Frank Petronio photographer

Knife Buying Jag

I went on a knife buying jag, not intending to keep them all but here we are after a month of research and shopping. These are all “Made in the USA” production-level locking folding knifes from established manufacturers. Missing is the Hogue automatic folder ~ it’s a high quality design but kind of weird, hard to get used to. Also I had a couple of ZT 0562s and inexpensive Taiwanese Ontario Knife Company Rat 1 folders not too long before.

From left to right: Emerson Vindicator, about $197 on sale, 4” blade… might be nice for a knife fight but I’d really want a fixed blade given a choice. Otherwise it was kind of clunky, heavy, and opened in my pocket several times. The steel and handles were middle of the road, not very exciting, sending it back Monday. 

Medford Proxima is exciting, expensive, and thick (3/16” D2) flipper. I would much rather stab somebody with a Medford than an Emerson. Feels like a weapon, weighs like one too. Got a good deal on it and it was fun to see, like Stormy Daniels.

Rick Hinderer XM-24 Spanto flipper, 4” CPM-20CV, $595 is the most expensive knife and it’s probably the best overall workmanship and quality but… I’m just not feeling it. Having several 4” blades has caused me to realize that they are a bit too large for a folder, the sweet spot is smaller, around 3.5IMHO. But after trying the smaller Hinderer as well as his ZT0562 designs I’ve decided I just don’t care for his style. Superb quality, it’s me not you Rick.

Chris Reeves Inkosi is $450, Titanium and S35V (which for the price should probably be 20CV). It’s pretty much perfect and this will be a keeper. It’s simple and clean.

ZT 0462 lightweight flipper, under $200. Almost want to keep this knife, it’s great for keeping a low profile and flipping it is very cool. No issues other than it pivots on ball bearings rather than bushings (I prefer bushings). 

Benchmade Osborne 940… this is a near perfect gentleman’s EDC knife but I’m not willing to learn to adapt to the Axis locking system. But if you want to have one nice knife for a reasonable price I think they’re hard to beat. It feels light duty but it’s sturdy.

Kershaw Shallot Damascus ~ Pretty darn nice for a inexpensive price, I’ve owned all the Kershaw Ken Onion designs and in spite of not loving assisted opening knives, they’ve never let me down. Kershaw and ZT are owned by the Japanese Kai Cutlery but made in PDX. Hard to beat Kershaw for value.

I never owned a Spyderco but now I’m very positively inclined with this 2.5S30V Lil’ Native with full serrations. Again I can’t find any faults or anything to complain about, I’m keeping it for when a smaller knife is the only possibility. Maybe I’ll try other Spydercos in the future? They seem hit or miss, they’ve made some weird stuff.

Botton line is I think I’m going to replace the larger folders with a good fixed blade, possibly a Winkler Crusher with horizontal belt carry. And keep the CRK Inkosi and Spyderco Lil’ Native. No offense to the other knives at all, they are all quite good (except for that funky Emerson) but I’m more of a user than a collector. I finally figured out that folders can be too large for their own good and also satisfied my curiosity about all the different big knife brands. I don’t think I will move up to artisan custom knives, I don’t see much utility in them, if a $400-plus production knife isn’t good enough then the real problem is with me!

Notes: I sharpen on a small Tormac and have a set of stones for freehand sharpening. In hindsight I probably should have learned how to use sandpaper and glass but the Tormac wet wheel is pretty nice. 

I have a few inexpensive throwing tomahawks, a couple vintage axes, a nicer Council Tool double bladed Michigan axe. Definitely interested in ordering a Liam Hoffman 2.25# camp axe and maybe the Council Tool Velvicut saddle axe. But the pride and joy is due in a few days, a Winkler light hunter axe, only 9”. Of course it’s a bit tactikewl but, shucks, it’s real prudy.

Last year and before I got rid of most of my power tools and cheaper, lousy hand tools, replacing them with quality stuff but none of the new tools compare to the knifes or axes for having personalities. Maybe it’s like guns, sharp weaponry carries a sense of danger that’s attractive? 

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