Tag Archives: Review

Manly Comrade S90V – Heavy Duty Slipjoint !

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What strikes first when you hold the Comrade is its thickness and weight.
This 9 cm blade non-locking slipjoint folder is massive; once open, see how its beautiful classical lines are gentle to the eye.
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I have chosen the CPM S90V version with a camo G10 theme. As this non locking knife, it deserves some virility. It’s a a slipjoint with a very strong attitude. The kind of knife our grandfather would have loved. The notch in the blade is like a reminiscence of my childhood…

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Also it is such a pleasure to have a non-locking traditional knife with a CPM420V AKA CPM S90V blade.

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As you can notice the blade is perfectly centered !

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And it comes with a clip which is unfortunately not a need carry clip.

Surprisingly it is much more beefy and thick handled than its grand brother the Peak.

The Peak has got hidden recessed liners whereas the Comrade has got a more simple layered construction. It gives a real confort as the square handle fits the palm of your hand.

There are three steps before to open it completly. The last one is the harder to pass giving a very secure feel in the non locking open position. This is really a knife to open with two hands. Once open the choil forms almost a quillon where the index goes to secure it.
Like on a locking Spydie Millie, this is a system found first in boot knives. The force applied during the cut goes directly to the blade.

I have sanded mine to my taste and for that I removed the clip.
No doubt we got here a hardchore workhorse non-locking folder with enough blade for many tasks and a steel which is hard to beat in term of edge holding.
Its clip makes it easy to carry. The edge is thin like on the Peak and it’s going to be a great knife to go around places where locking knives are forbidden.

Also after watching the video of BlackforestGhost here, I think batonning with a slipjoint non locking knife is less stressful for the tool as there is nob lock to take the impact. The slipjoint is a spring ! So no lock failure possible. 😉 “I bend and do not break…” from the Oak and the Reed from Jean de la fontaine.
I really love that Bulgarian Comrade which is the only industrial S90V slipjoint I know so far. Manly, please do a 3 inches version and a one hand open version !! 🙂
More to come soon.

A shorter version The WASP can be found here.
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edited by Pascal Jaffré on 17 jan 2018

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.

MANLY PEAK S90V — THE BULGARIAN WONDER AT WORK.

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The Manly Peak is a workhorse. So, it has been put to good use in various tasks.

The main features of that folder are a very thin geometry and a zero play mid backlock.
It has not developed any play and the edge has ever been thinned for outstanding results.

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Tomatoes are great for testing. As you can notice, it was a very easy task to cut through the skin.

The same for any fruits it was confronted to. The thin and long blade gives a lot of hand control when peeling and cutting or on the cutting board. No pitting on the S90V alloy after intense and daily kitchen duty.


Pushing the envelop, I have thinned both my S90V Native and S90V Peak. I was inclined to think that the Native 5 with its belly would be better than the Bulgarian folder but in fact not. The thinner grind of the Manly got better results on hard plastic and when the Native was stuck, the Peak was going through like the Nilakka or my Opinel would do.

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I was even able to do multiple cuts on the same bottle butt. This is really impressive. Let’s not forget that should should have the same results on a 45 euros Peak with D2 steel.

The mechanism feels a little smoother now on opening and closing but it is also due to a drop of nano oil.  The clip is really perfect, it is deep, secure and smooth. It has been well thought and I really wish the future generation of Manly folders will be likewise equipped.
So the Manly Peak is really a high quality workhorse in terms of reliability, power cuts and ease to wear. This is a serious tool for any users, from the LEO to the ELU.  It’s a thrill to see it compete against folders which can reach 4 times its price and see how easily it can beat them. Now this is a stiff mechanism “à la Cold Steel” and you will need some open and close mileage so that it folds and unfolds with ease. Once in action though you have a pocket lightsaber able to work hard and keep going. Highly recommended!

More Manly folders here.

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last edited by Pascal Jaffré on 18 jan 2018

Spyderco Lil’Nilakka – My Romantic Gentleman Puukko.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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…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.

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

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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!

 

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

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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….

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

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You can notice the marks on my thumb.

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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.

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edited by pjaffre: jan 5, 2018.

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.

 

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/