Knives Illustrated - - Contents - STORY BY JERRIE BAR­BER, PHO­TOS BY BRIAN QUALLS

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.

First Look

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.

Cus­tomer Care

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


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.


Strong Choice

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

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...

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.

The au­thor rec­om­mends Curtiss knives for their out­stand­ing crafts­man­ship and per­sonal cus­tomer ser­vice.


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...

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