Tag Archives: Knives

Ka-Bar Mark 98

What the Mark 98 is, and what it’s supposed to be, might be two different things. Let’s find out.

Let’s first talk about what the Mark 98 is. It’s a beefy liner-lock folder that looks ruggedly handsome. With the battleship gray coating over all the metal, and the G-10 scales, and the pronounced fuller reminiscent of their standard Ka-bar fighting knife, the Mark 98 looks fantastic. It has a 3.5″ spear point blade and unfolds out into an overall length of just over 8 inches. The knife has some heft to it, and it’s handle is thick, making it feel suitable for hard use.

The blade material is 5Cr15, which is a Chinese version of 5Cr15MoV… which is kind of a nothing special type of Stainless Steel. I like it better than AUS-8, personally. It takes an edge well, easy to resharpen, and holds it pretty well for actual real world use that doesn’t involve slicing cardboard strips. So I’m expecting the blade steel to be just fine.

I was pleased with just how smoothly the blade flips open, and that the blade was almost perfectly centered right out of the box. If there is anything concerning about the design, it’s that the liner lock is just a hair thinner than I really like. But it seems to work well. The blade locks up tightly, with no play at all. The detent holding the blade closed is a bit weak, so it doesn’t resist the flip open, so you don’t get that distinct snap on the open without a bit of wrist flick action. But when you do, is opens smooth as a puma.

The knife feels good in the hand. The scales are contoured well, and shaped well. You could really lean on this knife doing some serious cutting tasks, and it wont be uncomfortable through the job. Can I say again just how good looking this knife is? The flipper is a little of spoiler for the lines, but it’s functional and not obtrusive.

The best thing about the knife, is the price. BladeHQ has it right now for less than $20. The question though, is if this Chinese made Ka-Bar is worth the money. The answer to that, is up to you and what you want to do with the knife. So to put this to the test, I have this knife to my Son that broke a previous knife I gave him that featured D2 steel. He’s rough on knives. So he’s going to carry it and use it every day for a month or so, and we’ll check back on it and see how it’s held up. Because if it survives his use – it’s a sold knife and worth the money.

To Be Continued!
Update: After several months of hard use by my son who works in Maintenance for a large facility… The knife has held up just fine. The finish has proven strong, and the blade has held its edge very well. The knife has shown far more value than its cost. Overall, thumbs up.

CRKT M16-01S

CRKT is slowly winning me over, just like how Ruger did. 8 Years ago I’d have never said I was a fan of Ruger, but now I truly am. And with CRKT, even up through last year, I’d have never said I was a fan. But things change. Ruger changed. And CRKT is changing too, it seems. And because of those changes, my mind has changed.

I’ve always liked the looks of the CRKT’s Carson designed M16 series knives. Handsome knives. But I wasn’t a fan of the liner locks on them, and the secondary safety lock mechanism was a flat out turn off. Some time ago, CRKT has changed at least some of them to a Frame Lock design, and they ditched that wart of a secondary safety. So what you have now is a cleaner, more pure, more essential, M16 knife. The way they should have always been.

This knife here that I now have, is the model M16-01S. The series gives you a lot of options in style, serrations, tanto or spear point, and blacked out blades as you like… but this one is the smallest of the M16 series, with a bead blasted finish, plain edge, spear point.

This gives you gorgeous, sleek lines, that looks fantastic from every angle. The blade length is just a tick over three inches, with an overall length of just a tick over seven inches. The blade steel is 8Cr13MoV, which is essentially the same as AUS-8. Which means it’s going to take a very sharp edge, but you’ll have to resharpen it from time to time. Luckily, with this steel (and AUS-8) the bottom of a Coffee Mug does just fine for that.

The blade flicks out with a satisfying *snick* sounds with a flick of the flipper. It’s a smooth action, that opens and closes easily. And the frame lock is, in my opinion, a much more sturdy lock than the previous liner locks. The blade pivots on brass washers, which is a nice touch on a knife at this price point. And the blade is perfectly centered in the frame. The handle material is stainless steel. but because there’s just not a lot of it, the knife is delightfully lightweight. Strong, but light.

The folded knife carries deeply in the pocket. The clip works with slacks very well, as the clip slips over the softer material easily and doesn’t abrade the fabric to wear out your trousers prematurely like some knives are keen to do. The clip is narrow enough to be very unobtrusive. The whole knife, when folded and clipped in the pocket, is very unobtrusive… it carries exceptionally well, and leaves a lot of room in the pocket for your car keys. It carries very very well. The clip also doesn’t get in the way of your hand when holding or using the knife.

Other M16’s in the CRKT line are certainly of the Tactical Folder type. But this one is not. It’s more of a Gentleman’s knife, due to the size and weight and slim profile. But it’s got that rugged tactical look. Imagine bearded and tattooed veteran working a civilian office job. Imagine Matt Best in Business Casual. That’s what this knife is. Unobtrusive, but ready to take the air out of your lungs.

Overall, it seems like these knives are exceptionally well made, and of high quality. Especially when you look at the price. That may be the best thing about this knife. You can get them for well under the 49.99 MSRP. In fact, right now, BladeHQ has them for $31.95. And I’ve seen them for even less… 20 bucks… on Amazon Prime! That makes these an amazing value. Absolutely amazing. I’m not saying you should rush out and get one. I’m saying I don’t blame you if you do.

Here’s my wish though. I wish CRKT would make these in the USA. I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for that. And I wish they would use a better grade of steel. I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for that too. Then, sure, the knife would actually sell for the MSRP and be worth every penny. But I guess they are worth every penny now as it is. I’d just like to see the design executed to its full potential.

ESEE AvISPA

Many of you are well familiar with the Ontario RAT 1 & RAT 2 knives. Great hard working value grade folders, designed by Randall’s Adventure Training… hence the name. I’ve reviewed the RAT 1 before. And it’s a great knife for the money. But now there’s another sister knife. The Avispa. ESEE isn’t working with Ontario anymore, which is fine. They are busy making their own knives. ESEE is also busy building a huge following for their hard working, get it done blades.

There’s some distinct differences between the RATs and the Avispas. First and foremost is that the Avispas are Frame Locks and not Liner Locks. The other is that the blade shape is more of a drop point rather than the RAT’s more clip point’ish style blade. Other than that, you can see and feel the same DNA in the designs.

The blade steel is “D2”, which is great. It’s certainly not the end all be all of blade steels, but it’s a very tough material that holds up well and takes a good edge without requiring diamonds to sharpen. The frame lock system is solid and smooth. You can easily flick the blade open, and it locks open with a snap.

The best thing about these knives are the price. They are cheap enough you can buy a couple and keep them in convenient locations. Or just put one in your EDC rotation. I think these are the better knives than the RAT’s but I do like the RAT’s blade profile better due to the sharper point at the tip. But I think overall the Avispa is the better knife. And right now, you can get these on Amazon for less than 35 bucks. $35 Bucks! That’s a lot of knife for the money. Enough to make one reconsider the actual practical value of knives costing 4 times as much as not as fond of hard work.

Spyderco Native 5

Spyderco’s Native has been one of my favorite carry knives since the first version. The Native 5 is a great continuation of that tradition, and yes, it’s still a favorite. I like the feel in the hand better than Spyderco’s other great EDC folder, the Delica. And for the record, this isn’t a 5th edition of it, because there’s practically a countless number of Natives out there with a myriad of handle and blade materials in just about every combination you could think of.

This version is designed to be a light weight version with easy of carry and great EDC properties. Such as a 3″ Blade, and overall length of 6.8″. The weight is only 2.4 ounces. And the blade steel is the delicious CPM S35VN steel. Which is one of the most ideal blade steels out there.

Size wise, the Native has always been a perfect pocketborne companion. Something you could just always have on you. And in the pocket, clipped properly, it still leaves you a pocket you can use for other things, such as car keys. And you wont get any new scars when you reach in to get those keys.

I got into Spyderco when I was going through my Police Academy getting my Colorado POST certification. That was a long time ago. The Spydercos tend to be simple lockbacks, with good blade steels and absolutely wickedly sharp cutting edges. The Native 5 is very very very sharp. One of the very sharpest blades I’ve ever felt. I’ve always liked the way one can open and close the blade one handed without much shifting in the hand.

The Clip isn’t the lowest or deepest carry. But it is reversible and changeable for tip up or tip down carry, left or right hand carry. Whichever way you want to carry it. And through the hole in the clip and scales… You can run a cord for whatever reason you feel like you need tassels on it.

One thing I found on the Native 5 that I didn’t like at first, but have come to appreciate it… is the molded in texture. It’s a directional pattern than allows it to slide in one direction and really grip and lock-in, in the other direction. So while it’s a tough carbon reinforced nylon type polymer… it is strong, and it’s not going to slip around at all in the hand.

The #1 Rival to the Native would probably be the Benchmade Buckout. As you can see they are similarly sized, with the Bugout being a little slimmer, and a little lighter, and carries deeper.

The Bugout is anywhere from 20 to 40 bucks more depending on your retail outlet… And while slimmer and lighter and deeper, I don’t know if it’s actually worth any more money. Because the Bugout is also a bit more delicate, and can flex too easily when you go to use it for anything more heavy duty than slicing open snacks or throats. The Native for it’s small size, isn’t actually a light duty knife. You can really use it for some serious work. The finger grooves really allow you to grip the hell out of the knife. So taking away Benchmade’s Political SNAFU and comparing both knives on their own merits… I think the NATIVE 5 is the better buy. You’re getting more knife for less coin, and most gun owners won’t give you stink-eye when they see you’re packing a Benchmade.

Buck’s 110 Slim Hunter Pro

In 1964 Buck Knives introduced the Model 110 Folding Hunter. The knife that became not just a classic, but the most popular folding knife ever made. It has handsome lines, and sharp looking brass bolsters with wood scales. And the blade locked, which was practically a novelty then. The knife proved to be a strong and reliable tool that every outdoorsman wanted.
The problem that it has though, is that it’s rather heavy unless you carry it in the belt sheath… Because you had to. Some years ago, Buck made a Ecolite version, which was much lighter and better suited for everyday carry. But some guys didn’t like the Paperstone scales, and it didn’t have a clip. I for one love the Ecolite and wish they still made them.

Buck has now released the Slim Hunter Pro version which takes even more weight out of the knife, and adds that Pocket Clip we’ve been waiting for. And the name is quite fitting… The knife is very slim, and very light, and it works incredibly well for the purpose of packing every day and all day. It also adds something we’ve wanted all along too. Thumb Studs for easy one handed opening.

Now, I know someone in the comments will say that you could always open a 110 Folding Hunter one handed, easily. By gripping the blade and flicking the handle down. Yes. And I’ve also seen guys flick that knife across the room when they lost their grip doing just that. I’m talking about safely and securely opening the knife. And I love the way it opens too… With an authoritative snap when the lock engages. It’s satisfying in the same way a pump action shotgun is satisfying when you rack the slide. It gives you that feedback and confidence that work is about to get done.

The Elephant in the room though, is that pocket clip. It’s works fine, and gives a nice deep carry. It doesn’t make any hot spots really in the hand when you are using the knife. It’s a good clip functionally. The problem though is that it’s this huge fat thing that detracts from the simple elegance of the 110 design. If someone out there was in the business of making replacement clips, something that could replace this thing would be a winner product to make. Because I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

The blade is 3.75 inches long, with an overall knife length opened, of just over 8 inches. The steel isn’t the normal 440HC BOS. This stuff is the upper scale blade steel, CPM-S30V. Which is fantastic stuff without being too expensive. And then Buck takes that blade and gives it the BOS heat treat process which involves cryogenic treatment to improve the steel even more. The blade shape is reminiscent of the classic 110 Folding Hunter, but slightly different as it doesn’t have as much of a Bowie style recurve to the clip-point profile. So the knife doesn’t quite have as much of that needle point tip as the old school version, but is still a handsome looking blade.

Buck makes Slim Hunter Pro version of their 112 series as well… Which is just like this but with a shorter blade and even better suited for Every Day Carry than the full sized 110. The 112 version is a great option for those that are considering the Benchmade Bugout, but would rather buy something else due to Benchmade’s political SNAFU.

Both versions and different color options can be found at BladeHQ. Amazon, or other fine retailers. This is the knife I’ve been waiting for Buck to make for a very long time. 30 years? I’m glad it’s finally here. I recommend these knives highly. While they are a little spendy compared to the classic Folding Hunter, these knives are certainly better suited to our modern lifestyle and knife habits. Also, these knives are made right here in the USA so your money is going to support American families and not a foreign government that wants to bloody our nose and overthrow the world under their communist flag.

Benchmade 535 Bugout

The Bugout is named inaccurately. Bugging out to me, means it’s a SHTF scenario. Where you are going to deal with everything from Aliens to Zombies to Survival. That kind of knife is probably better off being a Fixed Blade, and maybe a large one at that. That’s really not what this knife is all about. What this knife really is, is a more butch Gentleman’s knife.

The Bugout sports a thin flat grind blade that’s very sharp and awesome for slicing. The handle profile is also very thin. The clip allows for a very deep carry. And the overall weight is under 2 ounces, making it just crazy light. Saying that “It’s like it’s not even there” is an understatement. And like a Gentleman’s knife, the Bugout is on the smallish side.

The liners are very short, to reduce weight. And the knife is mostly open. But the Axis lock is smooth, and just what you would expect of a Benchmade. I do like the design and the execution. And I do feel that you are getting what you pay for with the Bugout… if you went into it with proper expectations. Because the knife was designed from the start to be crazy light, it gives up some things that a true SHTF Bug Out Knife should have. The blade isn’t heavy enough to flick out with a snap of the wrist. But it does open smoothly with the thumb stud, and you can flick it out with the studs with a little practice. You are getting a coated titanium Axis lock, which means it’s very light, and it’s going to last for a very long time. As will the reinforced nylon scales… Though they can flex if you squeeze it, it’s not going to hurt them. And you can get kits to swap those with G-10 or Micarta, if you want to add some thickness and weight. Which defeats the purpose of the Bugout’s super light nature. It’s fine as it is. Right now, you can get the plan satin blade with blue handles, or a tan handle with a black coated blade. But I tend to not light coated blades… so… Blue. Which looks nice enough.

I find it odd that this was marketed at guys that are doing backpacking and are counting every ounce. No. That’s really not this knife. This is better suited to the guy that wears a suit every day and suit pants pockets don’t hang heavy folders very well. But I guess the name “Professional” or “Middle Management” or “Sales Team” just doesn’t inspire, and probably doesn’t show the handle materials that those names might conjure… Like Rich Mahogany or Corinthian Leather. But the S30V Blade Steel sure does. That’s a solid choice, without getting silly in expense. As is the Bugout knife as a whole. A solid choice for the guy that wants a really good every day carry knife that is light and deep, yet capable of good cutting when needed.

The Bugout is worthy of the Butterfly… Benchmade really does make some great knives, and this is one of them.

UPDATE: Some time later after packing the Bugout for some time… It’s become my favorite EDC Folding Knife. The fact it does very well at not being there when not needed, and being handy and sharp as hell when needed… It’s damn near the Perfect EDC knife. I love this thing.

Gerber Flatiron

I’ve done something I honestly never thought I’d do. I picked up a Gerber. I’ve been kind of interested in Cleaver Blade folders, and this one just stood out to me. Now, I’m just not a fan of Gerber… Their designs, their Chinese production… and this one is Chinese made too. Damn it. I seriously find that irritating and I strongly dislike Gerber for that reason. I make no excuses for getting this knife… I have Sinned. Forgive me. But this knife is pretty cool…

Benchmade SOCP Dagger


I’ve had this knife for several years now.  And the one thing I can tell you about this, is that it isn’t a tool.  See, most knives regardless of their marketing-defined purpose, are cutting tools.  First and foremost, they are able to cut things and be used for many tasks.  The SOCP doesn’t do any of that.  The SOCP does only one thing.  Stab.  The blade is designed to puncture.  And it does that very well, thanks to its needle-sharp tip.  It does have some sharpening up the sides of the edges, but only to aid in penetration and to open the wound channel a bit.   There is really no other utility going on here.  And that’s okay. Continue reading Benchmade SOCP Dagger

Cold Steel SRK, Zero Fuq’s Given


This knife was a gift to me by the Prince of North Carolina.   Actually, we’re on quite good terms.  No, seriously… a friend of the family gave this knife to me… and as such, as all Gifted Knives are to me, they become quite special to me.  But at the same time, this knife is meant to be used hard.  Which is why I had to get another one.  Because I wanted to use it – Hard.  Everything about the design is beefy and rugged and just screams that it wants to get Deployed or go Hunt Orc.  The knife wants to Adventure. Continue reading Cold Steel SRK, Zero Fuq’s Given

Worst Knife Ever? Cold Steel Kudu

I don’t even remember when, where, why, or how I got this knife.  I only remember that it was really really cheap. Like McDollar Menu Cheap.  I think I remember getting a few of them and giving most of them away… But I held on to this one.    Cold Steel made a production version of what is a popular cheap folding knife from South Africa.
On one hand, I think maybe this is something that should have stayed in South Africa. Continue reading Worst Knife Ever? Cold Steel Kudu