Tag Archives: China

ONE YEAR LATER: MASSDROP X FERRUM FORGE FALCON S35VN FOLDING KNIFE

I really do love that short stubby folder which are turned to be my Spyderco Techno replacement.
In term of ergonomy first, the rounded hand, large choil, smooth thick blade spine, all concours to make your hand “at home” when holding it.
This large choil gives a lot of control and force on precise cut need at the start of the edge. It is the exact opposite of an Izula for example when the index finger is blocked behind the guard, here you can whittle with index finger near the piece of wood giving you a lot of accuracy.

This handle also scales the blade up in term of proportions making it a beautiful short knife. Also in the elegance department, the edge feels like the tip of a lance with it spear’s point. Mine has aged beautifully with a gentle sanding on the titanium.

The clip has hold perfectly and is not hurting my palm when holding the knife tight.

The edge has been gently convexed and did not show any chipping or bending after a year of rotation.
So far I am very happy with my #734 and I highy recommend it.

Massdrop is not always offering bargain, especially regarding some famous 1095 steel made American Blades like TOPS, but for their US/China connection they are often great purchase. My friend Dan Sharpe (thanks to Loremicus a young Mangaka from Hong Kong) highly recommends their FF CRUX which turn to be two of his favorite folder.
I will certainly follow his advice at one moment, those folders are a bargain of high quality.

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RealSteel Knives Bushcraft Folder – Beefy Folding Tool.

I have been dreaming about that kind of folder for quite a long time. Something heavy, strong with a rounded handle to take in the forest and built some shelter.
RealSteel Knives, a Chinese company, may have heard my prayer as they are producing a Bushcraft Folder in two versions: with and without the one hand opening option provided with two studs.
180 grams of a very well balanced 90mm blade length beefy companion.
My first experience with Real Steel was the beautiful Megalodon which has had review here. Its main flaw was the awful clip and you know what ? The Bushcraft Folder has no clip but a beautiful textured G10 handle. Also the red liners are a very nice touch bringing a real touch of class. The blade is perfectly centered; the action is smooth; the action Southpaw friendly…
So let’s have a look:

The blade is made of D2. This air hardening classical steel is not my favorite but some of my friends and co-writers like JD do have an excellent opinion about it. As a reminder let’s not forget D2 has 13% chrome steel which can stain and can be a bear to get sharp. RealSteel seems to have bought tons of D2 as their production of fixed blades is mainly using that alloy. The HRC is 58-60 which is not the hardest heat treatment for that steel but it seems appropriate for a knife destined to resharpen in the field. Oh and this is a true scandi: no secondary bevel on that baby ! You can put it flat on some stone and you should be able to keep it like a razor !


The lock is a thick Michael Walker’s liner lock and it reminds me of the one on Spyderco Gayle Bradley; thick liners locks are easy and confortable to use. Here the steel liners are heavily skeletonized to reduce weight and keep a great balance.
Don’t forget: batoning with a folder is not a good idea with the lock engaged. Let’s say it’s not a good idea, period. Some chores are better kept for the uses of thick fixed blades. But the RealSteel BF can easy drill in wood and be twisted while cutting: there is no movement, no play; everything is very well adjusted. So this is a very serious outdoor knife. The spine of the blade is sharp, certainly for striking a rod and lighting fire. I will soon round mine, as I prefer to have a confortable ramp to push with my thumb during woodworking. The handle does not have a fully open construction; there is a G10 spacer in the butt along with a lanyard hole. It looks really easy to rinse and keep clean.

The G10 has got a very nice texture: not harsh. You can notice it on the picture. Also there is no hot spot on that handle so you can hold it really tight; it’s almost like a fixed blade. The linerlock is recessed and you can not disengage it by holding tight the handle. Just be careful and always remember: regardless how strong a folder is, it will never be as strong as fixed blade. Use it with respect and care; should the lock fail, there is no choil to protect your precious fingers!

This the heaviest folding blade in a 4 inches folder I have ever owned!
You certainly can put that 3,5mm thick blade in good use. Especially as the scandi is very keen and easy to keep ultra sharp – as much as you don’t create a bevel.
Even though the studs do not get in the way when sharpening, it should be easy to remove them with a flat screwdriver if you want a pure two hands opener.

A first test on dry wood shows I have got a very serious contender; the blade cuts deep and makes as good chips as my Casstrom (Scandi type blades give you a lot of control when cutting wood). This is always such a pleasure to use them. Also the solid tip is great to drill and open crates without fear of breaking it.

The pouch which is provided with that big heavy workhorse is well made, but I will certainly carry it vertically in my front pocket against my leather wallet. I have tried that before going for a one hour walk and the knife did not move.

The knife snuggles perfectly inside the pouch you can pass in a belt.

In my opinion a nice cocoon to transport the knife in a coat pocket or in a bag, featuring its toolish function in opposition to all those fast draw tactical response tools always regarded as weapon and also marketed as “tactical” knives, conveys a comforting message.

My wonderful Wolfspyder is dwarfed by the heavy RealSteel folder which’s size is very close to any classical bushcraft fixed blade. You feel you can easily use it for light chopping, for finishing off a cut. Again, impacts are not folding knives’ best friends, but the momentum of that heavy blade could be used for light chopping in wood, like trimming branches in one whip of the wrist.

This is a mean blade perfectly centered beware parallax illusion in this photography.

And the handle is even thicker than the fixed blade.

Of course the main limitation of a folder is the blade length which cannot exceed the handle length (except for some hunting daggers).

So what have we got in the end ? An heavy, solid, easy to keep sharp bushcraft tool.
OK. But for what price ? Mine was bought for less than 60 euros ! This is great for a knife destined to be used a lot and not kept in a safe.
In my opinion, this is a very solid bargain for a very serious wood companion.
“Made in China” tools are getting better and better in terms of quality, prices are competitive and don’t forget…. your Iphone X are also made in China. Here you have got a Chinese Viking Folding Knife, which is great !!
More to come soon !

last edited by Pascal Jaffré on 17 jan 2018.

Massdrop x Ferrum Forge Falcon S35VN Folding Knife — Flipping Modern Lady/Gentleman Knife at a bargain !

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(Fresh from out of the box)

As my friend and co author JD I had ordered the Ferrum Forge Falcon for 124 dollars. Titanium handle à la Sebenza (* the RIL is a South African invention ) with steel insert in the lock to prevent excessive wear, S35V blade with high flat grind, reasonable size for the city. And a two main screws construction ? What not to love ?


(Here with a new convexed edge the day after)

This was a first time for me with those companies. The knife has been made by WE knives in China and designed by San Diego based Ferrum Forge.
124 dollars for a knife this quality, this is almost the third I would normally pay.
This kind of excellent ratio price/quality have been noticed on the Megalodon folder.
And like the Meg, the only flaw on my Falcon is…. the clip.

 

 

First thing I have noticed: it was smooth as my ZT0562CF. It fires easily. A lot of work has gone on the blade and the handle to smooth everything. It’s as good as Taichung factory in the attention to details. It runs on ball bearings and the detent is perfect on mine. The blade feels heavier than the handle, it gives a nice momentum.

Zero play in any direction. The handle is smooth with its rounded edges and so nice under the thumb. No hot spot even if the jimping are quite aggressive. The blade is chanfered on the right places making a very precious package.

 

 

Second thing I had noticed is the great balance. The knife is perfectly balanced. The blade looks wider than the thick titanium handle.

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See how small it is ? I even think it would be a great knife for smaller female hands. For bigger hand it would be a three finger handle unless using the big choil.
This big choil is part of the charm of that design and it could be some kind of Native hommage: thick handle and false edge drom point blade.

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It’s about the size of my beloved Wolfspyder but more elegant. Let’s not forget Spyderco places function before the look. But the wide blade on the thinner handle does a lot in easthetics. The hole in the blade is purely for the looks and to remove some weight, you won’t open he knife with it. OK, you can do it but this is not made for that.
Also the large choil can be a problem when you cut ropes or strings and they get stuck into it. But the Native 5 got the same issue, it’s no major when the finger is in the choil.

 

 

The insert of steel in visible and the lock is new and the blade is perfectly centered.
As you can notice the titanium notch to bend the integral liner to create the lock is not on the outside but inside. This is pleasure to keep the handle smooth.
This notch combine to pocket clips often get caught in the pocket lip while drawing. It was the case of the Megalodon or even the Slyscz Bowie where I had changed the clip size !

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Right out of the box the knife is not shaving but the edge is thin and the geometry is good. It will be a matter of minutes on ceramics to get to the sharpness I want.

Only the clip is an issue. Like on the Megalodon, this is the only flaw but unlike the Real Steel flagship, I will get rid of the Falcon clip if it bends and carry it in the pocket.
First this clip is too thick and is not going enough deep inside the pocket. It has also a tendancy to bend, So we will see how it will go.

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Compared to my Delica, you can notice it is even shorter.

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And delica is a tad longer in edge value.

 

 

Now its thick handle makes it very confortable in the palm for hard cuts.

 

 

You can see the attention to details on the titanium spacer and the pivot.

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Two screws construction. The pivot and handle. Add the two clip screws and the two from the steel insert and a pin for the spacer but after all it is a very clean design.

“The Falcon’s 2.9-inch drop-point blade features a sizable choil for index finger placement when choking up. The spine has a concave cutout offering a natural thumb rest for a forward grip. As far as hardware, the Falcon has been crafted with the best materials on the market. Thanks to titanium’s spring properties, it makes for a safe and reliable frame lock that is almost impossible to accidentally disengage. The hardened steel lockbar insert won’t wear out in the long haul, drastically increasing the folder’s longevity. Holding the knife together is a titanium backspacer, bead blasted in gray. Also notable is the titanium clip, which has been adjusted for tension so that it stays put on the go, but it won’t rip your pants apart when taking out the knife.”
From the Massdrop page.

 

 

Compared to the ZT0562CF the Falcon can sustain the comparaison. But the clip in the ZT is one of the best ever made making the big folder easy to carry.

 

 

Sharpening is OK. CPM S35V is not the easiest steel to deal with but it can hold an edge if well heat treated. After diamonds, ceramics and leather, my edge is now convexed and the high flat grind gives deep cuts.
This is something wich needs to be tested on a long run. So more to come soon… But so far for the price 124 dollars shipping including, this is a great bargain and a beautiful knife especially compared to over marketed knives…
And once convexed the edge was able to cut through the 4mm plastic butt of a 2 liters Coke bottle. Excellent !!

 

 

*(Like…. the 300 dollars Urban S35V and Titanium handle from Canadian Robert Young Peyton claiming the Integral lock is an American invention when, Chris got an South African Award for his Pre Sebenza in 1987, move to Boise in 91 and get naturalized in 2001…The Integral lock is a South African invention by Chris Reeve !! )


Cutting the leaves of sucres…

Slicing the dried duck breast.

Removing the fat.

Dicing the cantal cheese.

Splitting fresh figs…

All the ingredients are ready. Add some sauce mixing olive oil, mustard, wine vinager and soja sauce.
The soft texture and fruity taste of the young cantal combine particularly well with figs and duck breast. But you can replace it with other cheeses, for example, tomme de Savoie, salers or laguiole.

JD got also a Falcon but he did not like it: here is review.
https://nemoknivesreview.com/2017/10/14/the-falcon-has-landed-by-jd/

On the edge of the Polestar by JD

Like Nemo I have received my Polestar as a gift from Spyderco. It was in the goodie bag at the 2017 Amsterdam Meet. When I took the knife out of the box and looked it over my first impressions were positive. The blade opened smoothly and locked solidly with the lock bar fully engaging the tang. I liked how the gray G10 looked and felt, a nice combination of grippy and smooth. Clip tension was also excellent. I could slide the knife in and out of the pocket and waistband without any problem. The edge it came with from was less impressive, it could push cut receipt paper but had no slicing aggression at all.

When I came home I put a drop of Nano oil on the pivot which made it even smoother. I could flip the knife open with my middle finger, which is a lot of fun! Other than flipping it a few times I didn’t know what to do with Polestar. For me it is quite a big knife, having a blade length of 8,5cm. In my urban environment and with my use I have found that a blade length between 5-7 is ample. Small knives are often just more convenient for me.

After a few weeks of from time to time picking it up and flipping it I decided to give it a try and see how I would like to carry and use it. Like Nemo I moved the clip to the tip down position. I was going to carry it in the waistband and tip down carry reduces the chances of the blade accidentally opening. Thanks to the Spyder hole hump it could still be easily and quickly opened with the Spydie drop.

Before I was going to use it the edge would need to have more slicing bite then it did new. So, I thought a few passes on a coarse DMT hone would be enough for a quick touch up. I was wrong! I found out that, especially close to the recasso, the edge was pretty uneven. In some places it was even a high angle convex. The edge would need to be formed anew!

I cut of the old edge with a few light cuts into a stone and then created a new edge with my extra coarse DMT hone. I was interested in how the knife would function as it was intended by Spyderco. So I did not change the angle of the edge much but just evened out the edge bevel and formed a new apex. The steel was not hard to grind but, due to the unevenness, some parts needed lots more work than other parts. After I had was sure of having formed an apex by creating a burr on either side of the edge, I removed as much of the burr as I could by using alternate and high angle strokes. The burr flip flopped from site to side a lot and was not easy to cut of. Once I had removed most of the burr on the extra coarse hone I repeated the procedure on the fine DMT with the same difficulty in removing the burr. At that time the edge would slice receipt paper well but I have had better edges.

From past experiences I know that often a new knife needs to be sharpened a few times before the edge reaches its full sharpness and edge holding potential. So, this did not disturb me much. It was to early for conclusions.

I proceeded to cut up some cardboard before repeating most of the afore mentioned sharpening procedure. Only this time I finished on the diamond side of the Fallknives DC4, one of my favorite hones, to an edge that would just split head hair. Removing the burr and finishing the edge had become a bit easier this time around. Over the following days I carried this knife and used it for my normal cutting tasks. Mostly cutting paper cardboard and plastic packaging material and perhaps a bread bun for lunch. A funny thing I noticed: the edge its cutting ability seemed to first increase, then settle down, before slowly starting to dull!

After about a week of use the edge would still work for most of my cutting tasks but had lost some of its sharpness. I decided to resharpen the edge with just the diamond side of the Fallkniven hone again. Getting it sharp enough to shave arm hair was easy but getting it to split head hair still proved to be a bit fiddly, although I did managed it in the end. By comparison: my Elmax Squeak went from not biting in to the hair to cutting the hair with much less effort. A few passes on the hone did the trick there.

Normally I would have put the knife in pocket pocket as it was sharp enough for me use, but out of curiosity and to check my findings I resharpened it once more. I had become a bit easier to remove the burr and to make the edge arm hair shaving sharp. But to get the edge to split head hair was still a challenge. With other knives like my Maniago Spyderco’s in N690 and Elmax and, for instance, my Victorinox Bantam this had never been this difficult.

Overall the Spyderco Polestar is an enjoyable and capable knife: flipping the blade open with the middle finger is still fun and the handle works well, it handled my cutting tasks fine ones I got it sharp, but I am not impressed with the condition of the steel at the edge on my example. Still, it was interesting playing around with a knife that is so different from my usual fare!

JD

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

Spyderco Polestar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Spyderco C136 Persistence Blue Exclusive : My China Blue !

SPyderco Persistence Blue SPrint

I love the Spyderco Persistence. Perfect size to be an EDC. 70 mm is city friendy.
Great ergos. Solid feels. Hidden choil. Smooth, sharp and ready to be used hard.
8cr13Mov is not the snobbish steel but it takes a great razor edge and is quite strong and forgiving.
No blade play. Full flad ground. Skeletonized liners. Light in the pocket.
The Persistence got only great reviews.
When I have learned a Spyderco’s C136 Persistence Blue Exclusive Run will be available, it was the occasion to buy another one. This one to be kept and used.
The clip is a little on the tight side and I have sanded the G10 under it but for the rest the Persistence is delivered with high QC and no flaw.
The Blade is centered. The action is fast and smooth and the edge even and razor sharp. The Royal Blue G10 is the little plus for been accepted by sheeples.

For a workhorse on a measured budget this knife is really a gem. I love the “cowboy knife” equation: cheap but reliable. So you can use it hard with no after thought. This one if ready for dirty jobs and easy to clean with its all open construction. Mine will be used as an eating knife, which means an hard confrontation with the ceramic of plates…
Again like in my previous review, those snobbish bushcrafters should give a chance to that little knife. Perfect for camping, whittling and food processing chores. Hunters of course like fishers should be aware of the polyvalence of that tool. Oh, I really love my China Blue and it can be proudly used next to my S90V Paramillie ! This is like jumping from an Aston Martin to a Beemer but both are reliable and fun to drive.

And yes there is one hair on my blade pictured. My Persistence is really razor popping hairs sharp…:-)