NOT ONLY IS THE CURTISS F3 AN OUTSTANDING PERFORMER, IT’S BUILT TO LAST FOREVER
The Curtiss F3 flipper provides outstanding performance in a platform that is built to withstand the test of time. BY JERRIE BARBER
Iam “one of those guys.” What I mean is that I am a person who believes that you should use a tool, regardless of how much you spent on it. Sure, I like to admire certain knives as works of art, but even those tools need to be put to work. For example, I have a knife or two that are over the $400 range. This ambition to have the ultimate in higher-end knives began a couple of years ago.
My research initially led me to Strider and Chris Reeve Knives. I bought one knife from both companies. Eight years ago that was the ultimate controversy … which of those two knives was the better cutting tool? Over a period of time, I began an ongoing affair with higher-end knives. That path eventually led me to Hinderer, which led me to what I believe may be one of the most overlooked and underrated knives in the industry: the Curtiss F3.
This knife has an all-titanium frame and a titanium spacer and pivot screws. The blade is made of CTS-XHP steel, and that is quickly becoming one of my favorite steels.
It also has a combination ground blade. I call this a spanto blade; however, most spanto-style blades are flat ground with a small swell between the body of the blade and the tip; this particular blade has a flat round tip, with a hollow ground body, making the overall grind of the blade very distinguishable.
Curtiss F3s have many different handle configurations, including a sundry of colored G-10 over titanium and full
titanium scales in several configurations from flat, tumbled, textured and diamond pattern—and my personal knife and favorite—mk1 pattern. (Don’t you dare call it a frag pattern!) There is something for each taste and fancy, and if you do not like plain gray titanium, it can be custom anodized. Now, let’s talk …
If you happen to be a gun guy, especially if you are into pistols, you are familiar with the following analogy: You have heard someone say that there is a point when pressing the trigger that it will “break like glass.” That is such a sweet feeling in shooting, especially when it’s a SIG Sauer. I guess that would make Curtiss Knives the SIG Sauer of the knife world.
While it is common for flippers to be smooth in their deployment and operation, most flippers are controlled by the amount of force you apply to the flipper tab. If you want your blade to deploy fast, you add and lot of pressure to the tab. Or, you quickly “light switch” the flipper tab for a quick deployment. With the Curtiss F3, whether you are light-switching the flipper tab or using a push-button technique, there is a point that you have built enough pressure, and voilà … the blade deploys. Or, using the gun terminology, the tab “breaks like glass.” I attempted several times to find a trigger gauge to test my personal F3, but I could not find anyone who had access to one. Therefore, I based my estimate off several guns with a trigger pull with which I was familiar. Using that as my criteria, I’d say that the blade releases at about 7.5 pounds.
One of the common flaws with the modern knife is their pivots. After a brief time of using or simply playing with them, pivots will start to loosen and the blade will start to be proud (favor) to one side of the frame—either the presentation side (front) or the lock side (back). Not so with the Curtiss F3. With the S.P.O.T. pivot system and the oversized pivot screws, the centering of the blade just stays where it is put. No matter how much it is used or how many times it is flipped, the blade stays centered.
One of the things that you will notice upon opening the F3 is that there appears to be a fairly generous finger choil; however, looks can be deceptive, and you do not need to rush to put your finger there recklessly. While Dave has cut a choil into the blade, for me it would only be for very delicate, purposeful cutting. The choil is more of a sharpening stop for me.
While using the knife, I performed various tests with ease. For example, I hung a concrete block from a ¾-inch piece of rope, and I had no issue slashing the rope. Dave’s knives come ready to work. If I could slice through rope with little effort, then I figured it would not be an issue to make a feather stick … and it wasn’t. In short order, I was able to swiftly cut through a piece of poplar and have it whittled and ready to carry fire in minutes.
While this was not necessarily “hard” testing, I was able to draw the F3 from the pocket and have it deployed with gloves on, as well as close the knife one-handed and return it back to the pocket. While this is not a great concern to me on a daily basis, it could be to the LEO audience.
It is also worth mentioning that the MK1 texture did play a significant role by adding the needed traction while drawing the F3 with gloves on. Dave also makes an all-diamond pattern that would be a good choice if gloves were part of your daily wearing habits. Their customer care also shines.
How many times have you bought a knife, had an issue with it—be it fit and finish or lock play—and had to call the manufacturer? Things don’t always go smoothly.
One of my greatest experiences in customer service was the day I called Curtiss customer support. My first F3 was giving me a little issue. It seems it had developed a grinding when deploying the blade and closing the knife. When I explained the problem, the man on the line said, “Spray the hell out of the pivot with some WD-40. If you have a compressor, blow the pivot out.” I didn’t like the way that sounded, so I countered with a question. “Could I please speak with someone else? That doesn’t sound like good advice.”
“Who would you like to speak with?” said the voice on the other end. “I am the only one here.” “Who is this?” “Dave Curtiss.” That was the start of a friendship with a man I have yet to shake hands with, but I will solve that this June at the Blade Show.
In addition to being a great knifemaker and a good guy, from what I can tell, Dave started out in customer service, as his first job was in a full-service filling station. He has brought that customer service over to what he does today. Everything Dave sells is done in his shop—from the cutting of the frame to
“I HAD NO ISSUE SLASHING THE ROPE. DAVE’S KNIVES COME READY TO WORK.”
the grinding of the blade. From a CAD drawing, to waterjet, to CNC, frames come from his shop. Blades are hand-ground and finished in his shop. While Dave has never claimed to make “the best knife,” he does promise to give you the best customer service, which I have personally experienced on more than one occasion.
“IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH EVERY DIME YOU SPEND TO INVEST IN A CURTISS KNIFE...”
Dave makes more than just the F3 and probably has a little something for everyone … be it this particular knife, a Nano Flipper or possibly an ODT flipper, which is an awesome keychain tool. You will find many others at Curtissknives.com.
Let me finish by saying this. It is absolutely worth every dime you spend to invest in a Curtiss Knife, if it fits your needs. Fit and finish of this knife are superb. Dave’s designs are way more than adequate. Dave’s materials on all of his designs, especially the F3, are the highest quality.
If you are a member of USN, you can possibly find a Curtiss in the Cove. If you are in any of the Facebook knife groups, there is a good possibility you will find one if you are paying close attention. No matter what method you use, I highly advise getting a Curtiss however you can. You won’t be sorry. KI
The author recommends Curtiss knives for their outstanding craftsmanship and personal customer service.
Bottom: Notice the old jimping is somewhat large and limited. Jimping on the new F3 is smaller and somewhat more aggressive, giving extra purchase at the thumb for more control.
Bottom Left: The author had no problems drawing the F3 from his pocket or deploying it with gloves on … something that could be a big factor with the law enforcement audience.
Bottom Middle: In less than five minutes, the author had made a feather stick. The F3 swiftly cut through a piece of poplar.
Bottom Right: The key to drawing the knife with gloves on? The MK1 texture added traction, the author said.
Top Right: The bottom blade is the older spanto design, and it has more of a saber grind. The newer blade profile is a combination grind featuring a flat ground tip with a generous hollow ground body. It is capable of being razor sharp.
Left: The right lock bar is a titanium steel lock bar that worked all right; however, the new design incorporates a lock bar insert for a steel-to-steel lock. Bottom Right: Curtiss Knives offers more than the F3, and they can all be viewed at Curtissknives.com. Knife pouches, t-shirts and patches are just a few pieces of swag that can be purchased, as well as a variety of other knives.