survival knife developed with survival expert Lars Fält an old friend of Ray Mears. But I was not interested in that collaboration. Why ? because I was looking for a smaller knife. My attention turned to the N°10 with its 10cm long blade compared to the Lars Fält with it 11,5 cm blade.

I add noticed they were selling Second Knives in their site. It sounds great to me since I got a great experience with Second knives in the UKBushcrafter sale some years ago.
So I have contacted them explain to them that an handle or cosmetic was not an issue as far as the blade was perfect for the review. Gently they have decided to send me a perfect knife instead of a second and that for the initial price. Very nice gesture.

From their site we can learn that it was designed a multipurpose knife for hunting, bushcraft and general use in the great outdoors. The blade is 10cm long and made using 3.8mm thick Austrian made O2 high carbon tool steel (Böhler K720) and heat treated to achieve a hardness of 58-60 HRC. The knife is ground with a shaving sharp flat Scandinavian grind and have a satin finish… and it’s true, it was shaving sharp right out of the box.


What I had noticed on the pictures of N°10 knife was the handle: it’s not straight.
Immediately after holding it for the first time, it was love at first palm ! The handle is so well thought after, it literally makes love with your hand. It’s like Ed Schempp or Paul Alexander knives designs, straight lines are not our friends, curves are our friends.


You see where you pinky can wrapped itself ? It is so confortable !
You can also see the black liners between the handle scales and steel to enhance durability over time. The site explains also that the wood has been treated with a traditional Scandinavian linseed oil based varnish.

The knife comes with a sturdy welted sheath made from cognac brown 3mm vegetable tanned full-grain leather. The sheath features an extra wide belt loop, a fluid draining hole and a lanyard hole. All based have been covered. The sheath looks sturdy but I was happy to apply some bee wax and jojoba in it to smooth it a little.
About the steel: Böhler Tool Steel K720 is a very tough and strong oil hardened high carbon tool steel also known as O2 : C. 0.9%, Si. 0.25%, Mn. 2.0%, Cr. 0.35% V. 0.1% (HRC 58-60)
Compared to
O1 Tool Steel. C 0,85%  Si 0.50%Mn 1.00% Cr 0.60% Ni 0.30% W 0.40% V 0.30% Cu 0.25% P 0.03% S 0.03%
They are brothers in the tool steel department as “Bushcrafters generally don’t seek the characteristics of stainless over the performance of high-carbon edge retention, and is why traditional Bushcraft knives are produced using tool steel for their blades.Spyderco Catalog.

Compared to the UKbushcrafter in G10 they also brother in the same department.


The main difference between them is the weight; 68 grams lighter for the N°10. G10 is heavier and more dense than oak. I do prefer also the wood handle which feels less slippery than G10 when my hands are wet.


The sheath also is less bulky that on the UK Buscrafter which feels like a bigger knife all in all.
But compared to the original Woodlore we are in the same game: same length , same weight, same kind of steel, same grind… Which makes a great alternative with a very clever handle at a fraction of the price.
Really, Casström people are entering the bushcraft game with great products at a very nice price. The N°10 made in Sweden (*) can be found around 120 euros with international shipping and you can compare to the 460 euros of the last Ray Mears design made in the UK. Alternatives are good.
Time to test the knife  now. More to come soon.

* “The knives are manufactured predominantly in Spain, but with design, material selection, final finish and quality control here in Sweden. The finish is very high in relation to the price and materials used as you can see. The wooden handles we make are close to custom grade.” David Cassini Bäckström — Casström AB




Spyderco FB33GP Gayle Bradley Pocket Bowie !


This is Gayle Bradley first Fixed Blade collaboration with Spyderco. A “unique blend of expert design and state-of-the-art metallurgy”… But is it a real Bowie ?

A true Bowie is “the most effective fighting and survival knife ever made.”
Just to quote Bill Bagwell as he was attending the Paris Knife Show, where one of his Bowies won the award for the best fixed-bladed Damascus knife in 1995…
A stiletto can pierce, but not more effectively; a cleaver or kukri can chop with similar result; and a razor can slice, but only in one direction and without the power of a combat Bowie. A 10 inches perfectly balanced beast with a false edge ready for a back cut… This is Bill definition of a big bad Bowie.
Actually I got a Cold Steel Trailmaster but much prefer the Fallkniven A2 for camp knife purpose. The A2 is not a proper bowie but the 8 inches blade gives you the scale of the Bradley Bowie which is not much longer than a Phil Wilson South Fork.

Also I have noticed the edge is quite thick on the Bowie. It’s not a great whittler. I was immediately tempted to get a thinner edge. I felt also the edge to be very far from the handle because of its large choil.

In that matter its little brother the Junction was much more capable. Being much more thinner behind the edge.
But a 5 inches blade is not the best chopper. The size emphases the portability but not the chopping performance. This Bowie must be designed with a special purpose: hunting knife, pocket camp knife ? It’s a bastard dog but Gayle Bradley don’t design by guessing, he must have a reason. I have asked him in an email and will update this review as soon as he will be kind enough to answer me.


To quote Bill Bagwell: ” There is a difference between the ideal fighting Bowie and an ideal survival Bowie, even though the basic design is relatively similar. The ideal fighting Bowie and survival Bowie would have roughly the same blade length of about nine to ten inches, because this is the length that offers the perfect amount of balance and leverage in both scenarios. But the ideal survival Bowie might be a fair amount heavier overall and have a greater concentration of the weight further up the blade. This concentration of weight further up the blade gives the Bowie a balance more like a hatchet, so that it has greater chopping power, separating it from the more nimble fighting Bowie class.”


The Bradley Bowie is a Jack Of All Trade focused on a Sub 6 inches fixed blade market.
In that domain I already got some favorites Spyderco: the Serrata !

The Serrata offers a cleaver power in the field. But the Bowie is tougher in the choice of its steel. “An incredibly tough spray-formed tool steel. Like the particle metallurgy process, spray forming rapidly solidifies molten steel into small particles so its component alloys cannot “segregate” or settle. This creates an ultra-fine, extremely homogenous grain structure that is ideal for knife blades. PSF27’s alloy composition includes molybdenum, vanadium and a generous 1.55% carbon, but because its chromium content is 12%—just below the official threshold for stainless steel—care should be taken to maintain it properly.”


The Bradley Bowie is also an eye candy, even if I don’t like where the trademark hole has been placed, at least it is very very small and even smaller than on the Junction.

The contoured polished G10 handle is very confortable in the hands. much better than the Junction which is very very flat. I’m not a fan of the tubular holes on both models but it offers some potential in creativity: who want to make a spear from they knife ? Boar hunting anyone ? And it respects the prime designs of Gayle Bradley.
I also love the balance of the Bowie making it “alive” in the hands.

IMHO the Bradley Bowie would be great as a soldier’s knife. Some kind of modern KABAR…
It’s thick enough to withstand some serious abuse. The tip and the blade shape would make it easy for opening crates if needed.  It can be used for batoning of even light chopping.


So it’s a Bowie easy to pocket in its boltaron sheath or rigged upside down thanks to its great retention. The pancake sheath works great and is very secure. There is no play or rattle when shaken. It’s a sheath of great quality.


Conclusion, the Pocket Bowie made in Taichung is ready to follow you in any kind of expedition you got in mind. Its full tang construction and general design make it fit for any tasks where a solid and reliable knife is needed. The Bradley Bowie is a tough cookie.

More to come soon.


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