INTERROGATING

THE UN­USUAL SUS­PECTS

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BROWN­ING WI­HONGI SIG­NA­TURE HEMP - SMALL

411:

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.

PROS:

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.

CONS:

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

61105

411:

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.

PROS:

Alu­minum handle is er­gonomic.

Ad­justable pocket clip for right­ies or left­ies Built in Bear & Son’s Alabama fac­tory

CONS:

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

ORION

411:

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.

PROS:

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.

CONS:

Fore­fin­ger groove is a lit­tle too pro­nounced, mean­ing folks with big­ger in­dex fin­gers might find it too tight a spot.

COAST

FDX302

411:

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.

PROS:

Dou­ble Lock Sys­tem Ro­bust con­struc­tion Comfy handle

Easy on the wal­let

CONS:

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.

KER­SHAW

AM-4

411:

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.

PROS:

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.

CONS:

Sorry, frame-lock trans­lates as “right­ies only”

GER­BER

HAUL

411:

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.

PROS:

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

“thwak” sound.

CONS:

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.

OUT­DOOR EDGE

DI­VIDE

411:

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.

PROS:

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.

CONS:

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

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