Tag Archives: Bowie

About Locks — How to choose ?

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Nowadays rendering of three iconic 90’s lock: Liner Lock, Back Lock and Integral Lock.

They are plethora of locks since the 90’s when the Tactical Folders trend started.
“Tactical” , a term which has been mainly used in a marketing way, means you can get access to your knife easily — A clip or a well thought pouch — and more important: to be able to open it and close it with one hand.
The blade needs to be locked in open position and also to stay closed while in the pocket.
Let’s have a look on the locks I prefer and use.

20180410_134558-01.jpegMaxamet Para3 Compression Lock.

The Compression Lock.
Described as:
“A lock mechanism that uses a leaf-like spring from a split liner in the handle to wedge laterally between a ramp on the blade tang and the stop pin (or anvil pin).”
What I like about that Spyderco in-house engineered system is how smooth the action is.
Spyderco is now developing and proposing flippers with the CL because the breaking action on the pivot is minimal. On my different CL folders I can open the blade in different ways: using the index, pushing the paddle to unlock the blade…
It’s fun. It depends on a detent ball to keep the blade closed.
It’s a lock easy to clean and check as the handle are all open framed. It also asked for some nested liners which, when they are skeletonized, need more attention for cleaning, especially when you use you knife in the kitchen like I do. I rinse them under hot tap water , wipe the blade and make them dry inside the pocket with body heat.
Also the compression lock can be hurting the palm of your hand when cutting hard matters.

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The Back Lock.
Described on the Spyderco” Edge-U-Cation pages as: “A locking system positioned on the back of the handle that uses a rocker arm that pivots in the center. A lug on one end of the arm engages a notch in the blade’s tang to lock the blade open.”

The Manly Peak and the Native 5.
This lock has been infamous since the Buck110 and all its copycats. Spyderco has developed mainly mid-locking system which can be unlock without changing your grip lick on a Buck110. It was demonstrated with the first Native how safe it was it unlock their knife and let the choil of the blade get in touch with your finger before to close it.
This is still the way I do it, even on my Delica and Endura which got no proper choil: unlocking the blade by pushing the lock free and let the blade falling half way on your finger. The Back Lock got a spring which is strong enough to avoid a detent ball. Old timers used to pu a match inside their closed Buck110 to pass the stronger spring tension and get it open faster. On Spyderco’s, it’s also easy to avoid any locking noise just by pression the paddle before it get completely opened. Unless the blade is very heavy like on XL Cold Steel Voyager, it’s not a lock for gravity opening. But it’s one of the most solid lock. In fact because of the way it’s engaged, it can be much more solid than all the other locks. Spyderco were testing their strong back found on the Chinooks and Manix with amazing results.

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It’s not the easiest lock to clean as there is no open framed handle. It’s hard to see if debris can be jammed in. Also it’s not the funniest lock to use as the spring tension is felt during all the opening and closing motion. The Spydies with relatively heavy handles can be spyderdropped for quick opening. I do that on my Knifecenter stainless steel spacered Delica for example. It’s also easy on your palm during hard cuts because of their closed handle spine. Some Compression Lock haters are Back Lock lovers because of that confortable handles.
Also I have noticed on many of my Back Locks knives some vertical play when cutting on board which brings us to…


The TriAd Lock
Featured on Cold Steel’s folders it is essentially a Back Lock with a stop pin. There is no more vertical play when cutting. It doesn’t change anything toward the negative force used to close the lock blade.
You can also find inside the Chaparral an hidden stop pin invisible as it’s hidden near the pivot.

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The Liner Lock.
“A locking system developed by custom knifemaker Michael Walker that uses a leaf-like spring split from the liner to wedge laterally against a ramped surface on the tang of the blade.”
This lock was the king of Tactical frenzyness back in the 90’s. The Benchmade CQC7 and AFCK promoted them in titanium and Spyderco developped their Military with a stainless steel liner lock. If I remember well Sal Glesser and Les de Asis were together private students of Bob Terzuola which is a master in liner locks making before to start their own production. Depending on a detent ball, the liner lock was bringing that smoothness the Back Lock could not provide but it was not the strongest lock available.

wp-image-1554915927Ed Schempp Euroedge strong liner lock.

To test it many people tried the infamous and stupid spine whack and many time with shock the liner was unlocked and damaged by that treatment.
It’s a very easy to lock to get open and close fast just be careful to put your finger out of the way when closing.
Titanium liner locks are wearing more than stainless steel liners.
It should not be difficult to clean depending of the handle conception. On that matter the last version of the C36 Military got rid of they spacer and got now a full open handle for easy check.

The RIL
Then Chris Reeve came with his Sebenza and used a lock bar that is integral to one of the handle scales. It was giving you the sentiment, you hand’s grasp was also enhancing the locking mechanism. It’s also a very easy mechanism to clean and check hence the Spydiechef, or the K2 which are easy to use in the kitchen even after being defiled by grease and meat…
20171130_113248312135934.jpgRIL of the Advocate and the ZT550.

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The PPT is a mix of both RIL and liner designs with the possibility to grasp it and hold it in opening position.


BALL BEARING LOCK
“A patented compressive lock that wedges a ball bearing between a fixed anvil and the blade tang. The mechanism also serves as a detent to hold the blade in the closed position.” I was developed by Eric Glesser for his Dodo and can be found on the Manix 2 folders with a caged ball version. Some people found a lot of similitude with the Axis Lock from Benchmade but here, instead of two omega springs, it is a coil spring pushing a ball bearing made of ceramic of stainless steel. It’s smooth but not as easy to clean as other locks. Actually I prefer it on the Lightweight version of the Manix which is my main travelling knife with its CPM110V blade. It’s engineering makes it one of the strongest as you can not squeeze a ball bearing easily and it is also self adjusting.

The cage ball can be exchange with a custom titanium cage in case of breaking after years of using. It happen to my cousin who has modeled his own resin ball.

The Balisong Lock.
This could be the most fun system to use and also the strongest. Easy maintenance, no spring… It’s a very old design. The first trace was found in 1780 in France with a knife called “Le Pied Du Roy” (The King’s Foot) and circa 1800, butterfly knives were uncommon. They were made in Paris and Thier. There is a beautiful collection of the old Butterfly Knives in the Thiers Museum.  French Army troops were provided with Butterfly Knives, but after WW2 there is no more trace of Butterflies made by this brand.
(More to come in the re-edition of the Fred Perrin’s balisong review soon.)

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Locking a folding blade has been a puzzle for engineers for centuries. The roman folders were not locking and 2000 years ago a folding knife’s handle was considered as an attached sheath which means it was hold like a razor: by the blade.

So how to choose a lock ? Recently I have been surprised on how well the Bulgarian Manly Peak was operating: no vertical or lateral play on its very strong Back Lock. I have been playing with the Sliverax Compression Lock flipping options. My old Sebenza RIL lock is still in great shape and my Ed Schempp Bowie flies in opening position…

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Lock is just a matter of taste and use, selling a design just by its lock won’t work. Some designs are made for compression lock like the Sliverax wasp shape flipper design could not go easily with another lock.

But always remember a folder cannot be as strong as a fixed blade. Marketing can be your enemy but the main enemy of locks are shocks because its weakest element will give in, bend or broke. Now when you choose a knife made by reknown makers and manufacturers you can trust their locks but it’s not the case with all the copycats and cheap knives which often got very bad quality elements ready to break or bend at the first use. I’m not saying the best locks are the most expensive but looking for quality in the making should be mandatory in your choice.

Spyderco FB33GP Gayle Bradley Pocket Bowie !

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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.
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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.

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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.”

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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 !
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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Tuscan Raiders #4 – Geometries, Gayle Spyderco Gayle Bradley Junction and whittling.

It has all started when I wanted to review the Spyderco Gayle Bradley Junction. It’s a great design for an EDC fixed blade which can be used for everything. Easy to carry in its pancake constructed bolteron sheath. But the edge was just too thick for my own use. To my knowledge, SPF27 is some kind of CPM D2 steel. A lot of carbon 1.5% and not a lot of chromium around 12%. Not the easiest on the stone as a semi stainless. It was not very soft under the diamonds compared to another blade in N690 HRC59 I got with me. And it was not really easy to remove the shoulder to create a gentle convex edge. Patience… In sharpening is important. And I often lack of it but I was able to improve it. Next some black stone mostly to remove the scratches. And then the white ceramic to get a better finish and a razor steel. You can notice the chamfered signature hole on the Junction. A première. The cuts were deeper. It was better! Much more enjoyable. But the spine was too sharp for my thumb and diamonds came handy to rounded the angles. It would never be a Sebenza spine…. Again the control during whittling was much much better. One should never be scared to round the edges for suiting your own needs. The handle is very flat on that knife. It’s an attention for people who wish to stash their knife in a pocket or a backpack without leaving a print. But a flat knife is not the most comfortable in the palm of your hand… Especially when cutting hard things for a long time. I decided to make a quick comparison with the Spyderco Sprig which is a pleasure to use. You can notice how the Phil Wilson’s Sprig got a thicker handle. And it change everything when cutting hard things. Also Phil Wilson’s is all about performances. Its geometry is stellar. It immediately cuts deep in wood without any real improvement needed…. But diamonds were there to be usef. 🙂 I was able to get thin regular cuts into the wood. So I have decided to try the diamonds on the Gayle Bradley Bowie I have brought with me. This one got a thicker geometry and is made if the same pulverized alloy as the Junction You can always improve an edge. Used as a light chopper it worked just fine. Gayle Bradley has provided a great compact Bowie which can be used as a light camp knife. You can see: it’s not a lot bigger compared to my Ed Chempp Bowie. And the edge once thinned is honorable. Of course it is not as thin as my Pekka Tuominen Urban II for example. And not as aggressive as the Sprig… I got…. too much knives on my table…

It was time to go to lunch. An Francesca knows how to prepare the pasta with pomodori. Crostini a la Toscane. Poultry liver, oignons, red wine, bread and a Bowie. Back in the outside I was thinking of a simple way to see the “impact” of good geometry on whittling. On the right, a single cut if the thin Delica and, on the left, a single cut of the thicker ZT0562CF. The Delica cuts deeper on a more open angle. Better geometry. But the ZT was pleasant to use even if it was not as fast at the job. Also the Delica was able to cut from the ricasso to the point without any hard pressure. In the end, I had noticed that the Junction was less good than the Sprig and the Delica was still the best whittler in the batch. No matter the steel, for wood cutting, geometry is queen. So I have taken my Bowie back to the diamonds and put a keener edge. Tomorrow it will be hunting day.

MILITARY C36PIN PART IV: Deep Carry Clip in Titanium

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After the part III where I built a patina by worshipping various acids, here comes the part IV of improving my old classic Spyderco: installing a better clip.
My first attempt in custom deep carry titanium clip has not be good. It was for the Yojimbo2 and I’ve been mounting the original clip back.
Then I have ordered a titanium clip for Ghost my Millie.

Actually I was disappointed again, once mounted the action was not smooth anymore.
For some reason the clip was exercising some forces on the pivot and the opening and closing were stiff. Also the mate finish was not helping the insertion of the knife is the pocket.

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So I have bent the clip for it to be less strong and also I have sand it to smooth it.
It made a difference.

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Talking about differences, the titanium clip is very well designed and comes with two flat torx screws. It’s a little higher/thicker than the original one but it’s not a problem and does not change the ergonomy.

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Also by sanding the clip, I have obtained a worn look which goes well with the patina.

I have also rounded all the edge on the G10 with P1000 sandpaper to have it smooth in the pocket.

But I felt some resistance when I put the knife in my pocket and I also found that now the lip of my pocket was obliged to go through a new threshhold: the base of the clip.

You see ? There is step formed by the attached base of the clip which can be hard on my pocket, tearing a hole of my worn denim.

So I was back to sanding on P500 this time to smooth the steep and avoid wear.
And it worked !

Eventually I was able to ease the clip spring pressure and get my C36 back to smooth operation.

So it was not an issue with screws length but a slight deformation at the pivot due to too much spring tension.

So I’m happy, the C36 Military now disappears in the pocket but it also easy to “spyder-drop” it in the blink of an eye. The action is a little stiffer but some nano-oil helps it. I’m not able to have the blade closing by gravity anymore. Anyway the Millie as never as smooth as the Ed Schempp Bowie and not as easy to carry.
But now I can carry that C36 in the city with no afterthought. It’s almost invisible and the Jade Natural G-10 helps a lot in its invisibility and sheeple friendly carried tool.
Hence the name “Ghost”.

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Here how the clip looks before sanding the edge and the finish. You can see the sharp edge around the screw and also the jaws mark of my leatherman.

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POCKET LEGENDS OF THE FALL FEAT. SPYDERCO SCHEMPP BOWIE ~ C190CF

Today is the day the world mourns David Bowie.
It’s the perfect time to talk about another Bowie and another hommage: Ed Schempp’s Folding Bowie.

ED schempp Bowie

I have met again Ed at the Police National shooting range at avenue Fosh, Paris, in November. It was some kind of a mini knife show hosted by Patrick Bonetta, coutelier and keen master in sharpening. Both old friends were showcasing there their last knives, from kitchen to law enforcement duty. (Patrick will be the subject of my next articles BTW, the man desserve an entiere book !!)

Immediately Ed introduced me proudly to his last Spyderco collaboration: his bowie. What a gem !
The knife is simply oozing quality from all its pores: brass guard integrated bolster, carbon fiber handles…. a smoooooth opening. The beautiful symmetry once open and the gentle angle between the blade and the handle are trademarks of Ed’s designs we enjoyed so much on his Tuff and Persian.

This is not the first folding Bowie in the Spyderco catalog. Remember the Slysz Bowie ?
And I’m really a sucker for bowie shape blades. They got belly and they are pointy.
So deciding to put my Nilaka at rest for a while, immediately Ed’s Bowie got a ride in my front pocket.

“It has been made to be worn as a much smaller knife” Ed told me.

And he was right, the wire clip is so well designed that the knife disappears and ride deep in the pocket. It won’t be as quick draw friendly as the C36 Military, for example, but it is so discreet in this days of low profile mania.
Once open, the beautiful blade is impressive. Narrower than his Navaja but elegantly theatrical !
Again this is a Gentleman folder destin to be used served by an ‘almost” full flat ground thin blade.
At 2.5mm thick, far are the days of the 4mm hollowground Starmate (pictured here in the Gayle Bradley review).
I was not impressed by the initial factory sharpening and since I have thinned its edge to more akeen result. It was done patiently as CPMS30V is not the easiest steel to let its molecules go away…


The bottle bottom tests are now passed with flying colors. Even the mineral water bottle, thinner and easier to collapse).
The natural angle found in the Kukris is again a nice plus even with a short knife. Ed is a farmer and he creates and builds tools for his ranch.
The integrated guard was a technical requirement which is cleverly accomplished. My first knife ever was a small bowie and its guard was a PITA. I was 5 year old and I knew this knife was not well designed…
On Ed’s Bowie, the guard is nicely “anchoring” the hand as a thumb rest for example. All is smooth and gentle under your fingers. Even in hammer’s grip the small guard doesn’t come in the way.

Reverse grip either.

So if you want a small folding bowie with a great attention to details, a nice belly, a slick and smooth action, the C190CF can be your choice.
I enjoy the brass bolsters and its soft texture contrasting with the woven carbon fibers. It’s a very sensual tool with the handle resting securely in my palm avoiding any lose of grip.
Back in the 90’s they were some very long conversations on the forums about how reliable the linerlocks were. In this bowie, the handle is very rigid and the lock very well executed in Taichung. The knife has passed my tests including the carpet test which was not easy with the Spyderco Tuff. I absolutely got zero concern about the lock on this one. I got zero play lateral or vertical even with white knuckles. It is stout.
This is another ‘home run’ from Ed and another very clever hommage to a legendary design. Once in the pocket it is very addictive.
Also used in the plates, the knife is elegant and do not raise any eye’s brows even in the restaurant. A great steak knife !

Some size comparaisons:

Two worlds but equally great usability. Eric Glesser Manix 2 lightweight in CPM110V is a Nasa dream.


Two Bowie brothers as the Slysz’s was invited for the picture.


Another pocket Bowie, this one made by Xavier Conil.


With the Mighty K2.


With Fred Perrin’s Streetbowies father and sonny Streetbeat.


My good old Benchmade BM806S. Another slick design wich has proven to be reliable in all situation.


With my very first knife purchased at Thiers in 1971 ! Yes it was a Bowie too !


With my good old rehandled Carbon V Cold Steel Trailmaster !


Fred Perrin custom Bowie La Griffe from the 90’s !

Spyderco Slysz Bowie ~ C186TI – The Iron Mistress

Marcin Slycz Bowie

This folder was my favorite of all the knives shown on Amsterdam Minimeet 2014. I loved the ergos. The convex curves on the titanium. The reinterpreted bowie blade. The perfect size for an EDC. The attention to details. Really I have been more than impressed by Marcin next collaboration with Spyderco.
The Techno was IMHO AFAIC a bold move to the EDC world. An heart stroke. But now Marcin was striking again with a refined working folder. Thinner but also more “feminine” hence the “Mistress” title. Raising the bar.

Marcin Slysz Bowie and Chris Reeve Sebenza
Ah, who could kill the Sebenza ? Huh ? When you hear about Titanium slabs and Integral Lock it’s the first word which come to my mind.

So this is a first glimpse to this gorgeous folder. Let’s start by the cons:
OK, mine needs some opening and closing to be as glass smooth as it suppose to be. I haven’t reach the torx to ease the axis screw yet.
The wire clip got a way to block the pocket’s draws. It comes from the way the lock has been designed. No big deal. It could even been seen as some kind of security but I’m considering switching the clip to the other smoother side of the handle. But again, for reverse grip opening (using the ring finger) I need a smoother action.

Now the pros and they are a lot:
Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder but ergonomy is in the pawns of the user. This one suits my hand perfectly.
No finger choil. But a longer edge. The convex titanium handle, just pure pleasure to hold.
A very clever G10 spacer which is used to improved the ergonomy by avoiding any risk of a slippery handle.
The convex handle which is gentle in your palm.
A lot of belly for a really thin edge. A point in perfect alignement with the handle.

The edge is so thin than I was able to do my favorite Coke bottle test with ease and control.
Proportion blade / handle is near perfect for a folding knife of that size.

This knife is asking to be used. It feels well in the hands and the geometry is optimum. The size is perfect for an EDC. The clip is deep enough to make the knife disappear in the pocket.
The balance is just behind the axis. The absence of hole hump makes it a looker.
So now will come the tests and as a companion, a K2 should come next week.

How will perform the CTS-XHP compared to CPM10V ?

Update:
The convex handle makes it really nice to use. I have found that my index and thumb, which are leading the cuts, are sort of “nested” near the pivot by those rounded titanium slabs. I was able to cut with a lot of accuracy and the belly was welcome for cutting deep.
It’s a gorgeous knife to deploy and eat with. A excellent conversation starter too.
It has been used on plates with no damage to the edge. CTS XHP is a very forgiving steel in my book.
The shape of the blade makes it look like a “country” knife, and has been very sheeple friendly ! As I use the radius spine it’s a pleasure for push cuts in hard wood. Haven’t done anything really serious, it was just a short walk but that knife is screaming to be use hard. 🙂

Edit: I have found a simple way to avoid the clip to snag… just by making it a little longer.
And switching with the clip of the Manix 2 Lightweight (I had already removed to witch with the Pingo’s deeper one…)
No more snagging in the pocket now.
Slysz Bowie clip issue
And now the clipped knife goes less deep but the draws are smooth.