THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS
BROWNING WIHONGI SIGNATURE HEMP - SMALL
The most striking feature of this folding knife is the Polynesian etching on the blade. The Maori warrior motif is a nod to the knife’s codesigner, Jared Wihongi (a Utahbased SWAT officer and Kali master of Maori descent). The hemp Micarta handle recalls a time when hemp was used to make strong rope for heavy-duty tasks. Combining the two aesthetics produces unique symbolism that matches its sturdiness. Made in China.
Despite its stature, the knife fits well in our medium-sized hands. Lowest price tag
Sharp out of the box Drop-point is our favorite blade shape for everyday carry (EDC) due to its versatility.
Partial serrations are better suited for larger blades used for sawing fibrous material, such as rope or branches. Pocket clip orientation is tip-down and righthanded only.
BEAR & SON
Bear & Son is known for its butterfly knives and traditional-style pocketknives. Bear
Edge is the company’s tactical lineup, of which the 61105 belongs. This folder looks like other costlier folders in the industry, but keeps the price tag down by pairing a 440 stainless steel blade with a beadfinish aluminum handle instead of, say, 154CM steel and titanium scales. Like all of Bear & Son knives, the 61105 is made in the USA.
Aluminum handle is ergonomic.
Adjustable pocket clip for righties or lefties Built in Bear & Son’s Alabama factory
The action is sluggish. The blade has a bit of lateral play.
The liner-lock feels gritty when disengaging it to close the blade.
Tangram Series is an entry-level roster from Kizer Cutlery, one of the first China-based companies to make high-end production knives out of premium materials. For the Orion, Kizer teamed up with U.S. knife-maker Dirk Pinkerton to create a tactical one-hander for EDC. The result is kickass. The modified Wharncliffe blade is ideal for self-defense, the handle is stylish and grippy, and the pocket clip can be worn left or right and tip up or down.
Assembled in China? We couldn’t tell.
Made of Japanese
Acuto 440 steel, the blade shreds cardboard like a machine.
Flipper tab and linerlock work seamlessly Handle is made of our favorite material: G10.
Forefinger groove is a little too pronounced, meaning folks with bigger index fingers might find it too tight a spot.
The FDX302 has the second-lowest MSRP in this buyer’s guide, but by no means does it feel like it. The standout feature is Coast’s Double Lock System, which provides a secondary means of preventing the blade from closing unintentionally (and reminds us of CRKT’s Locking Liner Safety). Its skeletonized frame-lock body isn’t just for looks; it helps keep the overall weight of the hefty stainless steel handle down. Made in China.
Double Lock System Robust construction Comfy handle
Easy on the wallet
Even though it has a three-position pocket clip, this frame-lock knife is only ideal for right-handers.
Not the sharpest blade of the bunch.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Al Mar Knives was among the first to popularize tactical knives. Flash forward almost four decades and Kershaw is now teaming up with the company to bring its vintage designs into the 21st century, and doing it with contemporary updates and quality materials, but at reasonable prices. The AM-4 is one such example, adding a flipper, frame-lock, and SpeedSafe-assisted opening — all for 50 bucks. Made in China.
Feels as great in hand as it looks.
Unlike many other frame-locks, the AM-4 is easy to unlock. Polished and contoured G10 front scale Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening is fast and smooth.
Sorry, frame-lock translates as “righties only”
In the past year or so, Gerber has launched something of a new initiative: bring in a fresh generation of fans by giving them a wide range of entry-level knives at low costs. Some perform better than others. But fear not: The Haul can hold its own. Made in China and also available with an orange handle, this assisted-opening folder is ideal if you like beefy knives that look modern, but won’t cost you a mortgage payment.
Fits perfectly, regardless of grip style (i.e. thumb-supported, hammer, reverse, etc.) Surprisingly, the Chinese 5Cr15MoV blade slices and stabs with ease.
Cross-bolt safety with plunge lock is safe and easy to use.
Assisted opening deploys blade with a satisfying
While a nice addition, the gritty cross-bolt safety needed some lube.
Glass-filled nylon handle scuffs easily and won’t hold up as well over time as other materials.
As part of Outdoor Edge’s Survival Series, the Divide is designed for campers, hunters, hikers, and preppers. But this large folder could feel right at home in concrete jungles, too. It was codesigned by company president David Bloch and custom knife-maker Jerry Hossom. Made in China, the Divide also comes in baby brother size (6.9 inches overall). Both small and large versions have options for a plain edge or a partially serrated edge.
Opens easily, whether by flipper tab or ambidextrous thumbstuds The 8Cr13MoV blade made short work of cardboard during our test cutting. Disengaging the framelock doesn’t feel like you’re arm-wrestling yourself, as sometimes happens with knives of this type.
Ergonomics for the handle make it comfortable for a saber grip, but less so for other grips (e.g. thumb-supported or reverse).
Right-handed orientation only