Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mack's Knife

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to the mid-60s.

Buck Knife has knocked America and the world on its collective ass with the Buck 110 Hunter.  It’s not the first lock-back knife, but the combination of a solid lock, 420HC stainless with great heat treatment and a belt carry pouch occurs at the right point in time.  Everyone carries one.  My favorite literature hero, Matt Helm carries one; I sold a very nice German locking knife to my brother so I could buy one.

Cops, firemen, soldiers, outdoors men, scout masters all wanted to carry a Buck 110 Hunter.

Open Shark Tooth
Case's Shark Tooth

This doesn’t pass unnoticed by Case Knife.  Coming out of WWII Case remains a conservative company making knives the old fashioned way by hand with carbon steel blades.  Case wants in on this market share.  They just don’t want to compete; they want to send Buck home hungry.  By 1972 they have their world beater.  They call it the Shark Tooth.

The Shark Tooth is a spine locking blade with a palm swell to fit your hand better than the slab-sided Buck.  The 3-inch blade is backed with a finger divot so you can choke-up for fine work and still get the long blade reach.  The blade is stainless steel that holds an edge, but its identity isn’t revealed.  I don’t know why.  Both bolsters are brass, but the back one is cut on an angle to give it a streamline appearance.  This knife also comes with a leather pouch cause weighs almost a half-pound!  Too heavy or bulky to flop in a pocket.

The wood insert with the palm swell will be made from curly maple, but problems stops production.  The 1974 catalog (printed in 1973, I assume) has a picture of the Shark Tooth, but it’s stamped “Unavailable.”

Closed Shark Tooth
The back edge beveled for a more streamline appearance

Finally Case decides on replacing the maple with Pakkwood and on December of 1975 finally ships the knives to distributors just in time for Christmas.  That made Santa very happy.

The Shark Tooth stays in production until March 2009. 
It’s a milestone knife for Case.  It marks the first use of a blade made from a modern stainless steel with good tempered used in a Case lock back.  Several other types of Case knives are released with that steel, but those are stories for another time.

Despite the trouble Case had with the curly maple handle insert, it manages to make 1800 of these.  These are hidden in a vault guarded by the Case gnomes.  What a treasure that would be to Case collectors.  It would be a unique collector’s knife, wouldn’t it?  If only we could get past the gnomes.

Too late.  In 1977 Case released all 1800 curly maple handled Shark Tooth (Teeth?) to their distributors.   Fox Mulder is right!  They are out there!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Serious weight: CRKT Seismic

Just got my hands on CRKT’s new Seismic with the ‘Deadbolt Lock’ developed by Flavio Ikoma.  It’s a beast!  It weighs in at 6.3 ounces with a 5.5 inch handle holding a 4 inch blade.  I like knives with slightly over sized handles.  You need a big handle to hold and use a big blade. 

strongest lock, knife
CRKT's Seismic

Flavio Ikoma has become one of Brazil’s top knife designers.  Growing up he was fascinated with the varieties of Japanese swords.  Encouraged by his father and having access to the tools and materials in his father’s shop, he made edges.  This interest spurred him to learn metallurgy, work with other knife makers and become a knife innovator.

The Seismic sports his IKBS ball bearing system as well as what has been described at the strongest lock on the market, the Deadbolt.  There are always a lot of claims of the strongest lock and they seem to depend on the test methodology.  Still, the Seismic locks up with one hell of click.

Knife, Deadbolt, Strongest knife lock
The bowtie at the pivot point is part of the deadbolt lock

To release the lock you press the knurled ring around the pivot.  This pushes a large bowtie shaped bar of metal out the back of the knife and unlocks the blade.  Impressive!

Here are some more stats:
The 0.6 inches thick handle is G10 overlaid on a sketalized metal frame that.  The G-10 has a grippy feel to it, almost enough to give you the fingernails-on-chalk-boards feeling.  (Assuming you know about chalk boards.)

The blade steel is a ground slab of 1.4116 stainless steel 0.15 inches thick.  This steel is reportedly used in Swiss Army knives.  The blade is a drop point with a high shoulder, flat grind.  A shallow false edge decorates the blade.  The sweeping edge reminds me ever so slightly of a skinner.

This steel is reported to have a RHc of 55-57.  While many consider that too low to retain an edge, let me remind you of three things:
  • That hardness resharpens quickly with simple stones;
  • Steels in this hardness range tend to bend instead of snap when misused; 
  • Ernie Emerson once said a knife with a bent blade is still a knife, a knife with a broken blade is junk.

What’s in 1.4116 steel?  The composition is relatively simple, 0.45% carbon, 14.7% chromium, a sprinkle of vanadium at 0.17% and a smattering of elements common to modern steel manufacturing.  Reports from the field suggest 1.4116 steel shows good corrosion resistance.  That’s important to me as I’m a bit careless with my tools.

You can find your Seismic at  Mention this blog for blank stares and verbal “Huhs?”  The suggested retail is $150.00