Showing posts with label fixed blade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fixed blade. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Check out the Observer


I just got a knife from China.

Too bad, you respond.

Nay, nay I say.  It’s a Real Steel fixed blade called the Observer.

Real Steel Observer
I've seen that blush on steel before, but the best I can find out is it's an affect from heat treating. 
Real steel is located in Hanzhou City on the east coast of China and has been making knives as a contract manufacturer for the last 15 years.  In 2013 they launched the Real Steel Company.  China doesn’t allow the sale of folding knives with locks on the mainland, so Real Steel has focused on external sales.  This, in my opinion, has made Real Steel quality conscious. (Interesting note on the sale of lock blades in China.) 

The Observer is 8.25 inches in overall length with a 440C steel blade 3.5 inches long.  The full tang knife has a grooved G-10 handle and comes with a kydex sheath and adjustable belt clip.  The blade is 0.197 inches thick.

440C was one of the standard knife steels used by the knife industry.  You’ll still find plenty of knives with this steel.  It has the highest carbon content of the 400 series family, 0.9 to 1.2% carbon.  The elevated levels of chromium, 16 to 18% provide small, hard chromium carbides that anchor and stabilize the steel grains.  This level of chromium also provides of a thin, self-forming layer of chromium oxide that makes the steel resistant to staining.  Still, a little care is required.  Remember, it’s stain-less, not rust proof.

Real Steel Fixed Blade knife handle
The machined G-10 scales are removable.


440C steels can be hardened to around 58-60 RHc.  I’m good with that.  These levels of hardness allow for a little flexibility in the steel.  After all, a bent knife can be sharpened and used.  A cracked knife is just junk.

Look, it’s a basic fixed blade knife with a nice working length.  It feels good in your hand and you can resharpen it with ordinary stones.  No complicated or advanced sharpening systems are needed, always a plus in the field.  You can remove the handle for cleaning if you want.  All for under $69. 

It feels good, seems well made and looks good.  It’s for resale so I can’t test it, but reviews I have seen make this knife seem like a good deal.  If I was still camping and hiking I would carry this knife.  Let me remind you, it’s not the country of origin that establishes quality but the workmanship of the company.


Real Steel also makes some very nice folders.  You can find better for more money, but these seem to have the best value for the price.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Twitchy EOD

Another knife gun show has rolled past.  I get a lot of compliments on the quality of the knives I sell, but the sales go to the guys with the buckets of 6-dollar knives and the knock-offs.  Still, as much as it bothers me, I’d rather be true to my vision of quality and needs, than to know somewhere a knife I sold is failing someone.

The weather was beautiful, the show was slow.  I suspected something was wrong when two guys walked up to the table shorting after opening and I greeted them with, “Feel free to pickup any of the knives”.

They stood there, frozen like deer in the headlights, not even an ear twitch.
Two deer, no knives
Yeah, that's what they looked like!

I looked at my wife, she looked at me, and then we looked at the two statues.  I don’t think they were breathing.  For a split second, I wondered if this was some Candid-Camera moment and then one blinked.

The two men walked off and I never saw them again.

I did see a lot of Shadow Tech.  They came up to the show from the Columbus, Ohio area.  ST is one of my favorite local knife companies.  I’ve got to admit, I’m impressed with people who start manufacturing businesses.  I’ve said it before, small self-starting businesses are the sparkplug of American well-being.


I had a chance to see their EOD.  It’s a 10.5 inch slice of 1085 steel currently being used by the EOD teams in Afghanistan.
Shadow Tech EOD Fixed Blade with sheith
Shadow Tech's EOD.  Note "glass breaker'" and form fitting sheath.  This is one knife that isn't popping out by accident. 
Let’s talk, shall we?

The blade is 5 inches long with a 5 inch handle and a glass breaker/skull crusher for a total of 10.5 inches.  The steel is high carbon, a 1085 and I would suspect, hardened to 56-58 Rockwell C.  That’s a good hardness for that steel and field use. 

Shadow Tech EOD Fixed Blade in my hand
Camera angle makes the knife look small, or I have a giant hand.
Extending outward from the top and bottom of the handle’s spine are small regular bumps.  I didn’t think I’d like them.  I thought they would distract from the feel, but despite my preconceptions, my hand liked them.  The knife sports an integral guard with sharpened ends.  I don’t know if they have a purpose, or just part of the aggressive combat nature of the knife.  Shadow Tech builds the sheath so you’re protected from the points when carrying the knife.

I had just enough time to finger it and photograph it, but I still liked it.  The knife was a little blade heavy for my taste.  I like a little more weight in my hand as it makes the blade livelier, at least in my opinion. 

 close up of Shadow Tech EOD Fixed Blade's guard
It's a stout knife.  You can pry, dig, chop and slice with it and the EOD looks like it's up to it.

It might be a little big for wearing to the store for a gallon of milk, (Yes I know Soldier of Fortune says you should be able to conceal 12 inches of fighting steel under your sport coat.  They didn’t say anything about sitting in your car.)  But I’d pack it if I was heading off the paved trail any day.

I was told it was evaluated for a month in California and is now issued to Explosive Ordinance Disposal Teams in Afghanistan.

Complete honesty: I’ve bought several Shadow Techs for myself, and I’ve sold a few on my table.  They have never given me one, but for the money I’d recommend them to anyone.  Keep your eye on them.  I keep hearing rumors of collaborations and autos in the future.