Showing posts with label Kershaw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kershaw. Show all posts

Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Blade Show

One of the interesting factoids from the Blade Show is Emerson Knife is a small company.  They have only a handful of employees.  I find this surprising.  I’ve always assumed (there’s that word) that Emerson was a large company.  Of course, large and small are vague terms at best and can be quite meaningless.

This explains the disclaimers seen in catalogs “Due to high quality standards, Emerson produces a limited number of knives per year…”  I suspect it isn’t because of Emerson’s excellent quality that limited numbers are available.  It’s because the physical limitations of the company limit the number of knives manufactured.

In an effort to promote the Emerson brand outside of knife circles, Ernie has sold several of his designs incorporating the quick opening ‘wave’ to Kershaw.

I stopped at the Emerson booth and asked if this was a sort of collaboration between Kershaw and Emerson.  That brought people to their feet quickly.  I’m just glad there was a counter between us.

“No!” I was told.  “Those designs were bought by Kershaw, will be manufactured by Kershaw, marketed by Kershaw, and all warranty work will be handled by Kershaw.”  If there was a sink present he would have washed his hands.

I was told Ernie wants more name recognition in the general public and Kershaw will be selling these through Wal-Mart and other mega-stores.  I found them in Kershaw’s 2014 catalog as the Kershaw-Emerson knife.  Their SKU will be the familiar CQC-1 through 8 followed by a K. 

A couple weeks ago I had a chance to handle one.  I thought it was stiff to open.  The blade was made from 410 steel instead of 154CM and in general, it’s a smaller knife.  The price difference could be as much as $230 retail.  I suspect they will be made in China. 

Frankly, I never really trust Wal-Mart.  Too many past stories of them selling junk and damaging companies and communities.  The Rubbermaid story is a cautionary tale.

It’s like Emerson is making their own counterfeits.

Counterfeits are a big problem in the knife world.  The Chinese are making counterfeits that are virtually perfect down to the printing of the product insert.  I went to one website that sells (no, I'm not telling) knock-offs.  They had a fixed blade, with a leather sheath that looked just like a Randall knife.  The image was low quality, on purpose I suspect, but it looked like the metal snap on the retaining strap said Randall.
If you want to buy more than 30, you can get them for under $100 each.  Each one could be sold at a gun or knife show for over $500.  Since many of these will end up in a drawer or display case it’s almost a victimless crime, right?

Except for the fraud, except for the person who buys it and uses it, right?  When it fails and at best it will give diminished performance, who’s going get the bad rap? 

It can also happen accidently.  The seller sells it as a knock-off, but by the time it gets to the third or fourth buyer that fact is misplaced.  Randall is not the only one sniped at.  Spyderco, Benchmade, Emerson, CRKT, Gerber and the rest, they’re all being knocked off.

Customs doesn’t seem to care. They come right through.  I spoke to a fellow whose knife was ripped off.  Sure, he could take the case to the Chinese courts.  Spend a lot of money, do battle for several years and in the end the courts might say, “You win.  Now tell us how many knives you didn’t sell because of the knock-off so we can assess damage. Was it 10, or 1000 and where’s your documentation?”

The Blade Show had a display of knock-off Spydercos, among others.  Only by holding them side by side could I tell the difference between the marked counterfeit and the real deal.  The counterfeit spider on the clip was more like a spider, the real mark looks more like a tick.

Two spyderco knives on box
Can you tell which is real?  The bottom one is counterfeit.


I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that brand X is no damn good.  They had one and it broke.  I ask what they paid and who they bought it from.  The answer is typically 30 bucks from a guy standing outside the show with a box of them.  "Oh," I say.  "You paid 30 bucks for a $180 knife from some guy who didn’t want to pay to get into a gun show and you’re surprised it broke?"

“Well,” they sniff.  “I thought I was getting a really good deal.”  Do me and yourself a favor.  Check out the retail prices on websites and if some website or guy in a hoodie wants to sell it at 60% below retail, you should know it’s a counterfeit. 

I also had a chance to talk to a future knife designer.  He’s there with a protoype of a folder with a blade bigger than the handle.  He uses the clip to protect the end of the folded blade extending out of its handle. 

A truly large bladed folder

What seems to be unique to this knife is the clip is spring loaded so it snaps down the back of the folder’s handle to give you a normal size handle when the blade is open. 

I'm holding the knife by its pocket clip.  No.  I'm not putting that in my pocket!



Here's the back in the closed position.





It reminded me of a high tech Marble’s Safety folder.  I wish him well, but (open mouth – insert foot) it’s a stupid idea.  The bigger blade might be useful, if the pivot will support the load and if you don’t cut a finger off trying to get it closed.

One wonders if primitive man carried an assembled stone axe or if he just carried the knapped stone and made the handle and then tied the stone to the handle when he needed it.  I suspect he carried it already assembled.  And do you know why?

Because when you need an axe, there usually isn’t time to assemble one. 


Add handle and instant axe!  Almost.


I saw a high tech axe head that acts that way.  When you need it you first need to cut a suitable size tree limb.  You can use the sharpened axe head by holding it in your hand and flailing away at a branch.  

axe head on wooden shaft
Please note the handle isn't a branch. but a manufactured piece of hickory.
Then you need to cut a groove down the center of the branch of sufficient width so the axe head can slide down the middle of the shaft without cracking the shaft.  Using clever, claw-like clamps you can tighten a grip on the branch so the head doesn’t fly off while you’re using it.  Now you’re ready to chop wood.

The inventor wanted to peddle it to the hiker/camper/survivalist market.  All you need is the axe head, which is light weight and small and you can make an axe.  No reports from anyone who tried to chop wood with it.

The handle appeared to be cut on a band saw.  This would make the perfect gift for that outdoors person you didn't want returning. 

I suspect it will end up in the bottom of a go-bag waiting for the collapse of civilization.  Look, I could understand if the inventor suggested pre-cutting wood to fit the axe head.  The axe would be easy to pack and it is lightweight.

But if you need to make shelter NOW!  Or need a fire NOW!  spending an hour or two making this axe is going to cost you.  I suggest if you carry one, the first thing you should do when you get lost is stop, get the head out and start making an axe.  Use that time to calm down, think about your plan, your immediate needs and then work your plan which now includes cutting wood for fire, snares and shelter.

One thing for sure, the Blade Show is never dull.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Benchmade VS Kershaw


“Three little knives are we….” (With a tip of the hat to the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan) my song should go.
I just got three new knives in and let me bring them out on stage.

Kershaw Brawler,
Benchmade Barrage in Tanto,
and
HK Entourage.


Benchmade Barrage, HK Entourage, Kershaw Brawler
My three little knives.....Barrage on top, Entourage in the middle and the Brawler on bottom.  Still, who makes up these names??


They almost run the gamut of knives found in pockets across the nation.  The Brawler is made in China by Kershaw who is owned by Kai the makers of Zero Tolerance and Shun kitchen knives.  Benchmade makes HK knives as well as their own.  Both of these were made in the USA.

Two are assisted, two are made in the USA and one is not.  One is an auto.  You would be surprised how many people have a knife in their pocket with one of these descriptors.

Let’s bring one out.

Of all the knives the Entourage is the simplest in appearance.  

Hk Auto Entourage well made switchblade
HK's Auto Entourage 


The knife is tapped for tip up, left or right carry.  The handle is detail free, snag free and has that annoying nail-on-chalkboard feel that enhances grip.  These are positive attributes for an auto opener.

The steel?

The 3.75-inch tanto blade is made from 440C hardened to 58-60 RHC.  The C stands for Rockwell C scale.  Rockwell has several scales including one for copper sheets and aluminum tubes, so it’s important we acknowledge which scale we use.   

This blade has Benchmade’s BK finish.
BK?  Oh, that’s Benchmade’s black ceramic coating, probably Cerakote made by NIC Industries.  I don’t know what that means either.

The spring is powerful enough to open and lock the blade even if the initial opening is slightly hampered.  We've all seen autos that snag, or catch on something and only get three quarters of the way open and the blade just dangles.  Don’t let yours dangle.

A simple wrist flick opens and locks the blade.  No biggy, except for those times when there is no spare time.

The Brawler
The Brawler sports a 3.25-inch blade made from 8cr13mov steel.  The steel is a Chinese stainless and we’ve all seen complications from so called Chinese quality products.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Quality depends on the company and not the country of origin.  Kershaw is a well-known name and I would trust their products.

Kershaw assisted opening Brawler
Front of Brawler




Assisted opener
Back.  Note the high carry clip and tapping in all four positions.


I can’t find any information on blade hardness.  Other companies harden their 8cr13mov steel in the 56-60 RHC range.  I suspect Kershaw is in that range as well.

This knife is assisted opening, incorporating both flipper and stud.  It’s tapped in all four locations for tip up or down, left or right carry.  Very handy for any of us who like different carry modes.  The handle is a glass-filled nylon which makes for a very strong and durable handle.  The blade has a DLC finish.

DLC?  Diamond-Like Coating.  Did you know that $4000 Rolex wrist watches come with a DLC coating.  You should also be aware there is a family of DLC finishes.

Is it a balloon?  No - it's a Barrage.
The Barrage is one of the nicest designed knives I’ve seen in years.  The AXIS lock is so nice and so easy to use.  The knife’s grip sports little finger bevels to amp up your grip.  Why?  This assisted opening knife opens with authority and has a satisfying “thunk” when the blade locks open.  The blade is made from 3.6 inches of 154CM steel and the handle is composed of Valox.

assisted opening barrage
Barrage in Tanto, Assisted opening




Valox is a thermoplastic polyester resin made by Sabic.  Benchmade doesn’t tell us if it’s a PET or PBT polyester or if it’s filled or not.  But really, how would that information make a difference to you the knife consumer?  At some point we all must trust the company.  That’s why it’s important to buy from quality companies.

So where are we with our three little knives?

Knife
Steel
Blade Length (inches)
Open length
(inches)
Lock
Action
Price
Entourage
440C
3.75
8.44
Opened & closed
Auto
$165
Brawler
8cr13mov
3.25
7.38
Liner lock only
Assisted w/ flipper
$39.95
Barrage
154CM
3.6
8.35
AXIS with safety
Assisted w/ stud
$145

Takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it!

Both Benchmade knives have a safety that locks the knife in closed and opened conditions.  The Kershaw Brawler depends on needing sufficient force on the flipper to start the blade opening.  Its liner lock is stout enough to keep it open until you make the effort to close it.

assisted opener Barrage showing lock
Lock on Barrage.  Both the Auto Entourage and the Barrage can be locked closed or locked open.


Both companies offer lifetime sharpening.  Kershaw will even pay the postage to return it to you.  The auto creates a problem.  If you send it back for sharpening, you need to prove (a department letterhead or such) you can legally own the knife.  I don’t see it as a problem.  There are plenty of sharpening systems available as well as professional knife sharpeners.  (Hint:  Learn to sharpen your knife in the field.)

So which knife would I carry?  Depends.  In New York I couldn’t carry any of them. 

If I went in harm’s way, I’d carry the Entourage and back it up with the Barrage.  Why?  Excluding the 'one is none' rule, I’d use the assisted opener for normal activities: opening care packages from home, whittling, cutting cord and other non-lethal stuff.  I’d save the auto for those responses when only coarse motor skills were available to me, like fighting for my life.

With my lifestyle, the Brawler is more than enough.  I’d back it up with a full serration Spyderco Endura, but that just me.