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Woman looks to sue after NJ casino refuses to pay disputed $1.27 million slot machine prize
  • Yes. I do this to people at my workplace from time to time. Well, rarely having to remove them from the premises. This is usually over email or the phone.

    As soon as a client mid-tantrum threatens to sue or call their lawyer thinking it'll "intimidate" me into capitulating on not delivering the impossible, instead they find themselves very thoroughly stonewalled because I cannot discuss any topic that is the subject of litigation nor communicate with clients undergoing litigation in any capacity. I'm sorry, all inquiries must be made to our legal department.

    I'm sorry, all inquiries must be made to our legal department.

    I'm sorry, all inquiries must be made to our legal department.

    I'm sorry, all inquiries must be made to our legal department.

    I'm sorry, all inquiries must be made to our legal department.

    I'm sorry, all inquiries must be made to our legal department.

    Etc...

    It's gold every time it happens.

  • Every damn day
  • That sounds like you're not being a team player. It is absolutely vital that we maintain a skeleton crew because your manager's bonus is dependent on cutting payroll to the point of nonfunctionality.

  • toxic help forum
  • See, this is exactly my point in my other comment above. I could do this in about five seconds with Corel PhotoPaint.

    1. Make a new document that's arbitrarily large.
    2. Import both (or all 3, or all 10, or however many) images. (Images can be batch imported.)
    3. Snap the first one to the top left corner.
    4. Snap the others below it. Their corners and edges will click together if you have alignment guides enabled. 4a. Optionally resize any of the images by just typing in the value you need in pixels, in the toolbar when it's selected. If you need to know the size of any other image, just click it and it'll tell you. It's not even in a menu.
    5. Crop tool (D) to knock the oversized canvas down to whatever size you need. Again, you can just type this in, in pixels, and it's not even buried in a menu.
    6. Export, post, accumulate lulz.

    Export to a flat format (.jpeg, .png, .gif, whatever) and your output will be flattened. You don't need to think about layers or merging or layers being bigger than the canvas or not. There is no, "Be careful not to XYZ." What you see in the preview is what the output will look like. Period. You can even apply your monitor's color calibration to it or the color profile of any other output device (printer, a different monitor, etc.) on the fly if you are a big enough nerd.

    You can do this in an even simpler dumber way in CorelDRAW!

    1. Import the images. Images can still be batch imported.
    2. Arrange them however you want, snap them together, whatever.
    3. Lasso them all and export.

    That's... literally it. You don't have to crop, you don't have to trim, or layer, or anything. You can specify the dimensions of the output file in the export window before you hit save if you want it to be different than the original. Your arrangement doesn't even have to be rectangular and it will still work.

  • toxic help forum
  • "And if I do give you a solution, we'll be sure not to share it with anyone else."

  • toxic help forum
  • No, GIMP does suck.

    It has the same problem as most FOSS packages that are too wide in breadth and have multiple contributors with their own hobby horses pulling in all different directions, and to this day does not actually provide a feature-complete whole, nor an interface that actually makes sense. And it's not a matter of the workflow just being different -- it categorically fails to replicate functionality that is core to its commercial competitors. Numerous other "big" productivity packages have the same problem including FreeCAD (boy does it ever), LibreOffice, etc. I say this as a staunch supporter of FreeCAD, by the way. It's the only CAD software I use even though it's a pain in my ass.

    The shining exception to this I see is Inkscape, but it is still significantly less powerful than even early versions of CorelDraw.

    For 2D graphics work these days, I hold my nose and just use Corel. I use it for work. Like, actual commercial work. That I get paid for. It is at least a lesser evil than doing business with Adobe.

    And if you want to stick it to the man, it is easily pirated.

  • Boring Post: That'll Teach You To Keep Coming Unvelcroed
  • My jacket is an Alpinestars Halo. You can kinda-sorta already do that by hooking the sleeve cinches together, and with the weird kangaroo pouches both front and rear you could probably carry a significant amount of stuff in it.

    You'd look like a berk doing it, though.

  • Samsung’s smart fridges mistakenly warned users its free TV service was ending
  • LG all the way. I have not had much in the way of positive results from GE since their acquisition by Haier. Their build quality took an immediate and noticeable nosedive. I have seen DOA, damaged, and defective units of all stripes from all brands over the years. But I have never seen any units arrive from the factory not fully assembled, but still packed up in a box and shipped in that state, except from GE. Multiple times.

    I received a PFE28 refrigerator with no ice maker mechanism, just a hole in the door where it should have been installed. I also received a CGS700 range with the oven light door switch not installed, just rolling around in the bottom of the oven cavity where it was subsequently baked by the customer. I also received one CXE22 refrigerator with no face panel on the center drawer. There are other examples but those are just the recent ones I can remember off the top of my head.

    Haier's management philosophy seems to be in lockstep with the Chinese Manufacturing Way, which is to steal whatever tech you can, do a slapdash job of making it, lie about everything, and when pressed about it just lie some more.

    Honestly Whirlpool is not doing great these days, either, but they're better than Samsung or GE. Whirlpool has seemingly devolved into mostly competing with itself with all of its various sub-marquees: Amana, Maytag, KitchenAid, Gladiator, Jenn-Air, Roper, Affresh, etc. A better strategy might be to compete with their, you know, competitors. Whirlpool's warranty service network has also essentially evaporated over the last few years, so if you don't already know a repairman who is Whirlpool factory authorized to do warranty work you may as well just open a Youtube tab and figure that shit out yourself. Otherwise you'll just be told "there are no servicers or service dates in your area and the system only lets us look two weeks in advance" over and over again until your warranty runs out.

    The less we say about Samsung the better. At one point we were experiencing a roughly 50/50 first-week failure rate of their laundry machines and dishwashers. A coin flip. That's worse odds than a first run XBox 360 not red ringing itself to put it into perspective. Don't buy a Samsung appliance no matter how shiny it is or how big of a touch screen it's got.

  • Samsung’s smart fridges mistakenly warned users its free TV service was ending
  • The Samsung FamilyHub fridge does indeed basically have an overgrown tablet duct taped to the door. It runs Samsung's Tizen operating system, which you may recall was at one point going to be the Next Big Thing and a competitor to Android and iOS. Obviously that didn't happen, so now it's relegated to refrigerators.

    Honestly, my theory is that Samsung is just pulling a sunk cost fallacy move and was desperate to put Tizen in something -- anything -- to justify its development.

    It's terrible. All the hardware is also located inside the upper right door, and it dumps all of its waste heat out the back of the door into the refrigerator compartment. The design is breathtakingly stupid.

  • Atari Acquires Intellivision Brand
  • You should read up on the Amico and in particular watch Pat The NES Punk's various videos on it. The entire debacle is hilarious.

    The Amico is/was basically an investor scam. Yes, it did eventually turn into an actual product (which is crap) but it was never intended to be a serious contender to anything. The intent was for Tommy Tallarico to get his face published everywhere and pocket/embezzle a significant amount of investor and Indiegogo money.

    The system itself is basically an out-of-date smartphone chipset running a cut down version of Android. Most of its games, as you would expect, are basically mobile trash. Other than emulated Intellivision titles, anyway. And mobile trash you have to pay up front for a console with bullshit controls to even play it on.

  • Kia EV3 revealed as sub-£30k electric SUV with 373-mile range | Autocar
  • Don't hold your breath on Toyota. They're still huffing their hydrogen crack pipe. Until they commit to abandoning that silly dead end I'll wager all of their EV offerings are going to be perfunctory compliance vehicles with minimal effort behind them or rebadges of other cars.

  • What are some eras of gaming that you've stopped feeling nostalgic for?
  • I agree on the N64, and the problem with it is that everyone is nostalgic for "the system," but in reality they're only nostalgic for Mario 64, Goldeneye, Conker, Mario Kart, Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Smash Bros., and Perfect Dark. It's not that the N64 has a top ten, it's that it basically only had ten good games total. And bangers though they may have been, everything else on it was crap.

    I'm sure two or three people will pop out of the woodwork now to argue with me and insist that no, back in the day they really did love WCW Mayhem or 1080 Snowboarding or the butchered piece of shit version of THPS or Chef's Luv Shack or whatever the fuck, but that's the thing: It's always back in the day, when you were a kid and only owned four cartridges, and you didn't know any better because that's all you had. Nobody goes back to play any of the remaining 378 games now.

  • Boring Post: That'll Teach You To Keep Coming Unvelcroed
  • That's a good point. I didn't even think of that.

    As an added bonus, installation involved bashing them with a hammer. It was quite cathartic.

  • Boring Post: That'll Teach You To Keep Coming Unvelcroed

    That's right, "Velcro" is a verb now.

    I was on a three day adventure ride this week. These fuckers kept wanting to come undone, but firmly stick themselves to the lining on the inside of my sleeves instead. This is deeply irritating.

    5
    Elders [Alex Krokus]
  • You'll never pin a single thing on me, copper.

  • Wait what, you don't have a COVEN?
  • There is such a thing as a coven of wizards, but it's typically referred to as an argument.

  • Elders [Alex Krokus]
  • I had an x201 that I sold on to pay for my now "current" (ha) OG Thinkpad Yoga. Sometimes I do miss that old brick.

    Sure, it only had two point touch instead of 10... But it got 11 hours of battery life with the extended (swappable!) pack, a daylight readable display, built in GPS, a fingerprint reader that actually worked, and if anyone tried to steal your laptop you could just hit them with it.

  • Elders [Alex Krokus]
  • Running an OS significantly newer than original on a computer gets filed under "expectations." Nobody bitches their Amiga can't run Windows 98, either. If it is 10 years old, its original OS was Windows 8, updates for which ended in 2016 (or last year, for Windows 8.1). No new bloat after that!

    But even so, unless the computer in question is a netbook or something it'll be fine. For reference, I have a ThinkPad laptop that was manufactured in 2012 and I still use it daily. It runs Windows 10 just fine. Updates and all. The latest Corel suite, modern browsers, video editing, no problem. PC performance reached a bit of plateau coincidentally... about 10 years ago.

    The MTBF of even a middling consumer hard drive is, if we are being extremely uncharitable, 300,000 hours. That's 32 and a quarter years of continuous usage and there are vintage hard drives in circulation in perfect working order that are much, much older than that. The main thing this laptop is going to need help with is its battery, which probably is degraded a bit by now.

  • Kershaw Skyline: No Need To Bug Out

    The skyline rising over trees

    Skyline swaying in the breeze

    !

    The skyline set this city alight

    Radiate into the night

    !

    Thin, light, easy to carry. We've been talking about that a lot lately, vis-a-vis Benchmade's current crop of wafer-thin and expensive plastic handled EDC knives. So here's a different runup at that idea, which has the first thing but not the last two.

    At the time, I said we could do nearly as well for less. How? Well, this is the Kershaw Skyline, a now sadly discontinued budget EDC knife that probably does just about everything most people shopping in this category would want. Made in the USA? Check. Good build quality? Check. Light weight? Check. Svelte dimensions? Check. Blade made of 14C28N, arguably the king of non-crucible stainless steels? Check that, too. Just one thing, though: The Skyline is/was only $30. Used examples can be had pretty readily for not a lot more.

    !

    Kershaw accomplished this by not packing anything zany into the Skyline, which probably went a long way towards keeping the cost down. It is one ISO standard unit of pocketknife with no surprises. In fact, it makes an excellent comparison point for any given cheap and/or knockoff knife you may be looking at. If you ever need a demonstration that there's no excuse for a $30-ish knife to be crap, just look at the Skyline. Is the thing in your hand as well built? No? Well, then it's probably not a great value for money.

    The Skyline is a regular liner locking folder, with dual ambidextrous thumb studs and a flipper heel on the back. Despite the flipper on it, it's not spring assisted. The drop point blade is precisely 3" long, with the entire knife measuring out to 7-3/8" long open, and 4-3/16" closed. With that blade length and without any spring loading it thus ought to be widely legal to carry making it the perfect knife for the everyman. It only weighs 71.8 grams (2.53 ounces) which is more than a Benchmade Bugout, but noticeably less than other similarly constructed knives in its length class.

    !

    That's because it's only 0.410" thick across its G-10 scales (not including the clip) which is again a little more than a Bugout but really not by a lot. This is thanks to a somewhat unique design that includes a full length steel liner -- but only one of them. The other side is a G-10 scale with nothing underneath. This cuts both weight and thickness, and as we all know that's the name of the game here.

    The blade is 0.89" thick at the spine, precisely the same as the Bugout. It's hollow ground, and comes down to a very thin edge which both makes it feel very sharp, and provides a high degree of cutting performance versus the types of materials a light duty EDC knife is likely to face: Cardboard, plastic packaging, envelopes, small diameter cordage, and maybe the occasional apple or sandwich.

    !

    The clip is not a deep carry design, probably because the Skyline's initial release slightly predated that trend. It is not reversible owing to the fact that it screws into the liner, and there's only a liner on one side. It can be relocated to the other end, though, for either tip-up or tip-down carry. So it can cater to either camp, regardless of whether or not you are a gallant and upstanding individual, or a depraved philistine.

    The Skyline is, if the point hasn't been driven into the ground yet, thin. How thin?

    !

    Here it is compared to the Bugout, as well as the standard CQC-6K. It is thicker than the Bugout on paper but doesn't really feel like it in the hand. Mathematically the difference is negligible. It is noticeably thinner and lighter than the CQC, though. It's noticeably thinner and lighter than most similar knives, in fact.

    The Skyline does have one thing going for it in that it is massively more rigid than the Bugout. Part of this is down to the single full length steel liner, but the G-10 scales are also a much less flexible material, noticeable even on the side that's not supported by anything. You can make the Skyline flex only a little, and only if you specifically try by squishing its handles together while it's open. It has a very generous cutout for your index finger as well, with both attributes combining to provide a much more confident feel in my opinion.

    I predict this is part of what annoyed some people so much about the Bugout, myself included. Not in how it is designed per se, but rather that there's already this dinky little thing from Kershaw that manages to feel more premium, despite being purchasable with the type of chump change your typical Benchmade owner loses down the back of their couch without noticing.

    I have heard whining on the internet in the past, possibly due to the presence of the thumb studs as well, to the effect that the Skyline's flipper apparently "doesn't work."

    !

    Um. Yes it does?

    !

    Beneath its clip, the Skyline has this rather Zero Tolerance-esque hex nut head on the back side of the pivot screw. I can't prove if this is the first time Kershaw ever used this design -- it probably wasn't -- but it was the first time I ever recall seeing it. This caused me a bit of a challenge for this photo shoot, though, because 2014 me got this knife tuned to pivoting perfection and then slathered it in entirely too much Loctite and never touched the screw again.

    !

    I had to... ah... modify the screw a bit to get it back out just now. Otherwise it was just spinning in its socket despite the flats, and there's no other way to grab it. Muh resale value: Ruined. Oh well. The pocket clip conceals it anyway.

    !

    What you get inside is this. The Skyline's pivot rides on phosphor bronze washers which is quite nice for the price. I imagine a lot of other manufacturers would have been tempted to use plastic ones at this price point.

    !

    The backspacer is held down by these very loooooong screws, which go all the way through and...

    !

    ...engage with a pair of nuts in the scale on the other side.

    !

    The pivot screw is completely round, with no anti-rotation flat on it. That's supposed to be accomplished by the hex head on the back of the screw. And it probably is, if you don't glue the thing together like a dummy.

    !

    I think the lockup is very clever, despite being a regular liner lock mechanism. There's no end stop pin, nor does it need one. Instead, a protrusion on the back of the blade heel prevents it from pivoting past the open position no matter how hard you try. Even if you deliberately hold the lock down you can't over-rotate the blade because the thumb studs will eventually hit the handles. I can't imagine this added any more machine work worth mentioning, but what it did do was allow Kershaw to omit not only the end stop pin from the bill of materials, but also not have to figure out a way to anchor it without a steel liner on both sides. I like it.

    !

    The Skyline is actually narrower, that is across the scales and in total width, than the Bugout. So there. It's a damn sight smaller than the CQC-6K, which is what I personally consider to be on the larger end of what most normal people would want to carry on a daily basis.

    The steel question is, I think, answered thusly: 14C28N is a very tough alloy and also more corrosion resistant than the S30V the Bugout is made out of, which is a better idea for the types of non-enthusiast people who are likely to wind up with one of these. It should tolerate abuse, misuse, careless storage, and lack of cleaning much better than an awful lot of high alloy steels, including the current popular supersteels. And it'll be both tougher and more corrosion resistant than the 440C or 8Cr13MoV that such knives are likely to be made out of while having similar edge retention characteristics. Now, there are steels that will hold an edge better versus abrasion than 14C28N, but I think the same hypothetical person who might be intended to buy this knife would appreciate it not being a battle to resharpen. Those to aspects are of course mutually exclusive. And the thin hollow ground geometry means that this knife should cut very well even if it's been inexpertly sharpened.

    Then, of course, there is the notion that the minutiae of different modern knife alloys doesn't really matter that much for the types of non-critical use that the vast majority of pocketknives are used for by normal people, if they are even used heavily at all. Remember that even current cheap steels are loads better than good steel was at the turn of the century, and this continent was conquered by men carrying knives made from metal that wouldn't be a patch on even middling knives from today. That's my position on the matter, and if you want to fight me on it you'd better consider yourself on notice that I've got a lot of knives to fend you off with.

    It's a shame the Skyline is gone, but there's hope. There is a Mini variant which is still in stock at the time of writing. It also had a revival a couple of years ago with a re-release made in 20CV steel, too. These are now hard to find, but not impossible.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    Light is seen from outer space

    UFOs crush human race

    Alien rebuild city anew

    Alien knife nerds have Skylines, too

    !

    13
    Weird Knife Wednesday: HUAAO "Bugout" Titanium

    Ceci n'est pas une Benchmade.

    !

    No, really. It's not.

    With all this talk of Bugouts and Minis and Bailouts lately, obviously I've been building up to something. So here it is.

    !

    This pisses me off.

    !

    No, not because it's an obvious copy of the Benchmade 535 Bugout. This is in fact the "HUAAO 7.4 Inch Manual Open Bugout 535 Folding Knife," the titanium version. I don't know who the hell HUAAO are, other than one of those bare minimum five-letter Amazon nonbrands, although their name has crossed my desk before. The gods alone know who actually make this thing.

    It's yours for $47.49 from Amazon, available here. No, that's not an affiliate link -- I won't gain anything if you click. More the fool me, perhaps, for that being the case.

    This pisses me off because of the state of the world. Because it's exactly what it says on the tin, and it's less than $50, and it fixes so much that annoys me about the genuine Benchmade Bugout, which costs four times more.

    !

    I like this knife better than the Bugout. That's... really just digging my hole deeper, isn't it?

    I could go over the specs of the HUAAO but that's not too tough to do. Copy and paste what I said about the Bugout; this is the same. In fact, I will: It's 7-3/8" long open, 4-1/4" closed, with a 3-1/8" blade. The blade's the same 0.089" thick. It is a copy down to submillimetric precision.

    !

    It has an Axis lock, and it even makes a respectable presentation of reproducing the tumbled stonewash satin finish of the original on the blade. Note, however, that it doesn't even pretend to have a Benchmade logo on it. In fact, it bears no markings whatsoever. No brand, no maker's mark, no model number, no serial, no steel descriptor. It doesn't even say "made in China," even though it obviously is.

    This weighs 93.3 grams or 3.29 ounces. It's still pretty light, but that's 42.2 grams more than the Bugout -- for one very simple reason. Just like it says, the handles are machined out of titanium. And insofar as I'm able to determine they genuinely are. The scales weigh 25.9 grams each.

    !

    Of course you have to have a grain or two of salt handy to deal with the Country That Fakes Literally Everything. But a magnet doesn't stick to them, they're clearly denser in the hand than a roughly equivalently sized block of aluminum, but they're far too light to be zinc or any other potmetal. I have a pair of titanium tweezers that I use for arranging all the fiddly little screws and pins and bits for my photo shoots and comparing those to these, they definitely feel like the business. I don't have any other really nondestructive ways to test them.

    Titanium is simply not an option on the Bugout. The Bailout comes with an aluminum handle for a massive upcharge, and the Bugout itself can be had in the 535-3 variant with carbon fiber handles for a similarly ludicrous markup. But there is no metal handle option at all. Flexy bendy plastic is your only lot.

    !

    The easy to carry svelteness of the Bugout is its headline feature, and the HUAAO knife has that. It's 0.405" thick in total, as usual not including the clip. That's damn close to the thickness of the Bugout, and who knows how accurate my original measurement of the Benchmade was. The OG Bugout has a diamond grip pattern embossed into it and the HUAAO hasn't, so maybe my calipers fell into a valley in those. Or maybe the handles flexed. I couldn't tell you for sure. Either way, that's only a 0.016" difference.

    The handles on the HUAAO do not flex. At all. This thing is solid as a rock, exhibiting no perceptible bow whatsoever even if you give it your mightiest squeeze. The surface is subtly rounded and has a satin bead blasted finish that provides a decent amount of purchase, although without any machined or molded texture it's not as grippy as the diamonds molded into the Bugout. It feels much more refined and gentlemanly, though, which in comparing the two is surely heresy of the highest order. The spine is squared with a slight fillet, whereas the Bugout has a slight but definite chevron angle along the rear edge which is barely perceptible but makes it deceptively difficult to stand the thing up on edge. This has no bearing whatsoever on anything in the real world unless you're trying to stand it up to take photos of the thing, in which case it's maddening. No so with the HUAAO; it'll stand up resolutely on a flat surface.

    Anyway, as you can see above the clip is ever so slightly taller than the Bugout's and it has a different radius to the semicircular part. It works pretty much the same way and just like the Bugout's it is too tightly sprung. But the surface of the HUAAO is smoother, and that makes for a nicer draw from the pocket in my opinion. So it scores better there as well, dagnabbit.

    !

    Instead of the diabolo spacers Benchmade uses this unitary machined and anodized back spacer. It accepts a pair of screws in the same positions, though. It has grip ridges machined into it, and forms a lanyard hole where the handle scales are cut out for it. I feel this gives a much more confident lanyard attachment point and yes, the inner edges of it are even chamfered slightly so it doesn't slice through whatever cordage you use.

    Already we're up to three things I like better about this knife than the OG Bugout. What about the action, though? This is a knockoff knife, so surely that's crap, right?

    !

    It's not.

    The HUAAO opens with satin smoothness. This is with no tuning at all, straight out of the box. Pull the Axis lock back and the blade just falls open, as if it were a gravity knife. The lockup is exactly as solid and precise as the original, and it has zero blade wiggle.

    !

    That's because the HUAAO has ball bearing pivots. The Benchmade Bugout and its ilk, needless to say, don't.

    "Glide" isn't even the right term to describe how it feels manipulating this knife. While the Bugout is serviceable, possibly even bordering on pleasant if you've taken the time to tune yours correctly, the HUAAO is instead impeccable. I hate it because I love it so much.

    Here's what you get inside:

    !

    That is indeed a better than complete mechanical copy of the Benchmade. The blade heel is different because it's got a pocket milled into it for the bearings. Otherwise, many of the parts are even interchangeable. Even if you're a snob and you absolutely cannot countenance not having that butterfly etched onto your blade, you could steal the handle scales and backspacer off of this and swap them over.

    !

    Here is one of my HUAAO's scales on my Bugout. As you can see, everything lines right up. You'll also want to bring some of the screws over, though...

    !

    Because unlike the Bugout, some of the screws are different. On the OG, all of the screws are the same except the one that goes in the middle of the handle, into the tail of the liner plate. On the HUAAO, that screw and the one that goes into the endstop pin are a smaller diameter. The middle one is also shorter, and don't mix them up or else you'll scratch your blade with the excess screw length sticking out into the channel. The two that go into the backspacer on each side are the same as each other, and also interchangeable with the Benchmade's screws.

    There are other construction quirks, as well. For instance:

    !

    The pivot screw is D shaped, with an anti-rotation flat on it just like the Benchmade's. But the liner plates and scales don't have matching cutouts. Their holes are just round. (There's also a gouge in the inner surface of this plate from the factory, but this doesn't seem to affect anything.) So presumably to compensate for this the pivot screw in my example was glued -- yes glued, I believe with superglue -- into place.

    !

    Some of that also escaped onto the plates. This didn't impact functionality, but it annoyed me and I had to dissolve it with acetone. Here's what that looked like on the workbench.

    For what it's worth the liner plates are totally interchangeable between a real Bugout and this. So if you really gave a shit you could swap those over, too, and have matching holes to go with your D flats.

    Okay, so, some cost cutting measures have clearly been taken. That's to be expected for the price. Certainly no one is going to machine something to Benchmade specifications for a non-Benchmade price. And the blade, right, it's obviously crap. Right???

    !

    Well, the grind is dead true. How about that.

    Sharpness is a tough attribute to convey in text, or indeed even in a video. And beyond exceptionally bad instances it's kind of immaterial, since sooner or later you'll be bound to be resharpening the thing yourself anyhow. But my example came out of the box quite serviceably sharp. It has no problems cleanly lopping the corner off of a Post-It.

    HUAAO allege it to be made of 440C and given what we've seen to be readily available from other Chinese makers like Ganzo I don't think it's a stretch to trust them on that. So it's not a supersteel, but for a sub-$50 knife with bearing pivots and titanium handles I don't think that's a major knock against it. 440C is a perfectly cromulent alloy, if you ask me. It's got decent edge retention characteristics and while its toughness is not on par with some of the current high end supersteels, you're hardly going to be prying nails and beheading zombies with this little thing anyway.

    The real Bugout's steel is better. That's just how it is. But I'm okay with 440C, and just for sake of argument I'd snap up a D2 version of this in a heartbeat. Conversely, I'd pay half the price for a Bugout if Benchmade would just make it out of, say, 154CM and be happy with it.

    !

    If you're looking to identify one of these in the wild, you won't get any help from the box. This knife came in the most nondescript packaging in the history of the universe. You get this black lift-off cardboard box with no identifying information on it. It's nice in its way, sturdy with a nice woven texture in it. But it says nothing. Literally nothing. No brand, no model number, nothing's printed on it at all.

    !

    Inside rests your prize. Mine came in two plastic baggies nested inside each other. But likewise to the box, there is no manual, no tag or label, no instructions leaflet. Nothing else comes in the box but the knife itself, and a piece of foam glued to the bottom.

    On the bright side, this isn't really pretending to be a Benchmade. I could see some charlatan slathering it up with fake logos, and I respect the manufacturer a little more -- whoever they actually are -- for not trying that.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    There are plenty of reasons to shell out for a Benchmade. A warranty, for one. The HUAAO certainly hasn't got one of those, at least beyond what you can wring out of its reseller.

    But underneath it all, as an object this is a better Bugout than the Bugout. That's infuriating. Not because of what this knife is, or who makes it, but because Benchmade didn't. This goes beyond getting cloned -- this is an improvement over the original in several respects and for significantly less in the bargain. This is the knife Benchmade should have made all along, for the exorbitant amount they already charge.

    Sure, you can buy aftermarket titanium scales for a Bugout and it won't flex anymore. Now your $180 knife is $276. You could probably pay a machinist to mill out your blade to take thrust bearings, too. There goes your warranty, while you're at it. Would you? I wouldn't.

    This puts us at a crossroads. It does for me, anyway. I like the HUAAO a lot. Sure, I would like it more if it weren't a replica of someone else's design. Say if they took all the same features and materials, made it the same size, but in a different shape. Would anyone be howling about it being a "Benchmade ripoff" then? It'd just be a hidden gem of a little off brand knife. We've seen those before and even talked about them here. Is there such a thing as an ethical reworking of the very shape of something else? I don't know. At the end of the day, it's just a pocketknife.

    But I'll be carrying this instead of my Bugout. It feels better. It opens better. It looks better. And if I destroy it, I'll be a lot less sad about it than my Benchmade. And that right there is where the rubber meets the road. Regardless of how well it's made or what kind of fancy steel it uses, is a knife you won't use "better" in a real world sense than one you will?

    I submit to you that it is not.

    !

    10
    Benchmade 537 Bailout: Tactical Hipster Chic?

    !

    Bugout too small for you? You're covered. Try the Benchmade Bailout, which is -- Wait, didn't we just do this?

    !

    Here it is, standing tall. The Bailout is the biggest brother in the Benchmade 53x series, sporting a very similar design philosophy to the Bugout and Mini Bugout vis-a-vis being very thin and lightweight. Benchmade say it's "2 ounces," but by my scale it's actually 59.3 grams or 2.09 ounces, so they must be doing the old backpacking gear trick and omitting the clip from the weight measurement.

    The Bailout also has tactical aspirations. Benchmade sell this as one of their "black box" knives, whereas the Bugout and Mini Bugout are "blue box" ones. If you believe the marketing, the black box models are supposed to be designed for professionals and the rigors of use as employed by police, firefighters, military men, etc. That says maybe in this case, given that the Bailout is designed exactly like the svelte little Bugouts which seem to be marketed towards backpackers, urban carry, and lighter duty everyday use.

    !

    This incarnation of the Bailout is the OG polymer handled version. One of the complaints I shall make herewith, as if we haven't heard the same old song and dance enough already, are solved by the M4 variant which has aluminum handles instead. That one also has a fancier CPM M4 blade rather than the base model's CPM 3V. But it's also the thick end of $300, whereas the normal model is an already princely $200.

    !

    The Bailout, see, has pretty much exactly the same construction as the Bugout and Mini Bugout. But it's bigger: 8-1/16" long overall, 4-5/8" closed, with a 3-3/8" blade that's tanto pointed this time around to appeal to all those whackers professional operators. The blade is also coated with a finely textured epoxy finish.

    But. It has the same number of handle spacers (two) and nearly the same thickness of handle slabs (0.414" in total, not including the clip) made of the same material, so it has the same problem as the Bugout but moreso. With a yet greater distance between its handle spacers it's even more flexible than the normal Bugout. In fact, so much so that just taking up the knife and imparting a not-too-out-of-the-ordinary grip causes it to noticeably bow inwards. On the Bugout at least you had to try to do it on purpose.

    There are a couple of other changes as well. All of the hardware is painted satin black, rather than shiny anodized. This extends to the clip, also, which is matte as opposed to the Bugout's glossy one. The Bailout is trying very hard to be sneaky.

    !

    The other addition is this aluminum lanyard slot, which is its own block that's separate from the plastic handles. The Bugout's lanyard hole is just a triangle molded into the plastic, but this one should be tougher. The fancier aluminum handled variant also adds a glass breaker to this, but on this OG model the back end is just square.

    !

    The Bailout's blade has got enough meat on it to be able to freely Axis flick open and closed, at least. The finish is attractive and Benchmade seem to think it will hide scratches from use, but I'll bet you it won't. In my experience, coated blades start looking like crap with their first scuff and only ever get worse; you can never get them looking the same as new ever again, and brushing or re-polishing the blade is out of the question unless you're fanatically dedicated. And suddenly okay with it not being coated anymore.

    !

    I'm not generally a fan of tanto points, either. I was when I was younger, believing as we all did that an angular point was absolutely necessary for sufficient ninja cred, and of course everyone knew that a tanto point was better at penetrating soft body armor which I have to say in my four decades or so on this planet is not something I have ever had occasion to actually do. To Benchmade's credit, at least the longer primary edge is not a ruler-straight line as they so often are. There is a subtle belly to it which might at least contribute some modicum of practicality. Even so, I prefer a normal drop point which when executed correctly is just as capable of the stabby-stabby, but is also considerably less annoying to sharpen.

    Further contributing to the Bailout's tacticality is a handle profile that differs slightly from the Bugout. It has a rise just forward of the pivot, providing a thumb stop and very minor crossguard-eque shape. I have to say I like the feel of this.

    !

    What I like a bit less is the overall lack of thickness. Yes, I get and I keep harping on how the thinness is the point of this entire series of knives. The Bailout is supposed to disappear into your pocket until you need it which is fine as far as it goes. But if this is supposed to be a fighting knife used in a situation where, just as an example, you might have gloves on I think that's really the opposite of what you'd want.

    Other police-fire-rescue models, even Benchmade's own, are all considerably chunkier and often spring assist as well, for good reason. With its tiny low profile thumb studs, barely-there handles, and tightly sprung little pocket clip I think the Bailout would be difficult to impossible to use in a high stress situation or with gloves.

    So, you say, don't use it for that. Fine. But then don't market it like that, either.

    !

    The size comparison between all three knives in this family reveals that the Bailout is about as much bigger as the Mini Bugout is smaller, as compared to the original Bugout.

    !

    Inside is the same story. The mini-plates in the Bailout are black rather than shiny, but it still doesn't have full length liners.

    !

    Here's how the tailpiece works. It is retained by one of the handle spacers as well as an additional dedicated pin.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    The Bailout has the same drawbacks as the full size Bugout, only moreso. Everything you read about it takes great pains to mention the "Benchmade quality," and how well its made, and how sturdy it totally must be, while stopping short of actually proving it.

    Well, I'm sure the Bailout is just fine for what it is. Nobody's sponsoring me and this isn't a press knife, so I'm not about to go torture testing it. But all in all, I think the "tactical" direction of this is silly. I would much prefer this knife if it were just a Maxi-Bugout, with the drop point profile and just bigger. As it is, its combat pretensions and black box presentation are patently absurd, just like the price.

    I'm sure the 3V steel will hold up well to stabbing and twisting and whatever else, being a very high toughess alloy. But it trades edge retention for that toughness. For the use case this knife is certainly more likely to actually see, which is certainly not combat, I think a little harder steel with better edge retention instead might have been a better idea.

    !

    The Bailout is undoubtedly a very nice knife. But I don't think it's $200 worth of knife in reality. With that, though, the trifecta is complete.

    5
    Benchmade 533 Mini Bugout: I Shall Call Him...

    Mini me...

    !

    Bugout too big for you? You're covered. Try the Mini Bugout, which is exactly what it says.

    !

    After I just got done mildly eviscerating its regular sized counterpart yesterday, all the Benchmade fans will surely put away their torches and pitchforks when I say I like the Mini variant better.

    !

    And that's not because it's cheaper, although it is. And not by much, though: $170, or $10 less at current prices. Provided you stay away from the mega fancy S90V-and-carbon-fiber 533-3 variant which MSRP's for a monumentally ridiculous $320.

    No, it's because the Mini Bugout actually fills a niche that otherwise remains unserved except by Benchmade themselves, at least as far as I can tell, and that's for a truly compact knife with an Axis lock. Sure, everyone and their grandmother makes an Axis clone knife now, but all of the offerings from other brands seem to be full or plus sized. If you want a little one your choices are much more limited.

    !

    The Mini Bugout, meanwhile, measures 6-7/16" open and 3-9/16" closed. Its S30V drop point blade is 2-3/4" long, below the magic 3" number that makes it widely legal to carry. The blade is exactly the same 0.089" thickness as on the full sized model.

    !

    Thin is what the Mini Bugout has got. At 0.393" not including the clip, it carries over exactly the same raison d'etre as its larger counterpart. Thin and light, able to ride unobtrusively in your pocket. It's only 40.8 grams by my scale or 1.44 ounces. Significantly less than other knives comparable in size.

    !

    Every single construction detail is identical between the Mini and full sized Bugouts. Benchmade just stuck the original in the copy machine, pressed 80%, and here it is.

    !

    It has the same deep carry pocket clip that grips a little too hard, the same pair of anodized diabolo spacers, the same thumb studs, the same shape to the handles, and the same nearly-all-plastic design with only minimal steel liners in place for the Axis lock. Hell, even the screws are interchangeable between the two differently sized models. All seen here in this blue variant, which is of course no longer available. Today's options are black, white, grey, purple, and sage green. Tomorrow they'll be different.

    !

    Inside, of course, is more of the same. Nothing is changed with the mechanical formula.

    !

    The Mini's blade rides on the same brass washers. One difference in the feel department other than the size is that the blade is literally too light to Axis flick. Unless you loosen your pivot screw to an unwise degree, at least, you'll have to open this knife like a normal person.

    The other difference is, owing to the handle slabs that are the same thickness but reduced in length, it's actually tougher to pinch the sides together than on the full size model and the Mini Bugout actually feels noticeably more rigid.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    The Mini Bugout is a serviceable tool for its intended purpose, which is an ultra light, ultra slim, ultra unobtrusive EDC knife designed for light duty tasks.

    The elephant, however, is still in the room. It doesn't matter that he's got a doily thrown over him and is wearing a lampshade. We can all see him, standing right there. The Pachyderm of Price cannot be ignored.

    The asking price for this knife is criminal. $170? It would be on my short list of recommendations if it were maybe half of that. The Mini Bugout is a fine example of design and craftsmanship. Its larger counterpart is, too. Take of leave the flexy handles and the thin blade; these are design choices for its chosen use case. But I can't in good faith tell anybody who isn't a knife collector that there is $170 worth of knife in there.

    Notwithstanding that I own one. And the bigger one. Us collectors aren't normal people. We all must be whacked in the head.

    !

    4
    Benchmade 535 Bugout: The Official Knife of Captain Obvious

    It is not possible to type the letters E, D, and C in close proximity to each other on the internet without that one guy reflexively parroting, "Just get a Bugout!" Or often, an entire chorus of them. It seems this is one of those laws of nature. Sun comes up in the east, spring follows winter, punters on the internet all have the same opinion.

    !

    (Watch out -- Rugged in-the-rain photo!)

    So, Benchmade's model 535 Bugout has been what "everyone knows" is the best EDC knife. The default choice. The starting point. It's svelte, lightweight, easy to use and carry, and has that trusted Benchmade quality. So everyone says, at least, sounding suspiciously like the brochure for the damn thing.

    It is time, therefore, for the slaying of a sacred cow. The Bugout is just an alright knife. I actually don't like it very much.

    !

    The Bugout is part of Benchmade's "500" family and certainly the most ubiquitous of the bunch. Its siblings include the 532 Mini Bugout and the 537 Bailout, which we'll get to in due time. All three of these knives share very similar construction methodologies. So does the current incarnation of the Griptilian series, sort of. The major difference between all of them is size.

    The Bugout is the medium sized one: 7-3/8" long open, 4-1/4" closed, with a 3-1/8" blade made of fancy S30V steel. The blade is flat ground with a drop point profile, and is actually rather thin at 0.089" at the spine.

    The entire knife is very thin, which is really its entire deal. All in, not including the clip, it's only 0.389" thick. It's very light, too, just 51.1 grams or 1.8 ounces. Hence, the "easy to carry" bullet point all the sales-brochure-memorizers are always so keen to bring up.

    !

    The Bugout's got the now popular, bordering on mandatory deep carry pocket clip. It's reversible and for tip up carry only. The handle halves are spaced out by a pair of machined aluminum diabolo style spacers, brightly anodized in whatever color you choose.

    !

    Mine is desert tan, with gold spacers and thumb studs. The available colorways on offer seem to change constantly with the moon and tides; Benchmade's sole contribution to proceedings lately seems to be fidgeting around with those offerings incessantly. I'm surprised they don't list "Bold New Graphics!" as a bullet point on the spec sheet, like Kawasaki does.

    !

    It is, of course, an Axis lock knife. That part of it is very nice. Of course it is; Benchmade invented the Axis lock as I'm keen on harping on about all the time, and I'd be surprised if they of all people didn't get it right. The pivot rides on brass washers, it opens nicely, closes nicely, and you can flick it either way with the lock held back with no problem.

    The handles are made of Grivory, a fiber reinforced injection molded Nylon. That is to say, not the handle scales. The handles themselves.

    !

    The Bugout exhibits Benchmade's current fascination with making pretty much the entire damn knife out of plastic. It does not have steel liners like most knives. Instead, there are just a pair of short steel plates to support the lock crossbar and endstop pin.

    !

    Here's what that looks like.

    Benchmade bill this as, "Designed for the modern outdoor adventurer, incorporating the lightest, best performing materials in an extremely slim yet ergonomic package." And, yes, ditching the liners does indeed make the knife very light.

    !

    But it also compromises the rigidity significantly. The Bugout is a wet noodle in the hand. Fiber reinforced though the material may be, stiffening waffle pattern it may have, but it still doesn't take much of a pinch at all to bow the handles in like this. The flex is also highly noticeable when the knife's in use as well. And regardless of what the math might say about the mechanical properties of the plastic, the feeling still doesn't inspire confidence.

    !

    You can ask any backpacker and they'll tell you that to achieve lightness some sacrifices have to be made. That's fine as far as it goes. And it would be if the Bugout were a $40, $60, or even $80 knife.

    But it isn't. It presently costs $180.

    That makes the Bugout a fantastically awful value for the money. And we're supposed to be suggesting this thing to first time knife buyers, non-knife people, like it's some kind of gold standard? That's really starting off on the wrong foot.

    The other slap in the face is Benchmade's recent price hikes on this and indeed all of their knives. The ones left that aren't currently inexplicably discontinued with no replacement, I might add. I touched on this before, but in 2019 the Bugout was $105 which was already not a great deal. But even adjusting for our recent hyperinflation, that should only be about $130 in today's money. So don't ask me where they pulled $180 from.

    Yes, it's made of S30V which appears to be the current supersteel darling of the knife world. Fine, but does a plastic handled mini-EDC designed for light duty occasional use actually need to be? The majority of people will probably use this for nothing more than opening their mail, Amazon boxes, and slicing the tops off of their backpacker's meals. Would they endure any detriment if it were made of D2 or 14CN or 440C, but for half the price?

    !

    By way of usual comparison, here's the CQC-6K. A little larger, easier to deploy, with full steel liners and a quarter of the price. You won't be afraid to use the CQC lest you scuff your resale value, and no one will get mad at you for throwing away the box.

    !

    Compared in terms of thickness, though, you can see just how thin the Bugout is. If that's what you want, the Bugout's got it. Expensive, thin, and light: The iPhone of knives.

    I'll also point out at this juncture that I don't like the Bugout's clip. I like it in theory: It's nicely proportioned and a deep carry design. But it's too tightly sprung, and it plus the combination of the diamond texture on the handles which isn't interrupted underneath the clip's contact area makes the thing cling to your pocket like grim death. It's entirely too difficult to draw, and to make matters worse the exposed square corner at the heel of the blade tends to snag on the fabric as well. This knife is a seam-ripper, and while Benchmade will sharpen it for free if you mail it back to them I don't think that offer extends to also mending your pants.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    The Bugout is an expensive but middling knife. Its humongous price tag isn't backed up by much if you ask me. We ought to stop suggesting it to everyone left, right, and center all the time. We can do better for less.

    14
    Weird Knife Wednesday: Paragon Warlock

    Oh boy. It's time for that knife.

    You know, that knife. The one that's in all those TikToks and Shorts or wherever the sponsored influencers are waving gadgets around these days: You Won't Believe This Crazy Knife, Can Your EDC Do This???

    !

    This is the Paragon Warlock and it is definitely a chart topper for all those online lists of weird knives. Perfect then, for an appearance here.

    It comes in a dizzying array of handle styles, blade profiles, and colors. This is the "Satin Sorcerer" variant and it is of course inevitable that, given the opportunity, I would choose the green one.

    !

    This is a side opening folder with a rather bodacious crenelated texture machined into the blade surfaces. The pictures don't quite get across how humongous it is: 5-3/8" long closed, 9-1/4" open with a 3-3/4" S30V blade...

    !

    ...That's double edged, presenting this wicked dagger point.

    !

    It's really thick, too. 0.857" in total not including the clip. The handles are machined anodized aluminum and all together it weighs in at 181.2 grams or 6.93 ounces.

    Of course, how it opens is the wild part.

    !

    You grab the two textured buttons at the business end and pinch them together.

    !

    Through some manner of mechanical wizardry inside, this causes both halves of the handle to split apart not just at the end where you pinched, but evenly down the entire length.

    !

    The blade is then able to swing out freely.

    This is a gravity knife, so once unrestrained the blade pivots easily under its own weight. It's not under any kind of spring loading, nor is any required.

    !

    Only the merest wrist action is required and you can easily flick the blade in and out. When you let go of the buttons the handles snap back together, locking the blade open or closed. That is, provided you time it right and don't just sandwich it partially between them.

    !

    The Warlock does include a clip and it's even a reversible one, but it's mounted very far down from the tail of the knife and leaves a lot of it sticking out of your pocket. It's unlikely you'll be carrying this much anyway, though. As not only over 4" in blade length but also as a gravity knife and a dagger it's virtually guaranteed that the law will find some aspect of it to frown upon. Possibly more than one, depending where you live.

    Actually deploying it also takes a bit of practice and skill. The blade will, of course, only swing out one way. You can't make it do a complete windmill which is probably good news for blood retention but also means it's perfectly possible, if you're not paying attention, to utterly fail to deploy the blade because you're holding the knife the wrong way around. This will leave you looking like a chump. Remembering which side is the "out" side relative to the pocket clip is probably the best play.

    And then, you do have to ensure the blade is completely and precisely swung out to the end of its arc before you let go of the buttons, and you didn't jump the gun and let go too early. If you do you'll wind up with the blade either not locked out, or only mostly closed with a little bit of the edge still exposed. You can generally tell by the sound when this happens, though. The Warlock makes a very distinct -- and satisfying -- sound when the handles snap shut correctly.

    !

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    Of course the Warlock has to be made of fancy S30V steel and come with a full flat double sided grind and all the rest of it, because otherwise it would be inauthentic and wouldn't have enough street cred for knife nerds to want to buy it. But the specs really aren't the point -- It could be made of aluminum foil for all the difference it would make. This is a knife for showing off, and for fidgeting with, but at $250 no one in their right mind would actually use this as a working knife for any purpose.

    It is one of the quintessential entries in the category of wonky knife designs, though, and therefore has a well deserved place in any collector's assortment of weird knives.

    !

    3
    Böker Papillon Model 06EX116SOI: Blinded By The White

    Just the other day I posted a picture of my entire selection of balisongs, and I'm reporting to you now with great satisfaction that this picture is already out of date.

    !

    This is the Böker "Papillon," model 06EX116SOI. Just like the last Böker I sung the praises for a few days ago, this knife is in the process of discontinuation and is thus heavily marked down. I paid $40 for this, same as the 06EX227. But I notice right now at the time of writing BladeHQ actually has these slashed to $30. Link here, no affiliation as usual.

    "Papillon" means butterfly in French. Indeed, that's what this knife is. (It's also a breed of dog. That's neither here nor there.) If you think that's gratuitous, look, it's better than if they named it in German. Then we'd have wound up with the "Schmetterling."

    You can get this knife in a few colors... Black. Grey. Bor-ing. Instead, I just had to go with this Imperial Stormtooper aesthetic white model for something different. It's really quite striking.

    !

    The handles are gloss painted, and they are very, very white. This actually presented a bit of a photography problem for me because as you know, my trademark is knives floating in an infinite white void. Knives usually aren't white so this isn't normally a problem. I just overexpose the pants off of the shot so the background ends up pure stark white and I can bring out the contrast on whatever dark colored knife we're messing with, maybe paint over any stray specs of dirt or grease left on the background, and away we go.

    Well, I can't do that here. If I do, the handles become invisible. Oh, sure, I could go find some black felt or something and shoot on a black background. But then the blade would disappear. I can't win.

    !

    Plan C is to fastidiously doctor every single photograph, hand-preserving the shadows, highlights, and edges. That's what I did in this shot, for instance, but my patience for this sort of thing is finite.

    So some of these photos are going to show hints of a little more background than usual. You'll just have to put up with it.

    Right. The Papillon. Is it any good?

    !

    Eh. I like it a lot less than the little 006EX227 Böker. This knife is a fair deal at $30 or $40 but if you ask me the quality is not in line with its original $90 asking price.

    There, that's really the whole thing dealt with. I failed to hang on to the suspense until the end; if that was the only question you needed answered you can click away now and none of the rest of this treatise actually matters.

    The Papillon is a full traditional or "competition size" knife at 10-1/16" long when open, 5-7/8" closed. The clip point blade is 4-5/8" long measured from the forward ends of the handles with about 4-1/8" of usable edge. It's powdercoated or painted or whatever in a matte black finish, made of D2 steel, and 0.147" thick. The blade has a full flat grind on it which is a little unusual, and a pronounced choil at the base of the edge because this is, as is becoming popular these days, a kicker-pin-less "Zen" pin design and the rebound pin on the bite handle slots into the choil (and the other one goes into a matching cut opposite it on the spine of the knife).

    There is no clip provided. That's probably just as well; the Papillon is really just too humongous for practical daily carry.

    The dimensions and construction methodology of this knife put me in mind of the Kershaw Moonsault and its related brethren, the Lucha and Balanza. Actually, there even is a "Stormtrooper White" variant of the Lucha already. This knife and those have very similar feature sets.

    !

    The Papillon, however, has a much more traditional shape with a tapered profile flaring wider towards the latch end. The handles are unitary slabs of steel, flat on the insides and milled with weight reducing slots and are concave on the outside. It's lighter than the Moonsault: 123.5 grams or 4.36 ounces.

    !

    The latch is a fairly traditional T shape and is not spring loaded. My example is also far too tight due to the handles hitting their endstops too far apart from each other, ultimately requiring a heroic squeeze to get the knife either latched or unlatched. The singular review of this knife on BladeHQ mentions the same thing. I also figured out why this is, which I'll get to.

    !

    Because of this it's already rubbed through the paint where the latch head rides over the tips of the handles.

    !

    The latch does at least have two endstop pins that prevent it from rotating more than 180 degrees. The blade is thusly protected from being struck and potentially damaged by the latch. So that's nice.

    The pivot action and handle feel are also nice, although a distinct lack of refinement is evident as revealed by the wiggle test:

    !

    Which is weird.

    !

    Because the Papillon totally does have ball bearing pivots.

    !

    Normally this is an easy path to rock solid handle feel with no play, but that's not the case here. And once again, nothing in the product description or specs anywhere mention the presence of the bearings. I sense a recurring theme, here, and I really can't fathom why this is.

    The pivot screws themselves are plain round Chicago screws with no indexing or D flats or any other niceties. So yes, if you try to unscrew the wrong side the entire thing will just spin, accomplishing nothing. The pivot holes in the handles on mine appear to be a little wonky, and I can't tell if that's down to the machine work or just buildup of the paint. I suspect there's a not insignificant amount of gap between the pivot screws and the handle holes by design -- if the handles are painted after the final machining, which it seems that they are, the tolerances there by necessity would have to be pretty wide to guarantee that the holes don't get so gunked up with paint that you couldn't get the hardware through.

    Here's the whole thing in bits:

    !

    The knife is held together with the pivot screws and just one spacer in each handle, down towards the end, with a pair of screws in each side. There's quite a bit of flex in the handles themselves. And on the safe handle, with only two points of contact, the handle halves aren't kept square with anything relative to one another. The rebound pins, latch stop pins, and latch pivot pins are just slices of round stock and are not precision machined, nor are their tips particularly square, nor are they shouldered or indexed in any way.

    The handle slabs aren't precision machined, either. For instance, due to a slight inaccuracy in the pocket drilled for it, one of my rebound pins always rests sightly crooked, as pictured below.

    !

    The hole it homes into is visibly slightly mis-drilled:

    !

    And it's no good swapping the handle parts around to try to luck into a better fit because the bite handle and safe handle halves are not the same, with the bite handle having one more pair of screw holes.

    I did ultimately cure this by precision remachining hogging out the offending pin hole with a Dremel and a tiny carbide end mill bit. It worked; the latch is now noticeably easier to undo albeit still not perfect. I could go as far as grinding an offset into the pin but, do you know, I can't be bothered. If ever there were a candidate for de-latching a knife, it would be this one.

    Note also that there is no cutout for the bearings to rest in on the insides of the handles. The blade is pocketed, but the handle slabs aren't. So the balls will just chew a groove into the paint like you see here.

    On the previous Böker balisongs I reviewed I commented on the precise fit of the parts and ease of reassembly brought about thereby. Well, that's not the case here. Getting the Papillon's handle halves fully back together took some wiggling and fiddling around every time I did it.

    !

    Here's how the latch endstops work. This is simple, effective, inexpensive, and there's really no excuse for every balisong manufacturer not to do something like this.

    !

    One other foible I noticed is how close to the outside of the handles the edge rests when the knife is closed. This is thanks to the pronounced belly in the shape of the blade. I stuck the tail of my calipers down there and this reveals that the edge is only 0.054" away from the outside surface of the handle on that side. It is definitely possible to mash the tips of your fingers into the gap between the handles hard enough to touch the edge. So maybe don't do that.

    !

    Aesthetically, I really do like the Papillon. The black-on-white colorway is certainly fresh and, dare I say, attractive. Since it doesn't need kicker pins pressed through the blade, it instead has these hemispherical cutouts which are pretty cool. And it's got an actual name this time rather than just a meaningless robotic alphanumeric string. It's even fun to say: Papillon, Papillon.

    !

    Like apparently all Böker balisongs, the Papillon comes in one of their little fleece lined zipper cases.

    This case is identical to the ones I've gotten before, including the one that came with the 06EX227 (which I did not mention due to rattling on so long in that writeup already).

    !

    It has various pockets in it, although as usual I can't explain why since they're all so flat there's no way you'd be able to cram more than one knife in this thing. It comes with the customary two pamphlets from Böker, one in English and one in German. I didn't post them because we've seen them before. They appear to be identical for all current Böker knives.

    !

    For your comparison, the Papillon (left), Kershaw Moonsault (center), and a CQC-6K (right). The Papillon and Moonsault really are nearly identical in length and for the most part width, notwithstanding the taper on the Papillon. The Moonsault is better built, dang it, but it also costs a lot more than $30.

    If you ask me, the Papillon's feel in the hand is actually better, though. It doesn't have the clangy resonance issues of the Moonsault, and I like the smooth finish better, paradoxically, despite it having the potential to be more slippery. The Papillon is pretty quiet as you flip it. Even the latch doesn't make too much noise. So flawed though it may be, it actually has it where it counts.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    The Papillon turns out to be a middling knife. An in-betweener: A cut above flea market made-in-China garbage knives, but several pegs below the premium balisongs not only made by other brands, but by Böker themselves.

    Maybe that's why it's presently standing poised to get the chop.

    If you look at it from the perspective of being a poor man's Kershaw Lucha, though, it starts to become a little more appealing. At $30 it's a reasonably good bargain, and probably the cheapest way at the moment to get your hands on a ball bearing balisong. (Say that ten times, fast.) At the full original list price, though? Not so much.

    1
    Very Specific Object: Redesigned brackets for SmartyKat brand Paw Perch Cat Shelf

    In keeping with my usual tradition of harping on about the dumb shit I design and slap up on Printables:

    https://www.printables.com/model/862518-cat-shelf-bracket-for-smartykat-paw-perch-or-build

    These brackets solve a specific, but major, usability issue with the aforementioned brand and model of cat accessory widely sold at Walmart, Amazon, Chewy, Pet Smart, etc.

    Conversely, there's nothing stopping you from screwing your own piece of wood to the top of a pair of these and arriving at roughly the same result without shelling out 30 of your hard earned Washingtons.

    Cat tax paid:

    !

    !

    4
    And My Ax...(is)!

    I told you my next post would be shorter. Useless trivia of the day. The plural for "axis" is "axes." This is also the plural for "ax."

    Edit: I didn't sufficiently caption this originally, did I? From lower left, going up the arc rightwards:

    6
    Ganzo G729: The Paramilitary Fighter [Long, Ranty]

    Got your eye on the Spyderco Para Military 2, but haven't got $200 burning a hole in your pocket? Or, do you like the Spyderco but really wish it had an Axis lock? Brother, have I got a deal for you.

    !

    This is a Ganzo G726 and, yes, it bears a rather striking similarity to a certain aforementioned knife. Doesn't it just.

    But it has a couple of key differences. The first is, yes, it's got an Axis lock rather than Spyderco's "Compression Lock." (Which Ganzo calls their "G-Lock," and have similarly equipped on many of their knives.)

    !

    The thumb opening hole is also teardrop shaped rather than round, presumably so Ganzo don't wind up getting sued right into the dirt. And while the Para Military can have the clip reversed and swapped between tip up and tip down configurations, this knife has mounting holes for tip up only. It is still reversible, and with the ambidextrous opening method and lock this knife is thus suitable for left handed users. The clip is similar to, but uses a different hole pattern than, the Spyderco one. So alas, interchanging parts or installing custom scales and clips that fit the Spyderco will be impossible. Bummer.

    !

    And then, the blade is 440C rather than Spyderco's CPM SPY27 custom crucible steel used in their current incarnations. It's a shame that this is not one of their models that's also available in D2. But we can probably excuse that, given that this model is only $22 at the time of writing.

    !

    And for $22 you get a lot of knife. As with the last Ganzo we looked at, despite coming from a Chinese manufacturer prone to, ahem, "borrowing" design elements from time to time and all the connotations that brings, the fit and finish of this knife is pretty much perfect.

    This is 8-3/16" long when open with a 3-1/2" blade, 3-1/8" of which is usable edge. The blade has a full flat grind all the way to the spine which is very nice. The G729 is pretty broad, a full 1-5/8" across when closed at the widest point, which is the peak above the thumb opener hole. The blade is precisely 1/8" thick: 0.125". It's 117.3 grams (4.14 ounces) altogether, with textured G-10 scales over steel liners. You can get this in a variety of colors but I chose this nice slate blue finish just to do something different for a change. The world knows I have quite enough boring black knives.

    Suffice to say, this is a knife on the larger end of the EDC spectrum. It's to be expected, considering it's pretty much exactly the same size as the knife it's mirroring.

    !

    The clip again apes the Spyderco one -- mostly, at least, see above -- and is not deep carry nor does it have any other fancy features. It's not even engraved. But it's got a good balance between spring tension and the grippiness against the scales. This knife draws easily from your pocket, but stays put confidently otherwise. That's more than I can say even for a few more expensive knives from a manufacturer whose name starts with "B," and ends in "enchmade," and makes knives that bite onto your pocket's seams like grim death.

    The halves are separated with some nicely machined diabolo style spacers with little stairsteps in them. Swanky.

    !

    The G729's pivot rides on one bronze washer and one nylon one, which is a little weird. These are visible just peeking through the gap, there. It works, though. The blade centering is good, but that's easy to do when you cheat and use an Axis lock rather than a liner lock. With no mechanism inherently pushing the blade to one side, it remains resolutely square despite the mismatching washers.

    I have to say, I really like the feel of the G729. That's not to say, I like it "for the price." I like it objectively, overall. The lockup is perfect, the action is nice, and the thumb hole feels good despite being a wonky shape. It opens and closes easily, smoothly, pleasantly, with no grind or drag or weirdness. There are no telltale signs of cheapness. Blade wiggle, none. No corners visibly cut, no details inexpertly executed. The spine of the blade feels nice. The subtly rounded jumping feels nice. The full flat grind helps make this an excellent cutter despite the broad blade and the edge geometry, at least on my example, is very good.

    !

    The lock mechanism and thumb hole opener bring to mind one other blue-grey knife from a particular manufacturer. The G729 (center) is longer, broader, but slightly thinner than the Griptilian (right): 0.518" across the scales and without the clip, whereas the Griptilian is 0.600". I think the textured G-10 scales ironically give you a better grip on it as well, and I like the full length steel liners of the Ganzo a lot more than Benchmade's current fascination with making most of the knife out of plastic and only putting little metal plates at the end around the lock. The surface finish on the Griptilian's blade is a lot nicer, but you'd fuckin' well expect it to be for $138 more.

    It's bigger than the usual CQC-6K, also (left).

    I don't have a Para Military to compare it to. Actually, I only own two Spydercos at the moment and one of them is a balisong, and the other one is made out of wood. So sorry, I can't help you there.

    The G729 disassembles like you'd expect and looks like a typical Axis lock folder, mechanically speaking. Although the steel liners have speed holes in them presumably for lightness, which is pretty cool.

    !

    It's easy to take apart in theory, but I did encounter a snag. The male side of the pivot screw was the singularly most gooped up with threadlocker screw I have ever encountered in my life. It's ridiculous. Look at this:

    !

    An alarming amount of grunt was required to get it to let go. This was not helped by the wrinkle of having to guess which side is the male head and which side is the female, because the pivot screw is indeed D shaped and the female side will not spin freely in its hole. This is normally nice to see, but not when you're applying 600 ft-lb of torque to a tiny T8 screw. Especially if it turns out to be the wrong T8 screw. But I did ultimately figure it out (it was the left side, the side with the clip on my example, for what it's worth) and it let go without the head stripping. So the hardware is quality. But differentiating the screw heads would have been nice. Or, you know, not putting a Torx receptacle in the side you bloody well can't turn.

    !

    There was so much threadlocker on that screw, in fact, that some of it that'd likely been spilled at the factory was also gluing one of the scales to one of the liners. This was easy enough to push free through one of the big holes in the liner. So there is your obligatory Chinese Knife Baffling Construction Detail identified and sorted out. It could have been worse.

    Note also the dissimilar pivot washers.

    !

    Everything else inside is typical. The usual hair springs, the pair of spacers (which are aluminum), the lock crossbar, and the endstop pin.

    !

    The lockup. I went through the trouble to take this picture, so you're going to see it. The blade has a fine as-machined surface finish on it which is very Spyderco-eque, and also causes it to go all striated under the LED's in my photo light.

    My example would "Axis flick" closed with the lock held back, but would not open that way in its out of the box state of tune. Backing the pivot screw out about 1/8 of a turn (after busting it loose...) solved this.

    !

    Oh yes.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    Here it comes...

    Ganzo has once again made a decent knife and made it available for not a lot of money. Now, you get to make your own decision on the ethics; how you feel about somebody coming along and undercutting another manufacturer on what's pretty much their own design. I can't make that determination for you. But really, my take on the matter is this isn't really a knockoff of a Spyderco considering it's actually mechanically different. But it's definitely an alternative aimed at the same hypothetical buyer. Sure, Ganzo has copied Spyderco's homework, but they've also copied Benchmade's and put it in there as well, and changed the words around just a bit to keep the teacher from noticing.

    The opposite point of contention here is that, overall excellent cutlery that they may be, the asking prices coming from some of the established major manufacturers -- Spyderco, Benchmade, Zero Tolerance, Microtech, Tops and all -- has really gotten out of hand in the last few years. And this is a point I'm probably going to be harping on a lot for a while going forward, so brace yourself. It seems like even in this hobby we can't escape corporate greedflation. Prices rose during COVID; inflation, transportation, labor shortages, I get all those excuses from then. But now it's now, it's also becoming apparent that all these brands are intent on keeping their prices at that elevated level forever. One wonders how much extra profit is there to be gained, though, by pricing your products out of reach of a greater portion of potential buyers? A plain Bugout was $105 in 2019 and it's $180 now. The Para Military was $140 in 2019 and it's $190 now. And so on.

    That's not to say I don't respect these manufacturers, especially for being the pioneers who invented the mechanisms and some of the designs we take for granted today. Those which paved the way for others to follow. Buying a Benchmade or a Spyderco supports American jobs, pays back the R&D, and nets you -- historically, at least -- some guarantee of quality. Look at this picture. Count them Benchmade boxes. I don't think I, of all people, have taken a single morsel off of anyone's table in Oregon City.

    !

    But the fact of the matter is, regardless everything, right now at this very moment we live in the best time there's ever been for knife enthusiasts. Yes, prices on big premium brand name knives are high. But! These days there is a huge selection knives from all of these fresh faced makers like Ganzo, Civivi, CJRB whose products are frankly excellent. And not to mention that the selection and quality you can get from established budget brands like Kershaw, Boker, and CRKT is better than ever. I think nowadays it is no longer true to say that the "best" default answer is just to go out and buy a Spyderco or a Benchmade, because now there are so many options that are cheaper but damn near as or exactly as good.

    !

    Then there's the steel question.

    Is it nice to say that you have a knife made of the current crucible process wonder-steel, S30V or S35V or CPM-154 or VG-10 or CPM-20CV or CruWear or whatever? Sure, of course. But is it actually, in this day and age, necessary?

    Well, no.

    Look. I own, at current count, 107 knives. At least, the ones I am able to lay my hands on right now and are not squirreled away somewhere inconvenient. I just counted. And not counting the swords or the multitools. Premium ones, cheap ones, new ones, old ones. I like to think I have a pretty wide cross section to play with, and getting wider all the time.

    I remember back when 440C was the king of pocketknife steels. Teenage me cut a lot of stuff with 440C with no problem. We were none the worse off for not knowing about future supersteels. 440C was what to look for back then -- not 300 series, not 420, not 4116. Well, the properties of the stuff haven't changed. Only our perceptions have.

    Maybe CPM-20CV is "better" than 440C in some specific property as measured in a lab. But is it 8, 10, 12 times better for the price? Of course not. Fancy steels are not more expensive because they contain much different or better ingredients. The processes they use may be a little more precise, sure, but they're mainly expensive because they're produced in small amounts and the economies of scale aren't there. But the "budget" steels are also produced with amazing consistency these days, and not to mention in great quantities. 440C wasn't a budget steel in 1999. It is now only because mass manufacturing has it figured out. That doesn't magically make it worse.

    I also remember a time when a $22 knife would be guaranteed crap. So think on that one. All of this I say in defense of the Ganzo. Surely it'll never be worth anything more than what it is. It'll never be a collector's item or an investment vehicle or sought after once it's discontinued. That's not the point of it.

    !

    I like the Ganzo G729. I like it despite where it came from and what it's made out of. I think it's a fantastic value for the money. And I will end on this, which is perhaps a dangerous thing to say: If you're going to use it, and not just lock it in a drawer, I think it's a better value for your money than its Spyderco twin.

    7
    Current State of the Balisong Collection

    So, one of my very first posts here back when was an inventory of my array of balisong knives. I am happy to report that my collection has since grown.

    Even if, it must be said, a couple of its members are... silly.

    Top row, left to right:

    Bottom row, left to right:

    Not pictured:

    1
    Weird Knife Wednesday: CRKT Cottidae

    Dudes. The Day. Once more.

    !

    This is the CRKT Cottidae and, once again, I find myself at a loss for any authoritative indication of how you're supposed to pronounce its name.

    !

    This knife is a Jesper Voxnaes design, as the engraving on the blade will tell you. We've seen his work before. We will certainly do so again; I have at least one other knife in my collection known to be done by him.

    !

    As you may have also guessed from the logo, the Cottidae is a ball bearing pivoted flipper opener. So confident are CRKT and Mr. Voxnaes in these ball bearings that it has no thumb studs or equivalents whatsoever, and barely any of the spine of the blade is visible from between the handles. The only way to open it is via the very low profile rear flipper.

    !

    The handle scales are unitary slabs of textured aluminum.

    !

    The Cottidae has a drop point D2 blade that's a sturdy 0.135" thick with a full flat grind. That ought to give it very good cutting power despite its rather diminutive size. It's only 6-5/16" long opened, 3-3/4" closed, with a 2-9/16" blade. About 2-3/16" of the edge is usable due to a very long, squared, shallow choil at the base that forms a finger notch in conjunction with the flipper, which makes it easy to choke up very far with your grip.

    !

    It's thick for its size. 0.513" not including the (reversible) deep carry clip. It's dense, too. 93.6 grams or 3.30 ounces, giving it a solid feel in the hand. The ergonomics are pretty nice despite the overall squarish Bauhaus minimalism to the shape. The opening action is, of course, impeccable due to the presence of the bearings even if the tiny flipper takes some getting used to. The detent resistance is very light on this knife, possibly the lightest out of any pure non-spring-assisted knife I own.

    Yes, I am deliberately beating around the bush here. "What is so damn weird about it?" I hear you shouting at your computer and/or phone screen.

    Well, I've been coy and I haven't shown you the other side of the knife yet.

    !

    There's this switch thingy. "Aha!" Say the comments, "So, it's got some kind of goofy lock."

    !

    Well, no. It is a normal liner locker inside.

    !

    The switch pivots to the side, and then slides forward in its track like so. And then what happens is...

    !

    ...the entire knife just...

    !

    ...falls apart.

    That is what Patent 10,226,871 is. CRKT calls this "Field Strip Technology," and for most intents and purposes this knife can be dismantled as far as normal people would want to take it with no tools.

    No screws, no bits, no drivers. The Cottidae is apparently held together by witchcraft.

    How it actually works is, there is a sliding metal plate between the aluminum handle scale and the liner on that side of the knife. When you toggle the latch, the plate is allowed to slide forward and a pair of keyhole shaped cutouts in that plate disengage themselves from the main pins inside.

    ! !

    Here is the pivot pin hole in both positions. Note the crescent moon slice of metal visible in the hole in the first picture that's gone in the second.

    !

    The tips of the main pivot pin and the tail pin are grooved, and these grooves get engaged by the plate.

    !

    These remain captive in the liner lock side of the knife when you take it apart. As does the pivot endstop pin, which rides in the semicircular channel in the blade. So there are no small pieces that can fall out and get lost. There are no little pins, tiny screws, springs, washers, or spacers. The knife breaks down into just three major components: The two handle halves and the blade. It should therefore be safe to pop this apart even in the middle of the woods to ungunk it, without fear of any of your vital hardware disappearing to live with the fairies beneath the forest floor.

    You can take the rest of the knife apart further by undoing the screws on the outside which will ultimately release all the pins and liners. But doing so is totally unnecessary for normal cleaning and maintenance.

    !

    Inside, the thrust ball bearings and their carriers are plainly visible, and are semi-captive in cutouts in the heel of the blade. Note also the aforementioned channel for the endstop pin.

    !

    Compared to the traditional CQC-6K, the Cottidae's compactitude is thusly evident. This isn't small enough to truly count as a micro-knife, in my opinion, but it should be well within the bounds of blade length limitations in most places. Plus it hasn't got any springs, gravity action, or other Naughty Features. The blade isn't even black. So it ought to be legal to carry in a wide variety of locales.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    For the habitual knife-fiddlers in the audience, this one gives you a whole new way to play with it beyond the usual flicking it open and closed, an action that tends to, with sufficient repetition, put everyone in your office on edge and slowly drive them insane.

    Instead, you can incessantly reenact the scene of Forrest Gump field stripping and reassembling his M1 carbine in company record time. I highly recommend it.

    (And if you want a larger but more expensive version, you can check out the CRKT Bona Fide, which uses the same system.)

    3
    Böker Plus "Tactical Small" Balisong Model 06EX227: A Butterfly Heartbreaker

    Fellas, I think I might be in love.

    !

    And that's a problem, because you know I already have a gal and it's the Benchmade Model 32 Mini Morpho. But I want you to meet the Böker "Tactical Small" Balisong model 06EX227, and I'm in trouble because this one presses all my buttons.

    !

    This despite the decidedly unmemorable name and model designation. The 06EX227 is, obviously, a Balisong knife. An EDC sized one, too, not some kind of massive competition flipper, at 4-1/2" long closed, 7-3/4" open or so with a 3-1/2" blade in a shape that's a little weird. But we can look past that. Did not Francis Bacon say, "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion?" Of course he did; Top Gear told me so.

    Anyway, If those dimensions sound awful similar to that of the Benchmade Model 32 Morpho, that's because they are. And just like the Morpho, the Böker's blade is D2, which is a steel I like a lot. The blade is 0.100" thick. She's 93.4 grams or 3.29 ounces, so despite being roughly the same size she's a tad heavier than the Morpho due to having steel liners rather than titanium.

    I'm going to stop referring to this knife as "she," now, because it's silly and we all got the joke by now. Right?

    !

    Aside from being nearly the same size and made of the same steel, there are a lot of obvious design similarities between this and the Morpho. Both knives have "Zen" kickerless rebound designs, with the choil in the blades as well as their opposite acting as the pockets and rebound surfaces for the same. But on the Böker they're elongated and stylized.

    !

    Both knives have composite scales over metal liners, G-10 in the Böker's case, and both knives have squeeze-to-pop spring loaded latches powered by flexible prongs in those liners. Yep, you know I like that a lot.

    !

    And I know what you're thinking. Didn't I already review a Böker knife that was the spitting image of the Morpho, and didn't I go on raving and mention all the similarities about 467 times back then, too? I sure did. That was the Böker Model 06EX228, which was also my very first post using my now-trademarked infinite white photography void! That knife is a lot larger than the smaller Model 32 variant of the Morpho whereas this one obviously isn't. And it has quite a few other little details that set it apart.

    !

    One of them a portion of you have probably failed to notice, but shortly will not be able to unsee: The 06EX227 has concealed pivot screws. See? Totally invisible. The blade pivots on magic.

    Böker also figured out that the "ears" sticking out the sides of a traditional balisong knife are not, in fact, strictly necessary. So this knife hasn't got 'em. There are just two little vestigial bumps there which stick out just far enough to be tactile and let you know the point where you really ought to stop choking up on the handle before you slice your fingers off.

    On a traditional bali these may have served as some manner of crossguard for fighting purposes, but these days I certainly hope none of us are fighting anyone with our pocketknives. I'm certainly not. So we can dispense with them, conveniently leaving nothing sticking out to snag on your pocket. (I also feel compelled at this juncture to point out that I already figured this out myself last year, when I designed my silly but functional 3D printable Harrier Utili-Song. Plug, plug, plug.)

    !

    And whereas the Morpho's scales are ventilated to show off the fancy finishwork underneath, the 06EX227 's aren't because the liners are just plain flat steel. Instead, you get these carved double helixes. They're attractive, but understated. This gives me an ace-of-spades sort of feeling, but I don't know why.

    !

    Here it is (center) compared to my 32/Mini Morpho (left) and the big Böker 06EX228 (on the right).

    !

    The Morpho comparison is really tough to escape. The 06EX227 is definitely a love letter. A tribute. An homage. Or, perhaps, a crazed groupie. Not only are the latches so similar, but the liner spacers are even shaped the same.

    But believe it or not, the 06EX227 has a couple of things about it that I like better than the Morpho, which feels wrong to say. Unfaithful, even.

    !

    I guess an obvious one is that the Benchmade Morpho is very, very discontinued. No longer produced. The only way to get your hands on one now is to go used, and deal with the used collector's market. The Böker definitely isn't. At least I think. (Edit: Actually, now it is. Get them while you can. If you're reading this in the future, well. Sorry.)

    And right now BladeHQ has it for $40. Which is frankly incredible. (No affiliation as usual, of course. I bought this with my own money. If any of their staff are reading this and want to hook me up with some free stuff I'll write a big pile of words about, though, have your people call my people.)

    That means the 06EX227 is an EDC-sized-spring-latch-D2-with-clip balisong you could actually carry and go out and use, without giving yourself an anxiety attack over getting a scratch on it. Nor having to part with a kidney to even obtain one in the first place.

    !

    To assist in this, the 06EX227 comes with a clip. It is steel, and very short, and I'm afraid it's not a patch on the Benchmade Morpho's clip. The 06EX227's clip is very plane-Jane and doesn't even have a perfunctory attempt at any kind of engraving on it, which means it'll be useless for showing off to passers-by what you have in your pocket. It is, however, completely and easily repositionable. That is not to say "reversible," although it is that too. As usual, for some reason, it inevitably comes on the wrong side of the handle, i.e. the one that will place the clip furthest from the rear corner of your pocket if carried on the right side by a right handed user. But it can be easily moved to the other, correct side. Or moved to either of the two remaining completely incorrect positions, which are both sides of the safe handle. This would be a stupid thing to do, but it can be done.

    !

    Another feature difference is, the 06EX227's latch can spring-pop if you squeeze it from the latched open position as well. The Morpho doesn't work that way -- it's latch detents in that position, rather than making ready to spring back to the center. So you can put the 06EX227 away just as quickly and elegantly as you can bust it out.

    And the other major thing... Look, I'm going to need a minute to work myself up to this. I'm not sure I'll be able to live with myself afterwards.

    Okay. Here we go.

    TheBoker'sactionisbetterthantheMorpho.

    There. I said it.

    !

    This is all the play in the 06EX227's pivots. All of it. I'm pressing hard in this photo. It's rock solid. Astoundingly so.

    And yet, it flips with a degree of silky smoothness that is every bit as good as the Morpho's -- but without any rattle whatsoever. The Morpho's action feel is, of course, fantastic. But when you compare the two, you can detect the minute amount of slop in the Morpho's pivots which is not present on the 06EX227. This knife's handles swish on a mathematically precise single two dimensional plane, unerringly, always. It feels uncanny, almost artificial. Like you're manipulating a simulation, and nobody's yet added all the variables and imperfections that make it "real." And I think the added weight of the steel liners versus titanium actually improves it. That can't be right, can it? There's no way.

    !

    Guys, the Böker 06EX227 has ball bearing pivots.

    I was not prepared for this when I put it in my cart. Go ahead and check out Böker's listing for this knife, or even BladeHQ. This isn't mentioned anywhere. Nobody said anything about ball bearings when I bought it. I thought it was just going to ride on plastic washers like the bigger 06EX228, or maybe brass or phosphor bronze like the Morpho if we were lucky.

    It should not be allowed to be this good.

    And now, on to the strip tease.

    !

    With its clothes off, you can see how the 06EX227's pivot screw heads fit into matching recesses in the scales.

    !

    The pivot screws themselves are D shaped, and fit into matching machined holes in the liners. This is very nice; Böker could have easily cheaped out here, especially since regular users would never even see the screws concealed as they are, but they didn't. There are Torx heads only on the male screw sides. The female sides are completely smooth on the heads, but since the pivots are keyed by their shape there is never any need to get a driver into the opposite side anyway, and undoing them once revealed is easy. (This is also different from the last Böker balisong we looked at all those months ago; that one used threaded barrels for the pivots with a screw in each end and is very sensitive to changes in screw tension.)

    !

    You can also see how the spring latch works. This mechanism is nearly exactly like that of the Morpho (and the bigger Böker from earlier), in that a pair of prongs in the liners are joined with a cross-pin, which engages the hook on the latch.

    !

    The natural flex in the metal puts this under tension all the time when the knife is latched, but all it takes is a squeeze to let the latch head clear and it pops out on its own via the spring action.

    !

    Once removed, you can easily see that the latch has two hooks on it, one of them replacing the little hill and valley present in that spot on the Morpho's latch. As above, the Böker's latch will not detent in the open position. It puts the spring prongs under tension in the opposite direction instead, ready to spring out when squeezed in the open position as well. But just like the Morpho, the spring latch design prevents the latch head from being able to contact the blade and potentially nicking it when you're flipping the knife. Which is excellent, and something a lot of makers somehow miss.

    !

    Here is the full, as it were, spread. The 06EX227 was very easy to disassemble, with none of the screws being tough to undo or overtorqued from the factory. There are only a few hidden pitfalls for the unwary: The latch spring cross-pin, in particular, is retained by the scales themselves and can fall out once one of them is dismounted. Same with the two large cross-pins that hold in the liner spacers. The spacers are also threaded to accept two each of the scale mount screws, one per side, and until these are in place they can pivot on their pins. You have to make sure these didn't get out of alignment upon reassembly or else you won't be able to put the last screw into each of the scales.

    Reassembly's pretty easy. The pivot screws are foolproof. They'll only go in the right way, and as is typical with ball bearing knives the torque on them really doesn't matter. Just button them down until you have all the play removed from the handles and you'll still probably find that the pivots work freely. All the scale screws are the same as each other, save for the three that go into the spacer blocks. Why three? Because one of those is also one of the pocket clip screws, and these are the longest of the bunch. Other than that, get the screws in vaguely the right locations and they're all otherwise interchangeable. The parts fitment, as with the previous Böker, is all excellent. All the pins slot home easily but don't wiggle, and sandwiching all the liners and scales back together gave me no trouble. The only bugbear is, once again, that damn clip. Its screw holes are drilled a little large which means it can slide around and get out of alignment if you don't carefully, and thoroughly, torque down its screws.

    There's one other personality defect with the 06EX227, and that's this:

    !

    There is a massive amount of gap left over from the difference in the thickness of the latch heel and the space between the liners. The latch can slide up and down its pin noticeably, and while objectively it can't move far enough to actually affect latching or unlatching mechanically, it still annoys me on principle. But, as has been said by many a swain, I can fix this. I will absolutely be able to lap down a pair of washers to precisely fit in that gap and center the latch. It should only take a few moments.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    Don't sleep on this. The Böker 06EX227 is hands down the best value I have seen in a production balisong knife in a long time -- possibly ever.

    Edit: I made a gaffe, here. The number on the blade I was under the impression is this knife's internal model number in fact, isn't. It's the serial number. I confirmed this via the simple expedient of buying another one of them. 1760 is the serial of my first example. 1818 is the serial of the second. 06EX227 is the correct manufacturer's model designation of this knife.

    Also, BladeHQ has apparently noticed the popularity of this model and raised the price to $60. Even at $60 this is a great deal. But what the hell, guys?

    6
    Weird Knife Wednesday: Cold Steel Kudu

    I herewith swear that I will write this entire post without ever once making a joke about that Kudu that you do so well.

    ...Damn.

    !

    This is the Cold Steel Kudu. Specifically, the ring locking version.

    As is typical for Cold Steel, they've come up with a story with the intent of attaching some manner of vague mystique to this knife's design. Cold Steel knives are seemingly always a style once used by traditional ninjas, or Navy SEALS, or KGB operatives, or Shaolin Monks, or Aztec warriors or Scots berserkers or Cherokee indians or Sir Francis Bacon or Elvis or whoever they think will help get whackers to buy the things.

    This time they bill the Kudu as a modern reimagining of traditional ring pull folders, specifically singling out the ones commonly used throughout Africa. Which probably has, it must be said, at least some historical validity. You can read the entire block of bumf here if you're inclined.

    This isn't something you hear about very often but there is apparently a small but very dedicated fanbase devoted to these sorts of knives. And some prone to affixing to them... let's just call it a helping of nebulously quasihistorical woo. Check this sort of thing out, for instance.

    Significance of the mystical symbols, my left toe.

    Anyway, suffice it to say that the idea of this type of ring pull folder has been around for a very long time, far predating the advent of mass manufacturing, and was most likely initially of European origin and then spread throughout the world via the usual channels. (I.e., white men in tall wooden ships sailing around planting flags on shores that already belonged to someone else, bringing all their junk with them.) Today's machine made examples are to some extent surely mechanically copies of an idea that craftsmen have been hammering out by hand for centuries.

    !

    The Kudu and its ilk are back locking folders, but not in the typical manner we're used to seeing on this continent and in this era. As you pivot the rather large blade it humpity-bumps over six very distinct detents thanks to a series of lobes around the heel. Only the last position truly locks, with a square edged peg going into the matching slot on the external lock bar which is a single piece of springy steel riveted to back of the handle.

    This locks it in place quite solidly, but if you pull up on the attached ring (which is clearly just a regular split keyring that otherwise dangles freely) it'll unlock and allow itself to be closed. The lock bar is extremely stiff and doesn't bend very much, but you hardly need to lift it any distance at all to unlock the blade.

    It must be said that closing it with one hand is difficult, but opening it with one hand is outright impossible. This is quite possibly the least "tactical" knife design ever devised.

    !

    The Kudu is surprisingly large. It's a full 10" long overall, with a 4-1/4" clip pointed blade made of 5Cr15MoV. The blade is 0.90" thick and is polished to a near mirror shine which both causes it to smudge like a son of a bitch and also makes it tricky to photograph. Closed, the knife is about 5-5/8" long and measuring its breadth is a tricky proposition because of the presence of the ring. So minus that, it's about 1-5/16" across at its widest point which is the peak of the blade. It's 0.637" thick including the heads of the rivets holding the lock bar on.

    The handle is made from glass filled nylon (which Cold Steel is calling "Zy-Ex" this time) and has a hot-rod flame inlay in it which is made out of some type of steel. It's probably some manner of austenitic stainless like 304 or 18-8 because a magnet is only weakly attracted to it.

    !

    The inlay is only on one side, so the reverse isn't nearly as interesting. The markings on the other side of the blade list the manufacturer, steel, and made in China origin.

    !

    There are no thumb studs, but a large fingernail nick is provided. Both the marketing and the markings on this knife try very hard to play up its Africa-ness, and the critter depicted on the blade is, well, a kudu: An antelope endemic to southern Africa that's got some very spiraly antlers.

    !

    From a latter-day EDC perspective, the Kudu is enormous. Mostly it's just very long. It just towers over the CQC-6K, which is already on the larger end of the spectrum of modern EDC knives.

    Since the Kudu is partially riveted together I did not bother to take it apart. The blade is held on with a pair of Torx head screws and is thus theoretically dismountable, but since the mechanism on this knife is on the outside I don't think there's much to be gained there. How it works is already on display for all to see.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    The appeal of a ring-pull folder like this is in a way its simplicity, and the Kudu definitely has that. This is a super budget knife, usually retailing for around $10. But despite that it seems to be built tolerably well. I personally put it in the same category as the various twist-lock Opinels, slip joint Texas Toothpicks, Svords and other extended tang friction folders, and similar low tech knives. This is a crocodile: archaic in its way, largely unchanged since ancient times, but that's because it didn't need changing.

    Due to its length, lack of clip or any other carrying provision -- it doesn't even have a lanyard hole, although I guess you could tie one through the ring -- and awkward protrusion of the ring itself the Kudu would actually be kind of tough to carry in the typical way that we're used to. But it'd make a great camp knife, scout knife, or tool to leave in the shed or tackle box. Or, if you must, to be carried for hipster purposes.

    The beauty of the, frankly, crude mechanical design means it should continue to work even if it gets dinged, dented, abraded, or otherwise fucked up in a manner you probably wouldn't want to subject one of your exotic supersteel pieces to.

    Plus it's neat. That's got to count for something.

    0
    CJRB Crag: Get To The Choppa!

    Numerous Knife Disorder New Knife Day it is once more.

    !

    This here's the CJRB Crag.

    Just how the hell you're supposed to pronounce CJRB is not the only unknown to me. I'd never heard of this brand until recently, and apparently it's a cheaper sub-brand of Artisan Cutlery that's been around since 2019. They have a web site, which unfortunately stops short of specifying how you're supposed to say it or even what the heck "CJRB" stands for. It does, however, go on to specify that CJRB knives carry a 14 day "no DOA guarantee." That just raises further questions.

    !

    Anyhow. The Crag.

    This is a stonking huge ball bearing flipper opener with a blade made of Artisan/CJRB's proprietary AR-RPM9 steel. It's also available in D2, and I do like a good D2 knife to the point that I have at least ten of them. But for once I figured I'd give something different a shot, so here we are with the weird proprietary steel.

    Artisan has this to say about their steel, which is full of the usual fluff you'd expect along the lines of their steel being so great, not to mention corrosion resistant, hard wearing, tough, and easily sharpenable -- as if several of those properties aren't mutually exclusive. Every manufacturer says this about their steel, and why wouldn't they? Nobody's going to make any sales by blathering about what specific things their steel sucks at. You can get a little more objective information on it from ZKnives, which indicates that it probably won't hold an edge as well as D2 (darn), but ought to be mechanically superior to the likes of 8cr and the 440 series. It's sure to be more rust resistant than D2, also, rust being something that's a perpetual thorn in my side on all my D2 knives. So that's nice.

    !

    The Crag has this big cleaverlike reverse tanto point. Suddenly all the cool kids seem to have this kind of blade profile nowadays, although search me why the sudden interest. Back in my day we just called this thing a Wharncliffe blade and didn't make such a big deal about it. I selected the version with the groovy carbon fiber handle scales. Other variants are available. This one has a finish on the blade described as "satin," which appears to be a tumbled stonewashy kind of process over the bare steel. The surface finish is very nice overall, especially for something billed as a budget knife, and does not sport any of the exposed machining marks we've gotten sick of looking at recently. The bevel is a hollow grind, although the top near the spine is left square.

    The Crag is 8" long open, 4-5/8" closed, with a 3-3/8" blade in that reverse tanto shape. The blade is 0.127" thick at the spine, so a tad beefier than most. Despite this the Crag is not excessively large in terms of overall or blade length, but it's quite broad: The blade is over an inch and one quarter wide, 1.274" to be precise, at its widest point. The entire edge has a subtle upsweep to it that presents a highly usable "all belly" edge. There is a very generously sized combination choil and finger notch at the base of the blade, but it's forward of the kicker (which along with a cutout in the handle forms yet another finger notch) so you have to be super choked up on the blade to use it for anything.

    It's similarly broad when closed as well, with the widest point actually being at the transitional angle between the main blade and the reverse tanto point on the spine of the blade, and it 1-9/16" at this location. That's huge. If you have skinny hipster jeans, this knife probably isn't going to work for you.

    !

    It's 0.510" thick not including the clip, near as makes no difference to half an inch. The clip is a deep carry design and is reversible via a pair of screws that go directly into the steel liners. With the clip it's 0.808" thick in total, including the swanky brass-embellished pivot screw heads that sit proud of the surface (by 0.058", if you must know). It's 132.5 grams (4.67 ounces) in heft, an unknown portion of that contributed to by the carbon fiber scales. The variants with other materials may weigh more, I don't know. You all are going to have to give me a raise if you want me to buy them all and compare.

    !

    The Crag is a flipper opener through-and-through and does not have thumb studs. The only way you can open it is by kicking the flipper on the rear.

    !

    The pivot is riding on ceramic ball bearings, and the opening action is buttery smooth. Exemplary. Nearly flawless. I love it.

    Oh yeah, and it also purports to have a funny lock. We all know that kind of thing is my jam.

    There's a liner locking version of this knife under the same name, too, but that's for boring wimps who don't get invited to parties. CJRB calls this their "Recoil-lock," but they don't mention anything more about it. In fact, the product blurb for their Recoil version still mentions having a liner lock, which this knife very definitely doesn't.

    !

    Instead there's this sliding toggle thing on the spine of the knife. It's jimped sightly on its top surface, and also has some stairsteppy grip surfaces machined into the sides. It's hard to notice in operation but it actuates aft and then back to the fore when you kick the knife open, and when you pull it rearward in its little track the blade flops around freely. (Editing note: "Machined" is the wrong word to use here. The lock trolley is clearly cast, and all of its grip ridges are part of the casting. The inner surfaces are machined to be flat, however, and the pin holes in it are surely drilled as part of some final process to ensure that they actually have sufficient precision.)

    Well, there's a humdinger. A lock that toggles with the blade action and completely disengages when held back. That sounds awfully familiar.

    !

    Yep. There's an Axis lock hidden in there. But rather than expose it with the traditional two buttons sticking through either side, CJRB has added a little trolley on top of it so it's accessible from the spine.

    That's... actually slightly problematic if you're not careful, because unlike the typical Axis design your natural inclination when operating this control layout is to slide the lock back with your thumb while the rest of your fingers are still wrapped around the handle, unlike the pinch operation you'd give a normal Axis knife. So if you do that, the blade can swing closed and it'll bite you. Manipulating this takes a concerted mental readjustment if you've just switched from a different knife, I find.

    !

    And yes, you can Axis flick it both open and closed. When closing, the blade is so heavy and the pivot so effortless than you can actually allow it to just fall shut. Hold it upside down and you can, with a modicum of practice, get it to fall open as well. Jury's out of this makes it count legally as a "gravity knife." If I were you, maybe I wouldn't show off that aspect of it to any policemen.

    If you hold the lock back and swing the blade out to open it the knife literally rings like a bell when the blade hits the end stop pin. Here's an MPEG of it, with sound.

    !

    It's glorious. I could do that all day.

    !

    The Crag was very easy to disassemble, in that all the screws came out cleanly and without fuss, all the hardware fits together impeccably, and overall it just feels like an enthusiast's knife in general mechanical fitment.

    There are hidden dangers lurking inside, though, specifically that the Crag is absolutely brimming with tiny parts that'll fall out of it and get lost if you're not careful.

    The major offenders are these tiny pins that are what hold the lock trolley into its track:

    !

    Those are the ones all the way on the left. There are four of them in total, two per side, although only two are shown in this photo. The other two are safely... elsewhere. They're tiny. Like, 2mm long. Maybe not even that. They're also not held in by anything so they will fall out when you remove either handle scale and you'd better be ready for it or you're going to be grovelling around on the carpet.

    Also visible there is the crossbar from the lock, and the end stop pin for the blade's travel to its open position. Or, if you prefer, the part that makes it go "ding."

    !

    Here are the bearings. They're ceramic, in nylon carriers.

    !

    The brass garnishes around the pivot screws are separate pieces. I believe this is also a contender for knife with the widest pivot screw head. Look at that thing -- it's a goddamn Frisbee.

    !

    There are no surprises to be found on the edge, neither good nor bad. Mine came sharp enough out of the box to easily cleave a Post-It in two without much effort. If CJRB's hype is anything to be believed, it ought to be a doddle to make it even sharper.

    !

    The edge on mine was just ever so slightly out of true from the factory. That's a touch disappointing, but not unexpected given the $40 or so price point. Reprofiling this on your Ruxin or whatever ought to be easy; there are no thumb studs to get in the way, and the spine of the blade has a usable flat section on it that ought to help keep everything in alignment in your jig.

    !

    Compared to the usual CQC-6K, the Crag is longer, wider, thicker, and considerably more swanky.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    Ask not for whom the knife dings. It dings for thee.

    4
    Ozark Trail 6842

    Just when you thought it was safe to walk down the camping goods aisle...

    !

    Here's number two out of three. I haven't found the third variant of the fabled Walmart Axis lock knife yet, and to be honest I didn't expect to find the second one, either. We looked at the "6835" variant about a month ago and now I'm back at it again with this, SKU 6842.

    Tl;dr: Walmart unexpectedly started offering a trio of "Axis" lock-alike crossbar locking folders to very little fanfare, and then discontinued them instantly. Normally we would say this is totally unexpected, if it weren't for the fact that a couple of years ago they did exactly the same thing: releasing some very similar knives that were likewise dropped just as quickly. While they last, if you can find one, these are $5 each -- A ridiculously low price point, even for trash quality knives. But luckily these aren't trash quality. In fact, if you ask me they're about on par with what you'd get for an inexpensive brand name department store knife from a few years ago. Think along the lines of a Gerber, Buck, or Camillus.

    I randomly found one the other day, in addition to one (1) more of the model I already owned. I bought them both. (My double is still sealed in its original packaging... I can feel my investment appreciating in value by the second. Some day, that knife might be worth $6.50, maybe even $7.)

    ! !

    These come on brown hang cards, pictured both front and rear here. There is no name or model designation on these other than "7-Inch Folding Knife," and the SKU on the rear. In this case, 6842. Insofar as I have been able to determine these are no longer listed on Walmart's web site, so the only way to find one is to be a big enough nerd to paw through the selection of cheapo hang card knives at the sporting goods counter at your local Walmart(s) and look for the telltale Axis/crossbar lock.

    !

    See, there it is. Just like daddy's Benchmade. Except in every other detail.

    This variant is definitely a chip off the same block as the 6835 knife, and is probably made by the same manufacturer... Whoever that is. Hangzhou Great Star Tools Co. Ltd. is my best guess, who have been the historical manufacturer of most of the previous Ozark Trail branded knives. The combination of mechanism and price is what makes these, for lack of a better word, special. They're not great knives but they're surprisingly competent given the price point. One of these would make a fine knockaround camping knife, tackle box knife, glovebox knife, or find a home for any similar application where maybe you won't care too much about its appearance or condition.

    !

    The quality and specifications of this knife are nearly identical to the last one. So I'll try not to waste too many words treading the same old ground. You get the same polypropylene handle scales -- a very unusual material -- unspecified stainless steel alloy, drop point blade that's precisely 3" long, deep carry reversible pocket clip, and 72.8 gram overall weight (2.57 ounces). That's all the spitting image of the 6835 SKU, and this one even does the same dumb thing where the screw heads inside the pocket clip aren't flush.

    !

    There are, however, some differences.

    !

    For a start, this time the blade has this fairly attractive stonewashed finish.

    !

    Oh, and the damn pivot screw heads are actually flush with the scales on this one, which is nice. And in addition to the ambidextrous thumb studs, this one's also got a flipper opener. And it almost even gets that part right!

    !

    Just like the last knife, this one came shipped packed full of unctuous crud that probably at one point had the intent of being a lubricant, but isn't anymore. So the action was pretty awful until I took the whole knife apart, cleaned it, and regreased it. But the flipper design has one other personality defect built in, which is that the crossbar can bind on the inside surface of the flipper if you pull it back all the way, and that makes it impossible to flick the knife open while holding the lock back.

    Using the flipper as intended, by pressing it into the spine of the handle and adding a slight but absolutely mandatory flick of the wrist works fine and does indeed get the knife to snap open easily. (After, of course, the obligatory disassemble-clean-reassemble-tune song and dance.) But you cannot "Axis flick" this knife no matter how hard you try, because there is no position whatsoever you can hold the lock in where it won't have to contact one side or the other of the slot it rides in during the blade's travel.

    !

    What we're up against is this.

    !

    There's a track cut into the heel of the blade for the crossbar lock to ride in, but it's not actually semicircular. It's slightly elliptical, but the blade's pivot is obviously an arc of a perfect circle. So no matter what, the crossbar crashes into it at some point along its travel. That's just tickety-boo if you're opening the knife normally, since the surface is smooth enough and the springs behind the lock weak enough that it just slides over the surface. But if you're holding the crossbar still in some particular position, that just plain old don't work nohow. On a normal Axis knife you can pull it all the way to the rear so it's clear of the blade entirely. On this, you can't.

    !

    Here's the whole thing smashed to pieces. Getting it apart wasn't too tough, but did require two T6 drivers to grab the screws from both ends at once. The construction is extremely simple with the handles and liners being held down via the same pairs of screws into threaded barrels that also serve as the spacers between the two handle halves.

    !

    The pivot rides on two PFTE washers and the centering's pretty good for a cheap knife, but not perfect. The blade does not contact either liner when closed, at least. One of the thumb studs is visibly longer than the other one, too. I'm not sure what that's about.

    All the screws are the same except the rearmost one in the clip, which is inexplicably longer than the others. This goes in the threaded barrel and not in the second screw hole in the clip. If you do that, it's long enough to stick all the way through the liner and contact the blade. You'll figure it out.

    !

    The edge grind is pretty good for a cheap knife and mine came off the card with an edge on it that ought to be sharp enough to please ordinary oiks who aren't knife maniacs.

    !

    If you're not one of those, you'll instead be pleased to learn that the edge (at least on my example) is perfectly within true. Turning this into a razor ought not to be too hard, then, if that's what you're into. I have no idea how long it will stay that way because no one will admit what kind of steel this is made out of.

    !

    No surprise, this knife is almost exactly the same footprint as its sibling Ozark knife. It's a hair thicker at 0.548" not including the clip. It's also not very deep across the other dimension, from spine to channel. That makes the cross section feel almost square in the hand. The scales have a crosshatched texture on them which I found give it a much more confidence inspiring grip than the other knife.

    Both of them are dwarfed by my CQC-6K except in thickness.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    If you want to trade your ability to Axis flick your knife open for a better grip texture, a flipper opener, and a stonewashed finish that almost -- but not completely -- hides the machine marks on the blade, go with this knife over the other one. What the hell. It's still only $5.

    6
    Weird Knife Wednesday: Cold Steel Spike

    Ancient Ninja Secret.

    No, wait. The opposite of that.

    !

    This is the Cold Steel Spike. One of multiple variants, but this is the tanto point rendition which has, it must be said, maximum ninja cred. Just about everything you need to know about it is encapsulated in this one image.

    The Spike is true to its name and it does not have an edge as such. Or rather, it is all edge. Maybe that depends on how you look at it. But it is a quarter inch thick triangle of 4116 stainless steel, tapered from spine to edge all in one shot.

    !

    And needless to say it comes to a wicked point.

    If this knife is not on the Naughty List, it is only on a technicality. There is little to no utilitarian functionality built into the Spike. It is a knife for stabbin', plain and simple. Although that's not to say I haven't cut many -- probably ill-advised -- things with this knife over the years. This knife lived on one of my backpack straps pretty much full time for a while, and when you've got something like this what else are you supposed to do with it other than debark firewood, baton things, and chuck it at tree stumps around camp?

    !

    Cold Steel calls this configuration a "zero grind." This is an OG Spike, the original super dangerous version before they added the overmolded grip with built in crossguard. Without it, this variant of the Spike is incredibly slim. Employing it in the old icepick tradition, though, is a fraught proposition and you'll want to ensure you have a very confident grip over the bird's-head pommel so you don't have yourself a bad time.

    !

    The Spike is 67.9 grams, 2.39 ounces, and basically all of that is steel. The grip is very tightly wrapped in cord; undo it at your own peril. It's 8-1/16" long with 3-15/16" of usable, er, edge. The sharp part ends in a beefy ricasso with just a bit of a finger notch behind it which may or may not help said digit remain attached during use, slightly. It is every bit of 1/4" thick at the spine, at least at the base, tapering down its length finally to a needle-sharp point.

    !

    This version of the Spike is proudly (?) made in Taiwan. At about $30 back in the day this was never going to be a super premium piece of equipment. Rather, this is more the sort of thing you'd find in the back pages of all your seedy martial arts magazines, if such things even still exist in this day and age. It'd make an excellent movie prop, too. It has precisely that air about it as you'd find in something rated R and from the late 90's, early 2000's. Think the Matrix, Blade Trilogy, V for Vendetta. That kind of deal.

    !

    This is helped somewhat by the injection molded Nylon hard sheath, which just has so much of that Sam Fisher vibe. Notably, no provision was provided from the factory whatsoever for actually attaching this to anything, save for a length of black beaded chain which I lost instantly. Cold Steel apparently expect you to use this as a neck knife, which is profoundly silly. There are a pair of slots in it that will just about fit 1" webbing, and some rivet holes that are, alas, slightly too small to easily pass 550 paracord through. The Nite-ize Eclipse clip on it is not from the factory. (Eyy, "eclipse." How topical.) I added that myself to alleviate all of the above, and in my case it is solidly epoxied to the sheath. This allows it to easily ride in one of those otherwise useless little webbing loops that inevitably appear on the face of your backpack strap, or if you were a real smooth operator you could stick it through a MOLLE mount.

    Oh, yeah. And you're not imagining things. The blade on my usual CQC-6K is now etched and stonewashed.

    !

    That is indeed a thing that has happened.

    The Inevitable Conclusion

    If your job regularly involves fighting vampires wearing Kevlar, you shouldn't leave home with out this.

    4