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!

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