In this installment of TPF, readers will be able to look at an offering by SOG which is a manual opening knife that incorporates SOG’s patented Arc-Lock system. If the title seems somewhat confusing, please do not stop reading as, despite having a long model designation, this blade does have several items that are worthy of being showcased. TPF is pleased to introduce readers to SOG’s Folding Knife Mini X-Ray Vision. This has a distinction of having a very wordy designation for such a small simple knife design that it almost seems out of place.
This knife initially appears to be one of the more basic folders offered by SOG that would be a very capable addition to anyone’s EDC (Every Day Carry) option. This knife has a combo-edge tanto blade that measures 76mm (3.0″) with some two-step serrations, one large followed by two small; repeat. The knife itself is extremely light, massing in at roughly 85gr (3.0 oz), mainly due to the glass reinforced nylon handles that surround the liners.
We here at TPF obviously love the description of this knife on the SOG website. As it resonates with the majority of our tag line.
Two words that best describe the X-Ray Vision series are “tactical” and “practical”.
But is it too fantastical for some? Some aspects may be…
As stated earlier, this knife is a manual opening knife. Manipulating the ambidextrous thumb is the primary method for blade deployment. The Arc-Lock system on the Mini-X-Ray Vision is a spring-loaded, pivoting bar that retains the blade in a closed position with minor spring force. When deploying the blade, the Arc-Lock shifts along the internal profile of the blade until fully deployed, at which time the pivot bar “locks” into a corresponding notch on the profile. The spring is the key feature for the locking mechanism, and if closed, pulling back on the Arc-Lock bar actually begins deployment of the blade. This allows for a “friction-free” deployment of the blade. However, holding the Arc-Lock bar back prevents the blade from locking open.
The two halves of the knife are held together by a quintet of Torx socket, pan head screws with the opposite side appearing as a blind rivet head. The Arc-Lock bar, and thumb studs are a two piece slotted assembly, with only the thumb stud having an exposed thread on the nut side. With the blade in the closed position the knife measures exactly 101.6mm (4.0″) to the end of the pocket clip, and when fully open the overall length stretches to a hair above 178mm (7.0″). Which will bring TPF Online to the only obvious aesthetic error that we can identify…
The countersunk flat head philips screw which is used to secure the pocket clip into position seems out of place. Using a Torx socket version would have kept up the visual appearance across the entire knife, but in the grand scheme of this knife, this is a very minor quibble. The pocket clip has a fairly large mouth and can be mounted to allow the knife to be worn on either a left or right side, tip up carry.
The lines of this knife are crisp and clean with minimal distractions, such as patterned and ornate contoured handles. The simple handle design incorporates a single pronounced finger groove. Combine that with the serrated thumb rise on the blade and the ability to control the blade for a variety of grips and uses is apparent. The pivot of this knife is very smooth, however the teflon washers do allow for a slight amount of blade play side to side.
The blade itself is manufactured from VG-10 steel, with a thickness of 2.5mm (0.10″) and has a bead blasted finish. This steel is normally considered to be a higher end steel that has good qualities regarding corrosion resistance, edge retention, and sharpening ability.
The Mini X-Ray Vision, SOG Model #MXV72-CP, is a very lightweight manual folding knive with a higher quality steel blade. Readers may recall earlier in this write-up we commented on the possible fantastical aspect of this knife. The suggested MSRP of the knife as reviewed is $161.50 USD, but readers can find it at a much more affordable price point at various online outlets across Canada, such as Blades Canada Cutlery Corp., who have a storefront in Vancouver BC. As an EDC knife, this edged tool has all the required options for being a good EDC, possibly excluding the price tag. However, as per the norm for here, it is up to you, our readers, to determine if SOG’s Mini X-Ray Vision falls under the heading of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical.
One of the most abused parts of a knife is the point or tip of the knife. Users jab it into seams and use the blade as a makeshift wedge or pry-bar in order to crack open or split whatever they are working on at the time. The problem is that the tip of the knife is the weakest part.
The prying puts large tangential stress into a small focused area on what is traditionally the thinner parts of a knife. Now, several knives try and offset this by making a blunt tip which increases the area used for prying that distributes the fores better. Others increase the blade thickness to have a stronger tip that can suffer greater levels of stress before breaking. Columbia River Knife and Tool had a slightly different take which makes a bit more sense to the author. Enter the Barge.
Kershaw’s Barge is a very simple and rugged designed knife that has basically two purposes. Cutting stuff and being used as a wedge/prying tool. The knife is not really that small, amassing just over 150g (5.4oz) and measuring 119mm (4.75″) in length when closed. The first thing you notice looking at the knife however, is the huge metal cap on the knife’s butt end. That is the key of the Barge, the wedge shaped butt cap, and it is massive and mounted very securely between the liners. The wedge acts as the spacer between the two liner halves of the knife. It is secured by five (5) screws along the back and rear edges of the handles, these are not small screws either, they are massive compared to those typically used on folding knives. Of interesting note of this design is the fact that the majority of the screws/nuts use a T8 torx driver for assembly/disassembly, with two exceptions. The reversible pocket clip allows for both left and right handed, tip-up carry, and is secured by a pair of T6 torx pan head screws. The second exception is the most obvious and greatest departure from the other fasteners used, as the large pair of slotted screws provide the main strength that binds the handle to the wedge. The wedge also has a lanyard opening for those who desire to use them.
From the Kershaw Website:
- Multifunction – Has multiple blades or tools, enabling it to perform multiple functions.
- Manual – There is no mechanical assist, such as SpeedSafe, used to open the folding knife. It opens the classic, old-school way.
- Frame Lock – A portion of the handle (the knife frame) moves behind the blade to lock it into position during use. This is a safety feature of the knife.
- Reversible – Pre-drilled holes in the handle enable the user to change either the tip position or the side on which the knife carries.
As is typical in many frame lock knives that are manual in opening, there is a small bearing that is press fit into the locking arm and a corresponding dimple/hole in the blade that enable securing the blade into a closed position. This does equate to a very slight increase of required pressure when opening these knives, but it is almost negligible when using the thumbstuds to open the 6.6cm (2.6″) edge. Now speaking about edges, the Barge’s plain blade has a slight hollow gound edge whose profile is a combination of a warncliffe edge with the spine of a typical drop point and incorporates a slight upward curve close to the tip. Manufactured from 8Cr13MoV, the blade is easily sharpened, and the blade itself, the frame halves, and the wedge have been given a stonewash finish which gives a soft, metallic appearance.
The overall length of the wedge insert is 66mm (2.6″) and is scalloped to allow for the knife’s blade to easily fold up while creating a very robust assembly. The steel right frame panel is 2.4mm (0.095″) thick and incorporates the frame lock mechanism, whereas the the left panel is slightly thinner at 2.0mm (0.08″). However a black textured nylon panel completes the left side for added grip. The blade is 3.1mm (1/8″) thick and uses nylon washers for stiffness and rigidity at the pivot point. The Barge measures 12.1cm (4.74″) long when closed and 18.4cm (7.24″) when locked open which belies the 146.8grams (5.18oz) that this hefty tool masses. The wedge of course is a large contributing factor in those numbers, and with a 1.7mm (0.67″) thick flat edge that is 10.0mm (0.40″) long, the “screwdriver” tip of the Barge is ready for some of the worse pry jobs most people can imagine.
The Kershaw Barge, model 1945, is a very utility oriented knife that could be a good addition to an individual’s every day carry inventory. With a noticeable mass and good control surfaces, this offering may seem cheap at the MSRP of $48.99 CDN, and can be found in stores such as House of Knives. As always however, the question is what category the Barge falls into for you, the reader? Tactial? Practical? Or Fantastical?
Sometimes a product comes around that defies TPF’s standard conceptual understanding of what that product’s generic style should entail or encompass. It is a very rare event however. Yet Kershaw knives has done exactly that with their off beat multi-tool, the Select Fire.
Kershaw Knives are not unknown to many readers, but there are a few who have never heard of this company. Kershaw Knives was founded in 1974 in Portland, Oregon when knife salesman Pete Kershaw started a cutlery company that would make knives from his designs. Those designs were manufactured by Japanese based KAI Cutlery. In 1978, KAI Cutlery purchased Kershaw Knives and the overall company was renamed KAI USA Ltd. KAI USA continues today with three product lines; including the original Kershaw Knives and Shun Cutlery which primarily markets kitchen cutlery. Fast forward to 1998, and after nearly 25 years of knife design and manufacturing, Mister Pete Kershaw, then company president, retired with a corporate legacy of good quality products for value and a superb customer service program, which continue to this day.
Most common every day carry multi-tools are based primarily around a set of pliers with accessory tools and blades as secondary components of the tool. In this EDC product there are simply two tool arms with a couple additional features added in. If one was to ask what is comparable to this product, the first idea that popped into the author’s mind was an older, simple swiss-army tool. What makes it similar to that well-known and house-hold description? The first thing that is noticeable about the Kershaw Select Fire is that is first and foremost a folding knife with some additional tools added in for when they are required. This is where the difference in EDC multi-tool design philosophy is apparent. Is it more desirable to have a dedicated tool with a blade being secondary, or is a blade the primarily used part and other items are secondary.
As stated, the Select Fire is designed around a 86.0mm (3-3/8″) spear-point profile blade. Manufactured from 8Cr13MoV steel and having a satin finish, the non-serrated blade incorporates both a slight hollow grind and re-curve edge in its design. Mounted in the 3.1mm (1/8″) wide spine are a pair of opposed thumb studs for ambidextrous opening. The blade itself is nestled between a set of steel liners, one of which has the liner locking mechanism for ensuring a securely extended position. The glass-filled nylon panels are moulded in black with a fish bone shaped pattern on them. Secured to the liners via a series of hex socket rounded head screws on each side, the panels are comfortable even when using the secondary tool arm of the Select Fire.
The secondary tool in this design is an extendable 6.4mm (1/4″) hex bit driver which has three positions retained by a small spring-loaded bar. Available are the closed, 90° (half) and 180° (full) extended positions. Roughly 64.0mm (2-1/2″) in length, the bit driver turns the multi-tool into a true screwdriver with minimal profile changes to the main handle of the Select Fire. The author has not tested the durability of the driver arm, but the main shaft is rectangular in section 3.1mm x 4.8mm (1/8″ x 3/16″) and seems to be very sturdy. Like most bit drivers however, the usefulness is limited without the actual drive bits themselves. This is where the design of the Select Fire takes a turn to modern methods and ideas.
Most multi-tools which have some sort of screwdriver tool arm have very short malformed driver heads and are very hard to manage as a useful screwdrivers. For those multi-tools that incorporate a bit driver attachment, the actual bits are sometimes miniaturized and/or proprietary and once lost are expensive to replace. The other multi-tools which use full-sized bits have an additional pouches, sleeves, or external holders to ensure that your bits are nearby when you want them. The Select Fire solves the storage problem in a simple and ingenious method. It stores full-sized driver bits in the handle, two per side. A cutout in the liners and grip panels serves as the home to a small, spring-loaded, bit holder on each side. Each bit holder holds two bits between three “fingers” which incorporate the hexagonal shape of the bit shanks themselves. The Spring loaded holders snap back into storage position, which does not allow a full size bit to fall out of the holder due to the limits of the aforementioned cutouts in the liner and grip panels. The Select Fire comes pre-loaded with #5 and #7 straight-style bits, and PH1 and PH2 Philip head bits. However, the true benefit of the use of full-sized bits is that the end-user can replace them with anything which is more commonly used such as red #2 Robertson or such.
These are the primary and secondary tool components of the Select Fire multi-tool. A large dedicated blade and a dedicated bit driver. The design does incorporate a couple tertiary design features which, in the author’s opinion, are more akin to small design quirks to add to tool count. These are a small ruler on the bit driver arm, and the bottle opener which is incorporated into the recess for the bit driver and requires the driver be extended before usage in both cases. The Select Fire has a reversible pocket clip which allows it to be worn in the tip-down position. Considering the overall closed size of 108.0mm (4-1/4″) and mass of only 152 grams (4.8oz), the Select Fire is a very easy addition as an EDC for anyone who prefers this style of multi-tool. Blade focus versus plier focus.
Overall it is well made and, as per most Kershaw products, has a good design and quality for the price. The ONLY detraction the author has is the slight chance that the bit holder springs may protrude just enough to snag on finer materials, but the Select Fire isn’t meant for dressy occasions, so that sort of event may never occur.
Kershaw Knive’s Select Fire, model #1920, has an MSRP of $34.95 USD and can be obtained from retailers such as Gorilla Surplus, located at 1458 Broadway E., Vancouver, BC. Like every product reviewed by TPF-Online, it is up to you the reader to decide if the Select Fire is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical…
SOG speciality Tools and Knives is renowned for their geared plier-based multi-tools, but as per previous installments of TPF-Online, they also manufacture some quality and interesting blades. With that being said, SOG gratefully provided TPF-Online with one of the Aegis line of knives for reviewing. For those that may wonder where the word Aegis comes from, let us take a bit of a history lesson from Wikipedia.
An aegis is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small version of the shield appearing on the garment. It originally was derived from the protective shield associated with a religious figure when related in myths and images. The wearing of the aegis and its contents show sponsorship, protection, or authority derived from yet a higher source or deity. The name has been extended to many other entities, and the concept of a protective shield is found in other mythologies, while its form varies across sources.
The word Aegis has traditionally been used in defensive systems and designs across the world, from protective sunglasses to 1911 style handguns to ship based missile systems. It is in this vein of thought that SOG has adopted the name’s usage for an ultralight folding knife series. Based upon the patented SOG Assist Technology™, and the Arc-Lock system, the Aegis is very similar to the previously reviewed Flash-II in opening, locking, and safety mechanisms. TPF-Online takes a look at the AE-04 model of the Aegis series of knives.
The initial thought of the author when the Aegis was first looked at was that the handle looked cheap with a bland matte black finish and very minimal patterning for grip retention. Simply put however, the author was wrong. The black handle of the knife is manufactured from Zytel nylon and is composed of 2 halves secured together with six (6) socket head screws. Four (4) along the back spine of the handle, one (1) for the pocket clip, and final fastener as part of the SAT/pivot. The partially serrated tanto blade measures 89.0 mm (3.50″) in length and inserted into the blades spine are the ambidextrous thumb studs. The titanium nitride coated AUS-8 steel blade sports nearly 28.0 mm (1.10″) of thumb ridges along it’s 3.0 (0.12″) thick spine.
The Aegis handle does differ from the Flash and it is these differences which externally show up between the two designs. The profile of the Aegis removes any excess thickness and width which was present on the Flash-II’s, such as the removal of the lanyard loop hole, two finger profile in the grip, and the small hump at the top of the handle above the pivot. The mass saved is offset by the tanto-blade profile which, while massing the same 97 grams (3.1 oz) as the Flash-II, results in the Aegis having a centre of gravity further forward than the Flash-II.
In the grips are a series of rubberized inserts sporting the SOG brand name repeatedly while proving a surer gripping ability for the individual whom wields the knife. The manual safety on the left side of the grips and prevents the Arc-Lock system from moving the locking piston when in safe position. Since the piston lock also provides direct resistance for initial blade opening, by engaging the safety the piston is rendered immobile and therefore disables opening of the blade. Add into that the reversible pocket clip for tip-up carrying, and the Aegis package is complete. While SOG promotes this product as a tactical knife, the low mass and efficient blade design make the Aegis a good EDC knife for those interested.
The SOG Aegis reviewed (AE-04) has a MSRP of $114.00 USD and is one of many variations available for the Aegis line of blades. Remember that the SOG AE-04 Aegis Folding Knife, like all SOG products, is backed by a lifetime warranty that protects against defects in manufacturing and materials. This knife can be found as various stores across Canada and online at places such as Toronto based www.thegreatoutdoorsmen.ca. TPF-Online authors have their own opinion of the Aegis folding knife, but ultimately it is your decision, the reader’s, to determine if SOG’s Aegis folding knife is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical.
Everyone most likely knows at least one other person who has the ability to narrate extremely well and has ability to draw a listener completely into a story they retell. How many plant the hook and slowly reel in the listener, who is captivated by the idea, and then surprise them as the entire story was about something completely different from what was originally believed? Here at TPF, we were offered a chance to test out a bigger brother to the M16. That was when TPF was provided an M21 to review. Suffice to say that the excitement level at TPF was excellent and when the M21 finally came from Columbia River Knife and Tool we were extremely pleased. The author wonders if any of our readers was caught in the hook of the title?
Unfortunately this M21 is not the famed military variant of the classic M-14, nor a Norinco clone version of that illustrious firearm. In this installment of TPF, the M21 reviewed is an enhanced cousin to the M16, a folding knife designed by Mr. Kit Carson roughly a decade ago. Using his decades of military experience, personal knife making skills and outdoor knowledge, Mr. Carson designed the M16 to be a true functional knife. In 2003 the M16 was voted one of the top 10 tactical folder knife designs by Blade Magazine. The M16’s legacy has continued to this day as it is still in production and is still used as a benchmark versus other knives. The M21-14G, as stated before, is an enhanced brother to the M16, measuring an impressive 135mm (5.3″) long while closed and massing a fair 167 grams (5.9 oz.). These larger blades of the M21 series have also earned the nickname of ‘Big Dog’ for it’s overall size and sporting a 3.6mm (0.14″) thick blade with a length of 98.4mm (3.87″). The M21-14G version in this TPF installment has a self-described as a deep-bellied spear point profile, measures 235.0mm (9.25″) when fully opened and features a trademarked series of Veff™ serrations.
For those individuals who are unfamiliar with Veff™ serrations, they originated on commercial knives back in 2006 and TPF has quoted from Mr. Veff’s website the following:
Veff™ serrations are unlike traditional serrations which are usually small scallops oriented at 90 degrees to the blade cutting edge. Veff™ Serrations are wide and cut at about 50 degrees to the cutting edge. The resulting cutting points bite instantly and dig deep upon contact while the large surgically sharp valleys slice smoothly and effortlessly. Unlike traditional serrations that tend to snag and stick while cutting rope and similar material, Veff™ Serrations slice through cleanly and easily. This produces dramatically improved cutting ability on rope, webbing, strapping, hoses, leather and vegetation. Veff™ Serrations have been extensively tested and have proven to be the most efficient and effective serrations to date.
CKRT has in fact exclusive manufacturing rights to this design, other than Mr. Tom Veff customizing the serrations onto selected knives. The orientation change creates an effect similar to a series of miniature gut hook style cutting surfaces. The profile increases the cutting surface length of the serration edges, the small ridges between help create the sawing effect and draw the item being cut into the edge.
The blade of the MG21 is manufactured from 8Cr14MoV stainless steel like many CRKT folding knives and is one of the higher quality knife steels available from China. The metallurgical properties place it somewhere between 440B and 440C stainless steel characteristics. With the blade hollow ground and treated with a Titanium Nitride coating, the M21-14G is a very sharp and imposing looking tool. To open the knife, a pair of knurled thumb studs are attached to the blade’s spine for ambidextrous opening, as well as the “Carson Flipper” incorporated in the blade itself. The Carson Flipper was introduced nearly 15 years ago and is a kick incorporated into the actual blade which allows for partial opening of the blade through use of a finger on along the back of the closed knife. Now a very commonly feature on SAO knives, this version of the kick is used in conjunction with a slight wrist movement to obtain blade opening speeds similar to spring assisted knives. When the knife is in open position the ‘Casron Flipper’ tab also serves as a means of preventing the user’s hand from sliding into the cutting edges during usage.
This M21 is a very large and beefy blade which is locked into position via a liner lock, and CRKT also utilizes an AutoLAWKS system on the blade which prevents inadvertent closing of the folder. The AutoLAWKS is a spring actuated lever which interposes itself behind the liner lock once the knife is fully opened. This prevents the liner lock from slipping out and having the blade close at inopportune times. In order to close the blade , the AutoLAWKS. lever must be shifted, which allows the liner lock to be disengaged. This can be done one-handed with practice, but would require time and repetition to make such a smooth manoeuver. The 14G blade version incorporates grips manufactured from black G10 and have a textured surface finish to allow a firm grip regardless of weather conditions and the grip halves are retained by a set of Torx-head screws. While the knife itself comes with a retention clip setup for tip down carry and located on the right side of the knife, there are provisions for mounting the clip on either side and in tip-down carry positions. The clip is also secured by a trio of Torx-head screws.
Designed by Mr. Kit Carson to be a rugged, heavy-duty knife based upon the successful M16 predecessor, the M21-14G has an MSRP of $89.99 USD. Other options for this size M21 include double ‘Carson Flipper’ tabs to create a cross guard, colouration changes, and the option for a plain ‘Razor-Sharp’ cutting edge. TPF Online thanks CRKT for its support in allowing us to continue to review its product lines. The M21-14G which is available at many locations across Canada including Wholesale Sports which has numerous storefronts and an online store as well. The final decision on the knife’s classification of Tactical, Practical or Fantastical is up to you, the reader.
Once again TPF delves into the realm of bladed tools and as before, Gerber Legendary Blades has become the focus of this review. Gerber has been around for over seven decades of creating tools for people, with an eye on edged instruments for use in nearly every application. As technology and designs continued to evolve, so did the products of Gerber, and for the last thirty years, the sword into the rock image has been the hallmark of that legendary brand and continues in a similar theme even with the latest logo change just a few weeks ago.
Now many designers at Gerber develop concepts and prototypes for a multitude of blades, tools, and equipment. When individuals come up with this blade design, it was so well received that it now bears his name in recognition. Named after longtime employee, Jeff Freeman, the Freeman Guide series of knives debuted in 2003 and are targeted specifically for hunters. Initially created as a fixed blade, the folder versions were introduced a couple of years ago. The Freeman Guide folding knife is the current generation of this knife family and we at TPF are pleased to be able to show you the details and specifics of this product from Gerber.
The Freeman Guide Folder (FGF), is a classic drop point, liner-lock folding design which has several features that may appeal to hunters and other outdoors-men who would utilize it. With the 440A stainless steel blade measuring 91.4mm (3.6″), the FGF’s edge is not exceptionally long when compared to other similar style fixed blade knives. It does however offset that with a large profile and blade thickness; back to belly distance of 30.0mm (1.2″) and being roughly 3.0mm (0.120″) wide. This profile helps the FGF tip the scales at nearly 190 grams (6.6 oz), and while hefty in mass, the large finger grooves in the handle allow for solid grip and control of the knife. The grips themselves are manufactured from Gerber’s exclusive TacHide™ material and offer a comfortable, non-slip texture.
The blade itself mounts dual thumb studs for ambidextrous opening, and the liner lock is very strong and secures the blade open very well. The actual construction of the entire knife is very solid with the use of several Torx screws to secure all aspects together, from the massive lanyard opening on one end to the solid blade stop above the pivot. TPF will note that this knife does not have a pocket clip and at the mass of this blade, it is not a surprise considering the size of this folding knife..
The FGF’s sheath is black nylon belt sheath which has a typical button snap enclosure for securing the folded knife inside the pouch. Other than a trio of raised bumps over the top of the Gerber logo, formed into the surface, there is nothing extraordinary regarding the outward appearance of the sheath. However; the sheath’s construction allows for multiple mounting orientations which is a nice option for such a large folder. The These orientations has provisions for vertical mounting on a 38.1mm (1.5″) belt or horizontal mounting on a belt up to 31.8mm (1.25″) in width, and before some ask, no, this sheath is not molle compatible.
Another version of this folder is available from Gerber, and it includes a gut hook on the blade as well, opposite of the knife belly. The gut hook version is slightly heavier but has the same features as the plain FGF reviewed on TPF. The Gerber Freeman Guide, folding knife is offered with an MSRP of $43 USD regardless of blade style, and is available at nearly all commercial Canadian Tire stores across Canada.
The Freeman Guide folding knife offered by Gerber Legendary Blades:
Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?