Tag Archives: Sebenza

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.

20171208_120329-011500186881.jpegNative 5 Back Lock.

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.

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Spyderco C135CFP Perrin PPT — Portable Praetorian Tool.

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The first PPT was release eight years ago. It was the mind child of Sacha Thiel, Philippe Perotti and of course Fred Perrin which it got all the power. For the record Philippe Perotti aka “PP” was Fred’s student in knife making (and Fred was PP student in handguns). I still own one of PP’s Streetbowie made in D2 and also one of his great Commander knife made with Sacha Thiel which looks a lot like the Perrin Streetbowie.

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Now the design’s goes in the stardom with a luxury amazing S90V / Carbon Fibers corrugated stunning handle.
This rude boy is a beauty like Marlon Brando in a Streetcar Named Desire or Tom Hardy in Taboo. It’s heavy in your palm. But this weight is a pleasure exactly like the Sharpfinger.  Marc Animal McYoung in his book “Knives, Knife Fighting and Related Hassles” was choosing a butt heavy short knife over any other. The weight is like an anchor in your hand as the knife handle is cuddling inside your palm. You find the same idea of weight distribution on heavy butt  first Streetbeat.

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Talking about the handle, this macro-texturing shows a wild side of this tool.

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On this picture you can notice the unique clever sturdy lock. It’s made to be secured once the handle is hold tight.

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The steel liners and the full steel back spacer, the full steel construction, while sturdy, makes for a dense carry.  Knowing Fred, being able to use the “pommel” as a crowd pleasure won’t be a surprise. Anyway it’s a tool which can certainly be used to drive a nail in a plank.

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Let’s compare with a titanium folder, the Spydiechef.

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It’s a matter of taste but I love it as the balance suits me.

In eight years the Taiwanese manufacturer has refined his production.

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The choil used to be a hotspot in the first version. No more now, there is absolutely no hot spot but… the clip.

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The way it’s stand with a point proud point …it’s really not the best SPyderco clip just compared with for example… the Lil’ Lionspy great great spoon deep carry clip !!
The point/end of the clip needs to be parallel to the handle as this one is an invitation to scratches cars doors and catches things.
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But its zips easily inside the pocket. It’s a no brainer.

 

 

Like the Spydiechef the design of the PPT notice how it give you a lot of power in case of cutting on a board. But the PPT won’t be as easy to clean with it’s squeleton thick liners but nothing which cannot resist to some hot tap water.
This new incarnation got a very thin edge. Those full flat ground blade in S90V provided by Spyderco lately are a pleasure to use and performance oriented.

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But its true brother in law could be the Yojimbo 2.

The PPT got a very strong spirit, mix that with Sacha Thiel attention to details and Philippe Perotti pragmatism and you got a very powerful EDC which can be used by soldiers, firefighters, hunters, cooks, collectors and bushcrafters.

A little edit: after some EDC carrying and using.
Of course I have started to de-shoulder the edge and gives the PPT a more friendly way to get strop on leather.
Ergo wise, this heavy butt is really addictive. It works like a magnet because of that handgun handle. For the record La Griffe got a Derringer shape handle too which is also heavy compared to the blade. It makes your tool almost jumped in your hand and really anchored it in your palm while the perfect radius of opening makes it a very fast and safe opener. The meat of your finger is caught by the sharp hole and SHLACK !! It’s really one of my fastest tip up carry opener so far.
Why is the PPT a tip up carry ? I remember Fred bitching about the way some newcomers (back in 90’s)  who were providing RIL locks with a tip down carry: the clip was in the way. What Fred loved in the RIL lock on the Sebenza was the way the hand will secure the lock. With a clip attached near the pivot, you could not squeeze the handle anymore and secure the lock.
So the PPT reflect all those years. It’s a real biker friendly design, like the La Griffe has always been. Bikers are modern world horse riders. The PPT would a horse rider best friend too.
In the part 2 the rider could be a nightrider ?

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Chris Reeve Sebenza ATS-34 — Honor is her name.

Nemo Sebenza Ats-34

What does it means to own a Sebenza ?

21 years ago, in September 1996, I received a phone call from Taiwan; the person calling was unknown to me, his name was Huan Chang Hsu and he told me he was an ophthalmologist, a diver and….. a knife collector! He had worked his way and managed to to get in contact with me after reading my first little blog on Geocities where I had written reviews with Fred Perrin. This call lasted 4 hours !!!

Eventually, he insisted I try a Sebenza which was, in his experience, the best of the best in folding knives. He was buying them like an investment and keeping them safe in the bank like others keep diamonds in a vault. He suggested I try out the new handle version but I wanted the classic one.
He also suggested I name it: “Honor”.

Two weeks later I received a parcel with a Microtech Socom (Huan Chang was so generous that he wanted to give me an other one of his knives) and in its box: “Honor”.

To thank Huan Chan, I sent a box back to Taipei containing a vintage Jacques Mongin; Jacques was a cutler legend who designed this folding hunting knife in response to Ernest Hemingway’s special request at Kindal.

The Sebenza was a shock. Smooth little butter. Even now it is one of my smoothest knives, really built like a tank, a absolute workhorse in pure beauty. It was not a tactical experience it was first a tactile discovery: the massive titanium slabs, the integral lock…

Back in the 90’s I remember a review in an American Magazine where the reviewer mauled his Sebenza into a log just to test the lock and was amazed by its reliability.

Two cons I had noticed:

– the thumb stub was a little in the catchy side — meaning it was able to rip the inside of a trouser pocker.
– the clip (Chris’ first attempt to mount one of his design) was scratching everything it could reach.

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Old clip on the left.

Aware of that, Huan Chang sent me an original CRK leather pouch. Again I thanks to him for his generosity; it seemed really important for him to refine my experience with “Honor”.
So I carried the Sebenza in its leather pouch, horizontally on my belt, for years until I was able to order a better refined clip from Chris in 2000’s.

Honor rapidly became what I named “My Ambassador Knife”.

Back in those days, forums were just kickin-off and already people were arguing about “What is the best folder?”. Chris Reeve knives were the top of the list but also much more expensive than other industrial knives. “Shut up ! You are jealous because you can not afford a Sebenza !!” was a comment used in arguments against people who has doubts about Sebenza groupies.
So I got that crazy idea to send “Honor” to anyone who was criticizing the design without having the opportunity to try a CRK. Honor’s first trip was to Wales to my friend Wayne and six months later he told me Honor has broken his heart when flying back to France. Since he has been able to buy his own Sebbies.
In ten years, my Sebenza went in dozen of hands, strangers, forumites and even knivemakers for months. His last trip was to Alabama to Jeff Randall from RATS and now ESEE because he had written on his forums how he hated it before offering my knife to one of his friends for his retirement. I contact him immediately and after clearing the misunderstanding he got my knife from Nevada and sent it back to me ASAP.

The poor knife had been used hard. It was dull like a butter knife and its blade scratched like it has been used to drill holes in the soil. I was able to clean it, refurbish it with ease and it resumed its “workhorse” title after all. Spyderco’s Joyce Laituri then adviced me not to send it anymore and I have followed her advice ever since.

Honor is part of my rotation and its thin edge still does miracles.

My friend JD told me the grind and the geometry is not comparable to nowaday Sebbies which are thicker than my old one. I believe him, as I have been using a BG42 and S30V little Sebenza and I was not able to get it as sharp as my good old Honor.

Also her ATS-34 blade never chipped despite by having been used hard by many different reviewers; the last one showing genuine hate in her abuse.
Back in 1996, Chris was doing his own heat treatment and was already famous for that. The heat treatment is for half responsable of the blade’s quality; it is exceptional here.
Also 30% of quality comes from the geometry; this is a high and thin profile which is rare nowadays among tactical folding prybars sold as knives.

Despite its scars it performs as well as in 1996 when Huang Chang Hsu sent it to me.
What a legendary knife !
My advice: if you ever find an ATS-34 Sebenza… Go for it !

After all those years this is how the lock goes.

Perfectly centered.

Scrtaches on titanium can be removed with gum and elbow oil.

But it gives character !

edited by pjaffre: jan 5, 2018.

Real Steel “Megalodon 2017” RS9611 – Enter The Dragon !

RS9611 Real Steel Megalodon

Again I got a really great bargain and service from my favorite Ebay retailer: Caledon2 Whole Sale Knives and Swords. Kuddos to them to beat record in shipping each time, mine arrived 4 days before its ETA.

I have found this Real Steel Megalodon 2017 model while browsing for a sturdy flipper three months ago.
Eventually I have found the Zero Tolerance ZT0770 as the Megalodon was not available. But I was caught by the beautiful lines and the materials used in this model. Chinese knives production are getting better and better and Real Steel is the new kid on the block in high end cutting tools.

According to https://chinaknives.blogspot.fr (Thanks Wayne for the head up!)

The brand was created in 2013 by the same people who brought you Sanrenmu knives.
Those folks saw the factory, that produced good quality OEM knives for American companies and cheap, but well made budget “original” design knives and thoughty it could be something bigger.
At first, they based on the same designers, that produced Sanrenmu original knives, the most known of them is Liang Gang, that designed some of SRM’s best known models. That is the reason that some of RealSteel’s designs look a lot like the Sanrenmu models (probably are the same, but with different branding).
Their breakthrough (in my opinion) came when they started working with Huang Liang Zhi, better known by the name Carson (Tech Labs). His designs were well known to the people who are interested in Chinese knives, but the quality of his knives is incredible, and second to none (maybe except some of Kevin John work).
Together they made an aluminium version of the Carson Griffin and also released his boiling flipper design under the name Megalodon (probably just put RealSteel logo on the Carson made knife).
There has been some conspiracy on YouTube lately, claiming that Carson has sold his knifemaking factory to RealSteel, but that information was proven to be wrong and was just speculation of one specific Youtuber with big imagination. Carson himself took a photo with his knives to prove this wrong.”

According to Real Steel:
“At the request of many of our fans, we have re-dedicated ourselves to the Megalodon. However Realsteel would not be Realsteel if we were satisfied with a simple relaunch of the old model. We have taken the strengths of the original megalodon on the basis of your feedback and renewed every single component. The result is a megalodon, which at first glance looks like its predecessor, but in reality it is surpassing its predecessor in its blade steel, in its finish and in many other details. This makes it interesting not only for users with the highest demands, but also for collectors.”

The Meg is destined to be a flagship. Mine is numbered  “474 “and come in a very nice box with its certificate and the name of the knifemakers: Carson Huang and Mr Li in the city of Huangao on the Yellow Sea, facing Korea. Funny to see how many people are thinking the late Kit Carson who invented the flipper is behind this one.

I knew M390 mainly from that incredibly great Spyderco Military Sprint Run.
For Jim Ankerson: “M390 even after 550 cuts it was still not getting noticeably harder to cut the rope, after 600 cuts it was still pretty easy and it would still slice paper clean…” he said in a test versus ZDP189 7 years ago.
So M390 is something of a super steel which, if well heat treated, can beat records. Again Jim Ankerson tests makes M390 ahead of many competitors for rope cutting.

The clip is not has good as my Mantra 2 or ZT0770 but it does the trick despite a very unorthodox design made to get caught in the lips of the pocket. There is a warp in the clip look which combined with the gap in the handle can make the pocket insertion tricky. The G10 version doesn’t have this issue.

Anyway, the Megalodon handle is some kind of work of art. It shows how the industry has progressed in machining titanium. Though it is not as impressive as the Slycz Bowie handle … But beautiful curves and clever design which made the illusion of a longer blade compared to its handle. It’s a very sleek piece of cutlery.
You got all the last gizmo in the knife industry. The Integral Lock is renforced again wear and has a security to avoid bending the spring too far for example.


There is milling on the inside of the scales making the full titanium handle very light and the knife is very well balanced once the blade is deployed.

The action is incredibly smooth thanks to its “Pin Bearing”. Kevin Cleary in his great video on 7th minutes explain it. No balls but pins. Simple as that.
The action is as smooth as the Rubicon 2 which means a really really smooth experience. Better than my Mantra 2 and quieter than the ZT0770 spring assist authoritarian opening.

The 3,5mm thick beautiful full flat blade is a razor right out of the box and the edge is thin. With 10 cm long this is not a short tool but it carries quiet well.
I have start to thin the edge further and you can see pictures of the process on our Facebook Group here.

The full open design of the handle makes it easy to rinse after use and I really think this Chinese flipper is made for being used in the wood with no afterthought. China is making now great “separators of matters” for the money, from the Spyderco Polestar, the Byrd series and now to the Real Steel high ends top of the notch folders, I think, after “Made In Taiwan”, “Made In China” is soon going to be a quality label.
But yet they are really shy about that.
“Real Steel” are word in English not Chinese.
And nowhere on the knife you will found “Made In China”  or  “Huangao” written…
Shyness versus China ?

To quote Gary W. Graley on his review on Bladeforums. on the difference with G10 version:

“I did end up getting one of the Ti versions, also a very nice knife, VERY smooth flipper and solid lockup,
Some differences between the G10 and this Ti version

Price, yep, you knew that was going to be there, it’s quite a bit above but with that you do get needle bearings for the pivot mech, Ti frame lock and M390 steel, all add up to be worth the extra price tag

the blade is a smidgen longer than the G10 versions

the blade grind is slightly thicker and as you can see ground a bit different, I am getting about .023″ at the edge bevel where the G10 I’m getting about .017″ so that’s a good bit thicker, but, it is still pretty thinly ground compared to a lot of folders out there, it does cut well.

Handle, the thickness of the handle is thinner than the G10, and of course being Ti it is a little smoother, but the contours provide adequate grip, I do like the thicker G10 handles myself though.

Overall, these are BOTH excellent value knives, highly recommend either one.”

The blade is centered.




Comparaison with other classics.



Comparaison with my 1996 Sebenza.


With the Spyderco Slysz Bowie.


With my CPM Cruwear Military.


With the mighty K2 !


a very Steampunk clip.



It cuts the Coke bottle butt with zero issues but it could and should do better.
Reprofiling is on its way here.